Photo: Wilfred Chan
PSEUDACANTHICUS sp. L097
Among the most desired Cactus Plecos is L97. It wasn’t always so, as for a long time it was nowhere to be seen in the hobby. In recent years it has become more regular, obviously due to Brazilian traders which are allowed to export it. It’s got a pitch black body covered in numerous white spots of various sizes which it maintains even as adult, and it’s also among the smallest Cactus Plecos. Breeding in captivity is still rare.
Name: Pseudacanthicus sp. “L97”
Trade names: L97, Polka Dot Cactus Pleco, King Of Galaxy
Origin: Rio Tapajos, Rio Curuá-Una, Brazil.
Maximum TL: 25 cm / 10”
Cactus Plecos are among the most impressive of all Loricariidae. They grow into large, territorial feeding machines that will bring lots of joy and wonder to those who can house them. A diet consisting of meat-based foods is required, so mussels and shrimps are always desired. Additional dry foods with a good vitamin rich content should be added. The water quality must be prime, so a good filtration system, lots of oxygen and regular water changes is necessary for Cactus Plecos to thrive. Males can be very territorial. Suitable caves and territorial boundaries should be present, and tank size should not be too small. When all of the above is present, even Pseudacanthicus species can be lured to breed. Males have broader heads and slightly more prominent pectoral fin rays. Females of course show a fatter belly. Up to about 200 eggs are laid in a cave, so the process happens in typical Pleco manner with the male guarding the brood.
L97 can be confused with several other Pseudacanthicus species. L282 from Colombia looks very similar, but has whiter spots which fades away with age. P.sp. “Alenquer” looks identical to L97 when young, but develops a slightly different pattern as adult. L65 has a similar pattern too, but is usually less spotted and has more white in the caudal fin when young. L452 is also remarkably similar, but is collected far away in Rio Tapiche, Peru.