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Aquatic News & Notes selected by the Editors of AMAZONAS Magazine 
A Livestock Smuggler's Favorite,
the Zebra Pleco "L46" Receives CITES Listing

Special Report by Matt Pedersen and the AMAZONAS Staff

Overlooked in the recent flurry of headlines coming out of Johannesburg, South Africa, as the 2016 CITES Conference announced listing changes for some 500 species of wild plants and animals whose survival is considered  threatened or  endangered, Brazil has moved quietly to add a popular and charismatic aquarium fish for protection under CITES Appendix III.

The historic CITES gathering made world news with new listings of the Thresher Shark, Devil Rays, many Rosewood trees, cheetahs, tigers, and hornbills, while one small fish emerged with a new status but little public fanfare.

Known as the Imperial Zebra Pleco,  Hypancistrus zebra, "L46", the little loricariad catfish is endemic in the Rio Xingu watershed and is coveted by aquarium keepers but feared to be vulnerable to over-collection, although captive breeding efforts are producing an unknown quantity of specimens to meet consumer demands. With supplies limited, the prices of this species have sometimes reached astronomical levels, and a leading online livestock retailer is currently offering  captive-bred Zebra or "Altimira Plectostomus" for $299 each. 

In the Rainforest: Exploring the headwaters of the Amazon in Ecuador's Upper Napo River 
Our guide with a large, sardine-like surface-dwelling characin, Triportheus rotundatus, common in the Amazon Basin but rarely seen in aquaria.
By Michael J. Tuccindardi
AMAZONAS Senior Editor

Napo Wildlife Center is located in a fairly remote part of Yasuni National Park, and getting there required a short flight from Quito to the quiet jungle city of Coca at the junction of three rivers - the Napo, Coca, and Payamino. From there, a 2-hour motorboat ride up the Napo brought me to the entrance to the ecolodge, where more boat travel awaited. 

The Napo River is a major headwater of the Amazon, flowing down from the Andes near Quito and into Ecuador's corner of the Amazon Basin. It is a classic "white water" river, its murky and fast-moving waters loaded with sediment and debris, which it will deposit at the river's meeting point with the Amazon proper just North of Iquitos, Peru. Yasuni National Park is considered one of the most biodiverse places on earth, but unfortunately lies atop rich oil and natural gas deposits. Recently, despite international outcry, the Ecuadorian government moved to allow petroleum exploration and drilling within the park itself - which does not bode well for the protected  habitat  and fauna of Yasuni.

The entrance to the lodge lies along a small tributary of the Napo, which leads to a quiet blackwater lake. We took a canoe for the nearly hour-long journey up this creek, and the slow pace and quiet approach of the hand-paddled craft allowed for incredible wildlife watching. Monkeys, sloths, and various tropical birds darted around the canopy, but...  

VIDEO: A 55-Gallon Aquarium Evolves at Hyperspeed
"Two Years in Two Minutes" (Note the Arowana Phase) 
Author's 55-gallon aquarium toward the end of a frenetic two years of aquascaping and stocking changes. Credit: TheRick2325

Don't like how your tank is looking?
Here's proof that things can change quickly in a 55-gallon aquarium.

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