Baryancistrus sp. L081

Baryancistrus sp. L081
Fine Spot Gold Nugget Pleco (L081)
There are currently three forms of gold nugget plec available in the hobby. Sadly, none have yet been described to science, so it's unknown whether they comprise a species complex, or are simply colour forms of the same species. For the time being, they've been assigned different L numbers in order that hobbyists can differentiate between them. Two of the fish, L081, and L018/085, are collected from the Rio Xingu, with the third, L177 hailing from the Rio Iriri, a tributary of the Xingu. 

Generally speaking, they can be distinguished by the size of the spots on the body, with L081 having very small spots, L018/085 "medium-sized" spots and L177 much larger spots. The spots on the latter form also tend to be more yellow than in the other two, in which they're more of a bright orange colour. Unfortunately for the fishkeeper, individual fish can vary somewhat in patterning, and it also tends to change as the fish mature. 

With the exception of L081 (not mentioned in the description of B. xanthellus), the combination of yellow markings on the dorsal and caudal fin and numerous yellow spots on the body is specific to this species. L177 is a variety with larger spots more obvious in younger specimens and LDA060 is a variety with ill formed spots or flakes.

L081 is reported in DATZ to represent three very similar small spotted gold nugget plecos. Reportedly, the first is very hard to keep alive for any length of time; the others are considerably more hardy. While these fish may represent the range of population, it appears that the browner (as opposed to black) and finer the spots (amongst comparatively sized specimens) the more likely you are to have a hardy type. Little is know of what this fish looks like at adult size.