Considering all of the aquarium catfish types, bristlenose catfish are one of the most popular community fish species. If your local pet shop doesn’t have any then you can bet they have some on order.
Catfish in the aquarium are a practical choice. Members of the Ancistrus group make superb aquarium catfish because of their algae cleaning behaviours. For general algae film removal these fish are ahead of the rest
resulting in a clear view without the use of a
cleaning magnet. Bristlenose catfish are able to do this because they
have a sucker mouth with rasping teeth ideally suited to an algae diet. These
fish also serve the purpose of cleaning up excess
fish food as part of their feeding habits.
As the name suggests bristlenose catfish develop a bushy growth around the snout area.
A series of hooks on the front fins can make catching them problematic
when using a
fish net. Once the fish is netted it will extend it's fins making it difficult to dislodge. This physical trait is described in the name Ancistrus which loosely translates from Greek to mean hook.
There are more than 50 different Ancistrus species that have been described. Most are mottled brown in colour and look highly similar. One such aquarium catfish species common in the pet trade is the dolichopterus which is also bred as an albino form.
Another variety becoming more freely available is the Ancistrus hoplogenys or peppermint catfish. These fish have a striking black background punctuated by brilliant white dots. At the end of the tail there is a crisp white border shaped like a crescent moon.
Family - Loricariidae
Size -Male up to 15cm Female Slightly Smaller
Fish Origin - South America
Water - Catfish aquarium pH levels should be 6-7.8 and medium soft water
Temperature - 16-28°C (Best at mid 20's) Sexing - Males are the only sex to develop branched bristles . Breeding - Lays eggs in cave or hollow. Male cares for eggs.
Aquarium -Excellent species for a community tank
Feeding - Green food based diet with some protein food
Feeding Bristlenose Catfish
When thinking about how to care for aquarium catfish always pay close attention to the diet. In the aquarium a bristle nose catfish’s diet should be made up mainly of green food based preparations such as
spirulina algae discs and prepared green vegetables. Cucumber, zucchini, boiled pumpkin and squashed peas are all accepted. Weekly feedings of protein pellets or bloodworms are recommended to complete the diet.
To maintain a healthy digestive system bristlenose catfish also require a piece of
wood to chew on.
Bristlenose Catfish Sexual Differences
The bristle growth is a lot less developed in the females and often does not develop at all. The males are the only sex to sometimes develop branched bristles which end in a fork. Once these growths have developed the catfish has attained sexual maturity.
Males grow faster and longer in length while females are wider in the body. In the peppermint variety the males can become quite aggressive toward fish much larger than itself.
Breeding Bristlenose Catfish
Breeding occurs when the
water temperature is dropped to mimic autumn weather conditions. The male by then will have chosen a hollow in a log or other cavity. Spawning begins if the female is ripe and finds a male and cave she finds suitable. They are even known to spawn behind
fish filters when no more suitable site is available. There is some territorial behavior between males at breeding time but injuries are infrequent.
The eggs take around 5-7 days to hatch. The bristlenose catfish fry will survive from absorbing the egg sac for the first few days. After this, algae covered objects can be added to the aquarium or the young fish can be introduced to a
flake if this is impractical. Very regular water changes and a varied
diet encourage good growth rates.
Bristlenose Catfish Companions
Bristlenose catfish are suited to almost any community fish tank. When small they are a suitable catfish for a 10 gallon tank but lager specimens should be provided with more room.
Most Ancistrus species will not attack smaller fish. Once grown to adult size they are generally not targeted by well fed cichlids.
PH and hardness have no special requirements as long as they are not changed suddenly or kept at extremes.
These growing bristlenose catfish eat sinking dry
algae food. In between feedings the young fish will seek out algae growing on the aquarium glass or on the