Ancistrus sp "Bristlenose"

by Francine Bethea

There are at least seven different species of Ancistrus currently listed in the Image Library at the Planetcatfish site ( There isnt a picture that represents the particular species that I possess, although Julian Jools Dingall, the Webmaster of this wonderful site, suggests that my fish are probably an aquarium strain of temmincki or lineolatus.

The trio was kept in an unheated 10-gallon tank with a sponge filter. Since the fish measured in at only 3 each, this seemed an appropriate sized tank. I used rainwater with a pH of 6.0. The tanks lighting was provided by light emanating from the room. Therefore, the tank was primarily dark. Most Ancistrus are nocturnal and prefer darkness. I provided a bamboo tube for the male that measured 1x 4. The bristlenose were fed primarily zucchini with the occasional algae tabs. I have found that if the other fish in the tank miss some of the brine shrimp or bloodworms, the bristlenose will sample this food as well.

I placed a bamboo tube in the tank and the male took residency immediately. Purposefully, I placed the tube opening facing the front glass to allow me to shine in a light to check for eggs, just in case. After about 10 days, all that I could see of him was from his midsection to his tail. I noticed that the male had taken on a piebald or mottled pattern. I checked the tube with the light and spied a large grape-like cluster of orange eggs.

Within a week the eggs hatched. For 3-4 days, the young looked like an egg with little tails. The male was diligent at fanning and mouthing the wrigglers. At this point, I prepared a 2.5-gallon tank filled with the same water. I lifted the bamboo tube, with the male and wrigglers inside, and placed it in the smaller tank. Initially, I used an air stone. I added a small portion of zucchini for the male, but I didnt switch to a sponge filter until the fry started eating. Once the fry resembled the adult and started venturing outside the tube, I removed the male and his cave back to the original tank.

If you plan to hatch the eggs yourself, you may use a breeding trap or similar contraption. A container of this type could be hung inside the tank to benefit from being in the original water. Or, if you decide to hang a container on the outside of the tank, daily water changes from the parents tank are required. Place a vigorous bubbling air stone close to the eggs in both methods. Once the eggs begin to hatch, resist the temptation to remove the empty shells. The cluster of eggs is extremely adhesive and will not fare well from being pulled apart. Once all of the fry have emerged, then begin to siphon off the debris and egg casings. The fry will not need to be fed until the egg sack is exhausted. At this point, transfer the fry to larger quarters with a small section of zucchini and a soft piece of driftwood.

© Potomac Valley Aquarium Society, Inc.


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January 6: Jeremy Basch “Auchenipteridae – The Wonderful Woodcatfish”

February 3: Devon Graham “On the Origin of Species, or why are there so many fish in the Amazon?”

March 10: Panel Discussion -- Jim Chitty Frank Cowherd, Don Kinyon, and Dave Sombach “Successful Fish Breeding”, moderated by  Patchin Curtis

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