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Common Pleco

Plecos

Albino Common Pleco, Hypostomus punctatus
Albino variety

The Pleco originates from Brazil, but is mainly bred in Asia now.  It is also known as the Suckermouth Catfish and the Algae Eater, but should not be confused with the Chinese Algae Eater.  With more than 2,000 species of plecos, there is much uncertainty as to exactly which species is the Common Pleco.  Among the most common suggestions are Hypostomus plecostomus, Hypostomus punctatus, Liposarcus pardalis and Liposarcus multiradiatus.  Plecos have armored plates and are differentiated by the number of distinct rays on their dorsal fin, with Hypostomus having 8 or 9, while Liposarcu have more than 10.  Common Plecos are brown or gray.  The more exotic varieties of plecos are so numerous that they have been assigned identity numbers.  For example, the Queen Arabesque Pleco is L260.

Plecos are nocturnal and prefer to hide in caves during the day.  They are algae eaters, but its a common mistake to buy a small pleco to clean a small aquarium.  Plecos tend to like algae less as they grow bigger and they grow very big!  They are also very messy and can cause ammonia spikes.  Initially they may help clean a small tank, but all too frequently they pollute and outgrow their surroundings.  A 50 100 gallon tank is suggested if you intend to keep plecos.  They will do best in clean, fast flowing water.  In addition to algae, Plecos will eat spirulina algae flakes, sinking pellets, lettuce and other greenery.  They will sometimes eat surface flake foods from an upside down position.  They also like to suck on driftwood and will destroy any plant life.  It is a misconception that they eat the waste products of other fish, but they will eat the remains of dead fish.  They will also latch on to sick fish.

Plecos can become more aggressive with age, especially toward other Plecos.  Common Plecos can be very territorial and wont usually put up with another Pleco in the tank.  Other varieties of pleco are more accepting.  There are no obvious differences between the sexes and breeding is extremely difficult.  Breeding is most often is accomplished in outdoor ponds.

Scientific Name: Hypostomus punctatus
Family: Catfish
Temperature: 19 - 28 C; 66 - 82 F
pH: 6.0 - 7.5
Size: 50 cm; 20 inches
Life Span: 10 years
Breeding: Difficult, Egglayer
 

Compatibility:

Cichlids, Large Tetras, Oscars, Silver Dollars