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Panaque cochliodon   (Steindachner, 1879)

other of the earliest kept members of the Loricariidae family is this very impressive looking Panaque one of two similar blue-eye types, one from the Rio Magdalena Colombia, possibly Panaque cochliodon, (Steindachner 1879) and Panaque suttonorum from the Maracaibo basin Venezuela. There is a bit of a mystery on the identification of these two species especially P.suttonorum and Shane Linder, who resides in Venezuela, has kindly furnished me with additional information on this very subject.

Panaque cochliodon


Shane Linder offers the following on the possible identity of this species: "P. suttonorum, Schultz 1944, the scientific name commonly applied to the blue-eyed pleco in the aquarium hobby, is an incorrect identification. Schultz described live specimens of P. suttonorum as, "Uniformely grayish...basal two-thirds of the paired fins black, and the tips of these fins white; the posterior margin of dorsal is white, a narrow white bar across caudal peduncle, middle of caudal fin white then some black blotches; the tips of the rays are white." While P. suttonorum sounds like a very attractive fish, this is clearly not a description of the blue-eyed pleco found in the hobby. P. suttonorum is restricted to the Lake Maracaibo basin and no aquarium fishes have ever been exported from there. The fishes from that basin are very unique and if we had a shipment from there we would know it immediately. We also know that blue-eyed pleco shipments come from Colombia and P. suttonorum is restricted to Venezuela. I have NEVER seen blue-eyed plecos in a Caracas exporter.My best guess is that the fish we know as old blue-eyes is either P.cochliodon or a closely related (but undescribed) Colombian relative."

You might actually think that I have misspelled the species name here as most aquarists would be familiar with Panaque suttoni instead of suttonorum, well there is a story behind this which lay uncovered for the best part of 53 years and was discovered by the famous Ichthyologist Dr.Issac Isbrùcker well known for his work with this family. When Leonard Schultz described this species in 1944 it was in honour of Dr.and Mrs Frederick A.Sutton and was subsequently named P.suttoni but the Code of Zoological Nomenclature (the naming of species i.e.: a system of names to you and I!) states that if a fish is named after a man it ends in ~i (P.suttoni) but named after a women it will end in ~ae ( P.suttonae) but naming after a man and woman together it should end in ~orum, thus Panaque suttonorum. So there we have it, easy when you know how :-)

Panaque cochliodon

The main criteria for the Panaque genus is their spoon-shaped teeth used for rasping the algae beds in their native rivers, this is their main diet in the wild but will also adapt to prepared tablet food in captivity.

The one imposing feature of this catfish is of course the blue eyes, where the common name derives from, and a healthy specimen will have bright blue eyes and of course will not have a hollow belly or sunken eyes, so keep a lookout for this if purchasing. On the subject of purchasing please make sure that you can look after this animal in good water conditions. Think about it again if you are buying one as they are not that easy to keep. There is more stories of this fish just dying for no apparent reason than most catfish I know off.

Acknowledgments: Shane Linder for his input to this Factsheet.

Factsheet update Sept.2004:
I have finely got around to
updating this species and we now know that Panaque sp. suttonorum is in actaul fact, Panaque cochlidon ( Steindachner, 1879) I have thus changed the title of this factsheet to show the changes.


Dorsal: 1/7, Anal: 1/4, Pectorals: 1/6, Ventrals: 1/5 Typical Panaque shape with triangular body section. Long interopercular spines with tips hooked outwards. Caudal peduncle slightly compressed. Belly and underside of head completely covered with rough platlets. No naked area at tip of snout.


Uniformly dark grey to black. Eye, electric blue.

There are differing stories on their compatibility with other tank inmates. You will read in some literature that they are a peaceful species and others, that they can be quite quarrelsome. I would personally keep only one species per tank and if tankmates are warranted, large characins in the upper layer such as the African Congo tetra and probably Corydoras species would do all right as they wouldn't be seen as a threat. Provide caves of some sort for their well-being and to make them feel more secure in their surroundings, also provide good water movement in the tank as they do come from oxygen-rich waters. You will probably find that you can tame this species to be able to take food literally out of your hand at feeding time. All-in-all a quite impressive if difficult to keep species from the large Loricariidae family.

Not been achieved in the aquarium as far as I am aware. Would need a very large tank to facilitate a spawning enducement.

Provide a good vegetable diet such as cucumber, courgette (zucchini) and also sinking tablet food.

Panaque: Venezuelan common name for plecostomus. Panaque nigrolineatus
was the first described and it is from central Venezuela

Factsheet Request:
Yann Fulliquet

Northern Area Catfish Group Information Sheet no 38
Linder, Shane;
Personal correspondence

Photo Credits
 Danny Blundell
Factsheet 071

Chaetostomus cochliodon, Chaetostomus gibbosus
Common Name:
Blue-eyed Pleco
Colombia  Colombia, Rio Magdalena and Rio Cauca.
locality: Aus dem Cauca, dem grössten Nebenflusse des
Magdalenen-Stromes, Colombia.
40cm. (14ins)
20-24°c (67-75°f.)
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                                                                                                         Factsheet 99 = updated April 28, 2004 © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top