Bristlenose Catfish
(Ancistrus Sp..)
Alternate Names:
Multiple similar species are sold under the same name.
Bristlenose Pleco
Bushynose Catfish
Brushmouth Pleco
Common Bristlenose
Golden Ancistrus

Bristlenose Catfish

(Ancistrus Sp..)

Size: 6 inches

Temp Range: 72°F to 86°F

pH Level: 6.0 to 8.0

Lifespan: 8 to 25 years

Tank Size: 20 gallons

Diet: Pellet, Flake, Vegetable

Difficulty: Moderate

Geographic History

These strange looking fish are found throughout the Amazon River basin. They live in fast flowing, clear streams and like to hide under driftwood.


You should provide a planted tank with lots of hiding spots. Bristlenose Catfish especially love driftwood and will graze algae from it enthusiastically.


This is a very peaceful fish that is well suited for a community aquarium. They don't get overly large and can be a useful addition to your tank community.

You can keep these little guys with a group of their own kind if you provide enough space. The males will become territorial if you try to squeeze to many into tight quarters.


At around six months to one year of age you will be able to sex your Bristlenose. The females have short, thin barbels on their noses. The males have longer, thicker barbels in greater numbers on their noses.


This gentle community fish will be less shy and more easily seen as a juvenile. As they age, they tend to be much more nocturnal. If you buy them as juveniles, they will be less shy with age because they get used to people.

At night they come out and scavenge for bits of food and algae. They will be most often seen as a shadow hanging off the glass or a strange hump on a piece of aquarium decor. They are very useful for controlling aglae, but you should supplement their diet with vegetables and sinking algae wafers.

Sometimes you will see these fish shoot quickly to the surface and then back into hiding. They gulp air to aid in their bouyancy. Be sure that you have a tight hood because they will sometimes misjudge the distance and jump out of the water.


Bristlenose Catfish will readily breed in a community aquarium if you provide caves or tubes for them to spawn in.

The male will entice the female to swim inside its cave and lay eggs. He will then stay in the cave until the eggs hatch and the fry are swimming. This takes about ten days.

You can feed the fry crushed algae chips and crushed flake food. Take care that you don't have aggressive fish or other scavengers in the tank that will try to eat the fry. There will be somewhere around 200 fry after the eggs hatch.

Some spawning pairs will breed every couple of months, so you can potentially end up with a lot of fish. If you use a breeding tank for spawning these guys, be prepared.

For more information, go to Wikipedias Bristlenose Catfish page.

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PetSmart - Fish