Chocolate pleco overviewChocolate Pleco fishes are hardy yet gentle suckermouth catfish. They are typically nocturnal but can become active during the day if their tank has several hiding spots. In community tanks, this fish would generally ignore other tank mates if they have ample personal space. Learn about why the Chocolate Pleco gets aggressive sometimes, along with other in-depth details about their native habitat, behavior, and feeding.

Chocolate Pleco Stats

Here are the main facts about the Chocolate Pleco in a more compact form:

Scientific name Pterygoplichthys scrophus
Common name Rhino pleco, Chocolate pleco, Alligator pleco
Care level Easy
Native to Rio Maranon and Rio Ucayali in South America
Color Black, Cinnamon, Rich Dark Brown, Dark and Light Mottled Brown
Tank size Minimum size – 75 gallons
Preferred temperature 72-82 Fahrenheit
pH level 6.0-7.5
Hardness 5-19
Size 27.5 cm or 11 inches in length
Growth rate No exact growth rate
Temperament Non-aggressive

Chocolate Pleco Overview

Chocolate Pleco fishes are algae eaters and members of the Loricariidae family. If you want to breed them, it is best to recreate the environmental conditions of Rio Maranon or Rio Ucayali. Moreover, they are more active at night but you can dim the aquarium lighting during the day to mimic a typical night setting.

They are shy and peaceful, and an excellent choice for community tanks. They would not hurt or fight other fish, but circumstances can cause them to be show signs of aggression. The male Chocolate Pleco can be aggressive towards other male Plecos about territory and while protecting their young.


Chocolate Pleco is also known as rhino pleco and alligator pleco. Its scientific name is Pterygoplichthys scrophus. They are from the Pterygoplichthys genus, which is gotten from three Greek words: pterygion, hoplon, and ichthys. Pterygion means tiny wings, hoplon means weapon, and ichthys or ichthus means fish.

They are originally from the Peruvian rivers of Rio Maranon and Rio Ucayali, in South America. You can also find them in the Rio Amazon and Andean valley and island.


The Chocolate Pleco has more than ten rays on its dorsal fins. They have two small lumps from their nostrils towards the head region which are actually nasal flaps. The Chocolate Pleco has several dark colors: black, rich dark brown, cinnamon, dark or light mottled brown.

As a member of the Pterygoplichthys genus, their bodies are covered in armor-plated rows along with their abdomen that has tiny plates. They have everted able cheek plates, underslung sucker mouth, and adipose fin. Their stomachs are enlarged and connected to the dorsal abdominal wall.

Chocolate Pleco Size

The average size of a Chocolate Plecostomus is 11 inches. However, feeding your fish with quality meals and ensuring they live in favorable environments influences their size. Other factors like substrate, water parameter, tank size, and tank mates are also essential.

Differences Between the Male and Female Chocolate Pleco

The male and female exhibit subtle differences in their body shape. The female Chocolate Pleco appears rounded, unlike the skinny body of the male. The female is generally larger with a longer abdomen than the male.

Chocolate Pleco Lifespan

Chocolate Pleco can live up to ten years old. However, like its size, the life span is influenced by the quality of life it lives. So, environmental factors, feeding, minimal stress, and care play significant roles in extending the life span of a Chocolate Pleco.

Chocolate Pleco Care


The more their aquarium can mimic their natural habitat, the happier your Chocolate Pleco would be. Put up different tank decorations that can serve as shelter or territory markers as it helps the fish feel safe and relaxed; rocks and caves are good options. Plants may be added but are not necessary because the Chocolate Pleco can destroy them.

Furthermore, keeping the tank clean is critical. Hence, we recommend getting a good canister filter. They would get rid of the excessive wastes the Chocolate Pleco produces.

Water Parameters

The Chocolate Pleco requires a water temperature range of 72 to 82 Fahrenheit with its pH level at around 6.0 and 7.5 and water hardness of five to 19.

Chocolate Pleco Tank Size

The minimum tank size for Chocolate Pleco is 75 gallons because a smaller space would affect them mentally and physically. They would get stressed out and show aggression.

Chocolate Pleco Diet

There’s a common misconception that most Plecos eat only algae. This is rather untrue as they can quickly become malnourished. The Chocolate Pleco fishes are omnivores, so they eat both meat and vegetables. Of course, they enjoy snacking on algae, but they also eat other plant matter and live frozen or dry meaty meals.

We recommend you feed them supplements and food items like:

  • Shrimp
  • Algae Wafers
  • Flakes
  • Bloodworms
  • Pellets
  • Earthworms
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lima
  • Cantaloupe
  • Breadfruit
  • Honeydew melon
  • Papaya

However, do not feed them acidic fruits and veggies.

How Many Days Can the Chocolate Pleco Go Without Eating?

In captivity, the Chocolate Pleco can go 10-14 days without eating food. The length of days they do not eat depends on how many Plecos are in the tank with them and if they can occasionally snack on algae and aquarium plants.

However, Chocolate Pleco fishes eat everything they find under driftwoods and rocks in the wild. It may include debris, plant matter, insects, fungi, larvae, worms, and meat. So, technically, they don’t usually go without eating when they are living in the wild.

Chocolate Pleco Recommended Feeding Schedule

You should feed your Chocolate Pleco every day. Add algae wafers into their aquarium, especially when there’s not enough in the tank. Put them in at night because the fish are nocturnal.

In the morning, check to see if the wafer is gone; if yes, put in another piece. Furthermore, vegetables and fruits are good sources of fiber, so cut them up and feed them to your Chocolate Pleco once or twice a week as well.

They require protein-based meals at least once or twice a week, which you should cut up into tiny bite-size pieces. In one serving, offer them chopped-up raw shrimps or shrimp pellets. You may allow them to snack on earthworms and blood worms from time to time but serve only one for each meal.

Chocolate Pleco Tank Mates

Chocolate Pleco tankmates should not be aggressive bottom-dwelling fishes. Some ideal fish tankmates include Platies, Barbs, Cichlids, Guppies, Hatchets, Bettas, Angelfish, other catfish species, Mollies, Gouramis, and Loaches. Mid-dwelling fishes are also a good fit as they typically stay away from the Chocolate Pleco territory.

How Many Chocolate Pleco Should Be Kept Together Per Tank?

This depends solely on the Chocolate Pleco size. However, a large tank of about 75 gallons would be fair for two pleco fishes. In a community tank, one fully grown Chocolate Pleco would do just fine.

Do Chocolate Plecos Bite?

Technically they can bite, but they do not go around biting other fishes. The Chocolate Pleco has strong teeth which they use to scrape off their food particles from driftwood or the tank surfaces. They will, however, bite if they feel threatened by other bottom dwellers that swim into their territory.

Furthermore, they can injure you or other fishes with their sharp fins but not with the intent to kill as they are not lethal. Hence, handle them with care and simply wear gloves in order to avoid any potential bites.

Chocolate Pleco Breeding

Unfortunately, there is no information on Chocolate Pleco breeding in an aquarium, but it is a common belief that they lay their eggs in caves. However, you should care for your pet fish and allow them to breed naturally rather than artificially forcing them to breed.

Chocolate Pleco Young


The full grown Chocolate Pleco female chooses a cave close to their natural habitat and finds a flat surface to deposit hundreds of bright orange eggs; then, the male fertilizes them. The male uses his fins to aerate the eggs, then cleans them up, and prepares the nest for their young. During this time, the Chocolate Pleco male guards the nest and can get quite aggressive. Afterward, within four to 10 days, the eggs begin to hatch.


Once they are hatched, take them out and place them into at least a 55-gallon separate tank. Like the mature tank, they would also need shelters and rocks to hide. The fry would feed on high-protein meals initially, so you should give them brine shrimps, sinking or disc-type food tabs, and micro worms.

Chocolate Albino Plecostomus

The Albino Chocolate Pleco is another algae-eating pleco species. They originated from South America and grow to an average size of one and a half inches but grow up to 18 inches in the wild. Chocolate Albino Plecostomus lives up to 15 years if under favorable environmental conditions.

It thrives in tropical waters, which are about 73 to 82 F.  They get along with most tank inhabitants except small-sized shrimps. What’s more, they are herbivores that feed on debris, waste, and algae growing in their tank.

However, they are territorial bottom dwellers, and both males and females show no visible distinguishable feature. Finally, you should know that they are active in the dark or at night.


Chocolate Pleco fishes are a cool addition to your home tank; here are a few reasons why:

  • Chocolate pleco caring guideThey clean up all the algae in the tank
  • They do not bother other tank mates
  • They adapt to a wide range of water conditions
  • They are nocturnal fish, which means that they will be mostly out and about when it’s dark, or during the night

The Chocolate Pleco fishes are indeed a delight. We hope this article has helped you acquire new knowledge about taking care of them, especially if you are new to the species and would like to purchase one soon.

5/5 - (18 votes)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here