Snowball plecos belong to the largest Hypancistrus species. They can reach up to 20 cm in length. Members of the group are easily recognized by the conspicuous black fringes in the dorsal and caudal fins.
Distinguishing the aquaristically known form, on the other hand, is tricky and sometimes simply impossible without knowledge of the origin. The most common aquaristically is L102, the actual Snowball Pleco, which originates from the Rio Negro in Brazil. It typically has snow white spots, small on the head, large on the body, usually the dorsal fin is also adorned with large white spots. The second form, Hypanacistrus inspector, comes from the Orinoco drainage in Colombia and Venezuela (type locality: Río Casiquiare, drainage of the Amazon, about 10 river kilometers above the Rio Negro mouth). It has very small white spots all over the body and the black colored zones of the fin seams are much narrower than in L102. And then there is L501, which comes from the rapids of the Rio Cuduari near Mitu (Colombia). Here the spots, which are relatively small all over the body, are mostly orange-pink in color, and the dorsal fin in adults is usually spotless. But these color distinctions are ideal imaginations. There are all conceivable transitions in the import shipments.
In any case, we now have very attractive L501 from Colombia in the stock, which correspond well to the color expectations one has of them.
For our customers: the fish have code 26480-L 501-4 (10-12 cm) and 26480-L 501-5 (12-15 cm) on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer