Common Name: Mini Snowball Pleco
Scientific Name: Hypancistrus sp. (L471)
Other Names: White Spotted Dwarf Hypancistrus
The Mini Snowball Pleco, known as L471, is a small and attractively patterned member of the Hypancistrus genus. It features a dark, typically black or deep brown base color, adorned with many small white or light yellow spots, giving it a snowball-like appearance. This species is smaller and more delicate compared to many other plecos, which makes it a popular choice for smaller or moderately-sized aquariums.
Habitat and Distribution:
Hypancistrus sp. L471 is native to South America, particularly in the Amazon River basin. Like other Hypancistrus species, it tends to inhabit fast-flowing waters with plenty of rocks and hiding spots.
Size and Lifespan:
This species is relatively small, usually reaching only about 3-4 inches in length. They can live for several years with proper care, typically around 5-8 years in a well-maintained aquarium.
Diet and Behavior:
Mini Snowball Plecos are omnivorous but lean towards carnivory. Their diet in the wild consists of small invertebrates and biofilm. In captivity, they should be fed a variety of high-quality sinking pellets, wafers, frozen or live foods like bloodworms, and occasional vegetable matter. They are generally nocturnal and shy, often hiding during the day.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding the L471 in captivity can be achieved but requires specific conditions. They are cave spawners, and the male typically guards the eggs in a secure location like a cave or crevice.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
A minimum tank size of 20-30 gallons is recommended. The tank should include plenty of hiding places, such as caves and driftwood, along with a soft substrate. Good water quality is essential, with moderate to strong filtration and regular water changes.
Ideal Tank Mates:
Being peaceful and small, the Mini Snowball Pleco does best with similarly sized, non-aggressive fish. They can be kept with small tetras, rasboras, dwarf cichlids, and other peaceful community fish. Avoid housing them with large or very active fish that might stress them.
Intermediate. While not overly aggressive or demanding, their need for clean, well-oxygenated water and specific dietary 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): 3-6 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- The Mini Snowball Pleco's small size and unique pattern make it a desirable species for many aquarists.
- They may be more sensitive to medications and changes in water parameters than some other fish, so careful monitoring is necessary.
- Providing a varied diet and ensuring a stress-free environment are key to maintaining their health and wellbeing.
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