Bristlenose catfish (Ancistrus spec)

In New Zealand we have two spec of the Ancistrus catfish . At present I do not know which I have But when I find out I will let you know.
My present breeding set up is one male and four females.
They are keep in a 36"x15"x15" tank.
The normal temp is 25-26 degree C or 77-79 degree F
PH 6-7 and soft to medium hardness.
For filtration they have a internal power filter plus a box  filter
We do not use any substrate in our breeding tank. This makes it easier for cleaning up extra food and for catching escaped babies. (escaped from dads nest)
The male prefers to use drift wood for his spawning site.
I am presently trying out bamboo tubes as well to see which he will prefer.
Our male finds a suitable spawning site then cleans it ready for breeding.
He then finds his most ready girl and heads her toward his site, this is if she isn't already waiting for him to finish his house work.
When one girl has spawned often the others will follow giving the male multiple spawns to care for at once. They are all spawned in the same place, So it means that he has quiet a big spawn to look after.
The male looks after the eggs till well after they have hatched. He is a very dedicated dad.
The young are safe to be left in the breeding tank as none of the breeders will harm them.
I personally remove the young before they leave the nest, I find it alot easier to catch them by netting the nest log and then moving it to a prepared tank.
The young babies can be very hard to catch if they have left the nest as they hide well.
The main reason I move the babies is that if they are left in the breeding tank they delay the parents from breeding again .
Also I prefer the babies to be in a bigger tank to encourage faster growth.
The babies go strait onto the adult diet.
The diet I use is: They are primarily algae eaters but they do need some protein in there diet.
They get meaty food to help fatten them up for breeding and to help increase the growth rate of babies.
With the marrow and cucumber I feed them out raw with a teaspoon spared through the segment of  food to weigh it down to the bottom of the tank.
I find that the veggies stay fresher in the tank longer if left raw.

We have replaced our male as at the beginning of March as the old on was no longer that interested.
It didn't take long for the new boy to settle in.

Mr Bristlenose with his nest of eggs 14-03-99
You can just see two bunches of eggs. so that
means he breed with two girls.

Update on Bamboo 31-03-99
My bristlenose now use a section of bamboo
to breed in .
one end is naturally filled (bamboo has one foot chambers inside so one end
is left in and the other end is cut to desired length.) This has a hole
drilled in one side and a suction cup added to keep it steady in the tank
otherwise it is prone to rolling.
Once the females have all spawned with the male (about 24-36hrs) We remove
the bamboo complete with dad and eggs to our desired raising tank.
One advantage of doing this soon after the eggs are laid is that you can
feed the dad by putting food at the end of the bamboo with no risk of the
mums taking off with it before dad feels safe enough to come to the
entrance to eat. This means that dad doesn't lose any condition and is
ready to breed again so much sooner. (1-2weeks later instead of up to a
month or more)
If dad doesn't want to let his young ones out 3-4 days post hatch we have
used a breeding cage with big enough slits to allow the babies to swim
strait through but when dad finally come out he is caught. Emptying is done
by filling the bamboo with tank water and emptying through the cage (it can
sometimes take  20 fills or more.)
This is easierly lifted out to move dad home. I then empty the rest of the
babies out of the bamboo then give it back to dad in his breeding tank.
Our old way of doing it was when they breed on a log  and we used to net
the whole log with everyone attached but often alot of the babies got away.

Feeding- Our young ones are kept in a 4ft planted tank in front of a window
(to encourage algae growth)
they are fed raw marrow, cucumber and other available veggies . Most veggies
have a spoon or two stabbed through to hold them at the bottom of the tank.
Plus they are feed a good quality flake .

 Spinal problems- Can be due to your method of catching the babies out of the parents tank.
I used to have these kind of problems when sucking mind out with a airline hose before I
started using the bamboo method above.
If this does not help may be your parents are to closely related try swapping
pairs around or buy some new stock to add to the old.

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