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Hemiancistrus sp. (L128)

Author Chris Ralph is back this month with an update to his 2006 factsheet for the U.K. fishkeeping magazine, Practical Fishkeeping with another look at, to many, may be the northern population of an earlier factsheet on the species L200, Hemiancistrus subviridis. We now hand you over to Chris for his insight into the L128.

he L128 Hemiancistrus sp. is documented as being similar to L200 and could possibly be the northern population of this species. This catfish has the name Chaestostoma species in Aqualog All L-Numbers but it is not, which is why it had been placed into the sub-family Ancistrinae then lateraly to the Loricariinae subfamily where it has been placed into the Hemiancistrus genera, the same as its sister species Hemiancistrus subviridis, until it can be been described to species.

Hemiancistrus sp. (L128)

This catfish as with many other species is best described as being a substrate dweller, with its typical suckermouth adapted to feeding upon different food types found on the substrate. L128 is documented as not being as hardy as L200 but will however acclimatise with a little more care and husbandry from the aquarist. L128 will adapt to aquarium conditions with calmer flows than it is used to in its natural habitat. I have seen a number of these striking catfish available for sale over the years and I would suggest that you would expect to pay anything from £30 for a juvenile specimen to £75 for an adult fish (2006 prices).


Hemiancistrus sp. (L128)

Hemiancistrus sp. (L128) prefers to be kept in water which has a pH in the range of 6.5-7.2. This catfish is ideally suited to temperatures in the range of 23-26ºC. It fares best in well aerated, clean water conditions with a preference for a good water flow.


Below is the very similar patterened L200 which may turn out to be the southern population of L128.

Hemiancistrus subviridis  L200

I would suggest a minimum tank size of 48” x 24” X 24”, although a larger aquarium would be preferred for one of these fascinating catfish. I would suggest good quality aquarium sand such as BD Aquarium Sand, or very smooth rounded gravel as the preferred substrate when keeping these catfish. The aquarium should provide some shelter in the form of rocks or bogwood along with a small covering of aquatic plants, although this is not essential. An ideal set-up would include some vertical rocks and some larger rounded boulders and a fairly strong current, as these catfish live naturally in the cracks and crevices in the rocks. As with all other species of fish, water quality and general husbandry is very important, and I would recommend that a minimum of 25% water is changed on a weekly basis.

The body shape is described as being elongate and flattened. The body is completely covered with small spines. The mouth is described as being inferior with lips forming a disc-like shape. The teeth are arranged in rows. The adipose fin consists of a spiny projection which supports a membrane. This catfish has distinctive nasal flutes.

The base colour of the body and head is inky black with variable bluish white spots, although the spotting does also appear cream in certain conditions. The spots are more concentrated around the anterior part of the body and head, thinning out towards the posterior of the fish. The spots extend into the fins and can be seen on the pectoral, adipose, dorsal, caudal and pelvic fin spines.


L128 is an ideal addition to an aquarium containing such fish as South American cichlids, tetras and angelfish, just as long as the other occupants are not too aggressive.


As far as I am aware there are no documented records of L128 having been spawned in aquaria to date, which is most likely due to the cost of purchasing the breeding stock. It is generally thought although not proven that this catfish, like a number of other species of Loricariid catfish, is a cave spawner.

Sexual differences
The males tend to be more slender and larger than the females. The males tend to develop bristles around the cheeks and head, with larger spines or odontodes being present along the leading edge of the pectoral fin ray. It is thought that in mature males the dorsal fin is more developed giving it an almost shark like appearance. In addition it is generally thought that the spots around the head region in mature males are larger.

L128 readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which includes sinking foods such as catfish pellets, algae wafers, courgette, cucumber, frozen bloodworm and any other good quality foods which sink to the substrate. These catfish benefit from the addition of some meatier foods in their diet such as prawns and mussels.

Glossary of Terms
Adipose is defined as a second dorsal fin which consists of fatty tissue with a single spine supporting a thin membrane. Inferior is defined as visible only from beneath the head in reference to the mouth.
Nasal is defined as being in relation to the nostrils.
Dorsal fin is defined as the medial fin on top of back.
Caudal fin is defined as the tail fin.
Pectoral fins are defined as paired lateral fins.
Pelvic fins are defined as paired ventral fins between the pectoral and anal fins.


Hemiancistrus: Half Ancistrus.

Photo Credits

Top & Middle© Chris Ralph @ The Ralpster Photo Gallery

Bottom: © Allan James @ ScotCat

Factsheet 144

Common Name:


Venezuela Venezuela: Amazonas, Puerto Ayacucho (Rio Orinoco)
20.0cm. (8ins)
26-29°c (79-85°f.)  
6.0 -7.2.
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                                                                                                   Factsheet 144 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top