Lemon Spotted Green Pleco, Green Pleco, L200
Baryancistrus demantoides (Werneke, Sabaj & Lujan, 2005)
South America: upper Rio Orinoco between Minicia and Rio Ventuari and Rio Ventuari, in the borderregion between Venezuela and Colombia.
About 20cm. (8").
This medium-sized Loricarid prefers a dimly lit tank with a good number of hiding places, either created with plants, drift wood, rocks or artificial (pleco spawning) caves. To keep more than one adult specimen in the same tank, or together with other bottom dwelling fish, you need at least a 48x20" (120x50cm.) tank or larger: this fish can be quite territorial, and when suitable hiding places are lacking, it can be aggressive towards other bottom dwellers. When kept as only catfish in an aquarium, a tank size of 40x16" (100x40cm.) is sufficient, although a 48" (120cm.) aquarium would be better.
The Green Phantom requires warm and very oxygen-rich water, preferably soft and slightly acidic water (pH 6.0-6.5). Also, lots of underwater currents are appreciated. A powerful filter system is recommended, as this fish produces a lot of waste.
A look at the mouth of the Green Phantom Pleco 'Hi-Fin' reveals that this species is an "Aufwuchs" eater. Aufwuchs is the organic layer, part plant, part animal (small crustaceans, fresh water sponges, small insects and their eggs, plankton), that over time develops on submerged surfaces. The fish uses its large diskshaped suckermouth, equipped with a large amount of tiny teeth, to graze on these surfaces.
Once acclimatized, this species of Loricarid will usually readily accept meaty foods (bloodworms, mosquito larvae, artemia, tubifex) as well as vegetable matter (vegetables, pellet food, algae and, to the dismay of many aquarists, also aquarium plants). The emphasis should be on vegetable matter, as a diet that is too proteine-rich can lead to digestive problems, ingestation and bloat.
Suitable for community tanks, but can be very aggressive to other Pleco's in general, and other Green Phantoms in particular. Like most Baryancistrus pleco's, this species can be pretty territorial: finding and defending suitable hiding places/breeding caves are usually the focus of attention and main cause for aggressive behaviour. Keeping more than one adult under cramped circumstances or in a tank lacking enough suitable hiding places can result in the death of one of the fish...
Baryancistrus pleco's is notorious for being very hard to acclimatize, and a substantial percentage of all fish imported die within the first month or so in captivity, due to stress and malnourishment/starvation. Another common and often fatal problem with recently imported Baryancistrus is problems with the bacterial intestinal flora, which has become negatively affected by shipping: the dieing off of vital bacteria in the gut causes digestive problems and problems extracting, especially during the first weeks of captivity essential nutrients from the food the fish eats. Fish being sold need to have been in quarantine at the importer/seller for a at least a few weeks, to maximize the chances of survival once brought home. Fish that haven't been through this procedure can often be recognized by the sunken eyes and belly - most of these fish will die within a few weeks at most.
Once at home, the quarantine procedure isn't over yet: before being introduced in a tank with other fish, Baryancistrus should be kept in a small separate tank for at least a few weeks. This is to assure that the fish can acclimatize at ease, can adjust to your specific water parameters. Also can be checked whether the fish eats (reddish to dark-brown feaces, depending on the foods offered, should be noticeable), and what types of food are eaten especially well. Once the fish eats well, is active and alert, and looks/acts healthy (full belly, round, clear eyes and good coloration), it is ready to be moved to a larger tank with tank mates.
With the introduction into a larger tank with tank mates, the problems aren't necessarily over, however. No matter how vulnerable Baryancistrus pleco's are during the first number of weeks, once properly acclimatized it will set up a territory, and will chase off any intruder: not only fish of its own kind, but in many cases also another bottom dwellers will be driven off, often in a very violent manner. In some cases, problematic fish have to be taken out of the tank and moved to a separate tank to avoid stress and injuries, and either put by itself or with very robust tank mates.
Among hobbyists, this species is referred to as L200 "Hi-fin", for two reasons: firstly, and most obviously, because of its huge dorsal fin, and secondly to differentiate it from the 'normal'-finned L200 found in the same area and originally thought to be the same species. In 2005 L200 was scientifically described, and a seperation was made between the two different forms. The species depicted here, with the very high, shark-like dorsal fin, is Baryancistrus demantoides, and the species with normal dorsal fin is Hemiancistrus subviridis, which is more closely related to the up to this day undescribed L128 Blue Phantom Pleco (also a Hemiancistrus-species)