It is pointed out that the observation of the electrostatic ion acoustic wave frequency can be a suitable check to determine whether the produced plasma is a pure pair-ion plasma or whether it comprises some concentration of electrons. A theoretical model for the pair-ion plasma dynamics is presented along with a new electrostatic mode which can exist only in such systems. It can become unstable in the presence of shear flow and it can give rise to vortex structures in the nonlinear regime. The possibility of shocks and solitons, due to nonlinear drift waves in a pair-ion plasma comprising electrons, is also discussed. The relevance of this investigation to both laboratory and astrophysical plasmas is pointed out. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.