Hypancistrus zebra was scientifically described by I.J.H. Isbrucker and H. Nijssen in 1991. The genus name ‘Hypancistrus’ is derived from two Greek words: hypo and agkistron. Hypo means under while agkistron means hook. The word agkistron has been used to create the genus name Ancistrus. It gets its name from its black and white stripes pattern of the African equine, the Zebra. This fish was exported from Brazil in great numbers for sale as aquarium fish. At present, the Brazilian government has banned the export of Zebra pleco due to their over exploitation.
The Zebra pleco is a very peaceful and demandable fish due to their attractive coloration. It requires 30 gallons tank but larger is recommended with plenty of hiding places. This fish likes to hide inside caves and crevices and the tank should have such hiding spots like flower pots and PVc pipes. Zebra plecos are not aggressive and it can be kept in community aquariums with other peaceful species. It needs clear water and fast moving current in the aquarium to feel comfortable. Ideally the temperature of the aquarium should be maintained between 77 and 860 F with an abundance of live plants in order to provide an oxygen rich environment. They prefer a pH of 6-7.5 and hardness between 2 and 15° dGH. Rocks should be placed in the aquarium to maintain its natural environment. A powerful filtration and frequent partial water changes should be done to keep your expensive fantastic pleco healthy. It should be kept with small, peaceful fish of the upper swimming levels. Suggested tank mates include Tetras, Apistogramma, Hatchetfish, barbs, danios.
Zebra pleco is omnivore fish and in wild condition, it feeds on small invertebrates such as chironomid-larvae, brine Shrimp, Tubifex, Daphnia, Cyclops and aquatic vegetables. In captive condition, it readily accepts meaty foods that sink to the bottom of the aquarium. Ideal foods include a high quality flake food, sinking carnivore pellets and frozen or freeze dried bloodworms, Tubifex and brine shrimp, as well as sinking algae wafers. It also takes crushed peas, zucchini or Tetra prima. Zebra Pleco is nocturnal in nature and it moves about and feed at night.
Zebra pleco is an egg layer fish which can breed in captive condition. During breeding season, the tank should be maintained with temperature ranges of 82-86°F, a pH of 6.5-7.5, a high oxygen content of the water, a moderate to strong water current and suitable breeding caves. The female lays 7 – 15 large white eggs in each spawning inside a cave and the male guards the eggs. Zebra pleco eggs normally hatch within a week and the fry receives nutrients from their yolk sacs for another 3-4 days. After this the fry should be fed with micro worm or brine shrimp nauplii. The fry should also be supplemented the artemia with powdered flake food. The young grows slowly but it can reach 2.5 cm length in less than 3 months. During rearing zebra pleco fry, partial water changes should be done to keep your fry healthy and disease free.
It is easy to sex when it is viewed from the above. Mature males have a larger broad head and longer interopercular spines than females. During breeding period male develops spine like odontodes on their first pectoral ray, while in female it is absent.
Hypancistrus zebra is a fantastic aquarium fish and it is very popular among aquarium hobbyists. The zebra pleco is very hardy and it does well in hard or soft water and is not aggressive towards other species. It is extremely expensive due to their attractive coloration among aquarium enthusiasts. See below online vendor to buy your pleco that I would recommend from.