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Hypancistrus inspector ARMBRUSTER, 2002

L102, Snowball Pleco


Hypancistrus: from the Greek ὑπό (hypó), meaning ‘below, beneath, under’, and the generic name Ancistrus, in reference to the reduced dentition compared with the latter.

inspector: from the Latin inspector, meaning ‘someone or something which observes’, in reference to this species’ large eyes.


Order: Siluriformes Family: Loricariidae


This species is native to the upper rio Negro basin in Amazonas state, Brazil and parts of the Casiquiare drainage, which links the Negro with the Río Orinoco, in Venezuela.

Specimens from the Orinoco which were included in the type series of H. inspector were described as H. contradens by Armbruster (2007).

Type locality is ‘Río Casiquiare, Río Negro, Río Amazonas drainage, about 10 river kilometers above the Río Negro, below Solano, 1°58’N, 67°05’W, Dpto. Casiquiare, Amazonas, Venezuela’.


Normally collected from rocky rapids.

Maximum Standard Length

140 – 160 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 120 ∗ 45 cm or equivalent should be the smallest considered.


Best maintained in an aquarium designed to simulate a flowing stream with a substrate of variably-sized rocks, sand, fine gravel, and some water-worn boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood branches, terracotta pipes, plant pots, etc., arranged to form a network of nooks, crannies, shaded spots, and broken lines of sight.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running water it is intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires spotless water in order to thrive, therefore weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine. A moderate-to-high proportion of dissolved oxygen and some water movement are also appreciated, meaning power filter(s), additional powerhead(s), or airstone(s) should be employed as necessary.

Water Conditions

Temperature22 – 30 °C

pH5.0 – 7.5

Hardness18 – 268 ppm


Wild specimens are probably omnivorous but with a preference for aquatic invertebrates and other small animals.

In the aquarium it should be offered a varied diet comprising sinking dried foods, frozen Daphnia, mosquito larvae, chironomid larvae (bloodworm), and prawn/shrimp, plus some fresh fruit, parboiled potato, etc.

Home-made foods using a mixture of natural ingredients bound with gelatin are very useful since they can be tailored to contain fresh vegetables, Spirulina, etc., alongside meatier ingredients.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

A peaceful species which can be maintained in a well-chosen community, but should not be maintained alongside other Hypancistrus spp. in order to prevent hybridisation.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males possess more odontodes on the leading pectoral-fin rays and interopercular region than females, plus they often show an overall reddish tone on the body whereas females do not.

Males are also more slender and less stocky than females, a difference which is easily observed when the fish are viewed dorsally.


Has been bred in aquaria. It is a cave-spawner with the male responsible for brood care.

NotesTop ↑

H. inspector can be told apart from other described species in the genus by the following combination of characters: colour pattern comprising brown to black base with large whitish to yellow spots; adpressed dorsal-fin not reaching the adipose-fin spine; spots on head much smaller than on rest of body; spots in the upper caudal-fin lobe combining to form bands in adults; 24 plates in the mid-ventral series.

It is most similar to H. contradens which differs in that the adpressed dorsal-fin does reach the adipose spine, and the spots on the head and body are similar in size.

The genus Hypancistrus is diagnosed from all other loricariids by a wide separation between the metapterygoid and lateral ethmoid, presence of a sharply angled adductor palatini crest of the hyomandibula, and no lateral wall in the metapterygoid channel.

More useful for aquarists is the fact that in Hypancistrus the dentary teeth are about twice as long as the premaxillary teeth (vs. dentary and premaxillary teeth of approximately equal length).

The genus is otherwise remarkable for the fact that the majority of species have not yet been described to science, although many are well-established in the aquarium hobby.  As of January 2016, there are eight described species in the genus: the type species H. zebra Isbrücker and Nijssen 1991, H. inspector Armbruster 2002, H. contradens Armbruster et al. 2007, H.debiliterra Armbruster et al. 2007, H. furunculus Armbruster et al. 2007, H. lunaorum Armbruster et al. 2007, H. margaritatus Tan & Armbruster 2016 and H. phantasma Tan & Armbruster 2016.


  1. Armbruster, J. W., 2002 - Copeia 2002(1): 86-92
    Hypancistrus inspector: a new species of suckermouth armored catfish (Loricariidae: Ancistrinae).
  2. Armbruster, J. W., N. K. Lujan and D. C. Taphorn, 2007 - Copeia 2007(1): 62-79
    Four new Hypancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from Amazonas, Venezuela.
  3. Ferraris, C. J., Jr., 2007 - Zootaxa 1418: 1-628
    Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types.
  4. Reis, R. E. , S. O. Kullander and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds), 2003 - EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre: i-xi + 1-729
    Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. CLOFFSCA.
  5. Stawikowski, R., A. Werner and I. Seidel, 2004 - DATZ: 1-132
    DATZ Special: L-Numbers.
  6. Tan, M. and J. Armbruster, 2016 - ZooKeys 552: 123-135
    Two new species of spotted Hypancistrus from the Rio Negro drainage (Loricariidae, Hypostominae)

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