07-26-2011, 07:03 PM
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It rather depends upon how "look-a-like" they are. There are several species with black and white striping, but the true Hypancistrus zebra is (so far) the most brilliant in the darkness of the black and the whiteness of the white, if that makes sense. The other very-similar species are often less well defined in the clarity of the striping, or the white is more cream, the black very dark gray, etc. And some of them grow larger.
Recently one of my local importers had some "Colombian" Zebra Pleco, which in the photo are remarkably similar. As collection in South America is usually seasonal, finding this fish in Vancouver from someone who imports directly from Colombia likely means it is going to be available in other areas around North America too.
Christople is quite correct, the only sure way to know what it is will be the scientific name. If your LFS is reputable, they will be able to tell you what name the supplier gives it. Some suppliers make errors too, nothing is a guarantee.
Now, having said all that: this species is no longer legally collected in Brazil. The fish is endangered due to over-collection (it only occurs in the Rio Zingu) and has been prohibited for years now. However, it is not difficult to breed, and many aquarists have been successful. Any fish you do find in stores will almost certainly be tank-raised. However, they still command a high price, usually; but it could be that your store acquired these from a local breeder.
Last edited by Byron; 07-26-2011 at 07:08 PM..