Species Article: Catfish

Ancistrus temminckii

by Lisa Boorman

Family: Loricariidae

Subfamily: Ancistrinae

Common Names: Bristlenose pleco, bushynose pleco, Temminck's bristlenose

Synonyms: Ancistrus dolichopterus, Ancistrus cirrhosus, Chaetostomus dolichopterus, Xenocara dolichoptera, Hypostomus temminckii, Plecostomus aculeatus, Hypostomus schneideri, Xenocara temminckii

Habitat: Guyana, South America

First discovered in 1840.

Special Note: Identifying Ancistrus without detailed morphological (structural) studies is extremely difficult. I am tentatively identifying this fish as Ancistrus temminckii because that is the most common bristlenose in the aquarium hobby.

Size: grow up to approximately 5"

Keeping: 71-80F, pH is not important as long as extremes are avoided.

Sexing: Males develop tentacles along their head while the females do not get these tentacles. There is no other discernible differences in the sexes. Males do not get these tentacles until they are approximately 1 year old.

Food: Prefers algae however will not refuse more meatier fare. They live quite well on the algae in a tank and flake food. Vegetables such as zucchini or broccoli are appreciated in their diet.

These fish were obtained as fry from Richard Schinkel. They were placed into a 33g tank with African cichlid fry. This tank has a large gravel bottom and is filtered by an Aquaclear 300. There are several shells and some rocks in this tank. A few plants are also in the tank, including Java fern, Bolbitis and a unknown crypt species. It has a small fluorescent light in it. The pH in this tank runs around 7.8. They grew fairly quickly in this tank and then started hiding somewhat from the attention of the cichlids as they grew up. As an added bonus these two fish turned out to be a male and a female. The fish spawned the first time in a small circular shell, I tried rescuing the fry when they had hatched by placing them in a breeder trap in the main tank as the cichlids were now big enough to eat the fry. The fry mostly escaped the trap over the next week until there was only one left. He was placed in a 20g tank with swords. The next spawning took place in a barnacle shell. I was not around when the fry hatched and these were promptly lost. There was no spawnings for quite awhile after this. I figure the cichlids were getting most of the food and that the plecos were getting enough to survive but that's it. This tank was later moved to the office where I work. The cichlids were sold and guppies were put in their place. Within a month they had spawned again in the barnacle shell. This time he picked a spot where you could see the eggs. They are large and yellow. You could actually watch some development in the eggs as the days passed by. A day after they were laid you could see a darker spot in the egg. Later this spot turned into two black spots. I believe that this is the fry's eyes. A day or two after this the fry were hatched. They looked like eggs with stubby tails. The next day they looked more like catfish but still had a lot of yolk sac on them. They were kept in the shell by the male for almost a week after they hatched. Some would escape in the meantime. However the guppies in the meantime had tried to eat one and couldn't so now ignored them. The guppies were more interested in them while they were eggs or first hatched. The male guarded them extremely well. He removed any snails that came to close and swam after the guppies when they were too close for his comfort. After he finally let them go he had no further interest in them. He again spawned the next month and the next. There are now 3 generations of fry all over this 33g tank. They eat algae and flakes. I figure he is almost ready to start another batch. I plan on moving some of the fry to different tanks so the food supply is not depleted and so they can grow a bit faster. They have been a great source of fun at the office. All the customers that come in found it interesting to see the catfish guard his eggs and babies. I highly recommend this fish to anyone who has an algae problem or just to someone who enjoys seeing something slightly different In his tank. As they do not get too large they can be kept in smaller tanks unlike a lot of other pleco type catfish.


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