Albino Bristlenose Pleco Care Guide

Do Albino Plecos occur naturally?

Albino Bristlenose Pleco Care Guide7 mins read

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Tal Halperin
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Albino bristlenose pleco care guide
Image From Flickr

Have you ever seen an albino bristlenose pleco? Many learn of the unusual-looking Bristlenose Pleco, but want something that is still a little different. Enter albino bristlenose plecos, for those who need something even more unusual. Yes, albinism exists in fish!

Some people find these fish a bit too alien looking for their tastes. However, if you are an adventurous aquarist, you can’t beat them. So, if you want a very striking-looking algae eater for your tank, this variant of the regular Bristlenose Pleco is definitely one to consider. Read on to find out all about their care, albino bristlenose pleco size, and other important things to consider before getting one.

Breed Overview

OriginAmazon River Basin
LifespanUp to 10 years
Size5” or up to 12cm when fully grown
ColorsA dark mottled brown
FoodAlgae and other detritus
Tank SizeMinimum 30 gallons or 114 liters
TemperamentPeaceful, curious, easygoing
Water Temperature72-80 F or 22-28 C
Water pH5.5-6.5


Just like you would imagine, the albino bristlenose pleco fish is a light-colored version of the typical dark, mottled Bristlenose Pleco. However, remember that albinism is a specific genetic mutation. It is not just light coloring. The Albino Bristlenose Pleco is a light cream color all over, with no spots of dark pigment at all.

What Causes Albinism In Pleco Fish?

So, what causes albinism in fish? The cause of albinism in all creatures is due to the lack of a specific enzyme that aids in the creation of dark-colored pigments. Later on in this article, you will see how albinism differs from leucism, but for now, it just helps to know that Albino Pleco‘s unique looks are caused by a genuine difference at the genetic level.

How Does The Albino Bristlenose Pleco Differ From Regular Bristlenose Pleco Fish?

If you know about albinism in mammals, you may have heard that it can affect hearing and eyesight. However, fortunately, studies on fish show there are no significant differences in behavior between albino fish and their counterparts.

Thus, if you are worried that an Albino Pleco may be challenging to look after, don’t be. This is very much not the case – especially if you already have experience with Plecos.

Do Albino Fish Have Any Specific Needs?

In general, albino animals have some more sensitive characteristics and may often have poor eyesight and difficulty hearing. However, fortunately, albino fish, the Plecoincluded, do not share these characteristics. In fact, studies have shown they participate in all the same foraging behavior as their non-albino counterparts.

Tank Setup And Maintenance

Tank setup and maintenance for albino bristlenose pleco
In fact, Plecos have been rumored to climb tree roots that protrude out of the water in their native habitat.

The Albino Bristlenose Pleco has roughly the same needs as the regular Bristlenose Pleco in terms of tank setup. Generally, albino bristlenose pleco size is similar too. For starters, you need a tank of at least 30 gallons or 114 liters so that these fish have enough space to grow and explore.

Secondly, it’s important the habitat is correct. They come from soft acidic water in the Amazon basin that is usually filled with driftwood, tree roots, and other organic matter. In fact, Plecos have been rumored to climb tree roots that protrude out of the water in their native habitat. Thus, adding lots of driftwood can help your fish feel at home.

Apart from this, create plenty of hidey-hole with strategically placed rocks and stones as well as plants that your Pleco can hide amongst and that will also help other tankmates feel safe.

Author’s Note: Never use sharp gravel in a tank that has a Pleco in it. This can hurt your fish’s delicate stomach, and make them much more prone to infection. Always use smooth large pebbles or sand instead.

Another thing you will have to consider for your tank is filtration. Fortunately, unlike some other Pleco species from faster-flowing waters, these fish do not need particularly strong filtration. A simple HOB filter that filters 4x the tank capacity per hour will do.


Tankmates of albino bristlenose pleco
Bristlenose Pleco, the Albino Bristlenose Plecocan makes great algae-eating tankmates for a variety of Amazonian and other species. Image From Flickr

Like the similar Bristlenose Pleco, the albino bristlenose pleco can makes great algae-eating tankmates for a variety of Amazonian and other species. These include:

  • Barbs
  • Small cichlids
  • Betta fish
  • Angelfish
  • Discuss fish
  • Guppies
  • Molly fish
  • swordtails

Best Lighting For The Albino Bristlenose Pleco

You may have heard that some albino animals have poor eyesight and that bright light can be damaging to them. Fortunately, this does not apply to fish. You can use the same regular LED lighting with an Albino Pleco that you can with any other Bristlenose Pleco

Otherwise, your Pleco is mostly active at night, and they often enjoy shadowy places anyway to hide in, such as a length of PVC piping, something many aquarists add to their Pleco tanks.


Fortunately, there is no difference between feeding an Albino Pleco and a regular Pleco. Simply feed algae wafers two to three times per week. Most aquarists find albino bristlenose plecos will gobble them up and in the meantime will keep the stones, rocks, and sides of the tank free from algae with their unique feeding habits.

Author’s Note: Remember that no algae-eating fish can survive off tank algae alone. It’s always important to provide algae wafers so that they know they have a consistent source of nutrition. Apart from that, you can enrich their diet with sliced vegetables occasionally (no more than once per week) such as cucumber or zucchini.

Behavior And Temperament

Behavior and temperament of albino bristlenose pleco
Plecos in general eat algae not just off the sides of the tank but also off any rocks, driftwood, and decorations that you may have. Image From Flickr

You will often catch your Pleco hanging onto the side of the tank, eating algae off the glass. Apart from this, they keep to the bottom of the tank most of the time, where they hoover up detritus. They are generally quite shy fish and like to hide in rocky crevices or other hidden places.

Albino Bristlenose Pleco Differences In Behavior

These fish do not have any significant behavioral differences from their dark-colored counterparts. However, the main difference is that your aquarium can actually give them a chance to thrive. In the wild, albino fish are generally eaten by predators because of how much they stand out.

Algae Eating Behavior

Plecos in general eat algae not just off the sides of the tank but also off any rocks, driftwood, and decorations that you may have. This is one of the most appealing things about them and it can be a delight to watch them at work.

You may occasionally see your Pleco Fish swim up to the surface of the tank and gulp at the air. If this happens, you may wonder if they are hungry. However, this is actually a form of breathing. Plecos will sometimes breathe air if the water surrounding them is not oxygenated enough. So, take it as a sign that you need to clean your tank.

Pests And Diseases

Pests And Diseases in albino bristlenose pleco
Ich is a pale parasitic infection that shows up as white spots on your fish’s body. Image From Flickr

Pleco fish are generally hardy and don’t suffer from that many common fish ailments. However, there are some specific things you may consider regards an albino fish, so read on for more info.

Considerations For Albino Plecos

Albino Bristlenose Pleco fish are not necessarily less hardy than regular Pleco Fish. However, one consideration is that due to their pale coloring, it may be easier to spot some diseases and harder to spot others.


Ich is a pale parasitic infection that shows up as white spots on your fish’s body. Pleco fish in general tend to be harder. However, if this disease does appear, it can be harder to spot than on darker-colored fish.

Fungal Infections:

Some diseases caused by fungus such as velvet or gold dust disease may be hard to see due to the pale yellow coloring of an albino Bristlenose Pleco. Thus, it’s important to check carefully. However, dark-colored fungal infections will be easier to spot than on regular-colored fish.

Pleco Fungus:

This fungal infection is generally a pale color and thus it blends in against your pleco’s coloration. Therefore if you see any unusual textures on your pleco, especially around the mouth, be sure to take a closer look.

What Is The Difference Between Albinism And Leucism?

Neither albinism nor leucism is in fact a disease, and you Bristlenose Pleco can indeed live a rich and varied life. In fact, they can be as healthy as any other Pleco Fish regardless of their coloration! However, there is a difference between albinism and a similar genetic mutation called leucism.

In albinism, your fish is unable to produce the enzyme tyrosinase, which aids in the production of the dark pigment melanin. In leucism, it is that the pigment-producing cells themselves are not present. Unlike with albinism, this happens in either some or all of an animal’s body.

You can tell the difference between a true albino animal and one with leucism easily. An albino fish will have red or pink eyes with no pigment in the retina, whereas animals with leucism have blue eyes.

Author’s Note: the difference in eye color is due to the amount of pigment in the eyes. In an albino animal, the total lack of pigment means that you can see the blood cells on the retina, giving the eyes a red color. Animals with leucism still have some pigment in their eyes, which may be a regular color apart from blue. Generally, most pale Bristlenose Plecos will be true albinos.


albino bristlenose pleco breeding
The best way of breeding an Albino Pleco fish is to cross two albino parents. Image From Flickr

Due to its unique color, you may wish to breed your fish. However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Read on for more details about breeding Pleco Fish – and the Albino Pleco specifically.

How To Breed Pleco Fish

Plecos are easy to look after, but they can be relatively difficult to breed. This means that it is better to already have experience with the species first. They are relatively shy, but their mating habits can be a delight to watch. However, bear in mind they are sensitive to tank conditions and won’t always mate unless things are just right.

Once in a separate breeding tank, the male will trap the female in a cave or hidey-hole. There, she will lay her eggs and he will then fertilize them.

Next, the male will guard the eggs until they hatch. At this point, it’s a good idea to remove him, as unfortunately, he may eat the fry. When they hatch, fry are still attached to the yolk sacs of the eggs so you don’t have to feed them for the first few days. After that, you can feed them on crushed algae wafers.

How To Breed An Albino Pleco Fish

The best way of breeding an Albino Pleco fish is to cross two albino parents. This gives you a surefire chance of creating albino offspring. However, what happens if you cross an Albino Pleco with a regular Pleco? The chances are, the offspring will not have the albino appearance. Alternatively, only about a quarter of them will.

This is because generally, the gene that causes albinism is recessive. Thus, the offspring has to inherit one copy from each parent, for it to manifest. Otherwise, they will carry the gene, but won’t display a color change.

How Does Albinism Affect Your Pleco’s Genetics?

Your fish only has one copy of each gene inherited from each parent, and this will either be albino, or not albino.

For your fish to actually be albino, there must be an albino gene from each parent as the gene is recessive. This means that you need two copies for it to display. Otherwise, the dominant gene coding for dark pigment will prevail, and you will have a regular pleco

Will Albino Pleco Fish Have Albino Offspring?

As stated above, albino bristlenose plecos will only have albino fry for certain if both parents are albino. An albino parent and a dark-colored parent may give birth to some albino fry with the right combination of genes. In other instances, two regular Plecos may create some albino offspring. However, this is only if both of them carry the albino gene without manifesting it.

Final Thoughts

Albino Bristlenose Pleco
One recurring pattern is that albino fish may mean you have to pay more attention to certain diseases, and that whilst these guys are certainly more vulnerable in the wild, in captivity, things even out. Image From Flickr

Ultimately, the albino bristlenose pleco can be a great choice if you are looking for an unusual variant of this popular Pleco Fish. In fact, it has more or less the same requirements and is equally easy to look after.

It may seem like an albino fish needs special care, but truthfully, these guys have all the same behaviors and needs as their non-albino counterparts. There is also the added bonus that they are a very distinctive and striking addition to your tank!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Albino Plecos occur naturally?
Albino Pleco Fish do in fact occur naturally, as albinism is simply a genetic mutation that can arise due to a large variety of factors. However, it is very unlikely that albino Pleco Fish live for very long in the wild. This is because they are very easy for predators to spot. The natural coloration of Plecos - both the Bristlenose Pleco and other varieties - is designed to help them camouflage against the bottom of the rivers where they live. Thus, it’s difficult for albino fish to blend in and they rapidly get eaten. However, they can flourish in captivity, with your aquarium providing an environment that is free from predators.
Can I buy an Albino Bristlenose Pleco from a breeder?
Yes! In fact, it’s a very good idea to source a reputable Pleco Fish breeder or specialist who can guarantee you an albino Bristlenose Pleco. This is because due to their relative rarity and the fact they are a variant of the regular Bristlenose Pleco, you cannot guarantee that your local aquatics store may stock them. Thus, a breeder is often your best bet.
Are Albino Bristlenose Pleco Fish harder to look after?
One recurring pattern is that albino fish may mean you have to pay more attention to certain diseases, and that whilst these guys are certainly more vulnerable in the wild, in captivity, things even out. They are not, in fact, hard to look after at all. Albino Bristlenose Plecos are no more sensitive or vulnerable than their non-albino counterparts, and as a result, you can happily introduce them to an Amazonian tank in the same way you would with any other Pleco.
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Sydney Perry

Sydney Perry has loved fish since she was a child and has enjoyed keeping many varieties over the years, ranging from black moors and shubunkins to betta fish. As a lover of nature and of Japanese culture, her dream tank is an Iwagumi aquascape, combining fish with carefully crafted aquatic landscapes in miniature.