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Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Hypostomus plecostomus  (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Names Plecostomus
Almindelig Sugemalle (Denmark), Saugmaulwels (Germany)
Type Locality Suriname River.
Synonym(s) Acipenser plecostomus, Hypostomus guacari, Loricaria flava, Plecostomus bicirrosus, Plecostomus brasiliensis, Plecostomus plecostomus, Pterygoplichthys plecostomus
Pronunciation hi POSS tow muss - PLEK oss toe mus
Etymology Greek, hypo = under + Greek, stoma = mouth. pleco = sucker, stomus = mouth.
Down Species Information
Size 500mm or 19.7" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Due to the number of species in the genus, identification is very difficult without exact provenance of the specimen. Most ''common plecos'' are now exported from Peru and Brazil. Photos of the real H. plecostomus are common in aquarium literature from the 1960s and 70s when ''common plecos'' were exported from Venezuela, Suriname, and the Guyanas.
Sexing Large adult males possess thickened pectoral fins that turn reddish pink. Gravid adult females appear thicker when viewed from above.
General Remarks Also found throughout the Orinoco basin, although some authors believe that Orinoco specimens may represent a different species. The photographs above are mostly of H. plecostomus from the Orinoco basin. Weber (2003) restricted distribution to coastal drainages of the Guianas.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Guianan coastal drainages. Have been introduced to several Asian countries for the aquarium trade.
Orinoco (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Guyana Waters, Coastal Rivers of Guyanas, Suriname Coastal Rivers, Suriname (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2021.
pH 6.5 - 8.0
Temperature 20.0-30.0°C or 68-86°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters In nature, this fish is common in slower portions of larger rivers. It inhabits nearly every environment from riffles, the river banks, and driftwood snags.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding A true omnivore that will eat anything. The diet should be primarily vegetarian. User data.
Furniture Ideally a large tank with driftwood and a few caves. Substrate is unimportant.
Compatibility Larger specimens can be territorial, but they rarely cause damage to tankmates. Smaller fishes are ignored.
Suggested Tankmates Keep with medium to large sized community fishes or most American cichlids.
Breeding Probably never accomplished. They normally spawn in holes in the river bank, but I have also captured this species in mountain rivers and ponds that did not have earthen banks. In these habitats it must spawn in caves formed by rocks and/or driftwood.
Breeding Reports There are 2 breeding reports, read them all here.
Down Further Information
Reference Systema Naturae, Ed. X v. 1, pp 238.
Registered Keepers There are 70 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
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Last Update 2020 Nov 23 02:26 (species record created: 2001 May 05 00:00)