Ancistrus temminckii - Bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose female
Bristlenose female with male hiding

Family: Loricariidae

Subfamily: Ancistrinae

Common Names: Bristlenose pleco, bushynose pleco, Temminck's bristlenose

Synonyms: Ancistrus dolichopterus, Ancistrus cirrhosus, Chaetostomus dolichopterus, Xenocara dolichoptera,
Hypostomus temminckii, Plecostomus aculeatus, Hypostomus schneideri, Xenocara temminckii

Habitat: Guyana, South America

First discovered in 1840.

Special Note: Identifying Ancistrus without detailed morphological (structural) studies is extremely difficult. I am
tentatively identifying this fish as Ancistrus temminckii because that is the most common bristlenose in the
aquarium hobby.

Size: grow up to approximately 5"

Keeping: 71-80F, pH is not important as long as extremes are avoided.

Sexing: Males develop tentacles along their head while the females do not get these tentacles. There is no
other discernible differences in the sexes. Males do not get these tentacles until they are approximately 1 year

Food: Prefers algae however will not refuse more meatier fare. They live quite well on the algae in a tank and
flake food. Vegetables such as zucchini or broccoli are appreciated in their diet.

These fish were obtained as fry from Richard Schinkel. They were placed into a 33g tank with African cichlid fry.
This tank has a large gravel bottom and is filtered by an Aquaclear 300. There are several shells and some
rocks in this tank. A few plants are also in the tank, including Java fern, Bolbitis and a unknown crypt species. It
has a small fluorescent light in it. The pH in this tank runs around 7.8. They grew fairly quickly in this tank and
then started hiding somewhat from the attention of the cichlids as they grew up. As an added bonus these two
fish turned out to be a male and a female. The fish spawned the first time in a small circular shell, I tried rescuing
the fry when they had hatched by placing them in a breeder trap in the main tank as the cichlids were now big
enough to eat the fry. The fry mostly escaped the trap over the next week until there was only one left. He was
placed in a 20g tank with swords. The next spawning took place in a barnacle shell. I was not around when the
fry hatched and these were promptly lost. There was no spawnings for quite awhile after this. I figure the cichlids
were getting most of the food and that the plecos were getting enough to survive but that's it. This tank was later
moved to the office where I work. The cichlids were sold and guppies were put in their place. Within a month
they had spawned again in the barnacle shell. This time he picked a spot where you could see the eggs. They
are large and yellow. You could actually watch some development in the eggs as the days passed by. A day
after they were laid you could see a darker spot in the egg. Later this spot turned into two black spots. I believe
that this is the fry's eyes. A day or two after this the fry were hatched. They looked like eggs with stubby tails.
The next day they looked more like catfish but still had a lot of yolk sac on them. They were kept in the shell by
the male for almost a week after they hatched. Some would escape in the meantime. However the guppies in
the meantime had tried to eat one and couldn't so now ignored them. The guppies were more interested in
them while they were eggs or first hatched. The male guarded them extremely well. He removed any snails that
came to close and swam after the guppies when they were too close for his comfort. After he finally let them go
he had no further interest in them. He again spawned the next month and the next. There are now 3 generations
of fry all over this 33g tank. They eat algae and flakes. I figure he is almost ready to start another batch. I plan on
moving some of the fry to different tanks so the food supply is not depleted and so they can grow a bit faster.
They have been a great source of fun at the office. All the customers that come in found it interesting to see the
catfish guard his eggs and babies. I highly recommend this fish to anyone who has an algae problem or just to
someone who enjoys seeing something slightly different In his tank. As they do not get too large they can be
kept in smaller tanks unlike a lot of other pleco type catfish.

© Copyright 1999- 2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fish by Gina Sandford

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Hobbyist Guide to Catfish and Loaches : The Bottom Dwellers by Dr. Christopher Andrews & P. Loiselle

Complete Introduction to Breeding Aquarium Fishes by Herbert R., Dr., Axelrod, Holger Windelov

Catfish in the Aquarium by Dr. Carl Ferraris Jr.

To see more references on catfish:

Catfish Book List

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