The Calico Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.), also known as the Bushynose or Bushymouth Pleco, is a member of the Loricariidae family of South American sucker mouth catfishe. While many sucker mouth\ catfish species have yet to be bred on any major scale in aquariums, the Calico Bristlenose Pleco is being propogated by a few commercial breeders. Its facial area becomes adorned with many bristle-like appendages beginning in sub-adulthood. Both sexes grow the appendages, but the growth and length is much more pronounced in males.
A generally peaceful and hardy species, the Calico Bristlenose Pleco is an excellent, undemanding candidate for most aquariums. Unlike the widely-seen Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) and Trinidad Pleco (Hypostomus punctatus), which easily reach a monstrous size of 18 to 20+ inches (45 to 51+ cm), the Calico Bristlenose Pleco grows to a size of only 4 to 5.9 inches (10 to 15 cm). This smaller size makes for a much more manageable (and less messy) pleco that can thrive permanently in a well-maintained aquarium as small as 30 to 40 gallons. Male plecos may be somewhat territorial with other males of their species, but disputes can usually be diffused by providing ample territory and hiding places for each fish. All other tank mates will be generally ignored, although it is possible that small shrimp fry might fall prey to the Calico Bristlenose Pleco. However, some large-scale shrimp suppliers breed Calico Bristlenose Plecos in the same pools they use for shrimp breeding.
The Calico Bristlenose Pleco is primarily nocturnal, but will often become active during daytime hours once established in an aquarium with plenty of driftwood, rockwork, and other hiding places. It is not known to eat wood heavily like some plecos (Panaque sp., etc.), but it may benefit from some supplementary wood (or bio-film on driftwood). The Calico Bristlenose Pleco will not bother most plants, but it will eat plenty of algae in the aquarium, especially as a juvenile. Feed the Calico Bristlenose Pleco a diet heavy in vegetable matter, including high-quality vegetable flakes, sinking algae wafers and pellets. It will also appreciate being fed some fresh vegetables such as shelled peas, spinach, zucchini and cucumber. Occasional meaty foods such as bloodworms are also beneficial when fed sparingly. This fish eats constantly, so too much meat/animal protein in its diet can be unhealthy for the fish as well as the level of waste it produces in the aquarium.
What We Like About This Fish:
- Excellent scavenger
- Very peaceful and hardy addition to almost any aquarium.
- Very practical and manageable fish
- Will not bother most plants, but it will likely help with algae control, especially as a juvenile
- Unique appearance as well as plenty of personality.
- Diet: Omnivorous, but meatier foods should only be fed sparingly
- Social behaviour: Generally solitary, but will socialize somewhat, especially during breeding.