Interesting Small Plecostomus
The Bristlenose is an interesting fish for the fresh water Aquarist to not only keep successfully but also to breed successfully. Sometimes also called Bushynose Pleco, these little guys come from the Amazon River Basin in South America and are very hardy and easy to keep. The average size of the Bristlenose adult is about 5 inches which doesn't require a large tank. To be more specific a pair can be kept in a 20 to 30 gallon tank as long as it is not over crowded. They have a very healthy appetite and do produce a lot of waste so make sure to have a very good filter and water circulation. These little fish do an amazing job of helping keep algae in check also. I currently raise Albino Bristlenose which you can see in the pictures. The above picture is a male Long Finned Albino watching over a clutch of eggs on a piece of real driftwood.
Male Bristlenose tend to grow faster than females and the males have longer bristles on their noses. The male fertilizes the eggs and tends to them until they hatch in roughly 10 days. I have observed that the male protects the fry for several days after the hatching takes place. The little ones begin foraging for algae pretty quickly and also grow at a fast rate. I have not seen an adult eat any fry so far but other fish may hunt them down for a meal. I am keeping Endlers in the tank with the Bristlenose and have not witnessed the Endlers eating fry probably due to the size of the fry. If this is of concern to you then moving the Pleco babies to another tank will be fine as they are very independent fish and do fine away from the parent.
The above picture shows a female Bristlenose rasping on a piece of real driftwood. I would suggest keeping at least a small piece of driftwood in the tank with your Bristlenose. Pleco like to rasp on the wood for fiber to aid their digestion. Be sure to feed your Pleco Algae Wafers to supplement their diet. Driftwood also serves as a hiding place for the Bristlenose. They actually should have multiple places to hide while resting.
Breeding Bristlenose Plecostomus
If you decide to try your hand at breeding Bristlenose Pleco then let me just say its not a difficult thing to do. Water conditions should be stable or consistent. Ph is not an issue really as far as range goes. I prefer a neutral Ph of 7.0. If your Ph is between 6.5 and 7.8 it will be fine. I stress again having a steady constent Ph. The Ph in my Pleco and Endler tank stays between 6.9 and 7.1. Rapid changing or extreme Ph will stress the fish.
Temperature should stay steady also between 72 to 80 degrees fahrenheit. Temperature fluctuations can be stressful also. Temperature changes should be made slowly over a period of hours or days depending on how much of a change is being made.
Filtration is a big factor not only for the health of the Bristlenose but for breeding them. Lets say you have a 30 gallon tank. I would advise a filter rated for a 55 gallon tank. You just cant have too much filtration when it comes to Plecostomus. I mentioned earlier that they eat a lot and produce a lot of waste so the better your filter system along with regular partial water changes the better your water quality.
High numbers of surviving fry will increase with a tank that is prepared for them. Once you are set up and have the pieces in place and your tank is running efficiently you should have no problem breeding these delightful little fish. Buy a breeder log for your Pleco and when the egg laying has been finished you can move the eggs easily if you decide to go that route. I have been using a more natural method and allow the eggs to hatch wherever they have been deposited. The male keeps the eggs clean and mostly free of any fungus that could prevent the development of the eggs. I capture some of the fry upon hatching and move them to another tank until they are big enough to sell to pet stores.
These are very fun little fish to add to your tank. I believe they have their very own little personality and will give you much enjoyment. Please keep in mind a few things though as a summary. Best wishes with your tank!
1.Do regular partial water changes.
2.Do not skimp on filteration.
3.Feed a variety of food but don't over do it.