Plecos are found in the south of North America, Central America and of course in South America. They comprise more than 90 genera and 820 described species. In addition, there are at least the same number of undescribed species, which are often referred to as L-Numbers.

Common to all is that they have a sucker mouth. Depending on the species they can grow from a few centimeters to over a meter in size. They live in standing or weakly flowing waters as well as in the strongest current of rushing mountain streams.

The name L-Numbers goes back to the aquarium magazine DATZ. Its then editor-in-chief Rainer Stawikowski, Arthur Werner (owner of the then importer Transfish) and Ulrich Schliewen (curator Ichthyology of the Munich State Zoological Collection) had “invented” it in a pizzeria in Munich. Where the “L” stands for Loricariidae (family of the Loricariidae) and the number behind it for the order of publication in the DATZ. This should prevent the creation of fantasy names, so that it would be easier to talk about newly discovered species. Previously these were given their own names by each exporter and nobody really knew what was delivered…

When a species is then scientifically described, then the “L-Number” should actually be dissolved, because it has fulfilled its purpose. But we see just at the Zebrapleco (Hypancistrus zebra) that this did not work out so well. Although the species has been scientifically described since 1991, the term L 46 is still on everyone’s lips…

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