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The Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus dolichopterus), also known as the Bushynose or Bushymouth Pleco, is a member of the Loricariidae family of South American suckermouth catfishes. While many suckermouth catfish species have yet to be bred on any major scale in aquariums, the Bristlenose pleco is one of the most easily and often-bred “pleco” species in the aquarium hobby, and many popular color morphs have been developed. This fish is immediately distinguishable by the growth of many bristle-like appendages on its facial area beginning in sub-adulthood. Both sexes grow the appendages, but the growth and length is much more pronounced in males.
A generally peaceful and hardy species, the Bristlenose Pleco is an excellent, undemanding candidate for most aquariums. Unlike the widely-seen Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) and Trinidad Pleco (Hypostomus punctatus), which easily reach a monstrous size of 18 to 20+ inches (45 to 51+ centimeters), the Bristlenose Pleco grows to a size of only 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters). This smaller size makes for a much more manageable (and less messy) pleco that can thrive permanently in a well-maintained aquarium as small as 30 to 40 gallons. Male plecos may be somewhat territorial with other males of their species, but disputes can usually be diffused by providing ample territory and hiding places for each fish. All other tankmates will be generally ignored, although it is possible that small shrimp fry might fall prey to the Bristlenose Pleco. However, some large-scale shrimp suppliers breed Bristlenose Plecos in the same pools they use for shrimp breeding.
The Bristlenose Pleco is primarily nocturnal, but will often become active during daytime hours once established in an aquarium with plenty of driftwood, rockwork, and other hiding places. It is not known to eat wood heavily like some plecos (Panaque sp., etc.), but it may benefit from some supplementary wood (or bio-film on driftwood). The Bristlenose Pleco will not bother most plants, but it will eat plenty of algae in the aquarium, especially as a juvenile. Feed the Bristlenose Pleco a diet heavy in vegetable matter, including high-quality vegetable flakes, sinking algae wafers and pellets. It will also appreciate being fed some fresh vegetables such as shelled peas, spinach, zucchini and cucumber. Occasional meaty foods such as bloodworms are also beneficial when fed sparingly. This fish eats constantly, so too much meat/animal protein in its diet can be unhealthy for the fish as well as the level of waste it produces in the aquarium.
What We Like About This Fish:
- The Bristlenose Pleco is a very peaceful and hardy addition to almost any aquarium.
- At a maximum size of 4 to 5 inches, this is a very practical and manageable fish.
- This fish will not bother most plants, but it will likely help with algae control, especially as a juvenile. It will also scavenge and consume most uneaten fish food.
- The Bristlenose Pleco is an aquarium fish with a unique appearance as well as plenty of personality.
RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:
- Temperature: 72° - 86° F (22° - 30° C)
- pH: 6.5 - 7.5 (flexible as long as sudden changes are avoided)
- KH: 6 - 10 dKH
- Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
- Diet: Omnivorous, but meatier foods should only be fed sparingly.
- Social behavior: Generally solitary, but will socialize somewhat, especially during breeding.
- Origin: Tank-raised, but indigenous to South America.
- Average adult size: 4 - 5 inches (10 - 13 cm)
- Average purchase size: 1 - 3 inches (2.5 - 7.6 cm)