Rapidly emerging as one of the world's leading pleco breeding specialists, Planet Catfish regular and forum moderator, Janne Ekström gives us his experience in the husbandry and reproduction of this pretty l-number. Known also as the flash pleco because of its lightening strike adult colouration, it doesn't take a bright spark to work out this species has real status among the pleco faithful.
If the zebra pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, is the most sought after pleco then, to my mind, so this beautiful dwarf Panaque takes second place; although they turn a little dull and dark as full grown adults, they are very beautiful as smaller and younger individuals. With their dark chocolate colour and the golden thin lines slashing across their body they draw all attention from everyone that surveys aquaria containing these fish; they love soft wood both to hide and to eat and with their outlook they stand out like sparkling jewels sitting on the wood.
Male's heavy odontode growth
L204 originates from the Rio San Alejandro in Peru, this a smaller tributary of the Rio Ucayali near Pucallpa on the Andean slopes. Most rivers in the Amazonian lowlands flow with water that is very soft and acid but the Rio San Alejandro is different. It has a conductivity of around 200 µS (~ 5°dGH) and a higher pH level that we are used too when we think on South America rivers - a pH above 8 is what most aquarists think are common just in African rift lakes but in the San Alejandro the pH level can reach a level around 8.4! Also, and despite that this river is on the slopes, it is a warm river up to 30°C. This makes this species very suitable for many community aquaria especially when many people have these kind of parameters in their tap water. However, they are very adaptable and will thrive in a wide range of hardness 3-15 dGH and a pH level of 6.5-8.4 with good aeration.
The much coveted reproduction success in this species can be accomplished with some patience, they are difficult to sex before they reach a mature size (around 9-10 cm SL) when the males start to grow odontodes on their backs. Both sexes have interopercular odontodes of almost the same size except that males are slightly thicker; the pectoral odontodes are also small on this species so it is easiest to sex them are the body shape; females are much more rounded and stubbier compared with males. All that said, as soon as a male starts to grow odontodes on the back half of his body, there are no longer any doubts what sex they are. As with all Panaque species they need soft wood in their diet and they consume a lot of it, they also prefer wood as hiding places, selecting them before stones and don't show so much interest in caves before they are mature and in breeding condition; females have very little interest in caves and always prefer to hide among wood. Diets of vegetable and pleco tablets combined with frozen Cyclops are good food for conditioning and make the female become ripped with eggs. Then all that is needed for breeding is a suitable cave and high quality of the water with a high oxygen level. This more important then the precise water parameters. After that all you need is, of course, your patience.
A pair prepare to spawn
A most interesting behaviour in their mating can be observed when a gravid female visits a male at his cave. I observed that they use their long caudal fin filaments to communicate; the male sits in his cave with the filaments sticking outside the entrance and the female lies close to the entrance with her back to the male. There positioned, both their filaments touch each other and in they can lie like this for hours. When she feels ready to spawn, the female enters the cave and they reproduce in the same manner as other species of dwarf Panaque that, as a group, they also share with Peckoltia species. The female doesn't stay in the cave for a very long time and they will have usually spawned the day after first entering. Maybe this is one reason they initially spend many days and hours in the position mentioned above. The female lays between 50 to 70 eggs and after six or seven days they hatch. The male is a very good father, he never leaves the cave fully meeting all his obligations to care for the offspring and keep them always at the deeper end of the cave. After ten days the fry have consumed their yolk sac and they start to forage for food, even at this small size they consume soft wood and together with pleco tablets they grew very fast in comparison to my experiences with other Panaque species. I suspect my other species in the same genus have appeared to grow more slowly because I have not added any wood before they have been around a month old.
The fry start to adopt the same colouration as the adults after around 20 days but have lighter lines crossing their body and these don't change before they reach around 4-5 cm; as fry and youngsters they look very similar and even if the adults share the same general outlook, not a single specimen has the same pattern as another. They can be everything from spotted with a few lines (which are rare) to very few golden lines and even almost totally coloured in dark brown, but most of the time we see them with the typical pattern as shown in my pictures.
Fry 9 days old
Fry 20 days old
Fry 33 days old
A beautiful youngster
Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.
|Cat-eLog Data Sheet|
|Scientific Name||Panaqolus albivermis Lujan, Steele & Velasquez, 2013|
|Common Name(s)||L204, Flash Pleco|
Small Line Peru-Panaque (Germany)
|Type Locality||Peru, Padre Abad Province, Irazola District, San Alejandro River, Ucayali River drainage, 195 masl, 8°55'02''S, 75°12'26''W, M. Velasquez, 13 June 2009. [Note original description has a N instead of S in coordinates - this is confirmed as a typo by Nathan Lujan].|
|Pronunciation||pan ack oh luss|
|Etymology||Panaqolus: Inelegantly derived from the indigenous term Panaque and in a form that infers a smaller size than that genus. Etymology. The specific epithet albivermis is a combination of the Latin albus, meaning white, and vermis, meaning worm, and is in reference to this species' variable but distinctive white to yellow markings.|
|Size||130mm or 5.1" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.|
|Identification||P. albivermis has a unique pattern. A dark brown to black base coloration with very thin white to yellow vertical lines starting form on the upper body and reach to the lower body. As the fish grows lines tend to become broken to the point, sometimes, where they become spots. Fins have thin white to yellow bands. Juveniles have rather white lines, these lines tend to turn yellow as the fish gets older.|
|Sexing||See CotM article.|
|Distribution||Peru : Rio Alejandro|
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, Upper Ucayali (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, Middle Ucayali (click on these areas to find other species found there) (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
|pH||6.6 - 8.6|
|Temperature||24.0-30.0°C or 75.2-86°F (Show others within this range)|
|Other Parameters||Typically found in parts of the river 30-50 meters wide river with a depth up to 1m. Conductivity around 190 microsiemens. A strong current is preferred.|
|Feeding||A wood eating species; vegetables are avidly eaten. Animal protein can be given once in a while but should not be the main diet except when conditioning the fish for breeding as it helps the female to mature the eggs.|
|Furniture||Sand or gravel bottom with a lot of driftwood. A few caves made out of slate plate or bamboo pipes as potential spawning sites.|
|Compatibility||Juveniles are good citizens, they become more territorial as they grow to maturity|
|Suggested Tankmates||Most ideally suited for the more active community tank with shoaling characins the ideal. Active fish should be chosen carefully as to avoid species that might nip at this plecos ornate tail fin extensions.|
|Breeding||See CotM article.|
|References||Zootaxa 3691 (1): 192–198|
|Registered Keepers||(1) xingumike, (2) natefrog, (3) Ak Viking, (4) mikey, (5) CatBrat, (6) Borbi (k: 2), (7) plecoready, (8) spencerdeluxe, (9) Trident2004, (10) ThorG, (11) pisces52, (12) Oliver D. (k: 2), (13) lordotterby, (14) amergim, (15) geoffkemp, who also notes: "A Spectacular Species. Mine has gotten a fair bit bigger than what the page lists, probably closer to 160mm", (16) arabesque, (17) drgold (k: 7), (18) njfishguy (k: 2), who also notes: "I've been interested in this species for several years but wasn't lucky enough to raise fish of both sexes to maturity at the same time. I have 2 now (May 2014) and although the larger one does not show odontodes, its body shape and behavior tells me it is a female.", (19) fish_mad_guy, (20) taksan (k: 6), who also notes: "Bought, grew, bred and sold.
Prefer lots of current and high temps (29c)", (21) harryprog (k: 4), (22) stinger, (23) VirgoWolf, (24) Blue (k: 3), (25) LoL, (26) FreshwaterJeff, who also notes: "I'm finding my L-204 to be more gregarious than other species I have kept, and I'm really enjoying keeping him.", (27) johanlidman, (28) BK, (29) ani-mal-lvr, (30) Brotox (p: 3), (31) HBC, (32) prutsprogrammeur (k: 3), (33) alga (k: 2), (34) Live, (35) cobraconny (k: 2), (36) Poshpleco, (37) rimbaudsarm, (38) DutchFry, (39) whiteymoza, (40) Colin_BC, (41) Selveste_Preben (k: 2), (42) Birger Amundsen (k: 5), (43) Freakdaddy (k: 2), (44) soltarii007, (45) krazyGeoff (p: 2, k: 6), (46) defibf (k: 9), (47) rosemarydawn, (48) awzen, (49) chillired, (50) neon, (51) Zohar, (52) trini_100, (53) KnaveTO, who also notes: "Lost one on 21 Oct 09 - tank crash", (54) Gog, (55) gemjunkie, (56) jippo, (57) muddymudskipper (p: 2), (58) kenneth knutsen, (59) LUISGOREY, (60) scottb, (61) defi (k: 8), (62) Liz H, (63) Complexity, who also notes: "Beautiful, but extremely shy fish. Loves his wood. Temp 76F, pH 8.0. Territorial when older. Very hardy. Loves zucchini, cucumbers, and algae tabs. Lots of poop! His tail is especially pretty.", (64) ayshea, (65) RayGnz, (66) traco, (67) Wels, (68) lewishan, (69) ashik (k: 3), (70) dreadboy113, (71) miniko, (72) doodle, (73) Numbers, (74) pureplecs, (75) The Highlander, (76) addictedtocats, (77) chalkvandam (k: 6), (78) Complecs, (79) cathje (k: 2), (80) djwalker124, who also notes: "A wood eating species; vegetables are avidly eaten. Animal protein can be given once in a while but should not be the main diet except when conditioning the fish for breeding as it helps the female to mature the eggs.
pH 6.6-8.6", (81) fleahound, (82) PlecoCrazy (k: 3), (83) tvwav, (84) missileman, (85) lizimal, (86) ElTofi (k: 6), who also notes: "several pseudo-spawns... but probably a too hard water... they are in a community 720 liters with Pterophillum ", (87) smsjazz81, (88) Rixxter, (89) Gord Emsdale (p: 2, k: 4), who also notes: "No eggs yet", "This species is extremely shy, they were about 1.5 inch when I got them, now they are about 4 inches, still have not bread, but very healthy, sure wish they'd make some babies.", (90) Haavard Stoere (k: 18), (91) upc239, (92) otyrwhitt (p: 2), (93) robt18, (94) Liam50LB (p: 2), (95) ablank (k: 12), (96) ofird, who also notes: "13 cm
Flash Pleco, L204
A wood eating species;
", (97) busgod, (98) ahodge84, (99) johnpeezy, (100) Sutrisno, (101) stang1 (k: 3), (102) AleGer (k: 11), (103) jomi, (104) thicis, (105) andy75 (k: 2), (106) KAROBA (k: 8), (107) Janne Josefsson, (108) godfreyhales (k: 7), (109) jac (k: 2), who also notes: "Wildcaught.", (110) poel_19, (111) flatfish (p: 2, k: 3), (112) nvcichlids (k: 8), (113) Boxy, (114) Billybob, (115) dave air, (116) Jørn Kåsa, (117) Bjørn, (118) DaveW (k: 5), (119) ayrtoninst, (120) andi, (121) andreogmikela, (122) drpleco (k: 6), (123) ACMEexp (k: 9), (124) janne dahle (k: 8), (125) Nichof (k: 3), (126) kwalker (k: 2), (127) stuart264, (128) KnapTo, (129) Neri2495, (130) FynFisker, (131) keen-eyed (k: 6), (132) scleropages, (133) EHEIM~ADDICT, (134) Aquanaut (k: 2), (135) Derzel, (136) mrfishydude, (137) rdp50734, (138) oli (k: 6), (139) 2wheelsx2 (p: 2, k: 4), who also notes: "Lost on June 26, 2011.", "Chubby female from Charles.", (140) satony, (141) theviper06, who also notes: "Emperor ", (142) saltcop, (143) Buc_Nasty, (144) Hansen (k: 3), (145) wimmels, (146) Nabobmob1, (147) Little-AL, (148) bcmitchell, (149) ridout, (150) Steen (k: 2), (151) Donald (k: 7), (152) MatsP (k: 6), who also notes: "Bought tiny ones at the CSG auction in September. They have almost doubled in size in two-three months.
Sold two, probable males, of the four I had left after one disappeared early on.", (153) plecorocks, (154) Skwidd, Inc., (155) Mazzi, (156) SHEAG35 (k: 9), (157) danlinn, (158) plecomanpat (k: 2), (159) hankinswood (k: 3), (160) aquaoahu, (161) idudi, (162) DazSH (k: 3), (163) PanaqueDave (k: 4), who also notes: "Havinf VERY good luck with New Life Spectrum Sinking wafers and Sinking pellets.", (164) essexaqua, (165) mike h, (166) Jude, (167) SHEAG (k: 9), (168) smitty (p: 2, k: 2), who also notes: "Duplicate Entry.", (169) Korsaaven (k: 2), who also notes: "I sold off my 2 males to see if the pair will spawn. So far no luck.", (170) pleco maniac, (171) zopie, (172) arapaimag, (173) stumac (k: 2), (174) FFTRIP (p: 2), (175) chez, (176) bartian, (177) Decker504, (178) 29buur (k: 4), (179) Dan101, (180) Zulan, (181) Martin Holm, (182) lethalcustoms00, (183) elcucuu, (184) Yakov_krepak, (185) phiaqeezh, (186) ColumbianChocolate (k: 2), (187) Sam, (188) tomr, (189) Skägget (k: 2), who also notes: "Beautiful and not shy at all", (190) jeff.l (p: 2), (191) Terrycherry, (192) Copp81, (193) verbal (k: 5), (194) marsbar, (195) ali_uk_1, (196) Ottofan2003, (197) john82, (198) mikebren12, (199) johni (k: 6), (200) Floody, (201) knirper, (202) crusnik, (203) dudiel, (204) seliel, (205) Brisch, (206) HERVE, (207) eyal8a (k: 2), (208) _jeroenbol, (209) viplecoman, (210) fallout801 (k: 3), (211) jwhite, (212) Id16, (213) m1ke715m (k: 6), (214) plecofreak19, (215) hovlandl, (216) dwaquatics_2012, (217) pollie, (218) sem87, (219) Xaim (k: 2), who also notes: "Bueatyfull fish, growing fast!
Eating lots of wood...yeah can hear them eat.", (220) pleco rob, (221) dansemacabre, (222) jorgehdzy, (223) camtang, (224) Narwhal72, (225) TB1987, who also notes: "Initially very shy, loves redmoor wood. Almost exclusively a wood eater.", (226) Alexandermaule, (227) Rebel00357 (k: 3), (228) Valb68 (k: 5), (229) LiZZzz (k: 6), (230) Stefan2013, (231) daniel60 (p: 3, k: 7), (232) john h, (233) frog72 (k: 6), (234) Tamcon83 (p: 2, k: 11), (235) saline, (236) hypanaquolus, (237) pereli (k: 2), (238) irshprncsk, (239) Triactis Trainer, (240) looch09 (k: 3), (241) victoriaz24, (242) Marine590622, (243) 7Pete, (244) lapki2001, (245) Ciryluk3g (k: 2), (246) Asset, (247) Sharpy, (248) Juiceyfish, (249) BazzNL, (250) Brad Pleco Addict (k: 4), (251) B20, (252) WouterW, (253) vince0, (254) scandicman (k: 3), (255) cjp155, (256) trafford_66, (257) Vinc3nt, (258) rebruce, (259) crulle, (260) Papiman, (261) Garfield1969, (262) timpz, (263) DHarris, (264) Mexnotex, (265) snapeey, (266) VickyEll7, (267) Littleleeper23, (268) Kaetsy, (269) awesome wels, (270) YSR50 (k: 2), (271) susan (k: 8), (272) CharlieM9, (273) flh1200 (k: 5), (274) Jesnil72 (k: 2), (275) Beckie, (276) daniel4832.|
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|Breeding Reports||(1) viplecoman (b: 46), (2) Zulan (b: 41).|
- Shane's World Reproduction Spawning Panaque sp, L204|
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|Last Update||2015 May 18 09:49 (species record created: 2005 Dec 01 11:22)|
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