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Marbled sailfin pleco - Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus

Marbled sailfin pleco - Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus

Scientific name: Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus

Common name: Marbled sailfin pleco

Family: Loricariidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 21 - 28 cm (8.27 - 11.02 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6.5 - 7.3

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 16°N (71.43 - 285.71ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 23 - 29 °C (73.4 - 84.2°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


South America; Marbled sailfin pleco’s are found in the Amazonian River Basins of Brazil.


The expected life span for Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus is 15 years.

Short description

It is best to keep a single specimen in the tank as they are very territorial when mature. Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus can out compete most species of fish for food so if keeping them in a community set up it is best to add floating flakes for the other inhabitants. Other bottom feeders should be avoided unless the aquarium is large enough for each specimen to establish their own territories, the aggression can get quite violent if the fish are cramped together. Dimmed lighting is preferred and rocks or wood can be added to provide shady areas for the plec to hide away if necessary. They are high waste producers so make sure the filtration system can cope with this and perform weekly water changes to keep the quality high.

The can be added to a community set up if the tank mates occupy higher levels of the water column and require the same water parameters. Plants can also be added but be aware that mature specimens may do a lot of digging in the substrate and may dislodge the odd piece of foliage. The sailfin pleco can also prove to be a good aquarium cleaner as they will eat algal colonies but do not add them to the aquarium purely for this purpose.

Always check carefully any specimen of sailfin pleco that you wish to purchase. Try to get the aquatic store to offer them food to make sure that they have a healthy appetite, always check that the fish does not have a sunken belly as this is a sure sign of malnutrition.

Food and feeding

Use sinking foods for Marbled sailfin pleco. They will accept shelled peas, frozen vegetables and algae wafers will be greedily accepted. When the fish are mature they will even accept chopped prawns and pieces of fish.


There are no visible differences between the sexes.


As of yet there are no reported cases of Marbled sailfin pleco’s breeding in the aquarium but in the wild the eggs are deposited in the muddy river banks. The banks are tunnelled into and the eggs are incubated in there. Like all plecs it is the male that assumes the parental care, once the eggs are fertilised the female takes no further part in caring for the eggs or tending the fry. The fry are only released from the nest once they are large enough and at any sign of danger the male will round them up to return to the safety of the home provided.


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