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Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus temminckii)

Photo of: Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus temminckii)

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


Family: Loricariidae


Species Type: Plecostomus


Maximum Size: 5 inches


Life Span: 20 years


Natural Habitat: South American rivers and streams


Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons


Tank Region: Bottom


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


Description: 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! My common plecostomus is over a foot long which is too big for most smaller aquariums. 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.


Temperature Range: 62°F - 80°F



pH Range: 5.8 - 7.6

pH 5.0
pH 6.0
pH 7.0
pH 8.0
pH 9.0


Hardness Range: 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. Although I have not bred these fish, I would think it would be better to keep the eggs with the father so that he can aerate them and tend to them. The babies can be removed after hatching.


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


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


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


Common Diseases: None specific to species.


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Keith Pardee

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