Plecos are surprising, mysterious, and beautiful fish. 

This article will cover 7 unique and rare pleco types, including their care and prices.

Expect to be surprised!

1. Zebra pleco

The Zebra Pleco, scientific name Hypancistrus zebra, is a classic pleco among lovers of these fish and a true hobby treasure. This pleco captivates even non-aquarists with its distinctive zebra-like appearance. You can easily recognize the species by its striped pattern and small size.

Their lush, colorful fins add an elegant edge to their look, making them one of the most coveted fish in the aquarium world.

The black and white stripes on the zebra pleco’s body are distinguishing features.

This color combination creates a contrast that makes this fish exceptional.

The bars continue into the fins, complementing its remarkable aesthetic. In size, an adult zebra pleco reaches about 8-10 cm. They have large eyes positioned above the middle portion of their head.

While there may be some resemblance to other Hypancistrus that also have stripes, the specific, straight-lined pattern of the zebra pleco makes it easily differentiated from any other species. Its uniqueness is one of the main reasons it is so rare and prized.

Why zebra plecos are so rare and expensive

Zebra Pleco’s rarity is due to a combination of factors. 

Its geographic origin is restricted to a region of the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, and its collection is prohibited, which impacts and contributes to its limited availability. 

Natural habitat and origin

The zebra pleco originates from the rapid waters of the Xingu River, more specifically in the region highly impacted by the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. 

Its natural habitat includes deep, pristine water areas and rocks forming crevices and hiding places. The presence of aquatic vegetation is null, and the substrate is a mixture of different sizes of gravel and sand.


Zebra pleco is an easy fish to care for, as long as the aquarium water is in the essential conditions for the species.

Include hiding places, creating a safe space for them to shelter, and open areas for them to swim. The water temperature should be between 25°C and 28°C, while the pH can be neutral.

2. L236 Super White Pleco

The L236 ‘Super White’ is a relatively new fish to the hobby but is highly sought after for its elegant appearance. This species belongs to the genus Hypancistrus and has not yet been classified by science.

Asian breeders isolate the ‘Super White’ variety from wild individuals with a more prominent white coloration around the black marks.

The most distinguishing feature of the L236 Super White Pleco is its solid white coloration uniform across its body, extending down to its fins. On the white base, we find vermiculated black markings. As an adult, the fish reaches about 4-5 inches (10-12 inches).

Why is the L236 pleco so rare?

The rarity of the L236 ‘SW’ results from few copies available for sale and very few places that reproduce them. In addition, in a litter, not all individuals are born with super white markings.


L236 pleco are hardy and easy to keep in captivity, although susceptible to poor water quality. Offer hiding places like caves formed by rocks. The water temperature must be maintained between 25°C and 30°C, while the pH must remain close to neutrality.

3. Golden nugget pleco

The golden nugget pleco, or Baryancistrus xanthellus, is one of the most requested plecos among aquarists. This species is notable for its vibrant colors and striking patterns that differ greatly between individuals and the place of capture.

The most distinctive attribute of this pleco is its gold dot markings on a dark body. The fins also have these spots, and the dorsal and anal fins have a band in the same color.

The yellow is so intense that it earned the suggestive name “golden nugget.” This pleco reaches large sizes, over 24 cm centimeters in the wild.

Similarities and uniqueness

The gold nugget pleco displays many colors and markings about its capture location. There are so many types that aquarists and scientists have difficulties telling them apart. 

That is why this same species is cataloged under more than one number (L081, L085, L177, LDA060, LDA116, LDA117, L018). Differentiating these animals is incredibly difficult and has been synonymous with discussion among hobbyists and scientists.

The rarity of the golden nugget pleco is due to its difficulty reproducing in captivity, the delay in sexual maturation, and the great loss in transport.


As hard as this fish is, it is difficult to keep it masterfully. Slow growing, it is a pleco specialized in feeding on biofilms, this is a problem in aquariums.

A lot of vegetable protein should be included in the diet, along with a little animal protein. The water must always be of perfect quality, and the aquarium must be stress-free, with hiding places.

4. Blue Phantom Pleco

Credit: Ringo on Flickr:

Blue phantom pleco (L128) is a beautiful and relatively rare pleco. Belonging to the genus Hemiancistrus, this species not yet described by science is known for its dark blue hue and painted pattern.

The most distinctive attribute of this pleco is its deep, dark coloring, which shimmers a bluish hue. The body is adorned with light spots, including the fins.

Despite being requested and desired, it is a pleco that spends most of its time hidden in the aquarium, making it difficult to see. Adult specimens reach about 20 cm.

Similarities and uniqueness

Blue phantom pleco may share some visual characteristics with other plecos, such as Baryancistrus and Hypancistrus. Still, by noting the bluish sheen and its slender shape, it is easily identifiable. Its deep blue hue is a rare and distinctive feature.

Its rarity is due to its limited geographic origin, the species’ sensitivity to transport, and the growing demand among aquarium hobbyists.

Natural habitat

The blue phantom pleco is native to the waters of the Orinoco River in Venezuela and inhabits dark water with low light. Its natural habitat is characterized by natural burrows and hiding places among branches and underwater relief.


It is a pleco that adapts to different water parameters, as long as it is free of stress and pollutants. The pH must always be tending to acid, from 6 to 7. It is fundamental to provide many hiding places and shelters, as well as to avoid excessive light.

5. Queen Arabesque pleco (L260)

Queen arabesque pleco is another fish yet to be not identified by science belonging to the genus Hypancistrus. This species has a white base covered with aberrant and intricate black stripes.

The intricate black and white patterns create an amazing effect on the fish’s body, resembling arabesques. It is a peaceful fish and (when well cared for) easily seen in the aquarium. Its size is around 4 inches (10 cm).

Natural origin

This pleco is native to the waters of the Tapajós River, a region of clear, calm, and shallow waters. Its habitat includes sandy river beds with some rocks, where it hides among rocks and underwater cavities.


Like other Hypancistrus, it is a hardy pleco that becomes incredibly shy when under stress. Always provide good quality water to provide a healthy environment for the queen arabesque pleco, and provide hiding places.

7. Snowball/ Orinoco Angel pleco(L201)

The Snowball Pleco L102, the Hypancistrus inspector, is a rare gem for aquariums. This species stands out for its dark color with white dots that resemble small snowballs, hence its popular name.

Similarities and uniqueness

At first glance, the snowball pleco can be confused with several other plecos, such as some Ancistrus and Hypancistrus species. After a good meticulous look however, especially at the shape of the tail and head, it is easy to identify correctly.

Natural habitat

Snowball pleco is found in the waters of the Rio Negro in Brazil. It inhabits places with dark water and sandy bottoms, sheltering among leaves, trunks, and fallen trees.


It is an adaptable fish that is easy to care for and can be shy. The water temperature should be maintained between 22°C and 28°C, while the pH should remain between 6 and 7.2.