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Ancistrus Sp

If you’re new to keeping Bristlenose Catfish you may already be aware that the term Bristlenose refers to the Genus known as Ancistrus. This is a group (or Genus) of Catfish that is made up of many species of which the most common is known as Ancistrus sp cirrhosus or the Common Bristlenose. After that though the rest of the genus is made up of a number of common names, species names and of course the L numbers. So depending on who you are talking to or what reference you are consulting you could be presented with either an L number, a common name, species name  or a combination of names to describe just one Ancistrus sp of Catfish.

Sound confusing? Well I know I was confused to start off with, so having a curious mind I decided to set out to get to the bottom of how the different names all fit together. So here’s what I discovered.

Firstly, Bristlenose Catfish are also known as Bristlenose Plecos as well, depending on where in the world you come from. So just for the sake of not making the topic any more confusing than it needs to be I’ll use the term Catfish for this article.

Therefore, as I’ve already stated, the Common Bristlenose is known as Ancistrus sp cirrhosus. Up until recently though this species was incorrectly known as Ancistrus sp dolichopterus, which is in fact a totally different species of Ancistrus. Therefore be careful as you may find some older references that still refer to cirrhosus as dolichopterus.

So what you’ll find is Ancistrus sp cirrhosus is the Bristlenose that’s most commonly found in live fish shops and is sold as algae eaters for large community tanks. Ancistrus sp cirrhosus is usually brown with spots but you can also find Albinos as well. Then to divide the species up even further there are shortfin and longfin varieties each of which come in the normal brown colour and the albino colour as well.

Therefore within the species cirrhosus you’ll commonly find that the different varieties are referred to as;

  • Common Bristlenose – brown shortfin
  • Albino Bristlenose – albino shortfin
  • Common Longfin – brown longfin
  • Albino Longfin – albino longfin

Then you can also get a Marble variety, plus other colour varieties as well.

Next up, what do the L numbers refer to?

Well for starters L numbers are given to species that haven’t yet been scientifically classified and as such not yet assigned a specific species name. Some of the L number Bristlenoses are species in their own right while others are variations of existing species and may in fact be sub-species.

What you’ll also find is L numbers are assigned throughout the family Loricariidae which consists of several Genera (plural for Genus) of which the Ancistrus genus is just one. Therefore for the sake of simplicity (as if it already isn’t confusing enough) we’ll only deal with L numbers here that relate to the Genus Ancistrus.

Therefore, find below a table with L numbers for the Genus Ancistrus listed (reference: This should give you a clearer idea of how it works.

What you’ll find is some L numbers are simply known as Ancistrus sp, some have been assigned several L numbers, some have a common name as well and others have been assigned a species name.

List of L numbers for the Species Ancistrus

L-number Alternative L- or LDA-numbers Scientific name Common name(s)
L032   Ancistrus sp.  
L034   Ancistrus ranunculus Medusa pleco
L043   Ancistrus sp.  
L045   Ancistrus sp.  
L059   Ancistrus sp.  
L071 L181, L249 Ancistrus sp.  
L088   Ancistrus sp.  
L089   Ancistrus sp.  
L100 LDA75 Ancistrus sp.  
L107 L184 Ancistrus sp. Brilliant bristlenose pleco
L110 L157 Ancistrus sp. Red spot bristlenose
L111   Ancistrus sp.  
L120   Ancistrus sp. Black fin bristlenose
L125 L150 Ancistrus sp.  
L144   Ancistrus sp. Black eyed yellow
L148   Ancistrus sp.  
L149   Ancistrus sp.  
L150 L125 Ancistrus sp.  
L156   Ancistrus sp.  
L157 L110 Ancistrus sp. Red spot bristlenose
L159   Ancistrus sp.  
L180   Ancistrus sp.  
L181 L071, L249 Ancistrus sp. Peppermint bristlenose
L182   Ancistrus hoplogenys Starlight bristlenose pleco
L183   Ancistrus dolichopterus Starlight bristlenose catfish
L184 L107 Ancistrus sp. Brilliant bristlenose pleco
L213   Ancistrus sp.  
L237   Ancistrus sp.  
L249 L071, L181 Ancistrus sp.  
L255   Ancistrus sp. Spotted medusa pleco
L267   Ancistrus sp.  
L279 LDA58 Ancistrus sp.  
L289   Ancistrus sp.  
L292   Ancistrus sp.  
L293   Ancistrus sp.  
L304   Ancistrus sp.  
L309   Ancistrus sp.  
L325   Ancistrus sp.  
L327   Ancistrus sp.  
L338 LDA16 Ancistrus sp.  
L344   Ancistrus sp.  
L349 LDA45 Ancistrus sp.  
L352   Ancistrus sp.  
L355   Ancistrus sp.  
L357   Ancistrus sp.  
L359   Ancistrus sp.  
L369   Ancistrus sp.  
L370   Ancistrus sp.  
L378   Ancistrus sp.  
L392   Ancistrus sp.  
L393   Ancistrus sp.  
L396   Ancistrus sp.  

Next up is a list of Ancistrus species names. Some of these species also have common names, some still have L numbers as well, while others are just referred to by their species name. Here’s a list of Ancistrus that have been classified and given species names. (reference:

Ancistrus Sp

Ancistrus aguaboensis Ancistrus galani Ancistrus montanus
Ancistrus bodenhameri

Ancistrus gibbiceps

Ancistrus multispinis

Ancistrus bolivianus

Ancistrus gymnorhynchus

Ancistrus nationi

Ancistrus brevifilis

Ancistrus heterorhynchus

Ancistrus nudiceps

Ancistrus brevipinnis

Ancistrus hoplogenys

Ancistrus occidentalis

Ancistrus bufonius

Ancistrus jataiensis

Ancistrus occloi

Ancistrus caucanus

Ancistrus jelskii

Ancistrus parecis

Ancistrus centrolepis

Ancistrus latifrons

Ancistrus pirareta

Ancistrus chagresi

Ancistrus leucostictus

Ancistrus piriformis

Ancistrus cirrhosus

Ancistrus lineolatus

Ancistrus ranunculus

Ancistrus claro

Ancistrus lithurgicus

Ancistrus reisi

Ancistrus clementinae

Ancistrus macrophthalmus

Ancistrus spinosus

Ancistrus cryptophthalmus

Ancistrus maculatus

Ancistrus stigmaticus

Ancistrus cuiabae

Ancistrus malacops

Ancistrus tamboensis

Ancistrus damasceni

Ancistrus maracasae

Ancistrus taunayi

Ancistrus dolichopterus

Ancistrus marcapatae

Ancistrus temminckii

Ancistrus dubius

Ancistrus martini

Ancistrus tombador

Ancistrus erinaceus

Ancistrus mattogrossensis

Ancistrus trinitatis

Ancistrus eustictus

Ancistrus megalostomus

Ancistrus triradiatus

Ancistrus formoso

Ancistrus minutus

Ancistrus variolus

Ancistrus fulvus


Ancistrus verecundus

Therefore as you can now see, there are several ways to identify members of the Genus Ancistrus aka Bristlenose Catfish. Some are know only by their common name, some by their species name, some only by an L number and others by a combination of these.

Therefore just in finishing, to give just one more example of how the names can be confusing, consider this Bristlenose, known in Australia as the “Orange Spot Bristlenose”. Some enthusiasts believe it to have the L number of L 110 which is commonly known as the Red Spot Bristlenose others refer to it as the species Ancistrus sp leucostictus, both of which appear unlikely. To the best of my research though, the most likely name is Ancistrus sp. `Rio Ucayali`. Therefore you make up your own mind and if you like leave a comment below. Maybe you have another suggestion.

What you can see though, is how these common names (and L numbers) can vary from country to country as it’s only in Australia that this particular Bristlenose is known as the Orange Spot Bristlenose.

So hopefully you now have a much clearer idea of why there is no uniformity in the Ancistrus sp. The genus is quite large and there are still many species yet to be scientifically classified. Nevertheless you should now have a much better idea of how all these  Ancistrus sp names fit together.

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