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Hello, I'm doing a Research project on the Bristlenose Pleco and one of the questions I want to answer is what purpose do the bristles serve. Now I've looked everywhere for this and found very little information and the info I have is that the Bristles are for...

A: Mating as they represent larvae which attracts the female
B: Mating but the female choses the BN with the largest Bristles
C: Used much like a catfishes whiskers to find food

I was wondering if someone could tell me which of these are true or if they are all true and if you can link to a website or article that explains this.
Thank You For Your Help
Sincerely, Nathan
 

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Great question, I've no clue but now I'm intrigued... It's not likely "bait" like latern fish because algae needs no bait. They're not prehensile as far as I can tell, so physical advantage isn't likely.

I would guess either sensory or mating reasons. I've read on pleco forums that the size of the bristles waxes and wanes in varying water conditions. The same pleco in poor water will have weak thin bristles, put him in some high quality H2O and they thicken up over time. Put the same pleco back in poor water and they dwindle back down. Water optimal for breeding is also optimal for bristle growth which makes me want to think it's a breeding thing, but not certain by any means. Hopefully some biology folks know what's up on this.
 
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