Spawning "Ancistrus dolichopterus" Bristle Nose Pleco
Bristlenose catfish are best known in the aquarium hobby for the great job they do in keeping the aquarium free of algae. They spend much of their time working over glass, rocks, or any other solid surface in the aquarium. They go along devouring all of the algae in an aquarium by "sucking" it from the surfaces with their special mouths. They are in many aquarists' opinions best known in performing this job.
Bristlenose catfish belong to the family Loricariidae, or armored catfish. They are originally from South America.. They are close relatives of many species of Plecostomus, Otocinclus, Loricaria, Farlowella, and any other type of these sucking catfish. Bristlenose belong to the genus Ancistrus, of which there are many closely related species. They can grow up to six inches, with males generally growing larger than females. Males also are distinguished by the large amounts of bristles on the forehead. These bristles can vary in length, often branching of to form a large amounts. The amounts though can vary between the individual fish and species. Females have a short row of unbranched bristles on their upper lip. Often they many have none at all. The bristles begin to develope when the young fish is no more than one and one-half inches long, meaning the sexes of these fish can normally be determined when they are about two inches in length.
Bristlenose catfish have a number of features that help them to survive in their environment, which is normally fast flowing rock streams. The eyes of Bristlenose catfish are unique in that the amount of light that enters the eyes is not controlled by the usual expanding and contracting of the pupil, but by a structure that originates from the top edge of the iris, and moves down across the pupil to vary the amount of light entering the eye. The mouth provides a way to hold onto the rocks in these fast flowing streams the live in and as a way to scrape algae from solid surfaces, both of which can be preformed at the same time. The interoperculum of these fish has a cluster of sharp, curved spined, which can be extended outwards, and point in a forward direction. This acts as a defence against being swallowed be a predator. The froward pointing angle combined with the Bristlenose's ability to move in any direction makes it possible for them to escape backwards out of the predators mouth. Bristlenose can move at a remarkable speed when they want to, scuttling across the rocks with great agility. For this reason they would not be an easy target for a predator anyways.
The male of the Bristlenose species is a great parent. They will guard the eggs and newly-hatched fry until they are free-swimming. A female will lay between 40 to 100 eggs, each one about on eighth of an inch in diameter and orange in color. The eggs are laid in a cluster that sticks to the side or top of the cave. The male will then guard the eggs cleaning them with his mouth and fanning water over them with his fins. The eggs then hatch in about six days, depending on the brood. When they hatch, they look like eggs with tails. They then remain with the male for another five days or until there egg sacks are absorbed.
When they grow to about on half an inch long they will become independent. If the male did not care for the eggs they would have fungused and died, his care is necessary for their survival. In an aquarium Bristlenose catfish have been known to live and breed for up to thirteen to fourteen years before they die. The water for these fish should be soft, neutral to slightly alkaline. The temperature should be anywhere from seventy-five to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. They require plenty of cover and rocks to hide, and will spend a lot of time hidden, but they also spend a lot of time working their way around on solid surfaces cleaning algae. They will not harm most plants in the aquarium, but some larger species will harm some soft leafed plants. Although they are by nature algae eaters, they will accept most types of food offered in the aquarium to other fish and will do a good job cleaning the bottom of the tank. I would recommend putting a piece of drift wood in the tank for it seems that they like to spend time eating on it. The fry anf parents will eat almost any green food. Soft cooked green peas, spinach, pumpkin, and what works best for me zucchini.