Common Name: Watermelon Pleco
Scientific Name: Panaque nigrolineatus laurafabianae
Other Names: L330 Pleco
The Watermelon Pleco, known for its unique and attractive appearance, is a large and robust species of catfish. It features a distinctive pattern that resembles the skin of a watermelon, with dark vertical stripes and a mottled green background. This striking coloration, combined with its impressive size, makes it a popular choice among aquarists.
Habitat and Distribution:
This species is native to the Amazon River Basin in South America. The Watermelon Pleco typically inhabits fast-flowing, oxygen-rich river environments where it can be found near submerged wood, which plays a crucial role in its diet and habitat.
Size and Lifespan:
The Watermelon Pleco can grow to a substantial size, often reaching over 15 inches in length in captivity. With appropriate care and a suitable environment, they can have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years or more.
Diet and Behavior: Like other members of the genus Panaque, the Watermelon Pleco is specialized in feeding on wood. Its diet in the wild consists largely of submerged wood and the biofilm that grows on it. In captivity, it's important to provide plenty of driftwood for grazing, along with high-quality sinking pellets, algae wafers, and occasional fresh vegetables. They are generally nocturnal and can be quite shy.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding the Watermelon Pleco in captivity is considered challenging and is rarely successful. In the wild, they are cave spawners, with males guarding the eggs.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
Due to their potential size, a large aquarium is necessary. A minimum of 125 gallons is recommended for an adult. The tank should replicate their natural habitat with a strong current, plenty of oxygenation, and a good amount of driftwood. The substrate should be soft to prevent injury.
Ideal Tank Mates:
The Watermelon Pleco is generally peaceful but can be territorial with other bottom dwellers, especially those of its kind. Suitable tank mates include large, peaceful fish that occupy other levels of the tank. It's best to avoid very small fish, as they may be viewed as food.
Intermediate to Advanced. Their specific dietary needs, large size, and requirement for a sizable tank make them more suited for experienced aquarists.
- 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 Watermelon Pleco's unique requirement to feed on wood means that this should be a primary consideration in tank setup and maintenance.
- They produce a significant amount of waste, particularly because of their wood-based diet, so excellent filtration and regular water changes are crucial to maintain water quality.
- The impressive size and striking appearance of the Watermelon Pleco make it a centerpiece in a large home aquarium.
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