Catfish of the Month Right Arrow November 1997


L046, L098, Zebra Pleco, Imperial Pleco, Zebra-sugemalle (Denmark), Zebrawels (Germany) - Hypancistrus zebra   Isbrücker & Nijssen, 1991

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded November 01, 1997.

Zebra Plecos - if the internet has adopted a catfish, then it is this fish. So much is written online about this enigmatic catfish that it is hard to assimilate accurately. Going back in time, when this fish appeared I couldn't believe that a Loricariid could exist with such a striking appearance. I also couldn't believe the £200 price tag for the first one sold in Scotland (as an "Imperial Peckoltia"). The Imperial common name presisted for a while in the far east, but is not now commonly used since the fish was assigned its scientific name by Isbrücker & Nijssen.

Eventually the price came down and I ran out of excuses not to buy one. I built this up over time to a trio and I still stare in disbelief at these most magnificent catfish whenever I see them. If it were not for their obvious heritage, I would swear I was looking at the kind of striking fish you would see in a marine reef tank. Once settled, Zebras are erratically active during the day and will come out on brief excursions from their chosen refuge if settled. They are not algae eaters, may munch the occasional cucumber slice or lettuce leaf but much prefer sinking tablets or their favourite: bloodworms.

It's not only the internet which has been "taken over" by the zebra pleco, for a relatively new species there is plenty of printed matter to read up on too. Check out these resources:

  • References:
  • Aqualog "Loricariidae all L-Numbers" Verlag ACS Gmbh (1995)
  • Forshey J. 1996, A visit to Brazil's Rio Xingu. TFH. May: 22-28.
  • Hypancistrus zebra, a new genus and species of uniquely pigmented ancistrine loricariid fish from the Rio Xingu, Brazil (Pisces:Siluriformes: Loricariidae) . Isbrücker & Nijssen 1991. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, Vol. 1 No. 4 pp.345-350.


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