The L201 Snowball Pleco (Hypancistrus sp.), also known as the Orinoco Angel Pleco, belongs to the Loricariidae family of South American suckermouth catfish. Its striking appearance, featuring a black body adorned with large white polka dots, makes it an eye-catching addition to planted or nano aquariums.
Known for its peaceful and resilient nature, the Snowball Pleco is a low-maintenance species suitable for most aquarium setups. Unlike its larger counterparts such as the Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) and Trinidad Pleco (Hypostomus punctatus), which can grow to monstrous sizes of 18 to 20+ inches (45 to 51+ cm), the Snowball Pleco only reaches a size of 5.5 to 6.3 inches (14 to 16 cm). This smaller size makes it more manageable and less prone to creating excessive waste, enabling it to thrive in a well-maintained aquarium as small as 40 gallons.
While male Snowball Plecos may exhibit territorial behavior towards other males of their species, providing ample hiding places and territory for each fish can diffuse potential conflicts. Other tankmates are generally ignored, although dwarf shrimp may be seen as prey. However, ornamental snails remain unbothered, and larger shrimp species like Amano, Green Lace, Flower, and Vampire Shrimp are usually not threatened by the Snowball Pleco.
Primarily active during the night, the Snowball Pleco tends to become more active during daytime hours once it has established itself in an aquarium with sufficient driftwood, rockwork, and hiding spots. Although it does not heavily consume wood like some other pleco species, supplementary wood or bio-film on driftwood can be beneficial. The Snowball Pleco is not known to disturb most plants and is not an effective algae-eater.
For optimal nutrition, it is recommended to provide the Snowball Pleco with a well-balanced diet consisting of both meaty and vegetable matter. This includes high-quality vegetable flakes, sinking algae wafers, and pellets. Fresh vegetables such as shelled peas, spinach, zucchini, and cucumber can also be offered. Meaty foods like bloodworms are particularly important for this species, distinguishing it from other "pleco" species. It thrives in a well-maintained aquarium with moderate to high water flow.
In summary, the Snowball Pleco is a visually appealing and adaptable species that can be successfully maintained in a variety of aquariums. By meeting its specific requirements and providing a diverse diet, aquarists can enjoy the beauty and presence of this captivating catfish.