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Ancistrus spp.
Bristlenose Pleco, Bushy Nose Pleco

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Bristlenose Pleco - Ancistrus sp.

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Ancistrus_bristlenose_2.jpg (20kb)

Name: Ancistrus spp.
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Amazon
15 cm 60 L 7.0 24°C


It's hard to find Ancistrus sold by species name, so if you want to breed them it's best to get them from the same source to ensure you have the same species. The ones that I breed are black/darkbrown with white spots and white tips on their dorsal and tail fin, that fade as they get older. I've had them for more than 3 years. The males have never gotten any branches in their bristles and the females have never gotten any bristles at all. Personally I prefer this look. Mine raise eggs in a hollowed out piece of driftwood that's open on one end. I get a new batch of wigglers coming out of the cave about once a month.


Well in my opinion these fish are dog-ugly, but are a good fish for any tank. They don't need too much but do make sure some driftwood or roots are in the tank for him to suck on. They also like a little shade from the lights. Be careful because males will establish large territories and often fight with other males. In a tank below 55 gallons it would be best to keep one male. He can be kept with the smallest of tetras and the largest of cichlids.

Contributed by Mr Discus

These guys eat so much algae it is amazing. The walls of my tank were covered with it. I bought a bristlenose and the tank was perfectly clean overnight.

Contributed by Robert Ringa

I disagree about this fish being ugly, its uniqueness is amazing. I bought my first over a year ago, and he made short work of clearing my cichlid tank of all algae. Though they prefer lower pH (5.5-6.8), mine has thrived in the higher pH African Cichlid tank. Though my cichlids made short work of other plecos (starlight pleco, clown pleco, candy stripe pleco), Spike has made it with no damage, and is now my oldest fish. He was about 8 cm when added, and is now in the 12 cm range. A few months ago I added a female for him, and they play often. As far as I can tell, they won't breed due to the aggressive cichlids and higher pH. They've made a home in a terra cotta cave, which he especially loves. Natural wood pieces are also a favorite. His diet is primarily fish food leftovers, sinking algae wafers, and the occasional zucchini slice.

Differentiating the male and female can initially be challenging, but once they start to mature, the male is easily distinguishable by the line of bristles between his eyes. Females may grow bristles around their lips, but will not grow the perpendicular stripe of bristles between the eyes. Another neat thing about the male is the branching bristle. Usually the main bristle on his nose will branch much like deer antlers. Spike's main bristle has about 3 forks in it, gives him a nice full rack. These guys are very good natured, keep the algae clear, and get along well with all the other fish. They also stay fairly small, unlike the common pleco which can quickly outgrow your small tank. Most important is their great personality, I just love watching them. There are many, many varieties of bristle nose, ranging from the starlight (all black with tiny white dots and small bristles) to Spike's mottled brown. They're all fun, and many suprisingly beautiful.

Contributed by (no name given)

I completely agree with Robert but I don't think they're that ugly at all, mine only comes out when all the daylight and room lights are gone, and even then it´s usually only every second day so. When I see him I get a bit excited, I think they´re incredibly interesting and my tank is completely algae free!

Contributed by Eileen McCulloch

These are probably some of the best Plecos I've kept. I have two, 1 starlight, and 1 similar to the picture above. I love their little bristles, I think they are so ugly they're cute. Great little workers.

Contributed by Mango

I bought a small bristlenose for a few reasons. First, to clean my algae. Second, because they are capable of breeding in a tank. Most Plecos are next to impossible to breed in captivity. But my biggest reason was their looks. I bought the Bristlenose the same time I bought my Royal Pleco. The Royal was so beautiful I had to go to the other end of the spectrum and find something "unique". My only piece of advice is float them for a long time if you have high pH. I have an African tank with the pH around 8. I let mine float for about 20 minutes and I could tell he still got a bit stressed after I dropped him in. Now his days of stress are over, he's got a nice spot on a piece of slate under some driftwood and I haven't witnessed anybody messing with him at all.

Contributed by Chris Rogan

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