Pterygoplichthys scrophus (Rhinocerus sailfin pleco)

Pterygoplichthys scrophus or Rhinocerus sailfin pleco belongs to the Hypostominae subfamily of the Loricariidae family of the Siluriformes order. The species may also be known as Gluptoperichthys scrophus and Liposarcus scrophus (former scientific names). Furthermore, P. scrophus is less famous in the aquarium trade from other species of the genera Pterigoplichthys.

Pterygoplichthys scrophus is native of South America’s Maranon and Ucayali river basins. In general, Pterygoplichthys species exist in a wide range of habitats, from slow-flowing or stagnant ponds with low oxygen levels to fast flowing streams and tributaries with high oxygen levels.

Pterygoplichthys scrophus has spiny scutes that cover the upper body, a large dorsal fin, a flat belly and round mouth which indicates is a bottom dweller like most catfish. This sailfin pleco has larger nostril flaps from its congeners.
Pterygoplichthys scrophus has a mottled brown to black coloration with dark brown saddles (usually three) on the side of the body near the tail. Furthermore, there is a dark brown blotch on the head and a light yellow stripe to the upper caudal fin.
There is no sexual dimorphism, but males have a prominent genital papilla than females. The Rhinocerus sailfin pleco grows up to 10-12 inches.

Comparison of Pterygoplichthys scrophus with other Pterygoplichthys species:

  1. usually has three dark brown saddles, while other Pterygoplichthys species don’t.
  2. has a dark brown blotch on top of the head, while other species don’t
  3. has a light yellow interorbital stripe on the upper caudal fin, while other species don’t.
  4. absence of dark or light spots over the body and fins, while all other Pterygoplichthys species have either dark or light spots.

Temperament and tank mates:
In general, plecos are compatible with many species due to their peaceful personality. Furthermore, the species is an excellent choice for community tanks. However, plecos get aggressive with similar or territorial species and sometimes with small species due to its territorial behavior, so keep an eye on them as their aggressiveness may increase in smaller tanks. Furthermore, the species may get aggressive with laterally flattened species such as angelfish, discus, etc.

Water parameters and Aquarium’s size:
The species require large tanks with a minimum of 75 gallons and heavy filtration due to their high waste production. A pH between 6.0-7.6, with a temperature between 22-28 Celsius, suits the species. There is no information about the range of water hardness that the species inhabit, but presumably, have similar requirements with other Pterygoplichthys species.

Decorations such as caves, rocks, and woods are essential for them to hide during the day. Some individuals may eat plants while others not. The fish may stop eating the plants of the aquarium when it gets fed with a plant source such as vegetables. Furthermore, Plecos have a habit of digging up the plants from the bottom.

Plecos are mostly herbivores and famous to aquarists as algae eaters. Furthermore, many beginners use plecos to clean the bottom from the leftovers of other fish in the aquarium, as well as, the algae but like all animals need a proper diet. You should provide them with prepared food (tablets), live food (earthworms, bloodworms,etc.) as well as blanched vegetables (zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, spinach cucumber, etc.).
In nature, their diet consists of detritus, algae, plankton, a small amount of wood and vertebrates, etc.

There is no information about the reproduction of Pterygoplichthys scrophus as well as no reports about reproducing the species in aquariums. However, some Pterygoplichys species are bred in fish-farms by the Aquarium industry in outdoor ponds with deep burrows in the shore with the proper parameters.


  1. Jonathan Armbruster and Lawrence Page 2006, Redescription of Pterygoplichthys punctatus and description of a new speciesof Pterygoplichthys (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Retrieved from
  2. Lawrence M. Page*, Jonathan W. Armbruster* and Mark H. Sabaj 1996, Redescription of Glyptoperichthys scrophus, a loricariid catfish from Peru. Retrieved from
  3. Pterygoplichthys Scrophus 2013. Retrieved from
  4. Hidalgo del Aguila, M. & Chocano, L. 2016. Pterygoplichthys scrophusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T58388282A58388345. Retrieved from
  5. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2019.FishBase, Pterygoplichthys scrophus. Retrieved from:

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