Many aquarium aficionados are fascinated by the beautiful Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco (Hypancistrus sp.). This fish may give a sense of elegance and even mystery to any aquarium because of its dark coloration and beautiful arabesque patterns.
However, despite its relatively widespread use, the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco’s origin, behavior, and care needs are still not well known. As result, many aquarists may have concerns about this species.
In this article, I will delve into the intriguing world of the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco, learning its secrets and dispensing helpful tips from professional breeders on how to maintain this fish’s well-being.
Quick Notes about Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
|Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
|Queen Arabesque, Queen Arabesque Pleco, Scribble Pleco
|Tank size (minimum)
|15 gallons (~60 liters)
|3.5 – 4 inches (8 – 10 cm)
|80 – 86°F (26 – 30°С)
|6.5 – 7.2
|1 – 12
|Less than 60
|up to 10 years
|White or gold web-like pattern
Etymology of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
The name Hypancistrus is derived from the Greek words ‘Hypo” referring to the reduced jaw dentition and ‘Ankistron’ meaning ‘Barb’ which refers to the characteristic gill cover odontodes that give the genus its name.
The originator of the nickname “Queen Arabesque Pleco” is unknown.
However, it is presumed that aquarists or fish collectors who originally discovered the species may have given it that name because of the elaborate and exquisite designs that adorn its body, which is reminiscent of classic Arabesque painting.
Why are they Called L260?
If you are new to this hobby, the term “L pleco” refers to the Loricariidae family – freshwater catfish frequently maintained as aquarium pets.
The Loricariidae family is represented by many species that have not been scientifically described. Therefore, the L260 designation is a code used by aquarium hobbyists to identify this particular species since 1998.
Note: This system was created in the late 1980s by German aquarium enthusiasts as a means of standardizing the identification of various pleco species, which can have perplexing and frequently overlapping common names.
Distribution of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
At the moment, it is known only that this species is exclusively found in Rio Tapajós, Pará, Brazil, which is one of the main tributaries of the Amazon.
Natural Habitat of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
In the wild, these fish live in a clean, rocky, and fast-moving river in the wild.
Description of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is a medium-sized fish. Adult females are typically smaller than females, growing up to 3 – 3.5 inches (8 – 9 cm) in length, while males can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
Distinguishing characteristics of L260:
- Coloration: The Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco has a striking black body covered in a thin white or gold web-like pattern. It has also some white/gold spots on the body.
- Shape: This species has a flattened body shape with a wide, triangular head and a narrow tail.
- Mouth: The mouth of the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is located on the underside of its head and is designed for grazing on wood and other hard surfaces.
- Fins: This species has a single dorsal fin, two pectoral fins, two pelvic fins, and an adipose fin.
L260, L411, and L066
There are hundreds of L pleco varieties, and some species can be very similar to each other, making it extremely difficult for aquarium hobbyists to tell them apart.
For example, compared to L066, L260 has generally thinner stripes. L260 is generally more visually appealing than L411. While young L411 may be attractive, it tends to become darker and less prominent with age, whereas L260 tends to become more beautiful as it ages. In addition, L260 has dots/spots.
Lifespan of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
Nobody knows how long these fish can live in the wild because as I have already said this species hasn’t been even scientifically described yet.
Nonetheless, in captivity, the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco can easily survive for at least 10 years. There are reports that some individuals have lived up to 15 years or even more.
Typical Behavior of Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
The Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is a calm and peaceful fish that won’t bite at the fins of other fish or act aggressively toward them. These plecos will not suck the slime from other fish as well.
They may show some aggression with fish competing for the same hiding places and foods. In addition, during the breeding season, males may become territorial towards each other to establish their own personal space.
Thus it is generally recommended to keep only one male with several females with plenty of space and hiding places.
The Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is not a particularly active species. Even though some individuals may be outgoing, generally, these fish spend much of the day hidden in caves or beneath rocks.
They are more ‘noticeable’ and active at night when they venture outside to search for food.
Although they do not require social interaction, being in a group allows them to engage in natural behaviors, which will reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.
Placement in Tank:
The Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is a bottom-dwelling fish species. They are naturally adapted to live in rocky, fast-moving streams where they scavenge for food and hide in crevices and caves along the bottom of the water body.
- Social: No
- Activity: Low
- Placement: bottom-dwellers
- Peaceful: Yes
- Nippers: No
- Jumpers: No
Feeding Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
The question of feeding for the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is one of the most important, as many aquarium enthusiasts make common mistakes in this area.
It is important to note that while many sources mistakenly classify this fish as a carnivore, it is actually an omnivore.
While microorganisms, biofilm, gammarus, and bloodworms are the main components of their diet, these fish have also been observed consuming raw potatoes, pumpkin, and peppers.
Note: Do not forget to blanch vegetables in boiling water beforehand. They can die from stale vegetables. It should also be noted that they are relatively indifferent to cucumbers.
Overall, a balanced and varied diet is essential to ensure the health and well-being of this species.
In the aquarium, the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco can be fed with a wide variety of live food such as:
- brine shrimp (artemia salina),
- artemia nauplii,
- tubifex worms,
- grindal worms,
- cyclops, etc.
Some good examples of commercial foods (links to Amazon):
|Although the Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos can ingest pills and frozen food, it is important to note that this is not the best food for them!
In addition to the fact that frozen food has a low nutritional value due to the amount of water it contains, their mouth is designed to scrape food off of surfaces. Therefore, it is advised to rinse it at least a few times before feeding them frozen food.
To feed this type of fish, you should use food that sinks to the bottom of the tank and doesn’t float on the water’s surface.
DIY Pleco Food
Although Queen Arabesque L260 is not a picky species, there is always some room for improvement.
The recipe is quite simple and can be modified depending on the ingredients you have, for example:
- mysis shrimp,
- tubifex worms,
- grindal worms,
- spirulina, etc.
- Take equal proportions of any of the ingredients listed above (except spirulina, which should be 1/5 of the proportion).
- Mix and blend everything in a blender.
- The consistency of the resulting mixture should resemble a thick soup.
- Take a porous stone (it absorbs better) and spread this mixture thinly over the surface of the stone.
- Let the stone dry naturally. Do not dry it in the oven. Ideally, the temperature should not be higher than 120F (50C), otherwise, it will lose its nutritional value.
- After that, we can use this stone to feed the fish.
- It is possible to store this mixture in the fridge for 3 days.
An obvious advantage of this method is that you know exactly what ingredients are in the mixture. The spread mixture on the stone allows the fish to gradually scrape off the food, allowing them to stay satiated longer than with a tablet. In addition, this feeding method is the most natural for Queen Arabesque L260.
How Often to Feed Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco?
Adult fish should be fed once per day. Fry should be fed 2-3 times per day.
Keep in mind that the so-called “five-minute rule” cannot be applied to this species. Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos eat very slowly. In addition, they are mostly nocturnal.
Tip: It will be better to feed them at night or at least right before you turn off the lights.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Food Preference: Meat
- Feeding Frequency: Daily
Are Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco Plants Safe?
Yes, these fish are completely plant safe. They will not eat any healthy plants in the tank. This specie does not eat living plant material.
Keeping these fish with plants can be problematic for another reason. The thing is, these fish prefer very warm water, and unfortunately, most plants cannot thrive for long in such conditions.
Keeping and Caring for Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco
The requirements for keeping this type of fish can be quite complex for beginners since they are quite demanding when it comes to specific water parameters and conditions for their care.
The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos should not be kept in small tanks due to their size and feeding requirements. Long tanks are better than tall ones.
The minimum tank size for this species is 15 gallons (60 liters) for 1 male and 3 – 4 females.
Temperature: This species requires very warm temperature conditions of 80 – 86°F (26 – 30°С). The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos do not tolerate large temperature fluctuations.
pH: The ideal pH range should be between 6.5 – 7.2. The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos do not like alkaline water.
Hardness: The tank should preferably have soft to medium water hardness. However, anything in the 1 – 12 GH range is fine.
TDS: This species prefers low TDS. Ideally, it should range between 70-120 ppm.
Water flow and Aeration:
The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos enjoys water with a strong current and rich oxygenation. External canister filters with spray bars (for surface agitation) may serve for this purpose, otherwise, additional powerheads can be installed to provide adequate flow and oxygenation of the water.
Note: This fish is very particular about the oxygen content in the water and requires constant water aeration, otherwise it may die.
Keep in mind that a powerful filtration system needs to be in place to properly aerate the aquarium water and maintain a high level of oxygenation.
Most experienced aquarists recommend going for an oversized filter to be able to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.
Moreover, you should aim for a total turnover rate of between 5 – 10 times per hour.
Their natural environment is composed of smaller rocks, sand, gravel, and lots of boulders. Ideally, we need to mimic it in our tanks.
Avoid coarse gravel. Its sharp edges can injure/scratch the body of the fish as they swim in the lower regions of the tank.
Tip: For easy maintenance, we can keep them in a bare-bottom tank (no sand) but with large stones.
|Note: Large stones provide a lot of surface area for biofilm and other microorganisms’ growth.
No special requirements.
The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos have a distinct nocturnal activity pattern.
You will have to change 20-25 % of their water every week. However, you may need to remove a different percentage of water depending on your filter and other tank factors.
Keep in mind that any water that you add to the tank should also be at least dechlorinated.
Decorations and Hiding Places:
Decorations provide hiding places (shelter and protection) and minimize their stress. This is especially crucial for breeding purposes!
These fish will appreciate all types of rocks, sandstones, driftwood, PVC pipes, clay caves, bamboo caves, slate shelves, and other decorations to enrich the environment in your tank.
Note: Driftwood but only for aesthetic purposes as these fish do not chew it.
Breeding Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos
Breeding Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos is possible but is also challenging since they have particular needs in terms of water quality, temperature, and breeding conditions.
Although males and females look very similar and there are some physical differences between them that may help you determine their sex:
- Size: Males tend to be slightly larger than females, especially in terms of overall body length and head size.
- Body shape: Males have a more V-shaped body (head is wider and longer) while females may be slightly rounder or plumper in appearance. In addition, in many cases, males have a somewhat marbled belly. Females often have whitish
- Odontodes. Males have slightly bigger, longer interopercular and pectoral odontodes (bony growths on their scales) compared to females. In females, the pectorals are also more curved, while males will have a straight last half of their first pectoral ray.
- Behavioral differences: During the breeding season, males become more territorial.
- Growth: Males grow slightly faster. Thus, if they are from the same batch, it can be an additional factor to take into account even before fish become mature.
Fish become sexually mature at the age of 2 to 2.5 years. It has also been observed that older fish (8-9 years old) almost stop reproducing.
Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos are cave spawners, meaning that they lay their eggs in a suitable breeding cave or similar structure.
Therefore, it is crucial to provide suitable spawning sites (caves), such as slate or PVC pipes with one entrance for the female to lay her eggs. The male will then fertilize the eggs and guard them until they hatch.
|The cave should be just big enough for the male to enter. Its dimensions should be 1.5 times the male’s width and 1-1.5 times his length. The male must be able to trap the female inside the cave to initiate spawning for a long time (up to 1 week!).
This behavior is believed to test the male’s ability to protect the spawn from predators and to establish dominance over the female.
Tip: If mating lasts too long, it may be better to separate them to allow the male to feed. Otherwise, he can cannibalize the eggs.
Once the female is receptive, she will enter the breeding cave to lay eggs on the walls or ceiling of the cave. The male will then fertilize them.
Mating may last from a few hours to several days.
After mating, the male will take care of the eggs and eventually fry. During all this time, he generally stays in the cave, guards, and fans the eggs after spawning.
Depending on the size of the females, a single clutch can contain anywhere from 10 to 40 eggs, with an average of around 15–20 yellow eggs per clutch. The eggs are relatively large (2.5 – 3 mm in diameter).
|Some aquarists complain that males eat eggs.
Unfortunately, no one knows for sure why this happens. However, there are assumptions that this behavior is promoted by stressful situations (such as having multiple males in the aquarium, excessive attention from humans, such as frequent lighting with a flashlight). There is also a presumption that an improper diet can lead to such behavior.
Typically, it takes around 5-6 days for the eggs to hatch, but this can be slightly longer or shorter depending on the temperature in the tank.
After 2 weeks the fry become free swimming and actively feeding on the same food as adults but in smaller proportions.
At this point, it is important to feed them small amounts several times a day, rather than one large feeding, to ensure that they are getting enough food and to prevent overfeeding, which can lead to poor water quality and health problems.
- after hatching: 0.1 inches (3-4 mm)
- 1 week: 0.2 inches (5 mm)
- 2 weeks: 0.4 inches (10 cm)
- 1 month: 0.5-0.6 inches (1.2 – 1.4 cm)
- 3 months: 0.8 -1 inch (2 – 2.5 cm)
- 6 months: 1.2 – 1.4 (3 – 3.5 cm)
It is generally recommended to separate Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco fry from the adults because of the 2 main reasons:
- Once the fry become free-swimming and start to feed on their own, adults may compete with the fry for food and space.
- It was noticed that the frequency of mating decreases significantly if there are many fry in the aquarium. Probably, this is how their number is regulated in nature.
Move the fry to a rearing tank or at least place them in a floating breeding container with an air bubbler.
To stimulate breeding in these fish, the following steps should be taken.
- Increase the frequency of water changes, making 15-20% changes daily.
- Lower the water temperature by 4-8 degrees (°F), simulating the rainy season.
- Shad the tank by covering all the walls except the front one with a black background.
- Add more hiding spots.
- Turn off the lights in the room at night.
- The amount of food should also be increased.
- It is important to monitor water quality and ensure that TDS does not exceed 100, as it has been observed that fewer fry are produced when it is higher.
Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos and Suitable Tankmates
The Queen Arabesque Pleco may cohabit peacefully with a variety of other fish species in tanks that have similar water parameter requirements. Nonetheless, if you thinking about breeding them, a species-only tank is highly recommended!
Avoid adding fast bottom-dwelling species to the tank because they might steal the food before the Queen Arabesque has a chance to react.
· Dwarf shrimp
Adult dwarf shrimp can be safely kept with these fish. Although L260 Plecos are not hunters, they are omnivores. Thus, there is always a potential that they will try to munch on baby shrimp if they are small enough to fit in their mouth.
Does it occur frequently? No, it does not. That is why dwarf shrimp and the Queen Arabesque Pleco are frequently kept together in aquariums.
Note: Personally, I would not advise taking any chances if you are serious about breeding expensive shrimp species! It is better to play safe in this case.
The Queen Arabesque L260 Plecos are compatible with any freshwater snails. Together they will do a good job of scavenging for food particles, plant matter, and algae along the lower levels of the tank.
- Large and/or aggressive, and/or boisterous fish.
- Keep them away from all types of crayfish and most types of freshwater crabs.
The Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco is a fascinating and beautiful fish species that is highly prized by aquarium hobbyists for its striking coloration and peaceful nature.
However, it is important to note that this species is not hardy and requires careful attention to water quality and temperature to thrive and breed.
Nonetheless, successfully breeding and raising this species can be very satisfying for any aquarist. So, if you are willing to put in the effort to provide the proper care, the Queen Arabesque L260 Pleco can be a wonderful addition to your tank.