Catfish of the Month Right Arrow October 1998 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded October 01, 1998

L029, Galaxy Pleco, Ruesselzahnwels (Germany), Tusken Pleco, Vampire Pleco - Leporacanthicus galaxias   Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1989

There are an awful lot of L - numbered plecos that have a basic black with many white spots colour pattern. This is one of the more commonly seen fish with these colours. Some specimens can exhibit a more yellow tinge to the spots and this appears related to water conditions.

When it was first offered for sale (before it was assigned its scientific name) the fish was also labelled as the Tusken or Vampire Pleco, since classification the common name Galaxy pleco has become more often used and for the sake of continuity it is adopted here. Additionally, the tusken and vampire features (a strange bony growth on the fishes head and it's fang like teeth respectively), are characterisitic of the genus and don't identify this species clearly. Although its colouration is not unusual, it is however odd in that it has a large front "tooth" - the use of which is unproven - although a few theories exist.

Close-up showing specialised teeth
Close-up showing specialised teeth.

The specialized dentistry is not for rasping algae from bogwood - I did not notice any tell-tale toothmarks (like those left by Royal Plecs, Panaque nigrolineatus) on any bogwood present in the tanks with these fish. It also was a poor green algae eater in the way, for example, a common pleco is not, although it did make some impact on brown algae. Maybe the "tooth" (you can see it protruding out of the top of the fishes mouth in the out-of-water shot below) provides some function in the fast water environment that the fish hails from and it is under-utilized in the home aquarium. I personally favor the idea that it is used to gain access to crustacea, molluscks or insects embedded in rotting wood or thick algae. The fish does eat meat and can despatch a frozen prawn in record time (for a pleco). It is also reported by other keepers of these fish that they eat snails too.

It is a territorial fish; I had real problems keeping it with a Polka Dot Catfish, Synodontis angelicus, but in hindsight keeping two similarly patterned "warmongers" together was not a good idea. In order to avert an aquatic world war III, I swapped out the S. angelicus for a S. alberti which did happily coexist with the Galaxy Pleco. This underlines the extra thought required when mixing two species of fish that would never encounter each other in nature."

Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Leporacanthicus galaxias  Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1989
Common Names L029, Galaxy Pleco
Ruesselzahnwels (Germany), Tusken Pleco, Vampire Pleco
Type Locality Rio Tocantins, Lagoa em frenta a Jacobal, Pará State, Brazil.
Pronunciation lepor ah KAN thi cuss - gah lax ee ass
Etymology Latin, lepus, leporis = rabbit + Greek, akantha = thorn. This specific epithet refers to its milky (galaxias=milky or milky way) white spots.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 250mm or 9.8" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification All Leporacanthicus spp. have a small backwards facing slightly proud blunt thorn-like plate on top of their heads.

L. galaxias (L029) is distinguished from L007 (L. cf. galaxias) by its lower dorsal fin, a longer snout and smaller spots.
Sexing Adult males have a much longer and broader head with small odontodes on the sides of head, more odontodes on pectoral fin spine and on the whole body, a bigger dorsal fin and normally a prettier coloration.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution South America: southern tributaries of the middle and lower Amazon, Madeira, Tocantins and Guamá rivers; also known from the Ventuari River basin in the upper Orinoco drainage.
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Tocantins (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Madeira (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Capim, Guamá (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Orinoco, Upper Orinoco, Ventuari (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Nhamundá (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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pH 5.6 - 7.0
Temperature 22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters This fish originates in fast flowing rapids so you should supply this fish with an oxygen rich strong current environment. I used powerhead driven UGFs with ventura style air / water mixing and an external bucket filter to keep this fish with sturdy medium sized Geophagus and Acaricthys cichlids which didn't mind the extra current too much.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Prawns and Snails are top of the menu, but the fish will learn to eat most off-the-shelf foods.
Furniture Prefers bogwood and darker rocks. Not seen often during the day.
Compatibility Gets on with small lively catfish but avoid other larger bottom dwellers (unless space permits) due to the territorial disputes.
Suggested Tankmates Most small to medium community fish. Tetras and South American cichlids are ideal, unless you really go for it when providing a strong water current.
Breeding Has been accomplished but, sadly, not documented.
Breeding Reports There are 4 breeding reports, read them all here.
Jump to next section Further Information
Reference Die Aquarien- und Terrarienzeitschrift (DATZ) v. 42 (no. 9), pp 546, Figs 8-10, 13-15.
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Last Update 2019 Sep 14 06:04 (species record created: 1998 Oct 01 11:22)

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