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Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps  (Kner, 1854)                                 

his large peaceful Loricariid the 'Sailfin Plec' or 'Gibby' can sometimes be confused with other suckermouth catfishes such as
Hypostomus for example, but one look at the broad dorsal base which contains between 12 and 13 rays, and the difference is immeasurable, also the first ray is equal to the length of the head. The small anal fin has 4 to 5 rays and its head is conspicuous by the large nasal flares.

Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps

As mentioned above this is a comparitively peacful pleco but if kept with its own kind can scrap, but they do very little damage to each other. I have seen some very impressive looking specimens on the show bench and if up to size can do very well at shows.

Colouration and markings can vary quite a bit in each individual as can be seen in the two accompanying photographs.

Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps

Typical 'Plec' shape. Prominent nuchal crest. Large nasal flares. Dorsal fin; large, 12-13 the first ray being equal to length of head. Pectoral spine; Almost reaching middle ventral. Caudal; Emarginate, the outer rays produced.

Body and fins with large dark spots seperated by light reticulations. Spots on head are smaller. Colour intensifies with age.

To keep this fine looking animal in mint condition you will need a reasonably sized aquarium starting of with a 3 footer when small with good external filtration to facilatate 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.

Virtually impossible in the home aquarium as they lay their eggs in excavated holes dug into the banks of rivers. These fish are now being commercially bred for the aquarium hobby.

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, corgette (zucchini) and also non veg food such as tablets and prawns.

Pterygoplichthys: Pterygos = wing, fin; pleion = more; ichthys = fish.
gibbiceps:              With a hump on the head.

Northern Area Catfish Group Information Sheet No 13.

Photo Credits
Top Picture:  Sandy Milne    
Bottom Picture: Allan James @ ScotCat          
Factsheet 050

Ancistrus gibbiceps, Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps, Liposarcus altipinnis    
Common Name:
Sailfin Pleco, Gibby
South America: Middle and upper Amazon and Orinoco basins.
50cm. (20ins)
25-30°c (77-87°f.)
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                                                                                                                                Factsheet 050 = updated October 20, 2004, © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top