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Re: [APD] Algae Eaters developing a taste for plants?

I know some folks have said that Ancistrus don't really bother plants. I've even heard this said about non-dwarf species of plecos. The truth is, I fear, that they all cause damage and it's a matter of the rate of damage versus the rate of plant growth.
Ancistrus species, also known as bristlenose catfish, bristlenose plecos, etc. are dwarf Loricariidae species that do a great job of cleaning an aquarium of algae. One Ancistrus will do the work of, oh, about, hundred or so otocinclus -- give or take. Perhaps two hundred otos. I haven't found that otos are really all that effective. Oto keep busy; they just don't seem to accomplish much for their efforts. 
With just one or two Ancistrus per, say, 40-50 gallons, you are not likely to see damage on most Echinodorus species. The swords grow too quickly and the grazing by the Ancistrus is too gentle for much damage to show. Before enough grazing has happened to show damage, you will have pruned the leaf in the ordinary course of maintenance.  But they *will* graze on swords and *the effects of grazing are cumulative*.
So you need to limit how much grazing is done over a given period of time. One way is to have lots of swords. This helps spread out the damage. Another is to add algae wafers at feeding time. The Ancistrus come to expect them and sit and wait for them at feeding time. This can partly sate their appetites but I have had limited success with wafers.
You want to limit the number of Ancistrus in a tank to perhaps just one, unless you know the sex of each (but it's not readily apparent when they are young). Ancistrus breed like guppies in tanks with hiding places (like, for example, planted aquaria) and soon you can have so many grazing mouths to feed that algae wafers do nothing more than encourage more prolific breeding -- and you can't stock swords fast enough to keep up with the damage they will do.
My advice is to keep no more than one Ancistrus in an aquarium; keep it in an aquarium no smaller than about 40 gallons; try to get them to fill up on algae wafers or blanched zucchini; try to keep them in with driftwood but not with swords, and lastly, if you must have Loricariidae in with your Echinodorus, stick with cute relatively useless cousins, the otos. Although Otos are pretty useless even in large numbers, they're cuts and cause little visible damage to plants.

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----- Original Message ----
From: "Brown, Daniel" <dpbrown at ea_com>
To: aquatic plants digest <aquatic-plants at actwin_com>
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 5:49:53 PM
Subject: [APD] Algae Eaters developing a taste for plants?

Hi folks,

Has anyone ever had any experience with Bristlenose Catfish (BN)
developing a taste for plants, specifically Amazon swords?  And is there
any way to prevent them munching on swords?  I really like the look of
bristlenose cats but the last time I kept one my Amazon swords started
to have a skeletal look to their leaves, you could almost see through
them in some spots.  I was dropping in algae tablets for the BN but the
amano shrimp and Zebra shrimp in the tank seemed more interested in the
tablets.  I'm currently planning a new 55g planted tank and I'd like to
have BN again but I don't want another sword massacre, if in doubt I'm
tempted to get a couple ottos instead...


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