The Hypostomus plecostomus is one of the most common pleco species in the aquarium industry. However, The scientific name of the species often applies incorrectly to other species in the aquarium trade and sometimes even in official documents due to :
- the wide distribution of Hypostomus plecostomus
- the species-richness of the genus Hypostomus with more than 100 species.
Moreover, most species that referred to as Hypostomus plecostomus in the Aquarium trade are different species such as Pterygoplichthys species.
This well-known catfish belongs to the Hypostominae subfamily, Loricariidae family and the Siluriformes order. The species is also known as the Suckermouth catfish, the janitor fish, Plecostomus, and common pleco.
Previous scientific names (Synonymies):
- Acipenser plecostomus
- Hypostomus guacari
- Hypostomus ventromaculatus
- Loricaria flava
- Plecostomus bicirrosus
- Plecostomus plecostomus
The species is native of South America’s tributaries and large rivers (Guiana, Surinam). The common pleco lives in coastal brackish or freshwater running waters of with rocky and sandy bottoms. Furthermore, Hypostomus plecostomus has been introduced to other continents accidentally or intentionally that results in the threat of the aquatic life and ecosystem.
The common pleco has:
- bony plates that cover the body but not the abdomen.
- a flat belly and round mouth which indicates is a bottom dweller like most catfish
- a dark brown coloration with dark spots.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the time, many species are misidentified in the aquarium trade as Hypostomus plecostomus due to the similar anatomy that they share. The species differs from Pterygoplichthys and some other species:
- by having seven soft dorsal fin rays, while Pterygoplichthys species have more than nine dorsal fin rays
- the anal fin of Hypostomus plecostomus consists of four soft rays, with the first two soft rays unbranched.
- the notch between the hyomandibular and metapterygoid bones inside the mouth (visible when the fish attaches on the glass of the tank) which absents in other species.
There is no sexual dimorphism between the male and a female common pleco. Furthermore, the species is one of the largest plecos, as grows up to 20-24 inches and has a lifespan of about ten years or more if cared properly.
Temperament and tank mates:
In general, the common pleco is compatible with many species due to its peaceful temperament. Furthermore, the species is an excellent choice for community tanks, since almost every aquarist has at least one pleco in his aquarium as an algae eater without problems usually. However, Hypostomus plecostomus like other pleco species doesn’t get along with similar or territorial species due to its territorial behavior, so keep an eye on them as their aggressiveness may increase in smaller tanks.
Hypostomus plecostomus is a hardy fish but not recommended as a beginner fish, due to its size that requires an enormous tank. Moreover, they are nocturnal species that spend most of the time on the glass or at the bottom of the tank.
Water parameters and Aquarium’s size:
The species require large tanks that most hobbyists do not have because of their size. A community aquarium of 150-180 gallons suits one pleco.
A pH between 6.5-7.5, with a temperature between 23-28 Celsius, and hardness between 100-250 ppm suits the species.
The common pleco is mainly a nocturnal species like most catfish species, so, 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, as Plecos have a habit digging up the plants from the bottom, you may plant them in pots.
The species are mostly herbivores and famous to aquarists as algae eaters. Furthermore, many beginners use the species 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. Some even think that plecos are coprophagous which is a myth. You should provide them with prepared food (tablets), live food (earthworms, bloodworms,etc.) as well as blanched vegetables (zucchini, lettuce, cucumber, etc.).
In nature, their diet consists of detritus, algae, plankton, a small amount of wood and vertebrates, etc.
It’s impossible to reproduce the species in the aquarium as breed along the rivers in deep tunnels that the species dig. However, Hypostomus plecostomus is bred in Singapore and other countries by breeders in outdoor ponds with deep burrows in the shore.
- GARAVELLO, J. C.1 and GARAVELLO, J. P.2 2004, SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION AND INTERACTION OF
FOUR SPECIES OF THE CATFISH GENUS Hypostomus
Lacépède WITH BOTTOM OF RIO SÃO FRANCISCO. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8110679_Spatial_distribution_and_interaction_of_four_species_of_the_catfish_genus_Hypostomus_Lacepede_with_bottom_of_Rio_Sao_Francisco_Caninde_do_Sao_Francisco_Sergipe_Brazil_Pisces_Loricariidae_Hypostominae
- Scott A. Schaefer 1987,Osteology of Hypostomus plecostomus with a phylogenetic analysis of the loricariid subfamilies. Retrieved from https://nhm.org/site/sites/default/files/pdf/contrib_science/CS394.pdf
- Jonathan W. Armbruster 2003,The species of the Hypostomus Cochliodon group. Retrieved from http://webhome.auburn.edu/~armbrjw/Cochliodon.pdf
- Plecostomus catfish. Retrieved from https://www.aquariumindustries.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Plecostomus-Catfish.pdf
- Robert woods 2018, Plecostomus Complete Guide: Species, Care, Tank Requirements. Retrieved from https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/plecostomus/
- Hypostomus plecostomus. Retrieved from http://www.tfhmagazine.com/freshwater/species-profiles/hypostomus-plecostomus.htm
- Hypostomus plecostomus. Retrieved from http://rosamondgiffordzoo.org/assets/uploads/animals/pdf/HypostomusPlecostomus.pdf
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2018, Suckermouth Catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus). Retrieved from https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/ans/erss/uncertainrisk/ERSS-Hypostomus-plecostomus-final.pdf
- Daniel Golani1* and Gregory Snovsky2 2013,Occurrence of suckermouth armored catfish (Siluriformes, Loricariidae,
- Pterygoplichthys) in inland waters of Israel. Retieved from https://www.reabic.net/journals/bir/2013/3/BIR_2013_3_Golani_Snovsky.pdf
- WILFREDO A. MATAMOROS, CALEB D. MCMAHAN, CARLOS, R. MEJIA, PARKER H. HOUSE, JONATHAN W. ARMBRUSTER, and PROSANTA CHAKRABARTY, FIRST RECORD OF THE NON-NATIVE SUCKERMOUTH ARMORED CATFISH HYPOSTOMUS CF. NICEFORO (FOWLER 1943) (SILURIFORMES: LORICARIIDAE) FROM CENTRAL AMERICA. Retrieved from https://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/mnspapers/files/2016/07/No87-Matamoros-et-al-2016.pdf
- Hypostomus plecostomus. Retrieved from https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=761
- Hypostomus plecostomus TSN 164342, Retrieved from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=164342#null
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