August 30

Sarah Robertson

A Look at the Unique Features of the Snowball Pleco(Hypancistrus Inspector, L102)

Despite their lack of popularity, Snowball Plecos has a stunning appearance and are relatively easy to maintain when compared to other plecos. They are easy to maintain, and they are also smaller than the typical pleco.

They make a stunning addition to any aquarium, thanks to their jet-black color and white (or yellow) polka dots. Actually, those polka dots resemble snowballs, hence the name.

The Snowball Pleco fish live in the largest blackwater river, the Rio Negro, in Venezuela. Bartender fish are very easy to care for and live in a 40-gallon tank with other fish peacefully. The average length of a Snowball Pleco is 6-inches, and they can live up to 10 years if properly cared for. The Snowball pleco was previously known by the L-number L102, however it has now been scientifically identified and given the scientific name Hypancistrus inspector.

They are shown to be resilient and adaptable in captivity. This quiet, docile freshwater gem is ideal for beginners or experienced fish enthusiasts. This catfish will thrive in your aquarium if you are attentive to its special requirements.

Quick Facts About Snowball Pleco

  • Scientific Name : Baryancistrus sp. (L142)
  • Common Names : LDA033, Snowball Pleco, L142, Big White Spot Pleco, Snebold Sugemalle, Golden Snowball Pleco, Gold Nugget Pleco
  • Family : Loricariidae
  • Origin : Upper Rio Orinoco
  • Average adult size : 5.5 - 6.3 inches (14 - 16 cm)
  • Average purchase size : 2 - 3 inches (6.4 - 7.6 cm)
  • Lifespan : 8-10 years
  • Care Level : Easy
  • Temperament : Solitary
  • Color Form : Black and white or yellow
  • Diet : Omnivore, so a varied diet is necessary.
  • Minimum Tank Size : 40 gallons
  • Tank Set-Up : Freshwater with rocks and plants
  • Temperature : 72 - 86° F (22 - 30° C)
  • pH : 5.0 - 7.5 (flexible as long as sudden changes are avoided)
  • KH : 6 - 10 dKH
  • Compatibility : Peaceful community
  • Social behavior : Generally solitary, but will socialize somewhat, especially during breeding.

Interesting Facts

You must learn all you can about your fish in the tank to provide it with the best care possible. Here are some interesting facts about the Snowball Pleco:

  • Male Snowballs often have a visible reddish hue to their appearance.
  • The body of a female is more rounded than that of a male.
  • They're known for their quick-moving nature.
  • They have a curious disposition and like to explore the whole tank at night.
  • Cheek plates with external teeth on the side of their head called 'odontodes' are present in adults.
  • In male specimens, the odontodes are considerably more apparent than in female ones.
Snowball Pleco Size

Snowball Pleco Size

The average Snowball Pleco is about 6.3 inches long when fully grown. Snowballs are one of the smallest plecos available, when compared to other well-known types.

There have been a few occasions when this species grew to be 7 inches long. However, for this species, it is extremely unusual.

Snowball Pleco Lifespan

In general, a healthy fish will live for 8 to 10 years. That's shorter than the Common Pleco (which can live up to 15 years).

In order to survive, these fish require stable water conditions and adequate care. They can quickly succumb to illnesses if they are not properly cared for, resulting in a shortened lifespan. This means that if you want to keep a Snowball Pleco, you must provide it with excellent care.

Snowball Pleco Appearance

In terms of appearance, the torpedo-shaped bodies, downturned mouths, and flat bellies of Snowball Pleco are distinctive. The whiskers on the Snowball Pleco are just like those of other plecos.

The pelvic and pectoral fins are also similar to that of plecos, spreading out as they do. They have a triangular dorsal fin that they can erect when they want to show it off.

The Snowball Pleco's coloration is distinctive and stunning, with allover white or yellow “snowballs” adding to a dark gray or black base. They're beautiful to look at and a fantastic addition to any aquarium.

Snowball Plecos are considerably smaller than the average pleco, measuring between 5.5 and 6.3 inches (14-16 cm) in length.

As they're relatively small, they don't require a large tank. A 40-gallon tank is sufficient for a single Snowball Pleco.

Types of Snowball Pleco

  • Jamanxim Snowball Pleco
  • Mega Snowball Pleco
  • Small Spotted Snowball Pleco
  • Dwarf Snowball Pleco

Snowball Vs Vampire Pleco 

Both the Snowball Pleco and Vampire Pleco are often confused because of their similar appearances.

The main difference between these two fish is their size. The Snowball Pleco is much smaller than the Vampire Pleco, only reaching a maximum length of 6.3 inches.

The Vampire Pleco, on the other hand, can grow up to 10-12 inches in length. In terms of appearance, the Vampire Pleco is darker in color and has longer whiskers than the Snowball Pleco.

Snowball Pleco Behavior 

Snowball Plecos are solitary and reclusive, therefore they will ignore any other animals in the tank. They are nocturnal and emerge at night, which is very fascinating to witness as their yellow or white snowballs flash in the dark. They hide away in caves during the day, though. You may see them flit around the plants, caves, and driftwood you've set up.

Snowball Plecos are territorial toward members of their own species and other plecos, much like other plecos. If you have multiples, make sure there's only one male per tank, as they're the ones that can become aggressive.

Apart from the problem with other male plecos, Snowball Plecos are peaceful and unassuming, so you won't have to worry about them.

Snowball Pleco Tank Mates

Snowball Pleco Tank Mates 

It is critical to keep your Snowball Pleco in an ecosystem that allows them to flourish, but it is also important to ensure that all other members of your aquarium are safe and healthy.

Tankmates for Snowball Plecos should be similar in size to Snowball Plecos, as well as those that are calm and non-aggressive. Unless you add another pleco to the tank, the Snowball Plecos will pay no attention to their tank-mates.

You'll want to pick tankmates that have comparable habitat and water requirements. If the Snowball Pleco requires a certain water temperature or hardness, make sure their tankmates do as well.

Some good tankmates for Snowball Plecos include:

  • Ember Tetras
  • Snails
  • Corydoras
  • Apistogramma
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Discus
  • Rummy Nose Tetras

Keeping Snowball Plecos Together 

Plecos are highly territorial and will not get along with other Snowball Plecos. In reality, you should keep Snowball Plecos away from all other pleco species. It is best not to put more than one male Snowball Pleco in same tank. This helps to prevent aggression and hybridization.

Snowball Pleco Tank Setup

You can try to replicate their natural habitat in your home aquarium, which will have a positive impact on the stress level and quality of life for these fascinating creatures.

Choose a soft substrate like sand that won't irritate their underbelly because these plecos are bottom dwellers. Gravel might even induce wounds that can become infected.

The acclimation process is very important when introducing a new fish to your aquarium. This process allows the fish to adjust to the new water conditions in its tank. It is important to acclimate the fish slowly to avoid shocking it and causing stress. Few hours before acclimation, turn off all filter media and lights in the tank. This will help to reduce the stress on the fish during acclimation.

Next, you'll want to pick plants and caves for your fish to hide in. Driftwood can also help create the "black" water they are used to, and it provides decent hiding places. A few of these modifications not only provide hiding spots, but also provide your inquisitive Snowball Pleco with endless adventures.

They love exploring in the vegetation that you grow, but you don't have to worry about them damaging it.

Water Conditions

Snowball Plecos prefer strong currents, which is similar to their natural river habitat. The Rio Negro is their home river, and it has soft, acidic water that you'll need to replicate in your aquarium. You may also use peat to give the water a tarry look that they enjoy in the Rio Negro.

Driftwood will also contribute a brown hue to the tank. Decaffeinated tea has also been used to give the color. If you're not a DIY enthusiast, there are additives for sale to alter the watercolor.

If you're just getting started in the hobby, you'll need a water test kit as well. When your Snowball Pleco and aquarium first come into contact, there is an acclimation period, and it's critical to test the water conditions on a regular basis to ensure that you're maintaining proper water chemistry.

I recommend testing your Snowball Pleco once a week when you first receive it. You can check every other week after you've established consistency. Every other week, you should do a 50% water change. If your water testing shows that you are not keeping the standards, try a 30% water change each week. Simply keep track of the water parameters, and if you're doing water changes once a week, you should test every week.

It's not advised to put Snowball Plecos in a tank that contains tap water since it includes copper, which is poisonous to these fish.

A strong filter is required to maintain clean water, keep ammonia and nitrate levels low, and promote oxygen levels. The larger filter, combined with the faster current, will provide that extra benefit for your Snowball Pleco.

Ideal pH levels for Snowball Pleco is 5.0 to 7.6. Water hardness should be 6 to 10 dKH. As for temperature, the Snowball Pleco is a tropical fish, so you should maintain the water at 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.


You can use your Snowball Pleco tank to mimic their natural habitat, making it easier for your new fish acquaintances to adapt. Sand is a fantastic choice for substrate because it's soft, whereas gravel or pebbles will probably be unpleasant for your Pleco as they glaze the tank's bottom.

Caves, rocks, tunnels, and freshwater plants are fantastic additions to your Snowball Pleco aquarium since they allow it to hide. Because they are unlikely to pay attention to plants, any freshwater species that is compatible with the biosphere you have built is suitable.

You should make sure the fish gets involved in a variety of activities so that it burns off all of its energy. The more active it is in various tasks, the less stressful it will be.

The maintenance of your Snowball Pleco's tank water is critical to its health, with the most important factors being temperature, pH, hardness, and water flow rate. The Snowball Pleco is sturdy and resilient, but ensuring that these variables are within the proper ranges will ensure that your Pleco enjoys life to the fullest.

Snowball Pleco Food & Diet

Snowball Pleco Food & Diet 

Like other plecos, these are omnivorous fish that feeds on animal flesh, detritus, and seeds in the wild. Providing your Pleco with a varied diet is critical to their success.

The Snowball Pleco is a more carnivorous species, with an affinity for aquatic invertebrates and other tiny animals, but they will also eat fresh vegetables. The most popular foods of these tiny catfish include zucchini, spinach, and cucumbers. Food control is also important as over feeding cause negative impact.

The best food for Snowball Pleco include the following:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Frozen daphnia
  • Bloodworms
  • Vegetables (zucchini, cucumber, spinach)
  • Algae Wafers
  • Sinking pellets
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Chironomid larvae

To avoid overfeeding, limit the amount of food put in the tank to what your Snowball Pleco can consume in two minutes. Beyond this, the extra food might have an impact on water quality, and as a result your Pleco's health.

While the Snowball Pleco does consume algae, it is not a major component of their diet and will not be eaten on a daily basis. Because they are not designed to clean the tank, they will not act as a vacuum cleaner; instead, they want you to provide them with a buffet. They're also less likely to chew on plants, so any planted decor is secure from their hungry mouths.

Snowball Pleco Breeding

It's hit-or-miss when it comes to breeding Snowball Plecos. These fish are willing to mate in captivity, but you must provide them with ideal circumstances.

You'll need a separate breeding tank with ideal water conditions. Make sure the tank has plenty of nook places. The breeding process may last hours or even days, with the fry hatching a few days after fertilization. 

Prime the fish for breeding by feeding them with food after adding a pair of Snowball Plecos to the breeding tank. The best results will be obtained if your Snowball Pleco has plenty of live or frozen food to eat. When the process is successful, you'll notice that the female has swollen with eggs. Then, in a cave (after examining them for a bit), she'll deposit the eggs.

The male will protect the eggs and may fan them from time to time until they hatch.

Snowball Pleco Fry

The eggs should hatch after about a week. After the new born fish consume their egg sacs, feed them baby brine shrimp and blanched veggies. These meals will give them with all of the nutrients they need in order to develop.

Snowball Pleco Diseases

Snowball Plecos, like all other freshwater fish species, need extensive tank upkeep due to the fact that they are vulnerable to a variety of health risks.

So, make it a habit to check the water conditions of your aquarium at least once a week. Every alternate week, you should do half of the water change. You can also consider changing 30% of the water every week to maintain ideal water conditions. A fish's activity level is also a good indicator of its health; a more active fish is usually healthier.

Because they are so susceptible to illnesses, it is critical to make sure that the pH level of the water in which they reside is stable.

Parasites are responsible for diseases such as ICH, which are characterized by widespread infection. At the same time, this illness is highly transmissible and demands rapid treatment.

So, if your fish develops ICH, isolate it and begin the treatment process. It's also critical to identify symptoms of other parasitic illnesses. Fish ailments like flukes or holes in the head may be deadly.

However, to reduce the danger of infection, maintain the water clean on a regular basis. Keeping your fish's stress levels low will improve their immune system.

Make sure to quarantine any new fish when you add them to the tank. It's also useful for when you're adding plants, decorations, or other collections to your aquarium.

Signs Your Pleco is Dying and How to Treat

Here are some signs that your pleco may be dying:

  • Loss of color/turning white
  • Rotting fins-Poor water conditions
  • Spots on the body (Ich)
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Pop eye
  • Laying on its side/Lethargy

In order to treat a sick pleco, you will need to first identify the problem. If your pleco is turning white, it could be a sign of stress or poor water conditions. If your pleco has spots on its body, it could be a sign of ich (a fish disease caused by parasites).

If your pleco's fins are rotting, it is a sign of poor water conditions. If your pleco's abdomen is swelling, it could be a sign of constipation or dropsy (a fish disease caused by bacteria). If your pleco's eyes are cloudy, it could be a sign of cataracts. If your pleco has pop eye, it is a sign of an infection. If your pleco is laying on its side or is lethargic, it could be a sign of a number of different problems.

If you believe your pleco is dying, the first thing you should do is test the water quality. You can do this by using a water testing kit. Test the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. If the levels are too high, it could be causing stress or illness in your pleco. So, the first thing you need to do is clean the tank and change the water.

If the disease gets severe, you will need to treat it with medication. You can find these at your local pet store or online. Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully. You should also take your pleco to the vet if you are unsure of what is wrong with it or if the problem is severe.


Snowball Plecos Live

How Long Do Snowball Plecos Live? 

Snowball plecos typically live for 8 to 10 years, though some have been known to live for up to 15 years. The key to a long and healthy life for your snowball pleco is to provide them with good tank conditions and plenty of hiding places. A well-aquatic plant can also provide them with the necessary nutrients and help to keep the water quality high.

How Many Gallons Does a Snowball Pleco Need? 

A snowball pleco needs at least a 40-gallon tank. They also like to have hiding places, so be sure to include some plants and rocks in their tank.

Are Snowball Plecos Rare? 

Snowball plecos are an uncommon pleco that displays a striking pattern and stays a very manageable size. They're often confused with the much more common clown pleco (Panaque maccus), but they can be distinguished by their smaller size and different patterning.

Can You Keep More Than One Pleco in a Tank? 

Plecos are generally peaceful fish, but they can be territorial with their own kind. So, it's best to only keep one pleco per tank. If you must keep more than one pleco, be sure to provide them with plenty of hiding places and a large tank. You can even use dividers to separate them if necessary.

Are Snowball Plecos Suitable for your Aquarium? 

The Snowball Pleco is a fantastic species for your home aquarium. They're beautiful, and they're also good to have in the tank to clean the debris.

Although they are susceptible to several typical fish illnesses, their upkeep is simple enough for beginners to manage. The only thing you need to be worry of is other plecos, owing to territorial disputes.

The flat catfish mouth, their lovely coloration, and the complexity of their design all add to their appeal.

Is My Snowball Pleco a Vegetarian? 

They're not at all! Snowball Plecos are omnivores that need meaty protein, which they get a lot of in the wild. If you want to breed them, you'll need to feed them both live and frozen food during breeding.

Do I Need to Have a Separate Breeding Tank? 

Snowball Pleco breeding is difficult and hit-or-miss. You'll need a separate breeding tank if you try it. When you're ready to attempt mating them, you'll introduce a breeding pair into the breeding tank.

Keep in mind that male Snowball Plecos, and plecos in general, are territorial and combative with one another, so I don't recommend keeping multiple males in the same tank. So for breeding one male to female ratio is fine.

Final Thoughts

A Snowball Pleco (Hypancistrus inspector) is a great addition to any fish tank. They have a beautiful, unique pattern and Gold Nugget Pleco care is relatively easy. These plecos are peaceful and make a great addition to a community tank. They do best in tanks with plenty of hiding places and some plants. If you're looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance pleco, the Snowball Pleco is a great choice.

Their diet consists mainly of algae, but they will also eat pleco pellets and other vegetables. They are not known to be fin nippers, but they may nibble on soft-leaved plants. Snowball Plecos are difficult to breed in captivity, so if you're interested in breeding them, you'll need a separate breeding tank. Keep in mind that males can be territorial with one another, so it's best to keep only one male per tank.

Overall, the Snowball Pleco is a great choice for anyone looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance pleco.

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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