Common Name: Royal Pleco
Scientific Name: Panaque nigrolineatus
Other Names: L190 Pleco, Royal Panaque
The Royal Pleco is a stunning freshwater fish known for its unique appearance. It has a robust and somewhat flattened body adorned with striking black and white or yellow horizontal stripes. One of the most distinctive features of this species is its wood-grazing habit, as it has specialized teeth for chewing wood, which is a significant part of its diet.
Habitat and Distribution:
Royal Plecos are native to the fast-flowing, oxygen-rich rivers and tributaries of the Amazon Basin in South America. They typically reside in areas with plenty of driftwood and submerged roots.
Size and Lifespan:
In captivity, the Royal Pleco can grow up to 16-17 inches, though they are often smaller. With proper care, they can live for 10-15 years or more.
Diet and Behavior:
Royal Plecos primarily feed on wood, but they also consume algae and biofilm that grow on wood surfaces. In an aquarium, their diet should be supplemented with high-quality sinking pellets, wafers formulated for herbivores, and occasional fresh vegetables like zucchini and cucumber. They are mostly nocturnal and can be shy, often hiding during the day.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding Royal Plecos in captivity is challenging and not commonly done. In the wild, they are cave spawners, where the male guards the fertilized eggs until they hatch.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
A large tank is necessary to accommodate their potential size, with at least a 125-gallon tank recommended for an adult. The aquarium should include plenty of driftwood, which is essential for their diet and well-being. They also appreciate hiding places and a strong current. The water should be well-oxygenated and clean, so a powerful filtration system is essential.
Ideal Tank Mates:
Royal Plecos are generally peaceful and can be kept with a wide range of tank mates including other large fish species. However, they should not be kept with aggressive fish that might harass them or outcompete them for food.
Intermediate. While they are hardy, their large size, need for driftwood in their diet, and specific water requirements make them more suitable for aquarists with some experience.
- Temperature: 76-82°F (24-28°C)
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- General Hardness (GH): 6-10 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (KH): 3-8 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- The Royal Pleco's wood-eating habit means it's essential to have multiple pieces of driftwood available in the tank for them to graze on.
- They produce a significant amount of waste due to their diet, so maintaining water quality through regular water changes and good filtration is crucial.
- Their striking pattern and unique feeding behavior make them a fascinating addition to suitable large aquariums.
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