Bristlenose Plecostomus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Aziz Dhanani   

The Albino Bristlenose Pleco is a fish that is arguably an intriguing fish for the planted aquarium.  I currently have an Albino Bristlenose Pleco in my 40 gallon planted tank and must say that it has become my favorite fish.  Despite its size and appearance, it exhibits a peaceful nature and is quite animated in behaviour. 

Bristlenose Plecostomus

On a daily basis, I often see the rest of my fish in my 40 gallon constantly chase one another.  The Kribensis female cichlid constantly chases the male Kribensis away and the male often goes into hiding to avoid being battered.  My Siamese Algae Eater will often give the black skirt tetras chase.  Fortunately, there are three black skirt tetras, so the Siamese Algae Eater finds that s/he is only able to chase one black skirt tetra at a time. It gives the other two a rest period until it is their turn to play “chase”.   Among all this chaos and turmoil, the only fish that seems to keep to itself and not bother any other fish is my Albino Bristlenose Pleco.  What is even more interesting is that I have yet to see the Albino Bristlenose Pleco become the target of attack by any other fish.

I was so intrigued by the Albino Bristlenose Pleco I chose this Pleco to focus my next article on.  The information in this article is not new and is gleaned from various sources off the internet.   I have also added some information based on my experience.    The main purpose of this article is to provide information about the Albino Bristenose Pleco that individuals would find helpful in caring for this fish.  Those considering purchasing this fish may also benefit from this information.

In the wild the Albino Bristlenose Pleco is found in South America, specifically the Amazon River Basin.  Obviously the ones that you purchase locally are bred and sold locally distributed to pet stores. While this pleco can grow up to five inches, it usually does not exceed three inches.  This makes them an ideal addition to smaller tanks.

Fish CompatibilityAlbino Plecostomus

As far as compatibility goes, the Albino Bristlenose Pleco is compatible with small and medium sized fish and problems are only known to arise when placed with other plecos or males of the same species.  This apparently brings out their territorial nature.   Although I cannot confirm, it is said that African Cichlids like to eat the eyeballs from common plecos, so I would probably err on the side of caution and not put an Albino Bristlenose Pleco in the same tank as an African Cichlid.  Interestingly as a defense mechanism, the Bristlenose is known to have stabbers which can injure fish that try and attack it.  The Bristlenose is not as defenseless as it may appear.

Are they Plant Safe?

For most readers of this article who maintain planted tanks, a pertinent  question maybe “Are these fish destructive to plants?”   These fish are known to scrape algae off plant leaves, but some articles cite these fish may damage fine and delicate leaved plants such as Amazon Sword Plants.  Therefore it may not be a good idea to place these fish in a planted tank where you hope to preserve such plants.   Based on my own personal experience, I have not witnessed my Bristlenose Pleco eat or destroy any of my plants in my 40 gallon, not even the fine leaved java fern.   Although I cannot say for sure why this may be, the fact that I keep my pleco well fed and give him some driftwood to chew on may explain this.

General Requirements

The Albino Bristlenose Pleco does not need special care but there are some minimal requirements that must be met. Plecos prefer a water temperature of 76-80 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH of 6.5 to 7.6 (but some have kept them in pH as high as 8.6), and low nitrates.   This fish prefers a lot of hiding places and it is recommended that you provide caves for them to hide.  These caves can be made from flower pots or large pvc pipes.  A densely planted tank is also recommended to provide hiding places for this pleco.

Frequent water changes are recommended as part of caring for these fish.  I change 40-50% of my tank water weekly, largely owing to the fact that I employ Tom Barr's Estimative Index method of fertilization for my planted tank and such water changes are necessary to prevent an excessive buildup of fertilizers. Weekly water changes also have the benefit of removing excess waste that plecos are known to produce.  If your preference is to do minimal water changes (once a month), then it may not be a good idea to keep these fish.  A heavily planted tank can also aid in partially compensating for any negative effects of high waste levels that these fish can produce.  However, I would not recommend this in lieu of or in substitution of regular water changes.  Also, since these fish are said to be sensitive to high nitrates, I would not place them in a tank that is undergoing cycling, especially if the tank is unplanted.

FeedingBristlenose Plecostomus attached to Glass

As far as feeding goes, this pleco loves blanched zucchini, french cut green-beans, kale, romaine lettuce, green peas, spirulina and algae wafer disks.  I feed my pleco a piece of cut zucchini that has been in the microwave for one minute.  S/he absolutely loves it and will patiently wait in the corner of the tank for the zucchini on a regular basis.  S/he seems to almost know the exact time and location where the zucchini will be placed and patiently waits for it.  One pet store employee once told me that he fed his Bristlenose Pleco, raw potato slices and the pleco would devoour it in no time.  I had no such luck.

As I mentioned earlier, driftwood is a good idea to have in an aquarium with a pleco. The pleco will chew on the driftwood containing lignin and cellulose which are important nutrients and needed by this pleco species for healthy digestion.  I find that my pleco spends a significant amount of time attached to a piece of driftwood in the tank. S/he is either chewing on the driftwood for the daily dose of lignin and cellulose or it enjoys the sense of security that s/he may feel from laying on the driftwood.

Breeding Conditions

For anyone thinking about breeding Bristlenose Plecos, there are some requirements that must be met to ensure success.  A large tank, likely 55 gallon or more should be considered with several hiding places and caves placed inside.   Once the male and female bristlenose pleco pair off, they will spend time together in their chosen cave and the female may lay 20-50 eggs.   The male will tend the eggs and protect them until they hatch 3-6 days after they are laid.  Once the eggs hatch, the fry will not immediately swim around but will remained attached to large egg sacks, which they will use as a nutrient source.  Once the egg sack is absorbed, the fry will freely swim around.  At that point, it is recommended, to separate the father and the cave. Feed the fry brineshrimp, microworms,  and fine vegetable matter. Perform partial water changes 2-3 times per week to keep the water parameters in optimal clean conditions. The fry can be placed in a regular community tank once they are one inch long.

I hope that this information inspires your interest in the Bristlenose Pleco. My experience with the Bristlnose Pleco has been nothing but positive and I have found little if anything negative about this fish in the literature.


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