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 plecostomus
Hypostomus plecostomus
(Suckermouth Catfish)

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Hypostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: Suckermouth Catfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Acipenser plecostomus Linnaeus, 1758; Hypostomus guacari Lacepède, 1803; Hypostomus ventromaculatus Boseman, 1968; Loricaria flava Shaw, 1804; Plecostomus bicirrosus Gronow in Gray, 1854; Plecostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The genus Hypostomus is the largest in the family Loricariidae, containing over 130 species and many undescribed forms (Armbruster 2004). Several apparently different Hypostomus species have been collected in the United States but have not been definitively identified to species (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); a rediscription of the genus and list of included species was presented in Armbruster (2004). Highlighting the serious need for additional taxonomic and systematic work, Armbruster (1997, 2004) concluded that it is difficult to identify most species in the genus, and that there is no unique characters to diagnose the genus. 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); several identifying traits were also given by Page and Burr (1991), although in a later edition (Page and Burr 2011) those authors indicate the difficulty of identifying specimens to species.

Native Range: South America: Guyana, Surniame and French Guiana, between the Essequibo and Oyapock River basins (Weber et al. 2012).

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 plecostomus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL196520198Alafia; Big Cypress Swamp; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Oklawaha; Peace; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns
PR200420072Cibuco-Guajataca; Southern Puerto Rico
TX197720126Buffalo-San Jacinto; Elm-Sycamore; Middle Guadalupe; San Marcos; South Laguna Madre; Upper San Antonio

Table last updated 2/27/2023

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Occurs in quiet, slow-moving waters and swamps of the lower reaches of rivers between the lower falls and the estuarine zone (Weber et al. 2012). Primarily consumes detritus, with algae and plankton comprising a minor dietary role (Pound et al. 2011).

Means of Introduction: Aquarium release or escape from aquaculture facilities.

Status: Established in Texas. Reported from Florida, Nevada, and Puerto Rico.

Impact of Introduction: 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 the result of 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: Members of the genus Pterygoplichthys (and other loricariids) are often misidentified as Hypostomus. Many early accounts of Pterygoplichthys in the United States were mis-identified as Hypostomus. A specimen lot (TU 94345) collected from Indian Spring, Nevada, was determined to be an unidentified species of Hypostomus and not H. plecostomus (J. Armbruster, personal communication).

Museum voucher specimens: Florida (ANSP 140512); Nevada (FMNH 94826); Texas (TCWC 14080.01, 14784.01; TNHC 8918, 8919)

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.

Armbruster, J.W. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 141:1-80.

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

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.

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

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Florida FWC). 2000. Florida Freshwater Fisheries Database via MARIS. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Tallahassee, FL.

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

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., 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.

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.

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.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. 2nd edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA.

Pound, K.L., W.H. Nowlin, D.G. Huffman, and T.H. Bonner. 2011. Trophic ecology of a nonnative population of suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus) in a central Texas spring-fed system. Environmental Biology of Fishes 90:277-285. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10641-010-9741-7.

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.

Shafland, P.L. 1976. The continuing problem of non-native fishes in Florida. Fisheries 1(6):25.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2001. Fish Records: Water Body - All Tackle. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. April 24, 2001

Weber, C., R. Covain, and S. Fisch-Muller. 2012. Identity of Hypostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758), with an overview of Hypostomus species from the Guianas (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Cybium 36(1):195-227.

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

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 10/31/2013

Peer Review Date: 10/31/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson, 2023, Hypostomus plecostomus (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=761, Revision Date: 10/31/2013, Peer Review Date: 10/31/2013, Access Date: 3/20/2023

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.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2023]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/20/2023].

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