Butterfly Pleco L 168

L168 Wels
© Hartmut Scheurer

The Butterfly Pleco is also known as Butterfly Sucker Catfish, Rio Negro Butterfly or L168. The scientific name for this Loricariid is Zoancistrus brachyurus. It originates from Brazil, more precisely from the Rio Negro catchment area and the Rio Uneiuxi.

What distinguishes the Butterfly Pleco?

Compared to other Loricariidae the L168 is rather shy and of peaceful nature. In nature it lives in slightly acidic black water with a correspondingly low germ load. However, wild specimens have also been found in clear water. It is not a classic algae or wood eater.

The appearance of the Butterfly Plecos

The Butterfly Pleco grows up to 15 cm tall and has a very handsome appearance due to its alternating light and dark stripes and dots. It also has a flat body, which resembles that of the well known antenna pleco.


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Housing conditions of the Butterfly Plecos

They should be kept in pairs or in small groups. Thereby Sand or fine gravel, and roots for grazing and hiding are preferred. The Butterfly Pleco usually leaves aquarium plants in peace, so planting can be done without any restrictions. The otherwise quite uncomplicated catfish benefits from regular water changes. Even if they are not normally eaten, it likes to stay on roots and search for food there. It is possible that wood particles are also part of the natural food, but this has not been proven. The L168 is suitable for keeping in a community tank. The socialization with as calm as possible , non-aggressive fish is no problem.

When caring for several species of Loricariid, hybrids may develop, which should therefore be avoided. The care of a group of the Butterfly Plecos is advisable, because only then the formation of a ranking order occurs and the social behavior of the fish shows itself correctly. This can lead to small quarrels, which serve to clarify the ranking, but not to serious fights.

  • in pairs or in small groups
  • fine substrate
  • Roots and stone caves to hide
  • does not eat plants
  • regular water changes

Gender differences

The male can be recognized by a slightly broader head. Older animals show more odontodes on the first pectoral fin ray, but these are also more pronounced in the females of L168 than in other loricariid catfish. At spawning time the males get longer and larger anal fins and sexually mature females are easily recognizable from below on the wider belly.

Water values for the Butterfly Pleco

The Butterfly Plecos can be maintained in normal tap water. But the great colouring only shows to advantage in acidic water. A too high germ load can cause swelling of the eyes or bloated bellies due to bacteria. If there is too little oxygen in the water, the fish reacts sensitively. Therefore it benefits from a diffuser. Co2 systems are also critical and should always be switched off at night.

  • Temperature: 25 – 29 °C
  • PH value: 4.5 – 6.5

Feed and nutrition of the Butterfly Plecos

The catfish is not very choosy in its diet. It accepts both dry food tablets and frozen food of various kinds. Also green food in the form of cucumbers or raw potatoes, which you sink on a fork in the aquarium, are very popular. The scavenger also does not spurn dead fish, but live fish are not in danger. Furthermore, one can offer mussel or shrimp meat.

The ideal aquarium for the Butterfly Pleco

An aquarium should have an edge length of at least 100 cm. Due to the high temperature preferred by the Butterfly Pleco, one must be careful when choosing the planting that it is not tolerated by all aquarium plants. The back of the aquarium should be provided with stone structures and roots, in whose cracks the catfish can hide. There should always be twice as many hiding places as catfish. In addition, good filtration and clean water should be ensured.

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