15 Types Of Pleco You Need To Explore For Your Aquarium

Different types of Pleco
By Garrison Hickles Updated

The common Pleco is also known by the name of a Suckermouth Catfish, which belongs to the Loricariidae family, or the family of armoured catfishes. The Loricariidae family is the largest known family of catfishes, with more than a staggering 680 species under its column. 

These bottom-feeding beauties make for a great cleaner in the tank, so despite not having much value as a food fish, they rose to fame as aquarium fish. The reason for their fame is not certainly just their qualities, but it is also their immaculate presence in the tank, that automatically glorifies its overall aura. The place of origin of these Plecos is mostly around Trinidad, Tobago, the Guianas and parts of Brazil. 

A list of the different types of Plecos

Enough on their intricate details of Pleco as a species, now let us take you on a journey and explore the different types of Plecostomus in detail. Let’s see:


Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra)

Zebra Pleco
  • Other names: Imperial Pleco.
  • Lifespan:10-15 years
  • Size: 3-4 inches
  • Colour: Black and white stripes.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 20-30 gallons
  • Tank water temperature: 26-31 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Zebra Pleco is originally from parts of Brazil, especially in the Big Bend area or near the Xingu River which is a tributary of the Amazonian waters. Their name is pretty evident from their colours, resembling that of a zebra, black and white stripes to be precise.

They have a beautiful tail with a quite prominent dorsal fin, other than that they have a suckermouth with four whiskers surrounding that. They are nocturnal by nature, other than being extremely shy to begin with. Although, categorized as omnivores they incline more towards the good old vegetables. Algae infused fish-food as wafers work well with them, other than some blanched vegetables. These Plecos can also work with live foods like bloodworms and more.


Rubber Lip Pleco (Chaetostoma milesi)

Rubber Lip Pleco
  • Other names: Rubbernose Pleco.
  • Lifespan:10-12 years
  • Size:5-7 inches
  • Colour: Grey base with spots.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, inclined towards the herbivorous diet.
  • Tank Size: 25 gallons
  • Tank water temperature: 22-26 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Flexible with most, including beginners.

Rubber Lip Pleco fishes are known to be low-maintenance and highly effective, as these bottom-dwellers prefer to spend most of their time eating a lot of tank algae. Their major perk being their long life, these fishes do have a very attractive appeal of classic stripes, or spots over a greyish base.

They originate from the Apure River in Venezuela and basins in Columbia, known as the Magdalena. This hardy species of Plecos can withstand a range of profiles and parameters other than being peaceful. Supplements of algae can be fed, such as sweet potato, spinach, cucumber and so on.


Peppermint Pleco (Parancistrus nudiventris)

Peppermint Pleco
  • Other names: Peppermint Bristlenose.
  • Lifespan: About 12 years.
  • Size:4-6 inches
  • Colour: Black or dark grey base with white dots.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 50 gallons
  • Tank water temperature: 26-29 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Intermediate

The Peppermint Pleco fish is originally from Brazil, precisely the Rio Xingu, which is an Amazonian river tributary in the northeast. They majorly feed on algae but they can be fed with small animal species or insect larvae.

Peppermints can get as big as seven inches, but their general size ranges from about four to six inches. They are probably one of the most majestic looking species of Plecos, with colours like black or dark brown as base colours with multiple polka dot-like spots all over their body.


Clown Pleco (Panaque maccus)

Clown Pleco
  • Other names: Clown Panaque, Clown Plecostomus or Ringlet Pleco
  • Lifespan:10-12 years
  • Size: about 4 inches
  • Colour: Black base under bright patterns.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Tank water temperature: 23-28 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Intermediate.

When the matter comes to the origin of a Clown Pleco, they are native to the locations of Venezuela and Colombia. They are quite easy to care for, and can exist in captivity for well over a decade. Quite beginner-friendly in nature, this species is big on algae consumption, like most other Plecos.

The Clown suckermouth catfishes were named after their unique stripes, patterned all over their solid black bodies. Bright orange, or narrow yellow stripes over the solid base, looks phenomenal to the eye. They have pretty large caudal and dorsal fins, with very less demand for strict maintenance of the water profile.


Gold Nugget Pleco (Baryancistrus xanthellus)

Gold Nugget Pleco
  • Other names: Gold Nugget Plecostomus.
  • Lifespan:4-5 years
  • Size:6-10 inches
  • Colour: Dark green or black base with yellow dots on top.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size:55 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:23-29 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Intermediate.

Gold Nugget Pleco being the most standardized species of Plecostomus, have the classic suckermouth with broad dorsal fins. The place of origin is South America, but they are also found in the basic Pleco hubs like parts of Brazil and Venezuela. By nature, these fishes are pretty calm, but still, they are prone to act a little territorial, as per alterations in the scenario.

Although, they are omnivores, it is certain that they are big on algae consumption. They do not create a hassle when it comes to taking care of them, like in terms of food or water parameters. Inclusively, they are pretty flexible species of immense beauty. Their dark green or solid black body colouration, covered with a huge cluster of yellow dots all over the body, this Pleco is extremely detailed.


Sailfin Pleco (Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus, Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps)

Sailfin Pleco
  • Other names: Gibby, Leopard Pleco.
  • Lifespan:15-20 years
  • Size:13-19 inches
  • Colour: Brown and black stripes, almost like a leopard.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size:100 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:25-26 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Flexible with beginners and intermediate.

Sailfin Pleco fish is definitely up there, when it comes to having a long lifespan. The place of origin being South America, this species is a holder of exquisite beauty. Almost resembling the look of a fierce leopard, they have a combination of black and brown stripes or spots. Huge dorsal fins, almost reaching up to the caudal peduncle while it is down, just adds to the majesty of it all.

This type of catfish is quite easy to care for, making them pretty beginner-friendly. Still, they can be a little picky when it comes to the emulation of their natural habitat. There needs to be enough room or structures for them to hide, like the addition of driftwood. Other than that, they are mostly comfortable with sinking foods, preferably dry or live and plant matter-based stackable.


Royal Pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus)

Royal Pleco
  • Other names: Royal panaque and Royal catfish.
  • Lifespan:10 years
  • Size:16-17 inches
  • Colour: Solid jet black base with white trims on tail and fin, tan markings near the head and some specific regions of the body/ Grey base colour with darker stripes.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size:125 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:22-26 Degrees Celsius.
  • Care Level: Beginner

The dark colour composition of Royal Pleco, might make them appear gravely intimidating. Especially, the commonly seen lighter stripes over a darker base makes it appear so. The overall appearance of the fish is not very deceiving as they are semi-aggressive and can act situationally territorial.

They are preference-wise towards the herbivorous side, when it comes to their diet. Found in parts of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, they are one of the few fishes that can actually digest wood on consumption. Still, their perk is they are very beginner-friendly, which is a key factor in making a certain fish famous amongst the aquarists.


Snowball Pleco (Hypancistrus inspector)

Snowball Pleco
  • Other names: Orinoco Angel Pleco
  • Lifespan:8-10 years
  • Size:5-6 inches
  • Colour: Dark grey or black base body accented with yellow or white polka dots. Male variants may have a dark brown colour, with a faded red tinge.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 40 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:22-30 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Flexible with Beginners.

The distinct characteristic of Snowball Pleco fish is, they look strikingly similar to the Gold Nugget Plecos. Still, on inspection, there are subtle differences that are not that complicated to distinguish. With the sporadic placement of irregular spots, preferably white and yellow over a solid base ranging from black to grey or brown with red undertones, they look eye-catching.

The place of origin for these Snowball variants is Rio Negro, Venezuela. It is noted to be the biggest blackwater river, globally. They are pretty adaptive to the captivity situation in the aquarium, which automatically categorizes them as hardy. This factor is directly proportional in making these small catfishes to the beginner-friendly list, which it indeed is. They grow up to six inches in size, majorly feeding on plant matter or other omni-friendly foods.


Leopard Frog Pleco (Peckoltia Compta)

Leopard Frog Pleco
  • Other names: Imperial Tiger Pleco
  • Lifespan:8-10 years
  • Size:3.5-4.2 inches
  • Colour: Cream coloured or yellow stripes with a dark coloured body. The yellows hues turn darker as they mature, along with the spots transforming into stripes.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:26-30 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Flexible with beginners, Intermediate.

The Leopard Frog Pleco fish is also known by the name of Imperial Tiger Pleco, which is a splendid variant itself. Their high adaptability to an expanded range of environments, make them hardy. A big head with conspicuous fins, both pectoral and anal, this variant has a unique black to yellow stripe combination.

This variant of small catfish species is autochthonous to South America, growing just about four inches in size. Having balanced cream-coloured, or yellowish stripes, over a classic black base body, these Plecos look striking.


Candy Striped Pleco (Peckoltia vittata)

Candy Striped Pleco
  • Other names: Candy-striped Peckoltia
  • Lifespan:10-15 years
  • Size: About 5 inches
  • Colour: Base colours of dark brown and sandy beige, may get darker based on their good mood. They have cream stripes around the tail, that transforms into irregularity around the head region.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size:15-20 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:23-26 Degrees Celsius

The place of origin for these Candy Striped Pleco fishes is the Amazon River Basin, specifically in the lower sections. These bottom-dwelling species like a heavy decor, including an ample amount of rocks and driftwood. The territorial nature of this species around the other bottom dwellers is pretty noticeable, hence it is good to keep them in community tanks of middle and surface dwellers. 

These fishes like to feed on algae, but that’s not all as they prefer to have meaty items or foods rich in protein content. When they are not fed properly they tend to uproot plants, as they require a healthy diet consisting of frozen and live food. Other than that, appearance-wise they are an absolute treat to the eye, with their creamy stripes all over the body and tail, turning aesthetically irregular around the head region.


Vampire Pleco (Leporacanthicus galaxias)

Vampire Pleco
  • Other names: Galaxy pleco and Tusken pleco
  • Lifespan: Up to 15 years
  • Size: About 10 inches
  • Colour: Dark base colour of brown, grey or classic black with light spots almost resembling the night sky. In some specimens, the vice-versa is possible when it comes to colour contrast.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 50 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:22-26 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Flexible with beginners, Intermediate.

This beautiful species known by the name of a Vampire Pleco, is very beautiful when it comes to colour and vibrancy. The majority of them have a black or brown coloured base with small spots. It almost captures the beauty of a night sky, except they are adorned on the fish’s body. The most unique and noticeable feature of this variant of Pleco, is the ocean blue eyes. The concentration of light levels, makes their eyes dilate.

Conclusively, the Vampires are an interesting addition to your aquarium as not only they are peaceful, they make to be a great addition to the community tanks. These territorial beings can thrash any fish that mess with them or their personal space.


Sunshine Goldie Pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus)

Sunshine Goldie Pleco
  • Other names: Solskinssugemalle (Danish)
  • Lifespan:8-10 years
  • Size:12 inches
  • Colour: Grey or dark brown base body with white spots.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, Scavengers, predominantly Carnivorous.
  • Tank Size:125 gallons or more.
  • Tank water temperature:25-30 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Intermediate.

These Sunshine Goldie Pleco fishes have the classic Plecostomus colouration of white spots over a solid coloured base, preferably brown or grey. Scavenger by nature, these beauties are aquarist favourites for their ability to hold on to their colour for life. However, poor conditions may change that.

Like the majority of the small catfish species, these suckermouth catfish wonders are also from Rio Xingu, located in Brazil. As we have already mentioned, they have a scavenger in them and they grow up to 12 inches in size. They are omnivorous in nature, so they can survive on feedable like live meaty proteins, dry or frozen feedable. These small catfishes don’t really mind a little of that herbivorous diet either, liking a range of food items like spinach, cucumber, zucchini or green peas. It is preferable for them to consume the skin of the vegetable first.


Blue-eyed Lemon Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.)

Blue-eyed Lemon Bristlenose Pleco
  • Other names: Blue Eye Lemon Bushy Nose Pleco
  • Lifespan:15-20 years
  • Size:14-18 inches
  • Colour: Distinctive bright-turquoise coloured eyes with having darker base body colour, preferably black or grey.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, preferably herbivorous.
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:21-24 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Expert

The Blue-eyed Pleco or the Longfin Blue-eyed Lemon Bristlenose Pleco are one of the rarest species of Plecostomus to ever exist in the industry. Probably up there, when it comes to complexity in the care process. The reason for that is probably their demand for fast-flowing waters, as that is something that hits closest to home or their native waters. These fishes need good hiding spots like driftwood to hide when they are inactive. If some of these criteria are not met, the fish is easy to become ill and stressed.

The Blue-eyed Lemon Bristlenose Pleco, as their name speaks, have a very striking blue colouration in their eye. Other than that, they are not just rare, but one of the largest variants of suckermouth catfish around, with a whopping maximum size of 16 or 18 inches. Their diet majorly consists of algae, maybe vegetables like potato or squash or wood. Unlike the other suckermouths, protein-rich food in this case needs to be avoided.


Butterfly Pleco (Dekeyseria brachyuran, Ancistrus brachyurus, Peckoltia pulcher)

Butterfly Pleco
  • Other names: Chameleon Pleco
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: About 6 inches
  • Colour: Black and light yellow striped in a regular or irregular pattern throughout the body.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, slightly more inclined towards the herbivorous diet.
  • Tank Size: 40 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:25-27 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Flexible with beginners.

This nocturnal variant of suckermouth fish, known as the Butterfly Pleco, is famous for its camouflaging abilities. They use this unique ability of theirs when the sun is bright, beyond their level of tolerance. These small suckermouths prefer a sombre or dark environment in the tank. This beautiful pleco species come with a splotchy appearance, where they have a solid base body colour with patches of yellow, irregularly spread out from head to tail. 

Capable of changing colours as per lighting conditions, these unique species should be kept on a dark substrate, to observe the wonders of their transformation better. Otherwise, a dark substrate also supports their habitat needs of being dark. These primary herbivores, despite being omnivores like to feed on algae-rich products like wafers or spirulina tablets other than the classic vegetable choice of zucchini, broccoli, cucumber and more.


Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus)

Bristlenose Pleco
  • Other names: Bristlenose Catfish, Bushynose Catfish, Common Bristlenose Catfish, and the Brushmouth Pleco.
  • Lifespan:5 years
  • Size:3-5 inches
  • Colour: Brown, grey or green base colour with spots, mostly white or yellow.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Tank Size: 40 gallons
  • Tank water temperature:23-27 Degrees Celsius
  • Care Level: Flexible with beginners.

The Bristlenose Pleco has unique names like the Bushynose Catfish or Brushmouth Pleco, which has the most distinct look out of all the species of Plecostomus. However, there are multiple variants of Bristlenose present with classic colours of a dark base (preferably brown, black, olive green or grey) under several white dots, appearing serene.

This species is very hardy as not only they are beginner-friendly, but the fact that puts them in this category is their ability to deal with a varied range of parameters. However, not be much bothered by it. These bottom-dwelling beauties can survive on food items like sinking pellets, or wafers or just protein-rich seasonal live feedable.

Honourable mentions

Typhoon Pleco (Pseudacanthicus sp.)

Typhoon Pleco

Also known by the names of Fire Spot Cactus Pleco or Typhoon Cactus Pleco, it is the rarest known species of the Plecostomus. They are territorial when it comes to behaviourisms, other than being pretty large in size growing up to 16 inches. These carnivores are worth each and every penny as a result of their tough availability as a tank choice, and of course, their immense beauty.

Titanic Panaque (Panaque sp.) 

Titanic Panaque

Other common names that you may recognize these unique beings by, is Volkswagen Pleco. These peaceful beings like a large tank and is comfortable with fishes of the similar size range.

Orange Cheek Pinecone Pleco (Pseudorinelepis sp.)

Orange Cheek Pinecone Pleco

This variant of Plecostomus is pre-historic, other than being comparatively distinct from most of the neighbouring species, appearance-wise. They like to hover off their layer of substrate and do pretty well with a majorly herbivorous diet, on side of some wood to nibble on.

Polka-dot Cigar Pleco (Ancistrini sp.)

Polka-dot Cigar Pleco

They are also known as the Opal Spot Pleco fish, distinctively known for their clean algae-consuming abilities. It is evident, that their strong appeal as a result of their beauty, makes them stand out in the tank. They are heavily sought after for the very same purpose.

Tigris Pleco (Pseudolithoxus tigris)

Tigris Pleco

The Tigris Pleco are peaceful in nature, and look a lot similar to yet another species of Plecostomus, known as the Queen Arabesque. Naturally, these major algae eaters make a good fit for a community tank for their low level of shyness, hence preventing them from being stressed. As a part of their diet, they are ought to accept live foods like bloodworm and brine shrimp.

Scarlet Cactus Pleco (Pseudacanthicus pirarara)

Scarlet Cactus Pleco

These carnivores by the name of a Scarlet Cactus Pleco is an all-rounder, be it appearance or qualities. Additionally, this beauty with red fins, and spiny body, is a very popular pick between the Pleco enthusiasts and aquarists in general.

Queen Arabesque Pleco (Hypancistrus sp.)

Queen Arabesque Pleco

Originating from South America, mostly available in the Brazillian River areas. Their intense beauty and aesthetic make them heavily sought after our other aquarist favourite, known as the Queen Arabesque Pleco. Plus, their concentric-like patterns look very attractive, especially in the aquarium scenario besides all the decor and equally beautiful tank mates.


If we see conclusively, Plecostomus or briefly Plecos look majestic. Something you must note the fact that looks are not all with these suckermouth catfish variants. However, ability-wise, they are equally well off, as they are known to be great tank cleaners as a result of their classic nature of algae consumption. They come in extremely appealing designs, colours, contrasts and patterns, which never fails to steal your or anyone’s attention. Any of these you choose for your aquarium, you will never fail to be amazed by the mere aura of these magnificent beings.