Wednesday, December 22, 2010
December 22, 2010 : Pleco
Hypostomus plecostomus is the scientific name for a type of freshwater tropical Central and South American fish belonging to the family Loricariidae. They are large algae eaters, and to differentiate them from small algae eaters, they are often referred to as plecostomus, often abbreviated as plecos or plecs. They are extremely popular in aquaria for their ability to clean tanks by eating algae growth. In Malaysia, these fish are called 'ikan bandaraya' or 'municipal fish' in English because of their ability to clean fish tanks. These friendly-natured fish can typically be purchased when about 8 cm (3 inches) and may grow up to 60 cm (2 ft) if there is adequate room, making them mostly impracticable for any but the largest aquariums.
Plecos are omnivorous but, in the wild, feed mostly on plant material at night. During the day, their unusual omega irides block a lot of the light out of their eyes, but they are usually open at night. They can roll their eye within their sockets.
As they age, their foreheads enlarge in a peculiar manner. Plecos may become more peaceful with age and are best kept individually in tanks. Because of their potentially large size and peaceful behaviour, it may be advisable to procure a less aggressive catfish. In a suitably large tank, a solitary plecostomus will live amicably enough in a community alongside other tropical fish. These catfish may survive in tanks with "cold-water" species like goldfish, but it is generally not advised due to the different temperature preferences and the fact that some plecos will suck the protective slime coat off the goldfish. This however would indicate your pleco is starving and seeking the algae stuck to the slime coat.
Plecostomus catfish are some of the most commonly kept algae-eating catfish, and are also some of the largest. Individuals measuring over 60 cm (2 ft) long have been reported in ponds and large tanks; most people think they only grow large enough for their aquarium, but a small tank may only slow their rate of growth. Their growth may also become stunted in a smaller tank, leading to bad health and possibly an early death.