Bristlenose Catfish is digging in the gravel

My Bristlenose has been rearranging the gravel in my tank the last couple of days. I decided to look at posts in online fish forums regarding this and it doesn’t appear to be that uncommon. He is just trying to find comfy hiding spots and possibly practicing for a future breeding cave. He already has two rock caves to choose from in the tank not to mention a huge piece of bog wood to burrow under but clearly they won’t do for my fussy male. What is interesting is that he is doing this with no possibility of mating yet.

He is about a year old now and fully mature but I do not have a breeding partner for him. It is my desire to get him one but I wanted to wait until the new much larger tank is established. The problem I have is that they are extremely difficult to sex when they are sold as young fry. The bristles have not formed yet and they seem to be the key indicator in determining gender. I could buy another young Bristlenose and discover a few months later that I have another male.

With a fourth tank on the way however I could potentially get two which would improve my odds slightly. I really do want a female though and absolutely cannot keep keep two males in the same tank. I have learned this through my own costly negligence and experience. They are territorial and will fight to the death even at a very young age, yet they are completely at ease with other species of algae eaters such as the Ottocinclus.

I have seen many rarer types of Bristlenose and have been wondering if he would breed with one that looked quite different to himself. He is the common mottled brown variety with golden markings but I would love a black and white or even red one. Breeding the Bristlenose could be yet another future project, who knows I may even have more luck with them than I have had with my Neon Tetras.