The small remaining, nicely marked Hypancistrus debilittera from the Rio Bita (a tributary to the Rio Meta, Colombia, Orinoco drainage) enjoys a great popularity since years. Already with 7 cm length the males become sexually active, the maximum length is given with about 12 cm. We import this species regularly.
Recently we received a “Hypancistrus sp.” from Colombia, unfortunately without concrete locality information. The animals are 6-8 cm long. In this import were specimens which can easily be assigned to H. debilittera, but also completely spotted animals – and all conceivable transitions! All photos in this post were made from specimens from this import.
Therefore we decided to list these fishes as L129-variant. No question: if all animals would have been spotted, we would have seen a new L-number behind them. But this is not possible, because if we receive an order of only a few specimens and the customer happens to receive only “normal” L129, we become untrustworthy. Nevertheless it is an exciting phenomenon. Will the Hypancistrus of the Orinoco basin hybridize with each other as happily as their cousins in the Rio Xingu, for example, have been shown to do?
There is still a lot to explore about these catfishes, which only became known to science thanks to aquaristics. For this, however, one needs again and again also wild catches, in order to be able to judge the natural variation. So it shows again: serious aquaristics is a joyful science, without which the thorough research of biodiversity (species diversity) in small fishes is not possible. Biodiversity research, in turn, is the indispensable prerequisite for species conservation. And so the trade – also and especially with wild catches – is pure species protection. Species are never endangered by this.
For our customers: the fish have code 26480-L 129A-2 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
From the lower Rio Ventuari in Venezuela – the largest tributary of the Orinoco – as well as from the Orinoco itself in the Ventuari estuary comes a beautiful Hypancistrus. It has large, bright spots on a deep black ground. The coloration of the spots is varying between shy white and orange-pink. There is a high similarity to L201, which was imported earlier from Venezuela, but from the upper reaches of the Orinoco River. L201 has much smaller spots. L201 has remained scientifically undescribed to this day. The large-spotted fish from the Ventuari was therefore called L201a in the trade; by the way, exported species are often mixed, which can give the impression that they occur together in nature, which is not the case according to current knowledge. A “proper” L-number was never given to “L201a Big Spots”, it is also superfluous, because L201a was already scientifically described as Hypancistrus contradens in 2007.
But nothing is as long-lasting as a proper provisional designation: the designation L201a will not be eradicated in the trade.
By the way, L471 looks completely identical (see: https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/hypancistrus-sp-l471-dwarf-big-spots-2/), which also originates from Ventuari, but remains much smaller. L471 is said to reach only 5-6 cm total length (at least wild caught), while for H. contradens a maximum length of 10 cm is given. One always has to be careful that scientific papers only talk about “standard length”, i.e. body length without caudal fin, because one never knows if the caudal fin of a fish caught in the wild is complete (usually it is not), while aquaristic sources usually give the total length, i.e. including caudal fin. For example, the animal photographed for this post from our current import has 8 cm standard length and 10.5 cm total length. It is, as you can tell by the long interopercularodonts (“whiskers”), a sexually mature male.
Hypancistrus contradens is such a popular L catfish because its beautiful coloration remains throughout its life, whereas many other species become increasingly dull and washed out as they age.
For our customers: Hypancistrus contradens has code 26480-L 201A-3 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
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.
The Hypancistrus catfishes with striped pattern are on the one hand a wonderful enrichment for the aquaristics, because they look beautiful, don’t grow too big and can be bred quite well, on the other hand they are constant cause for quarrel. Because in many cases it is hardly possible to determine them exactly. This is due to the fact that these catfishes are extremely variable in their markings and also vary greatly in body shape. In the case of the Rio Xingu species (L66 & Co.) it has already been established by molecular genetic studies that they frequently hybridize in nature.
The said applies in full extent also to L475, which we could import now. According to the exporters it originates from the Rio Nhamunda (Brazil), where ornamental fishes have been caught for a long time because of the very beautiful discus fishes that occur there. However, Hypancistrus are hard to catch without diving equipment, which is why the entire genus of these very conspicuous and by no means rare catfishes was not scientifically recorded until 1991.
There are not two specimens of L475, which have exactly the same pattern. Most animals have an irregular banding pattern of broad, dark bands on a white background, but there are also specimens where the dark bands are so broad that it looks as if in this case black animals have a pattern of white, thin bands. In most animals the dorsal fin has three horizontal bands, but there are also animals with a vertically striped dorsal fin. Typical for all individuals of L475 is that they have a white nuchal band running around the body from one ventral edge to the other, beginning at the base of the pectoral fins and continuing in most cases on the inner side of the fins, behind the spine ray. Furthermore, all animals have a white, suggestively W-shaped band just anterior to the base of the dorsal fin.
Like all Hypancistrus, L475 are mixed feeders, eating both plant and animal foods. The maximum length seems to be 12-14 cm. Such fish are kept in aquariums rich in hiding places and caves, with strong currents and good filtration and temperatures between 28 and 32°C. Too low temperatures are the most common care mistake with these fish. The water values are of secondary importance for the fish, but soft water with a pH around 6 is favorable, because less bacteria develop in this environment than in hard water with a pH around 8.
For our customers: the animals have code 26480-L 475-3 (8-10 cm) and 26480-L 475-4 (10-12 cm) on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
In northern tributaries of the Amazon, namely the Rio Nhamunda (L475), the Rio Padauari (L499) and the Rio Uatumá (L500), there are very similar Hypancistrus, which have a relatively stocky body in common. In colour they resemble very much the Hypancistrus furunculus (L199) from the upper Orinoco. All four Hypancistrus are extremely variable in colour, there are many animals with nice contrasting black and white markings, but also many that – especially when they are old – are quite dark in colour.
Since L500 is currently only available as offspring, breeders naturally try to breed these attractive animals with a high white content in the basic colouring preferentially.
All four mentioned Hypancistrus are peaceful fishes, which reach sizes of 12-15 cm and can be kept like the other Hypancistrus.
For our customers: L500 has code 26480-L 500X-1 (3-4 cm) on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
From the Rio Ventuari in Venezuela we have received this extraordinarily beautiful Hypancistrus, which is very similar to H. inspector, H. contradens and L201, but has considerably larger spots, which also appear slightly yellowish. At least wild collected L471 seem to remain much smaller than the other mentioned Hypancistrus and hardly grow beyond 6 cm. Of course this makes them especially attractive for owners of smaller aquariums. However, offspring – the species is, like all Hypancistrus, a cave-breeder – can grow slightly larger (by 8 cm).
Important for the successful care of these otherwise undemanding animals are comparatively high water temperatures, which should be in the range of 26-30°C, and good filtration. Hypancistrus are not algae eaters, but prefer to eat frozen and dry food. A piece of raw potato, carrot or zucchini is also gnawed, but one should use these foods sparingly, as they pollute the water considerably when they start to rot.
For our customers: the animals have code 26480-L 471-1 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
This in the DATZ 12/05 newly introduced very beautiful Hypancistrus variant is currently available in small quantities. The animals remind in their habitus of L 333 and are sometimes confused with them.
All in all L401 are more dainty, somewhat more stretched and reach only a total-length of maximum 12 cm, while L 333 can reach 16 cm of total-length. However, the most conspicuous difference is to be seen in the golden-yellow ground-color on which a dark brown line-pattern looms. In the English-speaking area and in Japan, they are known under the name “golden mega clown zebra” due to this coloring.
In respect of maintanace, they hardly differ from other Hypancistrus species. They like a diet with a carnal emphasis, but are not averse to occasional cucumber or courgette gifts. With good water hygiene, temperatures above 27°C and a high oxygen content they can be well cared for. They make no special demands on the chemical-physical properties of the water. They could be bred by the author at pH 7,9, DGH 12, KH 6 and a conductivity of 350mS. The young fish grow slowly and seem to be somewhat more sensitive than young L 333.
For our customers: the animals have code 26480-L 401-2 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers.
Currently is the best import season for plecos from the Rio Orinoco. So we have a large number of species in stock. Among them is of course Hypancistrus debilittera, which was called L129 before it became described scientifically. This is a pretty, small species with an enormous range of colour pattern. There hardly exist two specimens that look exactly identical. The maximum size of that species is approximately 10 cm.
In our current imports almost all specimens have amore contrasting pattern than we are used to in that species. We cannot explain that phenomenon, but we really like it!
For our customers: the fish have code 26480-L129-1 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer