Blue Phantom Pleco L-128 (Hemiancistrus Specie)

The Blue Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus Specie) is a stunning riverine species found only in the northern Rio Orinoco drainage of Venezuela.

In their natural environment, Blue Phantom Plecos inhabit moderate to fast flowing rivers and streams with rocky substrates where they feed upon aufwuchs, algae, and small aquatic crustaceans.

Blue Phantom Pleco L128 (Hemiancistrus sp.)

Blue Phantom Pleco L128 (Hemiancistrus sp.)

The Blue Phantom Pleco has an almost inky black body color with variable blueish white spots.    The spots at the head are numerous and smaller than those scattered over the rest of the body. Mature males tend to have longer odontodes behind the gill covers.

The Blue Phantom Pleco (L128) may or may not be Hemiancistrus subviridis, the Green Phantom Pleco (L200) with which it resembles and is

Green Phantom Pleco L200 (Hemiancistrus subviridis)

Green Phantom Pleco L200 (Hemiancistrus subviridis)

often confused.   Both are found in different parts of the same river system and could well be the same species.

Several color forms of the Blue Phantom Pleco have been collected that vary in accordance to the locality where they were found.   These vary in base body color, the size and number of spots, and the positioning of the spots on the body.

The darker forms of L128 are found in the northern part of its range.   Specimens collected farther south become progressively lighter in body color.   Yet the darkest color form of L200 is found at the end of L128’s range and becomes lighter farther south.

This seems to indicate that both L128 and L200 are different color forms of the same species, however, until scientists make a final determination, for now, both are considered separate.

Regardless, both the Blue Phantom Pleco (L128) and the Green Phantom Pleco (L200) require the same water conditions and care.

Blue Phantom Plecos do best in at least a 30 gallon tank made into a stream type setting with a lot of caves and hiding places.   They should have a gravel or sandy substrate with plenty of rounded stones and a few larger river rocks formed into caves, some driftwood or bogwood, and some plants if needed for aesthetics.    They do require well oxygenated water and a moderate degree of current flowing in the tank.   A power head or two, a good filtration system, and regular water changes are necessary to keep these beautiful Plecos healthy.

Blue Phantom Plecos are peaceful and make a good choice for a community tank as long as their water requirements are met.   They can be housed with Hemiodus, Anostomus, Flagtail Characin, Silver Dollars, other Plecos, and some South American Retroculus.

Make sure that if you have more than one species of Pleco in the same tank, each one has an area to call home.   Provide plenty of caves, driftwood, and other hiding areas to prevent bickering over territories.

The Blue Phantom Pleco has reportedly been bred in an aquarium environment.   They are cave spawners and like most other Hypostominae, the male guards the eggs but other than that, none of the specifics have been made available to tropical fish keeping enthusiastics.

In their natural habitat, Blue Phantom Plecos are omnivorous but feed primarily on aufwuchs and small aquatic crustaceans clinging to the rocks. In an aquarium environment they should be fed a balanced diet of dried sinking pellets, spirulina wafers, shrimp pellets, and live or frozen Daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, etc.   They should also be given blanched spinach or cucumber on occasion.

The Blue Phantom Pleco (L128) is rarely available in tropical fish keeping shops but can be purchased online from dealers or importers in various sizes and at moderate prices.

Blue Phantom Pleco L128 (Hemiancistrus sp.)

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Relatively Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-77°F, GH 2-12 ° , pH 6.0 – 7.2
Max. Size: 7.3″
Color Form: Black, Blue, White
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank
Origin: Venezuela
Family: Loricariidae
Life Span: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

2 Responses to “Blue Phantom Pleco L-128 (Hemiancistrus Specie)”

  1. Douglas A Cook says:

    I have a blue Phantom hes at least 15yrs the store told me he was 2 when I purchased him so possibly17 yrs ,I’ve had him as my pet since2003…is this rare ,him being this old?

    • Fishkeeper says:

      Not necessarily, it just means hes being well taken care of.
      The lifespans given under each species are generally rough estimates. Many aquarium kept species live much longer than their wild counterparts.


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