Catfish of the Month Right October 2004

Parotocinclus jumbo
LDA025, Pitbull Pleco, Goby Pleco, Pitbull Pleco (Germany), Pitbull-sugemalle (Denmark) - Parotocinclus jumbo   Britski & Garavello, 2002

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded October 01, 2004.

The pit bull pleco (AKA LDA25) is found from time to time in imports from South Eastern Brazil; relatively plentiful in the wild, it is normally imported in good-sized batches. These batches sporadically contain LDA24, an attractively spotted species of Hypostomus, and are often alongside or mixed with Parotocinclus spilosoma.

Yet P. jumbo is a distinctive fish. In a good light it has a reflective, metallic quality to it but describing it in such flattering terms is an optimistic view of the species' cosmetic appeal. Not blessed with a striking pattern, rather it is the shape of this fish that grabs the attention. Really it's too big and stocky in contrast to other congeners and yet too small for other similar genera like Hypostomus; maybe it's closest to Hemipsilichthys. This is odd because these two genera are in a different sub family from that of Parotocinclus. Perhaps when we look at the pit bull pleco we are looking at a bridge between these two sub-families.

The name is a good one but also the wrong one. When Erwin Schraml (the author and photographer of the LDA numbers for the German aquarist magazine, Das Aquarium) picked a common name, he chose pit bull pleco because he thought it resembled the terrier of the same name. Despite an enormous experience of the fish world, Erwin is the first to admit he's not quite in the same league when it comes to dogs. He actually meant a bull terrier and was specifically referencing the close-set eyes found high on the head in these dogs. By the time the information was published in Das Aquarium (and indeed Aqualog who actually went to press first with the name) pit bull pleco had become the common name and that, as they say, was that.

I first encountered the fish in the heady days when the first few l-numbers were regularly hitting the shops. This was 1993 I think; five years of l-numbers and we were already up to L130 or so. LDA25 was still a few years off (surprisingly they never got an l-number and weren't introduced as LDA25 until 1996) so I really didn't know what to make of these fish. I did however notice that some of the batch appeared "stained" with a purple patch or two that I didn't like the look of. These died in the shop within a couple of weeks and I didn't purchase any of the first batch as I was concerned that this mysterious affliction would cause serious trouble. Several batches I saw in the nineties exhibited the same rusty blotching. What I later found out to be a microsporidian infection, is no longer seen so often on batches of these fish, so perhaps some part of their travels to the local fish shop has been improved.

Most catfish aficionados steam at the ears when less "enlightened" aquarists generalise about scavenger catfishes that don't require consideration in terms of diet or indeed general husbandry. With way over 2000 species of catfish filling the world's waterways with immense diversity, this is a justified reaction. Yet the pit bull pleco is a true scavenger in the antique sense of the word. Scavenger (from Old French escauwer - 'inspect') originally denoted an official who collected scavage, a toll on foreign merchants' goods, this word later evolved to mean a person who kept the streets clean. It's this second use of the word that I've seen used on old Edinburgh census return forms to give the occupation of what we would now call a street cleaner.

The connection with our pleco is that this species is found in large numbers in areas of river heavily polluted by human effluent. Even in water you'd think twice about entering, this fish appears at home and is a master of the clean-up job. Take an algae-caked drip tray or powerhead and drop it in a tank with a shoal of these guys and they'll have it sparkling inside half an hour. They descend upon it like vultures on a carcass, leaving only picked clean solid surfaces. It's what they do and they do it well.

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

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Parotocinclus jumbo  Britski & Garavello, 2002
Common Names LDA025, Pitbull Pleco
Goby Pleco, Pitbull Pleco (Germany), Pitbull-sugemalle (Denmark)
Type Locality Rio Paraíba do Norte, at bridge on road PB 408, northwest of Umbuzeiro, 7°38'27"S, 35°42'30"W, Paraíba, Brazil.
Pronunciation parr auto SINK luss - jum BOW
Etymology Parotocinclus: Greek, para in the side of + greek, ous, otis = ear + Greek, kygklos, ou = a fish. The specific epithet refers to the large size attained by the species in contrast to its congeners.
Article Link - Shane's World Right Reproduction Right Breeding LDA25, Parotocinclus jumbo
Down Species Information
Size 58mm or 2.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification The genus Parotocinclus can readily be distinguished from Otocinclus by the presence of an adipose fin in the former.

Different shade of grey, ranging from medium to dark grey, with some greenish and golden shades. Its bigger adult size and blunter forehead compared to other Parotocinclus make it straightforward to ID.

Britski and Garavello agree that a review of the genus Parotocinclus should be undertaken and that this species should be placed in another, new, genus.
Sexing Males have longer pelvic fins, the tip of which extends beyond the origin of the anal fin, the urogenital papilla is positioned just after the anal opening in males. In females the tip of the pelvic fin does not reach the anal fin origin and the urogenital duct opens to the inner cloacal cavity.
General Remarks Erwin Schraml introduced the LDA number in Das Aquarium, March 1996.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Paraiba do Norte and Piranhas rivers in Paraiba State, Canhotinho River in Pernambuco State, a tributary of the Mundau River, flowing near the city of Maceio in Alagoas State, and Salgado River in Ceara State, Brazil.
Paraíba do Norte (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Southern Atlantic Draining Rivers, North East Brazil Coastal Rivers, Mundaú (Alagoas), Canhotinho (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Southern Atlantic Draining Rivers, North East Brazil Coastal Rivers, Mundaú (Alagoas) (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Ceará State Rivers, Jaguaribe, Salgado (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 2018.
pH 6.4 - 7.6
Temperature 20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Mainly vegetarian. It will make gravel roll between its lips to remove organic matters. It accepts vegetables, or commercially prepared food such as Spirulina tabs. It will eat, once in a while, animal protein such as bloodworm but this should not be the bulk of the main diet. User data.
Furniture This species spends most of its time on the bottom, they hardly venture onto different surfaces except to feed. Use a fine, sandy bottom as this species likes to bury itself when alarmed. Driftwood is a good idea, and plants can be kept as they will not be eaten. In the wild, P. jumbo is collected from flat areas in the middle course of the river. These are shallow, clear waters with low current, sandy and rocky bottoms, and marginal vegetation.
Compatibility A very good citizen. Avoid keeping it with larger fish that would eat it. Should be kept in groups.
Breeding Similar to many Corydoras species - see Shane's World reproduction article.
Breeding Reports There is but a single breeding report, read it here.
Down Further Information
Reference Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters v. 13 (no. 3), pp 280, Fig. 1.
Registered Keepers There are 69 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
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There are 8 wishes to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 12 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2022 Feb 03 10:33 (species record created: 2004 Oct 01 11:22)

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