Introduction to Butterfly pleco
The Butterfly pleco was scientifically described by Kner in 1854 and given the name Ancistrus brachyurus. It has been moved around quite a bit among different genera and you might therefore find the names Zonancistrus brachyurus or Peckoltia brachyura in some sources. Today, the Butterfly pleco is considered a part of the genus Dekeyseria and its scientific name is therefore Dekeyseria brachyura. Some shops sell Dekeyseria brachyura under the name Peckoltia pulcher.
In English, it is known as both Butterfly pleco and Flunder pleco due to its particular shape.
The Butterfly pleco can reach a length of 16 cm and its main colours are black and white. It has a beautiful striped pattern which has made it highly appreciated among aquarists. This fish can change its appearane in an instant to stay camouflaged, just like a chameleon. If you use a dark substrate in your aquarium, your Butterfly plecos might become almost completely black. It is also important to remember that these fishes will change appearance depending on how well lit the aquarium is.
The Butterfly pleco is sometimes confused with the L052 pleco, but the stripes are not as clearly separated in L052 as in the Butterfly pleco. You can also see that the base colour of the Butterfly pleco is a bit more orange.
Geographical distribution, habitat and care
The Butterfly pleco lives in Rio Negro , which is the largest left tributary of the famous Amazon. Rio Negro is the largest blackwater river in the world and comes from the watershed located between Rio Orinoco and the Amazon basin. Close to Manaus in Brazil , Rio Negro flows into Rio Solimões and they become the River Amazon.
The pH-value in the aquarium should be acidic or neutral, from pH 5.6 to 7.0. During the rainy season, Rio Negro tends to be less acidic than normally. The water hardness should be kept in the dGH 2-18 range. The recommended temperature is 25-28 degrees C (77-82 degrees F). Strong water current is appreciated and high levels of oxygen are necessary in the aquarium.
The Butterfly pleco primarily eats algae in the wild. Never force it to survive on natural algae growth only in the aquarium; always supplement with more food to make sure that your fish gets enough nutrients. You can for instance used algae based prepared food as a base and combine it with plenty of vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumber, potatoes and green peas. Wood should always be included in the aquarium set up. Also give your Butterfly pleco small and infrequent servings of meaty food. Since the Butterfly pleco is a nocturnal species, it should ideal be fed after lights-out in the evening.
Aquarium set up and suitable tank mates
Try to mimic the natural environment in Rio Negro when you set up the aquarium and include a lot of hiding spots by using rocks, wood etcetera. Flat rocks are especially appreciated since they are easy to suck on. The Butterfly pleco should never be kept in an aquarium without wood. The Butterfly pleco can change its colours to stay camouflage and the aquarium decoration will therefore affect its appearance. Stay away from really dark substrates if you want to be able to see the white stripes clearly.
The Butterfly pleco will normally leave live plants alone as long as you provide it with a steady stream of vegetables to nibble on instead. It is an excellent algae eater that will help you fight algae in the aquarium. Since it is friendly, it can be kept in community aquariums with other non-aggressive species. It can be a tad territorial when combined with other members of its own species, but it rarely leads to serious fights. They males will normally only flare and chase each other.
Breeding Butterfly pleco
Unlike many other plecos, this species has been successfully bred in aquariums many times. Decorate the aquarium with plenty of driftwood and create suitable spawning caves among the wood. This is a cave spawning species, so suitable caves or crevices are a must. They prefer to lodge themselves into really tight fitting indentations. The male will stay around to guard and fan the eggs. He will force the fry to stay inside the cave until they are fully formed.
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