Peppermint Pleco (Parancistrus nudiventris, L031): Ultimate Care Guide


The Peppermint Pleco is a smaller type of pleco, making them a good choice for smaller aquariums. Their dark to black bodies are covered in bright white spots, providing your tank a burst of color and texture. Native to the Xingu river in Brazil, this species is an omnivore, but mainly consumes algae. The best environment for this fish will include lots of smooth rocks and driftwood with caves and other hiding places.

Like many Plecos, Peppermint Plecos are hardy as long as their nutritional and environmental needs are met. There are a few areas where this species differs from other Pleco varieties. Let’s take a look at the facts you’ll need to successfully care for this visually striking Pleco!

Peppermint Pleco Care

Peppermint Plecos are native to rocky, fast moving waters in Brazil. The best way to care for this species is to provide conditions that mimic their natural environment. Peppermint Plecos are omnivores, but mainly eat algae. Provide a rocky tank environment with caves and other hiding spaces. Make sure your aquarium has strong currents similar to this fish’s natural habitat.

Peppermint Plecos can be hardy aquarium additions as long as their nutritional needs are met. Provide your fish a varied diet which mainly includes algae.

Temperature

Peppermint Pleco prefer slightly warmer temperatures than some other Plecos. The best range is between 78° – 84° F.

Water pH

Peppermint Pleco need water that is close to neutral, between 6.5 – 7.5 pH.

Peppermint Pleco Size

Peppermint Pleco reach a maximum adult size of around 7 inches. The growth rate of this species varies by age. Beyond two years a Peppermint Pleco is fully grown. In the first two years they can sometimes grow by half an inch per month.

Peppermint Pleco
Peppermint Pleco (Parancistrus nudiventris, L031). Edited. Gabriel Lelis Togni, CC BY 3.0

Food & Diet

Peppermint Pleco are omnivores but mainly eat algae and biofilms from rocks and other surfaces. Depending on the size of your aquarium, you’ll need to provide extra food in the form of algae wafers, some live foods, and freeze dried meaty foods. It is important this species mainly consume algae. Live or frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and bloodworms can be occasional snacks but shouldn’t be your Peppermint Pleco’s primary food source.

Lifespan

Peppermint Pleco should live around 10 years with proper care.

Tank Size

Smaller than some other species of Pleco, Peppermint Pleco can live in smaller aquariums. The best tank size is at least 50 gallons.

Tank Setup

Peppermint Pleco are happiest in tanks that mimic their natural environment. Rocky hardscape and strong currents are key elements for success with this fish. The best substrate choice is small to medium rocks and pebbles. Avoid rough rocks as these might damage your Peppermint Pleco’s sucker mouth. Don’t use any substrate that includes crushed coral or aragonite sand. Aside from being too rough, these types of substrates buffer alkalinity and can raise water pH higher than your fish can tolerate.

Maintaining high water quality is important. You’ll want a filter system which can turn over at least 4 times the volume of your tank in an hour. For instance, a 50 gallon aquarium will need a filter which has a capacity of at least 200 GPH (gallons per hour).

Peppermint Pleco likes living in an environment with strong currents. Often this can be created by positioning power heads and filter outlets to add movement to tank water. However these devices are normally used in larger aquariums with larger Plecos. The smaller tanks common for this species may be too small to support larger flow generating devices. An alternative might be wave makers. Wave makers are common in marine aquariums and are small underwater fanlike devices that can be positioned and directed as needed. Whatever flow generating equipment you decide on should be positioned to avoid dead spaces of current in your tank. Plecos can be messy fish, and power heads or wave makers can have the added benefit of keeping waste suspended so it can be removed by the filtration system.

This species is not known to destroy plants, but some Pleco varieties are not plant safe, so be cautious when trying to keep this fish in a planted aquarium. Plants can often be at risk if Plecos are underfed. If you decide to include plants in this Pleco’s tank make sure you are providing enough food. The biggest challenge when adding plants to a Peppermint Pleco tank is nutrition: the rocky environment this species prefers may not have enough nutrients to support common types of rooted plants. Epiphytes such as Anubias and Java Fern can be workable alternatives. These plants don’t need soil to grow and can be anchored to rocks and other hardscape features.

Peppermint Pleco Breeding

Peppermint Pleco are only rarely bred in captivity, many specimens available to hobbyists are caught in the wild. Assuming you can find a mated pair, breeding is possible with the correct preparation. Like many Plecos, this species doesn’t get along with members of it’s own species. This makes breeding difficult unless you have access to a breeding pair. This species spawns in rocky outcroppings and caves. You’ll want to include lots of caves and cover in their breeding tank so these fish have a wide selection to choose from.

After spawning, the male will guard eggs and fry until they become free-swimming. Pleco fry can be fed with strips of peeled cucumber. These should be positioned near the cave entrance where they hatched. Small Pleco fry don’t like to travel far for food and anything you provide should be within easy reach. Also make sure your breeding tank has lower currents and a sponge filter to prevent fry from getting drawn into a larger power filter.

Male or Female

Sexing Peppermint Pleco can be difficult. Mature males generally have extra odontodes growing along cheeks, body plates and pectoral spines. Females have fewer, and sometimes none at all.

Peppermint Pleco Disease

Peppermint Pleco, like many other Pleco species, are generally hardy and disease resistant. They are not immune from freshwater fish diseases, and can contract Ich and other fungal and bacterial infections. The best disease protection for this, or any Pleco, is maintaining excellent water quality. Ensure enough filtration and perform regular weekly water changes of at least 20%.

Your Peppermint Pleco is sensitive to certain aquatic medications, particularly those that include copper. Maintain a quarantine tank (QT) to isolate this species or other tank mates when applying special medications. A QT can also be used to isolate new tank additions for a few weeks after purchase. This can help you spot the signs of disease before they are added to your community tank.

Peppermint Pleco Tank Mates

Peppermint Pleco can get along with a wide range of tank mates. They are especially good matches for fish that stay in mid and upper tank regions such as Tetras and Bettas. Plecos have issues with other Plecos and are bad tank mates for these, and other similar bottom-dwelling catfish species.

Peppermint Pleco and Betta

The bottom-dwelling Peppermint Pleco can be an excellent tank mate for a Betta. The Betta will stay in upper to mid-levels of the tank which means they will usually stay out of each other’s way.

Peppermint Pleco and Goldfish

Peppermint Pleco can be a good tank mate for Goldfish but this pairing should be watched carefully. Goldfish have a slime coating that some Plecos may try to eat while they are sleeping. Peppermint Pleco isn’t known for this behavior, but it can happen, so watch this pairing to prevent injury to the Goldfish.

Peppermint Pleco and Bristlenose Pleco

Plecos don’t usually get along with other bottom-dwellers. Peppermint Pleco and Bristlenose Pleco are too similar, making this a bad tank mate pairing.

Peppermint Pleco and Shrimp

Peppermint Pleco is a good tank mate for Shrimp. While this Pleco is an omnivore, it mainly eats algae and small live food such as brine shrimp. It won’t hunt full sized shrimp. For extra safety, provide some java moss for your shrimp to hide and molt in.

Peppermint Pleco and Corydoras

Plecos don’t get along with other bottom-dwelling species. Peppermint Pleco will have problems with gentle Corydoras. Avoid this tank mate pairing.

Peppermint Pleco and Angelfish

Peppermint Pleco and Angelfish stay in different regions of the tank and are usually good tank mates. This pairing should be watched as Angelfish have a slime coating that some Plecos will try to eat while they sleep. Peppermint Pleco isn’t known for this behavior but should still be watched to ensure they aren’t injuring the Angelfish.

Peppermint Pleco and Cichlids

Peppermint Pleco are often good tank mates for South American Cichlids. African Cichlids should be avoided as they need higher water pH than Peppermint Plecos can tolerate.

Where can I find Peppermint Pleco for sale?

Often out of stock, the Peppermint Pleco can be a hard fish to locate. Your best bet are Internet sellers, but they may be available from your local fish store. Expect to pay between $40 and $100 USD for this fish depending on size.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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