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Family: Loricariidae, Subfamily Hypostominae

Common Name: Gold Nugget Pleco

Origin and Habitat: Brazil, the Volta Grande section of the Rio Xingu (above Belo Monte falls) and the upstream tributary Rio Iriri. Found under and around submerged boulders and flat rocks in the shallow but rapid flowing stretches.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful as juveniles, but maturing males are very territorial and thus aggressive [Planet Catfish uses the term "downright vicious"] with conspecifics and likely other similar substrate fish. Not a fish for the normal home aquarium due to its specific requirements as mentioned in the Description section. Best as a single specimen unless the tank is very large, otherwise they will kill each other.

Gold Nugget Pleco Diet

In its habitat, this fish is a grazer of biofilms known as aufwuchs on submerged rock and stone, eating crustaceans, insect larvae, algae, etc. The aquarium diet must consist of some protein foods such as live or frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and vegetables like yams, zucchini, etc. Also basic sinking prepared foods. This fish has a high metabolic rate, and regular multiple feedings are preferable, along with a good biofilm mat on all surfaces. Planet Catfish recommends home-made paste foods using fish meal, shrimp and similar, vegetables and fruits bound together by gelatin.


Attains 8 to 9 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48 inches in length.

Water parameters for Gold Nugget Pleco

Soft to fairly hard (3 to 15 dGH), Slightly acidic to basic (pH 6-8), temperature 25-30C/77-86F. This fish does not do well in cooler water.


This striking pleco is frequently available through dealers but is not really a good community fish. Its size requires a larger tank, and its need for rapid currents does not match most hobby fishes.

A long (4-foot plus) aquarium should be aquascaped with a substrate of fine gravel or pea gravel, rounded river rocks of varying sizes replicating boulders, and flat stones arranged with many crevices/caves of sufficient size to accommodate this fish. Good filtration producing a strong current is necessary. Plants will not be touched, but under these conditions only plants like Anubias and Java Fern attached to some of the rockwork would be suitable, along with floating plants. Suitable upper-water fish could include peaceful barbs and danio. Cichlids should not be combined as being substrate feeders they will compete for food, and in most cases not tolerate the current well.

Males have a wider and somewhat more flattened head than females. Planet Catfish mentions one reported spawning.

The Loricariidae, which is confined to tropical Central and South America [Neotropics], is the largest family of catfishes in the world with over 700 described species within six subfamilies. The name is from the Latin lorica meaning a corselet. Upon discovery, uncertain or assumed new species of Loricariidae are given an "L" number, which usually remains with the fish post-description for reference. The subject species was initially identified as L 018, L085, L177 and LDA060 until it was formally described by Rapp Py-Daniel, et al. (2011). A very similar-looking fish known currently as L081 may be a variant or conspecific but is not referenced in the description paper.

In 1980, Isbrucker proposed six subfamilies of Loricariidae, including Ancistrinae with more than 200 known species; the name is derived from the Greek agchistron or agkhistron that essentially means "barbed hook." Armbruster (2004) reclassified the subfamily Ancistrinae as the tribe Ancistrini, one of six in the subfamily Hypostominae.

The genus name Baryancistrus, erected in 1989 by L.H. Rapp Py-Daniel, derives from the Greek barys [= heavy] and agkistron [= barbed hook] which may best be translated as "heavy Ancistrus." The species epithetis the Greek xanthellus [=yellow], referring to the bright color on this species. The common name "Gold Nugget" is obvious from the fish's pattern of golden yellow dots. The yellow markings on the dorsal and caudal fins and the body is distinctive to this species and occurs with some variation on all specimens of L018, L 085, L177 and LDA060.

With one exception (B. longipinnis), the species in Baryancistrus all have an enlarged posterior membrane of the dorsal fin that is usually connected to the adipose fin. Among the six genera in the tribe Ancistrini, this trait appears only in Baryancistrus, Parancistrus and Spectracanthicus.


Armbruster, J. W. (2004), "Phylogenetic relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae," Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, volume 141 (no. 1), pp. 1-80.

Rapp Py-Daniel, L., J. Zuanon, and R. Ribeiro de Oliveira (2011), "Two new ornamental loricariid catfishes of Baryancistrus from Rio Xingu drainage (Siluriformes: Hypostominae)." Neotropical Ichthyology, volume 9 (no. 2), pp. 241-252.

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