Sunshine Pleco (L014 Pleco): Care, Size, Lifespan, Breeding, and More

Sunshine Pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus) are attractive freshwater fish that are also known as Goldie Pleco or simply L014 Pleco. This pleco adds a pleasant and different look to any tank and will capture anyone’s attention to themselves. These fish, however, are shy and try to hide under the rocks and other decorations. They are relatively low-maintenance fish which makes them an ideal fish in most tanks.

So continue reading to have a better understanding of Sunshine Pleco and provide them a healthy habitat.

Species Profile & Overview

The Sunshine Pleco ( L014 ) is, by far, one of the most beautiful members of the Loricariidae family (plecos) native to Rio Xingu (Shin-Gu) in the lower Amazon River in Brazil. These fish share the same body shape as other members of the family but have different colors and patterns.

This bottom-dwelling fish can be your tank showpiece! The Sunshine Pleco ( L014 ) is a relatively rare freshwater species that might not be available in most pet stores. This fish is highly sought after by many advanced aquarists. We highly recommend getting this fish for your tank If you see them available for sale in your area.

Often known as the L014 Pleco, these fish are not as common in pet stores as other types of plecos. This makes them quite pricey compared to more regular types of plecos.

L014 Pleco lives in Xingu (Shin-Gu) River that has less driftwood, and fallen trees. This river mainly has sandy substrate and has clear water. There are many rocks and boulders in the river that plecos use to hide under, eat, breed and raise their fry.

 Sunshine Pleco stays most of its time on the sandy bed of the rivers where it can find rocks and driftwoods to hide under. Despite the constant water parameters in the wild, these fish are quite tolerant and can adapt to water parameters in a tank. 

That being said, these fish are shy and mostly active during the night. So it’s important to provide them with lots of hiding spots to get a nap during the daytime. 


L014 Sunshine Pleco

L014 plecos have bold and beautiful black and orange colors that are unique to themselves. This makes them an ideal fish for many aquarists who are looking to add more color coloration to their aquarium.

This fish has the same external characteristics as the other pleco fish. They have a large head, narrow tail, downturned mouth, and large fins. The eyes are on top of the head where they can constantly check the water column for predators. 

Anatomy Of Plecos
External anatomy of plecos

Fins are probably one of the main beauty attractions of these fish. Their large semi-translucent fins have bright orange color and are beautifully marked with the same pattern this fish has on its body. The large triangular dorsal fin is the main attraction point of this fish. When they are not under stress, you might see the dorsal fin stand upright displaying its unique patterns. 

The base color for Sunshine Pleco is black but has numerous orange dots on its body that make it look more orange than black. The Bright orange dots cover most of their body and fins. When young, the dots are larger but are less in number so the black base color is more visible. But as they mature they start to develop more orange color and dots. 

To see the true colors of this fish it’s important to match your tank parameters to what this fish has in the wild.

Adult Size

The average Sunshine Pleco size is 10 inches but they might grow slightly bigger. Compared to other types of plecos they are slightly bigger which make them a good fit for larger aquariums. 

In rare cases, they might grow one or two more inches in length. This happens in rare cases and will happen after years of proper care and diet. 


In a well-maintained tank, the L014 lifespan is between 10 – 15 years. 

This species is susceptible to illness and other fatal conditions that might occur in a tank environment. This means the actual life expectancy for an individual fish in a specific tank environment might be less.

Behavior and Temperament

Sunshine Plecos are very social and outgoing compared to other types of plecos. They are mostly at the bottom of the tank swimming around in the shades when the lights are on or it’s daytime. However, like all plecos, they are most active during the night and will look for food. 

when you keep more than one pleco fish in your tank, you might see some aggressive behavior. Males are very territorial and might fight over a cave to their death! Females are not territorial and are not as aggressive as males are. 

Males need caves in the aquarium, so you will need to add a pleco cave for each male that you have in the tank. When males get enough caves they will each pick a cave and will not fight with each other. 

L014 Sunshine Pleco

Sunshine Pleco Care

Sunshine Pleco care isn’t a challenge and will easily adapt to life in the aquarium. They can live happily in a tank that is spacious and has water parameters that are close to what these fish have in nature.

They need clean and warm water and will need a diet that matches what they get in the wild. Doing this lets your pet fish live a healthier life. 

To provide your Sunshine Pleco with the best possible habitat, you should follow the recommendations below.

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a single Sunshine Pleco is 100 gallons. This fish grows to a manageable size which makes them an ideal pet pleco for larger aquariums. That said, it is always better to have the largest aquarium you can house so the larger the tank the better. 

L014 plecos need more floor area than just volume. The more surface area you have in the tank the more plecos you can keep. 

To provide more floor area for your Sunshine Pleco, you should first get a tank that is wide at the base (If possible). Then, you can make even more floor area by adding slates and tiles in the tank in a way that your plecos can swim under and over them. Doing this will provide a lot of surface to the tank and will create hiding spots so your fish can hide.

Tank Setup:

Setting up the right habitat for Sunshine Pleco is vital. They are nocturnal fish that need a lot of hiding spots during the daytime. If they can’t hide, they will easily get stressed which can cause diseases or even death. 

Sunshine Pleco needs a sufficient amount of driftwood and rocks so they can hide when they feel threatened. We recommend using natural decorations and avoiding artificial objects. Natural decorations will help you with keeping your tank’s parameters balanced. You will also have to add a few pleco caves. Caves will be a safe and secure sleeping place for these fish and will protect them from other animals that might try to harm them. 

When it comes to plecos, you’ll have to pay special attention to the substrate of your tank. The Sunshine Pleco have a soft belly so they will need a soft and fine substrate. Sharp substrates are not recommended as they will eventually cause injuries that will result in different types of infections. Sand is the best substrate for them, sand is soft and safe. You can also use planted tank substrate if you are planning to aqua gardening.

Your aquarium will be more balanced when you add live plants. Simply pick a handful of your favorite plants to make your tank unique as most plants get along nicely with Sunshine Pleco.

Water Parameters:

Replicating the natural habitat of Sunshine Pleco is the best way to keep these fish healthy in a tank. However, this might not be easy for many people. Most aquarists might live in areas that have either very hard or very soft water, this fish does well in neutral to slightly acidic waters. If this is the case for you, then you might need to look for a way to achieve neutral water before getting this fish. They also need warm water that is highly oxygenated. Below are the tank parameters you can keep L014 plecos in: 

  • Temperature: 78 – 86 Degrees Fahrenheit 
  • PH: 6 – 7.5
  • TDS: 80 – 120 PPM

Keeping your tank in between the range mentioned above will ensure your fish can live a happy life. As mentioned, stable water parameters are the key to the health of this fish. A TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter will let you know how much dissolved solids are in your tank’s water. Every time your tank’s TDS crosses the ideal range you will need to change the water so the TDS goes back down.

L014 Sunshine Pleco


In general, Sunshine Pleco thrives in the shade, so avoid harsh lighting if you don’t have any plants. If you are keeping live plants, then simply increase the number of decorations and hiding places so your L014 can hide when the aquarium lights are on.

Filter System:

Plecos in general make a lot of waste, and Sunshine Pleco is not an exception. This means you will have to use a strong filter so your water stays clean at all times. Ammonia spikes are very dangerous for L014 plecos, so you will have to go as big as you can with filtration systems.

Common Diseases and Prevention

These hardy fish are susceptible to the most common aquarium diseases. Aquariums are tiny ecosystems, this means parasites and diseases will easily and quickly transfer from fish to fish. 

Poor tank care usually leads to bacterial or fungal infections in aquarium fish. But probably the most common way for the fish to get sick is through the introduction of new sick fish or plants that might carry diseases. That said, you should never introduce new fish or plants to your tank without correctly quarantining them. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are also extremely important. Never leave any uneaten food in the tank for a long time as they will start to rot and increase the risks of bacterial or fungal infection. 

Diet and Feeding Requirements

Sunshine Pleco are not picky eaters and will eat almost all types of available fish foods. Even though they eat all types of foods, it doesn’t mean they will thrive with all types of foods. L014 plecos are omnivores and will mainly eat plant and meaty foods. In the wild, they are mainly feeding on freshwater sponges, plant matter, insect larvae and small creatures available at the bottom of the rivers. 

They do best on a high-protein diet so you will have to have several sources of protein. Frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex, daphnia, and other small creatures make a great protein source. All these food sources are available in pet stores and online.

Dry foods like sinking pellets, shrimp wafers, and other available fish foods are the ideal diet to feed your pleco daily. Some of these fish foods are very high quality while some might not have all the ingredients your fish needs. That said, you must buy a few different types of them to mix an ideal diet for your Sunshine Pleco. High-protein pellets or fish flakes mixed with a low amount of plant-based foods are an ideal combination to feed.

Sinking foods should be the main food your Sunshine Pleco gets every day. Live or frozen foods are great snacks that can be given a few times per week. When feeding your fish make sure they receive diverse types of foods so they can get all the elements they need. The ideal time to feed your plecos is at night, that’s because the L014 are mainly active at night. Never feed more than what they can eat during the night. 

Breeding Sunshine Pleco

Breeding Sunshine Pleco is a delicate and sometimes frustrating process. Breeding L014 can be done in aquariums when the conditions are right.

In order to breed these fish, you will need your L014 to be mature and at least 3 – 5 years old. Once you confirm you have at least one male and one female in your breeding group, you can start to condition your fish for breeding.

If you have more males in your tank, then make sure that each male has a cave available in the aquarium. The rule of thumb is to add at least one cave per each male if not more.

L014 are cave breeders which means they need caves to breed. The cave should be slightly bigger than the male’s body; but, small enough that he can trap the female inside.

For breeding purposes, the male looks around for a suitable cave to trap the female in. When the male finds a suitable cave, he will clean it out and wait for the female to arrive. The male will then trap the female and will not let her leave the cave until she lays eggs. 

Female Sunshine Plecos lay about 100-150 eggs each time they breed.

Once eggs are laid, the male will let the female leave the cave, and then he will fertilize the eggs. It’s the male job to guard the eggs until they hatch. During this time, the male cleans the eggs and fans them so the eggs don’t go bad or get mold. 

The eggs usually hatch 7-10 days after being laid. Water parameters have a direct effect on the hatch time.

After hatching, the fry usually stay at the back of the cave and feed on their egg sacks for the next few days. The male will keep the fry in the cave for another 10-12 days until they are fully developed and ready to leave.

Once the fry are strong enough, they will escape the cave and will attach to driftwood or glass in the aquarium. The fry usually stays together in a cluster in a single spot until they grow to half an inch in length. 

Tank Mates

Despite the fact that Sunshine Plecos are generally calm and friendly fish, when they are at their breeding season, male will fight over territory. Having said that, if you decorate the aquarium correctly, this fish will not display any aggressive characteristics. You will also need to make sure you avoid adding too many bottom dwellers fish to your tank.

To be safe, stick with similarly sized peaceful fish that swim in the water column. While Sunshine Pleco are mostly minding their own business, other aggressive fish might start to bully them. This means you will need to avoid any aggressive or oversized fish that might try to eat your pleco. The other factor you will need to consider is the tank water parameters. You will need to select fish that can live in the same parameter range that your L014 can live in. Here are some good tank mates for this specie: 

L014 Sunshine Pleco


If you’re searching for a low-maintenance freshwater fish, the Sunshine Pleco can be a great choice. Because of its calm behavior and ease of maintenance, this species has become even more popular in recent years. If this fish is available for sale in your area and your tank parameters match what it needs then we highly recommend getting one.