The Pleco fish, known in general as the Suckermouth Catfish or by a more familiar local adaptation known to be as "Bandaraya", the scientifically abbreviated Hypostomus Plecotomus would be our selected subject of study for biomimicry approach. Brief summary upon this species is that its omnivore and diet consist generally upon bottom feeding. Due to its distinctive diet and the characteristic of rasping, this fish was widely used to clean up algaes that sticks to the aquarium glass and other residing surfaces, resulting in a self-cleaning miniature ecosystem for algae within the aquarium.
The adopted species, plecostomus possess a mottled brown and black color pattern exhibited on its upper body as well as its undercarriage. Running in common with regular fish anatomy, they also have a dorsal fin for staying upright, two pectoral fins, two pelvic fin, two anal fins and one caudal fin for navigation/mobility purposes and to maintain a stationary stable position.
[Photo courtesy of http://www.biologycorner.com]
Pleco, in short is able to fasten its disc-shaped mouth, creating a low pressure region to assume a "sucking" motion, in order to adhere and secure itself on surfaces within the aquarium regardless of the position. This enables the Pleco to vertically position itself upon the aquarium glass without the aid of other forces (such as fin propelling to maintain altitude and stability) which is a common behavior seen in fish tanks. Proceeding to the other aspects, due to its diet pattern and habitat, the Pleco possess a highly effective defense mechanism, which is a sophisticated armored skin to shield from predator attacks and making it less desirable to be targeted by predators of equal size. Besides, the Pleco also has a set of eyes situated high on the side of its head which has the ability to control the amount of light that enters through their eyes by altering the shape of their iris, known as the omega iris. This feature enhances the ability of the Pleco to navigate efficiently during nocturnal period.
It is known that that the Pleco species are omnivores and for this species specifically, its diet generally consist of bottom feeding. The Pleco will feed on algae grow on the aquarium glass surface and also algae grow on rocks. However, common misconception is such as the Pleco diets only depends on the algae gathers in the tank. For a full-grown Pleco with significant size and length, the algae in the tank would not be able to provide enough nourishment for the Pleco. Similar with all other living organisms, insufficient food source will lead to malnourishment and even death. In fact, as the Plecos are categorized as omnivores, they can actually be fed with bloodworms from time to time and other plant-based food such as romaine lettuce and parboiled zucchini. Also, having some driftwoods in the tank will provide a needed source of fiber to the Pleco. Occasionally, if there ever be a situation where other residing fish died and sink to the bottom, the Pleco would seize the opportunity to feast on the dead carcass.
A comfortable living environment has been set to two newly adopted Plecos with companies of small fishes that differ in species. Driftwoods and amazon sword weed have been added into the fish tank to provide necessities for the Pleco to maintain a sufficient diet. An oxygen pump has been installed to regulate the oxygen level within the tank and to provide a more uniformly distributed oxygen rating throughout different altitudes of the water level. Small pebbles are added to the bottom of the tank not just for aesthetic purpose of the tank, but also to increase the surface area and aids in the growth of algae in the tank. The water in the tank will be changed in a weekly basis to ensure the water quality. Without proper care on the water quality, the water will be contaminated by the excrement of the fishes and the health of the living organisms inside the tank will be affected. Also, a LED lamp was added to the tank to provide sufficient light to the amazon sword weed.
Unique facts about Pleco
- They are nocturnal (active at night to hunt for food).
- They have a unique iris called omega iris which controls light intensity that enters their eyes.
- Disc-shaped mouth enabling the fish to secure them on smooth surface through suction.
- Calm and friendly, able to live with large variety of fishes.
- Clean the aquarium wall by consuming algae (prohibit algae growth).
- Able to grow from 12 to 24 inches in lengths.