Bulldog plecs are full of character, but what's the best set-up for keeping them? And how should you feed them? Dr Michael Hardman explains.
Bulldog plecs or Chaetostoma are an evolutionary success story. They are found in fast-flowing streams in Panama, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. Though they are widespread, they are usually found in similar habitats consisting of cobbles and large boulders in fast-flowing, cool 22-24°C/72-75°F, clean, well-aerated water.
Their love of fast water makes their care in captivity difficult because unless the aquarium grows enough algae to satisfy them, they are malnourished and typically waste away after several months of hiding and unsuccessful grazing. Adding flake or tablet foods to high-turnover aquaria only feeds the filter.
I’ve managed to get around this, and similar problems, by cooking up an artificial algae. I blend spinach, broccoli, peas and shrimp into a smooth paste and then add molten agar. Agar is a gelling agent available at health food shops that, unlike gelatin, does not dissolve in the warm and circulating water of an aquarium. While the agar-paste mix is still molten, I coat pebbles with it and place them in the fridge or freezer until I want to feed my bulldogs.
This article was first published in the November 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.