Sting Ray Pleco
The Hillstream loaches of the genus Gastromyzon and Pseudogastromyzon are sometimes sold under the name Sting ray pleco or Stingray pleco. While Plecos are sucker-mouth catfishes from South America, the Hillstream Loaches are so called Old World Species native to Euroasia and they can not be found in South America . The Hillstream Loaches belong to the family Balitoridae and a majority of them live in clear and well-oxygenated waters with strong current.
In order to survive in fast flowing waters, the fins of the fishes in the genus Gastromyzon and Pseudogastromyzon have evolved and that is why they look a bit like stingrays and are sold under the confusing name Stingray plecos. The special fins help the fishes to stay still in the fast moving water.
The species sold under the name Stingray pleco normally reaches a length of 3.5 - 10 cm (1.5 to 4 inches). This makes them considerably smaller than many of the popular real plecos from South America .
Geographical distribution, habitat and care
Hillstream loaches are found in many different parts of Eurasia and different species are native to different regions. Ideally try to find out which species you are keeping or at least to which genus it belongs.
The fishes sold as Stingray plecos are not very tricky to keep and will do well in both neutral and slightly acidic water. Mid to low hardness is recommended. Generally speaking, a water temperature of 18-25.5 degrees C (65-78 degrees F) is okay, but this will naturally vary depending on species.
Since Hillstream loaches live in rapidly flowing waters, they are used to high levels of oxygen and will need this in the aquarium.
In the wild, Gastromyzon and Pseudogastromyzon are known to be algae eaters and algae growth should therefore be encouraged in the aquarium. You can also try to get them to accept algae based prepared foods. In the wild, the algae carpet is always filled with tiny animals as well, so a certain amount of protein rich food is probably beneficial for the Hillstream loaches. You can for instance feed them bloodworms and brine shrimps, or shrimp mixed with boiled green peas. The bulk of their diet should however always be algae and algae based food, e.g. algae wafers and algae flakes. They are also known to be found of blanched lettuce and kale leaves.
Aquarium set up and tank mates
As mentioned above, high levels of oxygen is important when keeping Hillstream loaches ("Stingary plecos"). In aquariums where the oxygen levels are low, these fishes will often seek out the airstone or filter pump and stay there which makes it hard for them to find enough food. They can also suffocate and die.
Try to make your aquarium resemble a rapid stream when you keep "Stingray pleco", e.g. by creating strong currents and cover the bottom with sand, gravel and various sized stones and pebbles. Good hiding places where the fish can shelter from the current are important.
Stingray plecos can be a bit aggressive, but they rarely manage to actually injure any fish or each other. Sometimes they compete for attractive algae-filled stones.
Breeding Blue phantom pleco
Hillstream Loaches have been successfully bred in captivity but captive bred specimens are still rare in the aquarium trade. If you want to try breeding "Stingray pleco", the Pseudogastromyzon cheni is a good beginner's choice. Pseudogastromyzon cheni are pit spawners and the male fish will dig out a spawning pit for the eggs. Once a breeding couple has been established, chances are they will spawn every couple of weeks. The broods are not very large.
What's in a name?
The Stingray pleco is called Stingray pleco even though it is neither a stingray nor a pleco. The Stingrays are cartilaginous fishes related to skates and sharks. A majority of the stingray species lives in marine waters, but there are also a few freshwater species. Pleco is a name used for a large group of South American catfishes. It is not a scientific name, even though it has been derived from the scientific name of one of the most popular species in the group ( Hypostomus Plecostomus ).
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Bushy Nose Pleco- Information on how to keep and care for bushy nose plecos.
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Candy Striped Pleco - A guide to keeping and caring for candy striped plecos.
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Leopard Sailfin Pleco - Information on how to keep and care for Leopard Sailfin plecos.
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Zebra Pleco- Information on how to keep and breed Zebra plecos.
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