Catfish of the Month Right Arrow July 2015 • Article © Christophe Girardet, uploaded February 14, 2016

L191, Dull Eyed Royal Pleco, Broken Line Royal Pleco, Pancake Suckyfish (International) - Panaque sp. (L191)    

This month's CotM article relates the personal experiences of Swiss fishkeeper Christophe Giradet, known to many on our forum by the username of ElTofi, with some big plecos kept in big aquaria.

Back in 2009, I had a very cool experience with chance breeding of Pseudacanthicus sp. L025 which happened three times. In the same Rio Xingu tank of 1600 liters, were also Panaque cf. armbrusteri L027 Xingu. I had three of them for five years and they were about to get mature enough to make a tentative of breeding when this whole tank finally went wrong. A lost all the L-numbers it contained. I was mad and disgusted but after a while, I at least partially recovered and the "fever" went on. I began a new project; it would be bigger.

Meanwhile, the Panaque took a dive into a 720 liters (200x60x60 cm) aquarium together with Pterophyllum altum where they stayed for almost a year. The tank was "Orinoco blackwater", with a 30% weekly water change routine using full Reverse Osmosis water. I was lucky enough to work in a biopharma firm and RO water was a raw material there. The tank had a quite hard basic sand and three big new tree trunks still releasing lots of tannins. The Panaque were fed with hikari chips, nori leaves (sushi algae), sweet woods (Alnus glutinosa, Betula spp.) and sera discus granules (which they loved).

Considering this routine, when my " Big Tank" was finally ready in September 2011, my six babies had grown to 14 cm TL, which is quite impressive for fish which are supposed to grow slowly. I guess the key was heavy water changes, lots of varied food and enough space. From that time on, they went on growing, together with other bottom dwellers (four Panaque schaeferi, two Pterygoplichthys spp. and two Acanthicus adonis) into a bigger tank (10m3 approximately).

The routine in this big tank is quite different. Considering the volume, I stopped using RO and replaced it with tap water. Luckily, my tap water is quite soft (around 200 micro-siemens) which allows me to make continuous water changes drop-by-drop (with an overflow to waste) up to 100% weekly.

They had space, they had "soft woods", they had heavy and regular fresh water and they had food. Especially new was some "meaty" food, leftover by stingrays, Arowana, Cichla and Acanthicus. I discovered that Panaque never read the books which defines them as wood eaters. So they tried (and loved) mussels, shrimps, sturgeon pellets and smelts. They grew bigger, much bigger!

In May 2015, I realized they were pretty big and probably mature enough to try breeding. Therefore, I set up a 900 liters tank especially for them. And then, in June 2015, I took them from the "Big Tank" to set them up in their own spawning tank.

Fishing out big Panaque from a big tank with relatively natural decoration (it was filled with several two meters long tree trunks) is not an easy task. So I used a Tunze 20m3/h pump to create a big flow along the front wall (low part of my tank). I soon discovered they loved to come into this flow and were much easier to catch with a net than hunting them from under a root.

I caught them all within a few days and could measure them out of the water to get exact data. The biggest was (June 2015) 36 cm TL. The smallest was 28 cm TL. I'm still uncertain about sexing, even if Stephen Huang (yes, the one who bred Panaque cf. armbrusteri) gave me a few tips and tricks from his experience and background. Out of the genital papilla trick (which I'm still unable to use), Stephen told me about head shape, ventral fins and pectoral odontodes. Their head shape is supposed to be much higher, larger and shorter in the male. Ventral fins should have a thicker hard ray in the male. Opercular odontodes grow during the mating season for both males and females, but they should be bigger, longer and thicker on males. On my biggest fish, opercular odontodes have grown to 5 or 6 cm long. Considering pectoral odontodes, they seem to be much bigger on males. I still haven't observed a difference on this point as I stopped the breeding attempt after seven months. I will take another attempt next year.

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 NamePanaque sp. (L191)   
Common NamesL191, Dull Eyed Royal Pleco
Broken Line Royal Pleco, Pancake Suckyfish (International)
Pronunciationpan ah KAY.
EtymologyThe generic epithet "panaque" is a Venezuelan common name for this fish. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 500mm or 19.7" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationThe genus Panaque is identified by the teeth, which are spoon-shaped. This means that the teeth are noticeably wider at the tip than at the base. Other loricariidae have teeth that are similar width all the way from one end to the other. A second distinguishing feature is the lack of a buccal papilla, which is a "flap of skin" on the inside of the mouth. See pictures in this PDF on Pterygoplichthys.

This species has a dull (not red or orange) eye and a basic olive colouration that greys with age and, irrespective of age, black longitudinal stripes. Young fish show a white ring around the caudal peduncle, a windowed or clear caudal fin and white tips to the fins.
SexingUndocumented, although with most ancistrine plecos the genital papilla of the female is round and blunt, that of the male by comparison is smaller and pointed. It is not known at what size this method of sexing can be used on Royal Plecos. It is possible that heavy odontal growth is associated with males. .
General RemarksIt is thought by some that this species most closely matches the description of the Blue Eyed Pleco, Panaque suttonorum. In adulthood, it is grey with dark grey spots and dashes. In youth, especially, it shows the white caudal peduncle ring. It's likely a close relative unless the Maracaibo species is proven to be surprisingly widespread.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionSouth America: Colombia: rio Caguán
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Japurá, Caquetá, Upper Caquetá, Caguán (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH6.5 - 7.5
Temperature24.0-29.0°C or 75.2-84.2°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Suggested TankmatesMost community fish, this fish is very secretive and so you will want more active fish around to provide something to watch. Larger specimens will work nearly all but the most ferocious and agressive fish. Smaller specimens should not be kept with large predators, for obvious reasons.
Jump to next section Further Information
Registered Keepers(1) xingumike, (2) Cory-Diddi, (3) Tulio, (4) clunkster, (5) FuglyDragon, who also notes: "Heavy filtration a must. Lost 2 of 3 in June 2014 for no obvious reason, age approx 9 years.", (6) Armadillo Del Rio, (7) jamos, (8) Darren C, (9) yogi69, (10) prutsprogrammeur, (11) Dave_C, (12) layzmob, (13) Walter, (14) magnar30, (15) RickieH, (16) haffiducki, (17) Dex, (18) Hammerhead, who also notes: "A gorgeous pleco, who is much more likely to be seen when the lights are on than any pleco I've had.", (19) jasonplec1 (p: 2), (20) Liz H, (21) teddyman5, (22) calsonic, (23) eliy7, (24) CatsandFish (k: 2), (25) CANDY, (26) jgvenn, (27) gwa84, (28) mrwickedweasel (k: 2), who also notes: "One only has one eye! One is 4 inches, the other is 7 inches", (29) Kingmickyb, who also notes: "2nd one, 1st one died. Still only about 3 inches, hopefully i'll avoid poisoning it with whitespot treatment.", (30) munki, (31) Aquariumfun (k: 3), (32) don90, (33) Handels, (34) HX67 (k: 2), (35) Reza.Sadri, (36) jac, (37) PLEC BAIRN (p: 3), (38) WIGSTER, (39) kabaltah (k: 2), (40) Tom B (k: 3), (41) agustingonzalez, (42) coheedandcambriarules, (43) nowhereman (p: 2, k: 3), (44) tingting, (45) Juand15, (46) Derzel, (47) Luis.Ventura, (48) keen-eyed (k: 2), (49) jessonthenet, who also notes: "Have only observed it eating the wood so far, has not went near cucumber etc. Is a very timid fish and is dominated by all other plecs in the tank even though it is the largest at the moment. update 5/1/2012 Has started to venture out in the open and is slighty territorial and will occasionally challenge other plecs. Will readily accept cucumber or courgette, loves hikari algae wafers in particular. Grows much quicker than other plecs is not too much of a waste problem at the moment. Not a very boisterous plec, does not touch the plants or uproot them at present. A bit of a hermit.", (50) Daniel_yeo, (51) Aquanaut, (52) 2wheelsx2, who also notes: "Juvie acquired at the same time as the L90. Unfortunately, died after getting sunken eyes. Think it was stress from adding the Blue Eye panaque.", (53) Nat, (54) MatsP, (55) smitty (p: 2, k: 3), (56) Turbo, (57) ElTofi (k: 7), who also notes: "A second batch of 3 join the first group today (19.02.2011) transfered into this tank in late September 2011 the biggest is 14 cm TL in September 2011 the biggest is 22 cm TL in April 2012 the biggest is 29 cm TL in December 2012 the biggest is 40 cm TL in October 2015", (58) alasia, (59) sfchoong (p: 2), (60) monkiecat, (61) ColumbianChocolate, (62) TerryCherry, (63) allim (k: 2), (64) joefish72, (65) plecomanpat (k: 2), (66) FunkyFredFrog, (67) joefish72b, (68) SHEAG, (69) Lars Jamne, (70) scorpia9100, (71) dt23, (72) JamesStuddart, (73) arapaimag (k: 3), (74) Dan101, (75) cdc069, (76) Martin Holm, (77) lmt6600, (78) nnpnnp, (79) duequattro, (80) den bruine, (81) AlphaDiscus, (82) pogo29, (83) Redtailrob, (84) Ottofan2003 (p: 2), (85) gforcefx, (86) rosswell, (87) maximus1974 (k: 3), (88) slimrs, (89) eyal8a (k: 2), (90) john82, (91) Michael_Wanga, (92) johnarmstrong, (93) JamieDurrant, (94) HuskerDad, (95) Travis Webb, (96) coelacanth, who also notes: "Large specimens will place a serious load on filtration, since adding this specimen there's been a noticeable increase in debris due to the wood being turned into sawdust. Even in a 1000 gallon tank with three large trickle filters a fish like this can make a major difference.", (97) Mark Panaque (k: 2), (98) fahaka, (99) sem87, (100) Goodeid608, (101) csengc61, (102) leberruyer, (103) Milo, (104) cjerrom, (105) Narwhal72, (106) Bjørn, (107) mikemaes, (108) Ecrevince (k: 2), (109) Camo182 (k: 3), (110) Kanta, (111) EBowles, (112) Rummage, (113) Lorenzo, (114) Iiriva, (115) Taz, (116) mouyichen, (117) hypanaquolus, (118) French47, (119) Shanaitan, (120) Igor Hotasi Simamora, (121) Ciryluk3g, (122) Juiceyfish, (123) Mountain (k: 5), (124) evojoey, (125) B20, (126) WouterW, (127) Divinehammer, (128) TheDoctor, who also notes: "Still alive", (129) cannondale (k: 2), (130) dav (k: 2), (131) VickyEll7, (132) thekribkeeper, (133) Avasion, (134) Mario, (135) CoryCatfish1212, (136) Beckie, (137) SimenAndre, (138) fishyNZ, (139) WadeNCreeks, (140) PhantomGreen, (141) Kd67, (142) dmfd0331, (143) hovmoller, (144) msafdel, (145) p03alf, (146) lidayjuraj, (147) panakhy (p: 2), (148) Tony4143 (k: 12), (149) meck3427, (150) Itchy96, (151) CesarPleco, (152) Albert.

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Last Update2017 Feb 08 11:20 (species record created: 2016 Feb 14 09:19)

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