Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

The Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204 also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Emperor Pleco, is native to the Rio Alejandro in Peru where they occur in the upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, upper and Middle Ucayali river systems.

The Emperor Pleco is an armored suckermouth catfish belong to the Genus Panaque. They have a body shape that resembles a large tadpole.

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

The Flash Pleco has a black or very dark brown base body color with thin white or yellow vertical

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

stripes that begin forming on the upper body and reach forward to the lower body.

As juveniles grow into adulthood, the body stripes break up into a more spotted pattern.

The fins have narrow white to yellow bands and ornate tail fin extensions.   Juveniles usually have white lines that turn yellow as the fish ages.

Adult males have strong odontoid growth on their caudal peduncle and broader heads than females.   Females are more rounded than males, especially when they are gravid.

Although L204 is easily identifiable, it is sometimes confused with Panaqolus “Cruzeiro” which has a more spotted pattern.

Flash Plecos are found in faster moving waters among submerged driftwood or bogwood where they forage on biological matter growing on the encrusted wood.   Like other Panaque pleco species, the Flash Pleco requires wood in their diet as part of their digestive process.

Flash or Emperor Plecos are a very peaceful species that make good candidates for a peaceful community tank.   They can be housed with other peaceful midwater species such as a shoal of characins, as long as plenty of hiding places are provided for them. Avoid species that could nip at their ornate fin extensions.

The Emperor Pleco is best kept in an aquarium of at least 30 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, a few rocks or pieces of slate formed into caves or hiding places, plenty of driftwood or bogwood, and some hardy plants like Anubias if desired.

They require clean water and a good amount of water movement so a good filtration system with a powerhead is recommended along with regular water changes.

Panaqolus albivermis are cave spawners that have been successfully bred in an aquarium environment on several occasions.

A complete water change with an overnight temperature drop will often trigger spawning activity.

Spawning usually occurs when a male and female pair off from a group and select a cave which the male then guards against all rivals.

When the pair selects a cave, the male will actively swim in and out until spawning is completed.   He will then stand guard at the entrance to the cave until the eggs hatch and fry are eventually released by him to fend for themselves.   During this entire process, the male does not appear to eat.

Young Flash Plecos are miniature copies of the adults and eat the same food, however, if bred in a tank with other specimens, they could be raised in a separate tank or in a hanging box inside the tank to ensure that they get enough food to grow.

Flash Plecos are classified as omnivores, but they are mainly wood eating herbivores that eagerly consume a variety of vegetable matter.   Although some crustaceans and insect larvae are eaten by them in their natural environment and can be added to their diet, too much protein and too few vegetarian foods can cause serious problems.

They do best on a diet of bottom feeder wafers, spiurilina wafers, zuchinni, cucumber, etc. with several pieces of bogwood available to them in the tank.

Animal protein in the form of brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, grindal worms, etc. is often fed to female Panaqolus albivermis when conditioning them for breeding, but a steady carnivore diet should be avoided.

The Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204 is a commonly available species from Peruvian exporters but still relatively uncommon to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

They can be purchased from specialty fish shops and online from a variety of sources at moderate prices.   With the tightening of Brazilian imports, this species has become even more sought after than ever.

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204

Flash Pleco (Panaqolus albivermis) L204







Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 76.5-86°F, KH 0-5° dH, GH 0-20° dH, pH 6.6 – 8.6
Max. Size: 5.1 ″
Color Form: Black, White, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank fish
Origin: Rio Alejandro, Peru
Family: Loricariidae
Live Span: 8-12 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate


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