Archive for November 13th, 2009

Invasive Species: Plecos (Suckermouth catfish)

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Plecos or Suckermouth catfish seems extremely beneficial when it’s in an aquarium. It keeps the tank clean by eating algae. But people sometimes dump the plecos into Texas waters. They think they’re saving the fish’s life. But the fish end up thriving in Texas waters and destroying the habitat of native fish.

Gary Garrett, a Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist, says the plecos is harming endangered species in Texas streams.

Being a tropical fish, they do best in these spring systems where the temperature doesn’t vary that much over the year. And unfortunately in these spring systems, we have many of our fairly rare fishes, even endangered and threatened species there.

Two of those species are the threatened Devil’s River Minnow and the endangered Fountain Darter. And the fountain darter is only found in the San Marcos and Comal rivers.

Luci Cook-Hildreth is a Parks and Wildlife projects coordinator in Inland Fisheries. She says the plecos is much larger than most of the fish it threatens, giving it an unfair advantage. And this could be devastating to the ecosystem.

That one fish that we want to save is part of something bigger. It’s part of a food web. So that losing this one piece of the puzzle has a ripple effect.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan. You can find more information at For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.