Rubber Lip Pleco 101: Best Detailed Care Guide (2022 September)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: February 23, 2022

Rubber lip Pleco is also called Rubberlips, Rubber Lips, rubber lip. These fish are known as Peckoltia Vittata in the scientific community.

These are small catfish that are native to the Brazilian Amazon area. They are generally peaceful creatures that will coexist with most other non-aggressive fish.

Many different types of Peckoltia Vittata vary in color, ranging from the popular gold variety to all black varieties.

The scientific name for the rubber lip pleco is Peckoltia compta. It was first described by Achille Valenciennes in 1847. This species is placed under the genus "Plecostomus," which consists of armored catfish.

The rubber lip pleco has an armor-like feature on its lips that helps it attach to stones and wood or other surfaces where it spends most of its time.

It also makes these fish difficult to be pulled out from the substrate. The rubber lip plecostomus is a great addition to any aquarium; however, be careful what tankmates you keep with them as they can eat or seriously slow the growth of snails and other invertebrates.

They usually do not cause problems with algae and will even prevent hair algae from forming!

Facts And Characteristics Of Rubber Lip Pleco

Given below are a few detailed facts and characteristics of rubber lip pleco.

How Do Rubber Lip Pleco Look Like?

Rubber lip pleco is a medium-sized plecostomus. Rubber lip plecos also have an armored plating on their sides, giving them the appearance of having square lips, hence the name rubber lip pleco.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Their coloration is typically dark gray or brown, with lighter vertical bars. The bar patterning may fade with age. As rubber lip plecos reach maturity, their eye color changes from silver to gold, and the eyes themselves become proportionately larger about the head.

Rubber lip plecos look similar to other types of plecostomus, but they're pretty different.

Rubber lip plecostomus are usually lighter brown, and their sides have an armor-like plating which gives them the appearance of having square lips hence the name rubber lip pleco.

Another distinguishing feature of the rubber lip pleco over other types of plecos is that their eyes don't protrude outwards like other types of plecostomus but move back towards the top of their head. Their fins are also a lot more sensitive.

The female rubber lip pleco is larger than the male rubber lip pleco.

When kept in a large enough fish tank, they will breed and will deposit their eggs either on the glass inside the tank or on aquatic plants, which you can then remove and raise like regular fish fry.

Rubber Lip Pleco Breeding

Yes, rubber lip plecos can be bred in captivity if they are kept in a big enough tank.

Rubber lip plecostomus breed differently from most other loricariid catfish(pleco): instead of laying eggs on pebbles and such, the female rubber lip pleco is known to lay its eggs either on glass or on the underside of Amazon Sword plants.

Rubber Lip Pleco

You can then remove the eggs to another tank or grow them out like normal fish fry.

Rubber lip plecos reach sexual maturity at about 12 inches (30 cm.) Rubber lip plecos are often sold as juveniles, but it's best to keep larger ones if you want to breed them later on.

Rubber lip plecos can be quite demanding when it comes to water conditions, and they need a large tank to spawn.

Since rubber lip plecostomus are only found in the Amazon basin, they cannot tolerate any major changes in water chemistry and temperature, and it is best to keep them in their setup with the same pH and hardness as the Amazon.

The breeding process starts with the male rubber lip pleco building a cave out of rocks and plants. He then attracts a female who lays her eggs inside the cave.

The male rubber lip plecos guard the eggs until they hatch, which takes about 5-10days depending on the temperature of your tank.

Rubber lip plecostomus can be quite demanding when it comes to water conditions, and they need a large tank to spawn.

Rubber Lip Pleco Growth And Lifespan

Rubber lip plecos can reach a size of about 12 inches and weigh about 1.4 pounds (0.6 kg.) Rubber lip plecos are often sold as juveniles, but it's best to keep larger ones if you want to breed them later on.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber lip plecos live for about 10 years. In captivity, they are known to live as long as 20 years. They live long when kept in large enough tanks with good water conditions.

Rubber Lip Pleco Temperament

Rubber lip plecos are a very peaceful fish and can be kept with other similar-sized, non-aggressive tank mates.

Rubber Lip Pleco

They have been known to eat or seriously slow the growth of snails and other invertebrates, so it's better to keep them with larger tank mates that will not be bothered by them.

Rubber lip plecos often work as scavengers in the tank, but they can also be trained to hand feed.

Rubber lip plecos seek shelter amongst plants and rocks, but they may be seen out in the open from time to time.

They often remain hidden during the day and become more active at night. You can keep them in a community tank with non-aggressive fish that like the same water conditions, preferably large ones since rubber lip plecos grow very big.

Rubber lip plecos do well in most tanks and don't bother other fish. They are very peaceful fish who will get along with most tank mates, though they might harass slow-moving or long-finned fish.

They don't bother other fish and are not aggressive towards other species. Rubber lip plecos live in social groups in the wild, so you should keep at least 6 of them together in one tank.

Rubber Lip Pleco Habitat

Rubber lip plecos can be found throughout Central and South America, where they live in swamps and slow-moving rivers near the Amazon. They prefer living in water with a very soft bottom of sand or fine gravel.

Rubber Lip Pleco

In nature, rubber lip plecos can be found from Panama to Brazil, including French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and eastern Bolivia.

They usually live in lower Amazon and Orinoco river basins and prefer blackwater habitats with low pH (below 6) and warm water temperatures (about 77-83 degrees Fahrenheit).

They like habitats with a soft, sandy, or gravel bottom and prefer slow-moving rivers and swamps with low pH. The wild rubber lip pleco can be found in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama.

They can be found in Brazil (Amazonas state), Peru (Loreto and Ucayali), Ecuador (Napo, Orellana, Sucumbios and Zamora-Chinchipe provinces), Colombia (Amazonas, Caquetá and Guainía departments), Venezuela (Amazonas state) and Panama. In captivity, rubber lip plecos can be kept in a tank with a soft substrate (gravel or sand) and plants.

Do they get along with other species?

Rubber lip plecos do better when kept as a single fish but can be housed with other Apistogramma species.

Rubber lip plecos are not aggressive towards fish that are similar in size, so they can be kept with other Apistogramma species.

Other larger cichlid species can also be housed with them but make sure they have enough hideouts to go to when the rubber lip pleco is resting during the day.

It's not recommended to house rubber lip plecos with other large fish that like the same water conditions since they will outgrow them and starve them.

Depending on their temperament, rubber lip pleco juveniles can also be aggressive towards other fish that are similar in size, so keep an eye on them for any signs of aggression.

Are they Dangerous?

Rubber lip plecos are not aggressive towards fish that are similar in size, so they can be kept with other Apistogramma species.

They may attack tank mates that are of the same species, so you should house them separately.

Rubber Lip Pleco Care Guide

Below is the detailed care guide of Rubber Lip Pleco.

Rubber Lip Pleco Feeding

The rubber lip pleco is an algae eater and prefers vegetable matter in the wild. As most algae eaters, rubber lip plecos are not picky for food and will also accept flakes, pellets, live feeders, vegetables, and fruits.

Rubber Lip Pleco

They like to eat from the bottom and forage for food throughout the aquarium.

They eat algae, aquatic plants (such as duckweed), and sometimes dead fish in the wild. You can feed them peas, lettuce leaves, etc. Commercial pleco food is also good for rubber lip plecos.

In the wild, rubber lip plecos are omnivorous fish that feed on ants, termites, worms, crustaceans, benthic algae, and other plant matter from the waterbed.

Their diet can include vegetables, algae, and commercial pleco food in captivity. They should be fed algae wafers, vegetables, and fruits.

They only eat a few prepared foods, so they are not picky. They will eat most sinking pellets, algae wafers, and more meaty food like bloodworms or daphnia.

You can also give them live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, white worms, blackworms, or mussels.

They are carnivores that feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They will eat sinking pellets, algae wafers, and more meaty food like bloodworms or daphnia.

You can also give them live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, white worms, blackworms, or mussels.

Their balanced diet should include some vegetable matter, such as algae wafers or vegetables. They can also be fed fish food pellets or flakes for omnivorous fish.

Rubber lip plecos should be fed once or twice a day in captivity and less during wintertime. They will forage for food throughout the aquarium and eat from the bottom, so there is no need to add extra food to your tank when you feed them.

Tank Requirements

Rubber lip plecos prefer a soft substrate and like to burrow between the gravel and sand, so your aquarium must have fine-grained sand or small smooth pebbles.

Rubber Lip Pleco

They can grow very large (up to 10 inches) and hide under big rocks and driftwood, so make sure there is enough space for them to swim around in the tank.

They will also appreciate dense vegetation in the corners of the tank, but make sure it is not too tall since these fish like to burrow in the substrate and may get stuck under overhanging plants.

Your aquarium should be at least 55 gallons to house 3-4 rubber lip plecos, with water parameters close to this: pH of 6.0-7.0 and a water hardness below 10 dGH.

Because rubber lip plecos are so big, you should have an external canister filter to keep your tank clean. When keeping this species, make sure to provide them with enough space and give them a dense cover of plants to hide under in the tank.

Rubber lip plecos will also spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank, so you should provide some smooth flat rocks for them to walk around on.

Rubber lip plecos need a lot of hiding places since they feel more secure in caves and hollows when sleeping during the day.

Having at least half a dozen caves in the tank is recommended, but make sure they are not too large, or it will be hard for your fish to move in them.

Rubber Lip Pleco Water Condition And Lighting

Water condition and lighting will be the determining factor on the health of your pleco. They will need good water quality and oxygenation to stay healthy, or they can get sick easily.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber lip plecos are sensitive to nitrate levels, so weekly water changes are highly recommended.

Because rubber lip plecos are nocturnal, you don't need to have lights on for more than 8 hours a day. During the night, they like some subdued lighting where they can rest and hide during the day.

Rubber lip plecos prefer water temperatures around 77-83 degrees Fahrenheit (25-28 degrees Celsius) and a pH of 6.0-7.0, but they will adapt to almost any water condition as long as the temperature is stable. Keep the water well oxygenated since these fish need a lot of oxygen to survive.

Rubber lip plecos are sensitive to high humidity levels, so you should provide them with a water pump or powerhead that will oxygenate the water well.

These fish also need good lighting all day long but don't need extra heating because the temperature in their native habitat is stable all year round.

Rubber Lip Pleco Tankmates

Rubber lip plecos are not aggressive towards fish that are similar in size, so they can be kept with other Apistogramma species.

Other bigger cichlid species can also be housed with them, but make sure they have enough hideouts to go to when the rubber lip pleco is resting during the day.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Other tank mates can be larger fish like Rosy Barb, Silver Dollar, or even Oscars which are large enough to not be outgrown.

Rubber lip plecos are territorial and may attack other tank mates that are of the same species, so you should house them separately.

Common Possible Diseases And Cure

Since rubber lip plecos come from still and slow-moving waters, they can be susceptible to ich and velvet.

Rubber Lip Pleco

They also need good oxygenation and high levels of carbon dioxide to survive, so be sure to do regular water changes and provide them with a strong current in the tank.

Other common diseases they commonly suffer from are fin rot and cottonmouth, but they can be treated with medications like Erythromycin or Metronidazole.

Because rubber lip plecos are more sensitive to water chemistry and dry conditions, they also get sick easily if the water has high levels of nitrate and pH swings.

They can get sores and fungus on their brown and white stripes, but that can be easily treated with the same medicine mentioned above.

An outbreak of cottonmouth (or cotton wool) is usually due to high levels of nitrates and a lack of carbon dioxide in the water. Signs of this disease are cloudy eyes and white spots on their brownish-orange fins or lines along their sides.

You can lower the nitrate level in your Rubberlip plecos tank by performing water changes daily.

If you have a high nitrate problem, adding live aquatic plants to your aquarium will also help because they use up the excess nutrients that would otherwise harm your fish.

It's not recommended to house rubber lip plecos with other large fish that like the same water conditions since they will outgrow them and starve them.

Depending on their temperament, rubber lip pleco juveniles can also be aggressive towards other fish that are similar in size, so keep an eye on them for any signs of aggression.

Conclusion

Overall, rubber lip plecos are peaceful fish that look great in an aquarium. They also only grow to about 3 inches, which makes them suitable for most larger tanks.

But because they need a separate tank, you should give it lots of hiding places if you plan on keeping other tropicals with it too.

They are a great choice for an active community tank if you're looking for something different. So what are you waiting for? Get your Rubberlip pleco today before they're all gone!

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