Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps) Species Profile & Care Guide
The Leopard Sailfin Pleco is a very hardy fish and the most common catfish used for getting rid of difficult algae in the aquarium. They do miracles for controlling algae growth in the aquarium, and a tank with a good algae yield also helps to keep them healthy and long-lived.
Leopard Sailfin Plecos make excellent community fish because they get on fine with and are peaceful with other tank mates. The only quirk to this is they can get territorial and aggressive towards other plecos if they were not raised together.
These Plecos will need a large aquarium as an adult. Keep some wood in the tank since grating algae from the wood presents an ideal place for more algae to grow, which will help to secure a constant food source for this fish. The cellulose in wood is also essential for their digestive process.
These Plecos are a nocturnal fish, so when giving supplement foods, it is best to feed these fish in the evening just before turning the tank lights off.
The Sailfin pleco has a beautiful dorsal fin that can be several inches high and it extends straight up before fanning back almost to the start of the caudal peduncle. It can also be characterised by a ray count of its dorsal fin, having more than ten rays. This Pleco has a highly-condensed series of spots that cover their entire bodies that is pretty constant on all areas of their body.
The most popular colours of these fish are pale orange with dark brown spots. The contrast between the spots and their base colour will vary a little based on the individual.
|Scientific Name||Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps|
|Other Names||Sailfin Catfish, Clown Pleco, Sailfin Pleco, Leopard Plecostomus, Gibby, Spotted Sailfin Pleco, Clown Sucker Catfish, and Clown plecostomus.|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Temperature||73 - 86 ℉ (22.8 - 30 ℃)|
|PH||6.5 - 8.0|
|GH||4 - 18|
Natural Habitat of the Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus
Leopard Sailfin Plecos are widespread throughout the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon in Rio Pacaya as well as the Rio Orinoco in South America. They inhabit inland sluggish river systems and flooded land during the wet season. During the dry season, these plecos stay dormant in burrows dug into mud banks along the length of the river.
Other Plecostomus of interest
Although Plecos are omnivorous, the majority of their diet is algae. The Leopard Sailfin Pleco will eat troublesome algae but will not harm plants, but make sure the aquarium is well established and do feed supplements including algae wafers, sinking pellets and green foods to make sure they don't starve.
Other foods you can offer them include vegetables such as lettuce, blanched spinach, peas and zucchini. They also enjoy live foods such as brine shrimp, live worms, insect larvae and small crustaceans.
Sexing the Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus
The Leopard Sailfin Pleco is challenging to sex to the untrained eye. Still, experienced aquarists can compare a female and a male, with a males genital papilla being a small but thick stub protruding from its undercarriage. In contrast, the females will either lie flat or be recessed on the body. Also, you can determine males when they are in a group as they may become more territorial.
Breeding the Leopard Sailfin Plecostomus
The Leopard Sailfin Pleco has been commercially farmed but rarely has been bred in home aquariums. The reason for this is mainly because a specific method of breeding has yet to be defined, Not only is it very hard to identify the gender of these fish, but the conditions they require and the health of the fish seem crucial to successful breeding.
You should evaluate the practicality of breeding such a large fish and the space required before attempting to produce this fish.