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
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
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 :-)
showing the odontodes (cheek spines)
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.
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
Rio Magdalena and Rio Cauca. Type locality:
Aus dem Cauca, dem grössten Nebenflusse des Magdalenen-Stromes,
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.
Care & Compatibility
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
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
common name for plecostomus. Panaque nigrolineatus
was the first described and it is from central Venezuela.
Shane. pers. comm. Northern
Area Catfish GroupInformation Sheet