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This months profile was written by kcgirl81 an active contributor to the site.

South America



Ancistrus temminckii and sp.


    Smaller than its hypostomus cousin, this unique pleco is a delightful addition to a medium sized aquarium. Its manageable size makes it more practical for the average aquarist, and it is available in several color and fin variations.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Average adult size: 4-5" (10-13cm)
    Tank: Min. Tank requirements: 36”" inches in length
    Strata: Bottom
    PH: PH recommendation 6.5 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to medium (will adapt to a range of specifications)
    Temperature: 72°F to 86°F (22°-30° C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Family: Loricariidae
    Sub Family: Ancistrinae
    Genera: Ancistrus
    Species: temminckii


Common name:

    Bristlenose pleco , Bushynose

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America: Saramacca, Suriname, and Maroni River basins.

General Body Form:

    Elongated form with a flat underside. The distinguishing characteristic is the soft fleshy extensions on the nose which give this pleco its name. These “bristles” appear only on the male of the species, and are used in sexing specimens. The mouth is on the underside of the head, and feeding is accomplished by rasping on a surface. Ancistrus is a small pleco, being full grown at less than 6 inches. Longfin varieties have been produced through selective breeding.



    Overall coloration is brown with light colored spots. A thin cream colored stripe appears at the tip of the dorsal and and tail fins. The belly is lighter in color, but still shows the contrasting spots against a darker body color. Albino and piebald forms exist in captivity.



    Ancistrus is a nocturnal catfish, and prefers to stay hidden during the day. Caves or tunnels should be provided. They also require driftwood as part of the tank setup, as they will rasp on the wood to aid in digestion. Food should consist of vegetable matter, including zucchini, cucumber, spinach, and romaine lettuce. Algae wafers will also be eaten. They will graze on algae in the tank, but algae should not be relied on as the primary diet. Ancistrus will do well with most tankmates, but males can be territorial toward other males of the same species in a close environment. As long as partial water changes are carried out regularly, ancistrus is undemanding with concern to water conditions.

    Shallow pools and Fast flowing, clear tributaries of the Amazon River in areas with submerged wood.


    Ancistrus have been bred in the home aquarium with great success. A pair may be successfully spawned in a 30 gallon tank. Caves or tunnels should be provided and will be utilized as a spawning site. They seem to prefer a cave just large enough for the male and female to fit side by side. Once eggs are laid, the male cares for them by fanning the eggs and guarding the cave. Fry will eat algae and blanched green beans or romaine lettuce.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Jessica
I purchased a fully-grown pair of these fellows from my lfs two weeks ago. Originally, I wanted them because I read they were easy to breed and I figured with 125 gallons, I would need a horde of them to keep it clean. I've never had a pleco before. Boy was I ever wrong! Between the two of them, I'm seeing the true colors of decorations than have been smothered be algae growth for over a year! My male (Brussels) hides all the time and is extremely shy of us still, but his mate (Beanie) is all over the place and warming up to us quickly. It took her a week to realize that she now has a veggie clip, but she is thrilled with it now that she knows where it is. This morning she's already eaten clean through two thick slices of cucumber. I never realized how cool these guys were! Hopefully someday they'll spawn and well have little Sprouts out and about! They have three pieces of driftwood (one rather large with a tube-like hollow perfect for them) and several caves and crevices of river rock, coconut shell, and hut of some kind of dense plastic.. I'm sure if they hit it off, locations won't be a problem! Here's hoping!
From: Kyle
The bristlenose won me over by being "so ugly its cute". I originally bought a calico longfin bristlenose for my 30 gallon which kept the glass algae free. When I upgraded to a 55, I decided to add a second bristlenose of the same color and fin variety. I was lucky enough to have originally bought a female and now have added a male. An incredibly forager, my bristelnose plecos will not only eat algae but will also eat flakes and pellets. This pleco species is a must for any medium sized tank considering the availability, varieties, and affordability.
From: momboyz3
I was given a pair of BN Pleco's several years ago by a friend. I have a 12 gallon nano tank, that I was just starting to clear out as I have recently purchased a 35 gallon nano tank. Much to my surprise, I have noted 3 (to date) Pleco Fry's. My son loves them, they are fabulous, low maintenance. They are great Kittie TV for our indoor cat. Couldn't ask for better tank mates for our variety of finned friends. Needless to say we are holding off on placing everything into our 35 gallon nano. We just might keep the 12 gallon nano running just for our mated pair. I would recommend them for all ages. They are truly the gentle ones.
From: Sarah
I just got a young female Bristlenose. As soon as she was put in the tank she went to work looking for food. She found the bogwood and loved it. My little fish adjusted to the tank quickly and has been very active. Swimming all over the tank looking for algae and exploring. I have her in a 36 Gal community tank with a 3 inch clown pleco. They seem to be getting along just fine. My clown stays in one area and this BN goes everywhere. No signs of problems so far. If you want a fun, cute, small fish to clean algae this is the fish for you. They are my new favorite. My husband even thinks she is one of the coolest fish I have.
From: Zach
I have had a male BN for about a month and a half now and he is doing great. He eats flakes, algae wafers, shrimp, pellets, and occasionally peas. When there is food out he gets excited and flicks his dorsal and tail fins. He's not aggressive and gets along great with the otos who often are sharing an algae wafer with him.
From: Michelle Dawson
After trying several different varieties of algae eating fish all of which either grew too big or too aggressive for my tank I finally found the bristlenosed catfish. They are wonderful for a community tank that needs the glass cleaning. They are peaceful, only grow to 5" long, don't need any special care and keep the tank sparklingly clean. I've had mine for about 5 years now. He's a boy with a face full of whiskers. He is quite secretive, only see him at night but I'm rather fond of him. He has a piece of driftwood to rasp on. Other than that he gets no special attention at all. He lives off the food the other fish leave behind and seems perfectly happy. So if you are looking for an algae eater that keeps your tank clean and doesn't attack the other fish and doesn't grow too big this is the one you've been looking for.
From: moonbunny
Fantastic fish! If you've ever wanted a super-clean tank, these long-lived, cheerful, amiable, shy and beautiful fish are perfect!

  • Virtues: They keep every inch of their tank sparkling! They are extremely healthy/hearty fish (low ammonia.)
  • Appearances: Their eyes show a whole world of emotions, as does their patterning, like an octopus, they grow lighter or brighter depending on their moods. And their bellies are such a pretty and translucent milky pink-beige! Their genders are a surprise until, when they're about 1 year old, the girls have a growth spurt and the fellas sprout whiskers--looking a bit like Schnauzers or Scotties.
  • Personality: The gents really enjoy having a whole tank to range over, whereas the ladies appear to pick a spot and call it home, most of the time. They get on exceptionally well with other fish (esp. otos.)
  • Likes: They do well in tanks as small as a 20L, although the bigger/longer the tank, the better. And these adventurous clowns love "surfing" in the brisk outflow stream of a filter (my plecos, Ish and Minnie, have an Aquaclear 70 on their 20L.) They like a tank with lots of hiding places and plants, either real or artificial, seem to prefer anything between filtered daylight to darkness (when they are most active,) and, although shy, love being paid attention to.
  • Dislikes: They can be a bit nervous when they're being cleaned, when they want to spawn, when a light's suddenly turned on or when they're eating. Other than that, the only thing I've really seen them get their tails in a twist over is having only "one" of something, each fish likes having their own driftwood, algae tab or cave from time to time.
  • Foods: Ish and Minnie do very well on Hikari algae tablets, but they really like sampling a variety of foods, too. They need chunks of quality driftwood for rasping and digestive health. (If you live somewhere with high water Ph, the driftwood can make it higher. In that case, a couple small pieces of driftwood--soaked in boiling water overnight before placing in the tank--works out well.)
  • Care tips: Caves made out of clay flowerpots are both appreciated and inexpensive enough to provide many hiding places. Bigger algae tabs are easier to rasp/eat than smaller tabs. They also really appreciate having a food bowl—something to contain their algae tabs, etc. so they don’t have to chase them all over the tanks. A plus: Food bowls keep tanks cleaner and make clean up a snap.

After 2 years with my Ish and Minnie, I can't imagine being without Bristlenose Plecos! It's said they can live about 15 years and every year ahead is sure to be a happy adventure!





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