Hot Water Fish

Pool Cleaner Fish

  • Scientific name:  Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Common name: Pool cleaner, catfish, seaweed sucker, window cleaner, devil fish, glass sucker, rock sucker
  • Aquarium size:  250 liters
  • Temperament: Calm
  • Temperature:  Between 21º and 27ºC
  • pH: Between 6.5 and 8
  • Diet: Vegetarian-Omnivores
  • Length:  35 cms


Although Hypostomus plecostomus is the fish that is usually sold in aquarium stores, as pool cleaners, it is not actually the only one to which this characteristic can or should be attributed.
It comes from the Loricaridae family , armored fish , which are also often called catfish . In addition to pool cleaners, it is also known by other common names, such as algae sucking fish, window cleaner, devil fish, glass sucker, stone sucker … all names that we can understand have to do with its sucking mouth, and its usual position in the aquarium, hanging on the glass or attached to a stone at the bottom of the aquarium.


In nature, Pool Cleaner fish can measure up to 60 centimeters , although in captivity it is rare for them to exceed 35 centimeters. Even so, it is a fish that in adulthood acquires a considerable size , so the aquarium must be the appropriate size.
Their body is flattened and they do not have scales , instead they have an overlap of bone plates that extend throughout the entire body, up to the head.
Its head is large, with laterally arranged eyes.
The mouth is located in a very forward position and acts as a suction cup. It is protected by two thick lips, which make it a suction organ, with which it scrapes off its favorite foods: algae.
They are equipped with highly developed fins, with stiff and sharp first rays, which is why they can be dangerous to handle.
Their usual coloration is brown, with darker circular spots, which in some specimens almost completely cover their bodies, giving the sensation of being almost black.
They do not have any type of sexual dimorphism, it is very difficult to distinguish males from females , except that the females appear wider when viewed from above.

Distribution and habitat

Its place of origin is in Central and South America, in Guyana and in the drains of the Orinoco River, in Colombia and Venezuela.
They usually inhabit fast-flowing rivers with clear waters, usually living around driftwood pieces.
In some places, such as the rivers and lakes of Mexico, it has become an invasive species, after some specimens have been introduced, by fans of aquarium fish and not finding any type of natural predator.

Aquarium conditions

The size of the aquarium suitable for this species is about 250 liters . The temperature must be between 21ºC and 27ºC, with a pH between 6.5 and 8. Water hardness, 4-20º GH.
The aquarium must be quite spacious, with a substrate based on sand and peat, where we will provide hiding places, where you can hide.
The vegetation should not be lacking, they need an abundant flora but that is well planted, since they can move it easily, they can even eat it.

Everything you need to maintain your aquarium

  • Best digital pH meter
  • Best Aquarium Test
  • Best anti-algae
  • Best bacteria for aquarium
  • Best siphoner for aquarium
  • Best Aquarium Water Clarifiers
  • Best reverse osmosis filters for aquarium
  • Best UV lamps for aquariums


They are essentially vegetarian fish, consuming large amounts of algae, although they will accept other types of food, such as worms and frozen foods. You can complete your diet by adding vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, etc.

Aquariums by size

  • Small aquariums
  • 10 liter aquariums
  • 20 liter aquariums
  • 30 liter aquariums
  • 40 liter aquariums
  • 50 liter aquariums
  • 60 liter aquariums
  • 80 liter aquariums
  • 100 liter aquariums

Aquarium type

  • Complete aquarium kits
  • Nano aquariums
  • Prawns
  • Aquariums for Bettas
  • Tortugueros
  • Aquariums for kids
  • Farrowing
  • Cheap aquariums


  • AquaLed
  • Tetra

Behavior and compatibility

The pool cleaner fish is a nocturnal species that hides during the day and comes out at night to feed.
Its behavior towards other species in a warm water aquarium  is friendly, it can be kept in a community aquarium , without causing any problems.
However, it is not advisable to keep several specimens, as they are somewhat territorial and can be aggressive.

Fish compatible with plecostomus

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Tiger Barbel
  • Scalars, Angelfish
  • Guppy
  • Neon Tetra
  • Silver dollar
  • Freshwater Puffer Fish
  • Rainbow
  • Betta fish 
  • Platy
  • Ancistrus

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Red piranha
  • Cherry barbel
  • Koi
  • Botia Clown
  • Goldfish
  • Guppy endler
  • Little nun
  • Ax fish
  • Telescope
  • Disk

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Gourami Pearl
  • Flying Fox Fish
  • Snail Apple
  • Zebra fish
  • Ramirezi

Restricted Compatible Fish

  • Oscar fish
  • Paradise Fish
  • Harlequin
  • Lizard peje
  • Drunk Fish
  • Kribensis
  • Red tailed shark


It is not usual to be successful in captive breeding. In their natural state, they usually lay their eggs in deep holes, on the banks of rivers, when the rainy season arrives. The eggs are usually guarded by the females.


When we buy Loricars in our usual aquarium fish store, we have to make sure that they have a rounded belly and that the eyes are not sunken.
If so, we would be facing an excessive thinning, typical of recently imported species.
Another detail, when we handle these fish, especially with a net, we must be very careful with their fins, they can get trapped and be damaged.

Photos of the cleaner fish, Hypostomus plecostomus

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