By Charles Drew
The King Tiger Pleco also known as the L-066 is an attractive fish that is gray with dark gray to black striped markings. It belongs to the Hypancistrus family and there is a great deal of pattern variation even in siblings from pattern matched parents. They are presently being confused with the L-333. The original L-333 was near white with sharp gray markings. It is no doubt the same fish but a different location. The confusion came from the dealers and exporters calling the L-066 gray form and brown form L-333 in hopes that the demand for the L-333 would help sales. The L-066 come from the Rio Xingu and Rio Tocantins in Brazil. The temperature that they do their best and breed at is 85 degrees F. The King Tiger is a chunky fish about five inches long and is a carnivore eating shrimp, blood worms and carnivore pellets.
Like most hobbyist I have a tendency to try and breed a fish that has been bred by someone that has written a spawning report. After having read such a report I did not hesitate very long when I spotted what I thought might be a pair in a Big Alâ€™s Store. I took them home and placed them in a fifteen gallon aquarium with some lava rocks and a cave. The tank also had a small power filter to give it current. Everything was fine for a couple of months and then after a few water changes with RO water the female left her place behind a rock and joined the male in the cave. After a few days I shone a light in the cave to find the female badly chewed and nearly dead. I took her out but she died the next day. The lone male then got moved to a fifty-five gallon tank with some discus. As time went by I eventually found another fish that I hoped was a female and bought her and added her to the tank. A while later I also gambled on two more wild fish giving me four fish. The discus were sold giving the tigers the tank to themselves. Time went on and each tiger had itâ€™s own cave which is a must for this fish so I am told. There are two terracotta clay saucer type the females stay in and a white glass vase the one male calls home and two slate caves that the other male canâ€™t quite decide what one he wants for a home.
Last May 2006 after adding a power head to up the current from the two Aquaclear 200â€™s that are on the tank and doing a series of water changes with RO water a spawning occurred. A few days later to my disappointment a chewed clutch of eggs were found out side the cave. I placed them in a bowl with an air stone and a day or two later out hatched 22 fry. But success was not to be as I was off to the CAOAC convention in London, Ontario. I knew that the fry would not be ready to eat for nearly a week so I was not concerned with being away for a couple of days. But on returning home I found them all dead. Not a real surprise as one dying and contaminating the water would be all that it would take to wipe them all out.
Summer came and went with nothing happening. As I was busy with spawnings from my L-201 Inspector Plecos on a regular bases all summer I was not paying much attention to the King Tigers. Early October 2006 I gave them a few RO water changes but did not observe any spawning action. On returning after being away for a few days to the 2006 Catfish Convention I was surprised to see a tiny pleco fry scoot across the sand bottom as I was doing a water change. In doing a close check I found that I had about a dozen fry. I removed six and placed them in a fry tank with Inspectors there own size and age. That was a mistake. The fry of the King Tigers all died in a few days. The ones with the parents all did great and at four months old were three inches long.
My next spawning arrived the second week of January 2007. It was the evening that a low weather front was passing through and the two males were sparing over a female that was visiting outside of their caves. She finally entered the glass cave of the one male after he drove away the other. The next morning the clutch of eggs were outside the cave. In spite of the stories that the fry are best left with the parents as they are very sensitive to tank or water changes what could I do but try rearing them under the foster parent plan. I placed the eggs in a bowl the one that I had used to rear discus fry. I used the water from the parents tank and since plecos can be sensitive to medication used a Black European Alder Cone to prevent fungus. After five days the eggs hatched successfully with only one fry hatching out dead. They got a water change daily with water from their parents tank that had been sitting for a day with an alder cone in it on a warm light fixture. The eggs are large and so are the fry at least twice the size of bushynose fry. They look like an egg with a wiggly tail. Slowly they start to look like plecos and after a week to 10 days are ready to eat. That is when my problems started. The fry refused to eat. I tried feeding them the live baby brine shrimp but soon they started to die. At first a few at a time then the pace picked up. I thought maybe the water quality was bad that they were crowded in the bowl in spite of me now changing the water twice a day. I moved them to a ten gallon tank of the parents water but within a few days they all died. A loss of 60+ fry sort of rattles your self confidence as a fish breeder but you canâ€™t cry for too long as my other pair had spawned a week or so later and the spawn was in another bowl floating in a tank.
I had planned to leave them with the parents but the first fry hatched was swished out of the cave. I then assumed that they were all hatched and dumped out the cave to find that most eggs had not yet hatched. About six or more fry did not survive hatching and I did everything that I had done the first time. When the yolk sacs seemed to be absorbed I started to feed them newly hatched brine shrimp and soon put in a wafer of H2O New Life Spectrum. This is a stable wafer and stays in one piece well. I changed it once a day to give them something to eat at all times. This time they ate and I only lost two that were dark and had not grown. I kept them all in the bowl for over a month feeding them twice a day and changing their water twice a day by at least 50% each time. Finally when they had doubled their size to Â¾â€ I moved them a few at a time to a bare bottomed aquarium with some broken clay flower pots and PVC pipes for them to hide in. At two months old the 1-1/2â€ fry numbering fifty are eating baby brine shrimp, chopped frozen Mysis shrimp, carnivore pellets and Wardleyâ€™s new sinking crumbles. They do not even wait for lights to go out, but sneak out to eat if you are away from their tank. At the time of writing I am now caring for another spawn that has just hatched.
Why that first spawn refused to eat is still a mystery. Maybe I was a day or two late offering them food because of their chubby look. The answer is donâ€™t give up. Be patient and keep trying and you will probably succeed in the end.
Edited by CanadaPleco, 19 October 2009 - 05:38 PM.