What to keep...
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!