Common Name: Scarlet Cactus Pleco (L025)
Scientific Name: Pseudacanthicus pirarara
Other Names: L025, Scarlet Pleco, Red Cactus Pleco
The Scarlet Cactus Pleco, also known as the L025, is a stunning fish, easily recognized by its bright red or orange coloration that contrasts against a dark body. The sharp spines that adorn its body and its unique coloration make it one of the most sought-after plecos in the hobby.
Habitat and Distribution: Originating from Brazil, this fish is primarily found in the Rio Xingu and its tributaries. They inhabit rocky, fast-flowing parts of rivers, where they can be found hiding in crevices or under submerged ledges.
Size and Lifespan: Growing to a size of approximately 15 inches (around 38 cm) in captivity, the Scarlet Cactus Pleco is quite a sizable fish. With proper care, they can live for over 10-15 years.
Diet and Behavior: Though they have a carnivorous inclination, they accept a varied diet. In the wild, their diet consists mainly of invertebrates. In captivity, they should be fed a combination of high-quality pellets, frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, and occasional fresh offerings like pieces of fish or shrimp. They are typically more active during the nighttime and prefer to stay hidden during the day.
Breeding and Reproduction: Breeding this species in captivity is quite challenging. They are cave spawners, and the male takes responsibility for guarding the eggs after fertilization. The eggs are typically laid in sheltered areas like caves.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements: A tank of at least 100 gallons is recommended given their potential size. The aquarium should replicate their natural environment with strong water flow, plenty of hiding spots, and a substrate of fine sand or gravel. They require pristine water conditions, and thus, frequent water changes and powerful filtration are essential.
Ideal Tank Mates: The Scarlet Cactus Pleco is territorial, especially towards other bottom dwellers. However, they generally coexist peacefully with mid to top-dwelling species of a similar size. Larger characins, cichlids, and catfish can be suitable tank mates, provided the tank is spacious enough.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced. They have specific care requirements, especially concerning diet and water quality.
- Temperature: 79-86°F (26-30°C)
- pH: 6.0-7.5
- General Hardness (GH): 5-15 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (KH): 4-8 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- The vibrant colors and unique appearance of the Scarlet Cactus Pleco make it a star attraction in any aquarium.
- They can sometimes be shy, especially when newly introduced, so patience and plenty of hiding spots will help them acclimatize.
- As with other rare species, it's essential to ensure the fish are sourced responsibly. Over-collection can be a threat to wild populations, so always prefer captive-bred specimens when available.
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