Bristlenose Pleco – The Care, Feeding and Breeding of Bristlenose Plecos

Quick Stats

Minimum Tank Size: 29 Gallons
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 6.5 – 7.5 and Soft to Medium but is highly adaptable
Temperature: 70-80 F (20-27 C)
Maximum Size: 6 inches (15 cm)

The bristlenose pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosus), also known as the bushynose pleco, has a wide distribution throughout the Amazon river basin in South America. It can be found in a variety of habitats, from shallow low oxygen floodplains, to the deep, dark waters of rivers. There are several commercially available species, but Ancistrus cirrhosus is the most common.

Bristlenose plecos are commonly known as suckerfish, and make an excellent addition to most freshwater aquariums. They are arguably the best algae eaters available – both because of the large amount of algae that they consume and their hardy, easy to care for nature.

While the common pleco can grow to the size of a river monster in a tropical aquarium, bristlenose plecos stay quite a bit smaller, and usually top out at around 6 inches. Because of this, they are a far better choice than the common pleco if you are looking for an algae eating fish.


Bristlenose plecos need a spacious tank with strong filtration. The reasons for this are simple – they need space, and they tend to be prolific poopers. Much of their life seems to consist of searching for food, eating the food, and then searching for more. Because of this, they are prodigious poop producers, and if the water isn’t well filtered, the water quality will quickly plummet.

In the wild, adult bristlenose plecos tend to hide in caves and under driftwood when they aren’t foraging and should be provided with similar hiding places in the aquarium. This can be as simple as providing a clay pot on its side, or you can provide large pieces of driftwood with overhangs that a bristlenose pleco can hide under.

When choosing a filter for them, a HOB (hang-on-back) filter is the most economical choice, and in combination with a sponge filter, it will keep the water sparkling clean (Click here for HOB filter reviews). However, if you have a bit more money to spend, a canister filter is usually the best choice for most tropical aquariums.


Like previously stated, bristlenose plecos love to eat and you can provide them with a wide range of food. Their main diet should be composed of a spirulina based sinking pellet, since they tend to mainly eat on the bottom of the tank. This should be supplemented with vegetables, as they need a large amount of plant matter in their diet. A hungry bristlenose pleco will completely devour every last piece of blanched zucchini, cucumber medallions and shelled peas. They also appreciate broccoli and a wide range of other vegetables. Always remember to remove any uneaten vegetables after 24 hours to prevent water fouling.

If you are hoping to get a bristlenose pleco into breeding condition, they should be fed live or frozen foods. Their particular favorites are bloodworms and live blackworms, and they tend to ignore most other frozen and live foods. The key is to ensure that the food reaches the bottom of the aquarium, or they most likely won’t even notice it.

One thing to remember with bristlenose plecos, is that they require fiber in their diet- especially if they are consistently fed regular fish food. Some fiber can be provided through vegetables, but unless you are careful to consistently feed vegetables, they generally won’t have enough fiber in their diet to remain healthy.

There is a simple solution to providing enough fiber – just include a piece of driftwood in their tank. Nearly all species of plecos will rasp on any driftwood in their tanks, which provide them with more than enough fiber to help them stay healthy and active.


Bristlenose plecos are easy to breed and only usually have to be provided with a cave to spawn in – the rest they do on their own. You should always try to have more females than males, unless you have a very large tank. The males are incredibly territorial and will quickly claim a cave for breeding purposes. Any other males will then fight the male for control of the cave and given the opportunity, will indulge in quick meal of caviar (they will eat their male rival eggs).

When preparing to breed bristlenose plecos, you first need to determine if you have at least one male and female. You can determine the sex of them by simply looking at the “bristles” on their heads. Males will usually have larger bristles and they will extend to the middle of its head. Females will only have bristles around their mouth, and they tend to be much smaller than the males.

When the male is ready to breed, it will begin to excavate a cave (clay pot or overhang), and will clean off the surfaces of it in preparation for eggs. Once the male is done, he will settle in to his newly claimed cave, and wait for a female. Once a female comes by, she will inspect the cave and if suitably impressed, will decide to move into the cave and deposit her eggs.

Once the eggs have been deposited on the walls of the cave and fertilized by the male, he will push the female out the cave, and begin to guard the eggs. During this time, other females may be enticed into the cave, and the male may end up fertilizing the eggs from several different females.

The eggs will then hatch after around 4-10 days and the fry will cling to the sides of the cave until they have completely absorbed the egg sacks. During this time, the male will continue to guard the fry until they are free swimming on their own.

The fry can be feed with infusoria or powdered spirulina. After a few days they can be fed baby brine shrimp and they will also eat any available algae.

Pleco or Plecostomus?

If you are new to the hobby, you will only ever rarely hear “plecos” referred to as a plecostomus. There is a simple reason for this – it’s considered bad luck to refer to plecos by their full name. There is a belief among some in the fish keeping hobby, that if you use the full name, you will soon have a dead pleco. (I will update this page if I suffer any devastating pleco losses after daring to say plecostomus in this article.)


  1. says

    Great article. Can you please let us know the food for BN Pleco fries for next 3 months and water

  2. Rob Cessna says

    When do they get their bristles? I have a young one and it does not have any bristles, beggining to wonder if it is a bristle nose or not, although I have seen photos of them with no bristles. Any feedback will be much appreciated.

    • Matthew Seymour says

      Only the males will get large bristles. The females will only grow tiny bristles around the mouth, and when they are smaller you will have to really look for them.

  3. m@eg@n says

    Great article. I would like to know if a Bristlenose Pleco and an Albino Bristlenose Pleco can breed together.

    • Matthew Seymour says

      They can and will, but their offspring will usually be off colour. It’s unlikely to have any completely albino bn plecos after breeding.

  4. Azziza says

    I have a Bristlenose and a Clown. I woke up this morning and there are babies in the tank. They are 1/4-1/2 inch long. I’m flabbergasted.

    • says

      In my experience, young males are alright to keep together in smaller tanks. However, adult males should be kept in larger tanks, as they will fight a fair bit. However, their fighting isn’t as extreme as some other species of plecos and males will generally tolerate each other.

      But like much of the advice on here, that is dependent on the fish, as you will occasionally get a hyper-aggressive fish which can cause problems.

  5. mark says

    I have what I assume to be a very large albino female and a medium normal female. I think i have an albino male, he is about 7cm long with bristles all the way round its snout. How big do they need to be to breed? Thinking of setting up a breeding tank.


    • says

      Mine started breeding when they reached about 5 cm (2 inches) in length. And a breeding tank should be pretty – I don’t even use substrate in mine. I just have some over turned clay pots to act as caves, and some driftwood for them to rasp on.

  6. says

    Hi I have a 3 week old bristlenose and some tiger barbs. The tiger barbs seem to take most of the her food though. I tried putting in two or three slices of a veigs. but the tiger barbs follow her. What should I do?

    • says

      When I run into problems like that I usually feed two foods at once. I would put some flake food up top to keep the tiger barbs busy, and then some sinking pellets or boiled zucchini (so it sinks) on the other side for the bn pleco. That has always worked for me in the past. Let me know if it works for you.

          • says

            Ok. Hey what other foods can you feed your Bb, I have been feeding mine zucchini, watermelon, and some other stuff. Are there any other type of veggies I can feed her? Thanks!

          • says

            I always feed mine spirulina pellets as their main food. I also like to feed zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli stems, shelled peas (just remember to remove any uneaten ones after a day so they don’t spoil the water).

            Some people like to put flat stones in a container of water near the window so algae will grow on it, and then place it in the bn pleco tank. I never bother though, and I think that is a bit of overkill.

  7. Chrissy says

    I purchased 2 BNs about 8 months ago for our community tank (goldfish). I never checked stats or facts, just needed algae eaters. Much to our surprise, we had a new addition to the tank! Turns out I got a male and female, which are now about 4″ and 3″. The fry is about 3/4″. All the breeding information I’ve read so far talks of egg(s) but we’ve only seen the one fry.. How many do they typically have and how many typically survive? We only feed regular flake fish food, will start adding vegetables to diet.

    • says

      In my experience, in a dedicated tank you may see between 25-50 fry. They will often lay eggs in secret and it will be in a cave or something similar to a cave like a rock overhang, so you’ll rarely see the eggs if you aren’t looking for them.

      If you aren’t feeding them directly, then usually at least a few will survive. They need more in the way of algae, vegetables or plants like Amazon swords to really thrive though, and they won’t do very well if the only food they are getting is commercial flake food.

  8. Roy Ramsay Queensland Australia says

    Hi.first up you write great info!!! I have a bit of a worry in that Dad is still looking after the babies and they are about 1.5cm and do not seem to be coming out to feed.Do I take out his cave and empty the babies into the main tank or let nature take its course???

    • says

      Just let nature take its course. I know with my cichlids, sometimes the babies wouldn’t come out while I was near, but they would emerge to eat afterwards (yes, I spied on them). Plus, the parents shouldn’t be taking care of them for that much longer, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

      If they start to look too skinny, then you might want to take action, but that shouldn’t happen as long as you’re feeding enough for everyone in the tank.

      • Roy Ramsay says

        Thanks forthat.Dad came out for a feed today and have seen a few little ones around the tank,so I have put gauze over the water intake as they would fit through the strainer that it has .So all good and will stay in touch.Great info and love reading about other peoples fish problems.Makes you feel less alone.Cheers and thanks again.Roy

  9. Rushy says

    Hi Matt

    My Pleco is looking sick since yesterday. Not active like before. I’ve only been feeding him fish flakes. He’s still young, about 5-6cm long. I’m new at looking after fish. What can I do to prevent him from dying? I’m desperate as I love my little Blendy. Thanks. R

    • says

      Hmmm…it could be a few things. Do you have driftwood in your tank? Driftwood provides fiber, so he could be “bunged” up for lack of a better word if you don’t have any driftwood. I would start with feeding him some peas. Boil the peas for a few minutes, and then squeeze the inside out of the pea shell into the tank (once it’s cooled). This will help to clean him up.

      The other issues could be infection or parasites, which can be harder to diagnose. Does he have any spots, white fuzz? Does anything look strange on him? Let me know.

      • Rushy says

        Hi Matt!

        Well, firstly, thank you for your response. I’ll preface my reply by declaring that I inherited Blendy with the house and had no idea how to look after him. My sincerest apologies to Blendy, all fish and all fish lovers around the world – of which I am now one.

        I took your information on board and took some other steps as well. I first cleaned out some of the old water, put in some fresh water with dechlorinating liquid – thought that couldn’t hurt. I gave him some zucchini as I thought that perhaps regular fish food wasn’t sufficient. In less than 24 hrs little Blendy was looking much more like his own self again! Thank God!!
        I got some driftwood today too, which is soaking in water for a day before I place it in the tank; I also bought some better food for him; the aquarium shop assistant told me to clean out my filter sponges which I did ( they were pretty filthy!) & had no idea I had to do till today; and coz Blendy is so gorgeous and I want him to be happy I brought him back a diver’s helmet to hide in & 2 lady friends (!!!) whom we haven’t named yet – they seem to be still settling in really well, though Blendy is still hiding (he’s just a shy guy). So soon he’ll have plenty of new places to explore and hide in & friends to play with!

        Thanks again and will keep in touch!


        • says

          That’s great that you’re taking such great care of your fish. You’re one step ahead of most people already. And most of the time when a pleco gets sick, it’s from a lack of fibre. Just keep up with the veggie feedings and it should be fine.

          Make sure when you clean out the filters, it’s in a bucket of tank water though. If you clean it out under a tap, the chlorine in the water will kill all of the bacteria on the sponge that filters waste in the aquarium.

          • Rushy says

            Hi Matt!

            Thanks for letting me know about how to clean the filter. I did use tap water!!! but at least I’ll know for next time.
            The girls have well and truly settled in. My 8y.o. daughter named them Rosetta and Alicia. I’ve noticed that at first Blendy seemed very happy to have company and was more active than I had ever seen him before, but then later on he seemed a bit aggressive towards Rosetta, the youngest one, chasing her around the tank and then towards both of them yesterday. On the second occasion I thought he was just agro because they were disturbing him while he was trying to sleep under his rock. Is this normal male behaviour?

            I’m also wondering if it’s necessary to have the florescent light on for them during the day as the tank is situated in a spot which does not get much indirect sunlight? would it be harmful to them to be deprived of some UV light?


          • says

            It’s pretty normal for a male to be a bit aggressive with the females, but it’s rare that anything comes it. It’s important to make sure that your tank is covered though, because sometimes when the females will try to get away they might jump out.

            As for the light, it’s good to have a normal light cycle and it won’t necessarily hurt them to have the light off. But the light does contribute to algae growth that they will graze on, so you might want to consider leaving it on.

  10. Cichlid Finatic says

    I have two electric yellows, one acei, and a demasoni in a 29 gal. tank. I have tried Chinese AEs, regular plecs, snails, EVERYTHING! they all end up pretty much mutilated. Should I go for a bristlenose?

    • says

      It’s really tough to find a good algae eater for African cichlids. A bristlenose might work, and I stress might – but unless it has hiding spots that only it can fit into, it will end up mauled in most cases. The bristlenose would have the best chance of surviving though, and I’ve had some with pretty aggressive ciclids.

      Have you tried Malaysian trumpet snails? They come out at night and have a really tough shell. They make great algae eaters in tanks like that, if you don’t mind hordes of snails.

  11. Cichlid Fanatic says

    I haven’t yet, unless a Malaysian Trumpet snail is also called a blue mystery snail or has a yellow shell. I currently have a decent sized regular plec. I know that in due time the plec will become another victim, but he has taken care of my algae problem very quickly. As my cichlids become more aggressive, I plan on giving the plec. up for “adoption” at my local pet store. Would you happen to know anything about moss balls? I have heard that they help keep the algae under control to a certain degree if you don’t have a bottomfeeder. Thank you for all your previous advice. It’s nice to finally converse with someone who actually has had experience with cichlids and is very knowledgeable about them!

    • says

      I’m not aware of any special properties of moss balls with algae, but all plants will compete with algae for nutrients, and help to keep it under control. So in one sense, a moss ball would help with algae, if you have no other plants in your tank.

      And I’m always happy to answer any questions.

  12. Roy Ramsay says

    I had a lot of small Plecs but now have none.Do swordtails eat them.I will get rid of them if they do??As Dad now has another batch of eggs.
    Great articles and I think you should write a book.Cheers

    • says

      Pretty well all fish will snack on fry if they get the chance, but swordtails don’t hunt bristlenose pleco fry as aggressively as some other fish. You may be losing some to starvation, some to disease and some to just bad luck. I know I used to always find some in my filter, so you might want to check there too during water changes.

      About the only way to have lots of fry to survive, is to separate them from other fish.

      • Roy Ramsay says

        Thanks for that.I do have extra cover on my filter intake so I will blame disease as I have had a victual nuclear disaster in my tank for the last few months.It is an air bourne disease and even had to get antibiotics from the vet as the pet shop was unable to supply.I live in Queensland and we are in the middle of a drought!!!! The water for us people is gross at the moment so not sure I want to know what the council is putting in it.I bought a 4 filter system for the fish and let the family use it as well.I am a nice person!!!!Really.I have lost most of my other fish and the pleco seem to be happy as.My Gourami,Rummy noseand Koridoras were 4 years old and all died over a period of days .The disease ate holes in them.
        But we seem to be on top of it now so will look after this lot of babies.Cheers

  13. Jody says

    Hi, how do you keep your fry alive? I have quite a few bristlenose’ and they breed all the time but once the get to about 3 weeks old every single one of the die all at the same time (had about 200 die today while I was at work commons and orange spots :(), any advise you could offer would be very appreciated like water temp, how often to do water changes and how much etc

    • says

      One of the difficult aspects of keeping bn pleco fry, is that they need a huge amount of fry. When I breeding them, I had the parents alone in a 29 gallon tank, that was heavily planted. I did two small (10-20%) water changes a week, and I feed the fry a lot of food. I feed them algae wafers, zucchinis (they have to be blanched or weighted down) and baby brine shrimp, though I don’t know if the brine shrimp was wasted, since I never saw them eat them directly. You can also try powdered flake food, and other different veggies. I’ve seen the fry descent on veggies I put in like a swarm sometimes.

      You also need to keep a close eye on the water quality, since a lot of fry eating and creating waste can quickly foul the water.

  14. Lyndal hildebrand says

    Hi there-I have 3 bristle nosesi recently bought-2 are dark and 1 is albino. I’m hoping out of the 3 I get one of each sex and all going well the procreate for me!!! They’re only babies atm 3-4cm. What I wanted to know is,is it safe to use (totally cleaned and scraped) coconut shells as caves for them?? I saw somewhere they make great breeding caves for fish tanks but I wanted to be sure first!! My tank is tropical and set at 28deg. I feed flakes,blackworms,brineshrimp(frozen) and shelled peas. They’re very healthy and well nourished. But don’t want to kill them by adding something I shouldn’t?? I have driftwood and other tubes etc (for ghost knife) but they love living on the ornimental ship wreck as it gets alot of alge :) Any help would be much appreciated :) thank you!!

    • says

      Most coconut caves are fine for fish, and you can even go to grocery store and pick up a coconut and use that. As with anything else that you put in the aquarium, you should always wash it first and make sure there aren’t any foreign substances on it. The only possible downside to a coconut cave, is that sometimes when you first put it in, the tannins in it can darken the water a bit. But the tannins are completely harmless.

  15. adam young says

    i have 2 albino long fin bushy nose I didn’t intend for them to breed but they did I now have 20 or so fry and I removed all other fish so they wouldn’t eat the fry but now I have no idea how to take care of them and im afraid I might over do it or under do it can some one help me

    • says

      The main things you need to deal with when it comes to fry, is making sure that water is as pristine as possible, and that they’re fed. I would keep on top of you water changes, and a small extra water change once a week wouldn’t hurt when it comes to fry.

      As for food, they can feed on algae in the aquarium, but I would also offer them some commercial fry food, or if you have access to live foods like baby brine shrimp or microworms, you can feed those too.

  16. Roy Mellott Jr says

    I have a 40 gal planted pond (yes, it’s indoors and heated). I’m looking at getting some BN’s for it and was wondering what would be a good number? There are plenty of hiding spots from two large pieces of bog wood and two ceramic caves and there is PLENTY of algae.

    • says

      That’s tough to say, and a lot can depend on the fish. I know I have had success with keeping one male with two females in a 45 gallon in the past, and most people say that as long as you limit the males, you should be fine. So you might have to get slightly older fish, so you can sex them properly.

      Anymore than that, and you can start to have problems. I would also make sure that the pond is relatively “jump proof”, since when you keep several together, you can get jumpers pretty regularly.

      • Roy Mellott Jr says

        Hmm…never thought of them as jumpers. Yeh, the pond top is completely open. May have to rethink this. Thanx for the info.

        • says

          I’ve lost a few plecos over the years to jumping, even though they can survive for quite a while out of water.I even came home to my darn dog running around the house with a 9 inch common pleco once. I was not a happy camper.

  17. mike says

    Hi ive got two reg bns and two rubber lips i just noticed that my smaller bn had a sore or a cut on its nose then nnext day it got way bigger takes up most of its nose i dont know if its a disease or if it found a sharp corner on decor which cant be cause i filed hopefully someone knows something plz and thank you

    • says

      Without seeing it, I’d say that it sounds bacterial. I would still check the parameters to make sure that the ammonia and nitrites are normal levels.

      If the ammonia and nitrites are normal, I would do a big water change and then start to treat the pleco with antibiotics. If possible, I would remove it to a separate tank for treatment.

  18. R.C. says

    Is it ok to have just one BN pleco in a tropical community tank or will he/she be too lonely? Thanks so much for your time and advice!

  19. R.C. says

    Hi. Is it ok to add just one BN pleco to a tropical community tank or will he/she be lonely? Are bn plecos social? Thanks for your time and advice!

  20. mahealani says

    Great article! Thanks for taking the time to do this! I have a pair of longfin albinos that I want to try and breed. I’ll let you know how it goes. One question, Does the female show when she is full of eggs like angelfish?

    • says

      The females will often look bigger, but it’s not as easy to determine when they are egg laden, and when they just have a nice, healthy full belly. Plus, you can only really tell when they’re on the glass, so it’s often a bit of guess work on your part.

  21. Faye McGee says

    Can u remove bristlenose eggs, will they hatch without the male around.
    Can u feed lettuce to bristlenose adults/babies. Does it need mashing for newborns.
    I saw a bristlenose eating a small bunch of eggs, i popped what was left in a square net container but they went white and disappeared.
    Another time I returned a bunch of eggs under the log but when a checked 2 days later there was nothing.
    With cucumber, how the middle is seedy, is it ok to pop this in with babies.
    Im all new to this too, its been great to read the above information.
    I have approx 12 catfish in a reasonably big tank, its over an arm length long and from tip of fingers to elbow high and wide. I also have swordtails.

    • says

      You can remove bristlenose eggs, but most people keep them in the tank, since the male takes care of them. If you remove them, then you may need some anti fungal agent for them.

      As for the lettuce, generally you culture it outside of the tank, which in turn will create infusoria. That is what the babies will eat. And the seeds are fine in the cucumbers, but I find that zucchini is generally the better choice. It’s more nutritious, and you won’t have the left over seeds.

      Good luck with the babies – it sounds like you’re already doing something right.

  22. Mandy says

    Hi, I have just bred (not intentionally) a common plec and a bristle nose pleco, they have had about 150 babies all different sizes so I am assuming have had several clutches of eggs hatched at different times, at first there were only about 15, then it went crazy, the whole of the bottom floor of the tank is moving with the babies all thriving nicely. We have not lost any babies at all. I am surprised that the common pleco mated with the bristlenose and I believe this is quite a rare thing to happen in captivity. We are thrilled and will continue to raise them until they are big enough to leave home and leave mum and dad and venture out into the big wide aquarium world out there.

    • says

      Are you sure that you don’t have two bristle plecos? I’ve never read any literature that states these two species can cross breed. The female bristlenose can look very similar to a common pleco, since it has very tiny bristles.

      And that’s great the babies are doing so well. It can be hard with the fry sometimes, and you must have a very mature and stable tank.

  23. Sarah says

    Hi my long finned bn female had just laid her eggs 2 days ago we moved the cave to the breeding tank and the eggs have been pushed out will the 4 week old bn babies eat them? Is there any reason to why they have been pushed out?

    • says

      In my experience, it seems that the long finned variety often have trouble caring for the eggs. It may be the extra length of their fins that confuse them, but I can’t be sure of that. I fixed this problem by giving them a larger cave to work with. I would look into giving them a larger cave, and see if it solves the problem.

      The fry shouldn’t eat them, but they also won’t be cared for once they’re pushed out of the cave. So they probably will go bad out there.

  24. says

    Hello: My bristlenose plecos, Havoc and Riot, are continuously spawning. I am pulling medium sized ones out and taking them to the local pet store. Both adults are dark, and few of each age group are albinos. Some of the older kids are too shy and nocturnal to catch. They flee into the caves when I turn on the light.

    I have a heavily planted, heated 36 gal tank with black Floramax substrate and lots of black river rock. The front lid is missing. I replace 5 gal of evaporated water with distilled every two weeks. When I first noticed babies, I removed the guppies I was breeding. I feed them only Omega algae wafers and frozen peas.

    One question: do the frye ever look like worms. Sometimes I see a bunch of tiny white worm/proglottid creatures swimming in the water.

    Thank you!

    • says

      No, the fry never look like worms. It sounds like you were on the right track thinking they were proglottid worms – they actually sound a lot like planaria worms, which are a type of flatworms. They are harmless, but they often signify that there is a lot of uneaten food in your aquarium. This is especially common in aquariums with gravel, but you often can find them in all sorts of substrate.

      Unfortunately, many of the ways to remove them can be harmful to fry, so the best thing to do is pull back on the feeding a bit, and try to clean the substrate at least twice a week. This should get them under control.

  25. Bill Barger says

    My bristlenose left the eggs outside of his pvc pipe and seems to be fanning an empty pipe. If i remove the eggs what would be a good antifungal agent to use?

    • says

      Sorry about the delay, but I’ve used Methylene blue in the past, and it is safe with fish eggs. You can find it online or at fish stores pretty easily. You’ll need to keep using it ever after the fish are free swimming, and I usually continue for three days afterwards.

  26. RC says

    So we got our first BN a week ago (we think–the fish store said they bought it as a butterly pleco but now think it is a young male BN. Looks like a female BN to us.) Today we are thinking that it may have ich. There are a few small white dots on it and on one of the Tetras (we have a 20 gallon tank with 6 tetra, 1 panda platy and 1 BN) How do you recommend treating and how would we know for sure that it is ich? Some of what we have read thus far said either to heat the tank to 86 for two weeks or to treat with salt. Thanks so much for your help! We LOVE this BN.

    • says

      That sounds like a good starting point. In most cases, if it has small white specks on it, that looks almost like salt, it will be ich. Increasing the heat slowly over the course of at least several hours and adding some aquarium salt will work well. If that doesn’t work, be careful using any products to treat ich, since most catfish are very sensitive to them. Also, do regular vacuuming of the bottom of the tank, which will help to remove more of the ich.

      Water quality is paramount when your fish are ill, so make sure that you do regular water changes if you aren’t already.

      • Mendy says

        I still feel new to freshwater fish. I have had my tank for a year and all of the sudden the water is turning green and cloudy. I have a couple cichlids, one bn and one catfish. I keep running to the pet store to have my water tested and it is fine. We have well water. And I’m changing the filter every month.
        Do you have any suggestions?
        How often do you recommend doing a water change?
        Help? I don’t want to hurt my bn. He’s doing fine so far.
        20 gallon tank is being used. Am thinking of going larger (40-55) and adding more cichlids maybe.

        • says

          The good news is that green water is completely harmless to fish. It just looks terrible in your aquarium. Is your well water naturally high in phosphorous? Anything over 1 ppm can trigger large algae blooms.

          If those levels are normal in your water, then you need to look into a few things on your maintenance end. The first thing to do is to stick to regular water changes. I like to change around 15-20% of my tank water weekly. Before I change the water, I scrape the algae off the sides and ornaments and then vacuum the water out. Also, make sure to really get the filter clean when you do this, and try to get all of “gunk” out of the filter. When you say you are changing the filter every month, do you mean buying new charcoal cartridges?

          You should also reduce the amount of light that you are giving the aquarium, and you should cut down the light it gets to about 8 hours a day until the algae is under control. You can also reduce your feeding slightly, as that can also reduce the algae.

          Hopefully one of these solutions will work for you.

          • Mendy says

            I am using the Aqua-Tech filter and replacing the carbon filter. The filter rinses off easily. It does get build-up on it but I have reused them at times too.

  27. Mendy says

    I am using the AquaTech filter. The carbon filter is what I replace. At times I do rinse and reuse them because they are brown slimy looking.

    • says

      I like to use filters like Aquaclear where you can remove the carbon filter. It saves a lot of money in the long run and you lose a lot of beneficial bacteria when you through them out and replace them with a new one.

  28. Reesa says

    I found the eggs in my filter when I couldn’t find the male and put him and the eggs in segregation.I have just hatched about 50 fry a couple of days ago, I have them in a segregation net with the male and the fry. How long should I keep the fry segregated and how will i know what gender they are when they are young? I had no idea that I had both male and females when I bought them. How many of the fry should be expected to survive in this case?

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