King Tiger Pleco (L333 & L066): The Differences and Complete Care Guide

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The king tiger plecos are gorgeous species that have been hobby favorites for decades now— their intricate and striking patterns of a black body with white high-contrast lines really make them stand out!

Today, we have curated a comprehensive King tiger pleco care guide to help you understand more about this intriguing fish. So, if you’re ready, let’s dive right in! 

Species Profile

The King Tiger Pleco is a part of the Hypancistrus Species, comes in two popular and similar varieties- the L333 pleco and the L066 pleco.

Hypancistrus is a genus of the Loricariid catfish family that originates from South America. However, unlike other Loricariid members, some Hypancistrus species enjoy meat in their diet, including the L333 and the L066.

It can be hard to tell the difference between L333 and L066, especially when they mature. Integrated cytogenetic and mitochondrial DNA analyses indicate that Xingu Plecos L066 & L333 are the same species

Sites sampled in the study indicating habitats of King Tiger Pleco L066, L333, and L046
Sites sampled in the study indicating habitats of L066, L333, and L046. (Photo: Cardoso et al.)

Yellow King Tiger Pleco L333

The Pleco L333, also known as yellow king tiger pleco, is a beautiful and fascinating fish species that you can introduce to your tank. They are native to much further up the Xingu and the near the city of Altamira; 

It generally features a black and white or black and yellow “maze-like” pattern all over its body. Furthermore, this fish species is typically quite undemanding and generally a pleasure to have in the aquarium. 

King Tiger Pleco L066

A pleco of many names, has names such as King tiger pleco, scribbled pleco, and network pleco. It’s one of the hardy and visually stunning Hypancistrus species. 

On the contrary, the Pleco L066 is endemic to the lower Xingu and probably the nearby Tocantins river; of course, there are many geographic variations in their wide distribution range.

L333 Vs. L066, What’s the Difference

King Tiger Pleco L066 & L333 are Same Species
(A) juvenile L066; (B) adult L066; (C) juvenile L333; and (D) adult L333 (Photo: Haakon Haagensen and Daniel Konn-Vetterlein)

Generally speaking, they are quite similar morphologically; there is not much difference between the two fish species other than minor differences in their appearance. 

A hobbyist would probably consider them to be separate creatures based on their pattern and distribution in the wild; 

Although they have a light base with dark lines, the most noticeable difference might be that the L066 has a paler base coloration than the L333. In comparison, L333 has a more vibrant yellow/light brown base coloration, and it also appears to be slightly stubbier from head to tail.  

Average King Tiger Pleco Size

While the other species of Plecos can reach massive sizes of 18 to 20 inches, this species of King Tiger Pleco generally stays under 6.3 inches. 

As a result, this fish species is extremely manageable, even for smaller tanks or aquariums at home. That being said, we recommend giving them adequate space to roam freely and providing them with many hiding spots. 


Like other Loricariids, the king tiger plecos are armored catfish with a suckermouth that allows them to attach themselves to objects and any other surface they can find, for example, rocks or logs in the wild!

They also have a similar silhouette – is sporting a flat bottom and half-plated armor. Both varieties tend to be attractively marked with dark base coloration with lighter lines. 

The adult male king tiger plecos can be seen with odontodes in a teeth-like formation around their heads and fins. 

Interestingly, this fish species is one of the only ones where the female fish can look much larger than the male species, especially when viewed from the top. 


The Tiger King Pleco L066 has a lifespan of about ten years. However, with proper care and good tank hygiene, this fish species may live for a few more years. 

Similarly, the Tiger King Pleco L333 also has a lifespan of about ten years. It is vital that you don’t keep an adult L066 and L333 together in a tank, as it is quite likely that they will crossbreed. 

King Tiger Pleco Care

So, now that you are all up to date with the general appearance, size, similarities, and differences between the King Tiger Pleco L333 and L066, let us move on to the topic of caring for them. This section will tell you everything you need to know before introducing this fish species to a tank. 

We also recommend buying your King Tiger Pleco from an authorized pet shop and dealer. Furthermore, ensure that you take the advice of the breeder and find out more about their care.

Tank Size

The L333 Yellow King Tiger and the King Tiger Pleco L066 can grow anywhere between 5 to 6.3 inches long. As such, they need a tank size that is a minimum of 40 gallons. 

As young Plecos, you can introduce them into a smaller tank with adequate room to swim freely and hide. However, once they begin to age, you must put them in a 40-gallon tank at the minimum. 

Water Parameters

The recommended water temperature for a King Tiger Pleco L333 is between 79° and 86° F. Ideally; the water should have a pH level between 5.5 to 7.5. While slight fluctuations will be tolerated, a sudden change in the pH level will cause them immense discomfort. Also, ensure that the water has a KH level of 6 to 10 dKH.

Substrate & Decorations

Setting up the right environment for your fish is important. Mimic their natural habitat is the best way. Like most pleco species, King tiger plecos are bottom-dwellers and rarely go to the surface, so pay close attention to the bottom of the aquarium when you set up the aquarium.

Sandy substrate rocks are things to include since they are what these fish are used to in their region. A heavy amount of vegetation (live plants) is recommended but not necessary. 

This species is primarily nocturnal, including a lot of hiding spots are essential. They like to spend the daytime hiding in the wood or cave. Driftwood is a must-have for any pleco tank. Not only does it create great hiding spots, but pieces of driftwood also serve as a fiber source. 

Food & Diet

Both King Tiger Pleco species generally thrive on algae; however, since they are scavengers, they will suck up any remaining fish food they find at the bottom of the tank. They are also known to eat dwarf shrimp, so if you have them in your tank, the Plecos will likely eat them at some point in time.

To keep them healthy, give them a mixed diet of vegetables and meat. Include peas, zucchini, cucumber, fish pellets, wafers, and flakes. 

Behavior & Temperament

As we mentioned above, King Tiger Plecos are generally docile, friendly, and can live in harmony with other fish species. However, adult Plecos may become territorial and aggressive towards other members of the same fish species. 

King Tiger Pleco Tank Mates

The perfect tank mates for King Tiger Plecos are – 

  • Green Lace
  • Certain shrimp species 
  • Large Amano
  • Ornamental Snails 
  • Vampire Shrimp

Breeding & Reproduction

It is recommended to keep two male and two female king tiger plecos in a large tank (at least 55 gallons). Allow them to choose their mates and provide enough caves and hiding spots. 

The male species are generally larger and darker than the females. They will guard the eggs once the females have laid them. They are also known to fan clean, fresh water over the eggs with their fins. 

The eggs should hatch within a week or so, after which you will need to feed the young fry finely crushed flakes and baby brine shrimp.

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s all we have for you today on our Tiger King Pleco care guide. We hope this gets you excited and ready to introduce this beautiful fish species to your tank. 

Remember to always closely watch the water conditions of the tank, and change the water about once a week, especially if there are young fry in them. And all the best! 

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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