Common Pleco

Common Pleco Hypostomus plecostomus

Type of Animal:

Fresh/brackish fast-flowing streams w/ pebbly/rocky substrate, fresh/brackish rivers, spring-influenced habitats, drainage canals, ponds, quiet slow-moving swamps in lower reaches of rivers, swamps/lakes w/ submerged wood, degraded river basins, shallow littoral areas in lakes/reservoirs/thermal springs, prefer water w/ temps between 60.8-89.6 F & pH between 6.2-8.2 (slightly acidic to mildly basic)

Native to NE South America, Trinidad, & Tobago. Introduced to Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, US, Spain, & S & E Asia.

Comes in variety of colors w/ underslung suckermouth, tall dorsal fin, moon-shaped tail fin, elongated body, covered in large bony plates

Algae, plant matter, insects, insect larvae, small crustaceans, vegetables, greens, fruit, earthworms, snails, small fish, legumes, berries, fish eggs, detritus, carrion

Status in Wild:

Not applicable

Solitary or schools of 2-20 fish

Additional Info:

Young: Fry/Fingerling
Group: School
1-2 lbs

4-10 days

Life Span:
10-15 years

Body Length:
Adult: 10-20 in
Young: 2-3.5 in

Tail Length:
2-2.5 in

Main predators are cormorants, herons, pelicans, crocodilians, otters, snakes, turtles, larger catfish, & largemouth bass.
Like many plecos, also called suckermouth catfish. Other names are common Plecostomus, algae sucker/eater, pez diablo (devil fish), janitor fish, & armor-plated catfish.
Females can lay up to 300 eggs. After she lays eggs, male guards them until hatching. Fry eat mucus secreted by dad before going off on own.
Mouth shape comes in handy for sucking up food.
Active at night (nocturnal).
These fish invasive in some parts of world due to competition w/ native species, predation on fish eggs, destructive burrowing behavior, & high adaptability.
Armor on body makes them less appealing to potential predators.
These fish are very docile & mix well w/ a variety of fish species.
Maturity reached between 6-12 months.
These fish produce lots of poop.
These fish not highly valued as food fish.

Fun Fact(s):
They’re great jumpers & need tightly sealed tanks.
Name “plecostomus” Latin for folded mouth.
These fish highly adaptable being able to survive in very small water bodies & even able to live up to 30 hours outside water if enough oxygen stored in belly. They can even wriggle on dry land to move from 1 body of water to the next.
These fish very popular in aquariums due to use as algae control.

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