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L333 Pleco - The Tank and Proper Care & Forum

Brief Description

The article below describes how to take care of Pleco L333 in a fish tank including breeding, feeding and tank setup. You're welcome to share experiences with us at the bottom of this page, and you're welcome to ask in case some of your questions haven't yet been answered here.


The L333 Pleco belongs to the Loricariidae family and is fast becoming one of the most popular species of this family to be kept by many keepers. It is more commonly known as the King Tiger Pleco and closely resembles other members of the Loricariidae family but if observed closely it soon becomes obvious that they have their own well defined markings that make this fish stand out.


They originate from the Rio Xingu where they were quite prominent but to conserve their present stocks the Brazilian government has now banned exportation of this species. All is not lost though as once settled into the tank they can be quite prolific breeders so most specimens sold nowadays are in fact tank bred.

Their natural habitat consists of fast flowing waters that are well oxygenated, there is usually tannin in the water and bogwood scattered about.

There are many colour variants to this species so sometimes identification can be difficult but generally they display a yellow background colour with dark brown bands that are irregular in shape, hence their common name. They make a great addition to the community tank as their adult size is approximately 4-6 inches (~10 - 15 cm) and they are quite peaceful but as with all of the catfish family, they can become more territorial as they mature.

They are often mistaken for the L066 but closer looks at the markings will show them to be different fish as the markings on the L333 are better defined and sharper.

Setting up the L333 tank

It is best to re-create their natural conditions when setting up a tank for the L333; this will bring the best colouration out of the fish and will help them to settle quicker as well. Sand or smooth gravel can be used for the substrate and add bogwood with some smooth rocks to provide hiding places. These fish do not like bright lighting so keep it subdued and add some floating plants such as the Amazon Frogbit to help with this.

They do demand a high water quality and prefer a decent water current flowing through the tank; this can easily be achieved by placing the outlets from the filter to flow across the length of the tank or failing this add a small power head. As mentioned above the water must be well oxygenated and regular water changes must be performed to keep the parameters perfect.

The temperature of the tank should be between 25 - 31°C (77 - 87.80°F) as they do prefer the higher temperatures and the pH needs to range from 6.0-7.0. The water should be quite soft as alkaline water conditions can be detrimental to their general health.

The L333 will tolerate their own kind so more than one specimen can be kept in the tank but it is best if this species are the only bottom dwellers, other tank mates should occupy the other levels of the water column.

Suitable tank mates include most of the Characins, peaceful species of Cichlids, Tetras or Rasboras. Make sure that you do not mix these with herbivorous fish as the L333 is carnivorous and mixing the two different diets will not work.

If you intend to have a go at breeding these fish then you will need to add some caves to the tank by using terracotta plant pots or lengths of piping.

Feeding the L333

There has been some confusion in the past with keepers of this fish, they have believed them to have the same dietary needs as some of the omnivorous species of Loricariidae but the L333 needs a high protein diet and they only accept a vegetable diet when they are young, as they mature their dietary needs change. They need meaty foods such as blood worms, chopped mussels, chopped cockles or prawns; they do not eat algae though they will accept commercial dried foods. Adding algae wafers to the tank will not do them any good and they will be ignored.

Breeding the L333

As juveniles it is impossible to sex these fish but as they mature there are obvious differences between the sexes. The males will develop large odontodes on their pectoral fins and their heads, some females will develop these but they will be a lot smaller and not so noticeable. The females will have a rounder body shape and if you compare their head shapes, the males will be broader and shorter in length. It can take up to 2 years before these fish become fully mature so patience is required if you have purchased a group to finish up with a breeding pair.

The easiest way to breed these fish is to remove them from the community tank and place the pair in their own breeding tank which contains plenty of caves formed from piping or plant pots. The entrances to the caves should be slightly larger then the fish, if too large an entrance the Pleco may ignore it. Keep the water well oxygenated and make sure that the pH does not rise above 6.5.

The male will select his favoured spawning site which would be defended vigorously in a community tank but in the breeding tank there are no competitors to take his mind away from breeding. The male will then try to lure the female into the site and once she has chosen to do so it may be several days before the eggs are actually laid and fertilised.

The female now has no further part to play in the breeding process and is often chased out of the nest by the male.

The male assumes all of the parenting so his time is spent guarding the eggs and fanning them with his fins to keep the water flowing over them. It will take a few days for the eggs to hatch and the fry will be born with their yolk sacs which they will consume initially. Once these have been consumed it will be your responsibility to supply them with food and they will be voracious eaters. Supply them with algae wafers, newly hatched brine shrimp, micro-worms or even crushed flake but never let them go hungry or they will start to perish.

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