Ancistrus – A Threat to the Ecosystem
Besides the risk of personal injury to those whose work is involved in the study or care of Ancistrus, a freshwater algae-eater fish, is the possible damage that this fish can wreak on the ecosystem.
This bottom-feeding catfish has pointed spines that may injure a person when handling it while it is caught in nets or sponge filters; it also consumes algae and detritus and takes in phosphorus in high quantities in order to maintain its bony skeleton.
Phosphorus plays a major factor in the growth of algae, the foundation of all food chains. Thus, its abundant consumption by a single organism can change nutrient dynamics and the availability of food that sustains all other organisms.
This hardy animal can live up to 12 years, can breed easily, able to adapt to a wide range of water conditions and can co-exist with many other freshwater fish, whether in an aquarium or natural bodies of water.
Though a personal injury may warrant compensation required to cover medical treatment, the damage this fish can cause in the ecosystem is much more severe. Releasing it to open waters can be the start of irreparable damage that can greatly affect the environment, of wildlife at the beginning and of humans in the long run.