The L183 Starlight Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus dolichopterus), also known as the White Seam Bristlenose Pleco, is a member of the Loricariidae family of South American suckermouth catfishes. While many suckermouth catfish species have yet to be bred on any major scale in aquariums, the Starlight Bristlenose Pleco is being propogated by a few commercial breeders. Its facial area becomes adorned with many bristle-like appendages beginning in sub-adulthood. Both sexes grow the appendages, but the growth and length is much more pronounced in males. This species is distinctly different than the many other more common bristlenose species, most of which are part of the Ancistrus cf. cirrhosus superspecies. The Starlight Bristlenose Pleco has an overall black body that is covered in bright spots and it also has a noticeable white seam on its dorsal fin and tail.
A generally peaceful and hardy species, the Starlight Bristlenose Pleco is an excellent, undemanding candidate for most aquariums. Unlike the widely-seen Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) and Trinidad Pleco (Hypostomus punctatus), which easily reach a monstrous size of 18 to 20+ inches (45 to 51+ cm), the Starlight Bristlenose Pleco grows to a size of only 4 to 5.9 inches (10 to 15 cm). This smaller size makes for a much more manageable (and less messy) pleco that can thrive permanently in a well-maintained aquarium as small as 40 to 55 gallons. Male plecos may be somewhat territorial with other males of their species, but disputes can usually be diffused by providing ample territory and hiding places for each fish. All other tankmates will be generally ignored, although it is possible that small shrimp fry might fall prey to the Starlight Bristlenose Pleco. However, some large-scale shrimp suppliers breed Bristlenose Plecos in the same pools they use for shrimp breeding.
The Starlight Bristlenose Pleco is primarily nocturnal, but will often become active during daytime hours once established in an aquarium with plenty of driftwood, rockwork, and other hiding places. It is not known to eat wood heavily like some plecos (Panaque sp., etc.), but it may benefit from some supplementary wood (or bio-film on driftwood). The Starlight Bristlenose Pleco will not bother most plants, but it will eat plenty of algae in the aquarium, especially as a juvenile. Feed the Starlight Bristlenose Pleco a diet heavy in vegetable matter, including high-quality vegetable flakes, sinking algae wafers and pellets. It will also appreciate being fed some fresh vegetables such as shelled peas, spinach, zucchini and cucumber. Occasional meaty foods such as bloodworms are also beneficial when fed sparingly. This fish eats constantly, so too much meat/animal protein in its diet can be unhealthy for the fish as well as the level of waste it produces in the aquarium.