Synonyms: Ancistrus gibbiceps, Chaetostomus gibbiceps, Hemiancistrus gibbiceps, Liposarcus altipinnis, L. scrophus
Physical description: 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/Length: To 20" (50 cm)
Similar species: Other Pterygoplichthys species and spotted members of the Hypostomus species.
Habitat: Calm, slow-moving parts. South America; the Rio Pacaya in Peru. These fish are found in large groups that move slowly across the riverbed.
Aquarium: 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 chemistry: pH 6.5-7.8 (7.1), 4-20 dH (12), 75-86°F (24-30°C)
Social behavior: 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.
Suggested companions: South and Central American cichlids; large characins, Pimelodids, gouramis
FOOD: Algae; vegetables; spinach, lettuce, peas; live; crustaceans, prawns, worms; tablets.
Sexual differences: Unknown
Breeding techniques: 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 .
Breeding potential: 10. The Sailfin Pleco has not been bred in aquaria.
Remarks: 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.
Difficulty of care: 4. A hardy catfish that must be kept in a large tank.
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