Category Archives: Loricariids


I f you are an aquarium hobbyist, chances are you started with a freshwater tank, and in that tank you had a pleco. There's a reason that the common varieties of this fish are found in every local aquarium store across the country.

They are generally inexpensive, unique looking, and serve a valuable purpose: eating unwanted algae. In fact, new exotic species are constantly being discovered and their demand and popularity is clearly evident in the world of advanced freshwater aquaria.

The main challenge in acquiring one of these exotic varieties is of course availability. The species listed below cannot be found at your average local fish store, but here at Absolutely Fish they are so regularly available that you may have walked past them without even realizing their unique identity and significance. I hope that will change after you've read more about them. Exporters were constantly discovering, catching, and shipping new species, and scientific taxonomy simply could not keep up with the volume.

The numbers started from ; more than have been classified so far with new species being discovered constantly. But in reality they require good amount of experience and care; many require high waterflow, driftwood, rocky hiding places, and generally thrive in bigger aquariums with stable ecosystems. Many are territorial, and to house more than one requires enough space for them establish individual territories.

As the number suggests, this is one of the first fancy plecos to be classified, and it has remained popular ever since because of its striking pattern. This is one of the most popular and frequently imported species.

It also originates from Rio Xingu near Altamira. A second variety of the pleco L— was later discovered, and is found a little further south, while a third variety L— is found even further south.

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Certain sections of the river Xingu have a rocky bed covered with an algae biofilm which these fish feed on. Surprisingly this fish thrives in whitewater rapids. It originates from whitewater sections of the Rio Xingu near the town of Belo Monte. In captivity it requires a good amount of well—oxygenated waterflow. Unfortunately due to the ongoing construction of the Belo Monte Dam this fish is likely to experience habitat degradation in the near future.

It originates from the Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela, specifically sections with whitewater or rapids. It is not purely vegetarian and requires a mix diet.

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The tomato red coloration on the dorsal and caudal fins is the reason behind its popularity. In fact it is sometimes called the Redtail Leopardus or the Redtail Sternella pleco for this reason. This is a purely carnivorous pleco which produces quite a bit of waste; a good filtration is definitely required.

This strikingly beautiful fish originates from the Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela, specifically near the town of Puerto Ayacucho. It can range in base coloration from light blue to black with blue spots. In the wild they live amongst rocky substrates in the fast flowing sections of the river, therefore well—oxygenated water with good waterflow as well as good hiding places is needed.


The beautiful leopard—like pattern can vary from specimen to specimen. Males develop small teeth—like odontodes which cover the back half of the fish. Those who are familiar with freshwater aquaria are aware of how rare it is to find a fish with green coloration. Perhaps that is one of the reason why this fish is so popular. There is a Hi Fin variety is as well, though they are generally not numbered separately.

The key to telling them apart is that the dorsal and adipose fins are connected in the Hi Fin variety while they are separate in the main form. This fish could be facing potential loss of habitat as a hydroelectric plant is being planned for that region. It originates from Rio Xingu in Brazil. Most specimen found in the aquaria trade are actually aquaculture and therefore much hardier than their wild cousins.

How to Pronounce Loricariids

I hope I have piqued your curiosity sufficiently to warrant a trip to see these beautiful fish for yourself at our store. These are just a few of the many varieties of fancy plecos we regularly carry. Irrespective of how big your tank is our staff can help you create a good aquatic environment for these prized fish.Introduced ina new bright green loricariid plec instantly captured the imagination of catfish enthusiasts the world over.

The species is hard to confuse with many other loricariids, as it has a distinctive olive green coloration, yellowish fins and creamy golden spots. However, it can be confused with two others. This appeared almost identical at the time, but had an enlarged, shark-like dorsal fin.

Subsequent description of L as Hemiancistrus subviridis subviridis meaning greenishand L hifin as Baryancistrus demantoides surprised many in the hobby as the two fishes were not just different species but different genera!

The genus Hemiancistrus is not strongly defined and considered polyphyletic. The group has historically included many species that could not reliably be placed in other genera. Consequently, when further taxonomic work is carried out, H. Hemiancistrus sp. L is captured for the trade further downstream in the Orinoco near Puerto Ayacucho.

Reports exist of intermediate forms being found in other localities, so it remains to be seen if the L population represents a different species or is just part of intraspecific variation within H. Regardless of taxonomic details, the two forms are phenotypically different and so should therefore not be interbred.

Always try to purchase fishes from the same source when setting up breeding colonies. Natural habitat of H.


The water is warm, flowing and neutral to slightly acidic. Loricariid species sympatric with H. Like most fancy ancistrins, they can be in poor shape when imported.

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A good dealer will acclimatise and quickly restore them to health, but only buy alert individuals seen to feed, have full bellies and are not shimmying or swimming on the spot. Extremes should be avoided. As much 3D structure as possible will provide H. As these crevice-dwelling fish are territorial, especially when mature, always provide more caves or resting places than fish. Silicone heavy rockwork together to prevent tank breakages.Delturinae Hypoptopomatinae Hypostominae Lithogeneinae Loricariinae Neoplecostominae Otothyrinae sometimes included in Hypoptopomatinae Genus Nannoplecostomus incertae sedis [2].

Loricariidae is the largest family of catfish order Siluriformeswith 92 genera and just over species to date, with new species being described each year. These fish are noted for the bony plates covering their bodies and their suckermouths. Several genera are sold as " plecos ", notably the suckermouth catfish, Hypostomus plecostomusand are popular as aquarium fish.

Members of the family Loricariidae are commonly referred to as loricariids, suckermouth armoured catfishes, armoured catfish. Some loricariids are not normally considered "plecostomus", such as Farlowella catfish.

Keeping and breeding the Green phantom plec

Some types of loricariids are often referred to by their ' L-number '; this has been become common since imports of loricariid catfish from South America often included specimens that had not been taxonomically described. Currently, L-numbers are used not only by fish-keeping enthusiasts, but also by biologists, since they represent a useful stopgap until a new species of fish is given a full taxonomic name.

Because of their highly specialized morphology, loricariids have been recognized as a monophyletic assemblage in even the earliest classifications of the Siluriformes, meaning they consist of a natural grouping with a common ancestor and all of its descendants.

Some of these families also exhibit suckermouths or armor, although never in the same individual, as in loricariids. This is the largest catfish family, including about species in around 92 genera, with new species being described each year. Monophyly for the family is strongly supported, except, possibly, the inclusion of Lithogenes.

This genus and subfamily, the most basal group in Loricariidae, is the sister group to the rest of the family. However, the monophyly and composition of the other subfamilies are currently being examined and will likely be altered substantially in the future.

It is made up of five tribes. Four of the five tribes, CorymbophaniniHypostominiPterygoplichthyiniand Rhinelepiniinclude about 24 genera. The fifth and largest tribe, Ancistrini formerly recognized as its own subfamilyincludes 30 genera. Loricariid fossils are extremely rare.

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The family Loricariidae is vastly distributed over both the east and west sides of the Andes mountains, however, most species are generally restricted to small geographic ranges. This family has extremely variable color patterns and body shapes. In Latinlorica means corselet. When present, the adipose fin usually has a spine at the forward edge.

One of the most obvious characteristics of the loricariids is the suckermouth. The modified mouth and lips allow the fish to feed, breathe, and attach to the substrate through suction.

The lips were once believed to be unable to function as a sucker while respiration continued, as the inflowing water would cause the system to fail; however, respiration and suction can function simultaneously. Inflowing water passing under the sucker is limited to a thin stream immediately behind each maxillary barbel; the maxillae in loricariids support only small maxillary barbels and are primarily used to mediate the lateral lip tissue in which they are embedded, preventing failure of suction during inspiration [ vague ].

To achieve suction, the fish presses its lips against the substrate and expands its oral cavity, causing negative pressure. Also, unlike most other catfishes, the premaxillae are highly mobile, and the lower jaws have evolved towards a medial position, with the teeth pointed rostroventrally ; these are important evolutionary innovations.

Of the two, the lower jaws are more mobile. Loricariid catfishes have evolved several modifications of their digestive tracts that function as accessory respiratory organs or hydrostatic organs. These complex structures would have been independently evolved a number of times within the family. This includes an enlarged stomach in the Pterygoplichthyini, Hypostomusand Lithoxusa U-shaped diverticulum in Rhinelepini, and a ring-like diverticulum in Otocinclus.

It may be noted that even loricariids with unmodified stomachs have a slight ability to breathe air. Considerable sexual dimorphism occurs in this family, most pronounced during the breeding season.Loricarioidea is a superfamily of catfishes order Siluriformes.

It contains the six families TrichomycteridaeNematogenyiidaeCallichthyidaeScoloplacidaeAstroblepidaeand Loricariidae. Some schemes also include Amphiliidae. This superfamily, including Amphiliidae, includes about genera and 1, species. Loricarioidea is traditionally considered a part of Siluroidei, a clade of all catfishes excluding Diplomystidae.

Amphiliidae, in this analysis, was found to be much more closely related to Mochokidae or Malapteruridae. Loricarioidea is currently diagnosed by the derived presence of a reduced gas bladderencapsulated in expansions of the parapophysis of the first vertebraeand of odontodessmall dermal denticles.

Most species inhabit stream habitats or pools; water in these habitats tends to move relatively quickly. Astroblepids even have the ability to climb up waterfalls. Like other catfish, loricarioidean catfish tend to have whiskers except within the family Loricariidae.

Fish in this group can be naked or, in the case of Callichthyids, Scoloplacids, and Loricariids, armored with bony plates. First, they have a unique, encapsulated gas bladder. Also, they have integumentary teeth called odontodes on their body and fin rays. Loricarioidea is a very diverse monophyletic group. These fish exhibit a wide range of morphologies and occupy many different habitats and trophic levels. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Loricarioidea Pterygoplichthys sp. Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia. Rafinesque Fishes of the World. Mol Phylogenet Evol. Armored Catfishes". Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved Systematic Zoology.

Society of Systematic Biologists. Journal of Morphology. Hidden categories: All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from February Pages using citations with format and no URL Articles with 'species' microformats Taxonbars without primary Wikidata taxon IDs. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.

Download as PDF Printable version. Pterygoplichthys sp. Loricarioidea RafinesqueOf the thirty four living families of catfishes, a few stand out as aquarium favorites; the armored cats of the Callichthyidae e.

CorydorasDiademathe long-whiskered pimelodids, the gorgeous Synodontis of the family Mochokidae, and the "Plecostomus" family of South and Central American sucker mouth catfishes, the Loricariidae. The latter role too often doesn't work out as planned.

Many species are in taxonomic limbo and numerous at least two to three hundred are yet to be scientifically described. Others, like the genera Otocinclus and Peckoltia are small a few inches maximum and retiring. In "browsing" the electronic bulletin boards regarding freshwater fishes, live plants and aquariums you'll notice a great deal of interest in these "suckers"; and several references to lack of success in keeping many of them. The "formula" for Loricariid success is actually not mysterious nor any secret at all.

After handling hundreds of boxes of imports of these fishes, and observing attempts at their commercial production in the Far East, I've come to the this parsimonious conclusion. As is often the case with all livestock husbandry, the principal concerns are merely selection, proper water quality, habitat and feeding. The Catfishes as a whole are a huge assemblage, some 34 families, genera and 2, described species, making up the Order Siluriformes.

Of these, the Sucker moth Armored Catfishes, family Loricariidae, collectively termed "plecostomus" or "Plecos" by most hobbyists, are an enormous group themselves. The largest family of catfishes, with about 80 genera and plus known species, systematists subdivide the Loricariids into five subfamilies based on head shielding characters See Nelson,Burgess,FishBase These fishes are mainly found in swift running streams and rivers but can be found in many other freshwater environments.

You know these fishes; dorso-ventrally top to bottom flattened, with underslung sucking mouths surrounding fleshy lips bearing reduced barbels, and spiny body armor "loricar" means armored. Of special note are Loricariid fish eyes; those omega-shaped pupils dilate and contract in response to varying light.

Most advanced fishes eyes have fixed pupils. A few quick notes here, for comparison's sake, regarding 'other' algae eaters.


The Siamese Algae Eaters, genus Crossocheilus vie for first place however. We will deal with these minnow-like fishes family Cyprinidae in a separate piece. The Loricariids are not exempt from this confusion. The "Plecos" from the Far East, variously labeled Hong Kong or Borneo Plecostomus are better known as River Loaches, family Balitoridae formerly Homalopteridaeand are more closely related to true Loaches family Cobitidae than catfishes.

Lastly, before launching into the major aquarium genera of Loricariids, a mention of "L" numbers and the group. Some time back, a few of the German hobby magazines initiated an "L number" labeling scheme to identify images of otherwise unidentified species of the family.

Suffice it to understand that if you're relying on such an identification source as an L-number from a magazine, book, CD-ROM, do identify the reference by name, date.

This is perhaps the most useful genus of Loricariids for hobbyists, due to their prodigious algae eating, leaving plants alone, and tolerating harder, alkaline water than other Loricariids.

With some 54 described species and many more to come, the Bushy- or Bristle nose Plecostomus are relatively hardy and importantly, stay small most never exceed six inches in total length. Ancistrus spp.

Images: Ancistrus1 showing head tentacles of a male. Genus Baryancistrus : Three species. Genus FarlowellaTwig Plecostomus :. Two species of rather larger "plecostomus" are bred and reared in large quantities for the aquarium trade, pond-techniques perfected at farms in Florida. Still these larger aquariums barely begin to measure up to some of the truly big Loricariid species. Some approach three feet in length, not a misprint.Has this page been useful? Please donate to our monthly hosting costs and keep us free for everyone to enjoy!

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By accessing this site you agree to our Terms and Conditions of Use. Our Privacy Policy. Quick links. Female Close-up of head Dorsal view of female Genital papillae-female.

Literally "False Acanthicus" referring to this genus being similar to, yet different from, Acanthicus. Species Information Identification Pseudacanthicus is a member of the Acanthicus clade. Species of the Acanthicus clade are distinguished from other Loricariidae species by the presence of 1 longitudinal rows of keels pointed odontodes along the body sides; 2 eight or more dorsal-fin rays vs.


Within the Acanthicus group, Pseudacanthicus is distinguished by the presence of two small plates in the posterior area of the compound pterotic vs. Sexing Mature males have considerably more odontodal growth on most fins rays but the pectorals are most adorned. Females fill out quite considerably in relation to the slender males. Husbandry Information Feeding Carnivore although not a predator, prawns and chopped mussel appear favourites and promote favourable growth.

Some vegetable should also be provided and thus balances diet. Furniture Proportionally sized pieces of bogwood the fish does not appear to particularly like rockwork are a good idea as are equally dimensioned pipes. Plants are just a nuisance to this fish and while not orally molested, they tend to be battered by the fishes movement. Compatibility Generally peaceful but territorial from a young age. Some large specimens are aggressively territorial and may cause problems if housed with other large nocturnal fish.

Suggested Tankmates The temptation with large tough Loricariids is to keep them with other large tough fish such as Oscars or other brutish characters. This actually works quite well with most omnivorous or mainly vegetarian plecos. Pseudacanthicus despite their defensive protection can be bullied by faster moving fish of similar size. They are carnivores and only eat vegetables when their preferred food is unavailable.

The amount of waste produced depends on their diet but is considerably less than a Panaque or Pterygoplichthys of similar size.All three suckermouth catfishes family Loricariidae in Florida have rows of bony plates covering all but their belly area.

Sailfin catfish are distinguished by worm-like pattern of dark markings on the head over a dark-golden background; pectoral fins stout with rough surfaces resembling course sandpaper; disc-like, protrusible mouth is under the head, and used like a suction cup to attach and feed on algae; females tend to be smaller, and fish larger than 18 inches probably males; lifeless and hollowed-out 'armored' bodies sometimes seen on canal and lake banks.

Vermiculated sailfin Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus and suckermouth catfish Hypostomus sp are also found in Florida; vermiculated sailfin catfish have worm-like markings similar to but generally bolder than sailfin catfish which is the easiest way to distinguish these two species; suckermouth catfish is a shorter, stouter fish maximum size less than 17 inches ; has a pattern of black spots on head and less than 10 dorsal fin rays while other loricariids in Florida have 10 or more dorsal fin rays and worm-like markings on head.

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The sailfin catfish is by far the most successful, abundant, and widespread loricariid in Florida, and is found throughout central and south Florida. Although the suckermouth catfish Hypostomus sp.

John's River. Native range for all loricariids is South America.


Sailfin catfish live in nearly any type of slow moving streams, canals, ponds, and lakes; and are normally most abundant along the shore and in shallower waters.

They are known to create spawning burrows along shorelines, sometimes undermining canal banks and lake shorelines. Little is known about the vermiculated sailfin's specific habitat preferences; poor success of suckermouth catfish to date indicates it is less well adapted to Florida waters than are the sailfins.

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Fair to good, but difficult to clean and best to cook 'in the shell,' after which the white flaky meat can be slid out. Skip to main content. Report Issues Report fish kills, wildlife emergencies, sightings, etc. Go Outdoors Florida! Sailfin Catfish. Appearance All three suckermouth catfishes family Loricariidae in Florida have rows of bony plates covering all but their belly area. Range: The sailfin catfish is by far the most successful, abundant, and widespread loricariid in Florida, and is found throughout central and south Florida.

Habitat Sailfin catfish live in nearly any type of slow moving streams, canals, ponds, and lakes; and are normally most abundant along the shore and in shallower waters. Age and Growth: Grow to more than 20 inches and weights of 3.