CARING FOR L4611-04-2011
My wife, Julia , and I would like to share our experiences in caring for the young Hypancistrus zebra (L 46). This is limited to the things that we do in our farm in the last four years that we have started breeding this beautiful fish.
We believe that there are four most important elements in caring for the young zebra pleco: Water, Hiding place, Diets, and Oxygen level.
Zebra pleco comes from the Rio Xingu in Brazil. The water parameter for zebra pleco is almost the same as the water parameter of Discus fish. I say almost because it doesn't need low pH level to thrive well. In fact, we are breeding the fish in a pH about 7.9 and they are producing well. What is the same with the Discus fish is the hardness and the temperature of the water. Zebra pleco thrive well in a hardness of 3 to 6 dGH. Also, it needs a water temperature from 27 to 30 degree celcius to grow and produce well.
A wellsuited water parameter combined with very low level of ammonia will make your zebra to grow well. Thus, it is very important to have regular water change. In our farm, we do water change at least three times a week.
- Hiding place.
The second important thing for zebra to thrive well in an aquarium life is hiding place. Zebra pleco is a very shy fish. When we have zebra pleco in our community tank, we should provide at least one for each individual zebra a hiding place to make it feels comfortable. It will only venture outside its hiding places when it wants to breed and eat. A slight movement, even in the dark, will make the fish to dash back to its hiding places. The other main purpose of hiding place is to make the fish less stress. Stress is the starter of many common diseases to flourish. That is why in our zebra aquariums, we always provide a lot of hiding places.
We can use flower vase or other pottery for the zebra to hide.
Zebra pleco is not a picky eater. But it needs varieties in its diets. Some of the foods that we feed our zebras are top quality frozen bloodworms, and pellet foods. Zebras love bloodworms. When you feed this kind of food, we need to remember that we should feed the top quality ones. A good quality bloodworm must be red in color. However, bloodworms can be used only for sub adult zebras. If the fish is too small, the bloodworm can choke the fish to death. Another good addition to the fish diets is the top quality pellet foods. We use Biofish, by DR. Bassleer , and Hikari algae wafer to add to the diets to our zebras. I use them because from my believe, bloodworm can not give all the necessary elements for the fish to grow and produce well. Also, we can give some roughage to the fish digestive system with these pellet foods.
Another important things to remember about diet are the quantity and the frequency of it. Always remember that we should not give too much food to the fish. I do not have the knowledge what is the right proportion of food to give compare to the fish's body weight. I just give the food and experiment with the quantity through time. The key is better to give less than too much. Through time, we will know what is the amount of food to give at given time. Zebra pleco is a nocturnal animal. We should feed the fish at night. The fish is active and eager to seek for food more at night. We give the food once a day only, even for babies.
- Oxygen level
The last but not the least is oxygen level in the water. This is also called the Dissolved Oxygen level (DO). Zebra plecos come from the rapid water of Rio Xingu. It needs high level of oxygen to thrive well. Some submersible pumps or airstones can help the zebra to get the oxygen it needs. Once we have measured that a 5.0 Dissolved oxygen level is enough for the fish to breed well.
These are the things that we consider all the time when we are caring our zebras and other fish in our farm. We hope that through our limited experiences, can help others to give a better chance for this beautiful fish to live well in many captivities around the world.