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CATFISH

By Rhett Butler

LORICARIIDAE FAMILY

The Loricariidae or Suckermouth Armored Catfish Family has over 600 members found in Central and South America. It includes, among others, the genera Ancistrus, Chaetostoma, Farlowella, Hypancistrus, Hypoptopoma, Hypostomus, Otocinclus, Panaque, Peckoltia, Pterygoplichthys, Rineloricaria, Scobinancistrus, and Sturisoma.
SIZE: The Loricariidae Family includes small to large fish; some as small as 1" (2.5 cm) while others exceed 24" (61 cm).
S: The fish of this family usually swim in the lower levels, usually dependent of some substrate, to which they adhere.
TANK: The tank size ranges depending on the size of the fish. For most, it should be at least 28" (71 cm) long or 20-25 gallons (76-98 l). The tank should be arranged in dark colors and have floating plants to diffuse the light. The substrate should be fine, for these fish like to burrow. Provide hiding places amongst rocks, roots, and wood.
WATER: Loricarids can tolerate a pH from 6-7.5, but prefer slightly acidic water. They like soft water ranging from 2-14 dH, and require a temperature of 72-82F (22-28C).
SB: The Loricariidae Family is a peaceful, nocturnal family. These fish can be combined in a community tank with nearly all other fish. Many Loricarids are territorial, and may quarrel with others of their own species.
SC: See individual descriptions.
FOOD: Live; worms, insect larvae, crustaceans; tablets; and some may eat algae, plant matter, and vegetables. These fish should be fed in the evening.
B: Some fish have been successfully bred, but many have not.
BP: Breeding is generally difficult.
R: The fish in this family have sucker-mouths and are protected by bony-plated armor. Due to the large number and variability of some species in this family, correct identification of many species is not possible.
DC: Many fish of this family are extremely robust, while others may be delicate.

Bristlenose Plecostomus; Big-fin Bristlenose [Pictures]
Ancistrus dolichopterus
SYN: Chaetostomus dolichopterus, Xenocara dolichopterus
PD: This species is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat and has many tentacles coming out of it, near the snout. The mouth is on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. The color ranges greatly depending on the individual, age, and area that the individual is found.
SIZE: 6" (15 cm)
SS: Snowflake Bristlenose ( Ancistrus hoplogenys), Polka Dot Bristlenose ( Ancistrus lineolataus ), Temminck's Bristlenose ( Ancistrus termmincki), Three-ray Bristlenose ( Ancistrus triradiatus ); and other Ancistrus species.
HAB: South America; fast flowing, clear tributaries of the Amazon River in areas with submerged wood. Also found in shallow pools.
S: bottom
TANK: 32" (80 cm) or 30 gallons (114 L). This catfish likes roomy tanks with plenty of hiding places and a strong current. This species will nibble on plants if there is a lack of algae. Provide good aeration.
WATER: pH 5.5-8 (7.0), dH 2-30 (10), 73-84F (23-29C)
SB: A peaceful fish ideal for a community tank. Will not bother other catfish such as Corydoras. Older individuals are sometimes aggressive and territorial towards other similar Loricarids.
SC: Discus, Angelfish, characins, Corydoras, South American cichlids, gouramis
FOOD: Algae; fruit; live; Tubifex, crustaceans, insect larvae; plants; vegetables; green beans, lettuce, peas, spinach; tablets.
SEX: At maturity, the male has an antler-type bump on its forehead and possess cheek bristles, while the female has a row of short, thin tentacles.
B: Use water with the following propertieS: pH 6.5 to 7.0, and a water hardness from 5-12 dH. The eggs are laid in clusters usually in a pipe, tube, or cave. Usually about 120 eggs are laid. The male guards the nest and fans and aerates the water around them. The fry hatch in five days and attach themselves to tank walls. The yolk sac remains for two weeks, after which, the young can be fed fine vegetable flakes. The fry should be removed, if other fish (besides the parents), are present in the tank.
BP: 8. Some luck is involved with breeding this fish. The Bristlenose Plecostomus is a difficult fish to breed.
R: One of the better algae-eating fish. Usually nocturnal, but occasionally day-active. There are 50 known species of Ancistrus , thus correct identification is nearly impossible.
DC: 2. The Bristlenose Plecostomus is a hardy and helpful algae eater.

Bulldog Catfish [Pictures]
Chaetostoma species
SYN: Hypostomus species
PD: Has a similar body shape to Hypostomus species. The body color is beige to light brown and marked with brown, connecting stripes, that mark the edges of the body plates that cover the fish's body. The iris of the eye, depending on the species may be yellow. The head is spotted with small brown spots.
SIZE: Depending on the species, size can range from 2.5" to 10" (6-25 cm)
SS: Some members of the Hypostomus genus are similar.
HAB: South America; can be found in the Andean foothills, in small rapid streams
S: bottom
TANK: For a small species, a 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallon (38 L) tank is sufficient, while the largest species need a 40" (122 cm) or 40 gallon (150 L) tank. The tank should have strong circulation or else the fish are short-lived because of the lack of exercise. Fine gravel with areas of coarse gravel is recommended and the water should be well-aerated. Use strong light to promote algae growth. This species will not harm plants.
WATER: 6.5-7.5 pH (7.0), 6-15 dH (10), 68-75F (20-24C)
SB: A peaceful, diurnal fish, that can be combined in a community tank with small to large companions. The Bulldog Catfish can be kept singly or in groups.
SC: Characins, Corydoras , Acaras, Cichlasoma
FOOD: Some species may graze on algae, although others will not. Food tablets; frozen crustaceans; vegetarian foods; vegetables; peas; live; Tubifex , crustaceans.
SEX: Difficult to distinguish between the sexes. Males have a slightly larger snout.
B: Breeding the Bulldog Catfish is difficult. The eggs are laid in a cavity or cave, out of the current. The male guards the eggs. The fry should be removed and placed in a rearing tank with strong circulation. Start feeding with food tablets, frozen Artemia, and spinach. Breeding thus far have been accidental.
BP: 9. Accidental breedings have been reported, although these are unusual.
R: About 40 different species in this genus are known.
DC: 4. This hardy catfish can be kept in a community tank.





Needle Catfish, Twig Catfish [Pictures]
Farlowella acus
SYN: Acestra acus
PD: The body is covered with small plates. This catfish is elongated and it has an extended snout. The sucking mouth is located on the underside of the fish. It has a straight belly profile. This fish is extremely slender. The body coloring is light brown and the belly is white. On both sides of the body is a dark brown line which extends the length of the body. The tip of the snout is turned upwards.
SIZE: To 10" (25 cm)
SS: Other members of the Farlowella genus, Rineloricaria, and Sturisoma species.
HAB: Shallow shore areas of slow moving or standing water with heavy vegetation and waterlogged wood in southern tributaries of the Amazon.
S: bottom (substrate dependent)
TANK: 32" (80 cm) or 30 gallons (114 L). This catfish prefers a deep tank that has bright lighting. Provide hiding places with wood, roots, and rocks. Allow for the growth of algae. Farlowella species will eat plants.
WATER: pH 5.8-7 (6.5), 2-8 dH (5), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB: A calm, peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank as long as there are no fish competing for food on the bottom. Keep in pairs. Males will establish territories and if two are combined together, the weaker will succumb and starve to death.
SC: Discus, tetras, Hatchetfish, Apistogramma , Corydoras
FOOD: A picky eater-usually algae. Some readily take live food and may overeat. Also try vegetables and food tablets. Some do not readily take any foods and starve to death. Feed at night, because if fed during the day it may starve. This fish will not compete for food.
SEX: Males have whiskers and are more slender.
B: Difficult. Fish always spawn in same place. usually on glass walls. Spawning occurs at night or early in the morning. 40-60 eggs are laid, but they take a long time to hatch-usually 10-12 days. The eggs are susceptible to fungus, so treat the water accordingly, being careful not to overdose. The male guards and fans the eggs and helps remove the egg casings. Remove the female, so she does not interfere with male's brood care. The breeding tank should have good aeration, and the water should be neutral. The fry are hard to rear. Try feeding them vegetables, tablets, and Artemia.
BP: 9. Breeding Farlowella Catfish is difficult.
R: There are 60 described Farlowella species and correct identification is difficult. This species is very difficult to care for and is sensitive to fluctuating water conditions. Has lots of problem when acclimating to the tank. Fish may indicate poor water conditions or low oxygen content by poking its snout above the surface of the water.
DC: 7. This catfish is difficult to feed and to care for.

Zebra Pleco [Pictures]
Hypancistrus zebra
SYN: Peckoltia zebra
PD: Similar in body shape to Peckoltia species. The body is bright white in color with an overlaying, unique pattern of black stripes. This pattern continues through the fins. No two specimen are said to have the same pattern.
SIZE: To 3.5" (9 cm)
SS: Loricarids L98 and L173 are thought to be variations of H. zebra, but could be distinct species.
HAB: South America; on rocky substrates of the Rio Xingu, Brazil
S: bottom
TANK: 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L). Provide a hiding places for each fish with rocks having crevices, holes, and caves. Driftwood can be added, though it is not a requirement as Zebras do not chew on the wood like other Loricarids. The tank should be well-planted and well oxygenated, as its native waters are oxygen-rich.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.6), 1-12 dH (5), 77-86F (25-30C)
SB: A small, shy fish that should not be combined with other bottom dwellers that will compete for food. Each fish sets up a small territory around a selected retreat. In a good sized tank (25 gallons or more), a number of Zebra Plecos can be kept as long as each is supplied with a retreat. Keep with small, peaceful fish of the upper swimming levels. A nocturnal fish.
SC: Tetras, Apistogramma , Hatchetfish, barbs, danios
FOOD: Live; Brine Shrimp, insect larvae, Daphnia, Cyclops; vegetables; lettuce, spinach, zucchini; tablets; flake
SEX: The first pectoral fin ray is thicker in the male, and the head/pectoral region of the male is broader.
B: There are at least four factors important in stimulating spawning of the Zebra Pleco: an increase in water temperature to 82-86F (28-30C), a high oxygen content of the water, a moderate to strong water current and suitable breeding caves. The spawning caves should be just long enough to house a fish and wide enough for two Zebra Plecos and should have some water current passing through it. Spawning is most likely in a tank with several Zebra Plecos and numerous spawning caves. Fish may pair off and lay cloudy-white eggs within a cave. The male chases out the female and guards the eggs, which usually number 8-15. He will continue to guard the fry until they can feed on their own. The eggs can be removed and reared artificially in a well-aerated rearing tank. The eggs hatch six days after being laid and the fry can be first fed two weeks after hatching (when their egg sacs are depleted). Start feeding with Brine Shrimp nauplii and dry foods. Make frequent partial water changes on the rearing tank. The young grow slowly, but can reach 1" (2.5 cm) in under 3 months.
BP: 8. Breeding is difficult, although under the right conditions it is manageable..
R: A recent introduction to the hobby, the Zebra Pleco was first introduced into the United States in 1989. Formerly known as "L 46." The Zebra Pleco will not eat algae.
DC: 5. A fairly hardy fish as long as water maintenance is kept up. This species will starve to death if not deliberately fed.


Plecostomus, Suckermouth Catfish, Pleco
[Pictures]
Hypostomus plecostomus or Hypostomus punctatus
SYN: Plecostomus punctatus, numerous others have been used in the past.
PD: It is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. It has one pair of barbels. The color varies depending on the age, species, and environment the individual came from. Usually the body has a base color of light brown to black. The fish can be spotted, striped, splotched, or one solid color. The fins are the same color as the rest of the body. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect.
SIZE: to 24" (60 cm)
SS: Other Hypostomus species and Pterygoplichthys species.
HAB: In fast-flowing streams and rivers with pebbly substrate in South-Eastern and Southern Brazil, Venezuela, Rio de la Plata, and Trinidad.
S: bottom (substrate dependent)
TANK: 20" (60 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L) is sufficient for young individuals, those under 4" (10 cm). Eventually they must be moved to larger tanks. The tank should have open swimming areas and hiding places of rocks, wood, caves, and wood. This fish will eat plants.
WATER: pH 5-8.4 (7.0), 1-30 dH (10), 66-86F (19-30C)
SB: A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with small to large fish, including cichlids. Does not get along with own species. Each fish sets up territories to defend. Young fish can be kept together while adults become aggressively territorial.
SC: South and Central American cichlids, gouramis, rainbowfish, larger tetras and characins, Pimelodus, larger barbs, larger livebearers, Corydoras
FOOD: Mostly algae, but sometimes vegetables; spinach, lettuce, peas; live; worms, crustaceans, insect larvae; fruit; tablets; flake. May graze plants if not feed sufficient amounts.
SEX: Unknown
B: Unsuccessful in an aquarium. Observed in fish over 12" (30 cm). Plecostomus are bred in mass quantities in Singapore, Florida, and Hong Kong in large ponds with steep sides. A pair will dig a burrow, in which, they spawn about 300 eggs. The ponds are drained and the parents and their young are removed. This fish is also often bred in Bangkok in fish hatcheries.
BP: 10. Breeding has not been successful in aquaria.
R: If fish does not get enough algae or green foods, it will nibble plants. This species reaches larger size in wild. Eaten in native countries. It grows slowly and is long-lived (over 15 years). Hypostomus plecostomus and Hypostomus punctatus are used interchangeably in most aquarium stores. There is an albino variation widely available. There are over 120 other Hypostomus species that are sold as Hypostomus plecostomus. This species can pinch with its pointed teeth and also make holes in plastic bags. The Plecostomus can store air in its intestine, thus allowing it to survive in poor conditions.
DC: 2. This species is easily cared for as long as their is plenty of algae and/or other supplementary foods. Be aware that the Plecostomus reaches a large size and requires a large tank with age.

Snow King Plecostomus [Pictures]
Liposarcus anisitsi
SYN: Ancistrus multiradiatus var. alternans, Pterygoplichthys anisitsi, P. alternans, P. juvens
PD: This Pleco is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. It has one pair of barbels. The body has a base color of white with an overlaying black pattern. The fins are the same color as the rest of the body. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect. The pattern and contrast of colors becomes intensified with age.
SIZE: To 24" (61 cm)
SS: Pterygoplichthys species and Hypostomus species.
HAB: South America; this catfish is found in a range of different environments along the Paraguay River of Brazil and Paraguay. Often it lives in stagnant pools that dry up in the dry season. This catfish takes refuge in a burrow and waits, without water, until the rains return.
S: bottom
TANK: 28" (70 cm) or 20-25 gallons (75-98 l) is suitable only for small specimens, under 5" (13 cm). Since these fish grow to a large size, they must be eventually moved to a large, roomy tank (exceeding 60" or 90 gallons). See P. gibbiceps for other specifications.
WATER: pH 6.5-8.2 (7.2), 2-28 dH (12), 66-79F (19-26C)
SB: A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with medium to large fish, including cichlids. Do not combine with small fish as they may be eaten. The Snow King Pleco is very aggressive towards its own and similar looking species.
SC: Large characins, South and Central American cichlids, Pimelodids
FOOD: Algae; vegetables; spinach, lettuce, peas; live; crustaceans, worms; tablets.
SEX: Unknown
B: Not possible in captivity because of the conditions required. The Snow King is commercially bred in Florida in large dirt ponds. The Snow King Plec will dig a tunnel (up to 39" or 1 meter long) just above the water level. A pair will spawn in this cavity and the male will guard the brood. When the fry hatch they are deserted.
BP: 10. This Pleco has not been bred in aquaria.
R: If fish does not get enough algae or "green foods," it will nibble plants. Wild caught specimen have a more stunning contrast of colors. Often sold as a "Common Plecostomus" in the United States. In stagnant water conditions with little dissolved oxygen, the Snow King Plec, like other Plecos, can intake atmospheric oxygen, and store it in its intestine. Many of the large loricarids are said to leave scratch marks on Plexiglass tanks.
DC: 4. A hardy, long-lived catfish, that must be kept in a large tank.

Midget Catfish, Midget Sucker Catfish, Golden Otocinclus, Dwarf Otocinclus [Pictures]
Otocinclus affinis
SYN: None
PD: A small catfish with an elongated body. The mouth is on the underside of the head and suction cup shaped. The back is light brown to gold while the belly is white. A black stripe extends from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail. The pectoral, pelvic, dorsal, and anal fins are transparent, while the tail is stripped.
SIZE: To 1.5" (4 cm)
SS: Other Otocinclus species and the Dwarf Catfish ( Hypoptopoma species.)
HAB: South America; rivers with heavy vegetation is the Rio de Janeiro area (Brazil).
S: bottom (substrate dependent)
TANK: 16" (40 cm) or 5 gallons (19 L). The tank should be well-planted with thickets for hiding places. This species will damage soft-leafed plants. Algae growth should be encouraged. The Midget Catfish likes clear water with a moderately strong current.
WATER: pH 5.2-7.5 (6.9) ; 4-20 dH (8); 68-82F (20-28C)
SB: An calm fish that can be kept in a community tank with small, non-predatory companions. This catfish can be kept singly or in groups. This species will not harm plants.
SC: Corydoras, tetras, Discus, Apistogramma
FOOD: Vegetarian food; algae; small live; Brine Shrimp, insect larvae; vegetables; lettuce, peas, spinach; tablets
SEX: Females are plumper
B: The addition of cooler water may help induce spawning. The small amount of adhesive eggs are deposited on leaves and glass walls. Transfer the eggs to a rearing tank. The fry hatch in 48 hours and the free-swimming after 2 or 3 days. Feed with dry food, newly hatch Brine Shrimp, and spinach.
BP: 7. Breeding is moderately difficult.
R: Very sensitive because of its size to chemicals in the water and water conditions.
DC: 4. A somewhat sensitive catfish that is an excellent algae eater especially for planted tanks and for tanks with small, peaceful, community fish.

Royal Panaque, Royal Plecostomus, Black-lined Panaque [Pictures]
Panaque nigrolineatus
SYN: Chaetostomus nigrolineatus, Cochliodon nigrolineatus
PD: The Royal Panaque is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. The body color is black with long white to yellow stripe that extend the length of the body. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect. The iris of healthy individuals is bright orange to red.
SIZE: To 16" (40 cm)
SS: Hypostomus and other Panaque species.
HAB: South America; the Putumayo River in Southern Columbia.
]S: bottom
TANK: 48" (122 cm) or a 55 or more gallon (209 L) tank is sufficient. Provide hiding places with slabs of rock, caves, wood, roots, and thickets of robust plants. The tank should have a good filtration system that produces a strong current. Aerate the water well.
WATER: pH 6.5-7.5 (7.0), 2-15 (10), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB: Aggressive towards own species, but peaceful towards other fish. Can be combined with small to large fish. A nocturnal species.
SC: Corydoras, tetras, Discus, Apistogramma
FOOD: Algae; fruit; vegetables; peas, spinach, lettuce; live; crustaceans, insect larvae. Panaque species must have a large amount of "green foods" in their diet or they may develop intestinal disorders. Another result from lack of these foods is that the fish will go after plants.
SEX: Mature males are said to have thicker pectoral spines.
B: Unknown
BP: 10. Breeding has not been accomplished in aquaria.
R: This fish is often expensive. Do not treat the water with medications, or do so in small amounts. The medications become concentrated in the algae, and when the fish eats these, it often is poisoned to death. These fish are also subject to intestinal disease if not fed the proper diet. This species grows slowly and is sensitive to changes in water chemistry. Recently imported specimen often suffer from malnutrition and as a result are hollow-bellied. Thus it is important to offer them high-fiber foods in order for them to recover.
DC: 7. The Royal Panaque is a challenging fish to care for, but well worth the effort with its stunning color pattern. They are sensitive to water quality and medications and are also subject to disease.

Blue-eyed Panaque, Blue-eyed Plecostomus [Pictures]
Panaque suttoni
SYN: None
PD: It is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. The body color is black. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect. The iris of healthy individuals is bright blue.
SIZE: To 18" (45 cm)
SS: Hypostomus and other Panaque species.
HAB: Small rapid rivers. South America; Columbia.
S: bottom
TANK: 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallon (209 L) is suggested. Maintenance as for P. nigrolineatus.
WATER: pH 6.5-7.5 (6.8), 2-12 (8), 72-79F (22-26C)
SB: Aggressive towards own species, but peaceful towards other fish. Can be combined with small to large, peaceful fish. Nocturnal.
SC: Corydoras, tetras, Discus, Apistogramma
FOOD: Algae; fruit; vegetables; peas, spinach, lettuce; live; crustaceans, insect larvae. See P. nigrolineatus for other notes.
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. Breeding has not been successful in aquaria.
R: See P. nigrolineatus.
DC: 7. The Blue-eyed Panaque is a challenging fish to care for, but well worth the effort for its beauty. They are sensitive to water quality and medications and are also subject to disease.

Clown Plecostomus; Clown Pleco; Tiger Plecostomus [Pictures]
Peckoltia pulcher
SYN: None
PD: Its body is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. It has one pair of barbels. The color varies depending on the age, species, and environment of the individual. Usually the body has a base color of light brown to black, but may be as light as white. The belly is white. The fish is striped with 5-12 orange to white stripes. Sometimes these stripes are so wide that they appear to be the main body color with black stripes. The fins are also striped like the body. The eyes protrude slightly from the head.
SIZE: To 3" (7.5 cm)
SS: Other Peckoltia species.
HAB: South America; sections of the Rio Negro near Moura (Brazil).
S: bottom
TANK: 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L). The tank should be well-planted with thickets for hiding places. This species will damage soft-leafed plants. Algae growth should be encouraged. Provide a cover of floating plants and some hiding places with roots, wood, or rocks. This catfish likes clear, clean water with a moderately strong current.
WATER: pH 5.5-7.8 (7.0), 2-30 dH (10), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB: A helpful, peaceful fish that can be kept with small tetras to medium sized cichlids. An excellent community fish. May harmlessly quarrel with others of its own species.
SC: Corydoras, Apistogramma , Discus, tetras
FOOD: The Clown Pleco lives almost exclusively on algae. Sometimes it will take food tablets and live Brine Shrimp.
SEX: Very hard to distinguish. Occasionally a fish develops bristles on its head, which may indicate that the specimen is male.
B: Unsuccessful in captivity
BP: 10. Breeding has not been accomplished.
R: Very hardy as long as there is algae to eat. Each fish needs at least 10 gallons (38 L) of algae population will be depleted. Nocturnal. Nineteen species of Peckoltia are known to the hobby making correct identification of a species difficult.
DC: 3. The Clown Pleco is an easy fish to care for as long as there is enough algae for it to eat. A superb fish for a community tank.

Sailfin Plecostomus [Pictures]
Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps
SYN: Ancistrus gibbiceps, Chaetostomus gibbiceps, Hemiancistrus gibbiceps, Liposarcus altipinnis, L. scrophus
PD: It is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. It has one pair of barbels. The color varies depending on the age, species, and environment the individual came from. Usually the body has a base color of light brown to black. The fish are usually spotted, with black spots. The fins are the same color as the rest of the body, but occasionally have a red to brown fringe on the edges. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect.
SIZE: To 20" (50 cm)
SS: Other Pterygoplichthys species and spotted members of the Hypostomus species.
HAB: Calm, slow-moving parts. South America; the Rio Pacaya in Peru. These fish are found in large groups that move slowly across the riverbed.
S: bottom
TANK: 28" (70 cm) or 20 gallons (76 L) is suitable only for small specimens, under 5" (13 cm). Since these fish grow to a large size, they must be eventually moved to a large, roomy tank. Hiding places of caves, rocks, and roots should be provided. Leave open swimming areas. The Sailfin Pleco may eat plants.
WATER: pH 6.5-7.8 (7.1), 4-20 dH (12), 75-86F (24-30C)
SB: A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with medium to large fish, including cichlids. Do not combine with small fish as they may be eaten. The Sailfin Pleco is very aggressive towards its own and similar looking species.
SC: South and Central American cichlids; large characins, Pimelodids, gouramis
FOOD: Algae; vegetables; spinach, lettuce, peas; live; crustaceans, prawns, worms; tablets.
SEX: Unknown
B: Unsuccessful in captivity. Observed in fish over 12" (30 cm). They spawn in earth cavities. Commercially bred in Southeast Asian and Florida fish ponds in a similar manner to L. anisitsi .
BP: 10. The Sailfin Pleco has not been bred in aquaria.
R: If fish does not relieve enough algae or "green foods," it will nibble plants. It reaches larger size in wild. An important food fish in its native countries. This catfish grows slowly and can be long-lived (over 15 years). There are many similar looking species that are confused with this fish. Nocturnal.
DC: 4. A hardy catfish that must be kept in a large tank.

Whiptail [Pictures]
Rineloricaria filamentosa
SYN: Loricaria filamentosa
PD: This is an elongated Catfish that has a flattened body and is covered by several rows of bony plates. Its mouth is shaped like a suction cup and is located on the underside of its head. The body is somewhat shaped like an airplane when viewed from above. 5 to 8 dark bars runs horizontally across the Whiptail's long spine. The main body coloration is a mixture of light brown and darker brown splotches. The fins have the same color as the rest of the body.
SIZE: To 10" (25 cm)
SS: Other Rineloricaria species
HAB: South America; Rio Magdalena (Columbia) in shallow areas of small creeks and streams.
S: bottom
TANK: 24" (61 cm) or 15 gallons (56 L). The tank should be well-aerated and have fine gravel or sand for burrowing. Provide hiding places with rocks, wood, roots, caves, or clay pipes. The tank should be well-planted.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.8), 5-18 dH (8), 70-82F (21-28C)
SB: A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with other calm fish.
SC: Discus, tetras, Hatchetfish, Apistogramma , Corydoras
FOOD: Algae; vegetables; lettuce, spinach; fruit; live; crustaceans, insect larvae; tablets. Feed at night.
SEX: Males are slender and have whiskers.
B: This is a difficult fish to breed, because mature females don't often spawn. The pair should be fed on a good vegetable diet. Provide a pipe or bamboo stalk that is just large enough for the fish to fit into (usually 1.5-2" in diameter and 8" long is sufficient). The 100-200 amber-colored eggs are laid in this pipe. The male guards them and fans fresh water over them. The eggs hatch in 8-12 days, and the male aides the fry by sucking off their egg sacs. The fry grow rapidly if fed small live foods. After 1-2 weeks, start feeding fine vegetable foods.
BP: 9. Breeding this catfish is very difficult.
R: Very sensitive to changing water conditions and can die thereafter. There are ten imported, similar looking Rineloricaria species and correct identification is difficult. This fish keep the tank very clean as it scrounges the bottom for food. Treat the water with medications carefully, this fish is sensitive to them.
DC: 6. This catfish is an excellent community fish, but is sensitive to water conditions and medications.

Gold Nugget Plecostomus [Pictures]
Scobinancistrus species
SYN: None
PD: It is covered everywhere but the belly with large bony plates. The head is large, broad, and flat. The mouth is on the underside of the head and is shaped like a suction cup. The body color is black with polka-dots in an irregular pattern. These spots are usually white or bright yellow and provide a striking contrast with the black of the rest of the body. The tail, dorsal, and anal fins are body color, but have a yellow edging.
SIZE: To 14" (35 cm)
SS: None
HAB: South America; the Rio Xingu, Brazil.
S: bottom
TANK: 40" (101 cm) or 45-55 gallons (170-209 l) is sufficient for individuals under 10" (25 cm) in length. The tank should have a strong current and good aeration. Provide plenty of hiding places, such as rocks, wood, roots, and caves. The fish of this genus have a tendency to nibble plants when they are hungry. If the fish are fed "green foods" on a regular basis, this problem usually will not arise. In this case, robust, live plants can be used.
WATER: pH 6-7 (6.7), 2-12 (8), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB: Aggressive towards own species, but otherwise a good community fish.
SC: Characins, Discus, Angelfish, Gouramis, Barbs, Corydoras
FOOD: Vegetable food, tablets, spinach, occasionally life
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. No success in breeding the Gold Nugget Plecostomus has been reported.
R: Do not treat the water with medications, or do so in small amounts. The medications become concentrated in the algae, and when the fish eats these, it can be poisoned to death. These fish are also subject to intestinal disease if not fed the proper diet. The Gold Nugget Plecostomus grows slowly.
DC: 7. The Gold Nugget Plecostomus is highly sensitive to chemicals and water pollutants. Be sure to include plenty of "green" foods in its diet.

Giant Whiptail, Golden Whiptail [Pictures]
Sturisoma aureum
SYN: Loricaria aureum
PD: An elongated species having a flattened, slender body. The snout is slightly upturned and the caudal fin is forked. The dorsal fin is large and tall. The base body coloration is light brown with a broad brown marking running from the snout through the caudal fin. The body and the fins are marked with other brown markings.
SIZE: To 12" (30 cm)
SS: Other Sturisoma species, Rineloricaria and Farlowella species.
HAB: Inhabits areas having a mud or sand substrate with submerged wood in South America; Colombia.
S: bottom (substrate dependent)
TANK: A tank measuring 40" (102 cm) with a capacity from 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is sufficient for fish up to 8" (20 cm) in length. Use a fine gravel or sand substrate. The tank can be well-planted with a moderate current. Hiding places among wood and rocks are suggested. In order to thrive, this species must be provided with algae.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.8), 5-15 dH (8), 73-81F (23-27C)
SB: A quiet, nocturnal species that may be territorial towards others of its own kind. Otherwise an excellent community fish that will not harm smaller tank mates. This species should not be kept with large aggressive fish.
SC: Discus, Angelfish, Corydoras, Tetras
FOOD: Algae; vegetables; lettuce, spinach, mashed peas; live; insect larvae; Artemia.
SEX: Males develop cheek bristles during the spawning season.
B: Spawning takes place during the winter months at a temperature around 82F (28C). The eggs are laid against the sides of the glass and number up to 200. The eggs are carefully guarded by the male. The eggs hatch after 6 days and the fry adhere to the tank's glass. The fry begin to feed after three days on algae and tablet foods. Later the fry accept mashed peas. A good pair will spawn every three weeks during the spawning season.
BP: 6. This species is fairly easy to spawn, although the young may be difficult to rear.
R: This species is sensitive to water conditions and water changes should be preformed regularly.
DC: 7. A somewhat delicate fish that requires algae on which to feed.



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