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PLECOSTOMUS ( Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus )
FRESHWATER LORICARIID CATFISH
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Guide To Catfish And Loaches

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KINGDOM : Animalia

PHYLUM : Chordata

CLASS : Actinopterygii

ORDER : Siluriformes

FAMILY : Loricariidae

GENUS : Pterygoplichthys

SPECIES P. multiradiatus

National Goldfish standards

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PLECOSTOMUS CATFISH

Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus is one of several tropical fish commonly known as plecostomus . It belongs to the armored catfish family (Loricariidae). Named for its sail-like dorsal fin, the part of its scientific name multiradiatus means "many-rayed" and refers to the rays of the dorsal fin. P. multiradiatus is one of a number of species commonly referred to as the common pleco by aquarists.

Lifecycle Stages

Growth of Pterygoplichthys is rapid during the first two years of life, with total lengths of many sailfin catfishes exceeding 300 mm by age 2. Specimens in aquaria may live more than 10 years. The size range for most of the adult species in the Loricariid family is 30-50 cm, but individuals have been observed to reach 70 cm. Pterygoplicthys spp. start reproducing at approximately 25 cm .

Habitat Description

Pterygoplichthys spp. can be found in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from relatively cool, fast-flowing and oxygen-rich highland streams to slow-flowing, warm lowland rivers and stagnant pools poor in oxygen. They are tropical fish and populations are typically limited only by their lower lethal temperature which has been found to be about 8.8-11'C in some species . They can thrive in a range of acidic to alkaline waters in a range of about (pH 5.5.0 to 8.0). They are often found in soft waters, but can adapt very quickly to hard waters. Pterygoplichthys spp. are also highly tolerant to poor water quality and are commonly found in polluted waters . They are known to use outflow from sewage treatment plants as thermal refugia and can readily adapt to changing water quality . Pterygoplichthys spp. may be found in from lowlands to elevations of up to 3,000 m . Some species are salt tolerant.

Reproduction

Pterygoplichthys spp. reproduce sexually and have high fecundancy . Males construct horizontal burrows in banks that are about 120-150 cm long extend downward. The burrows are used as nesting tunnels and eggs are guarded by males until the free-swimming larvae leave. Females may lay between 500-3,000 eggs per female depending on size and species. Their reproductive season peaks in the summer and usually lasts several months but may be year-long in certain locations.

Nutrition

Pterygoplichthys spp. feed primarily on benthic algae and detritus. They may also consume worms, insect larvae, fish eggs and other bottom-dwellers but the vast majority of its diet consists of detritus, algae, and various plant matter .

Pathway

Accidental release of Pterygoplichthys spp. has been documented, such as when typhoon Rosing struck the Philippines resulting in escape of the fish from commercial farms .Pterygoplichthys spp. are very common aquarium fish throughout the world. Nearly all of their introduced populations are believed to be the result of pet release or aquaculture escape .While no substantial trade in catfish is thought to occur, the live food trade cannot be discounted completely as a potential mechanism for spread to new locations.

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