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When looking for bottom tropical fish that will feed on algae in your the tank, it’s quite common to come across and even consider bristlenose pleco.
Loved for their subtle demeanor and relatively small body size (compared to other algae eaters), this gems also clean and add a flare to an otherwise drab bottom of the tank.
Even so, what many beginner fish keepers (and even some experienced hobbyists) don’t know is there are several kinds of bristlenose pleco some with unique colors and others ‘custom’ fin configurations that stand out from the common bushynose.
At the moment, the most popular types re the common and albino variants, but we also have starlight, super-red, longfin and more..
Given that background, in this article I’ll introduce to more exotic bristlenose plecos, and learn ways to maintain and care for them.
#1 — Longfin Bristlenose Pleco
The longfin bristlenose pleco comes in all color variations, but what sets it apart is the tail and fins, which are comparatively longer than on the common bristlenose pleco.
As you may already know, the most common variety of the longfin bristlenose is the albino-longfin, which is priced both for the somewhat superior color and fin configuration.
This is also a type quite sought after by fishkeepers. Thus, it’s not odd to buy one labeled as such, but turns out to be an average albino bushynose.
As for the maintenance and care needs, the longtail bristlenose is not any different from the other types, so it should be pretty straight forward to maintain if you’ve kept bushynose plecos before.
Keep in mind that long tails and short tails are present in all color variants, so you will find them in whichever type you go for.
#2 — Shortfin Bristlenose Pleco
As I’ve mentioned above, the short and longfin bristlenose are types that cut across all color variants.
Certainly, the shortfin would then be any bristlenose with lesser fins or rather fishes that do not bare flowing tails and flippers.
They are not as popular as their long-finned siblings, but from my experience, they suffer less fin damage from nipping and fin rot. Which is something worth noting, especially if you have nippers in your tank.
#3 — Albino Bristlenose Pleco
An albino bristlenose pleco is distinguishable by its body color that ranges anywhere from light-yellow, white, and can sometimes even look pink-ish.
The color morph is version barely present in the wild, with most bred in the aquarium hobby because in the wild, they tend to be too conspicuous and are usually victims of predation.
However, there is a chance their numbers have increased marginally, including outside their natural habitat in South America, as they are seldom released by fish keepers into open waters.
Overall, the fish is not any different from the wild forms, only a better spectacle for display aquarium. Like any other fish from the family, an albino will have appendages on the face, with those on males usually longer (and more) than on females.
The bottom-feeder is mostly peaceful hence make an ideal candidate for community tanks. It’s maintenance needs are also not unique in any way, you only need to ensure your pleco is well fed.
Please note that because the albino pleco is quite conspicuous, the fish might be picked on by small-fast nippers like tetras and danios.
As such, you also don’t want to keep yours with cichlids, particularly species from Africa like peacock cichlid or Central America species such as convict cichlids.
South American dwarf cichlids like German blue and Bolivian rams make good companions, but larger species like angelfish have exhibited unpredictable behavior every time I’ve tried the pairing.
Albino bristlenose plecos should be given algae-based foods combined with fresh vegetable and occasional treats of live or frozen meaty foods.
#4 — Green Dragon Bristlenose Pleco
Easily one of the most impressive bristlenose pleco types, the green dragon comes in both short and longfin variants, with green-patterns all over the body hence the name.
The best part about keeping this type of bristlenose is that the shades on their bodies will sometimes appear solid-green with light-green stripes, somewhat of a camouflage thing going on.
And other times, they’ll be fully solid-dark-green.
The patterns change seems to change based on the fish mood and lighting which is quite impressive.
Plus, caring for green dragon bristlenose pleco is not any different from other species, so you should be able to easily keep them in your fish tank.
The only challenge you may encounter is scarcity; getting them can be quite the hassle. And without a doubt, the will pricey than your common bushynose.
#5 — Blue Eyed Bristlenose Pleco
The blue-eyed bristlenose pleco, like the green dragon, is another aquaria bred variant that is highly sought after.
This species usually has a hint of blue in the eyes and an overall lemon yellow body. As such, you will find some marketers calling it the blue-eyed-lemon bushy nose
Same to the other color variants, the species comes in both longfin and shortfin configurations.
The care and maintenance needs are also not any different from the other types. But you may need to do educate yourself a little more on the breeding process to ensure you get youngs with the same color quality as the parent.
#6 — Super Red Bristlenose Pleco
The super red bristlenose is a selectively bred variant, same as the green and the blue-eyed types, mainly derived from the naturally occurring red busy nose.
Please note that the species are not exactly red in color. Instead, they show an orange coloration close to, but more brilliant than an albino nose pleco.
The wild habitat of the red bristlenose ancestral species is in the smaller tributaries and backwater of Northers and Central portions of South America.
Usually, the streams contain small rocks, sandy substrates, and submerged tree roots.
For that reason, replicating this environment in your aquarium is highly recommended for your fishes safety and comfort.
Breeding super red bristlenose plecos is similar to any other type, though candidates with more solid color formations are preferable resale to display aquarium owners.
Which is also the reason the species was created in the first place!
#7 — Common Bristlenose Pleco
The common bristlenose pleco is the closest the types kept in aquariums get to the wild forms.
The maintenance needs are quite basic, including feeding and breeding, even for beginners without much experience keeping Ancistrus.
They are mostly brown, green, or gray in color with white or yellow spots. Some have uneven spots coloring with lighter or darker splotches on various parts of their body.
It is these unique features that breeder exploit to form new color types by selective breeding individuals.
#8 — Starlight Bristlenose Pleco
The starlight is another beautiful and much sought after type of bristlenose pleco, sometimes called white seam bushynose.
More like the common pleco, than its green dragon, super red, and blue-eyed cousins, this species occurs naturally in Brazil’s Rio Negro.
The fish gets its common name from a series of small dots that appear all over the body and looks like a star-studded night sky.
In the aquarium, starlight bristlenose are almost as hardy and easy to keep as any other species, though they tend to be a little more skittish.
Therefore, add plenty of cover and driftwood in your tank for the fish to hide and graze on.
Also, please note that white seam bristlenose plecos grow a little larger than other members in their family. So you’ll want to have a bigger tank than you usually would have with any of the other species.
That’s all for this post.
Enjoy keeping plecos!