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Hypancistrus zebra   Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1991    

here has been a lot written about this wonderful looking fish from the Loricariidae family in the last couple of years in the aquatic publications, and on the Internet, owing to the drop in price of these individuals culminating in the purchase of more of them, and the subsequent study in the home aquarium.

 L098 and L173 are the same specimens as Hypancistrus zebra L 046, but with  different  colour patterns.

Hypancistrus zebra

I remember my first contact with this species in the late 80s, early 90s and the stomach churning price of £300 each in a small outlet in the North of England, that was over a weeks wages and definitely a road I was not about to go down if I was planning to stay married!. The price as I write this factsheet ( Feb.2001) is around the £30 mark now and definitely more affordable.

Before it was described in 1991 by Isbrücker & Nijssen it was assigned the L- number 46. This trait was started by the German aquatic publication “DATZ ” to number each of the Loricariids which were coming into the country from South America it seemed in droves, before they were studied and described to science. Another magazine “Das Aquarium” also started the same trend with their number systems beginning with LDA ( example LDA20). It has not been a foolproof method with mistakes being made along the way but it is the best as we know it today, and as we are human, nothing indeed is perfect.

Hypancistrus zebra

They are quite tolerant of water conditions as long as the water is kept clean and warm and you keep the water changes up. A good tip when first buying them is to acclimatise them in a smaller tank before transferring them to your main aquarium, this way you can make sure that they are feeding well and are also happy in the water conditions. You can decorate this tank with cave like structures akin to the home where it will eventually reside.

Update: Since December 2004 the export of H. zebra has been forbidden.

The head markings are quite distinctive, when viewed from above, the forehead marking resembles that of an inverted capital 'E'. Behind this there is a broad band that is slightly posterior of the eyes which narrows below the orbit and transverses forward at approximately 45 degrees. Another broad band is situated midway between the eyes and the base of the dorsal fin. It transverses each side of the body and extends into the first few soft rays of the pectoral fin just behind the spine and almost reaches the outer edges. There may be a fainter stripe visible running parallel. From this transverse stripe there are two oblique evenly spaced stripes that run parallel to these two in the upper dorsal and four in the anterior half of the body and caudal fin. There is a further stripe in the ventral fin like that in the pectoral that runs parallel and just rear of the spine. Four deeply forked teeth per side in the lower jaw and seven to eight long, bent and only at the ends, forked teeth in each side of the upper jaw.

Ground colour including all fins and belly is whitish; the body markings are solid black.

Keeping the 'Zebra Pleco' in the aquarium is not too much of a problem as long as you give them plenty of hiding places, caves, rounded boulders, plant pots and pipework. They also like the water to be well oxygenated owing to the higher temperatures that is best given to them. You could also add some wood to their tank but according to some aquarists, who have kept this species, it isn't totally necessary.

The temperature would probably need to be between 83°F-85°F (28°C-29°C) for a successful spawning. To sex them the males usually have a broader head looking down upon them and sexually mature males have prominent bristles on their pectoral fins. To read a breeding report in ScotCat go along to the breeding section of the ScotCat articles to find an in-depth report on the breeding of Hypancistrus zebra.

Not a true vegetarian so more meaty type foods would need to be fed. This includes live bloodworm, frozen foods such as muscle, tubifex and bloodworm and the usual tablet food offerings.

zebra; Referring to the stripes

Catfish Study Group (UK) Information Sheet No.1
Schraml, E; Import News, 1999-2002 CD: E.Schraml, Augsburg

Photo Credits
Rogers Aquaria    
Factsheet 056

Common Name:
Zebra Pleco, L 046, L 098, L 173
Brazil: Xingu River basin. Type locality: Brazil, Est. Pará, anastomoses of Rio Xingú, about one hour upstream of Altamira by speedboat (Altamira: 03º13'S 53º15'W).
10cm. (4ins)
26-28ºC ( 79-83°f)
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                                                                                                                                  Factsheet 056 = updated October 20, 2004, © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top