Characteristics of Janitor Fish

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Janitor fish (Hypostomus plecostomus) are big freshwater creatures that are native to South American nations such as Brazil and Peru. The family Loricariidae fish often thrive out in nature, but are also frequently seen living in aquariums. Janitor fish are known by a handful of other monikers, from suckermouth catfish to common pleco.

Visual Characteristics

Size-wise, janitor fish generally achieve lengths of between 18 inches and 2 feet. Janitor fish in nature tend toward the larger sizes, while captive specimens are usually a little smaller. Janitor fish have specked physiques that are simultaneously sturdy and short. Their overall coloration is deep brown. Other notable physical characteristics of janitor fish are their sizable heads, tiny eyes and mouths that are reminiscent of suction cups. Male and female specimens are indistinguishable physically.

Temperament Characteristics

Janitor fish tend to have serene overall dispositions, even though they're biggish in size. They generally make easygoing additions to aquarium tanks -- as long as they are the sole representatives of their species. Mature janitor fish usually have strong aversions to each other, and often behave in fierce, territorial manners when together. Exceptions do occur, however, in cases where specimens have lived together since their tender young stages.

Feeding Characteristics

When it comes time to eat, janitor fish in the wild are big on algae, as overall herbivores. If you have a janitor fish in your care, make a point to closely copy his natural plant-heavy menu. Some of the foods that are commonly fed to janitor fish in captivity are algae wafers, veggie flakes, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, peas and zucchini. Although janitor fish have strong herbivorous tendencies, they also are often willing to eat flesh such as tubifex worms and brine shrimp.

Lifestyle Characteristics

As nocturnal creatures, janitor fish are at their busiest all throughout the night, starting around the end of twilight. They spend a lot of their time relaxing inside of caverns or over driftwood. They appreciate environments with lots of big shelters and thick plants. Captive specimens typically survive for anywhere between 10 and 15 years. Their free-roaming counterparts occasionally exceed them in this department, sometimes living for more than 15 years.

Breeding Characteristics

Breeding janitor fish in captivity isn't an easy task, and because of that not many have accomplished it. Janitor fish in natural environments generally reproduce inside of burrows on the slopes around rivers.

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