Catfish of the Month Right Arrow August 1999 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded August 01, 1999



Yellow Spotted Hypostomus, Gelbgepunkteter Hypostomus (Germany) - Hypostomus margaritifer   (Regan, 1908)

I've always admired originality and this fish has it. Well, at least in the sense that nearly 20 years ago it was the first "white spotted" pleco available. Nowadays there are a vast array of similarly patterned suckermouths - the so-called snowball, vampire, opal and gold spot plecos to name but a few - are commonly available to spoil the swelling ranks of "Pleco People" with new and interesting varieties on a common theme. Yet this month's fish was the first imported white spotted pleco. In case you were wondering I'm not including the starlight bristlenose (Ancistrus sp. "dolichopterus") because it's not so much spotted as "dusted" with white flecks. Picky eh?

This fish is has previously been identified as H. regani which was described earlier in 1905 - both fish coming from the Rio Piracicaba in the São Paulo State of Brazil. Another reason that complicates matters is, to quote a certain celluloid trilogy, "There is another". Hypostomus albopunctatus (albo = white, punctatus = spots) was collected and described in the same locality and year as H. margaritifer. Commercial imports in the 80s & 90s have occasionally given us a very similar Loricariid which is more elongate and has a noticeably higher dorsal fin. The white spotting on these fish is more irregular and does not form parallel dotted lines along the fishes flanks as seen in H. margaritifer. If it wasn't for this last difference you would be tempted to think that these fish could be male and female of the same species. The third species, H. albopunctatus, is a more slender, vertically compressed fish with lower contrast markings. It appears to reach a smaller adult size too.

Hypostomus margaritiferThe image (right) of the underside of this fishes mouth, taken while it is attached to the aquarium glass is an unusual view of any fish yet you will encounter such pleco photographs in both scientific and hobbyist literature. Aside from passing interest you may ask why scientist, photographer and specialist hobbyist spend the effort or are so preoccupied with this particular part of the fishes anatomy. The reason is that many of the different families or genera within this group of fish have totally different teeth and mouth formations, yet are externally similar. By way of comparison, have a look at our photo of a Royal Pleco's (Panaque nigrolineatus) mouth or that of a Sultan Pleco (Leproacanthicus joselimai). Having a closer look at a fishes mouth is sometimes the only husbandry clue aquarists are given.

The type, size and dentition within the sucker mouth tells us much about the diet and overall lifestyle of the fish in question. From the photo above, an experienced aquarist can make a fair estimate of what and how to feed this fish. The overall size of the mouth isn't very big in relation to the size of this large fish, so it most likely requires gently flowing water. A fish used to a faster current would have a larger sucker mouth and a more flattened body in general. The wide but smooth teeth (the darker pink areas in the photo) lend themselves to casual grazing from the substrate and river-worn rocks. This fish is more interested in the contents of algae and mulm than the debris itself as it hasn't the rasping teeth of an out-and-out herbivore or the specialised dentition of a meat scavenger. Perhaps a good diet would include some vegetation, but not to the exclusion of sinking catfish tablets and meaty foods.

Striking colouration and interesting teeth aside, this fish is al pleco. It will attain a large length, eat you out of house and home, endear itself to all its observers and re-arrange its tank to suit itself. This all adds up to a great pet!


Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameHypostomus margaritifer  (Regan, 1908)
Common NamesYellow Spotted Hypostomus
Gelbgepunkteter Hypostomus (Germany)
Type LocalityRio Piracicaba, San Paulo, Brazil.
Synonym(s)Hypostomus butantanis, Plecostomus margaritifer
Pronunciationhi POSS tow muss - mar gar IT if err
EtymologyGreek, hypo = under + Greek, stoma = mouth. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 180mm or 7.1" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationVery similar to H. regani from the same river. H. margaritifer is deeper bodied and generally more chunky.
SexingUnknown although examination of the genital area in a group of large adults should show differences.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionSão Paulo, Brazil
La Plata, Paraná, Upper Paraná (click on these areas to find other species found there)
La Plata, Paraná, Middle Paraná (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH6.0 - 7.6
Temperature24.0-27.0°C or 75.2-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersSlightly soft water is preferable.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingMost greens are accepted (cucumber and courgette / zucchini seem favourite), but this fish loves to chew on dead fish and will accept most sinking foods once acclimatized.
FurniturePlants must be well rooted and protected by rock work to avoid accidental up-rooting. Rocks and Bogwood do well, especially large rounded rock. This fish is equally happy on sand or large pea-shaped substrate.
CompatibilityAs with most large Loricariids, this is a territorial but otherwise peaceful fish. It can be mixed with small fish more easily than other large catfish. Once an appropriate size, will withstand the rigours of an American Cichlid tank.
Suggested TankmatesAnything from tetras to large cichlids, preferably South American, but will mix with all sizes of community fish - be careful adding it with other large catfish that everyone has room to grow.
BreedingUnknown - a real challenge!
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesProc. Zool. Soc. Lond.1907 (pt 4) - pp796 - Pl. 47 (fig. 2)
Registered Keepers(1) clunkster, (2) Chrysichthys, (3) Andrewjw (k: 2), (4) kenjarle.

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Breeding ReportsNone.
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Last Update2004 Oct 02 00:00 (species record created: 1999 Aug 01 11:22)

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