The Bristlenose Pleco: Species Facts And Overall Care

Posted by Christy Caplan
Bristlenose Catfish

The Bristlenose Pleco is one of the most common Plecos found in at-home aquariums and are the most adorable looking catfish.

Fishkeeping World shares some interesting facts about this freshwater fish, including that it's one of the smallest catfish in the aquarium:

  • People tend to choose the Bristlenose over the Common Pleco because of their smaller size and they are easier to keep.
  • The Bristlenose Pleco is a master of disguise, and also a great tank cleaner.
  • One of the main reasons this fish is so common in home aquariums is because of its useful ability to keep algae down.

Tank conditions

When it comes to water changes and water parameters, Bristlenose Pleco need at least a 30-gallon tank because of their size, the amount of food they consume, and the waste they produce.

The water temperature and pH range for Bristlenose Plecos is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.6. Bristlenose Plecos are a hardy fish, so the water conditions may be a bit broader than you would expect for more fragile-sized tankmates.

The Spruce Pets tells us "any peaceful fish are fine tank mates for Bristlenose Plecos, and they can be kept together with other algae eaters, like snails or grazing fish. They are great for community tanks with species like Neon Tetras, Platys, Guppys, and more."

Essential Bristlenose Pleco Care includes maintaining a great environment. Don't forget those pieces of driftwood and live plants.

Some additional facts on the species:

  • Common names: Bristlenose pleco, bristlenose catfish, bushynose catfish, bushy nose pleco
  • Scientific nameAncistrus Cirrhosus (Ancistrus sp.)

Special note: It's not unusual for these fish to rush the surface for air. However, frequent climbs to the surface could mean the water carries too much ammonia and nitrates, or there's not enough oxygen circulating.

Don't forget veggies for this fish species! They are herbivores of course.

What do Bristlenose Plecos eat?

Fish Keeping Advice provides a list of recommendations for food as the Bristlenose Plecos is a vegetarian fish:

  • Bristlenose Plecos enjoys plant-based foods and require them to be in tip-top condition, and any fish foods that are fed to them need to sink to the bottom of the tank.
  • A plant-based sinking pellet would be the best choice for an 'all-rounder'. The Tetra Pro Pleco Wafers are the recommendation as they're nutritionally adequate, they sink quickly and they don't murky up the water like a flake food tends to if left uneaten. These algae eaters enjoy algae wafers!
  • In terms of the vegetables that Bristlenose Plecos like to eat, try Zucchini, Cucumber, Broccoli, Peas, Spinach and Romaine Lettuce. Make sure you remove any leftover vegetables from the tank within a day of feeding them, as to prevent them from fouling the water in your tank.

Bristlenose Plecos, being a predominantly vegetarian fish, do require a large amount of fiber in their diets to stay healthy.

  • If you are feeding them enough vegetables, you should not have a problem with this, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
  • The Bristlenose Pleco will need to obtain fiber from somewhere else. Logs of wood such as driftwood are made up of fibrous matter, which can provide the Plecos with all of the fiber that they need.

Also try frozen foods such as daphnia, bloodworms and blackworms.

Typical behavior

Bristlenoses are a peaceful species and will get along with most other peaceful community fish.

"It's a greatfish for beginnerand experienced aquarists alike. They are very hardy, and can comfortably adapt to live in a wide variety of tank conditions. It's not recommended that you house two males together as they get extremely territorial and competitive with other similar shaped species."

What about coloring and markings?

  • The Bristlenose Pleco is one of the smallest catfish, growing to only 3 to 5 inches.
  • Brown, green, or gray coloring with white or yellow spots
  • Lighter abdomens and darker backs (with the exception of the albino Bristlenose, which is mostly white). This species has an unusual appearance, featuring bony plates and wide head with an "underbite" to the set of the lower mandible.

Please leave us a comment below and let us know what you think of your fish tank?

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The Bristlenose Pleco: Species Facts And Overall Care