Hot Water Fish


  • Scientific name:  Ancistrus dolichopterus
  • Common Name:  Ancistrus, Spotted Ancistrus, Snowflake Ancistrus
  • Aquarium size:  150 liters
  • Temperament: Calm
  • Temperature:  Between 23º and 27ºC
  • pH: Between 5.8 and 7.8
  • Diet:  Vegetarian, Omnivore
  • Length:  15 cms


The Ancistrus dolichopterus is also known by other names, such as Spotted Ancistrus, Snowflake Ancistrus, or Bearded-nosed Catfish.
It is a fish from the Loricaridae family , very calm fish that can share space with many different species of fish, even those larger than them.
Traditionally, Loricars (and Ancistrus Dolichopterus) are often included for aquarium maintenance, because they are very effective at keeping algae at bay. That does not mean that we do not have to perform any type of maintenance or cleaning in the aquarium.


The Ancistrus dolichopterus has the typical morphology of the Loricáridos, flattened and with barbels.
Their body is flattened ventrally, since they live in permanent contact with the ground. They have a suction mouth with a lower disposition , to better feed on the bottoms where they usually live, which gives them the name of sucker fish. The eyes are arranged laterally.
Their appearance is a bit disturbing, but it is only a facade, since they are very calm fish.

Ancistrus size

They are fish that can measure about 15 centimeters for male specimens, and about 10 centimeters for female Ancistrus.

Ancistrus dolichopterus coloration

They have a dark color, between brown and black with small large white spots , distributed evenly throughout the body.
The spots are very visible and are present in the youngest specimens, but as they age they progressively lose them, a situation that becomes more evident in males.
The dorsal and tail fins have a white border, which also disappears progressively , with the aging of the individuals.

Differences between males and females, sexual dimorphism

It is «easy» to differentiate Ancistrus dolihopterus males from females, because they have barbels on the front of the head, while females lack them and if they do have any, they will be small.
The males are also usually larger than the females.

Ancistrus sp, varieties

For sale you will find a great variety of ancistrus.
Each of these varieties or sub-species has its own peculiarities, so I suggest that you first do a little research, to see which variety best suits the parameters of your aquarium, or… why not, which one you like best.

Ancistrus gold L144, Ancistrus albino or Ancistrus dorado

The shape of the body is identical to any other Ancistrus, the difference is in its coloration, yellowish, slightly pinkish . On his body you can see irregular points or lines, which depending on the lighting can vary in tone.
The background color may vary depending on the mood of the fish. Their eyes are usually red.
This specimen can be found under the name Ancistrus gold or Ancistrus albino.
Many of the Ancistrus species possess a veil variant, such as the Ancistrus gold veil. The difference is that their fins, caudal, dorsal, ventral and anal are much longer, giving the sensation of a «veil».

Ancistrus Super red

It is a variety of Ancistrus with an orange color, turning red.
The male has appendages on the head, which give the sensation of being horns, while the females have only thin tentacles.
They are rarely seen for sale, and the ones we see are captive bred for sale.

Ancistrus L183 Starlight

They have a completely black body, dotted with white spots, reminiscent of a starry sky, hence the nickname «Starlight».
The dorsal and tail fin have a snowy white edge.

Distribution and habitat

There is a bit of confusion regarding the geographic distribution of this fish, due to errors in the identifications.
As valid, it is usually affirmed that they come from the Negro river (Amazon) in Brazil, although in some publications it is affirmed that it has a wider distribution and that it can be found in Guyana.
What we are sure of is its habitat. They like the currents of fast rivers, with clear waters and with a lot of vegetation.

Aquarium conditions

The size of the aquarium will depend a bit on the specimens that we are going to introduce, but we can establish that an aquarium from 80 liters would be fine, and that ideally it should have about 150 liters , especially if we want to have more than one male.

Planted aquarium

The aquarium should be well planted , with enough hiding places, as it tends to hide during the day.
They will appreciate that in the aquarium we simulate the water currents from which it comes. The substrate must be sandy and with a good amount of roots.
If we don’t introduce many plants, the lighting has to be dim.
Although they are considered «pool cleaners», since they tend to keep algae at bay, they are intolerant to the accumulation of organic waste, they come from very clean waters.

Water parameters

The temperature of the Ancistrus aquarium has to be perfect , as well as the rest of the aquarium parameters and the quality of the water. For our fish to be perfect, these are the optimal water levels:

  • Temperature: 23ºC to 27ºC
  • pH: 5.8 to 7.8
  • gH: 2nd to 10th

Aquariums by size

  • Small aquariums
  • 10 liter aquariums
  • 20 liter aquariums
  • 30 liter aquariums
  • 40 liter aquariums
  • 50 liter aquariums
  • 60 liter aquariums
  • 80 liter aquariums
  • 100 liter aquariums

Aquarium type

  • Complete aquarium kits
  • Nano aquariums
  • Prawns
  • Aquariums for Bettas
  • Tortugueros
  • Aquariums for kids
  • Farrowing
  • Cheap aquariums


  • AquaLed
  • Tetra


They can be considered to be omnivores , because they can feed on insects, their diet is actually vegetarian-omnivorous.
They usually consume algae and green lettuce leaves, which we must provide them very well washed.
They can also feed on other vegetables, like zucchini, cucumber, peas, even fresh fruit.
A varied diet must include some type of dry food that can reach the bottom , such as frozen Daphnia, mosquito larvae, prawns, shrimp …
It is known that in the wild, they tend to nibble on wooden logs, it is interesting to provide them with some wood that they can nibble. . It seems that they do it to provide themselves with cellulose.
If they are well fed, they will not bite the plants, but if they lack sufficient plant input, they can nibble on broadleaf plants.

Everything you need to maintain your aquarium

  • Best digital pH meter
  • Best Aquarium Test
  • Best anti-algae
  • Best bacteria for aquarium
  • Best siphoner for aquarium
  • Best Aquarium Water Clarifiers
  • Best reverse osmosis filters for aquarium
  • Best UV lamps for aquariums

Behavior and compatibility

It is very quiet, you can share the aquarium with different species of fish.
Males can be territorial (and aggressive) towards each other , and with species similar in size and coloration.
Therefore, if the aquarium is less than 80 liters, you should only have one male and if it is older, you can add one more, provided we provide them with enough hiding places.
It is a kind of nocturnal habits, during the day or with lights on, we will not see too much activity.

Ancistrus Compatible Fish

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Tiger Barbel
  • Scalars, Angelfish
  • Guppy
  • Neon Tetra
  • Silver dollar
  • Rasbora Galaxy
  • Rainbow
  • Betta fish 
  • Platy
  • Guppy endler

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Boraras
  • Cherry barbel
  • Harlequin
  • Botia Clown
  • Drunk
  • Corydora
  • Little nun
  • Ax fish
  • Telescope
  • Disk

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Gourami Pearl
  • Chinese neon
  • Snail Apple

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