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Maximum size : 10 cm

Zebra Pleco - Hypancistrus zebra : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Zebra Plecos (Hypancistrus zebra) are a highly sought-after species in the aquarium hobby due to their striking appearance and unique personality. These fish have a bold black and white striped pattern that stands out in any tank. Additionally, their large eyes and unique fin shape make them a fascinating species to observe. Zebra Plecos require specific conditions to thrive, making them a challenging but rewarding species to keep. They prefer warm water with high oxygen levels and fast-flowing currents. In addition, they need pristine water conditions, so regular water changes and maintenance are essential. While not recommended for beginner aquarists, Zebra Plecos can be kept in pairs or small groups. It is crucial to provide plenty of hiding places and visual barriers for these shy, nocturnal fish. Selecting compatible tankmates is also crucial, as they prefer peaceful species that do not feed on the bottom. Possible tankmates include Tetras, Micro Rasboras, and small Catfish. Creating a biotope setup mimicking their natural environment is ideal for Zebra Plecos. A sandy substrate scattered with smooth pebbles and rocks is perfect, along with a few driftwood branches for shelter. Hardy plants such as Anubias or Java Fern can be added, but it's essential to select plants that can tolerate the water conditions. In conclusion, Zebra Plecos are a unique and striking addition to any aquarium, but they require specific conditions and careful consideration when selecting tankmates. With proper care and attention, they can thrive and bring vibrancy and personality to your aquatic setup.

Zebra Pleco Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It can be a daunting task to distinguish male and female Zebra Plecos as they share a striking resemblance. However, mature males tend to have larger heads and bodies, with a straight line extending from the base of their pectoral fin spine to the caudal peduncle. Females, on the other hand, are typically smaller, with slender heads and a more curved outline from the bottom of their pectoral fin spine to their caudal peduncle.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHypancistrus zebra
Year Described1991
Other NamesL046 Pleco, L098 Pleco, L046 Pleco, L173 Pleco
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespanup to 15 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 7.5
GH6 - 12
TDS100 - 300
78 - 86
25.6 - 30

Natural Habitat

Zebra Plecos are native to the middle Xingu River, located in Brazil, South America. Zebra Plecos typically inhabit dimly lit, deep, fast-flowing waters that run over sand, which is usually covered in rocks and stones. There is very little submerged wood in their habitats and practically no plants. Unfortunately, the construction of the Belo Monte Dam has led to the classification of these Plecos as endangered in the wild. Without proper conservation efforts, these incredible fish may soon become extinct. Adding Zebra Plecos to your aquarium is an excellent way to showcase their unique beauty and contribute to their conservation efforts. So why wait? Explore the wonders of Zebra Plecos and help protect these endangered fish today!
 Xingu River - Brazil
Brazil Flag


Breeding Zebra Plecos can be a challenging but rewarding experience. These Plecos become sexually mature at around 18 months to 2 years old. The breeding process requires proper caves as an essential component, which can be created with piles of rocks, flowerpots, or PVC piping. While Zebra Plecos have been bred in community aquariums, a more controlled approach is recommended for increased fry yield. This involves setting up a separate breeding tank and adding 2-3 females for every male. Conditioning the Plecos with lots of live and frozen food is necessary, along with adequate water flow. The male Pleco will choose a cave, defend it against other males, and attempt to lure a female inside. After fertilization, the female will leave, and the male will tend to the eggs by fanning them vigorously with his caudal fin. Eggs usually number between 7 and 15, and they will hatch around a week later. Once hatched, the fry will feed on their large yolk sacs for an additional 2-3 days before requiring baby brine shrimp or microworms for nourishment. Sinking dried food such as algae wafers or pellets can also be included. The fry are voracious feeders and require continuous food supplies. Performing significant water changes with cooler water every 2-3 days can stimulate spawning. Once the fry are born, they can remain in the breeding tank or be moved to a separate raising tank with the same water parameters.

Diet & feeding

Zebra Plecos are not selective when it comes to their diet and will readily consume a variety of foods, including live and frozen options like bloodworms and brine shrimp, as well as high-quality dried foods such as pellets, flakes, and algae wafers. Furthermore, these plecos will relish occasional vegetable treats. It is important to note that since this species is primarily nocturnal, it is best to offer them food when the aquarium lights are turned off.


Zebra Pleco Hypancistrus Zebra (Freshwater Plecostomus Aquarium Fish Profile & Care Guide) Thumbnail

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