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Panaque nigrolineatus (Peters, 1877)

his large peacefull Loricariid was described by C.H. Peters last century with a speciman collected by the German collector Dr. C. Sachs in Venezuela and included in a monthly report of the Academy of Science in Berlin.

Panaque nigrolineatus


As stated the type locality is Venezuela (Calabozo). Most of the specimens that come into the hobby originate from Colombia from Meta, near Villavicencio and it is not clear if these fish are identical to the ones already mentioned in the type locality in Venezuela. If there is an uncertanty the name is usually given as Panaque cf. nigrolineatus.

For its large attainable size the "Royal Panaque"
is a peacfull Loricariid. It can be territotrial with its own kind so better to house it on its own with similar sized tankmates in a large aquaria. When a youngster its colouration with its stripes and spots is indeed wondorous to behold but reaching adulthood it becomes more of a dull grey/brownish colour.


The picture below shows the spoon shaped teeth around the mouth which helps it to scrape algae of material such as wood/roots and the glass on the aquarium walls. The shape of the teeth of course tell us that this is predominately a vegetable loving catfish and the Feeding section table below will spell this out.



Panaque nigrolineatus = showing the spoon shaped teath.

Bare in mind that this fish will produce a lot of waste due to its diet so will need a large external filter which will turn the tank contents around about six times in the hour and give it a good water flow. A fully grown individual would need a 5 or 6ft tank for it to function properly. You will need driftwood or similar as this catfish likes to chew on it and its long stage survival depends on this. It will tend to hide during the day and come out at night and actively search out food.

There are a few similar species in the nigrolineatus-complex which may or may not be the same species as they come from different countries and river systems in South America but in the main it is the Northern half of South America that houses these very impressive catfish.

L190* is believed to be Panaque nigrolineatus but as mentioned there needs to be more work carried out on this and the other similar looking Panaques. Below is the list so far:

Panaque sp. (L027)

From Brazil: Rio Xingu, Rio Tocantins, Rio Lageado, Rio Tapajós and Rio Jamanxim. All these destinations may turn out to house different species.
Panaque sp. (L090) Peru: Rio Ucayali drainage and Tingo Maria.
Panaque sp. (L190)* Colombia & Venezuela: Rio Orinoco
Panaque sp. (L191) Colombia: Caquetá, Rio Caguán.
Panaque sp. (L203) Peru: Ucayali drainage to Colombia (Leticia)
Panaque sp. (L330) Colombia: Meta, Rio Guejar, This is believed to be predomately a wood eater.

D. 1,7; A, 5; V, 1,5; Lat.l. 25-26. Short and heavy, the depth one-fifth less than the width, which is about 3 in the length. Caudal peduncle comparatively slender, its depth equal to one-third of the greatest depth. Head large, its width at the opercles about equal to the length of the snout and orbit; profile rather straight from tip of snout to the eye., the occipital strongly arched; a depression above the eyes; a broad blunt ridge from the eye forward; occipital bone truncate behind, margined by a single, large nuchal plate; temporal shield forming the posterior and half the upper margin of the orbit. Snout rather pointed, entirely granular; the extreme sometimes naked. Orbit 5 in the snout, 7½ in the head, 4 in the interorbital. Lower surface of the head granular; lips with short thick papillae; teeth large, broad tipped. Preopercle large, its bristles slender, the longest varying from 1-2 diameters of the orbit in length. Region between eye and gill opening entirely granular. Humeral ridge obtuse; the lateral scutes with short marginal spines which are largest and most numerous on the tail and on the uppermost and lowermost series. Ventral surface entirely granular. Distance of the dorsal fin from tip of snout about 2 in the length. Base of dorsal fin equals its distance from the base of the middle caudal rays. Caudal obliquely truncate, the central rays 2 in the head. Anal short, placed under the interspace between the dorsal and adipose fins. Ventrals inserted under the first dorsal ray, reaching beyond base of anal. Pectoral fins reaching beyond base of ventrals.

Dark brown, everywhere with wavy longtitudinal lines of white; the fins all coloured and striped like the body.

Can be kept in a large community tank with like sized tankmates such as Cichlids and or Large Barbs who will swim in the upper layers of the tank, even smaller congeners will come to no harm from the "Royal Pleco". Not a good idea to house aggressive species in with your P.nigrilineatus as they will tend to upset this peaceful catfish.

Has seemingly been bred in the aquarium but information is scarce.

Sexual Differences
The males develop very long interopercular odontes and hooked spines on the anterior pectoral fin spines.

Will feed/chew on driftwood and need such in a tank. Vegetable foods are a must for this herbivore such as algae, cuccumber, courgette (zucchini), lettuce, spinach and vegetable tablet food. It will also take flake food but if you can give it veg. flake, all the better. You can feed it meaty foods such as the many varieties of frozen but it is not a good idea to feed this too often as its long digestive track is geared up for greens.

Glossary of Terms
Opercles: The bony covering of the gills of fishes.
Occipital: A median bone on the upper surface of the back of the head; pertaining to the occiput.
Nuchal: Area between the skull and dorsal fin.
Humeral: Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.
Truncate: Cut off, blunt. (as in squared off caudal fin).

Panaque: Venezuelan common name for plecostomus. Panaque nigrolineatus was the first described and it is from central Venezuela
nigrolineatus: Black lines.

Sands, David; Catfishes of the World. Vol.4. Aspredinidae, Doradidae, & Loricariidae. p109-110
All L-Numbers Datz Special. www.datze.de
Glaser, Ulrich sen; Aqualog Special, Loricariidae. The most beautiful L-numbers
Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther; The Complete Encyclopedia of Tropical Fish. Grange Books. 2000

Photo Credits


  Vedran Cuncic
Factsheet 149

Cochliodon nigrolineatus, Chaetostomus nigrolineatus
Common Name:
Royal Panaque, Royal Pleco. L190
Colombia & Venezuela: Rio Orinoco
50.0cm. (18ins) 
23-29°c (73-85°f.)
6.0 - 7.5
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                                                                                           Factsheet 149 = updated December 30, 2004, © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top