September 23

Sarah Robertson

Why the L397 Pleco (Redstripe Pleco) is the Best Freshwater Pleco for Your Aquarium

Plecos are one of the most popular freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby. They are known for their algae eating habits and their ability to thrive in a wide range of water conditions. There are many different species of plecos, but the Redstripe Pleco (L397) is one of the rarer and more sought-after varieties.

The L397 Pleco (Panaqolus sp.) is a loricariid fish that comes from the Tapajos River near Alenquer, Brazil. They have a beautiful coloration that makes them stand out in any aquarium. The orange and black stripes on their body are very eye-catching. They also have unique facial markings that add to their overall appearance.

In this post, we'll go over the L397 pleco's needs in detail, from its fundamental necessities to its more complex requirements. We'll also provide you with some ideas for maintaining this fish healthy and cheerful in your aquarium.

A Quick L397 Pleco Care Table

  • Scientific Name: Panaqolus sp.
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Compatibility: Peaceful
  • Ph: 6.4 - 7.7
  • Temperature: 75° - 86° F
  • Temperature: 75° - 86° F
  • Water hardness: 6 - 10 dKH
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
  • Tankmates: Corydoras catfish, Guppies, Minnows, Tetras, Shrimp, Characins
  • Breeding: Cave Breeders
  • Size: 4-5 Inches
  • Life expectancy: 5 to 8 years

L397 Pleco Origin 

The L397 Pleco (Panaqolus sp.) is a loricariid fish that comes from the Tapajos River near Alenquer, Brazil. It is also found in the Rio Negro and other rivers in the Amazon basin. 

In the wild, they inhabit fast-flowing waters with lots of rocks and hiding places. They are nocturnal fish and will often stay hidden during the day.

The L397 Pleco is collected for the aquarium trade and is considered to be a fairly difficult fish to find. However, they are becoming more available as captive breeding becomes more common.

 L397 Pleco Size

The L397 Pleco are stunning fish that reach a maximum length of no more than 4 - 5 inches. The size of a pleco fish is determined by the size of its tank and the amount of attention it receives.

The size of a Redstripe Pleco (L397) can also be affected by its diet. If it is well-fed, it will grow to its full potential size. However, if it is not given enough food, it may stay smaller than normal. Tank size and water conditions also play a role in pleco size.

 L397 Pleco Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Pristella kallopis is around 5-8 years. However, with the appropriate care, they may live longer than the normal life span.

To ensure your pleco has a long, healthy existence, give it a clean, stress-free environment. A Pleco's lifespan is also determined by its diet and water quality. Plecos are tough fish that can live in a range of conditions. They, however, are vulnerable to alterations in their surroundings. It's critical to introduce them gradually to any changes in water temperature, pH, or hardness.

 L397 Pleco Behavior 

The L397 Plecos are mostly nocturnal, although it will typically become active during daylight hours once it has been placed in an aquarium with plenty of driftwood, rockwork, and other concealment options.

The Redstripe Pleco is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other tank mates. It is not aggressive and will not bother other fish in the aquarium. Sometimes, Males of this species can become territorial with one another.

However, conflicts may generally be resolved by providing each fish with ample territory and hiding places. Other tankmates will typically be neglected, although tiny shrimp fry may be eaten if they venture too close to the pleco's mouth.

These Plecos are known for their algae-eating habits. They use their suckermouths to scrape algae off of rocks and glass. They also consume dead and decaying matter, which helps to keep the tank clean.

L397 Plecos are not known for being good swimmers and will often stay close to the bottom of the tank. They use their barbells to detect food and navigate in the dark.

L397 Pleco

L397 Pleco Appearance 

The body and fins of L397 are distinguished by vivid orange and black stripes. On the bodies and fins of young fish, as well as the fins of adults, transparent or white bands separate the orange and black stripes. The orange bands on the body of adult fish might fade to a shade of brown, but the fins remain orange-red.

Facial markings are another component of L397: The face is marked with densely packed thin orange and black longitudinal lines that twist to form a slightly scrolled pattern. White or spotted on the abdomen. The base of the tail is black with an orange margin.

These small yet beautiful fish have many fans among aquarists. They are peaceful and easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginner aquarists.

Gender Differences

Males and females of the L397 pleco are significantly easier to distinguish from one another when they reach maturity. The following are the main differences between the two genders:

  • The presence of odontodes on the caudal peduncle allows for the identification of mature males.
  • The females are typically larger than the males and have a more rounded belly.
  • The fins of the males are usually longer and more flowing than those of the females.
  • Males also tend to be more brightly colored than females, with intense orange and black stripes on their bodies and fins.

L397 Pleco Tank Setup

It's really easy to set up a tank for your L397 pleco. These plecos are extremely adaptable and do not demand high water quality. They can endure varying pH levels and temperatures. It is still critical to provide them adequate care and setup to ensure their growth.

Follow these tips for setting up the perfect tank for your L397 pleco:

Tank Size 

A Redstripe Pleco requires a minimum of 30 gallons in its tank. A larger tank, on the other hand, is always preferable. These plecos can reach about 4-5 inches in length, therefore you'll need enough area for them to swim about.

If you are planning on adding other fish to the tank, you'll need to increase the size appropriately.

L397 Pleco Tank Water Conditions

The L397 pleco can survive in a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. But to ensure their safety, it is still necessary to provide them with the appropriate care and setup. The ideal water temperature for L397 plecos is 75°-86° F, with a pH level of 6.4-7.7.

These plecos are adaptable to a wide variety of water hardness and will thrive in an aquarium with a water hardness of 6 - 10 dKH, as long as the water is really soft. Always ensure there aren't any nitrates or ammonia in the water. If these chemicals aren't removed from the tank, they may be harmful to plecos and other aquarium species. Using a conditioner is recommended to remove these chemicals.

Tank Decor

Decorating your tank is really important for the health of your L397 pleco. These fish love to hide and they feel more comfortable when they have plenty of places to do so. Follow these tips for choosing the perfect tank decor for your L397 pleco:

Use a Sandy Substrate 

The type of substrate you choose may have a significant influence on the health of your pleco. L397 Plecos are bottom-dwelling fish, and they like to be close to the substrate. A sandy substrate is ideal as it is soft and gentle and does not damage their delicate bodies. There are a variety of substrates available for purchase, so choose one that meets your needs.

Add Hiding Places

It's really important to provide your pleco with plenty of hiding places. They are very shy fish and they feel more comfortable in a tank with plenty of hiding spots. There are a variety of decorations that can be used for this purpose, such as caves, plants, rocks, and driftwood.

Be sure to choose decorations that are safe for your pleco and won't damage their delicate bodies. You can even make your own hiding places using PVC pipes or other materials. Some of the best rocks and driftwood for plecos include slate, limestone, and bogwood.

Consider the following factors when determining whether a rock or piece of wood is suitable for your pleco:

  • If the material is from your own garden, double-check that it hasn't been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  • If the rock or wood was previously in another aquarium, make sure that it has been properly cleaned.

Soak wood and rocks in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes to remove dirt. After they've been soaked, rinse them with water before putting them in your pleco's tank. This way you can be sure they're clean and safe for your fish.


These fish are known to damage plants, so it is best to avoid adding live plants to their tank. However, if you insist on adding live ornamental plants, choose durable plants that plecos are less likely to eat, such as Java ferns, Anubias species, and Hornwort.

If you want to avoid adding live plants, you can also add plastic plants to their tank. These plants are realistic-looking and plecos won't be able to eat them. However, make sure the plants you choose don't have any sharp edges that could harm your pleco. Clean them before adding them to your tank.

To clean plastic plants, soak them in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes. Rinse them thoroughly with water before adding them to your pleco's tank.


These plecos don't require special lighting, but they do prefer dimly lit tanks. If you want to add plants to their tank, consider using fluorescent lighting. This type of lighting will provide your plants with the light they need to grow without being too bright for your pleco.


L397 plecos are not fussy about the type of filter you use in their tank. However, it is always a good idea to use a filter that is designed for an aquarium of your pleco's size. Filters are an important part of any aquarium because they help to keep the water clean and free of harmful chemicals. A good rule of thumb is to choose a filter that can turn over at least 4 times the volume of your tank per hour.

For example, if you have a 30-gallon tank, you'll need a filter that can turn over at least 120 gallons per hour.

Some good filter choices for plecos include:

  • Canister Filters
  • Hang-on-Back (HOB) Filters
  • Undergravel Filters
  • Power Filters

Note: To clean a filter, simply remove it from the tank and rinse it off with water. Never use soap or cleaners on your filter because they can damage it.

Cleaning Your  L397 Pleco Tank

The L397 pleco is a low-maintenance fish, as long as you perform frequent water changes. To keep their tank clean, make sure to do water changes at least once every week. Every week, aim to replace at least 30% of the water in their aquarium. You may use a gravel vacuum to remove any dirt and debris from the bottom of the tank.

When performing a water change, it is important to use dechlorinated water. Dechlorinated water is water that has chlorine and other chemicals removed from it. These chemicals can be harmful to fish and other aquatic creatures. To remove these chemicals from your water, you can either let the water sit for 24 hours or use a water conditioner.

To clean the rocks and driftwood pieces in your pleco's tank, you can either rinse them with water or soak them in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly with water before adding them back to the tank.

 L397 Pleco Tank Mates 

The L397 pleco is a peaceful fish that does well with other tank mates. They are not aggressive and will often ignore other fish in the aquarium. Although, males of this species can become territorial with one another. Therefore, it's best to provide each fish with ample space.

Some good tank mates for L397 plecos include:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Guppies
  • Minnows
  • Tetras
  • Shrimp
  • Characins
  • Peaceful South American cichlids

These small-sized fish are more vulnerable to being eaten by larger ones, so they should be kept away from such threats. Keep them out of reach of fin-nipping fish and any other tankmates that have been observed to prey on others.

The following fish should not be kept with L397 plecos:

  • Betta fish
  • Goldfish
  • Aggressive Cichlids
  • Predatory fish

If you want to keep more than one L397 pleco in the same tank, make sure the tank is large enough for them. It's also critical to check on the fish in the tank to determine if they're getting along. If you notice any indications of aggressiveness, it is best to remove the aggressor from the aquarium.

L397 Pleco Diet

L397 Pleco Diet 

L397 Plecos, like other pleco species, are omnivores. This implies they will eat both plant and meaty foods. In the wild, these plecos have been observed consuming a variety of things including algae, small crustaceans, and insects.

In captivity, it is best to provide them with a diet that consists of both plant and animal matter. A good diet for L397 plecos should include:

  • Pellets: Pellets are a type of fish food that is designed to sink to the bottom of the tank. This makes them ideal for plecos since they spend most of their time near the bottom of the aquarium. They are rich in nutrients and will provide your pleco with the energy they need to grow and stay healthy.
  • Sinking Wafers: Sinking wafers are another type of fish food that is designed to sink to the bottom of the tank. They are made of algae and other plant matter, which makes them a good source of vegetarian nutrition for plecos.
  • Algae tablets: Algae tablets are a type of fish food that is made of compressed algae. They sink to the bottom of the tank and provide plecos with a good source of vegetarian nutrition. If you feel that your fish is not showing any interest in these tablets, try offering them algae wafers instead.
  • Flakes: You can also give your pleco flakes, but only in small amounts. Flakes are less nutritionally complete than pellets and might induce stomach issues for your fish. If you do offer your pleco flakes, make sure to soak them in aquarium water first so they'll be easier to digest.
  • Vegetable matter: You can also offer your pleco blanched fresh vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, and peas. These vegetables provide plecos with a good source of vegetarian nutrition.
  • Live food: Live food is an excellent method to enhance the variety of your pleco's diet. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are all good live things to feed your pleco. Feeding your pleco live food on a regular basis might result in digestive difficulties. Live food should only be fed to your pet once or twice per week.
  • Frozen food: Frozen food is a good way to add variety to your pleco's diet. If you can't find live food, then frozen is the next best thing. Some good frozen foods to feed your pleco include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. However, as with live food, feeding your pleco frozen food on a regular basis might result in digestive difficulties. Feed them frozen foods only once or twice per week as a treat.

Tips for Feeding Your L397 Pleco

When feeding your L397 pleco, keep the following in mind:

  • An L397 pleco's diet should be varied and include both plant food and meaty items.
  • Feed them only as much as they can eat in a few minutes for 2-3 times per day.
  • Avoid overfeeding as it can lead to digestive issues.
  • Monitor your pleco's weight and growth to make sure they're getting enough to eat.
  • Remove any uneaten food from the tank as quickly as possible to minimize water pollution.
  • Give them some live, frozen, or algae-based foods on occasion as additions to their diet.
  • Make sure the meal you're giving them is tiny enough for them to consume easily.
L397 Pleco Diseases

L397 Pleco Diseases

The L397 plecos are hardy species that are resistant to most diseases. However, there are a few diseases that can affect them, which include:

White spot disease: White spot disease is caused by a parasitic organism called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It is one of the most common diseases in aquarium fish and can affect all types of freshwater fish, including plecos. Symptoms of white spot disease include:

  • White spots on the skin
  • Flashing or rubbing against objects
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased gill movement

White spot disease is treated with a combination of freshwater dips and medicated food or baths.

Fungal infections: Fungal infections are caused by a type of fungi called Saprolegnia. These fungi can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish and can be deadly if left untreated. Symptoms of a fungal infection include:

  • White or gray patches on the skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rubbing against objects
  • Gasping for air

Fungal infections are treated with a combination of freshwater dips and medicated food or baths.

Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections are caused by different types of bacteria, including Aeromonas and pseudomonas. These infections can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish and can be deadly if left untreated. Symptoms of a bacterial infection include:

  • Flat and swollen, 'pop' eye appearance
  • Emaciation
  • Gills that are pale and eroded
  • At the base of the fins and around the gills, the skin becomes more evident.
  • Swollen body
  • Ulcers, cavities, and holes on the skin

This can be treated by antibiotics, but ask for advice from a vet first as some strains of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.

Ammonia poisoning: Ammonia poisoning is caused by high levels of ammonia in the water. Ammonia is a toxic gas that is produced by the breakdown of organic matter, such as fish waste. Symptoms of ammonia poisoning include:

  • Increased mucous synthesis
  • Red bleeding gills
  • Dark body-color
  • Gasping air
  • Secondary infections

Ammonia poisoning is treated by doing a water change and adding an ammonia remover or conditioner to the tank.

Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease that affects the internal organs of fish, causing them to swell up. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by a viral infection or a tumor. Symptoms of dropsy include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Swelling and bulging eyes
  • Gills that appear colorless
  • Clamping of the fins
  • Curved spine
  • Pale faces
  • Swelling near the anus

Dropsy can be treated with a variety of prescription drugs, including antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines.

Hole-in-the-head disease: Hole-in-the-head disease is caused by a parasitic organism called Hexamita inflata. It is a common disease in freshwater fish, including plecos. Symptoms of the hole-in-the-head disease include:

  • Pitting-type marks on the head and lateral line
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rubbing against objects

The disease hole-in-the-head is difficult to cure and frequently fatal. The greatest method to avoid this condition is to maintain your pleco's tank clean and free of parasites.

Fin Rot: Fin rot is a disease that affects the fins of fish. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by a fungal infection. Symptoms of fin rot

  • Red or black patches on the fin
  • Loss of appetite
  • The ragged edges of the fins and tail
  • Fraying fins and tail
  • Fin and/or tail loss as a result of the disease
  • Lethargy

The best way to treat fin rot is with a course of antibiotics.

Swimbladder disease: Swimbladder disease is a condition that affects the swim bladder of fish. This disease is caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality and constipation. Symptoms of swimbladder disease include:

  • Floating upside down
  • Sinking to the bottom of the tank
  • Loss of appetite

The easiest way to treat swimbladder disease is to improve the water quality and give the fish a high-fiber diet.


It's usually preferable to prevent something than to cure it. As a result, taking some preventive measures to keep your L397 pleco healthy and disease-free is in your best interests. You may do the following things to aid in the maintenance of your L397 pleco's health:

  • Perform water changes on a regular basis: This will enhance the water quality and reduce the chance of illness.
  • Regularly clean the aquarium: Parasites and germs can thrive in algae and other debris, putting your fish at risk of illness.
  • Quarantine new fish: New fish may be carriers of pathogens that can spread to your other aquarium inhabitants. It's critical to quarantine new fish for at least two weeks before adding them to your main tank.
  • Provide your pleco with a wide range of foods: A balanced diet will help to keep your pleco healthy and minimize the chance of illness.
  • It's a good idea to check your pleco for symptoms of sickness on a regular basis. If you notice any changes in your pleco's appearance or behavior, contact an expert as soon as possible.
  • Don't overfeed your fish. Overfeeding can cause obesity, which can place your pleco at risk for a variety of illnesses.
  • Overcrowding is not recommended. It's best to keep the tank clean and avoid crowding your pets together in one place. Overcrowded tanks have been linked to stress, which can put your pleco at risk for a range of health concerns.
  • Provide a clean and disease-free environment: A clean and safe atmosphere will aid in the preservation of your pleco while also lowering the chance of illness.
  • Keep an eye on the water quality: This will help to maintain high water quality and minimize disease.


If you have reason to believe that your L397 pleco is sick, you should immediately quarantine it and give it the required therapy. The following are some of the most common medications used to treat L397 pleco sickness:


Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections.


Fungicides are used to treat fungal infections.

Anti-parasitic medications:

Anti-parasitic medications are used to rid of parasites.

It's important to note that you should never medicate your fish without first consulting a professional.

L397 Pleco Breeding

L397 Pleco Breeding

Like any widely-seen common pleco, the red stripe plecos (L397), are difficult to breed in an aquarium, especially for a novice fish keeper. These fish are best left to the experienced fish breeder. However, if you're determined to breed your own Redstripe Plecos, there are a few things you'll need to do.

Select a Pair Of Healthy Fish

Plecos are difficult to breed, therefore it's critical to choose a pair that is in excellent condition. It is preferable to pick a male and female who are of comparable size. The more males and females you include in your selection, the greater the chance of fertilization. Make sure they're all the same age. This will assure that they're sexually mature and ready to breed.

Create the Ideal Breeding Environment 

To increase your chances of success, it's important to create the perfect breeding environment. The following are some things you'll need to do:

  • Set up a separate tank for breeding: This tank should be at least 30 gallons in size.
  • The temperature of the water should be between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. According to reports, breeding can occur in water with conductivity/TDS readings ranging from 200 to 700 uS/cm (125-450 ppm TDS). A ph of 7.0 to 8.0 is ideal for breeding. The water should be well-oxygenated. A good way to achieve this is to install an airstone in the tank.
  • Filter: A sponge filter is essential for maintaining water quality.
  • Caves: Caves or other hiding places are essential for the breeding process. The female will lay her eggs in these caves.
  • Substrate: A fine gravel or sand substrate is ideal. It's important to avoid using a substrate that's too large, as the fry can become trapped in it.
  • Water changes: It's important to do frequent water changes when breeding

Condition the L397 Plecos

Before breeding your L397 plecos, it is critical to condition them. This implies you'll need to feed them a healthy diet and ensure the water quality is excellent. The diet for Redstripe Plecos should include plenty of protein. You may do so by feeding them live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. It's also a good idea to supplement their diet with high-quality pellets or flakes.

To ensure the water quality is excellent, you should do regular water changes and vacuum the substrate. The frequency of these water changes will depend on the size of your tank and the number of L397 plecos you have.


When the male and female L397 plecos are ready to spawn, the male will chase the female around the tank and nudge her belly with his snout. The female will then lay her eggs (25 and 40 eggs) inside the cave.   Once the eggs have been laid, the male will fertilize them.

Remove the female L397 Pleco from the tank and keep the male in the tank to care for the eggs.

Hatching and Raising the L397 Pleco Fry

After being fertilized, the eggs will hatch anywhere from 6 to 7 days later. The egg sack is consumed after around 7 days. The fry isn't particularly fragile; however, they should chew on soft wood and should have algae tablets as well as a little amount of high-protein food to grow rapidly and become sexually mature after approximately a year.

Frequent Questions 

What does L397 pleco eat?

L397 plecos are omnivores, which means they'll consume both plant and animal matter. In the wild, their diet consists of algae, crustaceans, and small insects. In captivity, they should be fed a diet that includes high-quality pellets or flakes, live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and plenty of vegetables.

What is the maximum size of L397 pleco?

The average adult size of L397 plecos is around 4-5 inches. In order to reach its maximum size, it will need to be housed in a tank that's at least 30 gallons in size and offered a diet that consists of high-quality pellets or flakes, live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia, and plenty of vegetables.

Are L397 Plecos aggressive? 

L397 plecos are not aggressive fish. In fact, they're quite peaceful and manageable fish that can be kept with a variety of different tank mates. However, it's important to note that they may become territorial toward other plecos of the same species if they're not provided with enough space.

How long do L397 Plecos live?

L397 plecos have a lifespan of around 5-8 years. However, their lifespan can be increased if they're provided with optimal care, such as a clean tank, a nutritious diet, and plenty of hiding places.

Do L397 Plecos need a cave?

L397 plecos are nocturnal fish that prefer to sleep in caves during the daytime hours. Caves also provide them with a sense of security and help reduce stress levels. Furthermore, caves are essential for the breeding process, as the female will lay her eggs inside them.

Do L397 Plecos eat algae? 

L397 plecos are known to be efficient algae eaters. However, they should not be relied upon as the sole source of algae control in your aquarium. This is because they may not consume enough algae to make a significant difference. If you're looking for an effective way to control algae growth in your tank, we recommend using a UV sterilizer.

Do L397 Plecos need a filter?

L397 plecos do not need a filter, but they will benefit from having one. This is because filters help to keep the water clean and free of toxins, which is essential for the health of your fish. Furthermore, filters also help to oxygenate the water, which is important for respiration.


The L397 pleco, also known as the Redstripe pleco, is a peaceful, nocturnal fish that's native to the Amazon River Basin. Because of their orange and black coloration, these fish has become very popular among the community of fish keepers.

L397 plecos are omnivores, which means they'll consume both plant and animal matter. They have a lifespan of around 5-8 years. However, their lifespan can be increased if they're provided with optimal care, such as a clean tank, a nutritious diet, and plenty of hiding places.

Reaching a maximum size of 4-5 inches, L397 plecos are perfect for beginner aquarists. They're not aggressive fish and can be kept with a variety of different tank mates. However, it's important to note that they may become territorial towards other plecos of the same species if they're not provided with enough space. Overall, the L397 pleco is a hardy, low-maintenance fish that's a great addition to any aquarium.

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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