The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Hypostomus sp.
Hypostomus sp.
(suckermouth catfish)

Copyright Info
Hypostomus sp. Lacep├Ęde, 1803

Common name: suckermouth catfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The genus Hypostomus contains about 116 species (Burgess 1989). Highlighting the serious need for additional taxonomic and systematic work, Armbruster (1997) concluded that it is currently impossible to identify most species in the genus. Several apparently different Hypostomus species have been collected in the United States but not definitively identified to species level (Page and Burr 1991; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). Distinguishing characteristics of the genus and a key to loricariid genera were provided by Burgess (1989) and Armbruster (1997). Photographs appeared in Burgess (1989) and Ferraris (1991). Hypostomus has officially replaced the generic name Plecostomus. The genus was included in the key to Texas fishes of Hubbs et al. (1991) and several identifying traits were also given by Page and Burr (1991).

Size: Depending on species, maximum

Native Range: Tropical America. South and Central America from Uruguay north to Panama (Burgess 1989).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Hypostomus sp. are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ198519861Imperial Reservoir
CO198619861San Luis
FL195820166Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Hillsborough; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns
MA199819981New England Region
NV196619911Sand Spring-Tikaboo Valleys
PA198019801Lower West Branch Susquehanna
TX195620246Elm-Sycamore; Medina; Middle Guadalupe; San Marcos; South Laguna Madre; Upper San Antonio

Table last updated 4/19/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Means of Introduction: Members of this genus have been introduced through a combination of fish farm escapes or releases, and aquarium releases (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990; Courtenay and Williams 1992). In Texas, the initial introduction occurred when Hypostomus entered local streams after escaping from pool and canal systems of the San Antonio Zoological Gardens in or before 1962 (Barron 1964); the Comal County introduction was probably due to an aquarium release (Whiteside and Berkhouse 1992).

Status: Several morphologically distinct but unidentified Hypostomus species have been recorded as established in the United States: these included populations in Indian Springs in Nevada; Hillsborough County in Florida; and the San Antonio River and San Felipe Creek in Texas (Courtenay and Deacon 1982; Courtenay et al. 1984, 1986; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990; Page and Burr 1991; López-Fernández and Winemiller 2005). A population of an unidentified Hypostomus species is firmly established in Hawaii (Devick 1991a, b).  Reported from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. Failed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Impact of Introduction: The effects of these loricariid catfish is largely unknown. In Texas, Hubbs et al. (1978) reported possible local displacement of algae-feeding native fishes such as Campostoma anomalum by Hypostomus, and López-Fernández and Winemiller (2005) suggest that reductions in Dionda diaboli abundance in portions of San Felipe Creek are due to population increases of Hypostomus. Because of their abundance in Hawaii, introduced Hypostomus, Pterygoplichthys, and Ancistrus may compete for food and space with native stream species (Devick 1989; Sabaj and Englund 1999).

Remarks: The Nevada population was reported originally as Plecostomus punctatus by Minckley (1973) and as Hypostomus plecostomus by Deacon and Williams (1984), but was determined to be an unidentified species of Hypostomus (not H. plecostomus; J. Armbruster, pers. comm.). Populations from Texas (e.g., Hubbs et al. 1978; Whiteside and Berkhouse 1992) and Florida (e.g., Rivas 1965) occasionally have been reported as Hypostomus plecostomus. According to Courtenay et al. (1974), the Florida Hypostomus species in the Hillsborough County area was probably different than that reported from the southern part of the state. In addition, most early reports from south Florida, and possibly elsewhere in the state, probably were based on incorrect identifications of Pterygoplichthys (Loftus and Kushlan 1987; Ludlow and Walsh 1991; Nico, personal observation). Courtenay (personal communication) reviewed records of loricariid catfishes from southeastern Florida and located only one specimen of the genus Hypostomus (UF 98938), collected from Coral Gables Canal at Red Road, Dade County, in 1960; he concluded that all other loricariids from Dade County were Pterygoplichthys. The Hypostomus inhabiting the Tampa area was reported as expanding its range into the Hillsborough River from Six Mile Creek (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990), but there are no supporting specimens, and these also may be based on misidentifications of Pterygoplichthys (Ludlow and Walsh 1991). Whitworth (1996) recorded the capture of specimens of an unidentified loricariid from the Thames River drainage, Connecticut, and listed it as Hypostomus. Unfortunately, he does not provide any information that might be useful in its positive identification. In his book, Whitworth included an illustration of a Hypostomus, but the drawing is from an old plate and not of the Connecticut fish. Distribution maps for Hypostomus found in the United States were given in Courtenay and Hensley (1979), Hensley and Courtenay (1980), and Courtenay and McCann (1981), but these maps most likely include records based on what is now recognized to be Pterygoplichthys. Members of this genus are popular aquarium fishes.

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 30864, 98938, 98939), Hawaii (UF 91912), Nevada (TU 94345; UF 91914), Pennsylvania (PSU 1433?), Texas (UF 91915).

References: (click for full references)

Armbruster, J.W. 1997. Phylogenetic relationships of the sucker-mouth armored catfishes (Loricariidae) with particular emphasis on the Ancistrinae, Hypostominae, and Neoplecostominae. Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL.

Barron, J.L. 1964. Reproduction and apparent over-winter survival of the sucker-mouth armoured catfish, Plecostomus sp., in the headwaters of the San Antonio River. The Texas Journal of Science 16:449.

Burgess, J.E. 1958. The fishes of Six-Mile Creek, Hillsborough County, Florida, with particular reference to the presence of exotic species. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 12.

Burgess, W.E. 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1982. Status of introduced fishes in certain spring systems in southern Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 42(3):361-366.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: Status 1979. Report submitted to the National Fishery Research Laboratory. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. Pages 41-77 in Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr, eds. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1986. Distribution of exotic fishes in North America. Pages 675-698 in Hocutt, C.H., and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.A. McCann. 1981. Status and impact of exotic fish presently established in U.S. open waters (September 1, 1980; revised April 1981). National Fishery Research Laboratory, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., H.F. Sahlman, W.W. Miley II, and D.J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.D. Williams. 1992. Dispersal of exotic species from aquaculture sources, with emphasis on freshwater fishes. Pages 49-81 in Rosenfield, A., and R. Mann, eds. Dispersal of living organisms into aquatic ecosystems. Maryland Sea Grant. College Park, MD.

Deacon, J.E., and J.E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Devick, W.S. 1989. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project No. F-14-R-13, Job 4, Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Dept of Land and Natural Resources.

Devick, W.S. 1991a. Disturbances and fluctuatuions in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project No. F-14-R-15, Job 4 Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Devick, W.S. 1991b. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Ferraris, C.J., Jr. 1991. Catfish in the aquarium. Tetra Press, Morris Plains, NJ.

Gleason, K. 2004. Where have all the minnows gone? Del Rio News-Herald. July, 18 2004.

Hensley, D.A., and W.R. Courtenay, Jr. 1980. Hypostomus spp., Armored catfishes. Page 477 in Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer Jr, eds. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History. Raleigh, NC.

Howells, R.G. 1992. Annotated list of non-native fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants, in Texas waters. Management Data Series No. 78. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, TX.

Hubbs, C. 1982. Occurrence of exotic fishes in Texas waters. Pearce Sellards Series, Texas Memorial Museum 36:1-19.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Hubbs, C., T. Luciere, G.P. Garrett, R.J. Edwards, S.M. Dean, and E. Marsh. 1978. Survival and abundance of introduced fishes near San Antonio, Texas. The Texas Journal of Science 30(4):369-376.

Loftus, W.F., and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 31(4):147-344.

López-Fernández, H. and K.O. Winemiller. 2005. Status of Dionda diaboli and report of established populations of exotic fish species in lower San Felipe Creek, Val Verde County, Texas. Southwestern Naturalist 50(2):246-251.

Ludlow, M.E. and S.J. Walsh. 1991. Occurence of a South American armored catfish in the Hillsborough River, FL. Florida Scientist 54(1):48-50.

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department, Phoenix, AZ.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Rivas, L.R. 1965. Florida freshwater fishes and conservation. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 28:255-258.

Sabaj, M.H., and R.A. Englund. 1999. Preliminary identification and current distribution of two suckermouth armored catfishes (Loricariidae) intrdouced to Oahu streams. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 59:50-55.

Whiteside, B.G., and C. Berkhouse. 1992. Some new collections locations for six fish species. The Texas Journal of Science 44(4):494.

Whitworth, W.R. 1996. Freshwater fishes of Connecticut. Bulletin 114. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT.

Zuckerman, L.D., and R.J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435-453 in Stroud, R.H, ed. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Ozark, MO. American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/9/2019

Peer Review Date: 10/31/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Hypostomus sp. Lacep├Ęde, 1803: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=762, Revision Date: 5/9/2019, Peer Review Date: 10/31/2013, Access Date: 4/19/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/19/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.