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Bristlenose Catfish
Ancistrus sp

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There are many different species within the genus Ancistrus, and it is often difficult to tell them apart. I personally breed a species which probably is Ancistrus temmincki. Bristlenose Catfishes are appreciated fishes because they like to eat algae in the aquarium.

For Bristlenose Catfishes to feel really good they need a piece of driftwood, for example a mangrove root, that they can gnaw at, because their digestion benefits from the cellulose in the root. The fishes always stay close to the substrate. They can attach themselves to the substrate by sucking with their mouths and scrape algae with their specially adapted teeth. The males can grow to about fifteen centimetres (about six inches) and the females can grow to about twelve centimetres (about five inches). The males get big, soft outgrowths on their heads that look like deer antlers. These outgrowths are missing or occur very sparsely among the females. Their natural habitat is the Amazon in South America.

The male chooses a cave in the aquarium, for example under a root, in a plastic tube, in a bamboo tube or a coconut shell. He usually stays there most of the day except at feeding time. If a female in the aquarium is ready to spawn the male will entice the female into the cave. This usually takes place in the evening after the lights are out. (The first time I observed the actual spawning, was when I happened to look into the aquarium one hour after the timer had shut off the light.) The male waves his caudal fin and the female swims into the cave. This is repeated until the female has laid all her yellow eggs, about fifty to one hundred, but sometimes more or less depending mainly on the size and condition of the female. The eggs swell to a diameter of about three to four millimetres (about 0.10 to 0.15 inches). The eggs resemble mustard seed. When the spawning is finished a period of several weeks follows when the male guards the eggs and the fries. During this period the male eats almost nothing so itís important that he is in good condition in advance.

The fries leave the cave about two weeks after hatching, after they have consumed their yolk sacs. If the aquarium is filled with algae the fries will have plenty of food, otherwise you have to supply food for them in other ways. A small fry doesnít understand enough to come out at feeding time like the older ones do. Therefore you may have to catch the fries and put them in a "fry cage" or a grow out aquarium by themselves. If you use a coconut half itís easy to just shake them out just before they are ready to leave the cave (itís a lot harder to catch them once they have left the cave). This should also be done if you have other species of fish in the aquarium that eat the fries. In the fry cage or the grow out aquarium it is easy to feed them. They can be housed in the fry cage or grow out aquarium for about a month before you put them in a larger aquarium. Iíve raised many batches this way.



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