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Man Reveals What Fish Is The Most Damaging To The River Ecosystem In Malaysia

suckermouth catfish
Pictures: TikTok @encoreuthm, SeekPNG

Do you know that the existence of suckermouth catfish (ikan bandaraya) could harm the ecosystem? Although Malaysia is rich in biodiversity, do you know that some fish species in our country are invasive?

Suckermouth catfish or plecos isn’t an uncommon sight in Malaysian waters. Yet, many aren’t aware of how dangerous this fish is.

suckermouth catfish

Picture: CABI Digital Library

A TikTok video shared by @encoreuthm has spoken about this issue. Surprisingly, he found many suckermouth catfish in the Kinta River, Perak!

According to them, plecos are the most invasive species in Malaysia! Why? These fishes feed on algae, food residues from other fishes and fish eggs to live!


Inilah ikan paling merosakkan ekosistem di Malaysia rasanya! Habis pupus ikan tempatan kerana ikan bandaraya ni!! Mari selamatkan ikan asli Malaysia!!!! #fy #fyp #fypシ #fypage #fypシ゚viral #ikanbandaraya #ikanpendatang #pendatangasing #invasive #invasivespecies #perosak #pleco #ikanpleco #ikan #ikanpredator #wildlife #fishtok #fisherman #fishing #researchpaper #research #dna #conservation #fakta #ekosistem #sungai #rosak #mati #gila #terkejot #pupus

♬ original sound – eNCORe UTHM – eNCORe UTHM

However, is it true?

Does freeing suckermouth catfish can destroy the ecosystem?

In a study conducted by Cornell University, published on 21 August in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, plecos indeed change the structure and function of the ecosystem!

Another popular name for suckermouth fish or plecos is ‘algae eaters’. They are well-known in the multi-billion dollar pet industry.

These bottom feeders eat detritus and algae. They absorb high quantities of phosphorus to maintain their bony skeletons. Thus, they can confiscate phosphorus for more than a decade.

This becomes a severe concern because phosphorus is essential for algae growth, and it’s the base of the food chain. Hence, the decreasing algae population alters the nutrient dynamics. Not only that, but it also changes the food availability in a system.

Suckermouth catfish can become ferocious

suckermouth catfish

Picture: CABI Digital Library

Plecos aren’t originated from Malaysia. They are tropical freshwater fish from Central America and Latin America. Moreover, they are some of the oldest fishes to exist.

Despite being a popular pet choice, plecos are adaptable to new surroundings and can grow to 500 g! What’s more horrifying is that plecos can turn vicious and kill other species if endangered!

Why are plecos still abundant in Malaysia?

@encoreuthm highlighted the big question: if suckermouth catfish are harmful to the ecosystem, why are they still so many in our waters?

Notably, in 2019, a few fishermen in Johor Bahru voiced their worries about the number of plecos in the Skudai river boosting. Yet, no clear step was taken to prevent this issue from continuously happening. Sadly, until today, the amount of suckermouth catfish in Malaysia continues to double.

Thus, what can we do to stop this from happening? Can this issue ever be resolved?

Sources: TikTok @encoreuthm, Cornell Chronicle, Twitter @LVGIF

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