The smallest of the Hypancistrus species is L174. It also has a very limited distribution, it's only known from a few deep water pools downstream from Altamira, Rio Xingu, Brazil. It's not allowed for export, so captive breeding is absolutely necessary for the survival of the species in the hobby. Even in nature it may be lost once the damming of it's habitat is completed. Luckily, a few good breeders in Norway have them, so they will not be lost to the world just yet! Still, it's rareness means it should only be kept by very serious fishkeepers with the intent of breeding them.
Name: Hypancistrus sp.L174
Trade names: Ozelot Pleco, L174
Origin: Rio Xingu, Brazil
Maximum size: 8 cm / 3''
In the mass of Hypancistrus formsfrom Rio Xingu, L174 can actually be fairly easily identified. It has very small eyes, a trait it only shares with H.sp.“mimic”. From them it can be told apart by it's diminutive size and shorter head. The body is usually covered with large, black blotches, which sometimes form short lines, especially in young individuals. Adult males are often very grey and dull with most of their pattern hidden behind impressive odontodal growth on their flanks.
They need an aquarium set up consisting of lots of hiding places in the form of rocks, wood and of course specially made caves that suit their measurements. In these the males will eventually guard their offspring. They prefer water that is fairly warm (27-30 C), soft and slightly acidic. Most of all it should be well oxygenated and clean, so a good filtration system and frequent water changes are essential. Among themselves they are fairly peaceful, although males may quarrel for caves and females can sometimes be badly injured or even killed during the breeding-trapping in the male's cave. Males develop longer odontodes on their pectoral fins and on their cheeks, and have broader heads. Hypancistrus are mostly carnivorous, so a selection of crustaceans, insect larvae and fish meat should be offered along with high quality dried foods that also contain some vegetable matter.
L174 is small and doesn't compete well with large species when it comes to food and territories, so this should be kept in mind. Clutches are very small, about 10-20 eggs per clutch is to be expected.