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PLECOSTOMUS

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The Plecostomus (nicknamed "Plecos") is a dark, usually mottled colored, scavenger catfish, with a sucker type of mouth. They are favorites for fish tank maintenance as they are algae-eaters and keep the tank clean of the green algae which would otherwise accumulate in tanks. It's scientific name is Plecostomus hypostomus, but there species as well, such as the Plecostomus Punctatus and the "Bushy Nose Plecostomus.

Plecos are a tropical fish, which live in the Amazon River in Brazil. While they are usually sold as something in the nature of a 2" to 4" fish at pet stores, in a large tank or in a river, they can attain a size of 24" and weigh in at several pounds. They like a temperature range from 70º to 80º degrees F or 21º to 27º C with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.0. Since they can eat up all the algae in a tank or pond, before it can replenish, it is advised to put Zucchini, peas, lettuce and/or spinach. They also eat shrimp and fish pellets.

Plecos avoid bright lights and are a dusk feeder. In my own fish tank, they are clowns, as they come to the surface to eat the fish food thrown in--HOWEVER, since they have no regular chewing teeth, they have to suck on the pellets with their rasp-like teeth. In order to not loose the pellet as they gum it to death, they turn upside down, with their backs down and their stomachs up, with the pellet floating on the surface, with their mouths just under the pellet sucking on it as it floats just above them. There are pictures on this page of this phenomenon.

I understand that Plecos are very territorial. Plecos can damage other fish which are slow moving, especially at night, as the Plecos, in their drive to eat slime off of everything, try to eat the protective slime coating of other fish, using their rasp-like teeth. This can leave other fish vulnerable to pathogens to enter their bodies where the protective coat of slime has been removed and possibly injury to the underlying tissue as well.

Like many catfish, they have barbels around the mouth to assist them in feeling what they are eating on, and a dorsal fin with a tall spine which is usually laid flat against the top of the body. It also has large spines in the gill fins. The body is somewhat wide at the head and narrows at the tail ending in a large bifurcated tail. They can live up to 10 years.



Dorsal view of
a Plecostomus
Plecostomus
with friends
What are they
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Ventral view of
a Plecostomus