2.01.2022

Plecos grow rapidly up to over 2 feet long, have armored skin and can survive out of water for more than 20 hours - and people are dumping them into our natural waters from their fishtanks

When we were first married and had no kids, lived in an apartment and had no pets (until we got snakes) we had the one pet we could have... fish.  And we bought the algae eaters (suckermouths) from the pet store to help keep down on the algae.  

I remember we would buy them tiny and soon they would grow fairly large, depending on the size tank we had.  We had a 55 gallon tank at time and about 4 or 5 of them so they grew to about 3 or 4 inches and would tend to stay that size.  I had no idea how large they COULD get because first of all, ours were relative to the size of the tank and second, when we were first married the internet wasn't a thing quite yet so in order to get information on anything you had to go to the library for books and try to read whatever you could about the topics you needed.

One of my main memories about these fish is how much I hated them.

Hated. Them.

I thought they were gross.  Their big mouths would suck on the sides of the tank, which was good as they would eat the algae and keep the glass and rocks clean but I hated looking at their mouths and just had a 'yuck' feel about them. 

The memories that spring to mind immediately when I hear or think about them is how they were escape artists!

I recall one time, glancing behind the tank and finding one dried up on the carpet.  Another time I stopped home for lunch and found on on the carpet, quite alive, but out of the tank none-the-less.  I scooped him up and put him back and he was fine.  In the years to come this could happen every few months and I always wondered how they didn't die - but I know NOW those suckers can live outside of the water for up to 20 hours!

Even with a full lid on the tank, they would manage to suck their way up the heating element or the side of the filter compartment and escape the tank through even a little 1/4" opening.  

Anyway - so when I saw this article I immediately thought of our fish tank and those fish I hated so much and was blown away by this photo showing how LARGE they can get, and the problem they are creating in local rivers and lakes as people are being stupid and releasing their fish into waterways from their tanks when they don't want them anymore.   HUGE problem as theses guys are nasty!

You can read a little bit of the article below or click on the link for the whole thing.  

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/four-hundred-invasive-fish-dumped-from-aquariums-found-in-texas-river-180979485/

Plecos, or suckermouth armored catfish, are efficient, algae-eating tank cleaners, but they are native to South America with few natural predators

The catfish, also called plecostomus or plecos, are native to South America, Panama and Costa Rica, but were introduced into numerous water bodies in Texas after people dumped them from aquariums. The fish are popular among aquarists because they eat algae in tanks. 

“A lot of time people purchase plecos for their fish aquariums to clean the bottoms of the fish tanks and the sides and keep algae out of the fish tanks, and they don’t realize they can get up to two to two-and-a-half feet long,” Melissa Bryant from the San Antonio River Authority tells KENS5’s Sue Calberg. 

Plecos grow rapidly and can survive out of water for more than 20 hours. The fish has armored skin and no natural predators in Texas. All of these factors combined made their population explode, causing problems for Texas rivers.