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This profile was written by Redfan an active contributor to the site.  

South America


Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps

Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps (L083 & L165)


    Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps (Sailfin Plec) is a very common plecostumus and can be found at most lfs's despite the fact that most hobbyists will not be able to meet the long term tank requirements of this catfish. The Sailfin Plec can grow up to 18" or more if treated well. In my and others experiences this plec is very peaceful and can cohabit with most other standard tropical fish. Care should be taken if in a tank with other large bottom feeders.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 15 - 18 inches (38.1 - 45.7cm)
    Tank: Juveniles and Sub adults (up to 18 - 24 months) can be kept in a 55 - 65G tank but adults must have a minimum of 100G tank
    Strata: Will go everywhere but predominantly bottom. Likes Sand - Medium Gravel
    PH: 6.5 - 7.8
    Hardness: dh range 5 - 19dH
    Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (24°-28° C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Family: Loricariidae
    Genera: Pterygoplichthys
    Species: Glyptoperichthys


Common name:

    Sailfin Pleco, Leopard Pleco

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America: Middle and upper Amazon and Orinoco basins.

General Body Form:
    Similar to most other plecostumus, however the dorsal fin has 10+ rays (the individual spikes within the fin).

    Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps is generally light - dark brown in colour and can display many variations of this colour, it's very distinctive from sub adult to adult by its beautiful shades of brown and flowing dorsal (sail) fin.

    This plec is a great addition to the standard community tank. However you must be aware that approx 18 months - 2 years from it's juvenile state its going to need a tank of 100G+ it lives quite happily in a planted aquarium and when smaller the Gippicep actively likes to "suck" on leaves. When larger (8"+) it can start to destroy plants through sheer weight. It can if done correctly cohabit with other plecs. Strong filtration is required as is very regular water changes (to extract the large amounts of waste this plec produces).
Sailfin Pleco

    As with most other plecs this species is happy with Algae wafers but really loves a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Most people (including me) find that the Sailfin goes somewhat crazy for Water Melon and Zuchinni (courgette) in either chunks or slices. Do not worry, the Sailfin will spit out the water melon seeds. Also bear in mind whatever your Sailfin eats will adjust the colour of its waste.

    No real increase of risk to diseases than most other tropical fish. A quite hardy tank addition.

    Slow moving rivers, happy with a medium current.

    Is bred commercially, however is very difficult to breed within a tank environment due to the conditions required. A very large aquarium that replicates the natural Amazonian river beds would be required.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.








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