Scobinancistrus aureatus – Golden Pleco

Scobinancistrus aureatus – Golden Pleco is a beautiful, but somewhat large armoured catfish. They grow to about 30 to 40 centimetres!


Scobinancistrus aureatus – Golden Pleco

Scobinancistrus aureatus was described in 1994 by Burgess. Their common name is Golden Pleco. Before they were officially described, they were given the temporary L014 number. This L number has expired after the official description.

Some scientists have placed this species in the genus Panaque (Panaque aureatus), because of the spoon-shaped teeth that this species has in common with those Armored catfish. However, this classification does not seem to be generally accepted (yet).


Scobinancistrus aureatus can reach a total length of about 30 to 40 centimetres. They are dark brown with gold / yellow dots. Their sucker mouth is yellow and their belly is whitish. The fins show the same dot pattern. Only the dorsal and anal fins are trimmed with a yellow band at the rear.

As long as enough hiding places are offered, the Sunshine Pleco is a fairly peaceful and unproblematic fish that can be kept with a wide variety of fish. At first, this species tends to stay hidden during the daytime, to become active and start foraging for food once dusk sets in. But once acclimatized, however, they often emerge during day time too.

Sunshine Pleco’s can be kept solitary as well as with its own kind or other robust bottom-dwelling fish. If a small group of these fish are kept together, it’s very important to assure that all fish have enough room to set up territories of their own and that enough hiding places (plants, rocks, wood) are present. If not, this generally peaceful fish can become stressed and develop a rather nasty, aggressive disposition towards its own kind as well as other bottom dwellers – and because of its impressive set of teeth, it can inflict serious, sometimes even fatal injuries!


South America: Rio Iriri, Rio Xingú (Altamira, Ilha da Fazenda), Pará, Brazil.


Like all members of the genus Scobinancistrus, the Sunshine Pleco is predominantly carnivorous: a quick glance at the impressive set of teeth will remove any last trace of doubt.

A vast array of different meaty foods are readily accepted: carnivore pellets, insect larvae (blood worms, mosquito larvae), tubifex, krill, fresh shrimp, mussel and fish meat. Once conditioned this fish usually takes algae tablets with equal enthusiasm, and often even nibbles on vegetable matter.

Other than that, this fish sporadically feeds on ‘Aufwuchs’, the organic matter that forms on submerged surfaces (plants, rocks, wood, aquarium walls), and often it will also take food remains left behind by tank mates, as well as soft wood.

The Aquarium

This large, brightly coloured (what’s in a name) catfish-species prefers a dimly lit tank with a good number of hiding places, either created with plants, driftwood, rocks or artificial (pleco spawning) caves. To keep more than one specimen in the same tank, or together with other bottom-dwelling fish, you need at least a 60×20″ (150x50cm.) tank: this fish can become very territorial, and when suitable hiding places are lacking, it can be aggressive towards other bottom dwellers. When kept as only catfish in an aquarium, a tank size of 48×18″ (120x45cm.) is sufficient for an adult specimen. Juveniles can be raised in smaller tanks, the minimum tank size being 23×12″ (80x30cm).

The Sunshine Pleco does best in soft, slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 5.0-7,5), heavy oxygenation and a lot of underwater currents, but can adapt to somewhat less favourable conditions if acclimatized slowly and with care. A powerful filter system is required to cope with large amounts of waste this fish produces due to its high-protein diet.



Jonas Hansel –

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Jonas Hansel –

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