mark the launch of version2 of ScotCat, Jool's of
Planetcatfish has gracefully accepted my invitation
to write this months Catfish Factsheet. He has decided
to go with a comparatively new species of Loricariidae
and a most beautiful one at that. So without much
more ado I'll hand you over to Jool's.
The genus Leporacanthicus
is relatively new being erected in 1989 to house Leporacanthicus
galaxias. That said
it has been quick to gain a number of members. Within
this genus aquarists are most familiar with Leporacanthicus
galaxias, most commonly referred to as the Galaxy
Pleco but also L007, L029, Tusken or Vampire Pleco.
It is certainly the most commonly available member
of the genus. Others (specifically L.
and our fish, L. triactis) are also available
from time to time. The common name of 3 Beacon Pleco
is not widely established, but these things have to
have their beginnings somewhere and it is an accurate
name - more descriptive than L091 at least.
usually thought of as a new import it has been at
least sporadically available for quite some time as
it's lower l-number suggests. It was labelled L91
in April 1992 before its scientific description in
1993. It is an easily recognised pleco and has no
other L-number "synonyms". Before L-numbers
we just didn't know what to call it. As such it does
make an appearance in a couple of older catfish books.
Eagle-eyed pleco buffs will have noticed it in Burgess'
Catfish atlas on P732 (second photo from top on the
left hand side) and it labelled Hypostomus
sp. The same picture appears in Kobayagawa's World
of Catfishes on page 59 coincidentally in the same
kept in dark surroundings
have a number of interesting anatomical features that
make them easily to identify in their rather complex
sub-family. The name "vampire pleco" is
actually more appropriate to the genus rather than
any one species as they all equipped with an unusual
and certainly formidable form of dentition.
The upper teeth
in the sucker-mouth are long and rasping giving these
fish great power in their search for food. Although
not a true bloodsucker, in the Transylvanian sense
anyway, this destructive dentistry is most easily
witnessed at home should you try feeding certain types
of shelled crustaceans or molluscs. These offerings
are despatched with frightening ease and presumably
form the mainstay of their wild diet. In addition
all Leproacanthicus have a small, horn-like
protrusion on the top of their heads giving rise to
the "tusken pleco" moniker. The purpose
of this is appendage is unknown and doesn't appear
to have any function in captivity.
Personally I find
this fishes colouration it's most strikingly beautiful
and intriguing point. Depending on its surroundings
the fish can vary from brown or grey to charcoal black.
It has 3 vivid orange blotches; one each on all 3
non-paired fins. These pulses of colour put you in
mind of a two-tone disco light cable lain along the
fishes lower back especially when the leading dorsal
fin ray is laid flat along the back. Unlike many Loricarids
with similar markings these flashes, if anything,
increase intensity with age. Although not as dark
bodied as youngsters, this still makes adults a striking
fish. Some aquarists believe that these markings are
too confuse predators as to where the vital (tasty?)
parts of the fishes anatomy lie. In my opinion this
fish already has some mean predatory protection in
the form of it's spiky fin rays and armour plating;
I believe its vivid colouration is for a more specialised
reason. To understand it we must first be familiar
with this fishes mode of reproduction (see reproduction
091, Three Beacon Pleco
South America:Venezuela, Amazonas,
upper Orinoco basin. Type locality:
Venezuela, Territorio Federal Amazonas, oberer Orinoco,
Caño Mavaquita etwa einen Kilometer flussaufwärts
von der Mündung in den Río Mavaca, ungefähr
22-25ºC ( 71-77°f)
The upper teeth in the sucker-mouth
are long. Narrow, pointed head, round lower lip, and
fleshy tentacles on the upper lip.
Body brown or grey to charcoal
black. 3 vivid orange blotches; one each on all 3
non-paired fins. Unlike many Loricarids with similar
markings these flashes, if anything, increase intensity
Care & Compatibility
This fish can be territorial
with its own kind and so must have a big enough aquarium
if more than one is kept. Regular water changes must
be adhered to, and also having a powerful filter system
that can deliver a high oxygen content. Hiding places
are beneficial to this fish with bogwood or wood of
some description and/or some rockwork.
These fish are cave spawners.
It is unclear whether they make their own burrows
in the clay mud vertical walls of riverbanks or inhabit
those that birds have deserted at the onslaught of
the rising river in the rainy season. Either way,
imagine the underwater scene at breeding time on such
an immersed bank. Hundreds of holes, some empty but
many occupied by males in fine colouration - competition
for these burrows would be high and they are jealously
guarded. Think of it like a cliff face populated by
hordes of nesting sea birds all competing for nests,
mates and eventually tending young.
When in residence the male
pleco enters these holes head first - once safely
ensconced all can that can been seen in the dark,
murky waters are the swaying tail lights of bright
orange. It is my opinion that these markings allow
the females to find occupied burrows and perhaps even
the brightness of them indicates the suitability of
the male? Certainly it would allow the female to avoid
the potentially damaging mistake of entering a cave
occupied by another species of pleco or indeed catfish.
In other similar plecos two or more females visit
one male's nest site laying their eggs for the male
to guard - it is not beyond the realms of possibility
that this is true of the 3 beacon pleco too.
This intriguing idea has yet
to be tested in the aquarium as captive spawning of
this species still eludes specialist pleco keepers.
Presumably some suitably sized cave like structures
specially constructed from fired clay would be required
along with a pair of these fish. More than a pair
would require a spacious aquarium as the fish are
quite territorial, even male and female will squabble
if not given sufficient room. Yet it may be that the
maintenance of a species group is necessary to facilitate
at least a good sized spawn if not a spawn at all.
Not a true vegetarian so a
wide variety of foods including algae wafers, cucumber
or courgette ( zuchini), frozen bloodworm, prawns,
shrimps and tablet food. Shelled crustaceans or molluscs
From the Latin; "lepus",
"leporis" meaning rabbit and from the Greek,
"akantha" meaning thorn.