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Parotocinclus spilosoma  (Fowler, 1941)

he first month of 2011 and we have factsheet contributor Chris Ralph who is also one of the regular authors to the U. K. magazine "Tropical Fish". He introduces us to a small and not too common member of the Loricariidae family, the "Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco", Parotocinclus spilisoma.


Parotocinclus spilosoma



Parotocinclus spilosoma belongs to the family Loricariidae known as the Plecs, L-numbers and Suckermouth Catfishes. This particular species can be found in South America namely Brazil in Paraíba and is also documented as being found in Paraíba do Sul and Rio de Janeiro State Rivers.


Parotocinclus spilosoma is a species that I have not yet had the pleasure to keep and is not a catfish which is commonly available although it is worth looking out for and is ideal for a small aquarium. This catfish is relatively easy to keep as long as the pH is not allowed to drop too much. There are said to be approximately 18 species of Parotocinclus from Brazil following a review of the genus in 1977 by Dr. Garavello which was published in the journal Arquivos de Zoologia, Sâo Paulo entitled ‘Systematics and Geographical distributions of the genus Parotocinclus’.


Parotocinclus spilosoma = head view



Parotocinclus spilosoma prefer to be kept in water which has a pH in the range of 5.8-7.5, and hardness in the range of 5-20°dGH. This catfish is ideally suited to temperatures in the range of 22-28ºC or 71-83ºF.


I would suggest a minimum size of 24” x 15” X 12” for a small shoal of these catfish, with plenty of hiding places amongst bogwood and plants. I would suggest good quality aquarium sand such as BD Aquarium Sand, or very smooth rounded gravel as the preferred substrate when keeping these catfish. The aquarium should provide some shelter in the form of rocks or bogwood along with the inclusion of some taller aquatic plants such as Vallis. As with all other species of fish, water quality and general husbandry is very important, and I would recommend that a minimum of 25% water is changed on a weekly basis.


Due to the small size of this catfish it is quite often overlooked in amongst retailer’s aquariums, so it is well worth taking some time to seek this catfish out.





The body and head shape of Parotocinclus spilosoma is described as being compressed. The body is covered with bony plates or scutes which are aligned in a lateral series. The mouth is described as being inferior with lips which form a disc-like mouth. The dorsal fin is described as having a spine and 5-6 soft rays.

The base colour of the body and head is described as being olive green with irregular gold coloured blotches over the entire body length. The leading rays of the dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins are described as being olive green with gold banding. The caudal fin is described as being forked with dark transverse bands which alternate from olive green to gold/yellow in colour. The iris of the eye is described as being gold in colour.


Wherever possible I would recommend that the aquarist keep these catfish in a community aquarium in small groups of six or more, but as the absolute minimum I would suggest three specimens assuming that they are available in these numbers. These catfish should be kept with other small species of fish which are peaceful, such as tetras and small barbs. In their natural habitat Parotocinclus spilosoma would be found in relatively large shoals.


There are no documented reports of successful aquarium spawnings of Parotocinclus spilosoma as far as I am aware.

Sexual differences
The males tend to be more slender than females especially noticeable when these catfish are in breeding condition. It is generally thought that the males have genital papilla which helps when sexing these tiny catfish.

Parotocinclus spilosoma readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which includes lettuce, cucumber, courgette(zucchini), tablet foods, flake foods, granular foods, frozen bloodworm, to name but a few.


Marcelo F. G. de Brito and Érica P. Caramaschi; 2005, An albino armored catfish Schizolecis guntheri (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from an Atlantic Forest coastal basin.
Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA). 784 p.
Britski, H.A. and J.C. Garavello 1984 Two new southeastern Brazilian genera of Hypoptopomatinae and a redescription of Pseudotocinclus Nichols, 1919 (Ostariophysi, Loricariidae). Pap. Avulsos Dep. Zool. São Paulo 35(21):225-241.


Parotocinclus: from the Greek para meaning in the side of + Greek ous, otis meaning ear + Greek kygklos, ou meaning a fish.

Glossary of Terms

Caudal fin is defined as the tail fin.
Pectoral fins are defined as paired lateral fins.
Dorsal fin is defined as the medial fin on top of the back.
Adipose is defined as a second dorsal fin.
Anal fin is defined as the medial fin immediately posterior to the anus.
Ventral fins are defined as the paired fins between the pectoral and anal fins.
Compressed is defined as flattened from side to side.
Scute is defined as a bony plate.


Photo Credits

© Chris Ralph

Factsheet 175

Plecostomus spilosoma
Common Name:
Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco


Brazil Brazil: South eastern. Type locality: Praia do Piraíque, Ilha de São Sebastião, Estado de São Paulo.  
50mm s.l. (standard length – this is the measurement of the fish from the tip of the snout to the base of the caudal peduncle).
22-28°c (71-83°f.)
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                                                                                                                            Factsheet 175 = updated December 15, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top