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Dekeyseria brachyura
Butterfly Pleco, Flounder Pleco, L168

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Plecos/Catfishes > Butterfly Pleco - Dekeyseria brachyura

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Dekeyseria_brachyura_1.jpg (35kb)

Name: Dekeyseria brachyura
Origin: Rio Negro (Brazil)

Size Tank pH Temp
16 cm 80 L 6.5 27°C

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Dekeyseria brachyura is a small loricariid (suckermouth) catfish from the Amazon rainforest area of Brazil, known as Amazonia. Within this wild territory, the Rio Negro, flowing southeast from the Colombia-Venezuela border, meets the Amazon River near Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas. This is the primary collection area of this interesting catfish.

D. brachyura has a distinct and symmetrical striped pattern. This pattern may display as espresso brown on a very pale orange background, or chocolate brown on a tan, café-au-lait background. During the day, and at most times, my brachyura displays pretty brown and tan coloring. D. brachyura changes colors quickly, and I’ve seen it display in high contrast, with almost black stripes on a pale, butterfly-wing-orange background. Some say it will change even more and turn nearly black on a very dark substrate, or display different colors at night, but I have not seen that for myself. The slightly pink truncated sectors of the eye, as seen in the photo, are normal.

D. brachyura has an impressive dorsal (sail) fin, with a pattern of little scallops along the top line of the fin. The flattened shape of this catfish indicates that it prefers a strong current and well oxygenated water, and explains its common name of flounder, or butterfly, pleco. It is flexible about pH up to a point, but it will not thrive in hard or cool water and actually prefers "Discus-like" conditions. My supply water is soft, and I keep the tank near 27°C and so far everything seems to be fine.

D. brachyura will thrive in a tank where the landscape is designed to take full advantage of a brisk water current. A shady, lagoon-like set-up with a mysterious structure of overhanging wood, and flat rocks on soft fine sand is ideal. Plants are not required, but the landscape should be intricate and offer many choices for seclusion. D. brachyura loves to have a dark corner to get into. If plants are used, large leafed plants, such as giant Anubias, are ideal. That said about seclusion, D. brachyura is a fairly active fish for a pleco, and may be seen at any time of the day or night. I would characterize my particular specimen as "curious" - as soon as there is a water disturbance of any kind, the brachy assumes this means food and out he comes, no matter where he was or what he was doing. In a very densely planted tank, they seem to appear out of nowhere!

This wild-caught fish was a recent capture, so I expected it to refuse prepared foods. To my surprise, he ate some crushed flake food on the first night, followed by a piece of raw apple the next day. Now, I can confidently claim that, when it comes to food, D. brachyura is a true omnivore that will try anything. Besides crushed flake, he eats veggie wafers, tiny sinking granules, zucchini, apples, frozen bloodworms (I limit these) and other prepared foods. He doesn’t seem to like peas, which surprised me. D. brachyura will eat at any time but prefers to eat at night, in the dark. A high quality veggie wafer, such as Omega One Veggie Rounds, is a good foundation food. A ¼ wafer piece is enough for one brachy, and any wafers more than six months old should be discarded. I serve a small portion of a fruit or vegetable two or three times a week and remove any leftovers the next morning.
Dekeyseria_brachyura_2.jpg (32kb)
Many months have gone by, and the brachy is well established in stable conditions, with Otocinclus catfish and neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) for company. He’s calm and peaceful around the smaller fish, and lets them pick at his food. The maximum size of this fish is reported to be about 14 cm. Mine was about 9 cm when I got him, and has grown on since at a steady pace. Some loricariids grow very slowly, but reach 2/3 of their adult length in a relatively short time, like in the first year. Others take much longer. At about 11 cm, my fish is sexually mature and could potentially breed with the opposite sex. Some plecos can be territorial with their own kind, but D. brachyura is not reported to be. Therefore, if another brachy - male or female - should come my way again, I won’t hesitate to add it to this set-up.

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