Sea Life

Janitor Fish: Everything About Suckerfish

Janitor Fish- Everything About Sucker Fish copy

Hobbyist fish keepers use many techniques to make their Aquarium as close as possible to nature. While doing so, algae growth is one of the biggest problems they need to keep their tank algae-free. A common method to do so is the addition of the Suckerfish to their aquarium. This fish, also known as janitor fish cleans the algae from places like aquariums to keep the area fresh and breathable. This small detail must have caught your attention to get information about this amazing creature. So this article will exclusively explain all the information regarding janitor fish.

Janitor Fish: Everything About Suckerfish

Suckerfish (popularized as janitor fish) is a common sucker found in freshwater. It is often referred to as pleco or sucking catfish in multiple regions across the globe.

Scientific Classification 

The scientific name of Suckerfish is Hypostomus plecostomus. It belongs to the Family of Loricariidae, which is from the Order Siluriformes. It belongs to the Class of Actinopterygii, which is part of Phylum Chordata. This Phylum is covered under the category of Kingdom Metazoa, formally known as Kingdom Animalia.

Origin and Evolution

Suckerfish was originally found around 5 million years ago. It belongs to the Catostomidae fishes, which are freshwater fishes found across the world. In the 1980s, it was introduced in Mexico and Florida, to control the algae in those areas. 

Being an invasive fish, it quickly spread across the waters of these regions, making it a common fish out there now. Most of the Suckerfish across the globe have already adopted ways to survive in those harsh conditions.

Appearance and Characteristics

Suckerfish is known for its circle-shaped mouth with heavy lips. These features assist it to consume algae and also to stay at a single place by sticking its mouth to the bottom of water bodies. They have small scales on their body and also have pectoral fins, which are placed a little higher than normal fishes.

They are of decent size and it ranges from 1 to 3 feet in total. It can normally weigh from 1 to 3 kg, but in some variants, these Suckerfish can even weigh more than 30 kg. Sucker fishes come in a lot of different colors including gray, white, green, orange blue, and yellow. 


Suckerfish is essentially an omnivorous animal, which means it can easily feast upon things both from plants and animal origin. Its favorite food is algae, that’s why it is used in aquariums to clean the algae. It also eats small fish quite easily.


Suckerfish is a fish of freshwater and is found in North America and the United State’s freshwater reservoirs. It includes their water streams, lakes or rivers, especially you can find these inside the slow-moving water bodies quite easily. They prefer places with sandy or rocky substrate and enriched with oxygen. But they can survive under low oxygen conditions too.

Their biggest threats in the wild are some of the bigger fishes in the water. This includes the catfish, touts, walleye, and bass. But the bigger Suckerfish such as the buffalo fish are not easily preyed on by any animal out in the water.


In Suckerfish, the reproduction or breeding process is one of a kind. Suckerfish normally find small crevices or caves to lay eggs. Once they found one, the male cleaned the cave and waited for the female. Once female Suckerfish enter the cave, they mate and after some time the female lays eggs.

They can have eggs from 10 to 300 at a single time. Once laid, the male fish made the female run away from the hide and then fertilize the eggs. After that, he takes care of the eggs until the fry is hatched(fry are baby fishes). 

Male Suckerfish eat bad or unfertilized eggs or sometimes under stress can also consume them as a food source. An experienced Suckerfish is more likely to take good care of eggs than a new one. A normal Suckerfish can live for 10 to 20 years.


Suckerfish have a variety of different species. There are more than 78 known species of Suckerfish till now. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Suckerfish out there:

1: Blue Sucker

A Blue Sucker is an amazing rare fish from the sucker family. It has a downward mouth, unlike most of its family members, which allows it to consume food from the bottom of the lakes. Based on the season, it can have a dark black to lustrous gray skin color. It is found in the lakes and rivers of freshwater of Mississippi.

2: Peppermint Pleco

It is a peaceful sucker fish, making it much more viable for fish aquariums. It has a beautiful small body covered with white dots making it look more majestic. Peppermint Pleco is native to Brazil. Its small body allows it to survive in most habitats. Its favorite food is algae, making it prefer rocky terrain filled with algae.

3: White Sucker

With a light color belly, complementing the long and round body, White Sucker is another popular sucker fish. It can be found in black, gray, green, brown, or copper color. It is the freshwater species of Mexico, Georgia, and North America. This bottom sucker loves to eat mainly small invertebrates, catfish, and algae.

4: Zebra Pleco

This sucker fish is popular due to its black and white stripes on it, similar to a zebra. It is located only in Brazil, inside the Xingu River. It has slowly turned into an endangered species because of human efforts to catch them as ornamental fish.

5: Bigmouth Buffalo

The Bigmouth Buffalo is a famous Suckerfish that is found in the North American region. It is the biggest sucker fish available there. They can eat small invertebrates, algae, and other related small organisms found inside water. Fishing brutally impacts the amount of this fish in its home region, which might add them to the endangered species.

6: Longnose Sucker

With fine scales and commonly found in two-tone, Longnose Sucker is another sucker species. It is mainly native to Asia and America while being sighted in some areas of Russia. It has a distinct long snout mouth, which is used to eat small insects and algae. Humans often use it to bait other big fishes.

7: Snowball Pleco

This small Suckerfish got its name due to the white polka dots on its dark black body. It also serves as an ornamental fish in most aquariums. It is originally from Venezuela, and later on entered into the Brazil and Amazon rivers. Its diet contains most of the algae and smaller invertebrates.

Suckerfish as Endangered Species 

Suckerfish are generally not categorized as an endangered species. Their invasiveness lets them survive for a very long time. Although like most marine species, Suckerfish is also seeing a declining curve in terms of number due to human efforts. Due to this reason, the Shortnose Sucker and the Lost Lake Sucker are now considered as endangered species.


Suckerfish is one of the most widely known fish, with almost more than 100 different species. These fishes are great for the environment as they help clean the algae and small invertebrates. Severe Suckerfish are being used as a food source. Once fried or cooked, it has a unique flavorful, and sweet taste. It was a popular dish back in the early times of America and its nearby countries.

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