Queen Arabesque PlecoOnline Aquarium Fish Magazine
Hypancistrus sp (L260)
The Queen Arabesque Pleco comes from South America in the rivers Brazil, Para and Rio Tapajos. Because of their beauty, the Queen Arabesque Pleco is the fish keeper's substitute to the much sought after zebra pleco, although they don't look very much like them. The L260's have a black and white squiggly pattern over their entire body. They also have small spots scatted here and there over the body as well as on the dorsal fin. The younger fish tend to have their stripes more spaced out and as they age, the stripes become more, creating a more "fine" striped appearance. Another name they are known by, although less common, is Scribble pleco.
L260's prefer a fast current. Every so often you may see them in the current of the filter output. A power head or two (depending on the tank size) can easily see to that requirement, however they are able to survive without. A pH 6.4 to 7.5, medium to medium-hard water and a temperature of 73 to 82°F (23-28°C) is happily tolerated. The minimum tank size recommended is 20 gallons (75.5L). They are not all that fussy in terms of care. Maintaining correct care in general tank maintenance will go a long way in keeping them healthy and happy. Driftwood is needed for them to rasp on and caves should made for them to go to when in need of refuge or for spawning.
They grow up to anything between 3.5 to 4 inches in length. Queen arabesque plecos are generally peaceful catfish and should not be kept with the very aggressive bottom dwellers as it may result in them getting left out at feeding time. Aggressive fish such as large cichlids, too are not recommended as tank mates. However males can be territorial in terms of guarding his territory, i.e. his cave, especially against other males of the same species.
These catfish are carnivores and will not live on the food generally fed to most of the other more commonly found catfish, of which, most are herbivores or omnivores. L260's have tiny teeth just behind their lips which they use to rasp off tiny critters they may find, generally on driftwood. They have teeth inside their mouth as well, and will eat most meaty foods like blood worms, brine shrimp, gammarus and occasionally small pieces of shrimp and mussels. Some may even eat cichlid pellets as well as other sinking foods normally given to carnivorous bottom dwellers. An acclimatized Queen Arabesque Pleco may also snack on veggies such as cucumber, lettuce and zucchini.
Males are longer in length than females and have long odontodes around the gills as well as being much more brighter in color than the females. The females tend to have a more shorter and broader body and their odontodes are absolutely small. Another factor though not very trustworthy, is that the male has a slight coloration of black and white on the belly while the female's is totally white.
Breeding them in the home aquarium is possible but it is not easily achieved. More than one cave should be produced in an aquarium per pair and a power head placed in such a manner that a current runs water along the cave entrances. The water should be heavily oxygenated with a temperature of 82-86°F (27-30°C) and a pH 7.5 - 8. Two females to every male is recommended and slightly larger water changes are recommended to trigger spawning. Spawning takes place in the cave and the eggs may take plus minus a week to hatch. The male will then guard the fry. The fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp and some crushed shrimp pellets. They are slow growers.
Temperature: 73-82°F (23-28°C)
Water Hardness: Soft-medium hard
Origin / Habitat: Brazil, Para, Rio Tapajos
Lifespan: 10 plus years
Temperament / Behavior: Peaceful, but don't keep them with aggressive fish like large cichlids.
Breeding: There are accounts of these fish breeding in captivity. But it can be difficult in the aquarium. See the article above for more details.
Gender: Females are shorter and broader with very small odontodes, while males are longer, brighter and have long odontodes.
Fish Food: This fish doesn't fit the pleco standards of eating algae. This pleco is a carnivore. It will eat any meaty foods like blood worms, brine shrimp, and gammarus.
Tank size: Minimum of 20 gallons.
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