Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus Cirrhosus) Fish Species Profile

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The Bristlenose is one of the smallest species of catfish. They are friendly, peaceful, very hardy, and can comfortably adapt to live in a wide variety of water conditions. They are also tremendous tank cleaners; they will clean the substrate of your tank daily. These will make an excellent addition to any community tank.

They are green, brown, or grey with yellow or white spots; some have irregular colouring, with darker and lighter splotches on various parts of their bodies. Most have lighter abdomens and darker backs except for the Albino Bristlenose, which is mainly white.

This particular species has an unusual appearance, featuring bony plates, a fat, flat body, and as they reach maturity, they sprout tentacle-like growths from their head. The male's tentacles are much longer and more evident than females.

They have a pair of pectoral and abdominal fins and a circular mouth with elongated lips which make them an excellent suckerfish and a broad head with an underbite to the set of the lower jaw.

Scientific NameAncistrus Cirrhosus
Other NamesBushynose Catfish, Common Bristlenose Catfish, Brushmouth Pleco
OriginsSouth America
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asLoners
Lifespanup to 5 year
Maximum Sizeup to 12.5
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature73 - 81 ℉ (22.8 - 27.2 ℃)
PH5.8 - 7.8
GH2 - 30

Origins of the Bristlenose Pleco

The Bristlenose Pleco originates in South America, mainly in the fast-flowing waters of Saramacca, Suriname, and Maroni in the Amazon River basin. You can also find them in some other parts of South and Central America, including Panama.


Bristlenose Plecos diet mainly consists of algae and other debris, so giving them spirulina or algae wafers as the staple of their diet is ideal.

Offering them foods such as flakes, granules, and bloodworms is also an excellent way to balance their diet and the occasional blanched vegetables as a treat is also appreciated.

Sexing the Bristlenose Pleco

It is relatively easy to determine gender in this species.

Both females and males have fleshy tentacles. However, males are usually larger, have larger bristles and have whiskers. Also, the male's bristles are on their heads, while females bristles are on the snout.

Males will also have spikes on their fins.

Breeding the Bristlenose Pleco

It is effortless to breed the Bristlenose Pleco; in fact, the typical tank habitat is ideal. To instigate mating, however, you will probably want to add driftwood or caves to your Bristlenose Plecos habitat. Once males mature, they will claim a specified area that is most suitable for spawning.

The female will arrive and lay her eggs during mating season. It's best to do a 75 per cent water change to induce spawning, In the wild their typical mating season is during the Amazon's rainy season, and the transformation of water can spur mating behaviours.

The male will guard his territory against other males until a mate finally turns up. Usually, fights between males result in their bristles getting tangled together.

Once ready to breed, the female will lay her eggs in the male's territory where she will stick her eggs onto hard surfaces such as cave tops, driftwood, or other suitable tank decorations.

The male will defend the spawning area for around 5 to 10 days waiting for the eggs to hatch, once hatched, the fry will absorb their egg yolk for a few days, and when they have finished with that, they will move on immediately to algae.

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Date Added: 8/30/2020 - Updated: 8/30/2020 1:35:39 PM