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Friday, 26 October 2012

Pictures of my Bristlenose Catfish - Ancistrus

This is one of my favourite freshwater fish of all time, and i have kept many of them over my aquarium ownership years.

OK they are are pretty common, and not as exclusive as some of the very rare “numbered” catfish that one can own. But they generally will not cost you a lot of money, juveniles easily go for less than £5, they are great to watch, have excellent character, very hardy, and look after a very important role in your aquarium, of hunting round and gathering up any left over food that makes its way to the bottom.

I recommend them as a good fish for a beginner to add to their aquarium if they have sufficient volume and around 3-6months of stability in their system.

The one thing i will say, and it annoys me every time i overhear this in a Fish Shop, that they solely rely and graze on algae and will sort out all your aquariums problems in this field. This is naive and mostly incorrect.

Yes they will shuffle along the glass and feed off the occasional tuft or spec here and there, but you cannot expect one of these guys to live a full, healthy and happy life on algae alone.

If you have severe algae issues, you need to discover and address the route cause and not be lazy, expecting a fish like this solve the problem for you.

My Bristle is pretty much a waste disposal unit for food! He loves Tubifex worms (in the dried blocks) and will actively extend his snout out of the waters surface to drag a floating cube under the water. He will hoover up any bloodworms or micro pellets off the sand that the other fish have not caught, and loves a slice of Nori sushi seaweed that he gets once a week. To ensure he has all the vitamins he needs, i add a King British algae wafer (or similar) to the tank once a week. Again these are devoured with much enthusiasm. A piece of cucumber or lettuce are also a welcomed treat, but this is a once in a blue moon thing.

So some pictures. I took these when he was out from behind his usual hiding place and was sat casually out in the opening, just chilling out and watching the work go by through the glass.

I was really hoping he would do the whole gill flare act they do, which i believe is a type of defence mechanism. You will know when a Bristlenose does this, as they “flex” and raise all their fins like a cat arches its back, and they seem to invert their gill flaps and display an impressive array of around 6-8 spines that come out under their eyes. To me it looks like he is yawning (and I've heard others refer to it the same way). Sadly he was just relaxing and there was no cause for concern…

1-Bristlenose Catfish Ancistrus.14

A male like mine is easily identified when the reach maturity with the various flesh bristles along the top of his nose. Females only tend to have the small ones around the top “lip”.

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The Bristlenose has very tough scales, almost like armour plating. I once had a pair of large Angelfish that paired up (a complete fluke) and the smell of fresh laid Angel eggs was all too tempting for my Bristle of the past. What would ensue was like watching a rocket propelled bulldozer crashing into a main battle tank as the male would aggressively defend the laid eggs against the attacking and hungry Bristle. They were separated in due course!

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4 large bristles on his nose.

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An attention seeking Gourami tries to get in on the act!

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Possibly another defence mechanism, Bristlenose’s seem to actively change colour. In only a second or two the yellow patches on his face, body and fins will appear and disappear…

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His tail extension… about 15mm long!

7-Bristlenose Catfish Ancistrus.07-001

A great fish, as long as you have the space, i recommend them to anyone. They don't need a huge 6 foot tank to grow into as they seem to stay i the smaller end of the catfish size bracket. But please do not try to place one into any less than a 120l tank. I am looking at upgrading my fresh water tank soon as mine does look to be outgrowing it slightly.

8-Bristlenose Catfish Ancistrus.36-001

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