Gold nugget pleco - Baryancistrus sp. L85
Scientific name: Baryancistrus sp. L85
Common name: Gold nugget pleco
Usual size in fish tanks: 20 - 35 cm (7.87 - 13.78 inch)
Recommended pH range for the species: 6.5 - 7.5
Recommended water hardness (dGH): 8 - 18°N (142.86 - 321.43ppm)
0°C 32°F30°C 86°F
Recommended temperature: 25 - 30 °C (77 - 86°F)
The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning
Where the species comes from: South America
Temperament to its own species: peaceful
Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful
Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels
The Gold nugget pleco are to be found in South America, namely Brazil where they inhabit the fast moving rapid waters of the Rio Xingu.
These fish belong to the Loricariidae which is the largest family of catfish. They were at one time very rare in the aquarium hobby and demanded high prices for each specimen. Nowadays they are more common but still expect to pay more compared to other members of the same family. Adult specimens will attain an average length of 6 inches making them ideal for medium sized aquariums but they do require swimming space at the bottom levels of the aquarium. They display a wonderful colouration that is marked with bright spots and the fins will display yellow stripes which adds to their appeal.
They are not classed as hardy so require the highest water quality to keep them healthy so they are not ideal for beginners to fish keeping but more suitable to keepers with some experience. Due to their sensitivity it is best to observe any specimen that you are thinking of purchasing, make sure that they look healthy and are feeding well. Any signs of a sunken belly can indicate poor feeding habits and a general poor health.
If cared for correctly the Gold nugget pleco will reach an average age of up to 25 years so they are regarded as a long term investment in the aquarium.
The minimum aquarium size that the Gold nugget pleco should be housed in will need to be capable of holding 50 gallons, a rough guide is an aquarium at least 4 feet (120cm) in length and 18 inches (45cm) deep. Never add these to an immature aquarium, the aquarium must be fully cycled with steady water parameters. Always acclimatise them slowly to prevent any stress in the fish. They require a good water flow, this can be induced by careful positioning of the outlet nozzles from the filter or the addition of small powerheads. The water flow should increase the oxygen levels by gaseous exchange which these fish require.
The temperature should range between 25-30°C (77-86°F) and range the pH between 6.5 to 7.5. As mentioned above high water quality is a must so large water changes should be performed, at least 30% weekly.
The Gold nugget plec will tolerate tankmates that occupy the higher levels of the aquarium but they are extremely territorial towards other bottom dwellers. It is recommended that only one specimen is housed unless your aquarium is large enough to give each specimen plenty of floor space.
Gold nugget plec are primarily known as algae eaters but the aquarium will not generate enough algae to keep them well fed and healthy so their diet must be supplemented. There are many sinking catfish pellets than can be offered and for variety, zucchini or blanched peas make a great treat. They will also accept small treats of chopped mussels or cockles but these should be fed very sparingly.
It is best to feed these fish just before lights out when they start to become at their most active.
These fish can be quite difficult to sex but you compare specimens, mature males tend to develop a flatter head shape while the females will be rounder.
There have been a few reports of the Gold nugget plec breeding in the aquariums but these are few and far between. In their natural habitat it is known that they are cave spawners and will often make their caves below the waterline on the river banks.
Thanks to Jeff Catalina for allowing us using the pictures.