King Tiger Pleco (L333 Hypancistrus sp.): Ultimate Care Guide

Also known as Yellow King Tiger, the King Tiger Pleco (L333) is a striking aquarium addition featuring a light to yellowish body covered with a pattern of black lines or squiggles. Native to the Rio Xingu in Brazil, the King Tiger Pleco is commonly bred in captivity. Easy breeding means it’s simple to find fish which haven’t been captured in the wild. This Pleco is often confused with L066, and the two can cross-breed. Ensure you’re buying from a reputable source to ensure genetically pure fish. While King Tiger Plecos are easy to care for, you’ll need to know some things to have the best experience with this common Pleco variety. We’ll delve into the most important facts needed for years of success with the King Tiger Pleco!

King Tiger Pleco
King Tiger Pleco (L333)

King Tiger Pleco Care

King Tiger Plecos need clean water, sandy substrates, caves for resting, and quality meaty foods. Easier to care for than some other Pleco varieties, King Tigers are a common first Pleco for many hobbyists. Best health and longest lifespan is only achieved with excellent water care and a quality diet.

Are King Tiger Pleco easy to care for?

King Tiger Plecos are easy to care for and a great introduction to Plecos for new hobbyists. While normal care is simple, excellent care is more difficult and requires high quality aquarium maintenance and experience keeping Plecos.


King Tiger Plecos need water temperature between 77° and 82° F. Ideally, their tank water temperature should stay close to 78° F.

Water pH

King Tiger Plecos prefer water which is close to neutral or slightly acidic. A range between 5.5 and 7.5 pH is best.

King Tiger Pleco Size

King Tiger Plecos can grow between 4.5 inches to over 5 inches long.

Max Size

While most King Tiger Plecos will grow to between 4.5 and 5 inches, it’s possible for this species to reach 6 1/3 inches with a large aquarium and excellent care.

Growth Rate

The King Tiger Pleco is a slow-growing species that can take years to reach its final size. Expect most of their growth to happen over the first two years of life, with extra length added slowly until their fifth year.

Food & Diet

King Tiger Plecos are omnivores but should have diets that favor live and high-protein foods. Bloodworms, frozen meaty foods, and algae wafers should form the basis of this Pleco’s diet. Some hobbyists will create custom gel foods, including pureed shellfish, algae, and other ingredients held in a gelatin binder. Commercial gel foods are also available but are more expensive than DIY versions and don’t have the advantage of easy customization. King Tiger Plecos are nocturnal feeders, so food should be introduced in the evenings before lights out.

What do King Tiger Pleco eat?

King Tiger Plecos are omnivores, but it’s a mistake to think they will eat large amounts of plant matter. Most King Tigers prefer diets with a high percentage of meaty and high-protein food.

Do King Tiger Pleco eat algae?

King Tiger Plecos eat algae, both from wafers and their environment. Some hobbyists will increase daytime lighting in their King Tiger tanks to encourage the growth of algae and other microorganisms. It’s important to remember that algae can’t be the primary part of this Pleco’s diet, and they should be fed with additional meaty, high-protein food.


The King Tiger Pleco can live between 10 to 15 years with proper care. Excellent care can extend their lifespan even further.

Tank Size

King Tiger Plecos should have a minimum tank size of 40 gallons. This is a peaceful species which can coexist easily with other members of the same species. If you are planning an aquarium for multiple individuals make sure they have enough room to grow and mature without becoming cramped.

Tank Setup

King Tiger Plecos are bottom-dwellers who need sandy substrates, driftwood, and caves for hiding places. Plants aren’t needed, but adding some plants such as Corkscrew Val and Amazon Sword can help to reduce nitrate levels which is key for keeping this Pleco healthy. Excellent filtration is important and you should check nitrate levels regularly to ensure your chosen filter setup is keeping up with this species’ growth.

What is an ideal tank setup for King Tiger Pleco?

King Tiger Plecos need tanks with sandy substrate, driftwood, caves, and excellent filtration. Caves and rock arrangements are important as this species is mostly nocturnal and wants sheltered places to hide and rest during the day. Avoid rough rocks and hardscape which may damage this Pleco’s delicate sucker mouth.

Do King Tiger Pleco need a cave?

King Tiger Plecos are mostly nocturnal and need caves and other protected areas for hiding and resting during the day.

Do King Tiger Pleco need driftwood?

King Tiger Pleco tanks should include driftwood because it’s a good algae and microorganism growth base. King Tigers aren’t a wood rasping species and don’t consume wood. However, they will consume microorganisms that grow on driftwood if available.


King Tiger Plecos can breed in captivity but this requires patience and some special preparation. Ideally, a breeding group of two males and two females should be placed in a 55 gallon or larger aquarium with multiple caves or pots and sandy substrate. Having extra caves lets these Plecos choose an ideal spawning location and can lessen aggression between individuals.

It’s best to condition your King Tiger Plecos for breeding by feeding them frozen and live meaty foods for a few weeks. After this time you can perform frequent water changes with RODI or rainwater and make sure tank pH is gradually lowered. This can help simulate seasonal changes which often help trigger breeding.

How do King Tiger Pleco breed?

Male King Tiger Plecos will prepare a cave and chase a female inside. The male will keep the female confined in the cave until she lays eggs and they are fertilized. After this, the male chases the female away to guard and care for eggs until they hatch and fry have consumed their yolk sacs.

King Tiger Pleco eggs

King Tiger Pleco eggs take 5 to 10 days to hatch and about a week until the fry have consumed their yolk sacs and are free-swimming. The male will guard and care for the eggs for a few weeks until the hatched fry are surviving on their own.

King Tiger Pleco fry

King Tiger Pleco fry are simple to care for and will quickly eat adult foods. Allowing breeding tanks to mature before adding a spawning group is a good idea. Mature tanks have a larger population of algae and microorganisms which King Tigers and their fry will eat. Increasing light exposure during the day can also boost the growth of edible microorganisms.

Male vs. Female

When mature, King Tiger Pleco females have a rounder and fuller body shape when viewed from above, while the males appear more triangular. Mature males will often develop odontodes on the base of their tails and pectoral fins.


King Tiger Plecos are hardy but can still catch many freshwater fish diseases such as Ich, Pop-eye, and Hole in the head. Keys to keeping this species disease-free are keeping tank water clean and quarantining all new tank additions for 4 to 6 weeks before adding to your main aquarium. Keeping a separate quarantine tank helps you prevent introducing bacteria and parasites into otherwise disease-free aquariums.

Tank Mates

King Tiger Plecos are peaceful and easy to pair with a wide assortment of tank mates. Additionally, King Tigers are mostly nocturnal and will rest or sleep through much of the day. This behavior limits possible confrontations with active fish species during the day.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates

Tiger King Plecos are can be good tank mates for common freshwater species such as Tetra, Oscar, Betta, Guppies, and less aggressive Cichlids. Use caution when trying to pair with Goldfish or Angelfish as these species have a slime coating which some Plecos will try to eat during the evening hours. Also, watch for species that may be competing for food like Corydoras, Kuhli loach, Otocinclus, Shrimp, and many catfish types.

Are King Tiger Pleco Aggressive?

King Tiger Pleco are generally peaceful. However, males can fight over mates during breeding.

Are King Tiger Pleco Territorial?

Are King Tiger Pleco aren’t as territorial as some other Pleco species. If you keep multiple King Tigers in a single tank, you’ll want to provide extra caves and hardscape elements so each fish can claim separate areas.

Where can I find King Tiger Pleco for sale?

King Tiger Plecos are a popular Pleco variety and are easily bought at local fish stores and from online suppliers. Understand the difference between L333 and L066 before making a purchase to ensure you get the right Pleco.

King Tiger Pleco Price

King Tiger Plecos can be bought for around $20 USD for a small specimen to about $90 USD for a large 5-inch adult.

What is the difference between L066 and L333 Pleco?

L333 Plecos often have a yellowish tint to the lighter areas of their bodies. L066 are often lighter colored or white and have pronounced tail filaments that give their tail fins a deep “V” shape. L333 tail fins are more subdued and usually have a gradual crescent moon shape formed by the filaments. The two types should not be kept in the same aquarium as they can cross-breed.

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