Bulldog Pleco (L187b) (Chaestostoma thomasi) are generally collected from higher elevation mountain streams that populate the northern portion of South America. Their natural environment is one of fast flowing streams containing highly oxygenated water and lush plant vegetation. While strong water currents are not essential for their well being, they have evolved to need high levels of dissolved oxygen. Hobbyists will need to ensure that plenty of dissolved oxygen is introduced into the water either via a powerhead or wet/dry trickle filter. Their native environment is also very low in dissolved nutrients as they live in streams with a large volume of water moving through. Housing Bulldog Pleco in planted aquariums with supplemental water movement via a powerhead or spray bar return works best; however, they will also do well in non-planted community aquariums provided quality filtration via a canister or wet/dry filter is provided. Hobbyists should test the water for any buildup in nitrates (greater than 80 ppm) and perform partial water changes in order to lower nitrate levels. The Bulldog Pleco will coexist with similarly sized Pleco species and others of their own kind, but they will jockey for territory within the aquarium until they settle down in a particular area within the tank. However, once they are established they are generally peaceful and tolerant of a variety of tank mates.
The Bulldog Pleco will readily consume algae from wood, rocks, plants, aquarium substrate and walls along with decaying plant and meaty matter found on the substrate. This species is also more likely than many Pleco species to include more plant matter in their diet, especially plants with large leaves. Ideally the Bulldog Pleco should be offered a wide range of vegetable based foods consisting of high quality algae wafers and sinking pellets designed for Plecos. Overall Bulldog Pleco are not picky eaters and will happily consume a wide variety of plant material and excess meaty foods. When housed in planted aquariums they will generally find all the food they need between plant matter and excess foods from feeding the other fish. When kept in aquariums with no live plants it is recommended that a supplemental sinking plant wafer or blanched fresh vegetables are fed a couple of times per week.