What can you feed Plecos

Fish lexicon: sucking mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus)

Sucking mouth catfish
(Hypostomus plecostomus)


The sucking mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) is a freshwater fish from the family of the armor catfish (Loricariidae). It comes from South America and can reach a maximum length of approx. 50 cm.

Its English name is "Suckermouth catfish" or "Common pleco". Synonyms: Acipenser plecostomus, Plecostomus plecostomus, Hypostomus guacari, Loricaria flava, Plecostomus bicirrosus, Plecostomus brasiliensis. In the trade, the species "Pterygoplichthys pardalis" is often falsely sold as sucking mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus).


The most important characteristics of the suckermouth catfish:

  • the suckermouth catfish has a flattened and elongated body. Its body is broad and massive in front, it tapers towards the end of the body
  • its body color is grayish-brown to yellowish-brown, there are also darker color morphs
  • the entire body, including the head, is covered with dark, irregularly shaped spots, the spots on the head being significantly smaller than those on the rest of the body
  • The upper parts of his head and his body are encased in longitudinal rows of bone plates
  • the underside of the head and the belly side of the suckermouth catfish are bare
  • its fins are also covered with dark, irregularly shaped spots. Its dorsal and pectoral fins are strong and multi-rayed
  • his barbels are very short, his teeth function like "scraping tools" with which he scrapes off his food (wood, plants)
  • Fin formula: D I / 7, A I / 3-5


The sucking mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) is a maximum of approx. 50 cm long.

Maximum age

The sucking mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) is a maximum of about 15 years old.

Way of life, habitat, occurrence

The distribution area of ​​the suckermouth catfish is South America: it lives here in the coastal waters of Guyana. It is a bottom-living and crepuscular fish. He lives solitary. Suckling mouth catfish are intestinal breathers: they can survive outside of the water by breathing atmospheric air. To protect their body from dehydration, they secrete a slimy secretion.

Aquaristic info

Temperature: 20 ° C - 28 ° C
pH value: 6.5-8.5
Total hardness: 2 ° -25 ° dGH
Water region: below
Aquarium: from approx. 200 cm tank length

Omnivores, preferably plant-based food: fresh vegetables (e.g. peas, broccoli, zucchini, spinach or peppers), green algae, granules, frozen food, wood (to rasp off). Although he also eats other food, he should preferably be fed plant-based food, as he is a purely vegetarian diet in the wild.

Because of its size, this catfish is actually not suitable for an aquarium. They also grow up very quickly.

Since these catfish dig their breeding caves in the loamy embankment (below the water level) in the wild, breeding has so far only been successful in ponds that offer such conditions.


In the wild, suckermouth catfish dig nesting holes in embankments (below the water level). There the females spawn up to 300 eggs. The male takes care of the brood.


In the wild, the suckling mouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) feeds exclusively vegetarian on algae growth, which it scrapes off the stones and wood. He also takes in the smallest crustaceans.

Fish diseases

Catfish are actually extremely robust fish and rarely get sick. However, a prerequisite is species-appropriate husbandry (feed, water parameters, etc.)

However, problems can arise if catfish are kept with other fish species. Will these species be using copper-containing Drugs such as "Malachite green"Treated, this can lead to death in catfish. Snail or algae control agents can also contain copper!

Catfish that are weakened by inappropriate housing or (transport) stress, however, can also develop bacterial infections, parasites, viruses or mycoses (fungal infections).

Copyrights to the text
This text is protected by copyright. Duplication, processing, distribution and any kind of exploitation outside the limits of copyright law require the written consent of WESO GmbH.
Image rights

Many of the images in our fish dictionary are protected by Creative Commons (CC for short) or other copyrights. Creative Commons is not the name of a single license. Rather, the various Creative Commons licenses vary widely. Further information on Creative Commons licenses can be found [here].

Information on GNU Free Documentation License (short: GFDL) can be found [here].

The copyrights and license rights for the images on this page are displayed when you click on the respective image or on "Show image rights".

All pictures were digitally processed by us and cropped in size.

Cookies (data protection)

We only save cookies that are technically necessary for the operation of our website. Cookies are only saved for the current session. No third party cookies or user tracking cookies are stored.

Youtube videos (data protection)

If this page contains videos and you click (open) a video, personal data (IP address) will be sent to the operator of the video portal (YouTube). It is therefore possible that the video provider saves your access and can analyze your behavior. However, this only happens when you open a video on this page.

Disclaimer of liability

All articles in our fish dictionary are for general information only and do not claim to be correct or complete. No liability is assumed for the completeness and correctness.

All pictures were digitally edited and cropped by us. More information under "Image rights".