If you want to breed any of the inhabitants of your aquarium, you need to be experienced, dedicated, and possibly a little lucky, because it is often challenging to successfully breed one fish or another, particularly if you are new to the hobby.
Bristlenose Plecos are fish that many aquarium owners are proud of and keen to breed, so if you see Bristlenose Pleco eggs in your aquarium at any time, you should be very excited! However, there is a long road between seeing the eggs and successfully rearing the babies.
Bristlenose Plecos are among the smallest catfish, and usually reach less than five inches in length, making them popular for home aquariums even if you are a little limited on space (although you should make sure you are not keeping an overcrowded aquarium).
Bristlenose Plecos are often good for beginners because they are easy to care for, fun to watch, and mostly consume algae. This makes them great tank cleaners, and generally peaceful around other fish – so they are ideal for keeping.
They are also quite attractive; although they don’t have bright colors, they are nicely mottled and can sometimes come in green or gray, with lighter and darker splotches covering the body. Their heads are wide and they have flat, broad bodies.
It is important not to keep adult Plecos together except for breeding purposes, as they are highly aggressive to each other.
What Do Bristlenose Pleco Eggs Look Like?
A Bristlenose Pleco’s eggs will usually be orange or yellow rounded globes. They are laid in clusters of up to 150 or even 200 eggs.
These will often be positioned in a dark cave, which is the Bristlenose Pleco’s favored situation, but they may sometimes be laid in the corner of the tank, or occasionally up against the glass.
The eggs are fairly small compared with an adult Bristlenose Pleco’s body size, but reasonably distinctive, so you should be able to tell if one of your Bristlenose Plecos has laid them. Furthermore, the male Pleco may swim around them, guarding them from predators.
As the eggs develop, you will start to be able to detect tiny eyes within them, and gradually, you should see fish fry forming inside the capsules.
They will remain quite bright in color, but the eggs may increase in transparency as the fry develop, allowing you to see the babies more clearly.
How To Care For Bristlenose Pleco Eggs!
Although Bristlenose Plecos are easy to keep, it is challenging to get the eggs to hatch, and you may need to keep them in a breeding tank, rather than in a community tank, if the eggs and fry are to survive (though some people do successfully breed these fish in community tanks).
Your tank should have plenty of hiding spots, such as plants and caves, as this will help to reduce stress for the fish and the babies when they hatch. Lowering the temperature a little will help to prompt mating.
If you have predatory fish in your tank, you will need to move the eggs elsewhere, and it’s best to do this before they hatch.
If you buy a specific cave for your Bristlenose Plecos to lay in, this should make it easy for you to remove the cave with the eggs attached so you can transfer them to an alternative tank. Don’t try to remove the eggs from the surface they have been laid on.
You shouldn’t need to do anything specific to care for the eggs, as long as you keep the water parameters suitable.
You will need to ensure that you have a filter appropriate for the fry, such as a sponge filter, and you should maintain good water flow, but otherwise, minimize disruptions and changes.
Don’t feel the need to change the water while the fish are in their eggs; they will not be there for long, and this kind of disruption could upset them.
How Long Does It Take For Bristlenose Pleco Eggs To Hatch?
The eggs will take up to ten days to develop and hatch (although they can hatch in as little as three or four days in some conditions) and the whole batch will usually hatch over the course of around three hours.
Once the eggs have hatched, the fry will attach themselves to the glass or cave or whatever surface their eggs were laid on and cling to it.
The egg sac will still be attached at this point, and they will continue to hold onto the surface until they have fully absorbed it, which takes another two to four days.
Once the egg sac has been absorbed, the babies will be free swimming and will look like tiny, pink blobs with tails for a while. Eventually, they will darken and start to take on the same colors as their parents.
The male Bristlenose Pleco will watch over them, keep them in safe areas, and even clean them with its mouth, so you may wish to transfer it to the breeding tank with the female and the eggs.
It takes around a week for newborn Bristlenose Plecos to leave the cave that they are sheltering in, and if they try before this point, the male may nudge them back into it.
Do not try to move them before they are ready to leave the cave, but afterward, it should be safe to put them in the main tank unless you have predatory fish in there.
If you have some Bristlenose Pleco eggs, you may wish to try raising them; if so, it’s a good idea to set the parents up in a separate breeding tank if you can. If this isn’t possible, you may still have success with rearing babies in your main tank, but you should be prepared for the babies to get picked off, especially when they are small and vulnerable; the parents may not be able to sufficiently protect them. Whichever tank you are planning to raise the babies in, it’s a good idea to use a substance other than sand on the base of the tank, as this can bruise the young fry when they are still tiny.