Blue Phantom Pleco (L128 Pleco) Facts

Blue phantom pleco

Last updated on July 21st, 2022 at 01:33 am

The Blue phantom pleco (L128 Pleco) is a peaceful and popular aquarium fish. L128 pleco gets its name from the bluish color on its body that changes when it turns darker or lighter depending on light conditions and the mood of the fish. In addition to this unusual coloration, it also has striking light blue to yellowish dots along the sides of its body, which are much more prominent in younger specimens than they are in adults.

The blue phantom pleco also called the L128 pleco, is a fairly large member of the armored catfish family, Ancistriniidae (Bristlenose pleco). Its natural habitat is in the upper Amazon River in Ecuador and Brazil. The L128 pleco can grow to be up to 20 cm long and live up to 8 years in captivity, but the maximum size has not been determined yet; the oldest L128 in captivity was 12 years old when it died of natural causes.

Blue phantom plecos are found in Southeast Asia, China, and Thailand. They are freshwater fish available in the aquarium trade and require specific conditions to thrive. Learn more about the blue phantom pleco below to see if this beautiful fish is right for you!

What is a Blue Phantom Pleco?

Also known as a L128 pleco, a blue phantom pleco is a South American fish that is part of the plecostomus family. This member of the family Loricariidae grows to about two feet long and has a blue body with white dots. The head and tail area are both blue-green in color. Known for its many unique traits, including its gill covers which resemble those of butterfly wings, it is one of nature’s most fascinating species.

While they are freshwater fish, they can be found living in hard or soft water. They also require an aquarium of at least 75 gallons, though larger tanks will provide more room for swimming as well as help maintain proper tank conditions. Another reason why these fishes require larger tanks is that they don’t do well when housed alongside other species due to their territorial nature and aggressive behavior towards others.

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Origin and description

Blue phantom pleco

The Blue Phantom Pleco (Hemiancistrus Specie) is a great fish for both freshwater and marine aquariums. This is one of few species that make it easy to replicate their natural habitat in your home aquarium. They do well in cold water but prefer temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

They will grow to be about 8 inches long, and their coloration changes throughout their life. This fish has an almost see-through body when small, which develops opaque spots as it ages. Adult fish develop light blue to dark purple dots down each side of their bodies.

Species profile

Blue phantom pleco

Blue phantom plecos are stunning fish with a stunning name. But they’re also a controversial fish, and they’re not recommended for most home aquariums. There are few reliable sources of blue phantom information available to hobbyists, and even experienced aquarists can’t seem to agree on how best to keep them alive in captivity. If you do want one, be sure to ask your supplier lots of questions about their captive-bred status before purchasing one for your tank.

Unfortunately, you may have to buy sight unseen; it’s nearly impossible to distinguish wild or farm-raised L128 from captive-bred animals via pictures alone. The only way to know for sure is to get your new pet into a quarantine tank and keep him healthy for two weeks or so.

Blue phantom pleco habitat

The blue phantom pleco should be housed in an aquarium of at least 75 gallons, with plenty of places to hide. Soft, acidic water is best for them. They are peaceful fish that get along well with other similarly-sized community fish. A school of six would do fine in a tank that’s at least 100 gallons—anything smaller and you risk raising a school of bullies! Hiding places such as rocks and driftwood should also be provided, as these fish will not thrive without them.

L128 blue phantom pleco size

This species of fish can grow to maximum size is 7.9 inches (20 cm) in length.

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Blue phantom pleco tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 75 gallons, although larger is always better.

Tank set up

The blue phantom pleco can be quite territorial, so it’s best to keep one per tank. If you are planning on keeping more than one of these fish in a tank, make sure that there is plenty of room for them to claim their own territory. The temperature should be between 74 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level around 6.5-7.5. Keep your water clean at all times and perform frequent water changes as needed.

Blue phantoms will eat algae from rocks and plants, but they also need protein supplements in order to thrive. Provide snails or shrimp (either live or frozen) once a week to help fulfill their protein needs. Feeding your L128 pleco pellets or flake food will provide him with plenty of nutrients he needs each day—add other types of food for variety.

Blue phantom pleco tank mates

Good tank mates for blue phantom plecos include other similarly sized South American fish such as silver dollars, river stingrays, clown knifefish, and convicts. They can also be combined with large African cichlids from Lake Malawi or Rift Valley Lakes, although these larger fish will probably view smaller L-numbers as lunch instead of pets.

Even though they are among some of the biggest freshwater fishes in existence, blue phantoms are surprisingly peaceful; they are nocturnal feeders, so they’ll mostly avoid you while you’re working during daylight hours.

Blue phantom pleco breeding

Blue phantom pleco

They are livebearers, meaning they will lay eggs. However, like all livebearers, you must keep both male and female in your tank to successfully breed. Because of their size and breeding habits, it is highly recommended that you have a pair at least 48 long. If you are going to keep a male and female together in a smaller tank, make sure they have plenty of places to hide and retreat when they feel threatened by each other or need time away from each other.

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The fry will hatch in approximately 24 hours and require feedings every 2 hours. The first few days are very critical as many fries do not survive until adulthood because they can become food for larger fish such as corydoras catfish who also love to eat young plecos.

After about three weeks, the fry should be large enough to move out of their cave and start exploring other areas of your aquarium which should greatly reduce the likelihood of being eaten by others.

The fry grows very quickly during their first three months and can reach nearly 8 inches (20cm) before being transferred into another aquarium on their own. It takes about one year for them to fully mature before being able to spawn themselves if given proper care.

Are blue phantom pleco aggressive or peaceful?

This plecostomus is known to be relatively peaceful, especially in a community tank. It can get territorial if you introduce it to a new tank and there’s another plecostomus in there already, but other than that, it should get along fine with most fish.

Blue phantom pleco care

Blue phantom pleco

To ensure optimal care for your new Blue phantom pleco, it is recommended that you have at least a 75-gallon tank with plenty of swimming room. If more than one is purchased, you may need an even larger tank depending on how territorial they become.

In addition to providing a spacious environment, make sure you also provide live or fake plants and rocks as well as driftwood to help them feel comfortable in their new home. Provide a good amount of hiding spots so they can feel safe in their environment.

Blue phantom pleco food

Their diet should be supplemented with vegetables and algae tablets, though fresh vegetables are always preferred to pellets. Don’t overfeed them and remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes. Like most bottom-dwelling fish, they eat algae from rocks and other surfaces in their environment. They also nibble on small invertebrates such as insect larvae, snails, and worms.

Water parameters

Blue phantom pleco

The ideal water should have a pH 6.0 – 7.5; temperature range 23-28°C (73.4 – 82.4°F); hardness: 5 – 12 dGH; kH 4-12 mg/l; nitrite 0 ppm and less than 2 ppm ammonia with water changes every 10 days or when levels exceed 2 ppm.

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Blue phantom pleco lifespan

In captivity, they can live up to 8 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

In order to prevent diseases in your fish, it is very important to quarantine new fish before you introduce them into your main tank. Quarantine tanks are basically hospital tanks and should be used to treat or keep new arrivals separate from established fish. Diseases can spread rapidly if not treated in time, especially in a small aquarium that is not kept clean on a regular basis.

It’s better to treat a few healthy fish than risk losing a whole group of them! Common parasites found in freshwater aquariums include ich (white spot disease), velvet (Oodinium sp.), anchor worm, roundworm, and flukes.


Blue phantom plecos are not usually a target for predators, but their large size can sometimes be intimidating to other fish. Be sure to have a tank that is sufficiently large so your L128 pleco has plenty of room to retreat if it feels threatened. This fish makes an excellent addition to larger aquariums and community tanks.

However, do keep in mind that smaller aquatic life such as shrimps and snails may still become prey for these hungry scavengers. It’s important to regularly perform partial water changes in order to maintain good water quality within your tank and to reduce any potentially dangerous ammonia buildup from waste build-up over time.

Remember – healthy plants help reduce excess waste!