L90, Panaque bathyphilus

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Matt Clarke checks out a gorgeous plec which lives in almost total darkness in its natural habitat.

Common name: L90

Scientific name: Panaque bathyphilus, Lujan and Chamon, 2008

Origin: Described from the upper Maranon and middle Solimoes stretches of the Amazon river.

Size: Around 40cm/15”.

Diet: There’s no precise data available, but it’s probably a detritivore or general scavenger like other species.

Notes: Panaque bathyphilus was described by Nathan Lujan and Carine Chamon a couple of years ago following its discovery in deep waters of the main river channel where it lives in almost total darkness.

The extreme elongation of the tail filaments is an adaptation to detec predators and surroundings.

There are thought to be at least two colour forms of P. bathyphilus: this normally pigmented form, being sold as the 'Ojo Chico' form and a white one which lacks melanin as a further adaptation to life in the dark. The pigmented is the more common form.

Aquarium: Dim lighting is a must because this fish is adapted for life in the main river channels where the water is murky and light levels extrermely low.

Most plecs have a structure in their eye called an iris operculum, but it’s missing from this species.

Due to its size it will need spacious quarters and plenty of places to hide in, so add lots of bogwood to provide such refuges, particularly if the tank is lit.

Availability: We spotted this one on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wembley.

Price: On sale for £159.

This item first appeared in the October 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.