Rubber Lip Pleco 101: Care, Max Size, Diet, And More

Rubber Lip Pleco – The Complete Guide

Do you know about rubber lip pleco? It is a freshwater alga eating catfish. This Plecostomus makes excellent community freshwater fish. However, medium-sized catfish such as the rubber lip pleco can be a great addition to a freshwater aquarium! They are cordial and easier for novice aquarists to look after and make a perfect choice.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about caring for rubber lip plecos. Water requirements, tank size, optimal foods, health guide, breeding, diseases, tank mates, habitat, and more are all factors to consider.

What is Rubber Lip Pleco?

The rubber lip pleco (Chaetostoma milesi) is a South American freshwater catfish. These camouflaged scavengers appear ferocious with their image of pin giant rasping mouths, sharp-pointed dorsal spines, and bony plates that resemble armor.

Here are some key factors about Rubber Lip Pleco:

  • Scientific Name: Chaetostoma milesi
  • Common Name: Rubber Lipped Plecostomus, Rubbernose Pleco, Striped Pleco, RL
  • Size: Young ones are sold at 3 to 4 inches. Adults reach up to 7 inches.
  • Food: Eats both non-veg as well as the vegetarian diet
  • Tank Size: 25 to 30 gallons
  • Temp Range: 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
rubber lip pleco

Natural Habitat of Rubber Lip Pleco

The Magdalena River in Columbia and the Apure River in Venezuela are the main habitats for this catfish in South America. They reside in slow-moving rivers and shallow freshwater streams related to these significant rivers.

During the wet season, these rivers experience significant changes. During this time, temperature, water levels, and different factors all change. As a result, these catfish are pretty resilient and can survive a wide variety of water conditions. 

In the wild, plecos search for food near the river’s bottom. These catfish lurk among the vegetation, logs, and rocks. Because it is a bottom-feeder, it predominantly eats algae in the wild and spends much of its time near the substrate. They eat algae scraped from rocks, wood, and plants as their primary source of nutrition.

Size of Rubber Lip Pleco

The rubber lip pleco can reach a maximum size of roughly 7 inches in length. When raised in an aquarium, most rubber-lipped plecos reach a height of approximately 5.5 inches in length. They are not as large as some other popular plecos, making them an excellent pet for home community aquariums. 

Foods, genetics, habitat, and overall care quality will all impact their natural size. However, these catfish rarely grow to be more than 7 inches long.

The lifespan of Rubber Lip Pleco

A rubber lip pleco can live for 10 to 12 years (as per aquarist) with proper care. This assumes you’re providing them with a decent feeding regimen, suitable environment, and good maintenance.

 Inadequate room, poor hygiene, inconsistent feeding, or changing water parameters can all induce stress, drastically limiting their longevity.

The appearance of Rubber Lip Pleco

The rubber lip pleco has a traditional “pleco” look to it. RLs are one of 150 species of armored catfish that have rigid bony plates instead of scales to defend their body. They have a big sucker mouth and a nose that slants upward toward the top of their skull. 

Their body begins to taper progressively at the eyes and continues to the base of their caudal fin. This species has a large dorsal fin with eight dorsal rays (spines) that lie flat against their back when they are not swimming but raise like a sail when they are. 

When swimming, their pectoral fins are short and held close to their body, and they utilize them to navigate along riverbeds and even pry fish out of the waters. The heads of rubber-lipped plecos usually are grey to brown with deeper brown to black markings. 

The spots on their pectoral, anal, and adipose fins typically transform to a striping pattern once they leave their gill covers, while they may still show marks on their pectoral, anal, and adipose fins. Unlike the chubby pleco, rubber lips do not change color as they age.

Behavior & Temperament of Rubber Lip Pleco

This is one of rubber lip pleco treatments’ most accessible components. These catfish are incredibly peaceful and do not want to cause others problems. It is one of the most delicate species of freshwater we know! Their overall level of activity is very mild. 

Often you see them parked at a specific place or slowly walk around a safe hiding place. They’re serene and friendly fish that get along well with other tranquil community species. During the day, they are shy and prefer to hide as they dine among your plants and decorations, but at night, they may become more active. 

As they grow older, they may become territorial and evict other bottom feeders from their preferred territory. Usually, they will use their fish sucker mouths to lay on a surface when they are out in the open. If it is your aquarium glass, it can be particularly entertaining! 

It’s a good idea to pass on the pleco lip rubber if you’re an owner who wants a highly active fish.

Rubber Lip Pleco Care Guide

Rubber lip pleco fish care is not very demanding, and aquariums with little experience can handle it. Due to different conditions, these fish are pretty hardy, which means you have a security net when you set up your tank.

However, it is always a good idea to understand the ideal conditions to take the best care you can. A good owner always strives to be perfect!

If you would like to know about Koi Betta Fish care, check out this article Koi Betta Fish: Care Sheet & Informational Guide

Tank Guide

Aquarium Size

Rubber-lipped plecos require a lot of space and dislike living in small areas. While juveniles frequently thrive in smaller environments, it can cause them a lot of stress, limiting their development and lifespan as they age. 

For a single RL, you’ll need a 25 to 30-gallon tank, or at least 75 gallons for two.

Water Parameters

Rubber-lipped plecos require waters that are very owner-friendly. The recommended ranges are generous and give you a little room to wiggle.

Water temperature: 72°F to 80°F

pH levels: 6.5 to 8

Water hardness: 8 to 12 KH

Although these water parameters allow some room to work, regular care is vital to keep track of these levels. Get a high-quality test kit to make sure the readings you get are accurate.


Because plecos are bottom-feeding scavengers, they need a substrate that won’t hurt their stomachs. Instead of spiky aquarium gravel, use a mixture of soft sand and spherical pebbles on the bottom. 

Cover the top with a layer of sand for the RL if you need to use a gravel product to help your plant grow.

Plants And Decorations

Rubber-lipped pleco doesn’t like a bare tank, and a simple or basic set-up might be stressful for them. They favor thickly planted tanks with a variety of decorations, such as rough and smooth rocks, as well as wood goods such as sticks and branches. 

They also require a variety of hiding places, like caves or hollow logs.

Tank Mates

It is time to pass on some workable rubber pleco tank mates. When choosing a tank mate, it should follow the general rules. These fish are never paired with aggressive species because their fighting is too peaceful. 

You want other peaceful fish to match that you want to have your business, for instance, goldfish. Probably you’ll just be okay as long as they aren’t massive fish or feisty.

Some examples of tank mate working well are as follows:

  • Neon tetras
  • Zebra danios
  • Green neon tetras
  • Fancy goldfish
  • Honey gourami
  • Peaceful barbs like Cherry and Gold Barbs
  • Sparkling gourami
  • Loaches
  • Cory catfish
  • Bala Sharks and Rosaline Torpedos
  • Ember tetra

Keep them away from aggressive cichlids and semi-aggressive species like Tiger Barbs. Don’t put them in a fish tank with many territorial bottom feeders unless there’s enough room for them to develop their territory. 

For a good image of your aquarium, goldfish and Rubber lipped pleco would be great choices. 

Lighting, Filtration, and Aeration

Like many other bottom dwellers, RLs dislike intense lighting and may avoid well-lit sections of your aquarium. If you want to shade your tanks, you can use floating plants.

Because rubber-lipped pleco spends most of their time at the bottom of your tanks, they are vulnerable to stagnation and Dead Zones. A bubbler or air stone can assist in maintaining high oxygen levels in the water, and your RL will probably like playing in the bubbles as well.

Like another aquarium pet, RLs are susceptible to ammonia and other pollutants that might accumulate in soiled tanks. They prefer to live in water that is cycled through a decent HOB or canister filter. 

Rubber-lipped pleco doesn’t require a solid current to survive, but they do love swimming in the discharges of your filter.


You may not need to make any modifications to keep your rubber-lipped pleco happy if you currently have a decent regimen for filter cleaning and water changes. They are sensitive to the conditions in the lowest portion of your tank because they are bottom dwellers. 

So if you don’t keep up with your debris and waste clearance, it could cause discomfort.

Things Needed for Rubber Lip Pleco’s Tank

Here’s a quick search list of the items you’ll need to build the ideal rubber lipped pleco aquarium:

  • Freshwater planted aquarium with hood and lighting, 25 to 30 gallons (or 75 gallons for two plecos).
  • For a stable temperature, use a warm source.
  • For the substrate, use soft sand or small, smooth stones.
  • Filtration system with a HOB or canister.
  • Pump and bubbling apparatus for air.
  • Smooth and rough pebbles, sticks, branches, and logs are among the decor options.
  • Plants that are alive (some plastic planted algae are a bit ok but they prefer living plants).
  • If you’re using tap water, care for a bit of range dechlorinating water conditioner.

Food Guide

Foods are where a lot of folks get tangled up. While rubber lips are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Rubber lip plecos eat virtually exclusively algae wafers in the wild. This is a long-term solution because of their behavior and the nutritional nature of the algae wafers they eat.

However, aquarium algae alone will not suffice in captivity. This is why:

It’s nearly impossible to grow naturally enough algae in an aquarium without degrading the overall water quality. You’ll end yourself devoting far more time to this than you intended, with little to show for it.

The behavior of naturally-growing algae is another reason why it isn’t a good solution. The rubber-lipped pleco will thrive in captivity if you feed them vegetables and algae-based diets. They don’t feel the need to scavenge as much because they provide all they require.

What Food to Feed?

Anything you put in your tank, especially scraps that drop to the bottom, is likely to be taken by your Rubber lip plecos. You don’t need to feed your pleco any more meaty foods if you’re currently feeding your other fish live/frozen items like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and Daphnia eggs. It’s essential to keep them on a vegetarian diet.

A high-quality diet of sinking algae wafers or pellets is recommended, with various treat items offered once or twice a week. The greatest snacks are blanched vegetables like:

  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber

Frequency of Food Feeding

Usually, feed your RL plecos six days per week. Then fast them one day out of the seven days.  Sometimes alternate between offering regular and treat foods to ensure they get a balanced diet. 

You can feed them their primary diet four days a week and give some treats on the rest two days. Of course, they’ll also scavenge any leftovers from the other fish.

Health Guide


Rubber tips are complicated in the breeding process at home aquariums, and nearly all of the fish for sale were obtained as juveniles in the wild. To even have a chance of successful breeding, you’d need a tank that’s at least 300 gallons. 

Until now, it is unknown about breeding at home aquariums, so enjoy your fish but don’t anticipate any babies.


Potential Diseases

Plecos, in general, aren’t afflicted with any diseases, and the RL is a generally healthy and robust species. You’ll have fewer troubles if you keep up with your water changes and tank upkeep. 

However, if your tank has an ich epidemic or a bacterial or viral infection, your pleco may catch it. Take time to inspect your fish every day. This has to be nothing to enjoy, only to watch them for a couple of minutes. 

Seek anything on your body or behavior that’s unusual. All the signs of a problem are white spots, damaged fins, a lack of appetite, or general lethargy. You can begin to deal directly with the problem from there.

Because all scaleless fish are sensitive to salinity levels in their water, using aquarium salt to cure diseases in a tank with a pleco should be done with caution. Copper-containing medications can also kill RLs, so avoid them or move your pleco to a safe tank while you treat your other fish.

Availability of Rubber Lipped Pleco

This pleco is not as common as the Common pleco. Thus an online search of.com retailers might help to pin these uncommon plecos. Specialist dealers frequently offer a postal service, or you can get one of these items from the pet shop.

Bottom Line

Now, as you have a brief idea about lip pleco care and needs, decide wisely if you want one for yourself or not. These are exciting animals that fit the right kind of aquarium. This might be the species for you if you look for a fish that is unique and easy to look after that is not super popular. 

We have always found the pleco rubber nose quite pleasant to see regardless of what it does! This article is designed to provide community feeling, freshwater aquarium searches, diet, lifespan range, and more. You need not search any other article. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Rubber Lipped Plecos

Q: Do Rubber Lip Plecos Need Driftwood?

Both yes and no. Driftwood is a favorite resting spot for RLs, and they frequently eat the algae that grow on the surface. You don’t need to add driftwood if your tank already has many other textures and decorations. On the other hand, your tank should feature a variety of rocks and enormous branches for them to explore.

Q: Will a Rubber Lip Plecostomus eat other fish?

They are scavengers, which means they will eat anything that dies in your tank. They will also devour any eggs or fry that they come across on the spur of the moment: They are not aggressive, though, and rarely fight or kill their tank buddies.

Q: Are Rubber Lip Plecos Good Algae Eaters?

Yes, they are an excellent choice if you have algae in your tank, mainly the difficult-to-kill brown algae. RLs are one of the few fish that love to consume brown algae, and they do an excellent job at keeping your tank clean. They are easy to care for.

Q: Does A Rubber-Lipped Pleco Have Teeth?

They do have teeth, which they utilize to rasp or rake algae off of aquatic objects. Inside their broad, centrally positioned sucker mouth, their teeth are located on both sides of their jaw.

Q: How To Tell Difference Between Male And Female Of A Rubber Lipped Pleco?

Males have longer pelvic fins than females, though this is difficult to notice unless you study their underside while they are nibbling on the side of your tank. Male fish have pelvic fins that extend past the peduncle (tail base), whereas female fish only have anal fins.

Q: How Are Rubber Lips Different from The Rubber Pleco?

Even though the size of rubber plecos and RLs in adults is different, fish stores frequently misidentify or list both as generic “rubber” plecos. The RLs have a rounder head than the chubby, who have a flattened appearance. 
Instead of spots, Chubbys commonly have stripes or crosshatched patterns on their heads. Many chubby have a gold-tone or even change colors, something you won’t notice in real life. However, in juvenile fish, these are not always visible.

Q: Can Rubber Lipped plecos live with goldfish?

The rubber-lipped plecos coexist with goldfish in one aquarium. The indoor temperature for goldfish is between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for plecos.


About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!