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Retired Staff
Apr 8, 2009
All assigned numbers: L320


Common Names: Black Cactus Pleco

Location: South America: Rio Jari, Amazonas, Brazil.



Just like many other pleco species relatively peaceful if it has enough room to stake out a territory, which will however be defended fiercely if intruded by other fish. Towards it's own kind or similar looking pleco's, this species can be quite aggressive, and if cramped for space also against other bottom dwellers.

Sexing and Breeding:

This striking Loricarid belongs to the genus of carnivorous pleco's called Pseudacanthicus or Cactus Pleco's. One glance at its mouth illustrates this well: instead of a true sucker mouth, it has a mouth than is more suitable for grasping and holding food items. Its teeth are few in number, but powerful and large: ideal for cracking open snails and small crustaceans as well as rasping meat.
All this means that its diet should primarily be made up of meaty foods, such as shrimp, krill, mussels, blood worms, mosquito larvae and fish meat (fillets). But once acclimatized, the Black Cactus Pleco usually is an undemanding fish that will also accept pellet food (both with meaty and plant matter) and sometimes even fresh vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, egg plant, potato, etc.

Water parameters:
Temp 24-30c
A tank with dimmed lights and a good amount of hiding places (plants, drift wood, rocks, artificial caves) is ideal for this beautifully patterned catfish. As juvenile, this large, robust bottom dwelling fish can be kept in a fairly modest aquarium of about 24-32" (60-80cm.) in length. Adult specimen however require a much larger tank: at least 48x20" (120x50cm.) for a single specimen, and at least an 60-80" (150-200cm.) tank for a small group of these pleco's. This fish requires plenty of personal space, because the Black Cactus Pleco can be very territorial and aggresive, especially towards its own kind and similar looking bottom dwellers. And with its sharp teeth, it is more than capable to inflict some serious injuries.
The Black Cactus Pleco does best in soft, slightly acidic water (pH 5.5-6.5), heavy oxygenation and a lot of currents. A powerful filtration system is required, as this fish produces a lot of waste due to its high-protein diet and high metabolic rate.

Max Size:
30-40cm. (12-16").

Bred by:

Additional Comments:

The Black Cactus Pleco looks very similar to a number of closely related species, in particular Pseudacanthicus sp. L282 (the Snowball Cactus Pleco). Juvenile specimen of the Black Cactus Pleco, black with small white spots, are hard to distinguish from Pseudacanthicus sp. L097 (Blizzard Cactus Pleco).

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