1. Home
  2. Fun Animal Facts
  3. 15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Bristlenose Catfish For Kids


Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Bristlenose Catfish For Kids

Bristlenose catfish facts are about one of the smallest plecos.

Endemic to the Amazon river, bristlenose plecos are one of the smallest plecos. Having been in the aquarium trade for such a long time, these plecos have gained immense popularity by being the most ideal tank mates in a community aquarium. They are characteristically distinct from other fishes as they contribute to keeping the aquarium clean from any unhealthy deposits of algae. Algae is their typical food but they also enjoy eating zucchinis, pellets of peas, and other protein-rich food items. They generally stay at the bottom of the tank, only occasionally coming to the surface. Male and female plecos are slightly different in appearance with males having enormous tentacles and the latter having less fleshy ones. The male pleco takes most of the responsibility of looking after the eggs as the female abandons them once they are hatched. They reproduce during rainy seasons when there is an inflow of cooler water in the Amazon river basin. A similar environment is created while mating them artificially.

Continue reading this article to learn more about this fish. For more relatable content, check out these redtail catfish facts and Mekong giant catfish facts for kids.

Bristlenose Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bristlenose catfish?

The bristlenose pleco, commonly known as bristlenose catfish or bushynose catfish, is a kind of bottom-dweller fish which feeds on algae deposits over substrates and their surroundings. Other common bristlenose plecos include the longfin bristlenose (Ancistrus sp). These undergo selective breeding due to their impressive long fins which also help the males to aerate the eggs. These plecos should be bred in a different breeding tank as the eggs will not survive in the same tank as it is documented that other plecos might eat their eggs. Owing to rivalry, this fish might eat the babies of their enemy pleco.

What class of animal does a bristlenose catfish belong to?

The bristlenose pleco belongs to the Actinopterygii class of phylum Chordata.

How many bristlenose catfishes are there in the world?

Bristlenose plecos are currently in abundance. This species of plecos are readily available and not very expensive. Their current status however is not evaluated by the IUCN. There are 64 species of plecos present in the world.

Where does a bristlenose catfish live?

A bristlenose pleco lives in the tributaries of the Amazon river in South America. It is a freshwater fish that can also be found in Central America including the Panamas.

What is a bristlenose catfish's habitat?

Bristlenose plecos live in freshwater with a moderate current and enough oxygen as they sink to the bottom of the water body and remain down there feeding on algae wafers and slime that accumulates over the substrate. These plecos do not migrate to aquatic habitats with cold water as they might not survive in those conditions.

Who do bristlenose catfishes live with?

This pleco fish is a peaceful fish capable of living on its own. This is true unless they are mature. Once they reach maturity, they cannot be housed together as they acquire a semi-aggressive disposition and might attack their tank mates if they disturb their feeding patterns.

How long do bristlenose catfishes live?

The pleco bristlenose has a lifespan of five years but if kept properly in a community tank with suitable tank size, they can live up to 12 years.

How do they reproduce?

They reproduce naturally and artificially as well. They naturally breed during Amazon's rainy season when the water is naturally cooler. Bristlenose pleco breeding requires creating the right conditions in a separate breeding tank as there are high chances of baby plecos being eaten by other fishes. The right environment includes plenty of caves as hiding places for males to instigate their sexual instincts acts as a catalyst for reproduction. Females lay their eggs at a spot where male plecos have cleaned up. As soon as the eggs hatch, the females depart and do not care for the eggs nor the young ones. Male plecos take charge of guarding and aerating the eggs. The eggs produced in a single breeding are about 150-200.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of bristlenose plecos is Not Evaluated in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. No other catfish is listed in the extinct category. They are abundantly present on earth and do not require any special protection or conservation. They can also be bred artificially by using a breeding tank.

Bristlenose Catfish Fun Facts

What do bristlenose catfish look like?

Also called brushmouth plecos, these plecos (Ancistrus cirrhosus )are brown-black or gray in coloration with white or yellow spots all over. They exhibit sexual dimorphism and dwell at the bottom of the tank. A male bristlenose fish has bristles while in a female bristlenose pleco, bristles are absent. This fish species does not have scales but taste buds all over their body. Their body is pointed so that they do not get swallowed from behind by other large fish. These are the smallest version of plecos and do not grow very big. With a pair of pectoral and abdominal fins and a round mouth with elongated lips, they win as outstanding suckers. Males have more fleshy tentacles than females. The young can grow the same size as their parents within six months of hatching. This species of fish can also be bred in a breeding tank.

Breeding the bristlenose pleco requires adequate environmental conditions with plenty of hiding spots for the male to spawn and the female to lay eggs. The male pleco of this species of fish is drastically territorial. After breeding they push the female out, meaning the tank should have more female pleco Ancistrus than males. They are sensitive to pH so the water conditions should be nearly alkaline.

Bristlenose catfish are one of the smallest and ideal fishes for aquarium.

How cute are they?

These bushynose catfish are unique in appearance and have a peaceful temperament which makes them a sight to watch. The albino bristlenose is quite beautiful to look at but is also rare to get a hold of. Their faint yellow and pink color sets them apart from the rest of the species making them the most sought-after cute little pleco.

How do they communicate?

There is no specific mode of communication yet discovered in this fish species. They however display some hints through which might help you to know if they are hungry, having difficulty breathing, or are stressed. They might throng around live plants in the tank which clearly indicates they are hungry. They might come to the surface of the water if there happens to be a scarcity of oxygen at the bottom of the tank.

How big is a bristlenose catfish?

It is the smallest of all the bristlenose plecos with an average length of 3-5 in (7-12.7 cm). Due to its modification to an aggressive fish after hitting maturity, it cannot be housed together with other fishes. Irrespective of their size, these plecos require a tank with a minimum tank size of 40 gal (182 L). Channel catfish are four times bigger than bristlenoses while spotted catfish are twice their size. They are in the same range as cory catfish.

How fast can a bristlenose catfish swim?

These bristlenose plecos are not great swimmers. They just swim back and forth to the surface and bottom, which could be due to stress. Otherwise, they usually remain hidden in caves and around live plants living peacefully in their dark environment.

How much does a bristlenose catfish weigh?

Bristlenose plecos weigh around a few grams. These are structurally small and do not weigh much. These are ideal adaptations for community aquariums as they also clean the tank for any algae and unnecessary deposition on the aquarium surface and walls. They eat and defecate simultaneously so they cannot accumulate much fat and hence weigh less. They are an ideal keep in the bristlenose pleco tank.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Bristlenose plecos do not have distinct names based on their sexes even though they display sexual dimorphism. These plecos share a common scientific name, Ancistrus cirrhosus.

What would you call a baby bristlenose catfish?

Baby bristlenose plecos are called by the names of their parent species. There are no distinct names based on their sex. The best way to call one would be a baby bristlenose catfish.

What do they eat?

The bushynose catfish is a herbivore and feeds on sinking algae, granules, flakes, and bloodworms. If plecos are kept in captivity, they should be fed at least twice a day. A proper bristlenose pleco diet may include slices of zucchini, mashed peas in the form of pellets, spinach, or broccoli. A mix of all these can keep the plecos healthy. If their dietary requirements are not met, they might start turning pale which is a red alert that they are starving themselves to death. Feeding bristlenoses in timely manner should be on your to-do list if you pet them.

Are they dangerous?

They are rather quiet and peaceful but due to their territorial origins, they get possessive and highly competitive over their food and can harm their tank mates. If kept in larger schools, a bristlenose pleco can exist peacefully with other fishes present in the tank. Calling this fish dangerous would not be fair at all. They mindfully do their duty of eating up needless algae and do not interfere with other fishes. They do not make many friends in the tank and keep to themselves.

Would they make a good pet?

They definitely make a good pet. This fish is quite popular in the domain of aquariums as it helps in getting rid of the filth that accumulates in tanks. It remains hidden most of the time during the day and can be found eating and grazing during the night as it is a nocturnal fish. They can be seen as playful and active if the aquarium is lit up with moonlights during the daytime as they prefer dark surroundings.  You can also practice breeding bristlenose plecos and grow your community tank.

Did you know...

Vristlenose plecos might lie upside down while taking a nap giving the spectator an illusion of being dead. They can slightly change their color and practice camouflage to avoid trouble.

Are bristlenose catfish aggressive?

A big yes. Bristlenose plecos is the kind of fish that becomes aggressive as it grows. They are territorial, become intimidated, and respect no boundaries when it comes to food. It is advisable to keep them in spacious tanks and should be provided with enough food.

Will bristlenose plecos kill other fish?

The bristlenose pleco might attack other fish but not kill them. It is a territorial fish that does not like any impediment in the region where it lives. Any other fish creating hassle over food might lead to a squabble in the tank and the other fish might have to face a severe attack which might injure them.  There are very rare circumstances where these plecos end up killing.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes from our Pacific salmon facts and longhorn cowfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bristlenose catfish coloring pages.

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.

In need of more inspiration?