Bristlenose Pleco Care guide – Diet, Breeding & More

yellow Bristlenose pleco

The one problem that I had with the Bristlenose was figuring out its mode of feeding when I first got my aquarium and realized it was a bottom feeder.

Their staple food is algae that they would gladly graze on at night because they are also nocturnal.

A closer look at the bottom-feeder will reveal some fleshy tentacles on the top of its head, which can be very useful in determining the sex of the Pleco. Male plecos do have bristles that have grown out from the middle of its head, while the female plecos feature smaller bristles around their mouths.

Bristlenose pleco Care

1. Tank requirements for the Bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose is a freshwater fish and will appreciate a well-oxygenated aquarium; they are also good escape artists and will only come out at night to scavenge for algae. To this end you should ensure that you offer enough hiding places for them to retire to during the day; heavy aquarium plants, the driftwoods, and the improvised caves should thus suffice.

Water temperatures need to be maintained at 60-80degrees Fahrenheit, and a PH of 6.5-7.5. Bristlenose are bottom feeders, this, therefore, calls for attention on the size of the bottom of the tank and the type of substrate used. Bottom feeders will rarely scavenge for food at the mid or top areas of the aquarium, and should, therefore, be provided with the type of gravel that will not harm their delicate undersides. 

The fish also has the habit of searching for fresh air at the water surface; however, if the behavior becomes persistent then it could be an indication of a problem with the water. 

Bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose pleco Feeding 

Bristlenose is known for feeding on algae, which does not contain all the nutritional benefits necessary for the fish. Other supplements are, therefore, necessary such as the sinking algae wafers and pellets; blanched vegetables will also do them good, but you have to find one that they love most. Cabbage leaves, cucumber, and carrot are also a good alternative. 

Since algae is the fish’s staple food you might as well encourage its growth by incorporating driftwood in the fish tank. Proteins are a necessary addition to the bristlenose diet and this you can achieve by feeding them foods that contain meat. 

Pointers of starvation or poor nutrition for your bristlenose are two; first, we have the fish’s color, which will not be as rich then there are the disappearing plants. A well-fed bristlenose will rarely bother with the aquarium plants but a starved or a nutrition imbalanced bristlenose will turn your aquarium plants into a delicacy. 

3. Bristlenose pleco Tank mates

Plecos do not feature a docile temperament especially to the fish that have a body structure that resembles theirs. Therefore, pairing two males of the pleco species is a recipe for disaster because they tend to be very territorial. However, other types of fish like guppy, Platy, Molly, Corydoras, the Betta fish and the Gourami among others are very compatible with the Bristlenose.

Bristlenose features a flat body structure, which makes them look vulnerable; well, they are not because their bodies have been made with a body armor that keeps them safe from the small and semi-aggressive fish. 

Bristlenose pleco 2

4. Bristlenose pleco Breeding 

For the Bristlenose to breed, it first has to be provided with a spawning site and while in their natural habitat the fish will breed in the rainy Amazon season. Therefore, to encourage breeding since the tank does not have a rainy season you might want to make the water a bit cool, at least more than its usual temperature.

Predators that will not bump into a fish that they can fit into their mouths, will most likely feed on the available fry’s that is if the owners are not territorial. Bristlenose fry can thus be moved to a separate breeding tank because a community tank poses a danger to their ability to hatch. 

Remember, you don’t have to detach the eggs from the surface that they are attached to but rather move the egg complete with what the eggs have attached themselves to.   

How to breed the Bristlenose Plecos

Initially, we had discussed on how you can be able to distinguish between the female pleco from the male pleco and this was through their tentacles. Male bristlenose fish tend to get very territorial during breeding and it is thus advisable to have more women than men in the aquarium during breeding. 


Bristlenose seems to have gone through their share of world war and have carried the character to the modern world, as they will always fight their fellow-men when protecting their territories. And since they understand the importance of receiving a newborn, the male pleco will go about cleaning the aquarium surfaces for the eggs to be laid. 

Plecos do have serious and severer fights and are spitefull too, as they fight for the control of the cave, some will even go as far as eating their opponent’s eggs. And just like the humans, the female pleco will come to inspect the caves and if they are up to its standard it will lay its eggs there. 


Female plecos seem to have a docile temperament and can lay eggs in one cave that is manned by one male pleco. After which the male will proceed to fertilize them and chase the female out so that it can protect the eggs until they hatch. Plecos also turn out to be very smart because as they take care of the eggs, they will ensure that hygienic conditions are maintained on both the eggs and the nest. 


The last stage after the 10days of breeding is hatching and here the hatched fry attaches itself on the inside part of the cave. And in the next 2 to 4 days they will have absorbed their sacs and are thus released to the world to fend for themselves. 

Pleco fry will mostly feed on algae, so it is your duty to ensure that they do get other supplements to boost their health. However, after about 6 months you won’t be able to tell the difference between the parents and the kid plecos.

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