The Most Expensive Plecos in the World

Håvard Støre Andresen, from PlanetCatfish

Plecos come in many colors and sizes and can be a great addition to an aquarium tank. Typically, you will find common plecos at the pet stores for under $30. The rarest and most exquisite species are expensive. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most expensive and rarest plecos in the world.

Generally, commonly found plecos like the Rubber-lipped pleco or the Bristlenoses will are priced between 20 and 50 USD, depending on size and age. The plecos listed on this page will be 5 to 10 times more expensive than common plecos.

Something to keep in mind is that the plecos found on this page are quite rare and may not be readily available at all times. Due to endangerment, many of the species listed below are regulations, which limits the markets ability to provide them.

Some species can be substituted with other species within the same genus. The Zebra pleco for example, belongs to the Hypancistrus genus. There are currently 8 species within the Hypancistrus genus, all of which have are colored in black and white. So while it might be hard to find a Zebra pleco (L046), you might also like the Hypancistrus contradens, who instead of striped, is white polka-dotted.

Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) L046

By Birger A – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3805857

The beautiful and highly coveted Zebra pleco (Hypancistrus zebra). Due to the construction of the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, the species is facing setbacks. On October 6th, 2016, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) added the Zebra pleco to the list of Appendix III species. To trade the species, exporters and importers will be required to provide documentation. This is meant to impede trade of the species by way of increasing costs, related to their exportation.

Meanwhile, the Zebra pleco remains one of the most iconic fish in the hobby. It’s unlikely that the species will go extinct in captivity. However, the development of the dam is likely to have devastating effects on the wild populations.

You may be able to find a breeder in your home country. It’s been noted that many breeders are struggling to breed the species, which must be increasings prices for the black-and-white stripped pleco.

Origin: Brazil
Size: 6″
Tank size: 150cm
Temperature: 22-28 C
pH/Hardness: 5-6.5
Diet: Omnivorous

Sunshine Golden Pleco (Scobinancistrus Aureatus) L014

Tristan Jones, from PlanetCatfish

A polka-dotted armored-catfish, who would of thunk it? The Sunshine Goldie pleco can be a colorful and LARGE addition to your community tank. These plecos can grow up to lengths of 12″, which means that they’ll do best in a large aquarium. Ideally, our polka-dotted friend should be housed in an aquarium that holds 100+ gallons of water.

Origin: Brazil
Size: 25cm / 10″
Tank size: 30 gallons
Temperature: 25-28 C
pH/Hardness: 5.5-7
Diet: Omnivorous

Redtail Sternella Pleco (Pseudacanthicus cf. leopardus) L-114

Mark Smith from PlanetCatfish

Similar in apperance to the Sunshine Goldies, but in leopard-print.

Origin: Brazil
Size: 6″
Tank size: 150cm
Temperature: 22-28 C
pH/Hardness: 5-6.5
Diet: Omnivorous

Alenquer Tiger Pleco (Panaqolus sp.) L397

Origin: Brazil
Size: 6″
Tank size: 150cm
Temperature: 22-28 C
pH/Hardness: 5-6.5
Diet: Omnivorous

Things to consider

Tank Size

Fishkeepers should make sure that plecos are housed in an aquarium fit for their size at maturity. The plecos listed above are quite large compared to most plecos seen in the hobby. The Sunshine pleco, for example, grows to about 30 centimeters or 12 inches in length. This means that your aquarium must be big enough for the pleco to find shelter and move around freely.

Size and Prices

Older and larger plecos, even “common” ones will call for a high price tag. Generally, plecos will continue to grow throughout their expected lifespan of 10 to 15 years. In almost all cases, price is sensitive to the length of the pleco. Note, however, that a common type pleco who’s reached its full size will remain cheaper than another rare species of the same size.

A good way to save money on a rare pleco would be to buy juveniles, which are typically a lot less expensive.

L Numbers

The L number for a pleco is a code representing the species. There are over 600 species of plecostomus and most of them do not have a scientific name associated with then. Until a name is given, we can use L numbers to identify them.

References

“L-Number”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L-number. Accessed 6 June 2020.

“Scobinancistrus Aureatus, Loricariidae, Cat-Elog”. Planetcatfish.Com, 2020, https://www.planetcatfish.com/common/species.php?species_id=161. Accessed 11 June 2020.

“Pseudacanthicus Cf. Leopardus, Loricariidae, Cat-Elog”. Planetcatfish.Com, 2020, https://www.planetcatfish.com/common/species.php?species_id=208. Accessed 12 June 2020.

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