Hypostomus plecostomus (known colloquially as a sucker fish) is the scientific name for a type of freshwater tropical Central and South American fish belonging to the family Loricariidae. They are large algae eaters, and to differentiate them from small algae eaters, they are often referred to as plecostomus, often abbreviated as plecos or plecs. They are extremely popular in aquaria for their ability to clean tanks by eating algae growth and dead fish.
Simply put, if you have ever had a freshwater tank, you have had some sort of pleco.
My pleco's name is Big Joe the Sixth. He is the sixth in line of plecos that I have had, going back 35 years. Plecos tend to live a very long time if kept correctly. My Dad bought his very first one when I was born. That was the original Big Joe. He lived 12 years.
Number Six was bought just up the road at Pet City. I remember it because it was kind of traumatic for him. You see, the young lady who got him out of the tank was kind of rough with him. She dropped him, and then put him in a bag that was way too small for him to be transported in. Then, she dropped him in the brine shrimp tank when trying to put him in a bigger bag. She then grabbed him by the head, and tossed him in the larger bag. It was kind of like a three stooges skit. I thought for sure Joe was going to be dead on arrival. But, I gave him plenty of food, space, and places to hide, and he made it.
In fact, I'm not sure how old Joe is. I know I've had him a few years, and he had gotten more comfortable living in the tank. He has also grown to be the biggest pleco that I have ever had. Most of them I've had have grown to 6-7 inches. He has grown to be almost 9 inches. Here's a few pictures of him. Side note, it's hard to get a few good pictures of him as he won't hold still long enough to get a good picture.
But here's the funny thing about Joe. He knows when it's dinnertime. When 6:30 PM rolls around, he starts to hang up near the top of the tank. I usually feed the fish (for their night feeding) at 7:00 PM. When I actually start to feed the fish, Joe has a sneaky way of grabbing the food.
That's right. He actually swims upside down, and grabs all the flakes he can. The other fish give him a wide berth since he is armored, and about 20 times their size.
I have to say Big Joe the Sixth is by far the most entertaining pleco I have ever had. I believe that the way my tank is set up gives him a very healthy atmosphere, and I make sure that he has enough food. He is so personable that when I imitate what I think his voice would sound like, I do an impression of Shaquille O'Neal. It really does suit him.