Common name: Zebra pleco/plec, L046, L46, Imperial pleco/plec
Scientific name: Hypancistrus Zebra
Life Span: 15 years
Size: 3.5″ (8.5cm)
Originates: Rio Xingu, Brazil
Tank requirements: Preferably a sandy substrate with rocks and bogwood for hiding. Very efficient filtration and good circulation.
Compatibility: Very peaceful. But avoid overly competitive bottom feeding fish.
Temperatures: 25-30°C (77-86°F)
Water chemistry: Fairly soft to slightly hard, pH 6.5-7.4
Feeding: Omnivorous, tends to prefer meaty foods, but does eat green foods. Not really an algae eater.
Sexing: The first ray of the pectoral fin is thicker in the male with odontodes (tiny spines) visible, these can also be observed just below the operculum (gill plate).
Breeding: Maintain temperature at the upper end of the range. Spawning takes place in small caves. The male will guard his selected cave, which the female then enters. After spawning, the male fertilises and guards the eggs. It may be wise to hatch the eggs artificially, as the newly hatched fry may be eaten by the parents. Small regular water changes and good oxygenation are necessary. Feed the fry on newly hatched brine shrimp.
Description: The Zebra Pleco is an opportunistic feeder in the wild though they scavenge on fallen fruits and decaying vegetable matter (as is expected of the family), they also actively pursue and prey on small invertebrates. Feed foods such as bloodworms, chopped fish, mango, and cucumber (after all, variety is the spice of life). The Rio Xingu is a fast flowing, warm water environment, relatively lacking in plant life–thus an ideal L-46 tank should have a great deal of rockwork and driftwood on a sand or very fine gravel substrate.
Comments: This very striking fish has become much sought after since its initial appearance, and still commands quite a high price tag. It has been bred in captivity, but not on a regular basis or in sufficient quantity to supply the demand.