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Zebra plecos

Hypancistrus zebra

These stay small for plecos, don't damage your plants and don't turn wood into sawdust like many species. Awesome size, behavior, and appearance, the ultimate pleco!! Zebra plecos are very hardy, if kept warm, and breeding is simple. They are from the Xingu river in Brazil which is a very warm, clear water, river. In 2004 Brazil removed these from the list of fish that are allowed out of the country (their "Positive list"). This was meant to protect them because they were being overfished for the aquarium trade. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government also plans to put up to five new dams on the Xingu which might cause these fish to go extinct in the wild! So the export ban seems to be counter-productive which is unfortunate. Obviously, everybody that has these fish needs to try to breed them.

Many people assume all Brazilian fish should be set up in blackwater tanks but this is wrong for fish from the Xingu and many other rivers. Zebra plecos do not particularly care about pH or hardness, but they must be kept warm! So keep them at 86°F (30°C) and don't forget they're meat eaters, not algae eaters, so give them some frozen brine shrimp, frozen mysis shrimp (I like Hikari brand), or sinking wafers. I'm keeping them in 15 or 20 gallon tanks with "play sand" substrate (white playground sand) with a sponge filter. Provide caves that are the same size as the fish, closed off at one end. Then wait and wait and wait! When they decide to breed the male will take care of the babies and the babies can stay with their parents. I have two wild caught pairs that breed regularly. Sometimes they breed every 18 days, raising 4 to 9 babies each time. I usually remove the parents to a new tank after there is 2 or 3 batches of babies in the tank. The parents seem to stop breeding when they have a lot of babies around them. I kept 50 of the babies for myself so hopefully they'll make more pairs some day.

The demand for these far outstrips their current production rate so the best I can do is keep a waiting list. However, the waiting list is forever long, so I have closed it unless you are willing to pick up the fish in person. By the way, never use DHL for shipping. They lost a box of 9 baby zebras, never to be found again. But if you call customer service or check the tracking online, it still says that they are "in transit". Great system they have! This is another reason that I have switched to "Pickup Only" with these fish. Email me if you can pick them up and want to be added to the list. I don't have a price set because the price of these fish changes quite a bit over time. Since they are no longer allowed out of Brazil the price is rising all the time. Currently the going rate is around $150 for very young fry and $200 for larger fish. I've decided to sell them only when they are larger and more hardy, about six months old. 


Here's some eggs that got kicked out of the cave when my pair was first learning what to do. zebras7.jpgzebras8.jpg