Zebra Pleco | Hypancistrus zebra
Catfish / Loricariidae / Zebra Pleco
Profile: Zebra Pleco
Synonyms: Peckoltia zebra
Physical description: Similar in body shape to Peckoltia species. The body is bright white in color with an overlaying, unique pattern of black stripes. This pattern continues through the fins. No two specimen are said to have the same pattern.
Size/Length: To 3.5" (9 cm)
Similar species: Loricarids L98 and L173 are thought to be variations of H. zebra, but could be distinct species.
Habitat: South America; on rocky substrates of the Rio Xingu, Brazil
Aquarium: 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L). Provide a hiding places for each fish with rocks having crevices, holes, and caves. Driftwood can be added, though it is not a requirement as Zebras do not chew on the wood like other Loricarids. The tank should be well-planted and well oxygenated, as its native waters are oxygen-rich.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.5 (6.6), 1-12 dH (5), 77-86°F (25-30°C)
Social behavior: A small, shy fish that should not be combined with other bottom dwellers that will compete for food. Each fish sets up a small territory around a selected retreat. In a good sized tank (25 gallons or more), a number of Zebra Plecos can be kept as long as each is supplied with a retreat. Keep with small, peaceful fish of the upper swimming levels. A nocturnal fish.
Suggested companions: Tetras, Apistogramma, Hatchetfish, barbs, danios
FOOD: Live; Brine Shrimp, insect larvae, Daphnia, Cyclops; vegetables; lettuce, spinach, zucchini; tablets; flake
Sexual differences: The first pectoral fin ray is thicker in the male, and the head/pectoral region of the male is broader.
Breeding techniques: There are at least four factors important in stimulating spawning of the Zebra Pleco: an increase in water temperature to 82-86°F (28-30°C), a high oxygen content of the water, a moderate to strong water current and suitable breeding caves. The spawning caves should be just long enough to house a fish and wide enough for two Zebra Plecos and should have some water current passing through it. Spawning is most likely in a tank with several Zebra Plecos and numerous spawning caves. Fish may pair off and lay cloudy-white eggs within a cave. The male chases out the female and guards the eggs, which usually number 8-15. He will continue to guard the fry until they can feed on their own. The eggs can be removed and reared artificially in a well-aerated rearing tank. The eggs hatch six days after being laid and the fry can be first fed two weeks after hatching (when their egg sacs are depleted). Start feeding with Brine Shrimp nauplii and dry foods. Make frequent partial water changes on the rearing tank. The young grow slowly, but can reach 1" (2.5 cm) in under 3 months.
Breeding potential: 8. Breeding is difficult, although under the right conditions it is manageable..
Remarks: A recent introduction to the hobby, the Zebra Pleco was first introduced into the United States in 1989. Formerly known as "L 46." The Zebra Pleco will not eat algae.
Difficulty of care: 5. A fairly hardy fish as long as water maintenance is kept up. This species will starve to death if not deliberately fed.