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Breeding the L-174 Pleco

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#1 Bwhiskered


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 12:55 PM

Spawning the L-174 Pleco
By Charles Drew

The L-174 Pleco is sometimes called the Panther Pleco. It grows to about the same size as the Zebra Pleco [Up to 4 inches] and is a close cousin. It is whitish in colour with dark gray to black spots. It comes from Brazil and is found in the Rio Xingu River near Altamira. It is a member of the Hypancistrus species and is on the current export ban list in Brazil. The reason for the ban is so scientists can study the 70 species of plecos that they will make extinct when they dam the Xingu River. The only chance of survival for most of these fish is to become established in the aquarium hobby.

I first acquired this now rare pleco from an importer room seller a few years ago at an Ohio Cichlid Convention in Strongsville, Ohio. By chance I had just read an article about them a day or two before going to the convention. I bought two pairs and brought them home and placed them in a 20 gallon aquarium. Everything was fine for a little while and then one female that had been trapped in a cave by a male died. Over the next couple of years they spawned occasionally but the male always ate the eggs. Finally I took the eggs and hatched them but the fry never got to the free swimming stage. At the time when they should have been ready to feed they became bloated and died. The next spawning the male had them hatch and at the time they should have been ready to leave the cave they floated out one at a time bloated and dead.

This problem was now bringing back memories of a problem that had shown up with discus and angelfish many years ago. At that time the fry would hatch normally but instead of absorbing their yolk sac and becoming free swimming they would bloat and die. I put this down to a form of bacteria such as Salmonella. People feeding turkey heart to their fish as was the trend at the time was possibly to blame. The answer at that time was to treat the breeders with Metronidazole as the bacteria is passed on from the female though the eggs. The bacteria do not appear to harm the adults but is deadly to the fry.

The month of December 2009 the fish became more active and the female that was well rounded moved from under the driftwood to a new cone shaped cave I had bought a few weeks earlier. It was at this time I treated the tank with two treatments of SeaChem Metro Plex. The medication did them no harm nor did it upset them. I tried numerous water changes some with cool water some RO water and sometimes a combination of both. At each change they would get active and sit outside their caves but still nothing would happen. Finally I added a pail of RO water that was dark and acid from my peat water barrel. The next morning the female was back under her drift wood and the male was in her cave tending spawn. Obviously she preferred the flared cone shape cave with the wider opening. The temperature was 84F and the TDS read 92 and the PH was 6.

The date of the spawning was January 4, 2010. I now had nothing I could do but cross my fingers and hope. The days passed by and the male had them so tight in the narrow end of the cave it was hard to even get a peek at the little yellow bellied fry. Most pleco eggs take about 5 days to hatch and another 10 days to use up the egg sac and get ready to feed. So 14 days from the spawning day I thought it was time for them to leave the cave and go into a fry saver so I would not have to chase them all over the tank. You can not always trust female carnivores with small fry and this is for safety as well as better feeding. I picked up the cave with the male and fry intact. I had a large bowl of the tank water and as soon as I turned the cave upside down the male came out. The fry proved to be a problem. No matter how much I squirted them with a baster they refused to leave the cave. Finally I put the male back in the tank and the cave with the fry in the fry saver. I figured the fry would come out of the cave to hunt for food in the form of baby brine shrimp during the night hours. I was wrong unless they went back in by morning. On the morning of January 20th, 2010 I decided it was time for them to come out hell or high water. I got out the bowl and filled it with tank water got out the baster and with a lot of swishing I got most of them out. For the last few stubborn ones I finally gave up and stood the cave up on its end and they finally decided to come out on their own. The total was 1 dead and 17 live healthy fry. The fry saver that I originally bought for this purpose could not be attached to this tank as the tanks were too close together. Ingenuity had to take over and so ahead of time I made my Dollarama Fry Saver. It is merely a shower gadget holder with two large suction cups on one side and a bunch of holes on the other. It is 10” long 3” wide and 6” deep. The side with the holes is covered with a piece of plastic needle point mesh glued on with silicone. A small sponge filter is glued or fastened with elastic bands to one end to pump in filtered water with air.

The fry are being fed morning and night with live baby brine shrimp and an earthworm stick. Some shrimp escape and are eaten by some small catfish that are in the main tank. Enough shrimp settle to the bottom of the fry saver to keep them well fed. Just prior to each feeding I remove any uneaten food and waste with a baster. The fry saver is then given a good flush by pouring several cups of water from the tank into the fry saver. The fry have more than doubled their size and will soon be moved to their own tank. It’s been a long hard journey to success with these fish but it is well worth the trip. There are only a handful of people in North America that have this pleco and I am glad to be one of them.

How to make this Fry Saver

Pictures of the Fry:

Attached Thumbnails

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#2 bcarlos


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:52 PM

A beautiful lil' pleco, indeed, Charles. Congrats, and thanks for this case study.

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