Hypancistrus zebra L046

Photo: Daniel Konn-Vetterlein


The undisputed emperor of Loricariidae is of course also a well established species in Norway. It will always be a sought after fish, and global demands will cause it’s price to remain high forever. It’s simply impossible to produce enough of this species to make it anywhere near mainstream, and with it’s amazing looks we of course do our part in maintaining it’s presence in the hobby. With the damming of it’s natural habitat and the species even being prohibited for export from Brazil, captive bred stock is immensely relevant for the future existence of this species.


Name: Hypancistrus zebra (Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1991)

Trade names: Zebra Pleco, Imperial Pleco, L46

Origin: Rio Xingu, Brazil

Maximum size: 10 cm / 4”

These fairly small Plecos are found in rock crevices in deep, calm pools 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. It’s a slightly timid and withdrawn species that doesn’t really compete too well for food and territories, so it shouldn’t be placed in a tank with much competition for resources. Among themselves they are fairly peaceful, although males may quarrel for caves and females can sometimes be badly injured or even killed during the breeding-trapping in the male’s cave.

As with so many other members of Hypancistrus (and other genuses for that matter), even H.zebra can sometimes occur with abnormal mutated patterns. L98 is an example of this, but other mutations such as an all white form are also known. With it’s silvery eyes it can be told apart from all other Hypancistrus except the enigmatic L250, which may have been another mutated form of H.zebra. L173 was long thought to be a form of H.zebra too, but it’s not.

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