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Sailfin Pleco

(Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 18"
• Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons   • Water Conditions: 74-80° F, KH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.4
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon, South America   • Family: Loricariidae
• Species: Plecos   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Sailfin Pleco native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Sailfin Plecos (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps) are wide spread throughout the Amazon basins many rivers, tributaries and flood plains, where it can be found scavenging for food both on the river bottom and on and around the numerous submerged trees and logs.

The Sailfin Pleco is truly a "monster" fish species that reaches a very impressive 18 inches in length as an adult. While this species is not a very active swimmer, it does still require a large aquarium to give it room to move about comfortably and to support the large amount of biological waste they create. With their larger size and thick "armor" scales on their back, the Sailfin Pleco makes a great addition to aquariums containing large aggressive fish species.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Sailfin Pleco in the home aquarium.

Ideally the home aquarium should be setup to as closely mimic the natural conditions of the Amazonian streams and flood plains of the Sailfin Plecos native habitat. They will do well in a larger aquariums with a sandy or smooth gravel substrate, larger pieces of driftwood, large rocks and some hardy plants. They will also appreciate if some of the plants, wood or rocks are positioned to create a covered or shaded area within the aquarium so that they can escape the bright aquarium lights when needed.

Sailfin Plecos will eat decaying plant matter and meaty foods, but are not harmful to live plants and fish that are alive and moving. However, their large adult size can be destructive to aquariums that are heavily planted as they may uproot or damage sensitive plants when the swim around.

It is for this reason that the hobbyists should take the large size of this Pleco species into consideration when designing the aquascape for an aquarium housing this species. Sailfin Plecos are not aggressive towards other species, but will squabble with one another for territory and the best feeding spots. Overall the Sailfin Pleco is a very versatile species that is well suited for a range of aquariums ranging from tropical community tanks to aquariums housing large aggressive Cichlid species.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Sailfin Pleco and provide a healthy diet.

Sailfin Plecos spend their time scavenging the substrate and aquarium walls for a variety of foodstuffs ranging from algae and detritus to vegetable and plant matter, and even leftover meaty foods. They are not picky eaters and will readily accept a large range of both plant based and meaty foods.

Sailfin Plecos will also consume decaying wood, plants and even fish carcasses that are left in the aquarium. However, it is best they receive a balanced nutritional diet consisting of left over flake or pellet foods, naturally occurring algae or algae wafers, sinking carnivore pellets and other various flake, freeze-dried and pellet foods that are fed to other tank mates.

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