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Control Enhancement Research of Suckermouth Armored Catfish

Suckermouth Armored Catfish

Suckermouth Armored Catfish (Loricaridae spp.), also known as ‘Plecos’, are a common pet in aquaculture. Photo by Emily Lorkovic.

Project Summary

Suckermouth armored catfish (Family Loricariidae) have made their way into Texas spring-fed streams by illegal introductions from aquarium releases. These species are problematic because they outcompete native species, disrupt aquatic food chains, and erode banks. There are ongoing efforts to control these invasive fishes by spearfishing, which the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan funds. However, these efforts can only suppress the population for short periods of time.

The Ecological Research Group has been conducting research since 2019 on Hypostomus spp. to better understand habitat use, site fidelity, population size, and ratios of males/females in the San Marcos River. Collection and analysis of this data are integral for long-term management plans to control this invader regionally. In 2023, phase two of the project began, which involves a full-scale genetic analysis of armored catfish populations found in four central Texas spring-fed rivers. This phase aims to establish biological control methods to initiate localized extinctions using introductions of genetically modified male fish.

This work would not be possible without collaboration with Dr. Joshua Perkin and the Riverscape Ecology Lab at Texas A&M University, and Nick Menchaca, owner of Atlas Environmental.

Associated Publications

Project Lead

tom heard

Tom Heard, M.S.

Wildlife & Fisheries Biologist, Habitat Field Crew
(512) 245-3553