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Pterygoplichthys undecimalis (Steindachner, 1878)

Image contributors to this species:

Ivan Mikolji (2)

ScotCat Sources:

Etymology = Genus  

Other Sources:

Fishbase  Search Google  All Catfish Species Inventory  Catalog of Fishes

Relevant Information:

This species endemic to Colombia has a wide distribution, being present in the Magdalena, Cauca, Lebrija, San Jorge, Lower Cesar, Lower Sinú and Catatumbo River basins (Maldonado-Ocampo et al. 2005). Its type locality is Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta, Magdalena basin, 40 kilometers east of Barranquilla (Steindachner 1878). It inhabits rivers with slow currents and a substrate of accumulated plant matter. It feeds on detritus, algae and invertebrates. Males take care of the eggs in caves they dig in the gorges of river margins (Ortega-Lara et al. 2002, Maldonado-Ocampo et al. 2005). Aquarium Care: A reasonably peaceful, if large species, which will need a good sized aquarium starting of with a 3 footer (90cm) when small and progressing to a larger tank with good external filtration to facilitate a good oxygen content, as it excretes copious amounts of waste if fed properly on vegetable matter. If the water quality is not adhered to, small holes can appear in the fin membranes. You will notice when your water quality is not up to the mark as they "hang" in the water just of their fins, from the substrate, which means 'get that water change done'. It is kind to plants in the aquarium, the only problem is when it gets bigger and can uproot them in its conquest around the tank. Very hardy species which will do well in normal aquarium temperatures. You can identify a Pterygoplichthys species from Hypostomus for example due to the many more rays in the dorsal fin, which can be up to 10 or over. They also have nasal flutes on the nose. Diet: They are mostly vegetarian with algae being their number one source of food but to keep a large fish fed on algae alone is impossible so you can feed also, spinach, blanched lettuce, cucumber, courgette (zucchini) and also non veg food such as tablets and prawns. Remarks: In parts of its range (Cienaga Santa Marta), this species is affected by pollution from mining activities, urbanization and agriculture. General threats in the rest of the Magdalena.

Common Name:



Chaetostomus undecimalis, Ancistrus undecimalis




South America: Magdalena River basin. Type locality: Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta, Magdalena basin, 40 kilometers east of Barranquilla.


50.0cm. (20ins)


22-28°c (71-83°f.)




Seidel, I. 2008. Back to Nature guide to L-catfishes, Ettlingen, Germany 208 p
Mesa-Salazar, L. & Mojica, J. 2016. Pterygoplichthys undecimalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T49830619A61474088. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T49830619A61474088.en.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2017.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, ( 02/2017 )



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