Zebra L46 Pleco
Such an exciting day today! I woke up to a message on my phone, which was sent at 4am from a fish breeder in Melbourne, letting me know that my first two Zebra pleco's (hypancistrus zebra) are on their way. The Zebra L46 Pleco is a species of catfish that are endemic to Brazil and found in the Rio Xingu River. These fish and others native to the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon River, are threatened to become extinct. It is thought that the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the Xingu River in Brazil will cause severe reduction in flow of the river, threatening the natural biotope for these fish. These catfish were first discovered in the early 1990's and were exported in high numbers due to their popularity. The Brazilian government but a ban on their export early in 2006 and since that time their prices have increased dramatically, they remain one the most popular catfish amongst aquarists. The only available specimens in Australia, and many other countries, are those that have been tank bred and their prices are extremely high.
I had always thought that these fish would be impossible to find, however, I have since found a community of fish breeders that are currently breeding them and managed to purchase two so far. I have a few more on hold from a different breeder, which are currently growing out big enough to survive the plane trip to my house. They are long lived fish, 10 years plus all going well, which makes them extremely slow growing and slow to mature to breeding age. Therefore, when I received my morning phone call to let me know they had safely arrived at the airport this was a very exciting call.
So far so good, both fish are healthy and were very active immediately when unpacked from their foam box. They are now settling into their new tank, I even managed a few photo's before they inevitably go into hiding. They are an extremely shy fish and their natural habitat is deep in the river where they reside amongst caves and rock crevices. Fingers crossed my two survive their experience of flying interstate and settle well. I'm hoping in a few years time they may even decide to breed, fingers crossed, they are approximately 2 - 2 1/2 years old and about 5-6 cm long.