Maximum size : 15 cm

Butterfly Plecostomus L168 - Dekeyseria Brachyura : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


With their peaceful temperament, Butterfly Plecos (Dekeyseria brachyura) make an excellent addition to any community aquarium. However, to keep them happy and healthy, it is recommended to keep them with other peaceful fish of similar size. Compatible tankmates include Cichlids such as Retroculus or African Steatocranus and other Loricariids that require similar water conditions. Additionally, more general community fish can also be housed with these Plecos, provided that the water is well-aerated.

For optimal conditions, a biotope setup is recommended, with a spacious and well-filtered aquarium that has plenty of hiding places made up of flat, rounded rocks, driftwood and caves. This species usually does not harm live plants if they are adequately fed. However, butterfly Plecos require well-oxygenated water with a great degree of movement to thrive.

The slender bodies of Butterfly Plecos are covered with alternating defined brownish-black and gold striping, making them a visually striking addition to any aquarium. These Plecos are masters of disguise, capable of changing colouration rapidly, chameleon-style. If kept on a very dark or black substrate, they will go almost black, while a lighter substrate will show off their pretty striped pattern during the day.

Butterfly Plecostomus L168 Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

The gender identification of Butterfly Plecos can be discerned with relative ease. Males can be distinguished by their slender body shape and the development of larger odontodes on their snout compared to their female counterparts. Conversely, mature females will typically have a wider mid-section when compared to males.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDekeyseria Brachyura
Year Described1854
Other NamesChameleon Pleco
Max Size15 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 8 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.5 - 7.0
GH 2 - 12
Ideal Temperature
77 - 82
25 - 27

Natural Habitat

The stunning Butterfly Plecos are native to the Rio Negro River Basin in Brazil in South America and thrive in moderately fast-flowing streams and tributaries. These waterways are known for their tea-coloured, tannin-stained water caused by the decomposition of organic matter. The Butterfly Plecos are well adapted to this natural environment, where they find ample hiding places amongst the rocks and driftwood. Creating a similar setup in your aquarium will not only offer them a comfortable home but also showcase the beauty of their natural habitat.

 Rio Negro - Colombia
Colombia Flag


Butterfly Plecos can be successfully bred under the right conditions. It is important to ensure that the breeding tank contains suitable caves or pipes as spawning sites for the plecos, with tight-fitting rectangular caves being ideal. The water in the breeding tank should be soft and acidic, and a significant water change with cool water can simulate the rainy season, encouraging the plecos to spawn.

Once the plecos lay their eggs in the caves, the male will guard and fan them until they hatch, which can take 7 to 10 days. After hatching, the fry will remain in the spawning site until they are fully developed, and the male will force them to stay there. Once the male releases the fry, they can grow quickly, consuming the same food as their parents. However, it is crucial to maintain good water quality, as the fry is vulnerable to poor water conditions. Therefore, daily water changes are recommended initially, gradually decreasing as the fry develops.

Diet & feeding

Butterfly Plecos are predominantly herbivores and should be fed a varied diet consisting mainly of vegetable matter, such as cucumbers and blanched spinach. They will also readily consume high-quality dried foods, such as algae wafers and spirulina tablets, as well as live and frozen foods, such as bloodworm and daphnia.

Other Plecostomus of interest