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DIY Bristlenose Caves


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#1 CanadaPleco

CanadaPleco

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:44 AM

Name of author: Beagly (Matthew Begaud)
Topic: DIY Project
Website of origin: PlecoFanatics.com http://www.plecofana....ad.php?t=40762
Website of origin: TheFishCave.com TheFishCave.com: DIY Fish Caves





The original and still the best!

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Firstly the story.... (You can always scroll down to the DIY...)

How I got the idea. The idea for the glass bottom design came to me with my very first breeding male Bristlenose, as years passed he affectionately became known as "Father Bristlenose". He was so keen to breed that he bred under a rock leaning against the back glass of the tank. This was discovered when moving the rock, his fry scattered everywhere and were soon consumed by the tank's cichlid inhabitants.

If he would breed at the back of the tank he might breed at the front of the tank? His rock was placed up against the front glass and effectively buried until there was only one opening to his new cave. I sat back and watched the entire spawning and raising process, fascinating to say the least. I highly recommend doing this if you are interested and have a willing male.

Nevertheless the same problem remained unresolved and when his rock was removed his fry were lunch again.

This was not good enough and so the search began for something I could make a glass cave out of. After numerous failed attempts, a small terra cotta pot was reallocated from the garden. The terra cotta fulfilled all of the requirements, it was inert to the fish, cheap, relatively easy to cut and hopefully the fish would also like the general shape of the cave.

The pot was cut, modified and siliconed onto an old glass tank lid. The curing process took 24 hours, it was washed and placed into the tank. His previous abode was removed and to my astonishment Father Bristlenose immediately took up residence.

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In the week following his cave was checked everyday to see if any new additions developed. Father Bristlenose seemed to get used to me lifting up his cave and by the end of that week I saw a beautiful clutch of little orange eggs. He went on to produce many fry and he even outgrew "his" cave. He developed a small growth and this prevented his egress out of his cave, so it was unceremoniously broken apart with a pair of pliers.

He was retired into a tank on his own and all but one of his ladies were removed, he continued to breed up until the day that a heater decided to malfunction. Father Bristlenose, his lady and his last batch of fry were no more.

The original cave still exists today and is used by one of my other overly large male bristlenose.

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Shopping List and Tools

9cm terracotta pots (preferably new)

These can be very difficult to locate at times,
try large nurseries, pot stores and your own garden.

Angle grinder

Masonry disc

A diamond tipped disc may also be useful? (But not essential)

You can cut the pot with a hacksaw or even a dremel type tool

Aquarium safe silicone (acetic cure of course)

Silicone gun

Glass of acceptable dimensions
e.g. 12 x 18cms for a 9cm terracotta pot

Sand Paper

Set of small files


Safety equipment - Absolutely Mandatory!!!

Thick leather gloves

Eye protection

Dust mask

A safety electrical switch may also be a good idea!


Before you start cutting

Pick an area where a LOT of dust will not be a problem.

Probably down the back near that nasty neighbour.

Safety equipment on.

Decent leather gloves.


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Cutting the Pot in Half

Please be extremely careful with anglegrinders, they can do a lot of damage to you!

Use your safety equipment

Preferable cut with a diamond tipped disc, but a masonry disc will be almost as good.

Cut carefully and slowly.


Problems Cutting the Pot

If pots are continually breaking, try soaking the pots for over 24 hours.

Purchase only brand new / just arrived stock.


Preparing the Pot Halves

No matter how carefully you seem to cut the pots, they are always not quite right.

Even up the halves, so that they are relatively flat and also so there is minimal space between the halves once they are placed together.


Making an entrance

Here you will need to cut out an entrance that will permit your male to fit through.

It has been suggested to me that a width the size of the male plus one pectoral fin is the appropriate width and the height should be enough to allow him to just fit in, plus say 3 mm. (Larry Vires)


Preparing the Glass

The glass may not have been smoothed off. To achieve this take a piece of sandpaper and start smoothing it down.

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Checking & Preparing the Cave

Assemble all of the pieces, ensure all fit together easily.

Ensure the entrance is large enough. A little too big will not be a problem in most cases.

Wash off all of the dust that is present and allow to dry.


Siliconing the Caves

Silicone all of the pieces together. Start at the back, place this piece and then the front section.

Put aside to cure.

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Final Tips

It is ready for duty in 24 – 48 hours.

As with everything you put into your tank, please give this a rinse in fresh water.

Always try and keep the cave as level as possible.

Remove all other caves and hidey holes from your aquarium. I have found that once a male has decided to breed in these caves they tend to remain in them despite whatever else is added to the aquarium.

Good luck and Happy Breeding these fantastic fish!


cya Matthew



Used with permission of the author.

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