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Blue Phantom Pleco (L128)
(Hemiancistrus sp.)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Maximum Size: 7"
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, pH 6.0-7.0, KH 2-12
Diet: Omnivore
Origin: South America, Rio Orinoco
Family: Loricariidae
Species: Plecos
Aquarium Type: Community
Species Information
The Blue Phantom Pleco, L128 (Hemiancistrus sp.) is found in the northern most portions of the Rio Orinoco river in Venezuela. The rocky mountainous streams and tributaries that feed into the northern Rio Orinoco are known for their fast flowing currents, high levels of dissolved oxygen and clean (low nutrient) and clear waters.
As beautiful as their native river habitat is, the Blue Phantom Pleco is equally beautiful with its bluish / grey body and white spots. Specimens from the northern most areas of the Rio Orinoco valley tend to be the darkest in color, with specimens from further down river having an appreciably lighter body coloration. Many hobbyists consider the Blue Phantom one of the most attractive species of Loricariids available within the hobby, and anyone who has seen this Pleco species in person would agree that they have a strong argument.
While the Blue Phantom Pleco is considered easy to care for, they do need to be acclimated slowly to new environments and fair much better in well established aquariums. Community aquariums with adequate aqua-scaping, planted aquariums and Amazon biotope aquariums will all make for a suitable home for this species.
Aquarium Care
Blue Phantom Plecos do best in aquariums that replicate the conditions of their natural tropical stream habitat. These conditions include: sand or rounded pebble substrate, stable warm water temperatures, highly oxygenated water, live plants or tree root and moderate water currents. Blue Phantom Pleco do well in community aquariums, Amazon biotope setups and South American Cichlid aquariums containing smaller semi-aggressive Cichlid species.
While a stream biotope aquarium setup is not required to keep this species, hobbyists should include elements like plants, driftwood, wood root, large smooth rocks and areas within the aquarium that are shaded or receive only filtered lighting. As with most all Pleco species, the Blue Phantom Pleco will appreciate some dark or shaded areas in which to seek refuge from the bright aquarium lights.
They can be kept with other Pleco species in larger aquariums that will allow for each conspecific to have their own territory within the aquarium. This species is known for having some problems acclimating to new aquariums, but is hardy once settled in. It is recommended that hobbyists utilize a drip acclimation process for this species and allow them to acclimate for about 45 minutes. It is also best to shut off the aquarium lights when adding the Blue Phantom Pleco to the aquarium and leaving the lights off for about 30 minutes after.
Feeding & Nutrition
In their natural stream habitat the Blue Phantom Pleco feeds on a variety of small crustaceans, worms and decaying plant matter. They will readily adapt to commercial aquarium foods like sinking pellets and wafers that are designed for bottom feeders. They will also consume leftovers foods that make it to the aquarium substrate along with any decaying plant material.
Blue Phantom Plecos will especially enjoy meaty foods like bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp; as well as, blanched vegetables like spinach and other greens. Hobbyists should provide direct feeding in the form of sinking bottom feeder foods 2 to 3 times per week, which combined with leftover foods that the Pleco will scavenge from the substrate should be sufficient.
However, it is always recommended to monitor the overall girth and appearance of your fish and make decisions on feeding frequency based on visual cues like stomach girth and overall fish health.
Additional Photos