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Leopard cactus pleco - Pseudacanthicus leopardus

Leopard cactus pleco - Pseudacanthicus leopardus

Scientific name: Pseudacanthicus leopardus

Common name: Leopard cactus pleco

Family: Loricariidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 20 - 24 cm (7.87 - 9.45 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6.1 - 7

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 13°N (71.43 - 232.14ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 23 - 28 °C (73.4 - 82.4°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


South America; Leopard cactus pleco’s are found in the waterways of Guyana.


The expected life span for Pseudacanthicus leopardus is 12 years.

Short description

Leopard cactus pleco’s are generally peaceful but will become territorial as they mature. They prefer subdued lighting and add bog wood or similar to the tank to create hiding places. It is a high waste producer so excellent filtration is required along with regular water changes. The adult size of this fish is quite large so they are best kept in a larger aquarium. As juveniles the fins of the leopard-cactus pleco will have a yellowish colouration but as they mature the yellow will fade and the finnage will take on the same camouflage pattern as the main body. These fish require plenty of open space at the bottom of the aquarium so planted set ups are not ideal. It is far better to use sand for the substrate and add pieces of wood or pvc piping to provide hiding places and nothing else extra.

They are a high waste producer and as such a strong filtration system will be required plus regular water changes to keep the water quality high, they are also often housed with other large species of fish for tank mates, this just compounds the problem of keeping the water quality high. They are not overly aggressive toward tank mates that occupy higher levels so keeping them with medium sized species makes more sense and makes life easier with regards to the water quality.

Food and feeding

Mature specimens will readily accept mussels and prawns but also include some vegetable matter in the diet by offering cucumber, shelled peas or spirulina flake. Leopard cactus pleco’s will also relish occasional treats of blood worms.


The males will have a slimmer body shape compared to the females and the spines on their fins will be more pronounced.


As of yet there are no reports of Pseudacanthicus leopardus breeding in the aquarium. They are known to be cave spawners in the wild which involves them digging out caves in the river banks to make nests for their young. The male of this species tends to exhibit full parental care with the female being chased away once the eggs have been laid and fertilised.


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