Hopliancistrus sp. L017

Photo: Haakon Haagensen


There’s a great number of Plecos in Rio Xingu which show the same pattern of light dots on a dark background. Clearly this look works well for their survival in the rapids. But, it also makes it hard for the ornamental traders to separate them from each other! Hopliancistrus sp. L017 is actually not a very regular encounter in the hobby, so when it’s available it’s smart to grab the opportunity. The Xingu dam is of course a threat to their future, and so far no breeding reports are known. Actually, the species is so rarely imported in significant numbers that barely anyone out there has a potential breeding group.


Name: Hopliancistrus sp. L017

Trade names: L17, LDA15

Origin: Rio Xingu, Brazil

Maximum size: 15 cm / 6”

These medium sized Plecos are found in rock crevices in the rapids of Rio Xingu. They need an aquarium set up consisting of lots of hiding places in the form of rocks, wood and of course specially made caves that suit their measurements. In these the males will eventually guard their offspring. They prefer water that is fairly warm (27-30 C), soft and slightly acidic. Most of all it should be well oxygenated and clean, so a good filtration system and frequent water changes are essential. The cool thing about Hopliancistrus sp. L017 is that it’s a species you actually see out in the open frequently, it’s not very shy. This could be due to it’s herbivorous nature, as a grazer of algae and detritus it’s likely to be a constant feeder in the wild. In captivity they should be fed a varied diet consisting of vegetables, tablets containing vegetable matter and additional frozen foods as well as quality dry foods.

As with several other species found in the Xingu rapids, even this one is variable. Some specimens have smaller, more numerous spots and some have a yellow caudal seam (LDA15) instead of just yellow tips. They could be local variations, or just normal variations within the species. Since it hasn’t been bred, this has so far not been possible to determine via captive breeding. According to Seidel, there are some slight differences in body and fin proportions between Hopliancistrus sp. L017 and LDA15 too.

Hopliancistrus sp. L017 was for long confused with L67. L67 is a Pseudancistrus species with very similar pattern, and they do actually live syntopic in the river. However, one can fairly easily separate them just by looking at the odontodes beneath the eyes; Hopliancistrus possess three defining hooks, Pseudancistrus possess lots of thinner needle-like odontodes.

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