Sailfin Pleco – Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps

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The Sailfin Gibbiceps is quite a unique fish. When the dorsal fin is extended, it looks similar to the sails of a tall ship and is quite a sight to see when swimming.

Common Names: Sailfin Pleco, Gibbiceps Pleco

Category: Siluriformes

Family: Loricariidae

Origin: South America

Main Ecosystem: Muddy tributaries throughout Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon

Salinity: Freshwater

Temperament: Very timid. Constantly hides from view.

Diet: Omnivore

Care: Provide a tank of at least 55 gallons, with driftwood and plenty of hiding places. Diet must be supplemented with sinking wafers (spirulina) and frozen or freeze-dried shrimp and/or bloodworms. Tying or hanging a slice of zucchini is a special treat.

pH: 6.5-7.8

Temperature: 72-78 degrees F

Hardness: 3dkh – 8dkh

Potential size: 18”

Water Region: Bottom Dweller (occasionally will be seen on the higher levels of tank in search of algae on tank glass).

Activity: Sailfin Gibbiceps, like most other fish of the Loricariidae family, are nocturnal and often hide during the day.

Lifespan: 15+ years (with proper care)

Color: Dark brown with black spots.

Mouth: Suckermouth

Sexing: Generally there is no difference between the sexes, although mature females may be plumper. It is claimed that the width of the head may also be an indicator. In mature fish, the differences in the genital papilla can be used to sex the fish – in males it is a small, thick, noticeably protruding stump; in females it is less obvious and lies flat along the belly.

Acclimation: Float bag in tank water to adjust the temperature. Add small amounts of your tank water to the bag for at least 45 minutes to an hour until you exceed the original amount of water that was in the bag. Unlike most fish that can be netted out of the aquarium bag, the Sailfin Gibbiceps will clamp its mouth onto the bag. The fish will not cooperate with your use of the net and can cause damage to the fish. You can use two methods to remove fish from bag:

• By hand, being careful not to use excess pressure
• Remove some of the bag’s contents and roll bag down to the new water level. You can then carefully pour the remaining contents of the bag into your tank with the fish.

Breeding: Not known to successfully breed in the home aquarium; however, there has been documented success in outdoor ponds. In the wild, they spawn in earth cavities. They are commercially bred in Southeast Asian and Florida fish ponds.

Comments: The Sailfin Gibbiceps is quite a unique fish. When the dorsal fin is extended, it looks similar to the sails of a tall ship and is quite a sight to see when swimming. The peaceful nature of this fish is extraordinary. It can be added to many varieties of community tanks without any problems. They can be housed in tanks that contain other bottom-dwelling fish such as otocinclus and corydoras. On several occasions, I have seen my corydoras “hanging out” with my Sailfin Gibbiceps.

This fish is very timid and easily frightened by the aquarist’s presence. Although I have not seen any documentation, I have observed that they have the ability to change colors to match their surroundings, especially on wood. I have three pieces of driftwood of differing shades of brown. Whenever the fish is attached to one of them, it assumes that shade of color. You have to look very closely as the fish could be right in front of your eyes and you won’t notice it. I must admit, they have the most saddest and calm-looking eyes in the world. They appear to resemble puppies.


Additional photo credit to Wizzard~of~Ozz

Last update: 2006-02-06 09:09
Author: Jchillin

Filed under Fish Profiles, Freshwater.