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Bristlenose Plecostomus Factoids

Origin

South America

Maximum Size

Four to five inches but usually smaller

Breeding Size

Two inches

Housing

Needs crannies, caves, crevices

Temperature

70 to 80 works

Attitude

Peaceful but male will argue over territories

Foods

Vegan but flexible.  Primo algae eater.

Water

Not picky

Breeding Style

Breeds in caves

Number of Young

50 to 100

LA Male bristlenose plecos sport more bristles.

Origins:  Originally these little rascals came from the Amazon River basin.  Supposedly some 50 species cruise the channels and tributaries of this second longest river (some 260 miles shorter than the Nile as Adrian Philp so rudely informed me) in the world.  But the albinos more likely came from an Asian fish farm.  The ones we sell come from an Iowa breeder.

Appeal:  Bristlenose plecos eat algae assiduously.  The commoner plecos grow so large, they turn into destructive behemoths.  Bristlenosers stay small -- way small – all under six inches.  The albinos stay under four inches.  And their albino color adds to their appeal. 

LA Pic
Female albino bristlenose plecostomus.

LA Pic
Ditto.

LA Pic
Male bristlenose plecos have ridges down their snout.  Females do not.

LA Pic
All bristlenose plecostomids have these retractable hooks.

LA Pic
Good size female bristlenose plecostomus.

LA Pic
Bunch of albino bristlenose plecos in an ice cream bucket.

 

LA Pic
Sexually mature male with well developed bristles.

LA Pic
Little guys are very hard to sex.

Size:  In a retail tank, you see them at maybe 1.5 inches -- sometimes up to three inches.  Theoretically, bristlenosers grow to a massive five inches.  Most albinos top out at just over three inches. 

LA Pic
Another well developed male.  Many develop that pink spot.

LA Pic
Different species of bristlenose.  Lots of them out there.

LA Pic
Retractable hooks and rasping lips are part of the standard package.

Cichlid Tank Mates.  Feel free to mix these little guys with North, Central, and South American cichlids.  Because of their set of frog stabbers that poke out their cheeks (see preceding picture) and their tendency to hide during the day, you can probably mix them with African cichlids also.  Watch carefully.  African cichlids love to eat the eyeballs out of the common plecos.

LA Pic
Hooks in when not threatened.  Whose afraid of a flowerhorn anyway?

LA Pic
Rough lips and sturdy scraping teeth.

LA Pic
Kinda cute in the belly.

LA
Side stabbers out in full defense mode.

LA Pic
Bristlenoser devouring an algae wafer.

 

Foods:  Bristlenosers love algae, of course.  They also like blanched zucchini and other vegetables.  One breeder recommends French-cut green beans.  We found a close version of these on special at HyVee three for $1.  Another insists that green peas with skins removed are better.  Since these little devils can chew into wood, you probably don’t need to peel their peas.  We like the frozen ones because 97% of them sink as soon as they thaw.  The African cichlids eat the floaters.  Most of our plecos ignored the peas.  Joe Meade feeds hers spirulina tablets.  Bristlenosers also eat sinking pellets, algae wafers, and frozen bloodworms.  Go easy on the meaty foods.  They do also graze on driftwood.

LA Pic
Typical upside down look at his underwater world.

LA Pic
Home of potential breeding pair.  Note the wood.

Plants:  Planted tanks work great.  These little guys rarely eat or tear up plants.  They love exploring your aquascaping and looking for small bits of algae in the greenery.  However, I would not trust any plecos with Amazon sword plants. Once your bristlenose runs out of algae he will start scraping the top layer off plant leaves.

Housing/Water:  Avoid bright lights.  Des Moines water works fine.  Nosers seem to like frequent water changes. 

Add Wood:  Add bogwood or driftwood to their aquarium.  It drops the pH, darkens their tank, and gives them something to chew with their raspy dental work.  If you put several young bristlenose plecos in a tank you’ll notice them accumulating on and chewing up the wood.  

LA Pic
Male hangs upside down on his wood.

LA Pic
Female eagerly eating blanched zucchini.

Sexing:  Won’t happen on the babies.  Both sexes grow bristles.  Males grow a larger and occasionally forked crop of bristles.  Females grow smaller and fewer bristles.  Males also grow a double row of bristles down the middle of their snouts.  

LA Pic
55-gallon tank, algae on back, Thursday, prior to adding eight 2-inch bristlenose plecos.

LA Pic
Same tank Saturday morning.  Bristlenosers do nice work.

Schedule:  Nocturnal.  Like the shoemaker’s assistants, adults do their main work at night.  Young ones also work during the day.  You can observe them in action at night with a dim flashlight.  A bright flashlight sends them scurrying into hiding places.

Tank Mates:  Bristlenose plecos mix very well with all small and medium fishes except their own kind or near relatives.  Male bristlenosers like to argue over territories.  If you have several, make sure you provide more than one hiding place.  They get along fine in a typical community tank as long as they have a hiding place.

LA Pic
If this is two males, we'll probably see no eggs.

LA Pic
Normal colored bristlenose pleco just barely over an inch.

LA Pic
Same guys munching on green beans.  They prefer the French cut style.

LA Pic
Bristlenose male munching a green bean.  Note the pink patch.

LA Pic
Two-inch albino sailfin pleco for comparison.  These guys easily attain a foot in length.

LA Pic
Bristlenose female.  She likes getting under or inside her tank décor.

LA Pic
Female and male albino plecostomus scoping out potential breeding site.

LA Pic
Female cleaning the glass.  Same site as above.

LA Pic
Male cleaning the glass.

LA Pic
Really bright pink spot on this guy -- perhaps tied to breeding condition?

LA Pic
Call him Warf.  He speaks fluent Klingon.

LA Pic
Cute little dude.

LA Pic
They don't always hide.

LA Pic
One of the honeymoon couples.


Breeding Tips:  Evidently PVC tubes grow wild in the Amazon River because the little rascals adapt quite readily to short segments – not pretty but utilitarian.  The pair in this tank often hide behind the wood.  The watersprite plants growing on the surface help darken this tank.

Breeding Activity:  The bristly male takes over the tube he prefers. The female moves in during a brief romantic interlude.  After she deposits her orange eggs (on top of the tube’s roof), he takes over and cares for the eggs.  Give the eggs five to six days to hatch.  Give the larvae another five or six days to absorb their yolk sacs and emerge as small bristle-less versions of their parents.  

LA Pix
Here's some 0.5-inch fry on their own.  We'll get some better pictures later.

LA Pix
Belly shots.  Sucking on the glass.

LA Pix
The dark spots are snails on the glass.

LA Pix
Lotsa little hard-to-count guys (in spite of their color).

LA Pix
Fifty one-inch fry brought in by Robert Leonard (from our pair).  His are orange.

Fry Care:  Once they start free-swimming, feed them microworms and/or newly hatched brine shrimp.  As they grow, they seem to like green beans, zucchini, and algae wafers just fine.

LA
At one inch they're ready to make it in a community tank.

LA
Don't forget to feed the little rascals.

LA
Long-finned albino bristlenose plecostomus -- not cheap.
  

Recently Appearing:  Fairly new on the scene, you can now see a long-finned version of the albino bristlenose occasionally.  These were a lagniappe to Aqualand from Segrest Farms.  Of course, they accompanied a $1,200 order.  Thanks, Segrest.

LA
His body measures a little over one inch.

LA
Regular-finned bristlenose plecos produced by Robert Leonard.

Locally Produced.  A long-finned bristlenose has started showing up recently.  Robert Leonard bred these also.  LA.
 

Ethan Olson, November 22, 2010
was reading on your section for Bristlenose plecos and wanted to give a few hints if anyone is interested in breeding them. The easiest thing to do is get like six small ones and wait for them to mature. I have had best luck with multiple pairs in the same tank and have best luck with more females than males ratio. otherwise males argue too much. The best foods i have found for the babies is i blend up peas and algae sheets with some kind of squash and bake on a flat sheet in the oven until dry and store in the freezer. To feed just break off a piece and rubberband to a heavy object to sink it to the babies. you get best success with babies if you put them in a bare bottom tank so you can do a water change daily. if not you usually notice a sharp decrease in babies over the next month.The best things to breed them in that i have found so far are clay pipes less than 2 inches in diameter and bigger than 1.5 inches if u can find any. PVC and hollow logs are also great.One more thing is that you must have some form of wood in the tank as it is a necessary part of their diet and aids in their digestion. Any other questions just email me at olsonethan17@yahoo.com

PC

A:  Yep.  Those clay pots work the best but are not absolutely necessary.  You can't always find them on dealers' shelves.  They're a handmade product you can order from plecocaves.com.  I'll add your info to my bristlenose page.  LA

fishy2578, April 8, 2011
Hello,
    I enjoyed your site and pictures of the gold ancistrus:
    I call them "gold" ancistrus because my  red-eyed pair, a short-fin male and a long-fin female, have one brown one with each spawn, one long- and one short-finned. They don't look exactly like the other brown ancistrus I've seen, but are definitely not albino.
    It's not necessary for the zucchini to be blanched; I spear it raw on cocktail forks. The parents eat the whole veggie, including the stem, while the fry eat pulp only when tiny, but when they get a little larger, they eat the skin and stem as well as the pulp. The tiny fry also eat algae tablets. Each of the two large spawns mine have had has been around a hundred and most, if not all, survive, except for the one that got caught in the sponge filter. The first spawn only produced 15, but I had some gold tetras in there and didn't know they'd spawned until the little suckers hit the glass. The second large one came before the first was ready to go and all were in a 20 gallon with black sand substrate. A fourth spawn has come along, but daddy didn't mind the eggs very well and only a few survived. One fish store pays a small bit more for the long fins, the other doesn't, and I didn't pay any extra for her. (I bought them as babies at two different stores a while apart and am just lucky to have a pair.)
    Also, I don't have pipes or pottery; mine breed in their wood caves and it's true that they need the wood to survive; it's necessary for them to digest their food properly.

A:  Good info.  I'll add it to my bristlenose page..  LA


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