What to keep...

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - New Fishkeepers -

Each is­sue we pick a favourite ‘Com­mu­nity’ fish. These are tried and tested species that have a win­ning com­bi­na­tion of looks and be­hav­iour that make them per­fect for new­com­ers.

Bristlenose plec, An­cistrus sp.

One of the most com­mon prob­lems in the aquarium is al­gae, and to this end nu­mer­ous species of ‘al­gae eaters’ are sold, many of which grow too large, aren’t that in­ter­ested in al­gae, or ter­rorise tank mates. The most ef­fi­cient way of deal­ing with al­gae is with a lit­tle ex­tra main­te­nance, but some well cho­sen species can help a lit­tle with the prob­lem, and the Bristlenose plec is one of the best. While not the most colour­ful fish, they make up for this with a chunky, al­most pre­his­toric look that of­ten makes them a tank favourite.

Males typ­i­cally sport a head cov­ered in the name-sake ‘bris­tles’ which are in fact soft, fleshy struc­tures, while fe­males are usu­ally less hir­sute, with ei­ther a fine ‘mous­tache’ around the edge of her nose or a clean shaven look! They tackle al­gae with the aid of their pow­er­ful sucker mouth and rasp­ing teeth, but will need sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing with dried tablet foods and slices of fresh veg such as cour­gette or sweet potato to thrive. They can’t live sim­ply on what grows on the tank glass!

Bristlenoses breed read­ily in the aquarium with the male guard­ing both eggs and fry but be cer­tain you have space and a suit­able new home for the large num­bers of baby bris­tles be­fore pro­ceed­ing. Al­bino, golden and long-finned forms are also avail­able. • Where are they from? South Amer­ica. • How big do they grow? Around 12cm.

• What size tank do they need? 60 x 30cm foot­print/54 l min­i­mum. • How many should I keep? One, un­less you have a larger tank, where a pair, and their in­evitable prog­eny can flour­ish!

Gold bristlenose.

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