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August 03, 2012

I’ve always had a thing for the Loricariids, the L-number cats of South America. Most notably, I’ve been very fond of the genus Hypancistrus. They can be highly attractive, like the ever so popular Hypancistrus zebra “Zebra Pleco” or L46 with its bold black and white stripes. They can also be as elegant as H. sp. “Yellow King Tiger Pleco”, L333, with its “scribbled” lines that engulf the body.

Unfortunately, a great deal of these and other Loricariid types were unavailable for exportation from the country of Brazil. It’s my understanding that the reason for this was that the country put a ban on any species that was not scientifically identified. This perhaps came when scientists and the local Fish and Game experts realized that exporters were over fishing the Zebra Pleco and in order to conserve their natural fish populations, the government issued a ban on exportation of any species that was not “known” to science.

Recently, some 700+ species were lifted from this ban and many of the fish we desired to own have started to come back into the states. The Wet Spot is, of course, a leader in the hobby when it comes to those hard to find or unusual items. No, we may not have been the first right away to offer you some of these fish. We are a practical store, and we know the cost on some of this stuff would come down in a matter of time. Let me say that it’s been very well worth the wait. This week, I am proud to offer two Hypancistrus species that I know everyone can appreciate as a hobbyist.

The first, I would love to talk about is Hypancistrus sp. “Scribble Pleco” L66. Native to the lower Rio Xingú and the Rio Tocantins in the Pará state of Brazil this pleco can grow to nearly 5” in length - making it one of the larger members of the genus. Scribble Plecos prefer to be kept in temperatures between 78-84°. The pH range is rather adaptable between the ranges of 5.8-7.0. The common name comes from the white and black lines that are “broken” throughout the entirety of the body.

Hypancistrus sp. "Scribble/King Tiger Pleco" L066

 

These markings are very similar to Hypancistrus sp. “Queen Arabesque Pleco” L260 that is found throughout the Rio Tapajós, also in the Pará state of Brazil. The difference between the two is that the lines found on the Queen Arabesque are much finer, and the fish is overall a lot smaller – growing up to about 3.5”. The Queen Arabesque will also do better with cooler water temperatures (74-82°) unlike the Scribble Pleco. The Queen Arabesque Pleco prefers to be kept in stream-like environments where the oxygen level is rich, and the current is rather swift. Because of this setup the pH is often 6.4-7.6.

Hypancistrus sp. "Queen Arabesque" L260

Hypancistrus are a little different when it comes to their diet. Unlike the common misconception that all plecos are algae eaters, these little fish prefer a little meat. In the wild, they can be found grazing on invertebrates, insects, and other crustaceans found on the river bottom. Because of this predatory diet, I recommend a variety of frozen bloodworms, catfish pellets, and some sort of spirulina-based product. Pleco chips or fresh zucchini are other great choices to keep the greens up.

All Hypancistrus types are cave spawners and are fairly easy to breed as long you can provide clean, oxygen-rich water that is on the warm side. Most females will lay somewhere between 30-40 eggs and the male will take care of the young. The best way to breed these peaceful fish is to build a riverbed styled aquarium. This can be done by stacking several flat stones on top of one another and by providing ample filtration. Plants are not necessary but if you add them the plecos will not cause harm to them.

The genus Hypancistrus is a fun and relatively easy species to work with. They are great for the community tank as they do not get large, and most of them are non-territorial.

Be sure to check the products link below, or visit www.wetspottropicalfish.com for these and other species of Loricariids we are proud to offer. As always I’ll be here to answer any questions you may have.

I’ll see you all back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager