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Robyn's Common Plecostomus Page

Last Updated: 2/14/20

This page is specifically about the common plecostomus species but much of the information also applies to other species of plecostomus. The main differences between species are size, color, and plant-eating tendency. I was told that I had the species Liposarcus pardalis. I used to think I had a Hypostomus until someone saw the following photo and told me I had Liposarcus multiradiatus. Then, in October of 2001, someone said I had Liposarcus pardalis, and an expert agreed. The name of Plecy's species was later changed to Pterygoplichthys pardalis. No matter which exact species that I had, most of the large, brown-mottled plecostomus have similar care requirements so the following information is helpful for all of them.

This was my common plecostomus, Pterygoplichthys pardalis, taken 2/8/02 (at about 12.75 inches long). His name was Plecy. I bought him on 1/28/95. There are more photos and videos on the pleco photo page including a nice photo the same day of his underside.

Plecostomus Index:

There are now five main common pleco pages.

Common Plecostomus Care Part One:

Common Plecostomus Care Part Two:

Plecostomus Links

Plecostomus Photos

On This Page:


Plecostomus in Ponds - on my pond algae page

For information on algae-eating animals, check out the algae-eating animals comparison table which includes some information on other species of plecostomus as well as lots of other animals.

Check out my bristlenose plecostomus and Queen Arabesque pleco pages too!

View comments, photos, and stories relevant to this page.

My Plecostomus

I bought Plecy on 1/28/95 when he was about an inch long. I presume he was about a year old. In 1997, he was about 9 inches long. By 2/15/02, he was 12.75 inches long. By 12/18/03, he was 14 inches long. By January 2007, he was about 15 inches long. By December 2008, he is still between 15 and 16 inches long and more than 14 years old. I think I got a good measurement on him on 10/21/10 but only got 14 inches so either he shrunk or my measurements before were overzealous. I finally got a pretty good measurement of Plecy on 2/6/16 and got 15 inches. So, Plecy had not grown in the last nine years! When Plecy died on 2/14/20, I measured him out of the water at exactly 15 inches from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.

Plecy started out 1/28/95 in my 50 gallon tank with some goldfish. After he sucked on some of those goldfish after a year or two, he was banished to a tiny 10 gallon tank. I think that was in 1996 or 1997. He was cramped in there but still only a few inches long at the time. Then, he went in to a 40 gallon tank on 11/25/98 with a lot of pond-raised zebra danios and white cloud mountain minnows. In that tank, he had a growth spurt. On 3/31/07, he went in to his current 65 gallon tank. He lived with three male fantail goldfish. For details about the tank changeover, see the tank redo page. I discovered when cleaning out the old 40 gallon tank that Plecy had eaten almost all the silicon out of the tank except for the actual corners where he could not reach. I am really surprised the tank did not leak! I put some new silicon in there before setting up that old tank for my turtle. I sure hoped Plecy would not eat the silicon out of the new 65 gallon tank!

Well, I had not had an update here about Plecy or the tank for almost 13 years! As of today, 2/10/20, I have had Plecy for more than 25 years, and I presume he is 26 years old (but could be older). Plecy was living alone in the 65 gallon tank with a few hundred small black ramshorn snails. It has been years since other fish were with Plecy. Beginning on 2/1/20, I noticed that Plecy was in trouble. Normally, he slept the day away in the cave system I made for him and came out at night to eat. When he was out during the day, if I touched him, or I saw him, he would quickly go to the cave. Well, since 2/1/20, Plecy started spending the day in the open and free in the water meaning he was not sucked on to the glass or laying flat which would be normal. He was on his side and even sometimes upside down with his mouth out. But, I could see the gills still moving. If I touched him or tried to get him to move, he barely moved. Plecy was the oldest animal of any kind that I have ever had

I've had thousands of animals in my care in my lifetime but sometimes one comes along that is unique and extraordinary. One such animal was Plecy, my Pterygoplichthys pardalis, my sailfin plecostomus, my pleco, my oldest ever fish, my oldest ever animal of any kind. I got Plecy on 1/28/1995, and he died today, 2/14/2020. Since he was probably about a year old when I got him, that makes him 26 years old. I used gloves to get him out of the water due to the sharp barbs on his body. I layed him out on some paper towels for photos and measurements. He was exactly 15 inches long from tip of the nose to tip of the long tail. He weighed 375 grams (0.8 pounds) but I expect he had lost at least 20% of his weight in the last few months. During the two weeks that Plecy was dying, his stomach area and eyes became more and more sunken in, and his respiration rate had increased. A natural death process often takes a long time. I choose not to interfere. Most of my larger fish I put on the hill for the foxes but Plecy will be getting a burial with a marker for his incredible achievement.

Photos of Plecy can be seen on the pleco photo page.

Plecy versus the Apple Snail

My father told me that some loud noises were coming from my 40 gallon tank on 10/3/02 around 9:20 pm. I figured it was Plecy, my 13 inch (at the time) plecostomus (Liposarcus pardalis) who knocks things around. When I looked in, I could not believe what I saw. It appeared as if Plecy was trying to eat my huge 3" albino mystery snail (Pomacea canaliculata, an apple snail). Then, it became apparent that, in fact, the snail had shut his trap door over Plecy's lip, and they were stuck together. Plecy was having trouble getting enough water through his gills and was thrashing around, slamming the snail hard into the glass. Since you do not just pick up a pleco covered in spikes, I put on my pond gloves and tried to catch/hold Plecy but that was futile as he was much stronger than I! Instead, I grabbed the snail, and then, Plecy was able to thrash free of the snail. Plecy was fine. I was worried that the snail might have cracked his trap door or shell but he was around cruising a half hour later. It was a battle of the nocturnal giants, like Godzilla and Rodan or something! If I had not been able to intervene, the snail would have been smashed by Plecy, and Plecy probably would have suffocated.


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