Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Hypostomus plecostomus
(suckermouth catfish)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • suckermouth catfish
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • H. plecostomus is a very popular ornamental freshwater fish, native to northern South America, that has been introduced to the aquatic habitats of at least 17 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Hyp...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). approx. length 250mm.
TitleAdult (captive specimen)
CaptionHypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). approx. length 250mm.
Copyright©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). approx. length 250mm.
Adult (captive specimen)Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). approx. length 250mm.©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close view of anterior section.
TitleAdult (captive specimen)
CaptionHypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close view of anterior section.
Copyright©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close view of anterior section.
Adult (captive specimen)Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close view of anterior section.©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
TitleAdult (captive specimen)
CaptionHypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
Copyright©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
Adult (captive specimen)Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
TitleAdult (captive specimen)
CaptionHypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
Copyright©Mark Maddern-2009
Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.
Adult (captive specimen)Hypostomus plecostomus (suckermouth catfish); adult (captive specimen). Close-up of ventral surface and 'suctorial disc' mouth.©Mark Maddern-2009

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Hypostomus plecostomus Linnaeus 1758

Preferred Common Name

  • suckermouth catfish

Other Scientific Names

  • Acipenser plecostomus Linnaeus 1758
  • Hypostomus guacari Lacepède 1803
  • Loricaria flava Shaw 1804
  • Plecostomus bicirrosus Gronow 1854
  • Plecostomus brasiliensis Bleeker 1863
  • Plecostomus plecostomus Linnaeus 1758
  • Pterygoplichthys plecostomus (Linnaeus 1758)

Local Common Names

  • Australia: pleco
  • Brazil: acari; acarí; acarí pedral; acari-bodó; armadilho; bode; bode de igarapé; bodó; cascudo; guacari; guacarí; pirá tatu; vacarí; yau urá
  • Colombia: cacucho; coroncoro; corroncho; cucha
  • Denmark: almindelig sugemalle; storhovedet sugemalle
  • Finland: surinamintäpläpleko
  • Germany: Plecostomus; Saugmaulwels
  • Guyana: sea hasar; suckermouth catfish
  • Mexico: armadillo del rio
  • Philippines: janitor fish; plecostomus; sucking catfish
  • Russian Federation: nizhnerot
  • USA: armadillo del rio; armoured catfish; pleco; spotted pleco; suckermouth armoured catfish; suckermouth catfish

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

H. plecostomus is a very popular ornamental freshwater fish, native to northern South America, that has been introduced to the aquatic habitats of at least 17 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Hypostomus spp. have many life history traits that make them successful invaders: they are covered in armoured plates, possess broad environmental tolerances and the ability to colonise anthropogenically-disturbed habitats, provide parental care through nest-building and egg-guarding, and have the ability to breathe air in hypoxic conditions. Because of their rapid maturation, high densities and longevity, Hypostomus spp. can rapidly monopolize nutrient resources, alter food webs, increase turbidity and cause bank erosion through nest building, and physically inhibit other aquatic organisms. In addition to ecological impacts, the socioeconomic consequences of introduced populations of Hypostomus spp. can be severe. For example, in Mexico, impacts include reduced water quality and the collapse of large freshwater fisheries. More research is needed to understand how Hypostomus spp. impact upon other fishes and aquatic organisms in the systems they invade.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Siluriformes
  •                         Family: Loricariidae
  •                             Genus: Hypostomus
  •                                 Species: Hypostomus plecostomus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The genus Hypostomus was created by Lacepède (Lacepède 1803) and is the largest genus in the family Loricariidae, containing over 130 species and many undescribed forms (Armbruster 2004). Hypostomus was redescribed by Armbruster (2004); however, additional taxonomic and systematic work are needed, as it is difficult to identify most species in the genus and there are no distinctive characters which diagnose the genus (Armbruster, 1997; 2004; Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012; USGS NAS, 2015).

Historically, members of the loricariid genus Pterygoplichthys have often been misidentified as Hypostomus spp. (USGS NAS, 2015). Introduced populations of species from both genera exist in many countries, although this has been best documented in the USA. At least three morphologically distinct Hypostomus spp. are present in the USA (Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990; Page and Burr, 1991); however, many early accounts of Pterygoplichthys spp. in the USA were misidentified as Hypostomus spp. (USGS NAS, 2015). When referring to Hypostomus spp. present in the USA and Mexico, some authoritative references (e.g. Hoover et al. 2004; 2014; Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009) identify Hypostomus plecostomus specifically, and all other species collectively as Hypostomus spp.

Hypostomus, plecostomus, pleco and the common name suckermouth catfish are used as generic names by the aquarium industry for species from the genera Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys in the USA (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012). In Australia, ‘pleco’ is used to name large loricariids, including Hypostomus plecostomus, though the more commonly imported species are Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus, Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus and Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps

Description

Top of page

Taken from Graham and Baird (1982), Page and Burr (1991), Howells (2005), Texas Parks and Wildlife (2012), Froese and Pauly (2014), Hoover et al. (2014), USGS NAS (2015) and PlanetCatfish (2015):

Loricariids are characterized by bodies that are depressed and covered in flexible bony plates. They have a ventral mouth with modified lips (known as a ‘suckermouth’) with papillae (small projections) on the lips, and in some taxa, barbels. The modified mouth allows the fish to feed, breathe, and attach to the substrate through suction. Respiration and suction can function simultaneously. Loricariids possess important evolutionary innovations of the jaws and cranial bones that assist with feeding. Unlike most other catfishes, the premaxillae of loricariids are highly mobile, and the lower jaws have evolved towards a medial position, with the specialized teeth pointed rostroventrally. The fish rotates its lower and upper jaws to scrape or rasp the substrate. Loricariids have also evolved several modifications of their digestive tracts, including an enlarged, vascularized stomach in Hypostomus sp. that functions as an accessory respiratory organ and is used to increase buoyancy for moving about in the water column. Members of the Hypostominae possess distinctive lunate pupils believed to provide greater visual acuity along the frontal-caudal axis (Douglas et al., 2002).

H. plecostomus grows to approximately 50 cm long over its native range, though aquarium specimens are typically smaller (less than 30 cm). The body of H. plecostomus is brown to olive-brown with darker spotted or vermiculated patterns, and, in some specimens, dark dorsal saddles. Fins are similarly coloured. The abdomen is pale cream with brown spots that may be irregularly joined to form a vermiculate pattern. There is no granular edge on snout. There is a strong spine at front of the dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins. Pectoral fins are horizontal and have thick, toothed spines that are used in male-male competition and locomotion. The dorsal fin has 1 spine and 7-8 rays. The anal fin has 1 spine and 3-5 rays. The tail is cylindrical and not flattened. Large adult males possess thickened pectoral fins that turn reddish-pink, and gravid adult females appear thicker when viewed from above.

A library of images of H. plecostomus may be viewed at PlanetCatfish (2015).

Distribution

Top of page

Hypostomus sp. is native to Central and South America, ranging from Costa Rica to Argentina (Page and Burr, 1991; Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012). H. plecostomus is native to northern South America, from Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, between the Essequibo and Oyapock River basins (Weber et al., 2012). It has been introduced to 17 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

It is possible that specimens collected and recorded as H. plecostomus from Brazil (Silvano and Begossi, 2001) and Argentina (Lopez et al., 1987) may be introduced populations of H. plecostomus, or more likely other Hypostomus sp., because these locations are geographically isolated from the natural distribution of H. plecostomus (northern South America). 

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

MauritiusAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Anonymous (2015)Released ornamental fish are ‘well established’ in dams and streams of Mauritius. Species identification may be suspect

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeBartley (2006)
ChinaPresentIntroduced1990Ma et al. (2003); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced2007Liu Yi et al. (2011)Recorded from the Huizhou segment of Dongjiang River in 2007
Hong KongAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Baensch and Riehl (1985); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Baensch and Riehl (1985) state that H. plecostomus is bred in ponds in Singapore (quoted in Froese and Pauly (2014); however, it is unknown if introduced populations exist
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedBartley (2006)
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedASAP (1996); Sinohin and Cuaterno (2003); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Reported from Laguna de Bay; First reported: 1970s
SingaporeAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Baensch and Riehl (1985); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Baensch and Riehl (1985) state that H. plecostomus is bred in ponds in Singapore (quoted in Froese and Pauly (2014), however, it is unknown if introduced populations exist
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedMarambe et al. (2003); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Recorded from lowland wet zones (reservoirs, ponds, slow flowing rivers, marshes)
TaiwanPresentIntroducedLiang et al. (2006)Established in the wild
ThailandPresentIntroducedBartley (2006)
VietnamPresentIntroducedBartley (2006)

Europe

SpainAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Froese R and Pauly D (2014)No record of introduced populations of H. plecostomus in Spain could be found in the reference quoted in Froese and Pauly (2014); i.e. Maceda-Veiga et al. (2013) (nor in Elvira and Almodóvar (2001) quoted in the latter reference)
United KingdomPresentIntroduced2000Bartley (2006)No further information. Assumed to be the release of ornamental fish

North America

Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedUSGS NAS (2015)A single specimen was collected from Dos Bocas Reservoir and several specimens collected from an irrigation canal in Lajas
United StatesPresentCABI Data Mining (2011)
-FloridaPresentIntroducedBartley (2006); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Collected in Tampa in 1972 and Miami-Dade Counties in mid-late 70s. Reported from various other locations in Florida (Nico and Neilson (2015)
-NevadaAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)USGS NAS (2015)Collected in Indian Spring in 1983; current status of population unknown. May be unidentified Hypostomus sp. and not H. plecostomus (Nico and Neilson (2015)
-TexasPresentIntroducedBartley (2006); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Recorded from San Antonio River, Bexar County in July of 2000, San Felipe Creek in 2004, San Marcos River, Comal River and White Oak Bayou

South America

ArgentinaAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Lopez et al. (1987); Froese R and Pauly D (2014)Quoted in Lopez et al. (1987) (from Froese and Pauly (2014) as present in Argentina. Too far from native distribution (northern South America) to be native therefore either introduced or mis-identified
Brazil
-Sao PauloAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Silvano and Begossi (2001)Collected in the state of Sao Paulo (southeastern Brazil), however, the native range is northern South America. It is likely collected specimens were either introduced or misidentified
ColombiaPresentIntroducedLopez Macias et al. (2009)Collected in the anthropogenically impacted upper basin of the Cauca River; H. plecostomus was the most abundant species during collection; First reported: 1990s
French GuianaPresent, WidespreadNativeWeber et al. (2012)
GuyanaPresent, WidespreadNativeWeber et al. (2012)
SurinamePresent, WidespreadNativeWeber et al. (2012)

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

Historically, H. plecostomus and Hypostomus sp. were very popular amongst aquarists due to the fact that members of this genus were the only large loricariids imported. According to Sterba (1966), the ornamental trade in ‘suckermouth catfishes’ began in 1893 with commercial imports of H. plecostomus. Hypostomus spp. were common in the ornamental trade in the 1960s and 1970s, when loricariids were exported from Venezuela, Suriname and the Guyanas (the natural distribution of H. plecostomus) (PlanetCatfish, 2015). After the 1980s, a much higher number of loricariid genera were available to aquarists, including Pterygoplichthys spp. (Hoover et al., 2014).  Currently most ‘suckermouth catfish’ are now exported from Peru and Brazil (the native range of many Pterygoplichthys spp.) (PlanetCatfish, 2015).                                                                                      

Although introduced populations of H. plecostomus occur in at least 17 countries, these populations have not been well documented, particularly in many Asian countries. This has been exacerbated by the taxonomic uncertainty of loricariids in general, and Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys spp. in particular.

In the USA, Hypostomus spp. have occurred in Florida since the 1950s, though they are not widespread there, and are found primarily in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2015). H. plecostomus was collected from Six Mile Creek in Tampa, Florida, in 1972 and in other locations in Florida, including a borrow pit in Wayside Park in Perrine, Miami-Dade County (USGS NAS, 2015). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2015) inferred that introduced Hypostomus populations in Florida were restricted and not successful in comparison with the large and rapidly increasing populations of introduced Pterygoplichthys spp. (most notably P. multiradiatus).

Although H. plecostomus was reported from Indian Spring, Nevada, in 1983, the single specimen was later determined to be an unidentified species of Hypostomus and not H. plecostomus (USGS NAS, 2015).

H. plecostomus was first recorded in Texas in the headwaters of the San Antonio River (Bexar County) in 1962 (Howells, 2005). It has been recorded in several other watersheds in Texas, including Comal Springs (Comal County), San Marcos River (Hays County), San Felipe Creek (Val Verde County) and White Oak Bayou (USGS NAS, 2015). Since being discovered in San Felipe Creek the population of H. plecostomus has ‘increased dramatically’ (Howells, 2005).

In China, H. plecostomus was recorded in the Huizhou segment of the Dongjiang River in 2007. It was not recorded in previous surveys in the 1980s (Liu et al., 2011). Ma et al. (2003) reported that H. plecostomus was introduced to aquatic habitats in the country in 1990, though provided no further details.

In Columbia, introduced populations of H. plecostomus are well established in the anthropogenically-impacted upper basin of the Cauca River. Lopez Macias et al. (2009) cited the field collections of Ortega et al. (1999), where it was found that H. plecostomus was the most abundant fish species captured. H. plecostomus was introduced to Columbia from Guyana (Lopez Macias et al., 2009). 

Introductions

Top of page
Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Bangladesh South America 1975-1999 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Bartley (2006)
Colombia Guyana   Lopez et al. (2009)
Spain   Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Froese and Pauly (2014) No record of introduced populations of H. plecostomus in Spain could be found in the reference quoted in Froese and Pauly (2014); i.e. Maceda-Veiga et al. (2013) (nor in Elvira and Almodóvar (2001) quoted in the latter reference)
USA South America 1950s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Bartley (2006); Froese and Pauly (2014); USGS (2015); USGS NAS (2015) Established in Florida and Texas

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

There are three main factors likely to influence the risk of introduction of H. plecostomus to natural environments: the popularity of the species as an ornamental fish, the size and/or nature of the species as an ornamental fish, and the number of naturalized introduced populations.

The majority of nonindigenous populations of H. plecostomus are the result of the release of unwanted ornamental fishes (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2010; USGS NAS, 2015). The potential for the release of a fish species is correlated with the popularity of that species and its abundance among fish hobbyists. Historically, H. plecostomus and Hypostomus sp. were very popular due to the fact that members of this genus were the only large loricariids imported. Currently most ‘suckermouth catfish’ are now exported from Peru and Brazil (the native range of many Pterygoplichthys spp.) (PlanetCatfish, 2015); thus, while historically H. plecostomus and Hypostomus spp. were commonly imported decades ago, it appears as though the majority of ‘suckermouth catfish’ currently imported are Pterygoplichthys spp.. Although H. plecostomus is still commonly kept by aquarists as an ornamental species, and the potential for release into aquatic habitats is high, the potential risk is likely to be higher for members of the genus Pterygoplichthys. US chain pet shop stocks are now dominated by Pterygoplichthys spp., which are sometimes sold as Hypostomus spp. (Jan Hoover, personal observation, 2015).

Although H. plecostomus is a popular ornamental species, it is not an ideal fish species for many hobbyists due to its rapid growth and large size (up to 50 cm). Large loricariids can be highly disruptive in small tanks and, although they are not generally aggressive to heterospecifics, territoriality and aggression are often observed between large loricariids (Hoover et al., 2014). Because they are long-lived (more than 10 years) and have unusual behaviours (adhering to objects, scraping and ‘vacuuming’ their food), owners can be reluctant to kill them. As a result, they are subject to release into local aquatic habitats by well-meaning but environmentally misguided aquarists (Hoover et al., 2014; PlecoInvasion, 2015).

There is the potential for the natural dispersal and anthropogenic translocation of introduced populations of H. plecostomus. This is more likely to occur in areas that contain multiple populations and/or larger and widely distributed populations (such as Florida and Texas in the USA). In areas with larger and/or widely dispersed populations, there is also a greater risk of the general public collecting, translocating and potentially re-releasing fishes. 

Habitat

Top of page

Across its native range, H. plecostomus typically inhabits slow-flowing, lower reaches of rivers between the lower falls and the estuarine zone. The species may also inhabit lakes and swamps and is usually associated with submerged wood. Substrates may range from mud and detritus, to gravel and cobble and boulders to sand (Burgess, 1989; Weber et al., 2012; Armbruster, 2015).

As an introduced species, H. plecostomus inhabits anthropogenically-modified aquatic habitats. For example, the species thrives in the upper basin of the river Cauca, Colombia. Physical processes degrading this river system included modified hydrological regimes (dams), pollution (industrial, agricultural and domestic wastewater), extraction of sand and gravel, water abstraction and deforestation. Impacts include sedimentation and increased turbidity and reduced dissolved oxygen. Under these conditions, introduced populations of H. plecostomus thrived and the species was found to dominate local fish fauna (Ortega et al., 1999; Lopez Macias et al., 2009).

In the USA and Mexico, introduced populations frequently occur in shallow, littoral areas in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and thermal springs (Hoover et al., 2014).

Habitat List

Top of page
CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
  Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lakes Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Genetics

The diploid/haploid chromosome numbers of H. plecostomus are 54-54/27 (Froese and Pauly, 2014). Genetic diversity within the Hypostomus genus is extremely high (Alves et al., 2005).

Reproductive biology

Parental care is common in loricariids and many species are cavity builders and nest guarders. Male H. plecostomus burrow into banks and bottom sediments to create chambers in which females lay eggs. Males guard the mass of eggs (Burgess, 1989) which hatch in 3-5 days (Baensch and Riehl, 1985). Burrows of H. plecostomus observed in Florida ponds exhibit a single opening but then subdivide into three or four different tunnels that extend 0.9-1.2 m parallel to the surface of the water (Grier, 1980). In Texas, burrows are reported to be 1.2-1.5 m deep (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012). Burrows are typically located in steeply sloping banks with soils containing almost no gravel, and they are especially evident in highly disturbed urban ponds (Hoover et al., 2014).

H. plecostomus grows rapidly and may mature at lengths of 150 mm in introduced populations in Florida (Grier, 1980), which is less than half the typical adult size of 400-500 mm (Burgess, 1989). Size at maturity of H. plecostomus is comparable with other Hypostomus sp. in their native range in South America (Nomura and Mueller, 1980; Mazzoni and Caramaschi, 1995).

The total fecundity of H. plecostomus is reported to be approximately 3000 eggs (Azevedo, 1938). The batch fecundity of female fish from the San Marcos River in Texas ranged from 871-3367 eggs per ovary (Cook-Hildreth, 2008). Data are similar to those from various Hypostomus sp. in their native range, which have total fecundities of several thousand eggs, and batch fecundities of approximately 1000 eggs (Mazzoni and Caramaschi, 1997; Duarte and Araújo, 2002). Egg masses of H. plecostomus typically contain 500-700 eggs (Grier, 1980; Hoover et al., 2014).

H. plecostomus is believed to spawn multiple times throughout a protracted spawning season. In Texas, multiple-sized oocytes, which are indicative of multiple spawning events, are documented for the species (Cook-Hildreth, 2008). The spawning season, based on gonadosomatic indices, is from March through September (Hoover et al., 2014). In their native range, Hypostomus sp. also exhibit protracted spawning periods of greater than 5 months, which usually coincides with the warm rainy season (Mazzoni and Caramaschi, 1997).

Physiology and phenology

Loricariids have evolved several modifications of their digestive tracts that function as accessory respiratory organs or hydrostatic organs. These modifications include an enlarged stomach in the Pterygoplichthys and Hypostomus spp., where veins in the stomach walls uptake oxygen into the bloodstream. Loricariids are facultative air breathers and will only breathe air if subject to hypoxia (Armbruster, 1998; Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012).

Longevity

Limited data are available on the lifespan of H. plecostomus. Pectoral fin rays, used in traditional age assessments, may not be accurate due to lumens that form with the growth of the fish (i.e. they become hollow) and due to non-annual formation of growth rings. Lifespans of Hypostomus spp. in the wild ofrange from 7-8 years; however, aquaria specimens are commonly reported to live for 10-15 years (Hoover et al., 2004).

Activity patterns

Loricariid catfish are generally nocturnal (PlecoInvasion, 2015) and non-migratory (Froese and Pauly, 2014). Although not migratory, loricariids exhibit a tendency to disperse throughout and between aquatic habitats. Hypostomus spp. can reportedly cross damp land to reach new water bodies if necessary (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012; Hoover et al., 2014). According to Gerstner (2007), the dispersal and station-holding ability of Hypostomus spp. in flowing water is facilitated by diverse behaviours distinctive to the unusual morphology of the group. These include the ability to hold onto solid substrates using the oral disc (suckermouth), pelvic fin beats, and hooking and bracing using the studded spines of the pectoral fins. These behaviours enable even comparatively small individuals (approximately 80 mm total length) to negotiate flows up to 145 cm/s. Consequently, a single population can quickly colonize adjacent water bodies (Hoover et al., 2014).

Population size and density

No information is available on the population size and density of H. plecostomus populations (Hoover et al., 2014); however, anecdotal comments and qualitative observations have been made regarding the success of introduced populations in the USA.

The most successful introduced population of H. plecostomus in Texas is in San Felipe Creek, Val Verde County. Since being discovered at this location the population of has ‘increased dramatically,’ with the concurrent decline of indigenous algal-feeding species (Howells, 2005; Hoover et al., 2014). There has been a large population in the headwaters of the San Antonio River, Bexar County, Texas, for more than 50 years (Barron, 1964).

In Florida, Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus is ‘by far the most successful, abundant, and widespread loricariid,’ with populations common throughout central and south Florida (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2015). In comparison, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2015) stated that Hypostomus spp. populations, despite having been in Florida since the 1950s, are not widespread, being found primarily in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties. The poor success of Hypostomus spp. to date suggests that it is less well adapted to Florida waters than P. multiradiatus.

Hoover et al. (2014) characterized adult population densities of introduced populations of H. plecostomus as high in anthropogenically-disturbed habitats such as reservoirs, urban streams, urban ponds and canals.

Nutrition

The ventral suckermouth of H. plecostomus is used to scrape or rasp food from different substrates. H. plecostomus is omnivorous and principally consumes algae/vegetal matter, periphyton (microorganisms adhered to submerged substrates), detritus and benthic aquatic invertebrates (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012; Froese and Pauly, 2014). It has relatively long intestines due to its usually herbivorous or detrivorous diet.

Pound et al. (2011) investigated the diet of introduced populations of H. plecostomus from the San Marcos River, Texas, using gut contents and stable isotope analyses. Gut content analysis indicated that H. plecostomus primarily consumed amorphous detritus (87%), filamentous red algae (5.4%), and picoplankton (4.1%). Stable isotopes indicated that H. plecostomus occupied a trophic position indicative of a herbivore and likely utilized detritus of algal origin.

Associations

Hoover et al. (2014) noted that three of the largest introduced populations of H. plecostomus occurred in areas with a high diversity and abundance of non-native fishes (particularly large cichlids), most notably south Florida (Shafland et al. 2008), San Antonio River, Texas (Hubbs et al. 1978, Edwards 2001), and Infierinillo Reservoir, Mexico (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009). Hypostomus sp. co-occur with tilapia in several areas, including San Felipe Creek (Lopez- Fernandez and Winemiller, 2005), San Antonio River, Texas (Edwards, 2001), and the Hillsborough River system, Florida (Hoover et al., 2014).

Hoover et al. (2014) suggested that disturbance by other introduced species facilitates the establishment of Hypostomus (and Pterygoplichthys) species. For example, the topographic variation provided by tilapia nests provides a habitat that can be exploited by burrowing catfish. H. plecostomus have been observed burrowing in the nests of blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) in Mexico, which could cause fish to abandon nests, and reduce reproductive success.

Environmental requirements

In an aquarium environment, H. plecostomus require temperatures of 20-30°C (Baensch and Riehl, 1985; PlanetCatfish, 2015). Hypostomus sp. are found living in areas where waters reach 32°C (Barletta et al., 2000). Hypostomus sp. are tolerant of cooler temperatures (16°C) though at 13°C they exhibit a distinctive reddening of fins due to cold stress (Grier, 1980; Hoover et al., 2014). In controlled laboratory experiments Shafland and Pestrak (1982) determined that a Hypostomus spp. reduced feeding at 20.5°C, stopped feeding at 18.7°C and died at 11.2°C. Hoover et al. (2014) suggested a lower lethal temperature of 12-14°C, which was supported by the absence of low temperature ‘winter kills’ above 15°C at Galveston Bay, Texas (Robinson and Culbertson, 2005) and the presence of winter kills at Hillsborough River at 10-12°C (Hoover et al., 2014).

Hypostomus sp. tolerate brackish water of 6-12 ppt, though are not found in higher adjacent salinities (Barletta et al., 2000; Hoover et al., 2014).

Although Hypostomus sp. can tolerate hypoxic conditions using accessory breathing, no data are available on oxygen levels necessary to promote this response.

Climate

Top of page
ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
29 25

Water Tolerances

Top of page
ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 28 Optimum < 28-Baensch and Riehl (1985) (Aquarium)
Water pH (pH) 6.2 8.2 Optimum 6.2-8.2 - Baensch and Riehl (1985) (Aquarium) & Hoover et al. (2014) 6.5-8 - PlanetCatfish (2015) (Aquarium)
Water pH (pH) 6.5 8 Optimum PlanetCatfish (2015) (aquarium)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 32 Harmful <32 - Barletta et al. (2000) <20.5 (reduced feeding), <18.7 (stopped feeding), <11.2 (died) Shafland and Pestrak (1982) (Laboratory)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 28 Optimum 20-28-Baensch and Riehl (1985) (Aquarium) 20-30-PlanetCatfish (2015) (Aquarium)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) Optimum <20.5 (reduced feeding), <18.7 (stopped feeding), <11.2 (died) (laboratory; Shafland and Pestrak, 1982)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 30 Optimum aquarium (PlanetCatfish, 2015)

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

Introduced Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. may be consumed by birds (cormorants, herons and pelicans), alligators/crocodilians, otters, aquatic snakes, freshwater turtles and predatory fish including larger catfishes and largemouth bass (Lopez-Fernandez and Winemiller, 2005; Nico, 2010; Galveston Bay Estuary Program, 2015). Galveston Bay Estuary Program (2015) displays images of cormorants feeding on Pterygoplichthys spp. in Houston, Texas.

Many predators have difficulty swallowing Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. due to the fishes' spines and body armour, and it has been observed that birds (pelicans) have died attempting to swallow large specimens (Hoover et al., 2004). An adaptation to reduce predation is the defensive posture exhibited by these fish when they are handled or threatened: the fin spines are erected and the fins are expanded, making the fish larger and more difficult to swallow (Hoover et al., 2014).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

Natural dispersal (non-biotic)

Further spread of H. plecostomus by natural dispersal may occur and is most likely in areas with substantial populations (southern Florida, Texas and Mexico) and in areas prone to flooding.

The potential for the natural dispersal of H. plecostomus is increased by the environmental tolerances of the species. High hypoxia tolerance may allow this species to readily colonise and migrate within anthropogenically-modified waterways often associated with urban areas. Low temperature tolerance is likely to be the limiting factor that may control the natural dispersal of Hypostomus sp. in northern USA (Hoover et al., 2014).

Accidental introduction

H. plecostomus may have been accidently introduced to Florida and Mexico. Prior to 1980, H. plecostomus was produced in large numbers in aquaculture facilities in Florida (Grier, 1980). Fish were cultured in outdoor ponds and these ponds were seasonally drained to harvest adult fish. It is speculated that juvenile fish were dispersed with pumped water at the time adults were harvested. H. plecostomus may also have been introduced into waterways adjacent to aquaculture facilities through failed containment structures, floods, and migration through existing channels, especially in the extensive network of artificial canals and waterways in south Florida (Hoover et al., 2014).

During the 1960s, H. plecostomus was used to control algae in pools at a zoo in Texas. The fish subsequently escaped into the upper San Antonio River (Barron, 1964).

Intentional introduction

H. plecostomus were introduced into the Balsas Basin, Mexico, to control macrophytes and algae, and are now established in multiple water bodies (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009).

H. plecostomus has been intentionally released by aquarists and this remains a significant source of introduced populations (Hoover et al., 2014). The release of aquarium specimens is believed responsible for the establishment of many introduced populations of Hypostomus sp. in Hawaii, Mexico, Texas and Florida (Hoover et al., 2014).

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
AquacultureCultured in ponds in Florida Yes Yes Grier, 1980
Biological controlReleased into the upper San Antonio River during the 1960s in an effort to control algae Yes Yes Barron, 1964; Hoover et al., 2014
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscape/release from aquaculture ponds through drained water Yes Yes Hoover et al., 2014
Flooding and other natural disastersEscape/release from aquaculture ponds Yes Yes Hoover et al., 2014
Intentional releaseReleased ornamental fish Yes Yes Hoover et al., 2014; Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012
Pet tradePopular ornamental fish worldwide Yes Yes Hoover et al., 2014
ResearchBiological studies Yes Yes Pound et al., 2011

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Pets and aquarium speciesAll Yes Yes Hoover et al., 2014

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

Top of page

Economic impacts of introduced populations of Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. have been quantified for commercial tilapia fisheries in Florida and Mexico (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009). During the period 1993-2006, tilapia catch in six lakes in Florida decreased from 45-80% of the total catch to 17-30% of the total catch after Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. became established. Concurrently, the representation of loricariids increased to 11-65% of the commercial catch (Hoover et al., 2014).

The tilapia catch in a reservoir in Mexico decreased 83% after proliferation of Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp.. As a result, individual fishermen spend an additional $1400-$2600/year to replace damaged nets, work an additional 2 hr/day, and lose more than $29,000 (US) per year. Total economic losses are approximately $16.4 million: $11.63 million from commercial fishing (losses in gear, hours worked, revenue from catch, health status), $4.74 million from natural capital (water quality, shoreline formation, native fauna), and an unknown quantity from effects on aquarium trade (sale of illegally traded wild-caught Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp.) (Hoover et al., 2014).

Environmental Impact

Top of page

Impact on habitats

The burrows created by Hypostomus sp. during reproduction may cause erosion, sedimentation and increased turbidity. Bank failure, shoreline collapse and terracing have been observed in Mexico, Texas, and Florida where burrow densities were high (Hoover et al., 2014).

Grazing H. plecostomus may reduce algal standing crops and composition. Extensive grazing may promote a change in algal composition from green algae-dominated communities to diatoms (Flecker, 1992) or diatom-dominated communities to blue-green algae (Power, 1984). Resultant impacts include reduced quality of habitat for algae-dwelling invertebrates and fishes, and reduction in food sources for other grazing aquatic organisms (Hoover et al., 2014).

Impact on biodiversity

Impacts on aquatic biodiversity have been observed as a result of introduced populations of H. plecostomus in Texas (San Antonio and San Marcos rivers, and San Felipe Creek). H. plecostomus may compete for resources (food and habitat) with sympatric fishes and aquatic organisms, disturb nest sites, eat eggs of native fishes and disrupt trophic flows and nutrient cycling aquatic habitats.

In the San Antonio River, H. plecostomus has been implicated in the reduced abundance of the algae-eating central stoneroller Campostoma anomalum (Hubbs et al., 1978; Hoover et al., 2014).

In San Felipe Creek, H. plecostomus is believed to be impacting populations of the IUCN endangered Devils River minnow Dionda diaboli. D. diaboli was once abundant in San Felipe Creek, but the species has undergone a major decrease in abundance concurrent with the dramatic increase in the population of H. plecostomus (Howells, 2005). D. diaboli is an algivore and is probably subject to resource competition with H. plecostomus (Hoover et al., 2014). Other algal-feeding species have also declined, including the native snail Elimia comalensis (Howells, 2005).

In the San Marcos River, considerable research has been conducted on the biology and ecology of introduced populations of H. plecostomus. Pound et al. (2011) investigated the diet of introduced populations of H. plecostomus from the San Marcos River using gut contents and stable isotope analyses. They found that H. plecostomus primarily consumed amorphous detritus with small quantities of filamentous red algae and picoplankton. They concluded that the large populations of H. plecostomus in the San Marcos River probably compete with several native herbivorous fishes and may be disrupting trophic flows and nutrient cycling in spring-influenced streams of central and west Texas.

One of the herbivorous fishes impacted by H. plecostomus in the San Marcos River is the IUCN endangered fountain darter Etheostoma fonticola (Hoover et al., 2014). E. fonticola deposits its eggs on algae and is believed to be impacted by loss of spawning habitat and egg predation. Cook-Hildreth (2008) conducted experiments on the egg survival of E. fonticola and the results suggested that survival was reduced in the presence of H. plecostomus. The observation of E. fonticola eggs in the stomach of H. plecostomus indicated that direct predation of eggs also occurs.

Scott et al. (2012) reported that H. plecostomus has a wide range and occurs in high densities in the San Marcos River. They conducted mesocosm experiments to determine the impacts of H. plecostomus on aquatic ecosystem function and found that it impacted on ecosystems by decreasing periphyton biomass, altering periphyton nutrient ratios, and facilitating detrital decomposition. The presence of H. plecostomus altered the aquatic invertebrate community composition in leaf packs and produced ecosystem engineering effects by altering the benthic habitat. Mesocosm experiments by Hoover et al. (2013) demonstrated that Hypostomus sp. and Pterygoplichthys sp. did not impact water quality or an insectivorous fish after three months, but reduced the abundance of a floating macrophyte, increased phytoplankton-based turbidity and eliminated periphyton.

Hoover et al. (2014) theorized that H. plecostomus can monopolize nutrient resources in the San Marcos River due to the species rapid maturation, high densities and longevity. The large size and high density of H. plecostomus may constitute a significant phosphorus sink in the oligotrophic San Marcos River system. This may lead to reduced primary productivity in the form of a reduction in algal standing crops, which may in turn may impact secondary productivity and invertebrate standing crops.

Threatened Species

Top of page
Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Dionda diaboli (Devils River minnow)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as threatened speciesTexasCompetition - monopolizing resourcesHoover et al., 2014
Etheostoma fonticola (fountain darter)No DetailsTexasCompetition - monopolizing resourcesCook-Hildreth, 2008; Hoover et al., 2014; Pound et al., 2011; Scott et al., 2012

Social Impact

Top of page

Social impacts have been most pronounced in Mexico, with thousands of livelihoods in the Balsas Basin affected by the collapse of commercial fisheries. The collapse has impacted health status, unemployment and emigration, and has created changes in household structure (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009).

In the USA, changes are reported to be less severe, but are potentially significant in Florida. In Lake Okeechobee, Florida, commercial fishermen may catch, transport, and dispose of thousands of pounds of Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. a day, necessitating longer workdays and requiring payment of substantial disposal fees (Hoover et al., 2014).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Soil accretion
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page

Economic value

In Florida, H. plecostomus (particularly small fish and egg masses) are harvested by private individuals for resale to the aquarium industry (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009; Hoover et al., 2014). In the USA, large (over 250 mm) specimens have comparatively high retail value (more than $25.00).

Also in Florida, ‘exterminators’ are paid to remove H. plecostomus from concentrated populations in urban environments, based on the assumption that removal will reduce erosion (from breeding burrows in banks) and therefore safeguard property values (Hoover et al., 2014).

Social benefit

H. plecostomus are consumed in parts of their native range (Burgess, 1989) and in Mexico (around the Infierinillo Reservoir) (Hoover et al., 2014).

In Mexico, Hypostomus and Pterygoplichthys sp. have been used to produce collagen, fish paste and fishmeal (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009).

Environmental services

During the 1960s, H. plecostomus was used to control algae in pools at a zoo in Texas (Barron, 1964). They have also been introduced into the Balsas Basin, Mexico, to control macrophytes and algae (Mendoza-Alfaro et al., 2009). It is not recorded whether these attempts at biological control were successful.

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fishmeal

Environmental

  • Biological control

General

  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Research model

Human food and beverage

  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)

Materials

  • Chemicals
  • Miscellaneous materials

Detection and Inspection

Top of page

Hybridization may be occurring among suckermouth catfish species, making identification difficult (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012). As well as other Hypostomus sp., morphologically-similar Pterygoplichthys sp. thought to be present in the USA include Pterygoplichthys anisitsi (southern sailfin catfish or snow king pleco, Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus (vermiculated sailfin catfish), Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus (Orinoco sailfin catfish) and Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Amazon sailfin catfish) (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

H. plecostomus and other Loricariidae (including Pterygoplichthys sp.) can be distinguished from native North American catfishes (Ictaluridae) by the presence of flexible bony plates covering the body (absent in ictalurids) and a ventral suckermouth (terminal in ictalurids) (Nico et al., 2015).

Introduced populations of Pterygoplichthys sp. are common and members of this genera are morphologically very similar and difficult to differentiate from Hypostomus sp.. However, these genera can be distinguished by the number of dorsal fin rays: 7-8 in Hypostomus and 9-14 in Pterygoplichthys (Page and Burr, 1991; Nico et al., 2015). In comparison with Pterygoplichthys sp., H. plecostomus is usually shorter and stouter, the head is broader relative to the length and there are small discrete dark spots on the head (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2015).

A commonly-introduced species of the latter genus, Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus, may also be differentiated from H. plecostomus by the connection of the last dorsal ray by a small membrane to the base of the following bony plate. The species also has a granular edge on the snout (Page and Burr, 1991).

Other common introduced Pterygoplichthys sp. include Pterygoplichthys anisitsi (southern sailfin catfish or snow king pleco, grows to 42 cm, common in aquatic habitats in Texas, USA), Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus (vermiculated sailfin catfish, grows to 70 cm), Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus (Orinoco sailfin catfish, grows to 50 cm), Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Amazon sailfin catfish, grows to 42 cm) and Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps (Leopard pleco, grows to 50 cm) (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012). Howells (2005), Hoover et al. (2014) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2015) provide images and descriptions to discern Pterygoplichthys sp. found in the USA and Mexico. Armbruster and Page (2006) presented a revised key to species in the genus Pterygoplichthys.

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Public awareness

Public education and awareness is paramount to any management effort to control the current populations and the further release of introduced species (Hoover et al., 2014).

Hoover et al. (2014) reported of existence of education programs in the USA, sponsored by the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, that encourage aquarists not to release fish.

The website PlecoInvasion (2015) encourages the public not to release aquarium fishes and advises on the proper disposal of unwanted aquarium fishes and plants.

Control

Hoover et al. (2014) reported that the eradication of large, established H. plecostomus populations on any large geographic scale is unlikely to be successful; however, suppression of populations at a local level may be possible by the use of ichthyocides in burrows, removal of egg masses and young, and removal of larger fish by intensive fishing.

Physical/mechanical control

H. plecostomus can be directly removed by fishing or netting (Hoover et al., 2014).

Chemical control

Hoover et al. (2014) proposed the use of ichthyocides at a local geographic level to control breeding H. plecostomus in burrows. 

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

Top of page

Hoover et al. (2014) proposed a number of areas in immediate need of further research: 1) development of risk assessment tools with greater geographic specificity; 2) standardization of data collection among field studies, for consistent identification of species, quantification of abundance, and description of environmental impacts so that region-specific risk assessment and management guidelines can be developed; 3) controlled experimentation investigating impacts, to establish cause-and-effect relationships between occurrence/abundance of loricariid catfishes and receptor taxa; and 4) evaluation of efficacy of management techniques, including the long-term success of eradication attempts, water level manipulations (to isolate egg masses and reduce movements of adults), and construction and operation of barriers to non-infested water bodies (including electrical arrays and acoustic features).

References

Top of page

Alves AL; Oliveira C; Foresti F, 2005. Comparative cytogenetic analysis of eleven species of subfamilies Neoplecostominae and Hypsotominae (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Genetica, 124. 127-136.

Anonymous, 2015. Catfish. Mauritius: La Vanille Réserve Des Mascareignes. http://www.lavanille-reserve.com/index.php/en/park/reptiles-animaux/poissons-d-eau-douce/46-catfish.html

Armbruster JW, 1997. DPhil Thesis. Illinois, USA: University of Illinois.

Armbruster JW, 1998. Modifications of the digestive tract for holding air in Loricariid and Scoloplacid Catfishes. Copeia, 1998(3):663-675.

Armbruster JW, 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 141:1-80.

Armbruster JW, 2015. Hypostomus Lacepède 1808. Auburn, USA: Auburn University. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/science_math/res_area/loricariid/fish_key/hypostom/hypos.html

Armbruster JW; Page LM, 2006. Redescription of Pterygoplichthys punctatus and description of a new species of Pterygoplichthys (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Neotropical Ichthyology, 4(4):401-409. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252006000400003

ASAP, 1996. Aquarium species in the Philippines Aquarium Science Association of the Philippines. ASAP Aquarist Database Report. Quezon City, Philippines 9.

Azevedo P, 1938. O cascudo dos açudes nordestinos Plecostomus plecostomus. Arquivos do Instituto Biológico:211-224.

Baensch HA; Riehl R, 1985. Aquarien atlas. Melle, Germany 1216 p.

Barletta M; Saint-Paul U; Barletta-Bergan A; Ekau W; Schories D, 2000. Spatial and temporal distribution of Myrophis punctatus (Ophichthidae) and associated fish fauna in a northern Brazilian intertidal mangrove forest. Hydrobiologia [Life at interfaces and under extreme conditions. Proceedings of the 33rd European Marine Biology Symposium, Wilhelmshaven, Germany, 7-11 September 1998.], 426(1/3):65-74.

Barron JC, 1964. Reproduction and apparent overwinter survival of the suckermouth armor catfish, Plecostomus sp., in the headwaters of the San Antonio River. Texas Journal of Science, 16(4):449-450.

Bartley DM, 2006. Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture (CD-ROM). Rome, Italy: FAO.

Bleeker P, 1863. Systema Silurorum revisum. Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor de Dierkunde, 1:77-122.

Brown JA; Moore WM; Quabius ES, 2001. Physiological effects of saline waters on zander. Journal of Fish Biology, 59(6):1544-1555.

Burgess WE, 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes, a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. New Jersey, USA: T.F.H. Publications, 784 p.

Cook-Hildreth SL, 2008. Exotic armoured catfishes in Texas: Reproductive biology and effects of foraging on egg survival of native fishes (Ethoestoma fonticola, endangered, and Dionda diabola, threatened). MS thesis. San Marcos, Texas, USA: Texas State University.

Courtenay WR; Osorio PK, 2009. Trinational risk assessment guidelines for aquatic alien invasive species - test cases for the snakeheads (Channidae) and armoured catfi shes (Loricariidae) in North American inland waters. CEC Project Report. Montreal (Quebec), Canada: Commission on Environmental Cooperation.

Courtenay WR; Stauffer JR, 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 21(3):145-159.

Douglas RH; Collin SP; Corrigan J, 2002. The eyes of the suckermouth armoured catfish (Loricariidae, subfamily Hypostomus[sic]): pupil response, lenticular longitudinal spherical aberration and retinal topography. Journal of Experimental of Biology, 205:3425-3433.

Duarte S; Araújo FG, 2002. Fecundity of the Hypostomus affinis (Siluriformes, Loricariidae) in the Lajes Reservoir, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Revista de biologia tropical, 50(1):193-197.

Duarte S; Araújo FG; Bazzoli N, 2011. Reproductive plasticity of Hypostomus affinis (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) as a mechanism to adapt to a reservoir with poor habitat complexity. Zoologia, 28(5):577-586.

Edwards RJ, 2001. New additions and persistence of the introduced fishes of the upper San Antonio River, Bexar County, Texas. Texas Journal of Science, 53(1):3-12.

Elvira B; Almodóvar A, 2001. Freshwater fish introductions in Spain: facts and figures at the beginning of the 21st century. J. Fish Biol, 59(Suppl):323-331.

Flecker AS, 1992. Fish trophic guilds and the structure of a tropical stream: Weak vs. strong indirect effects. Ecology, 73:927-940.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2015. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. http://myfwc.com/

Froese R; Pauly D, 2014. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Galveston Bay Estuary Program, 2015. The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area. USA: Galveston Bay Estuary Program. http://www.galvbayinvasives.org/

Gerstner CL, 2007. Effect of oral suction and other friction-enhancing behaviors on the station-holding performance of suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus spp.). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 85(1):133-140.

Graham JB; Baird TA, 1982. The transition to air-breathing in fishes - I. Environmental effects on the facultative air breathing of Ancistruschagresi and Hypostomus plecostomus (Loricariidae). The Journal of Experimental Biology, 96:53-67.

Gray JE, 1854. Catalogue of fish collected and described by Laurence Theodore Gronow, now in the British Museum, London.

Grier H, 1980. Plecostomus. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, 3(8):23-26, 85.

Hoover JJ; Hahn NM; Collins JA, 2013. Demonstrating the ecosystem effects of armored cuckermouth catfishes (Loricariidae): A feasibility study using mesocosms. ANSRP Technical Notes Collection. ERDC/TN ANSRP-13-2. Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA.

Hoover JJ; Killgore KJ; Cofrancesco AF, 2004. Suckermouth Catfishes: Threats to Aquatic Ecosystems of the United States? Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program Bulletin:1-13.

Hoover JJ; Murphy CE; Killgore J, 2014. Ecological impacts of Suckermouth Catfishes (Loricariidae) in North America: A conceptual model. Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program Bulletin, 14-1:1-13. http://el.erdc.usace.army.mil/elpubs/pdf/ansrp-v14-1.pdf

Howells RG, 2005. Exotic suckermouth catfishes (family Loricariidae) in Texas waters. Texas, USA: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. http://www.eahcp.org/documents/2005_Howells_SuckermouthCatfishes.pdf

Hubbs C; Lucier T; Garrett GP; Edwards RJ; Dean SM; Marsh E, 1978. Survival and abundance of introduced fishes near San Antonio, Texas. Texas Journal of Science, 30(4):369-376.

Liang SH; Chuang LC; Chang MH, 2006. The Pet Trade as a Source of Invasive Fish in Taiwan. Taiwania, 51((2)):93-98.

Linnaeus C, 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Tomus I [ed. by Holmiae X].

Liu Yi; Lin XiaoTao; Sun Jun; Zhang PengFei; Chen GuoZhu, 2011. Fish community changes in Huizhou segment of Dongjiang River. Chinese Journal of Zoology, 46(2):1-11. http://zoology.ioz.ac.cn

Lopez HL; Menni RC; Miguelarena AM, 1987. List of freshwater fish of Argentina. (Lista de los peces de agua dulce de la Argentina.) Biologia Acuatica, 12:50 p.

Lopez Macias JN; Garcia Vallejo F; Rubio Rincón E; Castillo Giraldo A; Cerón F, 2009. Genetic diversity of Bocachico (Prochilodus reticulatus) of the Cuenca Alta of Río Cauca (Colombia). (Diversidad genética del Bocachico (Prochilodus reticulatus) de la Cuenca Alta del Rí Cauca (Colombia).) Acta Biológica Paranaense, 38(1/4):113-138. http://ojs.c3sl.ufpr.br/ojs2/index.php/acta/issue/view/874

Lopez-Fernandez H; Winemiller KO, 2005. Status of Dionda diaboli and report of established populations of exotic fish species in lower San Felipe Creek. Southwestern Naturalist, 50:246-251.

Ma X; Bangxi X; Yindong W; Mingxue W, 2003. Intentionally introduced and transferred fishes in China's inland waters. Asian Fisheries Society, 16(3&4):279-290.

Marambe B; Amarasinghe L; Gamage G, 2003. Sri Lanka. Invasive Alien Species in South-Southeast Asia: National Reports & Directory of Resources [ed. by Pallewatta, N. \Reaser, J. K. \Gutierrez, A. T.]. Cape Town, South Africa: Global Invasive Species Programme, 91-103.

Matlock GC, 2014. Temporal trends in non-native fishes established in the continental United States. Management of Biological Invasions, 5(4):349-355. http://www.reabic.net/journals/mbi/2014/4/MBI_2014_Matlock.pdf

Mazzoni R; Caramaschi EP, 1995. Size structure, sex ratio and onset of sexual maturity of two species of Hypostomus. Journal of Fish Biology, 47(5):841-849.

Mendoza R; Contreras S; Ramirez C; Koleff P; Alvarez P; Aguilar V, 2007. Devil Fish. (Los peces diablo.) Biodiversitas, 70:1-5.

Mendoza-Alfaro RE; Cudmore B; Orr R; Fisher JP; Balderas SC; Courtenay WR; Osorio PK, 2009. Trinational risk assessment guidelines for aquatic alien invasive species - test cases for the snakeheads (Channidae) and armoured catfi shes (Loricariidae) in North American inland waters. CEC Project Report. Montreal (Quebec), Canada: Commission on Environmental Cooperation. http://www3.cec.org/islandora/en/item/2379-trinational-risk-assessment-guidelines-aquatic-alien-invasive-species-en.pdf

Nico LG, 2010. Nocturnal and diurnal activity of armored suckermouth catfish (Loricariidae: Pterygoplichthys) associated with wintering Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Neotropical Ichthyology, 8:893-898.

Nomura H; Mueller IMde, 1980. Biology of the armored catfish, Plecostomus hermanni Ihering, 1905 Mogi Guacu, Sao Paulo (Osteichthyes, Loricariidae). (Biologia do cascudo, Plecostomus hermanni Ihering, 1905 do Rio Mogi Guaçu, São Paulo (Osteichthyes, Loricariidae).) Revista Brasileira de Biologia, 40(2):267-275.

Ortega A; Murillo O; Pimienta MY; Sterling J, 1999. Characterization of the native fish fauna of rivers in the upper basin of the Rio Cauca department of Valle del Cauca (Caracterización de la íctiofauna nativa de los ríos de la cuenca alta del Río Cauca en el departamento del Valle del Cauca, Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca, CVC). Corporacion Autonoma Regional del Valle del Cauca, CVC, 83 pp.

Page LM; Burr BM, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Boston, USA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 432 pp.

Pallewatta N; Reaser JK; Gutierrez AT, 2003. Invasive alien species in South-Southeast Asia: national reports and directory of resources [ed. by Pallewatta, N.\Reaser, J. K.\Gutierrez, A. T.]. Cape Town, South Africa: Global Invasive Species Programme, 111 pp. http://www.gisp.org

PlanetCatfish, 2015. PlanetCatfish. Aquatic Republic Network. http://www.planetcatfish.com/

PlecoInvasion, 2015. General biology and invasion information. http://www.plecoinvasion.org/index_files/Page386.htm

Pound KL; Nowlin WH; Huffman DG; Bonner TH, 2011. Trophic ecology of a nonnative population of suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) in a central Texas spring-fed stream. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 90(3):277-285. http://springerlink.metapress.com/link.asp?id=102877

Power ME, 1984. Habitat quality and the distribution of algae-grazing catfish in a Panamanian stream. Journal of Animal Ecology, 53:357-374.

Robinson L; Culbertson J, 2005. A synoptic survey for nonindigenous ichthyofauna in selected tidal bayous of Galveston Bay. Report prepared for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Houston, Texas, USA: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Scott SE; Pray CL; Nowlin WH; Zhang YX, 2012. Effects of native and invasive species on stream ecosystem functioning. Aquatic Sciences, 74(4):793-808. http://www.birkhauser.ch

Shafland PL; Gestring KB; Stanford MS, 2008. Florida's exotic freshwater fishes - 2007. Florida Scientist, 71(3):220-245.

Shafland PL; Pestrak JM, 1982. Lower lethal temperatures for 14 non-native fishes in Florida. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 7:149-156.

Silvano RAM; Begossi A, 2001. Seasonal dynamics of fishery at the Piracicaba River (Brazil). Fisheries Research, 51(1):69-86.

Sinohin VO; Cuaterno WR, 2003. Philippines. Invasive Alien Species in South-Southeast Asia: National Reports & Directory of Resources [ed. by Pallewatta, N. \Reaser, J. K. \Gutierrez, A. T.]. Cape Town, South Africa: Global Invasive Species Programme, 80-84.

Sterba G, 1966. Freshwater fishes of the world. Hong Kong, : T.H.F Publications.

Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012. Freshwater Aquarium Hobbyists and Invasive Species in the Houston-Galveston Region. Final Project Report produced by Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC). Texas, USA. http://www.harc.edu/publication/695

USGS NAS, 2015. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/

Weber C; Covain R; Fisch-Muller S, 2012. Identity of Hypostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758), with an overview of Hypostomus species from the Guianas (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Cybium, 36(1):195-227.

Distribution References

Anonymous, 2015. (Catfish. Mauritius: La Vanille Réserve Des Mascareignes)., http://www.lavanille-reserve.com/index.php/en/park/reptiles-animaux/poissons-d-eau-douce/46-catfish.html

ASAP, 1996. Aquarium species in the Philippines. In: ASAP Aquarist Database Report, Aquarium Science Association of the Philippines. 9.

Baensch HA, Riehl R, 1985. (Aquarien atlas)., Melle, Germany: 1216 p.

Bartley D M, 2006. Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control. In: Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control, Rome, Italy: FAO.

CABI Data Mining, 2011. Invasive Species Databases.,

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Froese R, Pauly D, 2014. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Liang S H, Chuang L C, Chang M H, 2006. The Pet Trade as a Source of Invasive Fish in Taiwan. Taiwania. 51 (2), 93-98.

Liu Yi, Lin XiaoTao, Sun Jun, Zhang PengFei, Chen GuoZhu, 2011. Fish community changes in Huizhou segment of Dongjiang River. Chinese Journal of Zoology. 46 (2), 1-11. http://zoology.ioz.ac.cn

Lopez HL, Menni RC, Miguelarena AM, 1987. List of freshwater fish of Argentina. (Lista de los peces de agua dulce de la Argentina). In: Biologia Acuatica, 12 50 p.

Lopez Macias J N, Garcia Vallejo F, Rubio Rincón E, Castillo Giraldo A, Cerón F, 2009. Genetic diversity of Bocachico (Prochilodus reticulatus) of the Cuenca Alta of Río Cauca (Colombia). (Diversidad genética del Bocachico (Prochilodus reticulatus) de la Cuenca Alta del Rí Cauca (Colombia).). Acta Biológica Paranaense. 38 (1/4), 113-138. http://ojs.c3sl.ufpr.br/ojs2/index.php/acta/issue/view/874

Ma X, Bangxi X, Yindong W, Mingxue W, 2003. Intentionally introduced and transferred fishes in China's inland waters. In: Asian Fisheries Society, 16 (3&4) 279-290.

Marambe B, Amarasinghe L, Gamage G, 2003. Sri Lanka. Invasive Alien Species in South-Southeast Asia: National Reports & Directory of Resources., [ed. by Pallewatta N, Reaser JK, Gutierrez AT]. Cape Town, South Africa: Global Invasive Species Programme. 91-103.

Silvano RAM, Begossi A, 2001. Seasonal dynamics of fishery at the Piracicaba River (Brazil). In: Fisheries Research, 51 (1) 69-86.

Sinohin VO, Cuaterno WR, 2003. Philippines. In: Invasive Alien Species in South-Southeast Asia: National Reports & Directory of Resources, [ed. by Pallewatta N, Reaser JK, Gutierrez AT]. Cape Town, South Africa: Global Invasive Species Programme. 80-84.

USGS NAS, 2015. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database., Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/

Weber C, Covain R, Fisch-Muller S, 2012. Identity of Hypostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758), with an overview of Hypostomus species from the Guianas (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Loricariidae). In: Cybium, 36 (1) 195-227.

Links to Websites

Top of page
WebsiteURLComment
FishBase - Hypostomus plecostomushttp://www.fishbase.org/summary/Hypostomus-plecostomus.html
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission -Sailfin Catfish: Pterygoplichthys multiradiatushttp://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/freshwater/nonnatives/sailfin-catfish/
Galveston Bay Estuary Program - Armored catfish, plecohttp://www.galvbayinvasives.org/Guide/Species/HypostomusPterygoplichthys
PlanetCatfish - Hypostomus plecostomushttp://www.planetcatfish.com/common/species.php?species_id=580
USGS - Hypostomus plecostomushttp://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=761

Contributors

Top of page

10/02/15 Original text by:

Mark Maddern, Perth, Australia

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map