Bristlenose Pleco

Scientific Name(s):
Ancistrus temminckii, Ancistrus sp.

Common Name(s):
Bristle Nose Pleco, Bristle Nosed Pleco, Bristlenose Catfish, Bristlenose Pleco, Bushynose Catfish, Bristle Nose Plecostomus


Species Type:

Maximum Size:
5 inches (average)

Life Span:
20 years

Natural Habitat:
South American rivers and streams

Minimum Tank Size:
20 gallons

Tank Region:

Possible Tank Mates:
Community fish. Can work with smaller cichlid species.

The bristlenose pleco, Ancistrus temminckii and related species, is a wonderful fish to have. They come from South America. There are dozens of Ancistrus species. Like many plecos, they love to eat algae. I have read that some aquarists say that bristlenose plecos are the best “cure” for algae problems. Bristlenose’s do a good job on attached algae and only grow to 4 to 8 inches depending on the species. Ancistrus temminckii grows only up to about 4.75 inches. Compared to other plecos who grow to 1 to 2 feet, that is small! The bristlenose looks like most plecos in general shape except for its bristles. These fleshy appendages stick out around the lips and head of bristelnose plecos. The “bristles” or “brushes” grow as the fish grows. Males have many more adornments than females.

There is also an albino version of this fish which is identical in every way apart from albino colouration/lack of colouration and red eyes.

Temperature Range 16C – 27C (although will do fine upto 30)

pH Range 5.8 – 7.6

Hardness 5° – 20°

Breeding Information:
Bristlenose plecostomus are perhaps the easiest plecostomus to breed in an aquarium. When sexually mature, a male will find a suitable spawning location and claim it as his territory. This may be around or under a hunk of driftwood or inside or under PVC pipe or clay pots. He will defend the spot from other males if present. To promote spawning, Baensch’s aquarium atlas suggests doing a 75% water change in November (in the Northern hemisphere). The shorter days of winter and the water change make the plecos think it is the start of the rainy season. If the tank has a female(s), she will enter his territory and spawning site when she is ready to lay eggs. Eggs are stuck on hard surfaces, on top, hanging from the “ceiling.” The camouflaged male will guard the orange or amber eggs until they hatch about ten days later. After absorbing their yolk over three to four days, the tiny, baby plecos will immediately start to work on sucking algae off of surfaces. If there are other fish in the tank aside from the plecos, the babies or eggs can be moved to another tank to prevent those fish from eating the babies. Some breeders remove whatever the eggs are laid on into another tank and give the father a replacement site (wood, pot, PVC, etc.) to guard. The babies can be removed after hatching.

Sexing Information:
Males have larger bristles and grow more rapidly.

Vegetarian – eats algae and algae wafers. Suppliment with fresh vegetables such as zucchini slices, rommaine lettuce or spinach.

Peaceful; Peaceful, and quite sociable. Excellent for community tanks.

Common Diseases:
None specific to species.

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