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Royal Pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus)

Royal Plecostomus L-190 (Panaque nigrolineatus)

The Royal Plecostomus (Panaque nigrolineatus), (L190) is also known as the Royal Panaque, the Broken Line Royal Pleco, or the Royal Black-lined Panaque.

Royal Plecos are herbivorous freshwater armored catfish native to Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela where they occur in the Orinoco and Amazon river basins.  These suckermouth armored catfish belong to the Genus Panaque and have a distinct body shape that somewhat resembles a tadpole. They are known for being one of the few fish that actually digest wood.

Royal Plecostomus are light grey in color overlayed with dark grey to black squiggles. They have red eyes and their dorsal fins are edged with cream or gold.  The striking graphic pattern of irregular black streaks over a mossy or cement colored body gives the fish its “Royal” name.

Royal Plecostomus make a peaceful addition to any large (100 gallon or more) tropical freshwater aquarium.  They come from fast moving South American rivers and are found around sunken driftwood (bogwood) where they forage on biological matter and other food items growing on the encrusted wood.

Royal Plecostomus require a large, highly aerated aquarium planted with hardy, fast growing plants, and lots of  water movement to keep them healthy and happy.  Place rocks and driftwood in the tank for them to hide around and forage on.  Aquascaping with driftwood is extremely important to induce the natural feeding behavior of Royal Plecos.  Royal Plecos are primarily nocturnal and are shy under aquarium lights.  You will see them most active at night.  They are also territorial and should be provided a suitable resting area.

Royal Plecostomus are not common in most tropical fish shops and fortunately they are not picky eaters.  As long as you place several pieces of waterlogged driftwood in the tank for them, they will eat the wood, algae, and detritus that forms on the bogwood.

Supplement their diets with fresh vegetables, sinking algae wafers, freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, sinking carnivore pellets or a high quality flake food until the bogwood in the tank “ages” enough to produce sufficient forage for the fish.

Royal Plecostomus have not yet been bred in an aquarium environment by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts and unfortunately very little is known about their breeding habits.

When you can find Royal Plecostomus in a fish shop, they are usually young specimens that are often in an undernourished state.  Dedicated attention to their needs will usually bring them around.

The average purchase size of this fish is between 1-1/2″ to 2″ but they will grow to over 17″ in your tank.

Royal Pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus)

Royal Pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus)








Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-79° F, KH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.4
Max. Size: 1′ 4″
Color Form: Brown, Gold
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Good community tank fish
Origin: South America
Family: Loricariidae
Live Span: 20 years +
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Plecostomus, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (2)

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