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Maximum size : 12.5 cm

Bristlenose Pleco - Ancistrus Cirrhosus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Bristlenose Pleco, (Ancistrus Cirrhosus) is a fascinating and peaceful addition to any aquarium. These hardy and adaptable Catfish are exceptional cleaners and can effortlessly acclimate to various water conditions. Not only are they friendly and peaceful, but they can also protect themselves from more aggressive fish due to their bony exoskeleton and sharp spines. While generally getting along with other fish, Bristlenose Plecos can become aggressive towards one another, especially when males are kept in a small aquarium. In fact, it 's not uncommon to find males with their bristles tangled together! With their small size, Bristlenose Plecos can be kept in an aquarium of 10 gallons or more and prefer well-oxygenated water with a slow to moderate flow. They occasionally dart to the surface to swallow air, which can be a sign of low oxygen levels or the presence of ammonia or nitrite in the water. To ensure clean and highly oxygenated water, an undergravel filter system with a powerhead or airstones can be utilized. Smooth substrate, plants, rocks, large twisted roots, and driftwood can create hiding places for these nocturnal fish to retreat during the day. These decorations also make great shelters for their fry, especially if keeping a breeding pair. Bristlenose Plecos sport unique and irregular colouring, with splotches of different shades on various parts of their body, such as green, brown, or grey with yellow or white spots. These catfish grow tentacle-like growths from their head, bony plates, and have a broad head with an underbite to the lower jaw set, which makes them excellent suckerfish.

Bristlenose Pleco Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the gender of Bristlenose Plecos can be achieved with ease. Both males and females have fleshy tentacles; however, males can be identified by their larger size, longer bristles, and whiskers. Moreover, the location of the bristles is different between the sexes. Males have bristles on their heads, while females have them on their snout. Males may also possess spikes on their fins.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAncistrus Cirrhosus
Year Described1836
Other NamesBushynose Catfish, Common Bristlenose Catfish, Brushmouth Pleco
OriginsPanama Suriname
Max Size12.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asLoners
Lifespanup to 5 year

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.8 - 7.8
GH2 - 30
73 - 81
22.8 - 27.2

Natural Habitat

The Bristlenose Plecos native habitat is in South America! These fascinating fish are mainly found in the fast-flowing waters of Saramacca, Suriname, and Maroni in the Amazon River basin. However, they can also be found in other parts of South and Central America, including Panama. In their natural environment, Bristlenose Plecos thrive in the fast-flowing waters of the Amazon River basin, where they can find an abundance of food and shelter amongst the rocky riverbeds. These remarkable fish have unique physical features that make them stand out in their habitat, including their bristled snout, which is believed to help them scrape algae off rocks and other surfaces. Recreating the perfect environment for Bristlenose Plecos in your home aquarium requires a bit of effort, but the results are well worth it. With their unique behaviors and stunning appearance, Bristlenose Plecos are an excellent addition to any aquatic community. So why not take a plunge into the enchanting world of South America 's aquatic life and discover the wonders of Bristlenose Plecos for yourself?
 Suriname River - Suriname
Suriname Flag
 Saramacca River - Suriname
Suriname Flag
 Maroni River - French Guiana
French Guiana Flag


Breeding Bristlenose Plecos is a straightforward process that can easily be achieved in a typical tank environment. However, adding driftwood or caves to the tank can encourage mating behaviour among the plecos. Once the males have matured, they will stake out a specific area for spawning. During mating season, females will lay their eggs in the male 's territory. To induce spawning, a 75% water change is recommended, as water transformations during the Amazon 's rainy season can spur mating behaviours in the wild. Male plecos will fiercely guard their territory, often resulting in fights with other males that may cause their bristles to become tangled. Once ready to breed, the female will attach her eggs to hard surfaces such as cave tops, driftwood, or other suitable tank decorations. For 5-10 days, the male will defend the spawning area until the eggs hatch. After hatching, the fry will absorb their egg yolk for a few days before moving on to algae as their primary food source.

Diet & feeding

The Bristlenose Plecos are primarily herbivorous and rely on algae and other detritus as their main source of nutrition. Thus, a diet primarily composed of spirulina or algae wafers is optimal for their health and well-being. Supplementing their diet with high-quality flakes, granules, and bloodworms is an excellent way to provide balanced nutrition. Treating them to blanched vegetables occasionally can also be appreciated and beneficial for their diet. Overall, a varied and nutritious diet is key to ensuring the optimal health of the Bristlenose Plecos.

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