Max Size: 50cm

Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps)

The Leopard Sailfin Pleco is a very hardy fish and the most common catfish used for getting rid of difficult algae in the aquarium. They do miracles for controlling algae growth in the aquarium, and a tank with a good algae yield also helps to keep them healthy and long-lived.

Leopard Sailfin Plecos make excellent community fish because they get on fine with and are peaceful with other tank mates. The only quirk to this is they can get territorial and aggressive towards other plecos if they were not raised together.

These Plecos will need a large aquarium as an adult. Keep some wood in the tank since grating algae from the wood presents an ideal place for more algae to grow, which will help to secure a constant food source for this fish. The cellulose in wood is also essential for their digestive process.

These Plecos are a nocturnal fish, so when giving supplement foods, it is best to feed these fish in the evening just before turning the tank lights off.

The Sailfin pleco has a beautiful dorsal fin that can be several inches high, and it develops straight up before fanning back almost to the onset of the caudal peduncle. It can also be characterised by the ray count of its dorsal fin, having more than ten rays. This Pleco has a highly-condensed series of spots that cover their entire bodies that is pretty constant on all areas of their body.

The most popular colours of these fish are pale orange with dark brown spots. The contrast between the spots and their base colour will vary a little based on the individual.


Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus
Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus On Glass
Quick Facts
Scientific NamePterygoplichthys gibbiceps
Other NamesSailfin Catfish, Clown Pleco, Sailfin Pleco, Leopard Plecostomus, Gibby, Spotted Sailfin Pleco, Clown Sucker Catfish, and Clown plecostomus.
OriginsBrazil, Peru
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Lifespan10-15 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.0
GH4 - 18
73 - 86℉
22.8 - 30℃

Natural Habitat



In the home aquarium, the Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

To the untrained eye, the Leopard Sailfin Pleco is difficult to sex. Nevertheless, experienced aquarists can compare the genital papilla of females and males, with the genital papilla of males being a small but thick stick protruding from the undercarriage. Females, on the other hand, tend to lie flat or recessed. Also, you can determine males when they are in a group as they may become more territorial.

Other Plecostomus of interest

Bristlenose Pleco(Ancistrus Cirrhosus)
Butterfly Plecostomus L168(Dekeyseria Brachyura)
Flash Plecostomus(Panaqolus albivermis)
Galaxy Plecostomus L029(Leporacanthicus galaxias)
Gold Nugget Plecostomus(Baryancistrus xanthellus)
Gold Stripe Tiger Panaque(Panaqolus sp)
View all Plecostomus
Date Added: 19/11/2020 - Updated: 06/09/2022 14:45:35