Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Ultimate Guide

Suckermouth catfish

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Facts

Scientific name:Hypostomus plecostomus
Other names:Suckermouth catfish, Common pleco, Suckling catfish, Shield catfish
Difficulty level:For beginners
Origin / Distribution:South America: In the waters of Guyana
Coloring:Light-dark patterned
Age expectation:15-20 years
Water parameters:GH 2 to 25, KH 3 to 15, pH 5.5 to 7.5, temperature 23 to 28 ° C
Pool size:Caves and Moorkienwurzeln should be available as hiding places. 
Since the sucking mouth catfish prefers plant-based food, hard plants are advantageous for a pool planting. 
It has been reported several times that the catfish like to dig up plants and knock over pool facilities, so it is important to secure the objects well. 
The pool size must be adapted to the final size of the catfish, but a minimum size of 150 cm (approx. 375L) is highly recommended. 
It is often used in large tanks as an “algae destroyer”.
Lining:Omnivores, prefers vegetable food, eg cucumber slices without peel, it has also been reported that they eat potatoes. Welschips are also popular.
Behavior:Very peaceful
Group size:These catfish tend to be loners but can be kept in groups of several in a correspondingly large tank.
Socialization:The Suckermouth catfish is an ideal companion for almost all aquarium fish, but as already mentioned, the final size of the catfish should be taken into account when choosing.

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Generalization

The Suckermouth catfish grows impressively large and adorns every large aquarium. This armored catfish is definitely not suitable for small aquariums.

The beautiful sail-shaped dorsal fin and the lyre-shaped tail are great to look at, and the social behavior of this fascinating fish is also very nice to observe.

The Suckermouth catfish socialize very well with shrimp. They simply ignore the shrimp

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Habitat

The crepuscular signs catfish or Saugmaulwels (trade name: Hypostomus plecostomus, actual scientific name Liposarcus Pardalis) comes from South America, where it is widespread. 

Suckermouth catfish Care Guide

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Characteristics, Shape and Color


The sucking mouth catfish is a very calm and peaceful fish that can be kept in pairs or in groups in appropriately large aquariums

The socialization with other fish is already clean without problems possible due to the size of the catfish, and shrimp are good aquariums partner. 

Problems can only arise with crabs, they occupy the same habitats on the ground and this could lead to arguments about the most beautiful and best cave.


The males of the Suckermouth catfish are a bit slimmer than the females and their fins are larger. The catfish is not bred very often in the aquarium – the young animals are not easy to accommodate because of their enormous final size. 

The female catfish lays up to 120 eggs in a cave, the male guards the clutch and cares for the brood until they hatch. The young animal mortality is high.

This armor catfish becomes approx. 25-40 cm long. 

It’s extremely beautiful large fins and shield-like scales on the body are striking. 

What to feed the Suckermouth catfish


The Suckermouth catfish has a light-dark pattern. 

Young animals can have a reddish fin color, but this disappears with increasing age. The rapid growth of the young is striking.

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Feeding

In addition to algae and other growth, the omnivore catfish likes to eat green fodder, vegetables and autumn leaves, but frozen food and, of course, special food for armored catfish is also popular.

The sucking mouth catfish largely leaves plants alone, only the lush, broad leaves of Echinodorus are happy to gnaw. The damage can be kept within limits by sufficient green and vegetable feeding.

You should feed the fish professionally compiled complete food especially for all suckling catfish which comes in tabs.

The food tabs contain important dietary fibers such as chitin and plant fibers, which are essential for a well-functioning digestion in catfish. 

With powerful proteins from insect larvae and carbohydrate-rich vegetables, such fish food ensures that catfish eat all major nutrients for a fast and healthy growth. 

You should also try food that comes as chips. The catfish can peel off the extra hard chips in a natural way.  You’ll enjoy seeing the catfish feeding.

The following is a list of foods that are suitable for feeding Suckermouth catfish:

  • Food tablets with a high proportion of green
  • Tubifex
  • Potatoes: scald longer
  • Carrots: scald longer
  • Kohlrabi: scald longer
  • Salad: cooked
  • Cabbage: scalded
  • Italian green pumpkin (succhinis): brewed
  • Chickweed: briefly frozen / thawed again
  • Ground elder: briefly frozen / thawed again
  • Nettles: briefly brewed
  • Sueßklee: Frozen briefly
  • Wild mustard: briefly brewed
  • Wild cabbage: briefly brewed
  • Dandelion leaves: briefly brewed

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) in the Aquarium

In the aquarium, the catfish should be provided with a lot of soft wood for rasping – bog wood, for example, is ideal here.

The uptake of wood fibers is essential for these armored catfish! 

Caves or other hiding places are also necessary for these imposing fish to feel comfortable. 

It is recommended keeping them in large aquariums with an edge length of 200-250 cm

In smaller tanks, Suckermouth catfish often suffer from stunted growth and die prematurely.

Suckermouth catfish have no special requirements for the water in the aquarium; everything is possible, from soft to hard. The water temperature should be 25-30 ° C. The aquarium should be well filtered; these giants have a very active metabolism.

Suckling mouth catfish Hypostomus plecostomus grows up to 45cm and needs a large aquarium (from 450 l) that is provided with sand as a substrate and stone structures or roots.

  • With a PH value of 6 – 8 and a GH value of 2 – 25 ° dGH, the crepuscular animals that should be kept in a group quickly feel good.
  • With increasing age, the animals become solitary and more intolerant of their own species. The basin should be well filtered. In the aquarium, Hypostomus plecostomus prefers the lower area and is great for socializing with peaceful species.
  • Hypostomus plecostomus feeds on food omnivorously in its natural environment, ie on both vegetable and animal food. Hypostomus plecostomus is a cave breeder, in which the eggs are mostly attached to the ceiling of caves.
  • Sales size approx 10cm.

Suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) Recommendation and Tip

Plant recommendation

When setting up the Aquarium, you should use plants that are free from snails, planarians and other unwanted inhabitants. Make sure that the plants are also free from algae spores, bacteria and fungi.

Water binder tip

Use a water binder that binds heavy metals like copper, lead, silver and other as well as medicine residues and organic nitrogen connections (ammonium, ammonia and nitrite) and removes it completely from the aquarium water.

This will ensure that the Suckermouth catfish always have crystal clear and healthy water. It also ensures optimal conditions for successful breeding and keeping.

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