L239 Pleco (Blue Panaque Pleco): Ultimate Care Guide

The L239 Pleco, also known as Blue Panaque Pleco, is native to rivers in Venezuela and Colombia. Despite the name, this Pleco isn’t a member of the genus Panaque but is grouped with Gold Nugget Plecos and related species. The L239 Pleco has unique blue coloration which can add a flash of visual interest to your aquarium. The unusual look comes with drawbacks, including special care needs which make this Pleco more difficult to keep than other similar species.

L239 Pleco
L239 Pleco

L239 Pleco Care

L239 Plecos have special care needs which include extra attention to diet, tank setup, and water quality. If you are up to the challenge of caring for this unusual Pleco this article will tell you everything needed for years of success!

Are L239 Pleco easy to care for?

L239 Plecos have special care needs which can be difficult for beginning hobbyists to meet. This species is best cared for by those with medium to high knowledge and experience caring for Plecos and other freshwater fish.

Temperature

L239 Plecos appreciate warmer water temperatures between 76° and 82° F.

Water pH

L239 Plecos need water which is mostly neutral to somewhat acidic in a range between 5.5 and 7.5 pH.

L239 Pleco Size

L239 Plecos are small, and most will not exceed 2 ½ inches when raised in captivity. However, they have been known to grow beyond 3 inches in length.

What is the Max Size of L239 Pleco?

The longest L239 Pleco that we are aware of was measured at about 3 ¼ inches in length. When raised in captivity this fish is usually much smaller.

What is the Growth Rate of L239 Pleco?

L239 Plecos grow quickly when young, and can reach nearly 1 ½ inches their first three months. After 6 to 9 months they will only add around ½ inch to their total length.

L239 Pleco
L239 Pleco

Food & Diet

L239 Plecos are considered omnivores but gut analysis of wild specimens show Periphyton and similar organisms. This diet of blue-green algae, fungi, and bacteria is different than some other omnivorous Plecos which can eat a larger percentage of plant material. The L239 Pleco can often display health issues relating to undernourishment in captivity. Feeding and nutritional problems can result from using foods intended for Plecos which are more omnivorous than L239. Any foods given to this fish should have a high concentration of animal protein.

The L239 Pleco is a nocturnal feeder which will stay mostly hidden during the day and forage for food at night. Food should be added to their aquarium in the evening just before lights out. Food added during the day is at risk of being uneaten where it can rot and spoil tank water. An exception to this is after being newly added to an aquarium. Shipping stress often means this Pleco won’t have eaten recently and undernourished L239 Plecos can eat multiple times a day as they regain their strength. Watch your fish to see what their nutritional needs may be, especially when you first buy them. Be prepared to add some additional food if it seems they need it.

What do L239 Pleco eat?

L239 Plecos do best with gel-based foods, either commercially prepared or DIY. Look for gel foods with a high concentration of Spirulina and animal proteins. Avoid gels which are intended for herbivorous or wood-eating Plecos. While preparing custom DIY gel foods is beyond the scope of this article, there are guides from other Pleco hobbyists online. Most DIY gel food instructions online are for Plecos which need higher amounts of plant matter in their diets. Food for the L239 Pleco should mainly consist of pureed shrimp or shellfish, Spirulina, and gelatin powder. Any vegetable content should be minimal and can be a special preparation such as Total Nutrition for Tortoises (TNT) powder.

Do L239 Pleco eat algae?

L239 Plecos eat algae but it shouldn’t be the main basis of their diet. In the wild this species eats available microorganisms which usually includes algae. While they will consume algae from surfaces and sinking algae wafers they also need additional food sources.

Lifespan

L239 Pleco often live about 8 years, but can live longer with excellent care which includes well maintained water and proper diet.

Tank Size

L239 Plecos are a smaller species but should have an aquarium with base dimensions of at least 31 inches by 11 inches. This species spends most of its time along the bottom of the tank so base dimensions are the most important.

Tank Setup

L239 Plecos prefer tank environments which mimic their natural habitat of rocky, flowing streams. This species has some specific needs which should be met for best health and longest lifespan. Extra attention should be focused on tank currents and filtration to ensure a clean and healthy environment.

What is an ideal tank setup for L239 Pleco?

L239 Plecos need tanks with rocks, a source of water current, and powerful filtration. The best substrate is smooth pebbles or other elements appropriate to a flowing river environment. Larger rocks and driftwood can be included and help create the appearance of a natural river while giving this Pleco extra areas to rest or hide.

Select a filter which can turn over at least 4 to 5 times the volume of your tank within an hour. For instance, if you have a 30 gallon aquarium you’ll need a filter which runs at or above 150 GPH (gallons per hour). This is important for water cleanliness and can help introduce currents inside the tank which can keep debris suspended for easy removal by filtration. If your chosen filter doesn’t create enough water currents consider installing an extra powerhead to add more flow.

The L239 Pleco can benefit from brighter lighting than many other Plecos. The reason is dietary: bright light can increase growth of microorganisms which this fish will graze on during the evening hours when lights are turned off. This is also a reason to avoid CO2 injection because added CO2 can suppress algae growth as well as displace oxygen in tank water. Healthy populations of microorganisms and oxygenated water are important keys to keeping this species healthy in captivity.

Do L239 Pleco need a cave?

L239 Plecos need cover and hiding spaces which can be caves or arrangements of rocks. This species is a cave spawner. If you’re planning to try breeding L239 it’s a good idea to include a few caves so breeding pairs will have an assortment to choose from.

Do L239 Pleco need driftwood?

Do L239 Plecos aren’t a wood rasping species and don’t need driftwood in their tanks. However, driftwood can encourage the growth of microorganisms and algae which this Pleco will eat.

Breeding

Most L239 Plecos for sale have been captured in the wild. It’s possible to breed this species in captivity but it can be difficult. Expect some trial and error in getting this species to spawn successfully.

How do L239 Pleco breed?

L239 Plecos are cave spawners which prefer to breed in groups with one male and 2 or more females. Water should be changed regularly and should be well oxygenated. The male will chase away the female after spawning and takes charge of guarding eggs until they hatch and fry become free swimming. It’s important to provide an assortment of cave choices, both prepared caves and those formed from arrangements of flat rocks.

L239 Pleco eggs

L239 Pleco eggs are small orange orbs and will take around 7 days to hatch. After another 7 days fry will consume their yolk sacs and begin feeding on small microorganisms in their environment.

L239 Pleco fry

L239 Pleco fry have special dietary needs and seldom consume even powdered food or zucchini for the first couple of weeks. It’s important they have a source of microorganisms in their tank for a first food. If you are using bright tank illumination during daytime hours this can help to encourage algae and microorganism growth which fry will eat during their first week after consuming their egg sacs. Eventually they’ll be able to take powdered food, and after a few weeks will begin eating regular prepared foods.

L239 Pleco Male vs Female

Mature L239 Pleco females have slightly wider bodies while males have pronounced odontotes on opercles and pectoral-fin spines. Males may also have slightly more intense coloration.

Disease

L239 Plecos are susceptible to a range of freshwater diseases including Ich and Velvet. They are very sensitive to water quality and need excellent water maintenance to stay healthy. Shipping can be stressful and lower their resistance to disease. When adding a new L239 to your tank have an assortment of medications available and be familiar with their correct use. Disease can move quickly in this species and it’s important to prepare for rapid action if needed.

Tank Mates

L239 Plecos can be difficult to pair with tank mates. While they aren’t extremely territorial this species needs a clean environment. Adding too many tank mates can lower water quality while increasing waste and debris.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates for L239 Plecos

It is difficult to pair L239 Plecos with other tank mates, both because of this species’ high water quality needs and preference for strong tank currents. Avoid tank mates which can be competition for food such as shrimp, corydoras, snails, kuhli loach, and otocinclus. Goldfish and angelfish should both be avoided as these species have a natural slime coating that some nocturnal Plecos will remove during the evening hours. Small fish which can tolerate strong water currents like tetras and guppies can be good tank mate pairings. Some species such as cichlids and african dwarf frogs may be able to tolerate strong currents but should be watched closely for signs of stress. Bettas can be a bad match due to this Pleco’s need for strong tank water currents.

Are L239 Pleco Aggressive?

Male L239 Pleco can be territorial and aggressive with other males but will leave most other species alone.

Are L239 Pleco Territorial?

L239 Plecos are territorial with other L239 Plecos. This behavior is especially noticeable between males. If you’re planning to keep multiple individuals in one tank ensure enough caves and tank decoration to allow each to claim separate territory.

Where can I find L239 Pleco for sale?

L239 Plecos can be hard to locate and your best bet is online suppliers. Some local fish stores may have waiting or “wish lists” for unusual Pleco varieties. Expect to do some searching if you’re planning to buy an L239 Pleco.

L239 Pleco Price

L239 Pleco price can vary between $30 USD up to nearly $100 USD depending on size and supplier.