The potential of more aquarium fish being added in the near future reminded me of one of the quintessential freshwater aquarium fish, one of the most popular and well recognized, though unfortunately not well kept fish. Actually it’s not a single species of fish, but rather, a whole family of fish! These are fish that I have the joy of keeping myself, today we’re taking a look at the plecos of Earth and Eorzea!
The plecos are characterized by their suckermouths as well as armored bodies and belong to the largest family of catfish, the loricariids. The family is found throughout the Amazon river basin. Plecos frequently eat plant matter as well as algae, and this has led to them being quite popular in aquariums as algae eaters, though a misconception exists that they will eat poop and some buy them for that purpose. The
ones usually found and sold as well as the source of the family’s common name are Hypostomus plecostomus. Unfortunately for many buyers, these fish are sold at a few inches/cm but actually grow up to 1-2 feet (~30-60cm). Members of the Ancistrus genus are similar looking popular picks and more practical to keep as they top out at around 6 inches (~15cm) and have what are best described as “bristly/bushy” noses, hence their common name the “bristle/bushynose pleco.” The smallest and definitely cutest commercially available ones are the Otocinclus, usually only about 2 inches (~5cm) at most and the only group within the family not actually called plecos. I myself have kept Otocinclus and currently have a small Chaetostoma pleco. There are many other rarer species that are quite striking in person (with a price to match!), displaying some vivid striped patterns and even eye colors. Nevertheless, the ones available for aquariums represent but a small fraction of loricariid diversity. There have been so many photographed and even shipped to be sold that an “L-number” system was devised by the aquarium trade to allow identification before the fish are officially documented, with the L-number range going all the way up to the low 400s at the present.
Plecos in Eorzea are somewhat reflective of their real life diversity, with 7 species in various habitats being available. There are even pleco-based fish in the Heavensward skies! The plecos we can catch all appear to be loosely based on ones available in the aquarium trade from their appearance in icons, though besides the aptly named five-ilm pleco and the spotted pleco, they are all much larger than in reality. In Eorzea they are all distributed throughout freshwater in the Shroud with one also found in Thanalan and La Noscea, while the flying pleco-based fish are found in the Churning Mists. Two are even big fish: Cornelia and The Thousandyear Itch. Unfortunately none are currently available as aquarium fish, but the ubiquity of plecos in real aquariums makes it near certain that they will be added. Perhaps soon we’ll have our own charming plecos lounging around in our aquariums! I certainly hope to see more in Stormblood as some of the teased locations would be perfect habitats for these fish.
As a last note since we’re just past the holidays, some of you may have received aquariums and fish for Christmas. One of the most important details that is frequently missed (besides dechlorinator) is having a cycled tank. This means having the natural filter bacteria set up for the nitrogen cycle. There are supplements available but the tried and true method is to get some filter media (gunk in a sense) from an established tank to seed your new one.