Bristlenose Pleco - Ancistrus cirrhosus

Updated August 5, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
Social Media: FishLore on Social Media

The Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus spp) is a much better option over the common pleco for hobbyists because they only get to about 6 inches in size, sometimes smaller depending on the species (there are lots of species in the Ancistrus genus). These bristlenose plecos can be very expensive for a freshwater fish with prices ranging from $10 to $50. There are albino varieties as well.

Bristlenose Pleco Bristlenose Pleco


Give these plecos fresh veggies from time to time. They will go after zucchinni and cucumbers. Check the forum for more ideas on feeding and breeding them.

From Fishlore member aliray on the forum:
I keep my male BN Lucky in a 20 gal high tank, he is the only bottom feeder in the tank. In my 29 gallon I keep 2 Female Bristlenose plecos. One is Buttercup, an L144, Blue eyed lemon yellow, who is about 3 1/2 inches. She is now basically full grown. And Bella who is also a blue eyed yellow and is about four to four and a 1/2 inches long and a different variety than Buttercup. If you are keeping 2 males they will get about an inch longer than the females usually. One male BN pleco in a multi pleco tank, should have 1 and a 1/2 square foot bottom area to establish his territory.

The problem in the 29 is that it is not big enough for 2 mature Bristlenose males to establish a territory for each and can cause aggression issues that will cause injuries to one or both or death. A male and female pair will produce tons of babies before you can determine genders. The only pair that can work is 2 females. They do have a high bioload, so you have to prepared to do more frequent water changes. I have mine because they are my favorite fish. The tanks that I have aren't perfect in size but it is the best that I can do. It is doable so it is up to you, Just make sure they have driftwood and a good and varied diet. Mine are out and about on and off all day long. Fresh veggies should be in the tank for 24/7. Leave 24 hours and replace with a fresh piece.

Albino Bristlenose Pleco
Albino Bristlenose Pleco Albino Bristlenose Pleco


Bristlenose Pleco Care

Scientific Name : Ancistrus spp

Common Names : Bushy Nose Pleco

Care Level : Easy

Size : generally up to 6 inches (15 cm). Bristles form around 3 or 4 inches.

Water Parameters : pH 6 - 8 | Temperature : 68°F - 77°F (20°C - 25°C) | Water Hardness : 2° to 20° dH

Lifespan : 3 to 4 years

Origin / Habitat : South America, Amazon River basin and tributaries

Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful but may be territorial with conspecifics

Breeding : Females have wider heads. Check the forum for more information on spawning/breeding this pleco. The following is from charlenelc on the forum:

Bristlenose Pleco Eggs Bristlenose Pleco on gravel

In the tanks that I keep my ABNs in, I break a lot of terra cotta pots to make caves. The reason for this is is so when it's time, the male will more likely pick one of these over somewhere like on a rock or plant.

For me this has always worked. When he is missing for a while, I just go around peeking into the caves. When I find the right one, I lightly pick up and scoop him out. The eggs will be stuck on the inside of the cave so no worries there. I then place them in a breeders net or in an empty 10g. I prefer the breeders net because it's just easier and the eggs and male won't be shocked by the new water parameters.

When they hatch, the first few days they won't need any food since they've still got their eggsacks. Once they stop wiggling and start swimming, it's time to feed. I just sink flakes, drop in spirulina disks, and also fresh cooked soft veggies like cucumber. They are actually real easy to care for.

Once they get to a good size, I move them to a seasoned tank to growout and put the father back in the main tank. Just remember, if you want them to survive, pull out the father and eggs as soon as you can. Once they've hatched, it's real hard because they are heavy and usually sink in the gravel. So, by the time you've pulled out the airline tubing or turkey baster to suck those out, the other fish have already gotten too them.

Other than that, have fun! It's real rewarding! Especially when you see the male and female do the breeding "ritual"/dance and the chasing.

Aquarium Size : 30 gallons (115 liters)

Diet / Foods : Eats algae and will appreciate fresh veggies like cucumber and zucchinni. Sinking algae wafers and shrimp pellets (for protein) are good to use too. Driftwood for them to munch on helps their digestive system.

Tank Region : All over

Gender : Males may have more and longer bristles near the mouth than females.

Photo Credit : Photos used with permission from

Site References :

Still have Bristlenose Pleco questions?
Jump on the forum and ask your question!
Go here: Bristlenose Pleco Forum

More Catfish Profiles
Sterbai Corydoras
Corydoras sterbai
Sterbai Corydoras
Gets to about 2.7 inches and should be kept in small schools.
Upside Down Catfish
Synodontis nigriventris
Upside Down Catfish
Gets to around 4 inches and does well when kept in groups.
Zebra Pleco
Hypancistrus Zebra
Zebra Pleco
A plecostomus that demands high prices due to limited availability. Populations in the wild are threatened.