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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats: Genus Ancistrus, Bristlenose Plecs

Related Articles: Loricariids, OtocinclusFrom Pan-ack-ay to Pan-ack-zee, A Detailed Look at the Bizarre But Beautiful Panaque Catfishes by Neale Monks

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia : Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish, Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, ReproductionAlgae Eaters

Red mouth on albino Ancistrus       1/25/19
Hello, I was hoping you could help me with this question as I wasn’t able to find any similar cases and this has not happened to my Ancistrus before.
I have several albino Ancistrus that were born in the same tank and have been healthy for a couple of years now, I’ve had other fish get sick and die but the Ancistrus never seemed to have any problem. A female died about two weeks ago and I wasn’t able to find the reason why, but it seemed to be the mother of the others, that is the only one of my Ancistrus that has died so far. My question was about another female Ancistrus, I noticed today that her mouth and gills are bright red (much more than usual), also its stomach seems to be a bit swollen (I am not too sure about this) and it is sticking to the glass a lot although I think she always does this.
As for recent changes in my aquarium I have changed my filter for a bigger one, it has a black sponge, activated carbon and I added a couple of ceramic rings from my previous filter. The tank has a heater and some plants (both natural and artificial) there are hiding places and the substrate was green gravel but I added white sand some weeks ago. There are Angelfish, Tetras, and Corydoras in the tank; one of the Corydoras had what I think was an infection (it lost its barbels and dorsal fin, I think this scales were a bit raised around its tail) I got him separated and gave him antibiotics for about a week of more until the scales were looking better, the barbels and fin are still not completely cured but the fish is now in the main tank and behaving normally.
This is about all the information I can think of right now. I hope it is enough for you to help me, I am not able to know the nitrate, ammonia, etc. levels because it is really difficult find aquarium specialized shops in my country, usually they just sell fish and fish food, I will however try to find a water test kit a soon as I can. I will attach some photos of the fish I am asking about and also one which I just noticed has a bit of redness in the tip of one of it’s pectoral fins (doesn’t seem too worrying but just in case). As I was taking the photos I noticed another female (last photo) which seems to be developing the same symptoms... this worries me a lot, to better describe the symptom I would say it red in the whole lower part (the part that faces down, including the mouth) of the head, and it has some extra red spots. The first photo is makes it more visible.
<This looks to be some sort of Septicaemia. It tends to be seen on catfish and loaches where the substrate is too sharp, but other environmental factors could be responsible. In particular, bottom dwellers are exposed to low oxygen levels if the filter doesn't "push" a lot of water along the substrate. This makes diseases such as Septicaemia more common. Finrot-type infections can also occur, and likely explain the Corydoras that lost its whiskers. Antibiotic or antibacterial medications are required; here in England, I'd be going with eSHa 2000, but if you live somewhere antibiotics are sold in pet shops, like America, then something like Kanaplex is what you'd want. Review the environment before you add medication, because if something is wrong, medicine won't help. Good luck, Neale.>

Bristlenose Plecos sick      7/8/18
Hello, I really appreciate your attention in this time of need. I have been struggling with this and come to no solution - would not want to risk more damage, so I feel I need experienced help. I have been into aquaria for three months only. I set up a 150-liter tank, with two juvenile (3 cm) Bristlenose Plecos, 6 gold barbs, 3 corys, two snails, some shrimp (of which 2 survived) and later one xypho. I used JBL Manado for a substrate, which is just finely rough. I have used Aquael 3 plus as a filter, one that is nominally capable of filtering up to 250 l. First, I lost lots of shrimp due to an ammonia peak. 2 corys got fin rot, which I treated. They lost most of their barbells though. Later, I used some sand that I got from a creek - this caused algae and agitation in the fish, so I got it out.
Everything seemed fine, except for the algae. For that, I got two SAEs, reduced the lighting, scheduled a siesta, and all was fine. Then, suddenly my two SAEs died (haemorrhaging around one gill in one of them, haemorrhaging on the belly in the other), and my other fish got sick. Since I read a slight ammonia peak, and people told me the filter was insufficient for a substrate tank, I added an external filter with 1 liter of Sera Siporax, and ammonia and nitrites came down to 0. The sickness didn't go away though. Most symptoms - sudden movements, rubbing against object, torn fins in the Plecos, redness in part of the body, weight loss - pointed to flukes, so I treated that - first by universal solutions with formalin and such, then with Praziquantel, taking the Nerite snail to a smaller tank (other invertebrates are fine).After 2 weeks, after a treatment with Prazi repeated on day 6 and 7 there is no improvement in my Plecos (see the pictures - redness in varius spots, weights loss, ripped fins, large reduction of movement). The corys have a slight rosiness on their bellies, the barbs a more pronounced one, and are all unhappy. Could they have a different parasite? Could it be bacterial? Could it be just starving (no algae) in the Plecos and a natural behaviour in the others? I have no nitrate test, but have lots of filtration now and a large external plant sucking up nitrates having its roots in the water...I deeply appreciate your help. best Aron
<Looks like an opportunistic bacterial infection, likely caused by the ammonia peak. As always, avoid 'general' cures as these simply waste time. Formalin is toxic, while Praziquantel is specifically for treating worms, for which there's no evidence here. The fact it's the catfish generally that are struggling is a good clue that the problem is environmental. Rough gravel can scratch catfish and loaches, and poor water movement along the bottom of the tank means a lack of oxygen, which means scratches quickly become infected with opportunistic bacteria such as Aeromonas and Pseudomonas. These cause inflammation of the skin and ultimately the death of skin tissue, especially around the fins and whiskers. The disappearance of the barbels on your Corydoras is an extremely reliable sign that this is the problem. So bottom line, review the aquarium! Is the gravel nice and smooth? Ideally, use smooth silica sand. Also remember some 'plant friendly' substrates are too sharp for catfish. Next up, ensure there's a
good strong flow of water along the bottom. Plenty of oxygen needed! Once these issues are reviewed and fixed, then a standard issue anti-Finrot medication (such as eSHa 2000) should do the trick nicely. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: re: Bristlenose Plecos sick    7/9/18
Dear WWM, dear Neal, thank you for the kind answer. I will look into this.
best Aron
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>

Red patches on albino Bristlenoses     1/5/17
Just wondering why the light yellow Bristlenoses tend to have those red patches on them. Is it stress or just the fact that they are albino?
<Judy, if you're talking about the pinkish-red colouration most obvious on the underside, that's simply their blood seen through the skin. Albino and leucistic (yellow) catfish lack skin pigment (except, obviously, yellow on the leucistic ones) so it's easier to see beneath the skin. See the attached photo (that hopefully Bob can use on the website) of a perfectly healthy, but albino, male Ancistrus. But anything that looks like pink to bright red inflammation, especially somewhere without a strong blood supply, such as the fins or whiskers, is likely to be incipient Finrot.
While perfectly treatable when caught early on, the easiest approach is to avoid such specimens. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red patches on albino Bristlenoses (RMF, please see my attached photo)<Yes>

It is just a patch on top of the head.
<Do see my previous image and commentary; read; do draw your own conclusions from there. Cannot really say anything else without seeing the fish. Neale.>

Common Bushynose Plecos and water current   12/30/17
I am wondering if the common Bushynose found in all the LFS need stronger current and the higher O2.
<As far as I'm aware, yes. In fact, good, aerated water quality is a common and overlooked requirement for all Loricariids>
I have noticed that every other Pleco out there has this requirement, so if this is the case keeping even the common Bushynose with angelfish is probably not the best idea?? If this is true I have been doing it wrong for quite sometime. Thank you
<Mmm; as long as the system is not overcrowded, well-filtered, circulated... Ancistrus should do fine here.
Bob Fenner>

Bristlenose ID?    12/9/17
Just wondering if it is possible to ID a Pleco? There are a bunch of these "Silver Tipped" Plecos at the LFS
Are these the Common Bristlenose or something with an L#?? I have looked everywhere to ID them online and some people say they are common Bristlenose that were line bred. Thank you
<Hi Judy. Identifying Ancistrus species is hard. The standard "Silver-tipped Bristlenose" is (nominally) Ancistrus dolichopterus, but those usually have off-white edges to their fins, particularly their dorsal and tail fins. Females can lack these, of course, but on the male these white edges are usually pretty obvious. Coupled with the lengthy tentacles
on their heads, male Ancistrus dolichopterus are particularly easy to recognise. That said, I'm sure there are other wild-caught Ancistrus species out there that are very similar, and it's probably a safe bet that the name "Ancistrus dolichopterus" is simply a convention in the hobby for any and all species that have this basic appearance. Ancistrus hoplogenys for example is very similar indeed. Let me direct to an excellent article over on PlanetCatfish that covers the thorny issue of identifying Ancistrus species of this general type, here:
On the other hand, the common generic Ancistrus sold in Britain at least is the species often referred to as Ancistrus temminckii, though quite possibly something else entirely, such as Ancistrus cirrhosus. This is the sort that starts off black-grey with bright white spots, and as it grows becomes more mottled brown-grey, the spots become less contrasty. This type of Ancistrus generally lacks the off-white edges to its fins, and so looks a lot like a scaled-down Common Plec. Your catfish seems closer to the 'Ancistrus temminckii' sort of Ancistrus than the 'Ancistrus dolichopterus' sort, but that's about as far as I'd be comfortable going! As I say, identifying Ancistrus is notoriously difficult, there are literally hundreds of species, including some described under trade names (i.e., L numbers) but as yet not defined as scientifically valid species. This is even before you think about the (likely common) hybridisation in home aquaria, though perhaps less common in the trade, where fancy varieties of Ancistrus has not really been a thing beyond albino and/or long-fin forms.
Still, unless the Ancistrus was wild-caught and supplied with a known origin, I'd rate your chances of identifying a given fish as close to nil, but those nice folks at PlanetCatfish do have an excellent forum frequented by some first rate aquarists.
Cheers, Neale>

A male and female Medusa Pleco tank size     11/30/17
Just wondering if a 38 gallon tank is big enough for one male and one female Medusa Pecos along with a singleton angelfish?
<Ancistrus species, including Ancistrus ranunculus, should be allowed about a square foot/30x30 cm per specimen. That should include at least one decent hiding place each. Your tank should be ample for both the catfish,
particularly if there's a decent heap of bogwood roots in there for the catfish to utilise. The Angelfish is an odd choice for a companion though, given Ancistrus ranunculus requires a strong water current that replicates its fast water habitat in the wild -- conditions Angelfish dislike. I'd perhaps be going with a tougher Ancistrus species, or even something like Panaque maccus or Peckoltia pulcher if you wanted the Angel; or if the catfish is what you want, a more riverine species such as the quirky and colourful characin Anostomus would be better. In all fairness its
oxygenation that matters, and if you manage that without a strong current, your combo could work, but that won't be easy.>
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: A male and female Medusa Pleco tank size    12/1/17

Just wondering what I would have to do with the fish tank to keep a Medusa, L-034. I do have one male of this species now with an angelfish and a long bubble wand in the 38 gallon. Would I need something to make a current
along the bottom?
<Yes; the species is sensitive to low oxygenation, and its lifespan notably shortened under such stress. Won't die at once, but will be stressed; do read PlanetCatfish entry on this species, and other reliable L-number websites for more. Since it's a benthic species, it's not so much bubbles as water movement that matters. A bubble wand will pull water up to the surface, helping with air/water mixing, and hence absorption of oxygen. But that said, your standard issue Hillstream biotope system is closer to the mark. Water turnover rates upwards of 8 times per hour surely necessary, and 10-12 probably ideal. Annoyingly, this species also appreciates high temperatures and soft water, just like other Rio Xingu species, so you have this awkward trio of requirements including two, high oxygen and high temperature, that are actually antagonistic to each other -- warm water holding less oxygen than cool water. Hence Rio Xingu species have a well-earned reputation for being difficult to keep. Low stocking and high
levels of water movement are important.>
But I know that would be bad for the angel that feeds from the bottom. I am thinking of rehoming the Medusa and just getting the Butterfly Pleco, L-168 instead.
<Actually needs much the same as the Medusa Plec, so six of one, half a dozen of the other...>
I never see the Medusa as he doesn't rasp on the wood, just lives in a decoration in the day.
<Not sure either Ancistrus nor Dekeyseria spp are much given to eating wood. Both are mostly aufwuchs feeders, consuming green algae and tiny invertebrates they rasp away from rocks and rotting wood. Neither difficult to feed, e.g., with Hikari Algae Wafers or similar.>
<Welcome. Neale.>

Common Ancistrus losing interest in food    11/17/17
Hello crew,
<Hello Jacob, and apologies for being slow to reply.>
I’m writing about my ~2.5 year old female Bristlenose Pleco. I purchased her when she was a juvenile, around 2 inches long if memory serves. She’s now about 4” - 4.25” total length. Here’s some background info about her and her tank(mates):
She has been in the same 29 gallon tank since I bought her and until a few months ago, had shared this tank with 2 German Blue Rams, 8 Rummynose tetras, 5 common Otos, and about 10 Corydoras habrosus. This wasn’t a perfect grouping of species in retrospect and I had to kind of square the circle in terms of temperature by keeping it at about 78-79 F, which is obviously on the high end for Ancistrus, at or above the maximum for the C. habrosus, and at or below the minimum for the GBRs. A few months ago, the male GBR died after a fairly long, slow deterioration during which he spent most of his time in quarantine. About a month after that, the female GBR died rather quickly (from the time she began showing signs of illness). Her death coincided with several of the C. habrosus dying as well, in my estimation 5 of them dying over the course of a month (I had lost 2 others over the years). That left the Rummynoses, the Otos, the Ancistrus, and 3 C. habrosus. I dropped the temp to 75 F and while the die-off was occurring the tank was treated with Praziquantel because the GBR and one of the C. habrosus looked emaciated and I knew the scaleless fish shouldn’t have any particular sensitivity to it. All of these fish were purchased at about the same time and so were a little over 2 years old.
<The tank sounds fine, though German Blue Rams do need more warmth than your Corydoras and Ancistrus, so weren't likely to thrive in this tank. Both like soft water, of course, but for the Rams it's essential, whereas Corydoras and Ancistrus can do perfectly well in even quite hard water. Some species of Corydoras and Ancistrus might be a little picky, especially for breeding, but your standard issue farmed varieties will handle anything up to pH 8, 20 degrees dH.>
Now after having a couple months pass with no further deaths or other problems, I’ve started the process of rebooting the tank. This involved cleaning things up in case this long-running tank had some stuff going on in the substrate, so I completely replaced the Eco-Complete topped with sand with just black sand.
<Do check the sand is smooth, not sharp. Sharp sand can/will abrade the stomachs and whiskers of catfish, making them more prone to bacterial infections. You will spot reddish patches on the stomach, and shorter than normal whiskers, when this happens.>
The tank was and is planted and has a large amount of driftwood, which is often where you would find the Ancistrus. Typical pH is 6.5, gH is 6 degrees out of the tap and usually 3-4 in the tank. I do 50% water changes every 7-10 days. Filtration is an AquaClear 70 (no carbon used, just sponge and extra biomedia) and a small sponge filter that is mostly just an insurance policy in case something happens to the main filter.
<All sounds fine. Do check your carbonate hardness though, and if it's very low (less than 3 degrees KH) I'd be using Discus Buffer or similar to keep the pH steady between water changes.>
Here’s the problem: This Ancistrus loved vegetables. I usually rotate between zucchini and broccoli stems, usually blanched but sometimes just cleaned and put into the tank. More often than not, by the time I had closed the lid she would be on the vegetable already. But this hasn’t been the case for the past few weeks to a month. She has been far more reclusive and I have seen her several times do something unusual that I’d only seen once or twice before: lying on her back on the substrate, not suctioned to anything (but usually underneath driftwood that she would suction onto if startled). And when I put veggies in the tank, she ignores them.
<Odd. It might be the change in the tank that's spooked her. Loricariids are very sensitive to changes. My Panaque is quite bold and will happily come out during the day to feed -- if she's left alone. If I rearrange the rocks or temporarily move her into a bucket for some reason, she will become very shy for weeks at a time. Provided the Loricariid catfish is otherwise normal -- e.g., fins are whole, no red marks, and the belly and eyes are not sunken -- there's nothing much to worry about. Just allow some time for said catfish to settle back in.>
I haven’t seen her get near them and I strongly doubt she eats them overnight since usually she leaves very visible bite marks, especially on the skin of zucchini. I know there’s nothing wrong with the veggies because the Otos still eat them relentlessly. I do put other foods into the tank for her on occasion, a commercial algae wafer (one low on protein and with minimal meat ingredients) and Spirulina flakes from Ken’s Fish. I think I’ve seen her show interest in these, but she was never as enthusiastic about chasing those prepared foods even in the best of times. There’s not nearly enough algae in this tank to sustain her. And yet, surely she cannot go so long without eating, so she’s eating something. I know Ancistrus may eat some driftwood, but I always assumed this was more “roughage” than nutrition. Her stomach against the glass looks as full as ever. I’ve attached a few photos, though I couldn’t get one with her on the glass), to show that she seems as robust and healthy as ever from the outside.
<I agree, she looks fine. Have you tried some meaty fare? Ancistrus are aufwuchs feeders, consuming green algae AND the small invertebrates found therein, such as insect larvae and tiny crustaceans. Alternatively, a prawn or mussel will often be nibbled on happily.>
I’ve speculated that perhaps the reduced stocking levels over time made her more anxious, that the GBRs and larger group of C. habrosus had acted as dithers. It’s certainly true that the Rummynoses were more confident with the GBRs around. I now have a group of juvenile C. habrosus in quarantine to bring up the numbers.
<Understood, but I think Corydoras habrosus are too small and too nervous to fulfill this role. You really want something bold and active; Pristella maxillaris is a useful default tetra for most systems, being hardy, adaptable, bold and attractive.>
I also just added a pair of Laetacara curviceps (well that’s what they’re sold as, I think they are in fact L. dorsigera) since I wanted another dwarf cichlid for this tank, these seem more appropriate for the conditions the other fish prefer, and I hope it may help the dynamics in the tank.
<Laetacara are lovely, but shy; they're also a bit prone to Hexamita infections, so keep an eye out for that and medicate accordingly.>
They haven’t been around long enough for me to draw any hard conclusions, though the Ancistrus has been out and about some more and the Rummynoses are exploring more of the tank. Still, though, she pays no mind to the vegetables.
<Maybe try something new?>
At this point, I don’t think it’s an emergency problem, but I’m at a loss for how she’s getting her nutrition and don’t want to be overlooking some obvious thing I should be doing to help her out. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for what I should do going forward?
<For now, I'd wait and see. I'd look at her belly to see if it's sunken -- if not, she's eating something!>
Thanks for all the help you folks provide,
<Most welcome. Neale.>


Re: Common Ancistrus losing interest in food      11/21/17
Hello Neale,
<Hello Jacob,>
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I’ve been monitoring the Pleco and while she still hasn’t been her old, bold self, I was just going to let things run their course since she still pretty much looked well. I nearly sent a follow-up the other day when it appeared she had some bloating/enlargement near the cloaca, but it seemed to pass after about a day so I didn’t bother. She has shown some mild interest in New Life Spectrum community flakes, though I can’t say I’ve definitively seen her consume any. I haven’t witnessed her eating in a way that was obvious to me. She ignored the latest bit of broccoli in the tank (still beloved by Otos) and wasn’t a fan of the blanched kale I tried (though it drew mild interest from the Otos).
But I’m replying because things seem to have taken a bad turn.
<I agree.>
This morning she relocated to the front of the tank and is very pale and *very* bloated.
<Yes; I would be treating with Epsom salt, 2 gram/litre; in addition, if practical, use Metronidazole, as instructed on the packaging. The Epsom salt will help with bloating, constipation, even egg binding; also helps with incipient dropsy; the Metronidazole is good for a range of intestinal microbial parasites, not just Hexamita. The two together, often done alongside a Furan-type antibiotic, are very useful and widely used for this sort of thing. Epsom salt is obviously very cheap and available everywhere, the Metronidazole will require some effort to obtain outside of the US.>
She’s now laying halfway on her back right out in the open and hasn’t moved for some time. It may not be obvious from the attached photo, but she is not attached to the glass. I also don’t think the picture quite does the extremity of the bloating justice. She’s never looked anything like this. It’s hard to see from the photo, but it almost looks like she has an ovipositor hanging out, something I noticed the other day as well. This maybe is an illusion and is actually something else (and she’s never been around a male) but I wonder if she could be egg-bound?
<It is possible, but rare in fish.>
Anyway, I’m not sure of the best course of action. I’m not sure if I should, say, add Epsom salt to the tank. I could put her in an isolation tank and do the same or another treatment, but I don’t want to stress her to death either. Of course, at this point, lying on her back in the open is probably pretty darn stressful too.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding a Bushynose Pleco while away        9/28/17
We are going away for about a week to ten days and are using a battery powered feeder. I usually give the Pleco one of those circular crisp things every second night. I was wondering if it is possible to crush up the Pleco
food and put it in the feeder so the Pleco gets his food or can a Pleco just have what the angelfish have per day. Thank you
<Likely the food for the Angel will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Medusa Plecos; stkg w/ conspecifics      9/14/17
Is it ok to get a female Medusa Pleco L-034 to keep with a male or would they be territorial when not mating?

<Also known as Ancistrus ranunculus, this species is no different to any other Bristlenose Plec. Yes, the male is territorial, but his 'patch' is an area about 30 cm/12 inches around his cave or log, and in the average tank
with several square feet of living space alongside a selection of other hiding places, the female will be just fine.>
Also there would be an ongoing problem of what to do with the offspring which I assume would be showing up on a regular basis.
<This is one of the harder Ancistrus to breed. Sexing them is hard, when young at least, because only mature males develop the full head of bristles. Colouration and fins are otherwise much the same for both sexes.
They are also a bit more fussy than Common Bristlenose Plecs, demanding softish water, warm water (25-28 C), and plenty of oxygen -- typical Rio Xingu conditions, but not the usual conditions in community tanks. Assuming you provided these conditions, any offspring you'd collect would actually be quite valuable, but as I say, this isn't a species that cranks out fry.>
Thank you
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Re: Medusa Plecos    9/15/17

Yes, thank you. The water the medusa is in does have plenty of oxygen, is about 78-80F, but is kind of on the hard side.
<Likely not a health issue for adult fish, but the wrong hardness does tend to make reproduction less likely. Something to do with triggering spawning perhaps, or preventing the eggs developing normally. That said, few catfish are really picky, and if they choose to breed, I'd fully expect a few fry, even in a community tank -- Ancistrus fathers are very protective and capable chaps!>
Tap water in the US always seems to be harder water. I know someone in Canada who has tap water that one could keep Discus in, but that is there
<Likely varies across your country, as it does here in the UK. A lot of Americans in the Midwest and southwest do get water out of a chalk aquifer or some other hard water source, that is true, but elsewhere, like New
England and Washington State enjoy much softer water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

Medusa Pleco and stress     7/25/17
I have a couple of pieces of driftwood in a 38 gallon with a couple of angelfish and a medusa Pleco. Just wondering if the Pleco needs another decoration he/she can hide in. There is a piece of PVC pipe in there, that is about 4 inches in diameter and about 4 inches long that I put in there today. I was thinking of getting another 4 inch piece and using aquarium safe glue to glue the PVC pieces together to have something longer. Do Bushynoses really enjoy a good hiding place for the feeling that they are safe?? Thanks
<Does really depend on the tank, but generally a male Bristlenose will commandeer a single tunnel or burrow, and that'll be his home. He won't need another burrow provided he can use and defend this one successfully.
Additional burrows or even rocky nooks will be welcome, particularly in a busy tank with bright light. But in quiet tanks with lots of shade and vegetation, Ancistrus are much less retiring. The main thing is that each fish should have at least one home so that competition between individuals isn't serious. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding Ancistrus ranunculus   /RMF   7/6/17
<Hey Judy>
I have a black Medusa Pleco or Ancistrus ranunculus. It turns out they are partially into meat eating besides the algae, does anyone know the best way to feed him/her so that the Pleco can get both? Thank you
<Mmm; will ask Neale to respond separately (he's likely working/teaching in the UK (I'm in California) at this time. Not being a fan of live bloodworms, I am a promoter of pellets made of same, as well as earthworms.
Some folks report that brine shrimp are readily taken, and even Ghost Shrimp (live) are attacked by such animals. Whatever format you use, it needs to get down to the bottom where the cats are. Bob Fenner>
Feeding Ancistrus ranunculus   /Neale      7/7/17

<Hi Judy,>
I have a black Medusa Pleco or Ancistrus ranunculus.
<A very nice catfish! Good choice.>
It turns out they are partially into meat eating besides the algae, does anyone know the best way to feed him/her so that the Pleco can get both?
Thank you
<Good quality algae wafers, such as those from Hikari, will be 100% fine as staple foods. If you check the ingredients, you'll see these contain fish and/or shrimp meal, alongside Spirulina and vegetable foods. By all means add occasional offerings of standard catfish pellets (like you'd feed Corydoras) at night, perhaps 1-2 times per week. Between the two, these will be a good all-around diet, alongside treats of frozen bloodworms, slivers of white fish fillet, crushed shrimps, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Egg-bound BN Pleco     2/8/17
I have 3 Albino Bristle Nose Plecos (2 female 1 male all of breeding age) in a 30 gallon tank that has been running for over 6 months. A few days ago my 6" long female plumped up with eggs. They have several suitable caves to breed in, but they have been unwilling to seal the deal. I know she is plump with eggs as she has dropped at least 5 over the last 24 hours. This evening she has stopped dropping eggs, and a large round bump has developed with a few bursting blood vessels please see the attached picture. Is she egg bound? Will this kill her? Is there something that I can do to help her
pass the eggs? The tank is planted with CO2 and lots of hiding places.
Running a Fluval canister filter. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, Copper 0, Salt 0, GH 8, KH 5, pH 7.0. Other fish in tank are 7 Zebra Danios and 5 Mollies.
<I'd be treating as per Dropsy at this point; i.e., 1-3 teaspoons Epsom Salt per 5 gallons/20 litres, raising the temperature by a degree or two as well. While I don't think she has Dropsy as such, the laxative effect of the Epsom Salt should help her pass out the eggs. I'd also optimise diet (more fresh greens for example) and ensure water quality is appropriate (relatively cool, 22-24 C/72-75 F is optimal for Ancistrus species across the long term, but regardless, high levels of water movement and oxygenation are essential). As you seem to realise, Ancistrus breed freely giving suitable conditions, and assuming your have a fertile male, you'd expect spawning to happen quite readily. Do review the types of caves on offer: long, hollow tubes are preferred, while more open caves, such as coconut shells, are less favoured. Cheers, Neale.>

Albino Bristlenose plecostomus      2/1/17
Hello I was told by a PetCo employee to ask you about my plecostomus.
<Fire away.>
The end of December we upgraded to a larger tank. He used to be very active always out where we could see him. since we set up the new tank he has lost most of the webbing on his fins and he has a sore on his belly.
<I can see this. It's a bacterial infection (so I'd be using a reliable antibiotic, not MelaFix or salt) but the question is why is it like this. Usually when catfish show this sort of damage, it's because the substrate is either too sharp, too dirty, or some combination of the two. What you've got there are ulcers, you see. I'm not a huge fan of funky substrates and would instead always recommend smooth, plain vanilla gravel rather than anything sharp or jagged. Failing that, a thin layer of smooth lime-free sand (such as silica sand or pool filter sand) works well too. While sharp or coloured gravels are often fine for midwater fish, catfish drag themselves across those substrates, and in the process can damage themselves. Bear in mind that your Ancistrus naturally comes from shallow streams where the water flows over sand, boulders and bogwood. So he's adapted to smooth surfaces and has a very tender belly. Review, and act accordingly. Fix the substrate, keep it clean, treat with antibiotics, and all should be well.>
We check the water levels regularly and they are always fine. He lives with three zebra danios, three Dalmatian tail platys and a Japanese algae eating shrimp. Two of the zebra danios have died though. I'm putting stress coat and MelaFix into the tank and he is now being more active but he still doesn't look healthy. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for him!
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Albino Bristlenose plecostomus      2/1/17
Thank you for the prompt response!!
I will switch out the substrate for a softer one. What antibiotic do you suggest and where can I get it?
<Depends where you live. In the US, various antibiotics are sold in aquarium shops, such as Kanaplex. Outside the US, antibiotics are normally legally sold only with a prescription, which you get from a vet. So alternatives to antibiotics are sold in aquarium shops that work almost as well. Here in the UK, I recommend a product called eSHa 2000 as inexpensive and reliable. Cheers, Neale.>

"Medusa" Bristlenose Plecos      1/12/17
Just wondering if the "Medusa" Pleco is one that will eat algae and will "clean glass" like the regular Bristlenose Pleco? The person at the LFS said this Pleco will, but that can be just selling. Thank you
<Yes, Ancistrus ranunculus, the Medusa Plec, is indeed as good an algae eater as any other Ancistrus. Nice fish, but a bit fussier than standard farmed Bristlenose. In other words, brisk current, plenty of oxygen, and good water quality. Nothing difficult; it's just not quite as bombproof as the farmed Ancistrus. Cheers, Neale.>

New Angelfish with suspicious "plaques"??   4/10/16
<9.580 megs of pix? Why?>
Hi, I have searched everywhere for assistance with no results so I hope you may be able to assist. Please see attached pics of 2 of the 3 angels I purchased at my LFS yesterday evening. One looks great but the other two have these "plaques"....I doubt any water quality issues as I've not had them even 24 hours. All three are active and eating. ANY he'll would be appreciated. THANK YOU! Kristi Jones
<Two of three... In a day.... is there a Chinese Algae Eater or hungry Pleco in this tank?
Something is eating, riding these fish.... NEED TO BE MOVED ASAP, and treated per  WWM for infectious/bacterial "fin and body rot". READ. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Angelfish with suspicious "plaques"??      4/11/16
Thank you....no algae eaters and yes, I have a couple small BN Plecos but only had the fish 8 hours. Will move and treat. Thanks again.
<Please do keep me/us informed of your progress, observations. BobF>
Re: New Angelfish with suspicious "plaques"??      4/11/16

Hi Bob. I think you were correct in your diagnosis. Saturday morning brought the death (sometime during the night) of the gold angelfish and the marbled guy had worsened in appearance (he was still quite active, BUT, he had developed a "cottony" appearance to the plaque on his side and was nose down to the sand on the bottom) but continued to swim around the tank. I removed the dead fish and transferred the remaining fish to a quarantine
tank and treated with Tetracycline I had on hand. He did not improve, unfortunately. He died late yesterday afternoon. The 3rd fish purchased with these two is apparently healthy.
<Yes; the "tougher" of the trio... but... I'd still separate it from the Loricariids>
Quite active, no spots of any kind and settled in with my established angelfish very nicely. THANK YOU for your quick response and for your help. Kristi
<Welcome. B>

Long-Fin Albino Ancistrus with a fin injury     7/31/15
Hello WetWebMedia,
Thanks to your wonderful knowledge I have been a fishkeeper for many years now. My favorite fish, a full-grown long-finned Albino male Ancistrus, suffered an injury this morning and I'm trying to determine which course of action to take. About a half-inch tip of one of his side fin rays seems to have been completely severed, but is still hanging on thanks to the clear fin tissue. Is it better to net him and clip this off?
<Nope. Will detach itself. Keep a close eye out for Finrot though. Normally damaged fins grow back without problems. Occasionally you'll see the membrane go a bit cloudy around the wound. But if you see small red specks on the fin membrane and a distinctive raggedy edge to the fin, then Finrot may be happening. In itself a little bit of bleeding might not be abnormal.
But when the blood vessels become congested with bacteria and dead cells they create reddish (often pink or even white) swellings. The lack of blood flow means fin membrane beyond the congestion dies, and the fin gradually erodes. This is Finrot.>
The severed end is a little less red right now, but earlier it was quite red and other fish (discus) kept coming near probably thinking it was a worm. He's smart so he swam away and doesn't seem to be in distress. I know Ancistrus with their claws can have trouble being netted, so I hesitate to do that. Will it resolve itself if left in perfect water conditions?
<Yes. Absolutely. In the wild fin damage is very common, through fighting, accidents, narrow escapes from predators, even bites from dedicated fin-eaters. All fish have the ability to regrow damaged fins provided the very base isn't damaged.>
Or is it better to net him and clip it off, then put him in a separate tank?
<Almost never a good idea.>
The back story is, a few days ago I added four 2-year-old Discus and two less than half-grown brown male regular Ancistrus to my long established 90-gallon tank. The big tank held 5 adult discus (parents of the additions) my long-finned albino & a Siamese algae eater. All seem to be getting along beautifully, but one of the little brown male Ancistrus is
kind of aggressive, always has been... Could that little bugger have bitten this damaged fin on a fish over twice his size?
<It's possible because they do have quite strong teeth. But it's more likely damage from some type of misadventure. Do bear in mind "long-finned" varieties of fish have been bred to have longer fins than they evolved to have. Consequently the things that maintain and protect those fins aren't there. The bones may not bone strong enough, and the behaviours needed to
avoid damage to extra-long fins aren't there either. Kind of like women who grow long fingernails. Might look good, but not natural, and hard to keep that length if you're doing manual labour!>
Or could it be that because I added all the tank decor from both tanks (to change the surroundings) he somehow hurt himself. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Albino Ancistrus solved his own problem!     7/31/15

Hi again WetWebMedia experts,
Just wanted to report that my favorite fish, my male Longfinned Albino Ancistrus, solved his own problem of the severed fin ray. It tore off once the transparent fin gave way, and he seems just fine. I'm so glad, I wasn't looking forward to chasing him around with a net!
<Cool. Should heal and grow back just fine, assuming good water quality.>
So thanks again for all your expertise, you have taught me so much. You are an unbelievable resource!!
Thanks for all you do,
<And thanks for the kind words. Neale.>

Bristlenose Catfish has strange fluid filled sacs       1/18/15
Sorry to bother you guys, but I've been searching the web for the past hour trying to find out what this could be with no luck.
I had three Bristlenose catfish in my 80L tank, two common about 7cm and one long-fin around 15cm, there's also 3 Kuhli Loaches and that's it but let you know I had three Dwarf Aequidens in there but they died about six months ago from gill flukes, I remedied the tank and all was fine until now. This morning I noticed the small common female lying nearly on her
side, an hour later she was dead. The tank had a small Ammonia spike last week but I done a 30% water change and it's fine now, the PH can change a little, the tap water I use to fill the tank is around 7.5 but my tank usually stays from about 6.5>7. I use Stress coat every water change but lately I have also been adding half a tea spoon of salt to the tank, cause I had a Red Empress Cichlid dumped in the tank by a friend who's tank popped, I know, no salt but it's a very small amount and the fish is only temporarily in there till I find it a new home!
When I pulled the fish from the tank I noticed two pea sized, fluid filled sacs at the base of her right Pelvic fin/against her stomach, (sorry no pictures my phone is broken at the moment and had no camera) looked very similar to what another person had put on your site, but you diagnosed it as fin rot, but my Bristlenose fins were perfect except for these very
large sacs at the base, they looked like they were only attached by about 1mm of surface area, nearly like a grape hanging from the bunch.
Do you have any idea what it could be?? should I be worried about my other Bristlenose??
<Those "sacs" are probably blisters of some sort. Physical damage and/or certain bacterial infections can cause them, similar to the ones leading to Dropsy, and treatment is similar. Good water quality, an antibiotic, perhaps the use of Epsom Salt as well, will sort things out if the problem isn't too severe. Some viral infections can cause smooth, wax-like lumps on certain fish, but these don't usually look exactly like blisters or grapes.
These virus-caused cysts are more like solid, if smooth, lumps. However, very rarely in freshwater tanks, though more often in marine tanks, similar symptoms can come about from excessive aeration, specifically, supersaturation of the water with oxygen. Bubbles collect in certain places, most often around the eye or in the fin membranes, and you see distinctive little shiny bubbles. It's unlikely in your situation because very few freshwater aquaria have anything like the amount of filtration and aeration needed for this, but it's worth considering just in case. I'd be more inclined towards a combination of medicine-induced stress, secondary infection, and bad luck. Start by doing a water change of around 30-50% and ideally use carbon if you're done with medicating to remove any traces of the medicines you've used so far. Don't bother with NaCl/salt, but Epsom salt, which is quite different, maybe useful (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres). Finally, a suitable antibiotic, of the types sold for Dropsy, such as Oxytetracycline or Minocycline would definitely be worthwhile, but random addition of copper and formalin based medications, as well as organic dyes (Methylene blue, malachite green, etc) is risky with catfish and best avoided if you have access to proper antibiotics. Do also review the cleanliness of the substrate. Catfish are very prone to
bacterial infections if the flow of water along the bottom isn't good, and your Common Bristlenose/Ancistrus spp for example come from actually rather cool, clear water habitats rather than swamps, so expect brisk currents, lots of oxygen, and temperatures no higher than 25 C/77F to stay in tip-top health. Cheers, Neale.>

Someone ate my Pleco :(     11/20/14
Hi my name is Nichole, I have a 20 gallon tank with 6 sunburst wag platies, 3 long finned rosy barbs, 1 black kuhli loach (I was not aware they needed to be in groups when I bought it. I will be getting 2 more.)
<Good. They are quite shy at the best of times, and probably very unhappy when kept singly.>
and until recent a baby albino bristle nosed Pleco. I had not seen my Pleco (Muvtuv) for about 3 days. I really started looking for him on day 3 and emptied the decor and gravel from my tank until I found him. At least what was left of him. Someone ate him :(( Any ideas on who or why and maybe how to prevent it in the future?
<There's not much meat on a baby Bristlenose, and what you find _post mortem_ is pretty much just the external armour and spines. Now, the thing with Ancistrus/Bristlenose Plecs is that they're herbivores and often
half-starved by the time you buy them. Avoid ones with hollow bellies. Look at them in the aquarium shop. Look for species that are actively feeding, e.g., on a piece of cucumber. Ones that aren't being fed are probably
starving to death unless they're in a brightly lit planted aquarium with ample green algae (and even then, it's a gamble). Older specimens (say, 8 cm/3 inches long) are more obviously healthy or starved, so it's easier to
pick out a healthy one. Look for a chunky specimens with bulging out eyes and a nice rounded belly when viewed from underneath. But with the teeny-tiny babies, you really need an expert eye to pick out a healthy one,
so only buy from tanks where they're lively, healthy-looking, and above all visibly eating something.>
Thank you,
Sad fishy mommy,
<Good luck with this usually excellent species, Neale.>

I got a pair of juvenile normal colored bristle noses; gen.        6/30/14
 instead as they were cheaper and I hear they don't get nearly as large.
<12 cm/5 inches is about right. A superb species for the community tank, by the way. There's a book by Kathy Jinkings on these called "Bristlenoses: Catfish with Character" available that's definitely worth looking at. Lots of deep information on ecology, habitats, breeding, etc. Just the thing if you want to learn more about the fish you own.>
While at first thin they are fattening up.
They are doing very well and eat cucumber and squash I think I've reached the max on fish in my tank though I do plan on giving the ram to the fish store as his mate died and just keeping the keyholes, bristlenoses and red eye tetras and bumblebee cats. Makes for a real interesting collection of fish and the bristlenoses at least wont turn into a monster that needs a bigger tank.
<Quite so.>
I may move to another place in time and if they let me I may get another tank for a royal but until then I'll just keep what I have.
<Sounds wise. Cheers, Neale.>

Moving Bristlenoses to another tank enquiry    3/11/14
I have been unable to view your FAQs as the web site is not loading the pages and this is what happens:
<What? Try refreshing your view... The site is loading for us>
I suspect there may be some useful information about my enquiry on the site, however I would have likely still emailed.
I have a 45 L tank with a large number of Albino bristlenoses- I cannot count exactly how many but the number could be around 65 (with about 50 under 3 cm.s) and the rest 5cms and above.
<Need more room than this...>

The water needs to be changed at least every 3 days to maintain no nitrites and ammonia. Nitrates are at 40 prior to the water changes.
<Much too high, by at least twice... See WWM re regulating>

The PH level appears to be around 6.8.
<About right>
I have decided that I would like to move the Bristlenoses to my other tank, which is a well established 165 L tank with much better filtration, this is an online image below, however I have sponges on mine below the spray bar and directly under noodles and bio balls.
The 165 L tank presently houses livebearers and we have a brackish water set up (one teaspoon of salt per litre). Nitrates remain low at 10-20  and the Ph is about 7.4.
<... Loricariids don't "like" salts>
My query is about the methodology that would be best suited. I was wondering whether I should simply take out the livebearers and drain the 165 Litre tank, take some water (15 L) from the 45 L tank and prepare new water to make up the rest
<I would do this "adding of new water" over days' time... Perhaps another 20 L per day>
and put a few Bristlenoses in to see how they settle, or if perhaps I should gradually convert the 165 L tank into a freshwater tank by reducing the amount of salt per water change whilst keeping the livebearers in there.
<Up to you. Either could work>
I would prefer the first method as the Bristlenose tank is always crowded and I would like to keep breeding them but in better conditions. Also, the local aquarium prefers to purchase them at 4cms plus, so as long as they breed there will be a lot of them in there.
I suspect that the second method would take quite some time and I would not want to adversely affect the livebearers. Also, the PH level is quite different.
<IF the tank is otherwise available, I'd move the livebearers out, switch the water chemistry to that of the Ancistrus liking>
Any advice on methodology would be appreciated as I am keen to relocate my brood.
Kind regards,
<And you; Bob Fenner>
Re: Moving Bristlenoses to another tank enquiry    3/17/14

Hi Bob,
<Hey Tania>
Thank you very much for your advice, apologies for the delay in thanking you as I was unwell last week.
<No worries>
The loading issue must have been to do with my connection at the time.
Now that I am on the mend I hope to relocate the Bristlenose brood this week :)
As the picture below shows, it's very crowded and I fear there could be up upwards of 70 in there as I tried to count them a few days ago- this is them at supper time. I also discovered a particularly albino looking Bristlenose who seems healthy and competitive at dinner time, who I hope stays that way as it would make a beautiful adult!
<Best to be chary of feeding, change out some conditioned water daily till you make the big move... and when you do so; to move the bulk of their water with them to the new setting>
Cheers and thanks again,
<And you, BobF>

Temp cleaning job for Bristlenose     1/7/14
I have a male Betta alone in a 10 gallon. The tank has a lot of algae. I was wondering if it would be ok to put nearly fully grown female Bristlenose in there for about three days to do an algae clean up then put her back in the 75 gallon? I would do a water change before and after as it seems that even the smaller Bristlenose Pleco is REALLY messy. Thank you
<Likely will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Baby albino Bristlenose Plecs keep dying      12/13/13
Dear WWM team member,
First of all, thank you for a lovely and helpful site. I have been having an issue with a family of Plecs that I got recently. The seller, a fellow hobbyist I met online, sold me a breeding male and 2 female albino bristle-nose (ABN) Plecs along with their entire previous brood (about 50 or so Plecs at about 1-1.5 cm each) and batch of eggs. The eggs were unhatched at the time. as I did not have an aquarium I could accommodate these fish, he sold me an aquarium he said would be enough for these fish (a none standard aquarium that measures 26x26x40cm).
<I see>
I had a small 5 gallon tank at home and it didn't feel right putting all the fish into the one he gave so I placed the male and the eggs in this one, the females in the 5 gallon and the babies (live brood) to the aquariums I have at the work place (a 33 gallon community with 12 neons and
2 Bettas that has an external canister filter (Eheim 2213, circulation 102 gph) and was cycled, and a 10 gallon shrimp tank with about 20 shrimp and sponge filter that was not cycled).
I guess my issues were four-fold (hope that is ok).
<Sure; descriptive>
1. The eggs hatched in about 10 days and I was super happy and excited.
only issue was for some reason, I could see them; they were either kicked out by the male from the cylinder pot I placed the eggs in after the transfer or the water flow just caught them somehow, I am not sure.
Anyway, they were wiggling about with their egg sacks attached to their abdomens.
A couple days later, they stopped moving. The ones that were not dead died within the next 2-3 days. I removed the dead ones to avoid spoiling the water quality and did water changes once a week at about 25%. The water got cloudy at one point, but has since cleared away.
So my first question is, why did the babies die and why were they out of the pot so early; shouldn't they have stayed in until the sacs were depleted?
<Yes to the last; though your day-count may be off, and the water temperature so/too high as to hasten development... the cause of death can only be speculated. From your pix it appears to be water quality related; though nutrition could have played a role>
That's what all the information on the web seems to say and no one mentions babies with egg sacks wriggling about the aquarium floor.
<They do so... for about four days at moderate temp.>
2. The females seem to be doing ok in the 5 gallon so far. The water has, however, turned yellowish (I am guessing the ammonia they are excreting and the Elodea
<Do check what, which species of Elodea/Egeria/Anacharis this is... some are too cold water>
that they have munched on to its stem and is now turning brown has something to do with it) and I do not know what I have to do beside water changes to solve this issue.
<Some activated carbon in your filter/flow path...>
The 5 gallon has an internal filter, a heater, a goldfish,
<... misplaced with tropicals; should be removed>
 a Betta, 2 cories, 1 baby ABN (1 cm), 1 baby spotted Plec (I do not know the type and also 1 cm), one Plec (again unaware of the type about 4 cm), and the 2 female formerly breeding ABNs.
My second question is, will the 26x26x40 cm aquarium that the seller said would be enough for them be really enough?
<No; this is too small>
 I mean they are in a 46x20x25
and the water has turned yellow as I said above, so I am not sure what I should/can do. I do want to breed them as that was the primary reason why I bought them.
3. Since I took all the babies to work I divided them such that the biggest of them (2 cm) went to the 33 gallon aquarium and the rest of the babies (around 1 cm for the most part) went to the 10 gallon shrimp tank. well, of the nearly 50 baby ABN's, I have lost 20 so far in that tank, each time they were the smallest of the lot and were white in color (as opposed to their usual gold). The bodies were stiff and rigid. I removed the dead ones (usually they died in groups of about 3-4). I did a water change weekly. I also moved the larger ones I could catch to the 33 gallon tank (about 16 of them, each around 1.5 cm). Only the smallest ones are left now. I am guessing that this is about the water quality again and the sudden increase in bio-load (and perhaps a lack of food in the new set-up aquarium) contributed to their demise (although I did feed them cucumber medallions once every 2 days, it may have been possible that the smallest ones didn't get a chance to eat it from the larger ones. What are your thoughts?
<The same as yours stated above>
4. Just today, in the 33 gallon tank, I found one of the ABN's that I recently put in there turned upside down at the bottom of the aquarium.
Its belly was huge and seemed to be full of green stuff from the JBL Novo Pleco XL tablets I placed for their consumption (or perhaps something else?). I do not understand why it died (the water parameters are stable). I took a picture of it (attached) and hope you can provide some insight as to this.
Is death due to overfeeding an issue with Plecs or can they tell when to stop? Should I remove uneaten tablets and if so, when?
<I would only feed such tablet food a few times daily; not leave in place permanently>
Oh and on an interesting note, I noticed that a very small fraction of the juvenile ABN's had black (or maybe blue?) eyes as opposed to the regular albino red. Is this normal or a sign of something much worse?
<Just reflection; not a worry>
[image: image.jpeg]
[image: image.jpeg]
Abdullah Bolat
<Larger system/s, better water quality (use of carbon) and only periodic wafer feeding. Bob Fenner>

re: Baby albino Bristlenose Plecs keep dying. Neale's further input      12/13/13
<<As Bob Fenner has suggested, the main problem here is very likely water quality. Rearing Ancistrus spp. fry is not difficult, but like all catfish fry, they are especially sensitive to poor water movement along the bottom of the tank. Adding extra airstones and/or sponge filters will be extremely useful. Remove any/all substrate so the bottom of the tank is plain glass. Siphon regularly (ideally: daily) to remove any detritus (a turkey baster is extremely useful for spot cleaning). Change some (10-20%) of the water every day or two. Ensure zero ammonia and nitrite levels of course, but *also* keep nitrate as low as practical, and certainly below 20 mg/l. Feed 4-6 times daily, but in small amounts. Do not be tempted to overfeed.
Remove uneaten food after 10 minutes. Use sponge filters -- the fry will come and feed on the sponges, consuming detritus and algae without you needing to leave extra food for in between meals. Lack of oxygen is a common killer of Ancistrus fry -- if the fry edge towards the top of the tank, that's a bad sign, so increase aeration/circulation and/or provide a bigger aquarium. Don't bother with tanks smaller than 10 gallons, and for sure try and use tanks that are bigger -- the bigger the aquarium, the easier it is to rear your fry. Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: Baby albino Bristlenose Plecs keep dying      12/21/13
Thank you for the replies.
Some progress with regards to water quality; I changed the water in the tanks and one tank seems to be clear now. The other still has a yellow taint (I guess I need an active carbon filter to get rid of this one, or some fresh water clams)
<Carbon, yes, can help with yellowing of water. But freshwater clams are useless in most/all aquaria... they don't clean the water, they need specific feeding (see maintenance of marine clams for details) without which they invariably die in freshwater tanks.>
while the third is still a blurry murky yellow. (picture attached)
<Images do not seem to be attached/viewable.>
I removed the last living fry (now about 1.5 cm) and moved them to the tank with the adult female BN's. Since the water they were in was originally murky (they were in no 3) I didn't realize it before but to my shock and horror they all had yellow spots/dots on their bodies and fins.
<Are you sure these are not the normal yellow spots seen on juvenile Ancistrus? Do use the search engine of your choice using the terms "Ancistrus" and "juvenile" for images.>
These dots did not appear to be part of their color pattern as the fry that were already in this tank don't have them and these dots also seem to be like something is on them (sticking on them). I am horrified now and also worried that it will spread to the ready to spawn females (I was just about to remove them from here to the male's tank; the murky one). What are these dots? Ichthyo or bacteria/fungus?
<Whitespot/Ick tends to look like salt grains; Velvet tends to look like golden dusting of very fine sugar. Do look at pictures online/in books for more.>
What should I treat the tank with, "ick" medication or bacterial? Some pictures attached.
<Your images simply aren't coming through.>
One last concern is I have noticed that many of the fry that are dying all have one thing in common now; a green belly that seems to be full of food (like last week's picture of the fish I sent you or slightly less full). I noticed that both of my adult females also have green bellies and when ı was inspecting one of them that was stuck to the glass facing me a couple of days ago, I saw "something" move inside her belly (not sure if it was a worm kinda thing or just her intestine/bowel movements). I  also read somewhere that these fish are susceptible to something similar to "green belly disease" which is a parasitic/bacterial infection of some sort. If that is the case I'd like to know what I can do to treat this issue?
<Almost always Ancistrus deaths come from starvation, poor environment at the bottom of the tank, and lack of supplemental oxygenation. Disease is rarely, if ever, the prime cause of death except as an opportunistic infection once the Ancistrus fry are stressed/damaged in some way. Review the aquarium/maintenance and act accordingly. Consider buying a relevant aquarium book; Kathy Jinkins excellent "Bristlenoses" book can be bought inexpensively online and supplies much useful, relevant information.>
Thanks again for your time
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Baby albino Bristlenose Plecs keep dying       12/22/13
The baby bn's are dead, they seem to have passed away 6 hours after I wrote to you.
<Sorry to hear this.>
I don't know why the pictures didn't go through
but the dots were like grains of sand (looked like chicken pox of sorts).
<I see. Some aquarists prefer to "strip down" tanks after unexplained problems, giving everything including the filter a thorough clean. Very dilute bleach can work for this, but rinse thoroughly after use; alternatively use a strong brine solution, which is almost as good at killing germs but much less likely to cause problem if you don't rinse it away completely. Either way, this will of course mean you'll need to re-cycle the filter (or at least stuff it with live biological media taken from a mature aquarium). Other aquarists take a more gentle approach, but will do their best to clean the tank, siphon out any detritus, rinse debris from filter media, etc. so that the aquarium is much cleaner than it was.>
I am attaching the water picture though as it seems to be a problem I just can't get rid of.
<Looks like "green water", which tends to mean too much heat and light, too much nitrate, too few water changes, and not enough filtration. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dead Kuhli, now BN plex      11/27/13
Good Evening Crew,
Long time since our last dialogue - I hope you are well :)
<Same ol', same ol'...>
Grateful if I may seek some of your infinite aquarium knowledge please?
<Fire away!>
I have a well established aquarium, c/w live plants (Amazon swords, Anubias, fine elodea, grass etc). The aquarium is filtered via traditional box filter, airstone and Fluval 4. Volume is approx. 160 litres.
Stock includes rummy nose/neon/bleeding heart tetras, SAE, julii Cory, Bettas (1 male 2 female) and a mature female BN Plec.
Water param.s OK albeit pH is 6.6 - 6.8. (2 pieces of bogwood)
Vacuumed every 2 weeks, with 20-25% water changes inclusive.
<Sounds good.>
I have attempted (over the past months) adding an additional BN Plec - males to the best of my knowledge, however, each and every time I add a young Plec it only lasts around a week and I find it dead :(
<How big are these Bristlenoses? The very small ones sold in pet shops (the ones an inch or so long) are often underfed and that means they're a bit more delicate than the adults. Sudden changes in water chemistry for example could cause very real problems, so if your retailer has hard water, and your water is acidic (and presumably quite soft) then that might be one
reason for the trouble.>
There doesn't appear to be any 'nipping' marks on the casualties, and they always seem to be resting until I 'blow' them with my large pipette whereby they are most certainly 'gone'. I have just lost 2 BN Plecs today that I got on Saturday (trying to outweigh the law of averages by purchasing 2!).
I am totally stumped on why I keep losing them - I drip condition them for >6hrs prior to addition from reputable dealer. Are young BNs particularly susceptible to stress??
<Not especially, but more so than adults. Do also make sure you haven't been sold Otocinclus by mistake -- these really are more delicate.>
Grateful if you could provide any pointers when convenient.
Kind Thanks,
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Albino Bristlenose query; rearing young w/ parents in a small volume     10/1/13
<Hello Tania,>
I have written to WetWebMedia before in relation to my tank, a 45 L tank with a breeding pair of Albino bristlenoses and their fry.
At present, the breeding pair and about 13 fry live in the tank.
<About the going rate when left with adults in a small aquarium.>
I have noticed a few of the smaller fry have died in the past week.
<Starvation, more than likely.>
Water tests are consistent and fine with a water change of 15 L every 4/5 days.
I have been stumped as to why some fry have died as the tankmates have been healthy with the exception of one whom I wrote to your crew about a while back who appeared bloated (who likely stabilised as I did not notice any abnormalities in any of the many fry at that time shortly thereafter and assume they that one lived on and returned to normal).
I saw the fry in the attached photo tonight sliding down the glass in a manner whereby it appeared weakened and unable to support itself as opposed to how they normally move their mouths when moving along the glass. It then moved quickly diagonally and upwards before repeating the sliding down movement.
Upon closer inspection I saw some red spots and a red colour appearing to rest in it's belly almost as though being excreted, which appeared slightly bloated.
Could you please advise me if you are aware of what the problem may be?
<In a nutshell, you'll get more fry surviving if they're removed as soon as possible after hatching to their own aquarium (60 litres would be ideal) and reared away from their parents. Provide ample food -- green algae, and almost more than anything else, the "gunk" (= infusoria) that grow on a sponge filter. Daily water changes are ideal, but certainly do a decent (25-50%) water change weekly. It's the combination of ample food and low nitrate that's the key to rearing most catfish fry. Otherwise, if you aren't serious about rearing lots of fry, what you're doing works well enough, and perhaps with a bit more spot feeding (e.g., with Liquifry or the installation of a sponge filter) you might even get a few more surviving. Use of Methylene Blue can be useful too, particularly at the egg stage, for minimising losses from fungal infections. Cheers, Neale.>

URGENT- Albino Bristlenose query- further details     10/2/13
Hi Neale,
Thank you for your reply.
I should have provided further details.
On the weekend before this past weekend, I took 60 of the smallest fry to the local aquarium.
<I see.>
They advised me that in the first few days about 50 died.
<Ah, not good. How big were the fry? If already 1.5 inches/3.75 cm in length, they'd be ready to travel; any smaller and water chemistry/temperature changes could easily have caused problems.>
They all looked very healthy and not bloated at all or ill when I took them. By last weekend, 10 or so remained. I had noticed one fry die before I removed the 60 and did not think much of it. A few of the smaller fry have died since then (mainly in the last few days). They are about 2-3 cm.s.
<I see. Probably a bit small for travelling, and still delicate.>
I have not experienced any problems like this with my tank before and am perplexed that so many have died so suddenly- I thought as the 50 or so that died were not in my tank water at the time that it was unrelated and was advised by the aquarium that they have received whole batches of Bristlenose fry that have died like mine had. They have always been rabid eaters and I have mainly used Hikari mini wafers lately to spread out the food and minimise leftovers  (please see the email copied below from my query to WetWebMedia in late June). They are fed every second night.
<Ah, with baby fish, multiple feedings per day, though small portions, is the key. Assuming of course you don't have fresh green algae available too, e.g., a bright light over a flat rock. It's very easy to starve baby fish.
Their digestive systems hold very little food, and many breeders will be offering six meals per day.>
I did a water change on Monday and found about 4 dead fry and a few more last nite. Today I found another. Most look like the have bloated bellies and are struggling for air. The ones looking the worst have a reddish tinge in parts of their body.
I am thinking of trying a medication to treat bloat after reading the above article and I just saw one of the bloated fry doing a white stringy poo.
I don't think Octozin is available in Australia from some online searches I just did.
This one is though.
Before I commence treatment, I just wanted to consult you and ask your thoughts please.
My last email to you was at the end of June which explains the tank set up properly. I have copied it below.
I have just done my water tests, and all is well, Ammonia=0, Nitrate= 20, PH just below 7.4 (the aquarium estimated 7) and Nitrite= 0.
Kind regards and thank you for your time and assistance on this occasion and all the others! :)
<Let's be clear on breeding Ancistrus. On the one hand, they spawn extremely readily, and the fathers are excellent parents, looking after the eggs until they hatch. Unlike the adults, the fry are very sensitive to old water (high nitrate) and to low oxygen levels. In their rearing tank, they basically need a continual supply of food after they use up their yolk sacs about 6 days after hatching. Usually that'll entail 6 or more proper meals, together with a continual supply of green algae and aufwuchs (a sponge filter is great for rearing algae and aufwuchs). Even better is maturing a tank with an undergravel or sponge filter somewhere it gets sunlight, so the bottom of the tank is nice and green. Anyway, once the fry are active and feeding it is a good time to remove the male from the breeding tank.
He'll use up food and oxygen, so isn't helpful anyway. If the tank doesn't have adequate circulation and oxygen, you'll see the fry leave the bottom of the tank and go towards the surface, which isn't normal at all.
Invariably it's important to "thin the herd" if you have a small breeding tank. Trying to rear all the fry may be impossible in a 50 or 80 litre tank, simply because they're so sensitive to water quality and oxygenation.
Kathy Jinkings for example (in her excellent "Bristlenoses" book) recommends a two-foot tank (about 80 litres) as sufficient for rearing just 20 or so fry to a sellable size of a couple inches. Does this help? Cheers, Neale.>

Re: URGENT- Albino Bristlenose query- further details (repro.)     10/10/13
Thanks Neale.
The 50 that died at the aquarium were about 3cms and a few were closer to 4cm.
<That is dad. I do suspect lack of food was the thing here, the tricky bit for you will be providing ample food while keeping water quality tip-top.
Unless you're deadly serious about breeding hundreds, you might want to "rescue" twenty fry and leave the others with the adults. Some of those left with the adults might survive. You might even tailor-make the adults' aquarium so it's ideal for the fry too -- brisk filtration, strong lighting over flat rocks (for green algae and aufwuchs), moderate temperature (22-24 C probably ideal), and lots of oxygen. With the twenty you pull, you can probably provide enough food for them without too much fuss, and water quality management shouldn't be too hard.>
Thank you for your recommendations about fry rearing. I will have to reconsider my set up as I can see it is not sustainable.
<Could well be. The thing with fish breeding is that if you want hundreds of fry, then you have to set aside serious amounts of time and money, even for Guppies. But if you don't mind rearing small numbers, maybe even just getting a dozen big enough to sell, then you can do that on a tight budget with little effort. But trying to get hundreds of fry reared with just very
basic equipment and little money/time will be tricky, if not impossible.>
I did use Myxazin for 5 days and did a water change yesterday. Nitrates are down to 10-20. The fry survivors look healthy and I haven't found any dead fry since last week.
<Sounds great.>
Thanks again for all your help and support :)
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose    7/20/13
<Hi there>
I have noticed in my Albino bristle nose brood that one has a puffy looking enlarged mid-section, I was wondering whether it could be a genetic defect or whether there was something I could do to assist him/her.
S/he has been this way for months.

I have attached a photo. If you are able to assist, please advise me of your thoughts.
Thank you.
Kind regards,
<This grossly appears to be some sort of bacterial/microbial infection (internal); but as you state it's been this way for half a year... Perhaps genetic/developmental. I would leave this fish and all else as is. Bob Fenner>

Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose  7/20/13
Thanks Bob, this fella has been this way since s/he was quite small.
<Yes; as I understood you. Am asking Neale Monks here to respond
separately. BobF>
Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose     /Neale  7/20/13

I have noticed in my Albino bristle nose brood that one has a puffy looking enlarged mid-section, I was wondering whether it could be a genetic defect or whether there was something I could do to assist him/her.
<A good varied diet with fresh algae will help clear any constipation. You might also try using Epsom salt, which is an effective laxative for fish and completely safe. If used with an antibiotic can also help with early stage Dropsy.>
S/he has been this way for months. I have attached a photo. If you are able to assist, please advise me of your thoughts. Thank you.
Kind regards,
<Do read here...
Suspect constipation may be an issue, often is with herbivorous fishes.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose     7/21/13
Thanks again Bob, Neale suggested we change the feeding and we will try some blanched skinless peas. Can't hurt to try!
<Ah yes>
<And you; BobF>
Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose     7/21/13

Hi Neale,
Thank you for your advice. We'll give the peas a try.
<Most welcome and bon chance! Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco ID   7/11/13
Hi crew,
Could you please identify this Pleco:
It's about 3". Very active at day time. Ignores any algae wafers so far.
Sucks glass, plants or wood.
<Hello Mark. Looks like one of what's called a "White Seam Ancistrus" or "White Seam Bristlenose". More than likely Ancistrus dolichopterus, but possibly one of the related Ancistrus species. Looks like a male by the beginnings of "tentacles" around the mouth. Should reach 12 cm/5 inches or, and like all Ancistrus, is an excellent community fish that consumes algae
as well as some small invertebrates (e.g., bloodworms). Generally hardy fish provided water quality is good and temperature is not too high.
There's a nice summary of this group of Ancistrus here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose Pleco Eggs   7/7/13
Hi guys and gals!
Just after some egg advice. I have a pair of Bristlenose Plecos in a community tank (mainly other angels, clown loaches and a female Opaline gourami). I've had the female for about two years, and a few months ago got a second baby Pleco. It's grown really quickly and is now a little smaller than the original female. I thought it was also a female because it only has a few stubby bristles -- turns out it must be a male because tonight we discovered him guarding a clutch of eggs!
I had no intention of breeding any fish, and assumed since it was a community tank that they would just eat each others eggs anyway. But now they're there and now that daddy Pleco is doing his best to protect them I'd like to do what I can to help them along.
So my question is, what course of action should I take?
<Mmm; two general lines of possibility... not much; to moving the other livestock or the parents, eggs elsewhere>
This tank it the only set up I have, so removing them isn't an option.
Should I attempt to segregate them?
<Mmm, possibly... How large is this tank?>
Should I just leave him be and let nature take its course? The eggs are in the rear of an ornament [picture attached] where the two Plecos have long since established their territory, and there are many hiding spots around the tank. I've been Googling and read that daddy Plecos are relatively good at defending their young so I'm thinking that it might be better to not interfere, but on the other hand wonder if the angels might gang up on him. I've also read that baby Plecos need driftwood, which they have in the tank already -- is there any other essentials [aside from what I already feed the adults] I should provide if the fry do survive?
<Best to have you read here:
The adults get regular veggie off cuts (mostly carrot and eggplant as they seem to love it the most) and algae pellets. They also tend to chow on the loaches shrimp pellets.
Thanks in advance for any advice,
<If you want to raise some of the young, placing a separator in this system (if it's large enough) can be made to work. Going forward, for other batches of eggs, young, another system can maximize the number of young surviving. A further note; you may want to contact your local stores to see if they will buy/sell your excess stock. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bristlenose Pleco Eggs     7/8/13
Hi Bob,
<Ms. R.>
Thank you kindly for your reply and the info.
My tank is 3ft/150 litres. I'm planning on swapping it for a 4ft tank in the immediate future (my tank stand is made for a 4ft tank hence the minor upgrade).
<I see>
Duly noted regarding contacting local stores. It is another concern of mine as all the places I buy stock from in the past have told me they only buy from breeders.
<Well; you've just become one>
My system is not large enough to house the babies if a few survive (and I'm aware that male Plecos can be quite territorial). I plan on getting a much larger system (upwards of 1000 litres) in future, but can only do so when finances permit so it's not an option right now. I'm hoping
I can find someone to take the offspring - I don't care if I have to give them away, as long as they can go somewhere they'll be looked after,
<Ah good; perhaps "Craig's List" or such...>
As an aside, thus far the angel fish haven't touched the eggs. When I go over to check them out the angels usually follow me and hang around where the eggs are, and two of them regularly hang out in that area of the tank.
They act like they can't even see the eggs. Do you think they just haven't noticed that they're there, or is the male doing a good job at defending them?
<Much more likely the latter; Plecos are very outgoing/defensive where/when reproducing>
 The angels usually have no problem pushing the Plecos out of the way when there's food involved (they'll peck at whatever the Pleco is eating, the Pleco will give up the food and swim off, then the angel will realise it can't eat whatever the Pleco was eating and leave the food for the Pleco
to finish).
Many thanks once more,
<Thank you for sharing; the further input. Cheers, BobF>

can you move bristle nose Pleco eggs?     6/6/13
<It's not easy, but if the eggs have been laid in something moveable like a flowerpot, then yes, you can move that "nest" to another tank to rear the catfish kittens. But the males make excellent fathers, so unless you have a compelling reason to move the eggs, it's best to leave them put. Even in community tanks, males are often able to rear a few offspring successfully!
Cheers, Neale.>

Albino BN Pleco in tiny tank (temporarily) - 01/27/2013
Hello again, you keepers of fish wisdom.
<Hi!  My apologies for the delay in reply, Danielle.  Sabrina with you today.>
I have a dilemma and need some advice. I purchased a 1.25" albino Bristlenose Pleco yesterday intending to put him in a 30 gallon tank. I did tons of research before buying, but completely forgot all about the mouth size of the Ctenopoma acutirostre who is currently in that tank.
<Ahh.  A favorite fish of mine, actually!>
After figuratively slapping myself on the forehead, I decided to not risk it, and I put him in a 5 gallon tank, which is home to a male Betta, 2 ghost shrimp and a couple of Nerite snails. Not an ideal temporary home,
<Maybe not, but it also lacks a hungry Ctenopoma!>
but it's the only tank I have where he wouldn't get immediately eaten. My question is this: how long can I leave him in there before I endanger the lives of everyone involved?
<As long as you monitor and maintain water quality in the 5g tank, I think you could keep him there until he's large enough to not become Ctenopoma food.>
I want to get a bit more size on him before introducing him to the Ctenopoma.
<Yep, exactly.>
I already do weekly 10-20% water changes; should I step that up?
<Possibly.  Just monitor Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.  If your Nitrate pushes up past 20ppm, you'll want to step up the water changes.  If not, then just keep doing what you're doing.>
Or would he be better of taking his chances with a 4" Ctenopoma?
<Nah.  I'd do exactly as you've done.>
<Best wishes to you and your critters,  -Sabrina> 

Re: Help Needed!! Loricariid ID     12/14/12
Here is an Ancistrus from 2 different angles.
My opinion is that this is an Ancistrus Dolichopterus Gold L144a
<Mmm, well; it doesn't look like the Loricariids associated w/ this name I see on the Net. Neale? BobF>
Best regards
Re: Help Needed!!    12/14/12

Here is an Ancistrus from 2 different angles.
My opinion is that this is an Ancistrus Dolichopterus Gold L144a
Best regards
<I would (tentatively) concur with Ancistrus dolichopterus but there are numerous varieties and closely related species. Do try PlanetCatfish.com -- they have a forum and many experts at identifying mystery catfish. Cheers,

Identifying Ancistrus  8/28/12
I bought a couple of these Plecos, a male and a female (all attached photos are of them). At the fish store they were named a Trinidad Ancistrus, I can not find anything about these fish. I was wondering you would be able to help me in identifying these fish. I was just looking for the 'L number' and species for them. I have posted on numerous forums about them, but no
one can identify them for me. I have spent countless hours trying to match them to pictures of different species online but keep coming up empty handed. I looked up online for a specialist with the Ancistrus and your name was the first to come up. Thank you in advance for any and all help you can give me.
<Hello Heather. Ancistrus aren't easy to tell apart. Most are brownish with off-white spots when young, so the look of a specimen doesn't help much.
Two species spring to mind though. The first is Ancistrus triradiatus, which has a similar name ("triradiatus") to the word "Trinidad". The second is Ancistrus trinitatis, a species that is found on the island of Trinidad.
So far as I know, the second species isn't traded at all, and the first species only rarely. But my knowledge is of the UK market; the variety of species in your locale may be different. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Identifying Ancistrus  8/28/12
Neale: Thank you so much for your response. I'm going to look into those two kinds. Again thank you for your time and the information. I hope you have a wonderful day!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Catfish compatibility     8/11/12
Hello crew,
I currently have a Bristlenose (Ancistrus sp) Pleco in a 55 gallon tank and a clown Pleco (Panaque maccus) in another tank. Other inhabitants are Glowlight tetras, Pristella tetra and some Platys. Would these fish be compatible in the 55 gallon?
<Mmm, well, the Platies like harder, more alkaline, cool water than the Tetras and Loricariids>
I'm also planning to add another Bristlenose of the opposite sex sometime in the future, would that be ok?
<Should be; yes>
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Emaciated BGK... in w/ breeding Ancistrus in a too small world     7/2/12
Hi there,
I'm concerned about my BGK who I've had for about a year in a 90 litre
<Needs much more room than this. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgksys.htm
community tank (2 gouramis, 6 neon tetras,
<Not compatible...>

 1 peppermint Bristlenose, 2 Bristlenose plus their fry (last count about a dozen
) - still babies but will be rehomed before they get too big. My BGK has always thrived but the last few days he has suddenly lost a lot of weight and become emaciated (top of his head sunken in, really anorexic looking). He was lethargic and seemed to be breathing heavily (not gasping but gills working harder than they should?) - so I reduced the water temp from 26-27 C to 24-25 C to make more oxygen available.
Also he was still eating but not as much, and not as eager as he usually is, with his main diet of frozen bloodworm
<See WWM re these sewer fly larvae... I'd diminish or eliminate their use... implicated in disease issues>

 (he also gets a mixture of beef heart, shrimp, fish, as well as picking on flakes, algae discs, that are for the other fish).
<Try some (live if available, frozen/defrosted if not) Tubificid worms>
I have started feeding him diced cooked prawns (human grade) and he is eating a lot more and seems to be more himself. But I'm really worried about his weight loss. He also has 2 white spots on his body that look a bit 'fluffy', could this be a mild case of Ich?
<Mmm, not likely, no>
One of my neon tetras had a little case of cotton mouth(?) which has healed, only other issue is one of the other tetras which lost an eye (probably from BGK) -
 he now swims on a slight tilt and has slightly shredded fins, assume because he gets picked on a bit - but are otherwise fine. (Neon tetras are tough as nails!) I have been too afraid to add any meds or salt since GKF is so sensitive to these things. The only changes to my tank lately have been the addition of some new plants, and the addition of the Bristlenose fry since my adult pair have decided to mate like crazy! The male has taken over the submarine to care for the eggs,
<This aggression is likely the root cause or at least a large contributor to the loss of health of the Knife... one of them needs to be moved, now>
 one of the places my BGK liked to hang out until the BN banished him (he still has a nice hollow driftwood log however - his most favourite place). Water parameters are pH 7.4, ammonia 0, nitrate 0, nitrite 20. Don't have a hardness test but the tap water where I live isn't hard. I admit that I'm not an expert but I love my fish and want to do the best for them!
<Read and heed. Bob Fenner> 

Bristlenose getting bossy, comp. w/ Clown Loaches      4/30/12
Hi Guys, me again.  Our Bristlenose has grown rather quickly in the last 4 months from about 1 inch to 3.5 and he is starting to get a bit bossy with some of his other tank mates, in particular the two larger clown loaches which are also around 3 inches. He chases them around the tank at feeding time though there is plenty for everyone, never tries to actually catch them veers off at the last moment .  We feed him a varied diet as with them all so I'm not sure what his issue is. Now I've read that some can suck the slime coat of full bodied fish, should I be worried I thought they were supposed to be peaceful and only aggressive with their own?
<If the Ancistrus is actually "riding" the Loaches, yes>

 Which is why we only have one.  It's a 400 litre tank, there are two large pieces of bog wood, one each end of the tank plenty of room, hiding places and lots of real plants.  Should we move him to another tank (if we can catch him!!!) he's pretty zippy, or is there something I can do to calm him at feed time?
<In a tank this size, the Clowns should be able to get, keep away. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Bob Fenner>
Re: Bristlenose getting bossy    5/1/12

Thanks Bob, maybe it stresses me more than the Clowns. Jasper (BN) is a great little fellow, always out and about not a hider at all and very entertaining. But with this chasing that only started about 3 weeks ago it is quite stressful to watch, he occasionally does it to our Bolivian Ram Louie who zips out of the way but then immediately goes and feeds right by his face. Will keep an eye to make sure he doesn't ride them. We have a 100 litre hospital / quarantine tank now that I got for hubby's birthday so if he does get worse he will have to move in there for the time being.
Again thanks Bob.
<A Bristlenose will be fine with Clown Loaches. They should largely ignore each other, and the Ancistrus will retire to a cave or hollow ornament if it feels put upon. Ancistrus aren't species given to attacking large fish, in the way some Otocinclus do for example. So don't see any problems here.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bristlenose getting bossy 5/2/12

Thanks Neal, must read too much into the comments of others, like sucking the slime coats of discus etc!! Changed Jaspers veggies last night to Butter Squash and a carrot (usually has green varieties), seemed to enjoy something different and pretty much left the others alone. So maybe I just need to mix it up more so he doesn't get bored, bet all hell breaks loose as usual though when the algae wafers go in, everyone fights for those....thanks again Rebecca
<Oh, for sure Clowns and Ancistrus enjoy many of the same foods. But Ancistrus hold their own well against similar sized fish. Once the Clowns get to full size -- typically 20-25 cm/8-10 inches in captivity -- then the Ancistrus would probably be happier kept with fish of its own, more diminutive size. But in a sufficiently large aquarium, and if you put some food where the Clowns can't get at it, like inside a hollow tube, it should be possible for the Ancistrus to coexist with adult Clowns. Cheers, Neale.>

Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration   4/25/12
Hi crew,
I just purchased 5 Albino Bushy nose Plecos juveniles (1 to 1 1/2 inches) for my 240 gallon Discus aquarium. They are currently in a 10 gal quarantine tank. What do you  recommend for quarantine duration and/or any proactive meds. They seem very active and healthy. Are there any diseases or parasites that are common with these fish?
<These are farmed fish, so they may well carry all the usual fish farm pathogens: Whitespot, Velvet, Camallanus worms, etc. More specifically, Loricariidae can be plagued with intestinal parasites, not necessarily worms, but things like Rickettsia bacteria that cause chronic wasting. To be fair, Ancistrus spp. are generally not seriously affected by these, especially not compared to wild-caught Panaque spp., so this isn't something to be paranoid about. Bottom line, quarantining for 6 weeks would be worthwhile, and deworming a very good idea. Beyond these, if these Ancistrus are feeding well and not obviously underweight (no hollow bellies or sunken eyes) I'd not worry about them beyond this. One last thing:
Ancistrus aren't particularly happy at Discus-level temperatures, so do ensure the water has plenty of oxygen. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration   4/25/12

Thank you Neale for your quick response and information, I really appreciate it.
Could you recommend a safe dewormer for these juveniles?
<They're quite hardy, so any commercial dewormer (containing Flubendazole, Praziquantel, etc.) should work well. You'll have dewormed your Discus, presumably, and the product you used for them will be fine here.>
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose Pleco and Mollies   4/1/12
Hi everyone, very informative site here. I've looked over it a few times and haven't found much on my particular situation, so I thought I'd shoot you all an email. I apologize if this has been addressed already and I missed it.
<Is indeed written elsewhere on this site. Start here:
Your aquarium is too small, and your water chemistry all wrong, for successful Molly keeping. These Mollies have little chance of long-term success.>
My boyfriend and I have a 10g freshwater tank set up, and for several months had a few ghost shrimp and just a small (about 1.5 inches)
Bristlenose Pleco. The ghost shrimp are now gone, and we recently added a Dalmatian Molly and a silver lyretail Molly.
<See above; a terrible choice for soft, acidic water conditions.>
Our Pleco doesn't seem interested in algae wafers (and there is no algae in the tank) so we feed him a slice of cucumber every few days, which he loves. The mollies nibble at this too, but mostly they are fed with flake food once a day.
The tank is at 0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, about 6.5 pH, between 0 and 40 KH, between 0 and 30 GH, and about 74/76 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry for the approximations, we only have the API test strips right now and they include a good amount of eyeballing). The nitrate levels have gone up since adding the mollies. It used to hover around 10, and is now going up to 30 and 40.
We have been doing 20% water changes, which decreases the nitrate for a bit, but within the next 24 hours it rises again.
So, my question is really more general. Of course I would like to know if we should be doing anything differently to reduce the nitrates further, but mainly I would like to know how to ensure that this environment is going to be beneficial to both types of fish. Are the water parameters good as they are,
or should they be altered?
I have read different things about what each fish needs, and would like to be sure I am providing an environment that is a good compromise to the needs of each species, so they can all coexist happily.
<Mollies don't compromise. You either give them what they want, or they die. They really do need hard, alkaline water -- and ideally slightly brackish water at that.>
Thanks in advance, and I apologize for such a long query. We love our fish very much, as I'm sure you all do as well. Best wishes,
<Glad to help, and good luck. Neale.>
Re: Bristlenose Pleco and Mollies   4/2/12

Thanks so much Neale for the advice. I'll be sure to rectify the situation so everybody fares well. I see another tank in our near future.
<Ah yes, multiple tank syndrome… no known cure!>
Thanks again for the quick response,
<Happy to help. Neale.>

White 'sore' on left side of the mouth of my BN Pleco    3/15/12
<Hi there>
I purchased a BN Pleco yesterday and I put him in a quarantine tank.  I noticed when I got home from my LFS that he seemed to have a white spot on the left side of his mouth.
<Mmm, yes; I see this... where a/the usual "bristle/barbel" of these fish's would be. Evidently damaged, worn off... too likely in transit, rubbing against others in the bag>
  This morning, it looks like the 'sore' became open.  As I am relatively new in the hobby (about 1 year), I do not know a whole lot about diseases.  I did do an extensive search on the internet, but to no avail.  Can you identify what is wrong with the Pleco from the attached picture and maybe suggest a cure?
Thank you very much,
<Just good care should see this fish recover... water quality, nutrition...
No medicine advised, needed. Bob Fenner>

Re: White 'sore' on left side of the mouth of my BN Pleco    3/16/12
Thank you so much, I am very relieved to know that he'll make a full
recovery with time.
<Ah yes. This genus of Loricariids is very tough. Cheers, BobF>

Now: Ancistrus spp. ID; was: Re: spotted Tatia query + Cory babies 11/1/11
Hello again and thanks for rapid response. You wrote that:
"L016 is an unidentified Oligancistrus species. Black fish with white spots. "
I am puzzled by this as I wrote that mine are 'red/black'. They were labeled red/black Ancistrus L016. Having now looked for L016
Oligancistrus online, and finding that the pictures are not what I have, on further research perhaps either me or the store has got it wrong and it may be LA16?
<Do you mean LDA 16?>
I have found pictures of fish that are called calico, but those I have are a definite red and black, or, to be fair, a dark terracotta orange, not red, but in the calico pattern that the paler coffee/cream calico seem to have, going by Google images. (They blend in well and are very well camouflaged when eating the algae off the terracotta tubes that the Tatia sleep in.)
<Well, if this pet store doesn't know the difference between L numbers and LDA numbers, then I'd take any identification they suggest with a pinch of salt. In any event, if you use Planet Catfish for example, you should be able to see reliable photos of LDA 16 and compare it against what you have. Do bear in mind many of these catfish change colours as they mature. Yes, there is a calico version of Ancistrus cirrhosus, which may or may not be sold under the LDA 16 name according to Planet Catfish.>
Hopefully this will help with identification, and eventual size etc.. hopefully they will suit my 10 gall tank,
<Ancistrus all get to about 12-15 cm when mature and are territorial rather than peaceful. Not fussy about water chemistry or temperature. Herbivorous to omnivorous in terms of diet. 10 gallons is a bit small, 15+ would be better.>
and be able to stay with the Tatia and Corydoras, but if not, as I said, there is another bigger home with the Synodontis if needed. (In the bigger set-up I have one Featherfin squeaker, 3 upside-down catfish, and 2 young yellow blue-eyed Bristlenose [are these Pleco or Ancistrus and can you tell me the difference?])
<Ancistrus L114; again, much on Planet Catfish.>
So hopefully plenty of room for more inhabitants ie Corydoras babies, without anybody eating each other!
I have the baby Cory cats in a tank of their own at the moment, and getting bigger by the day. More eggs have hatched in the 10 gall tank, but as I said, I can not save them all :-( I don't want to end up with a house full of fish tanks wherever you look !!!
Thanks for the information.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Now: Ancistrus spp. ID; was: Re: spotted Tatia query + Cory babies  11/11/11

Hello again and thanks again... and sorry for the confusion. I have looked back at the store, and they have a few fish left labeled "LDA016 red/black Ancistrus 10cm" Those left are pale and smaller specimens (smaller than mine are now) in the colour of the calico ones I have found images for. I am puzzled too as mine now have bright striking colour, and seem to be going more towards black every day. There is orange around the mouth and edges of fins, and the underside.
I am wondering if these fish can adapt to the colours of their environment, but can find no information particular to red/black LDA016. (And I have not managed to find the difference between Pleco and Ancistrus, in spite of looking all over planet catfish)
Thanks again.
<Yes, it's very likely these fish may exhibit different colours depending on mood, ambient light intensity, colour of the substrate, diet, and age.
In particular, younger Ancistrus tend to have darker, more contrasty colours than older specimens. The Common Bristlenose for example is black with white spots when young, but becomes more brownish-grey with off-white spots as an adult. On the other hand, there are (rarer, more expensive) species that maintain strong colouration at all ages. Now, as for what's a Plec and what's an Ancistrus, this essentially comes down to common Plecs being primarily Pterygoplichthys species, whereas Ancistrus are, as you'd expect, Ancistrus species. Male Ancistrus also tend to develop rubbery-looking tentacles on their foreheads, and adult Ancistrus are never larger than 15 cm/6 inches, compared with Pterygoplichthys reaching around 45 cm/18 inches in length. In terms of general shape, Ancistrus tend to look more squashed when viewed from above. Most are some shade of black when young with white spots, and as they mature this colouration may fade, but generally remains apparent to some degree. Ecologically Ancistrus feed primarily on green algae and tiny invertebrates, whereas Pterygoplichthys are far more catholic in their tastes, eating just about anything they can find, including carrion and to some degree plants. There's a good deal of variation among Pterygoplichthys, but most are grey-brown with darker squiggles or spots. It's important to remember that the name "Plec" (in the UK) or "Pleco" (in the US) is generally applied to the cheap, farmed Pterygoplichthys and, occasionally, Hypostomus species; there are LOTS of other Suckermouth catfish out there, but these will usually be sold under a more specific name: Golden Nugget Plec, Royal Plec, Scarlet Plec and so on.
Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose Plecos - Are silk plants bad for them?  10/10/11
Hi guys. I have a question about Bristlenose Plecos (genus Ancistrus).
<Outstanding fish.>
I was reading recently that it can be a bad idea to put royal Plecos in with silk or plastic plants, as they will rasp pieces off of these artificial decorations which could give them intestinal blockages.
<Panaque will certainly destroy anything they can, including the acrylic walls of an aquarium!>
Obviously the small Ancistrus catfish are not royal Plecos, but I was wondering if that still held true for them? I have a mixture of plastic plants, silk plants, artificial wood, small river gravel, heaters and plastic filter fixtures, and was wondering if any of those substances might be harmful for these fish?
<Unlikely. Whereas Panaque have special spoon-shaped teeth that gouge away at solid surfaces, Ancistrus are much more delicate feeders. They're not going to damage silk or plastic plants significantly.>
My other question is this: do Bristlenose Plecos absolutely require real driftwood for long term success, or can they get enough nutrients and roughage from algae tablets and zucchini (courgette)?
<Good question. While I can't see why you wouldn't want to use driftwood, it isn't 100% certain they need wood to do well. Panaque may well digest wood, but Ancistrus consume wood primarily as a source of fibre, and in doing so avoid digestive tract problems such as bloating. So even a small bit of wood in the aquarium is helpful. Some algae wafers are enriched with wood, and these might be used as an alternative, but why bother? Driftwood is cheap, and decorative, and the Ancistrus clearly enjoy it.>
Are there any other vegetables I should consider feeding them? And if driftwood is absolutely required, do you have any tips about reducing tannin levels in driftwood?
<Just use a small bit relative to the size of your tank, and do regular water changes to remove the tannins. Carbon removes some, but carbon needs replacing every week to work, and most people don't understand that, so their carbon is basically "dead".>
I really don't like the blackwater look at all,
<Shame, because your fish do! The darker the water, the better their colours.>
and I tried soaking Mopani would for over a month in a bucket (changing the water daily) to try to stop the tannin leaching, but it still overran my tank and carbon filter. I even boiled the wood a little bit, and still couldn't get the tannins to stop coloring my tank.
<One of those things to accept in life, like not everyone is as smart as you are!>
You guys do a great job on your site! Thanks in advance for your help!
<I would provide the wood. Just a small bit, but some nonetheless. Cheers, Neale.>

Ropefish illness? Costiasis? Ancistrus incomp.  12/11/10
Hi, you have helped me in the past with my Ropefish to beat Ich, and it is greatly appreciated. I now have another issue with my Ropefish. I cannot send you a picture, but it has discoloration like the Ropefish pictured on your "Ropefish Health" link. There are three places that are about 1/4 inch in size, one on each side of its tail fin and one an inch up from it's tail. The scales are just slightly whiter than the surrounding ones. I read through the first post on that page, and I did just recently add an Albino Bristlenose to the aquarium, so I thought maybe it was sucking on the Ropefish. However, I am concerned because the Ropefish has been scratching violently against a rock, but only up around it's head and the first couple inches. It makes me think something is irritating it's gills?
Can you prescribe a course of action?
Stats: Ropefish 10 inches long. 55 gal with a HOB filter. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5, PH 7.8, hard water, Temp 77-78 F. Water change 15-20% weekly. Feed, almost entirely blood worms, rarely tilapia, and I just recently fed some frozen brine shrimp. Actually, the issue and the first use of brine shrimp were about the same time, possible cause? Tank livestock for the last three months: "Ropefish", One-stripe eel, 6 Giant Danios. Two weeks ago I added an additional Ropefish 9", and the Albino Bristlenose. They were quarantined for two weeks and showed no signs of issues then or since being placed in the new tank. The two Ropefish do not spend time around each other. They both seem to prefer to curl up with the eel, but only one at a time.
Thank you for your help.
<Hello Nick. Generally Ancistrus spp. catfish behave themselves very well, so while it's always possible these or any other of the Loricariidae might nibble on the flanks of Bichirs and Ropefish, I think the likelihood in this situation is small. If you can, isolate the Ancistrus, but my gut feeling is that Costiasis, "Slime Disease", is more likely the issue. There are a variety of medications that will treat Costia, though I prefer to use them alongside seawater dips.
I think your observation about the two Ropefish curling up with the Macrognathus aral is interesting. It clearly reveals how these Ropefish enjoy company, but like other gregarious fish, when kept in too-small a
group, their schooling behaviour can present itself in odd ways. As/when your Ropefish gets better, do try adding one or two more specimens. Please, do also vary their diet rather more. Bloodworms contain very little nutrition. Use them once or twice a week, sure, but do also feed (at night if needs be) tilapia fillet, cockles, prawns, squid, earthworms. The more variety, the less the risk of vitamin deficiency, and needless to say, after a few months of a monotonous diet, it's perfectly possible for vitamin deficiency to present symptoms superficially similar to parasitic, bacterial infections. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish illness? 12/11/10
Thank you for the quick response. Please clarify the following: If it is slime disease, can it heal itself given good nutrition and conditions, or will it die eventually if nothing is done? The areas have not spread since
three days ago when I noticed it. Can the salt dip cure it by itself, or is the medication necessary as well? Will adding salt to the aquarium, like treating for Ich, help with the condition?
<Unfortunately, the Costia parasite needs a much higher salinity to be killed than the Ick parasite, so no, the usual 2 grammes/litre salt concentration used for treating Ick won't work. As stated in the article I
linked you too, high salinities will work, but it's questionable whether your fish will tolerate such conditions. That said, you might try a middle ground salinity that Ropefish and Spiny Eels will tolerate, around 5-6
grammes/litre, whilst ALSO doing daily seawater dips at 35 g/l. Seawater dips can sometimes cure Costia by themselves.>
I have been trying to add Ropefish and another eel for some time, but I had to setup another tank, then cycle it, then keep the new fish in it. And one of the quarantined Ropefish died during that period. I have patience enough to add fish properly, I just hope my fish's health is patient enough to wait that long.
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish illness? 12/11/10
Since everything is on the back 2 inches of the fish, would it be better or worse to just dip the tail into the mixture?
<No. The parasites, if this is Costia, will be all over the fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish illness?  12/13/10

I just did a dip, and it looked pretty rough on the Ropefish.
<It is indeed unpleasant, essentially a chemotherapy for fish. Like chemo, it works because it kills the parasite before it kills the fish, but yes, timing is everything, and it isn't any fun at all. The good news is that
once returned to freshwater, the fish should recover very quickly.>
After laying in the net for about five minutes back in her home, she took a couple laps and settled under a rock. Then I saw the Albino Bristlenose sucking all over the Ropefish. I kept pushing it away and it would come back and suck on it again and again. So, maybe that is the issue instead of slime disease?
<Does sound like it!>
However, as much as it looked like it wanted to suck on it, I find it hard to believe that I wouldn't have seen this before at all.
<Not if happening at night.>
Especially since the Bristlenose was in a 10 gal quarantine with the recently added Ropefish and I never saw it do that and there were never any marks on that Ropefish. Could the sucker be attracted to the salt on it, or sense that the Ropefish is currently hurting and it is taking advantage?
Please let me know what you think, because I am ready to make the Bristlenose a permanent resident of the quarantine tank.
<I'd do that anyway, simply to zero out that variable. If the Ropefish gets better, then that's the main thing. Whether it's the catfish or Slime Disease is interesting but not particularly important. Treat for Slime
Disease, move the Ancistrus, and then see what happens!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose with fungus? 08/04/09
<Hello Kate,>
I have a Bristlenose Pleco who has been sharing a 40-gallon aquarium with a handful of African cichlids for the past 3 years. They normally get along quite well; the cichlids ignore the Pleco (but maybe there's a first time for everything...), and he usually stays out of sight in a cave among the rocks during the day.
<Ancistrus are at risk of being harmed when kept with the more aggressive African cichlids, particularly Mbuna.>
I had noticed that algae had been building up on the glass over the past few days, but I assumed the Pleco was holding out for an algae cookie, as he tends to do - he's a bit spoiled in that respect! This evening, when I moved the rocks around to do my weekly water change & vacuum the gravel, I was horrified to discover that the Pleco's snout was a mottled pale colour, and that his bristles were almost all gone. His snout also has a coating of some fuzzy white stuff that looks like fungus. He usually scuttles out of the way when I clean the tank, but this time he barely moved. He looks awful!
<Assuming it's fungus, which looks like white cotton wool threads, treat accordingly.>
I had some Maracyn (about a year old - is this ok?) on hand, so I dosed the tank with that,
<Unlikely to cure Fungus. The same goes for Melafix (tea-tree oil). You do need a genuine anti-fungal medication.>
and I added a bit of extra aquarium salt as well.
<Don't. Salt won't help, and some African cichlids, such as Mbuna, may develop bloating when exposed to saline conditions.>
All of the water parameters are normal.
<As in...? I need numbers, not judgments! Fungus is caused either by poor water quality or physical damage. So, check firstly you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Secondly, think about the companions. Some African cichlids are harmless enough when kept with Ancistrus, notably Kribs. But Mbuna would be a very bad choice of tankmates, since they'd persistently nip and buffet these poor catfish, causing physical damage.>
I realize that a separate tank would probably be best, but my old 10-gallon tank is in storage and doesn't have a proper cover (and with a new kitten in the house, this just spells disaster). Is it ok to continue dosing the main tank? Is the treatment even worth it?
<Yes. Fungus clears up pretty well.>
The Pleco seems to be in really bad shape and I don't want him to suffer needlessly if it's a lost cause.
<Well, the "suffer needlessly" bit assumes you're going to euthanise a fish in a way that doesn't cause pain. See here:
Thanks for any advice you can provide,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Several Questions (Water chemistry; Ancistrus)   6/7/09
Hello Crew, hope all is going well there. Kind of gloomy here; been raining for about a week straight now.
<Too bad!>
I have a couple of questions, please. First, I use Pura pad sometimes and Purigen sometimes in my fresh water aquarium filter. I know they can decrease trace elements and I would like to know if you think it necessary to buy trace elements in a bottle to add each week or if enough are found in tap water.
<Generally, no, you'll be fine. There's little evidence fish extract minerals from the water, and if they're given a good diet, they should do well. The exceptions are [a] if you have crustaceans such as shrimps and
crayfish, which do need iodine supplements, about 50% the dose given on marine iodine supplements; and [b] plants, which need fertiliser added to the water (or the substrate, in the case of pellets, which I prefer) on a regular basis as described by the manufacturer.>
My second question is about Bristlenose Plecos. I know that having 2 males (if that is what I wind up with) should be able to get along in a 75 gallon tank, but does it matter if one is added first and then another later or should they both be added at the same time so as to not take any chances with aggression later?
<I'd put their "caves" on either end of the tank, or at least a good distance apart, since Ancistrus really only defend an area around 30 cm in diameter with their cave in the middle. In a tank your size, you should be fine. Do add some females too, as these fish breed quite readily, and the fry are great fun to rear. Selling baby Ancistrus is very easy, since they're such popular fish.>
Thank you for all you do.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Several Questions (Water chemistry; Ancistrus)
Thank you.
<Thou art most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Several Questions (Water chemistry; Ancistrus), now fdg.  6/7/09
Thank you, and as far as feeding goes, can I put the Plecos food in the same place as the Corys at feeding time, or do I need to feed them in separate areas?
<If the Corydoras are the only other bottom feeders, then they will happily feed during the daytime. So you can then leave out algae wafers, courgette, catfish pellets and so on for the Plecs (or Bristlenose Cats) to eat during the night. No problems keeping them together then.>
Do I need to put the Plecos food close to their caves?
<Plecs feed at night, and will scoot about the tank feeding wherever they can. In fact, once settled, you'll often see Plecs coming out of their caves in the evening, in anticipation of you feeding them.>
Thank you again.
<Cheers, Neale.

Re: Bristlenose Pleco, repro.   4-16-09
Thank you. Can you tell me how to sex them?
<Mature males tend to have much longer, numerous bristles on the head than females. Juveniles are essentially impossible to tell apart.>
And does it matter the ratio of male/female?
<Not really, provided each male has his own territory.>
Also, will the Corys eat the Pleco's food or vice versa?
<Yes, Corydoras will eat algae wafers and bloodworms given the chance.
Corydoras tend to ignore the soft vegetables though. So provided you add enough food for everyone, and that the Corydoras and Ancistrus are of similar size when introduced, they should get along fine.>
Thanks again.
<Happy to help, Neale.>   

Ancistrus help! 3/25/2009
Hello again..
A little question about my Bristlenose Ancistrus.. I had two, one with more bristles than the other.
<Likely a male and female.>
About 4 or 5 weeks ago they became a lot less active in the day, co-inciding with the arrival of some adopted fish, which were two upside down catfish, and a red tailed black shark amongst others. My research suggested that maybe they were just getting older, as I have had them 7 or 8 months now.
<Ancistrus are nocturnal fish in the wild, so it's entirely normal for them to be 'shy', especially in a busy tank.>
Anyhow, I found one dead yesterday. No signs of any lesions or anything, water parameters were fine (nitrites 0, ammonia 0, nitrates less than 10) I do a 30% water change every 10 days or so, and have a 180ltr Juwel Rio with the internal filter it comes with.
<Hmm... if the water quality is good, then may just be "one of those things". But I would be alert to possible problems, and keep an eye on both fish behaviour and water chemistry/quality readings.>
Other tank occupants are (BTW - is this overstocked? They are all very small at present..)
<Certainly busy rather than overstocked, though the Red-tail Shark shouldn't be here. The addition of a secondary, external filter will help with water quality as the fish mature, and should be on your Christmas list perhaps. Something like an Eheim 2217 or equivalent will work well, and that's what I have on my Rio 180.>
14 x 5 banded barb Puntius pentazona
Around 14 zebra Danios (they move too fast to count!)
5 adult platies (2 male, 3 female) 2 juvenile platies
3 x Siamese Algae Eaters
1 x Trichogaster Leeri
2 diamond tetras
3 rosy tetras
3 Columbian tetras
<Fin-nippers these, especially when kept in insufficient numbers, as here...>
2 upside down catfish
<Gregarious, would add at least one more...>
1 red tailed black shark (NB - he is under surveillance for signs of aggression, with plans to move him soon. He is no bigger than the Platies and so far has shown no interest in anything other than food, no territorial behaviour)
<Non-aggressive now because he's young. Once sexually mature he will become much more aggressive. The Siamese Algae Eaters will get chased, a lot. This tank is certainly below the size recommended for Red-tail Black Sharks
because of this aggression issue.>
Around 5 weeks ago, when the Ancistrus became less active, I had slowly lowered the tank temp to 25 C from 27C, as I had lost two small platies and wondered if this was due to the tank temp being too high for them. I also lost two small Danios (around 10 weeks old) at the same time. As these were inbred (!) and all other tank inhabitants were fine, water parameters read normal, I had not overly worried.
<Temperature unrelated to the death of the catfish; 25 C is a happy medium for all these species.>
The remaining Ancistrus is very inactive. Should I quarantine him?
It has been suggested he could be guarding eggs (he has taken to the same place all the time, when I am cleaning the tank they he tries very hard to stay around the same log).
<Could certainly be brooding, but they are territorial anyway, and rarely stray far from their resting site during the day.>
There are no external signs of illness, but I have not seem him feeding for at least the last week. I wondered if they have just become a bit more nocturnal, but when I found one dead..
<I'd not worry unduly beyond the comments already made above.>
Same with the upside down catfish. I haven't seen them since I put them in the tank to speak of. I know where they are, each has chosen the underside of a log, and there they stay. How would I know if there is anything wrong
with them if I cannot see them?!
<At best, Synodontis species are nocturnal fish that often move about very little during the day, but because this is a schooling species, this shyness is doubled if they aren't kept in big groups. Keep six of them, and they might be more day active. Certainly try and keep three or more specimens, and you'll likely see them somewhat during the day. I have three
in a Rio 180, and while not massively active by day, they will scoot about when I feed bloodworms, and periodically they chase one another about. Charming, hardy fish.>
Any advice would be appreciated, I was very fond of the Ancistrus, they were such fun to watch.
<Quite. Perhaps buy some more?>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Ancistrus help! 3/26/09
Hello again..
A little question about my Bristlenose Ancistrus.. I had two, one with more bristles than the other.
<Likely a male and female.>
About 4 or 5 weeks ago they became a lot less active in the day, co-inciding with the arrival of some adopted fish, which were two upside down catfish, and a red tailed black shark amongst others. My research suggested that maybe they were just getting older, as I have had them 7 or 8 months now.
<Ancistrus are nocturnal fish in the wild, so it's entirely normal for them to be 'shy', especially in a busy tank.>
Anyhow, I found one dead yesterday. No signs of any lesions or anything, water parameters were fine (nitrites 0, ammonia 0, nitrates less than 10) I do a 30% water change every 10 days or so, and have a 180ltr Juwel Rio with the internal filter it comes with.
<Hmm... if the water quality is good, then may just be "one of those things". But I would be alert to possible problems, and keep an eye on both fish behaviour and water chemistry/quality readings.>
Other tank occupants are (BTW - is this overstocked? They are all very small at present..)
<Certainly busy rather than overstocked, though the Red-tail Shark shouldn't be here. The addition of a secondary, external filter will help with water quality as the fish mature, and should be on your Christmas list perhaps. Something like an Eheim 2217 or equivalent will work well, and that's what I have on my Rio 180.>
14 x 5 banded barb Puntius pentazona Around 14 zebra Danios (they move too fast to count!)
5 adult platies (2 male, 3 female) 2 juvenile platies, 3 x Siamese Algae Eaters, 1 x Trichogaster Leeri, 2 diamond tetras, 3 rosy tetras, 3 Columbian tetras
<Fin-nippers these, especially when kept in insufficient numbers, as here...>
2 upside down catfish
<Gregarious, would add at least one more...>
1 red tailed black shark (NB - he is under surveillance for signs of aggression, with plans to move him soon. He is no bigger than the Platies and so far has shown no interest in anything other than food, no territorial behaviour)
<Non-aggressive now because he's young. Once sexually mature he will become much more aggressive. The Siamese Algae Eaters will get chased, a lot. This tank is certainly below the size recommended for Red-tail Black Sharks
because of this aggression issue.>
Around 5 weeks ago, when the Ancistrus became less active, I had slowly lowered the tank temp to 25 C from 27C, as I had lost two small platies and wondered if this was due to the tank temp being too high for them. I also lost two small Danios (around 10 weeks old) at the same time. As these were inbred (!) and all other tank inhabitants were fine, water parameters read normal, I had not overly worried.
<Temperature unrelated to the death of the catfish; 25 C is a happy medium for all these species.>
The remaining Ancistrus is very inactive. Should I quarantine him?
It has been suggested he could be guarding eggs (he has taken to the same place all the time, when I am cleaning the tank they he tries very hard to stay around the same log).
<Could certainly be brooding, but they are territorial anyway, and rarely stray far from their resting site during the day.>
There are no external signs of illness, but I have not seem him feeding for at least the last week. I wondered if they have just become a bit more nocturnal, but when I found one dead..
<I'd not worry unduly beyond the comments already made above.>
Same with the upside down catfish. I haven't seen them since I put them in the tank to speak of. I know where they are, each has chosen the underside of a log, and there they stay. How would I know if there is anything wrong with them if I cannot see them?!
<At best, Synodontis species are nocturnal fish that often move about very little during the day, but because this is a schooling species, this shyness is doubled if they aren't kept in big groups. Keep six of them, and they might be more day active. Certainly try and keep three or more specimens, and you'll likely see them somewhat during the day. I have three in a Rio 180, and while not massively active by day, they will scoot about when I feed bloodworms, and periodically they chase one another about. Charming, hardy fish.>
Any advice would be appreciated, I was very fond of the Ancistrus, they were such fun to watch.
<Quite. Perhaps buy some more?>
<Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Ancistrus help! (selection; also Colisa chuna; toxic fumes) 3/26/09
Thank you Neale - your responses are always helpful and prompt which is just great!
<Happy to help.>
I think the 'shark' will have to find a new home soon, before he chases anyone or harasses them. My local pet shop has some baby Ancistrus bred in the shop (very nice they are too) I will see if he will do me a swap. Will also consider a few more upside down catfish in a couple of weeks.
<Cool. Baby Ancistrus don't always travel well, or more specifically, they can become starved in pet shop tanks, and so lack the energy reserves to handle transportation and being settled into a new home where they may have to compete for food. If their specimens are clambering about on the glass, take a peek at their bellies: they should not be concave. Some of the better pet stores keep bits of cucumber in their tanks for the Ancistrus to nibble on, in which case, so much the better.>
Sadly today I lost a little Gourami (I missed these off my list, they are small golden or honey Gourami, also adopted from someone just before Christmas) yesterday evening it did not feed, this morning before school run it was struggling to swim against the current of the filter - dead when I got back from school. No external signs of any illness at all.
<Colisa chuna is not an easy species to keep, despite its wide availability. Indeed, when I started keeping fish as a teenager back in 1980s, they were considered quite "specialist" fish because of their need for soft, acidic water. So when you saw them, they were usually expensive. Nowadays they are mass produced on farms, including some non-natural colour forms like the one in your image. While they may be less expensive and certainly easier to obtain, I'm not yet convinced they're "easy" fish. I wouldn't really consider them community fish, but rather better kept in either a single-species aquarium or in a tank with very small, non-aggressive fish such as Marbled Hatchetfish or Dwarf Corydoras.>
I tested the water again - it was as it was on Monday after the water change, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate.
<All sounds fine.>
Now I am a bit paranoid. Last weekend I varnished some wood nearby, but I kept the doors to the room the tank is in shut, and all the windows around the varnished area open. Other than this nothing has changed.
<Ah, in theory, yes, paint and varnish fumes can kill fish. Since Gouramis breathe air directly, they'd be especially at risk; fish that breathe water will only be exposed to the smaller percentage of the toxic chemical that dissolved in water. That said, if you open windows, you certainly can paint rooms and whatnot without expecting all your fish to die. I would recommend leaving the windows open for at least 24 hours after using paint/varnish though. If you were worried, this would be one of those times where adding fresh carbon to the filter would make sense; carbon removes organic chemicals, reducing the risk of harm. As you may know, carbon is used for precisely this function in gas masks for humans as well as in emergency medicine for removing poisons.>
I am keeping a very close eye for signs of unusual behavior now. At present everyone else is feeding well (flake and algae wafer this morning) and all darting about merrily.
Attached is a pic of my Gourami (pre death!) He had a big bit of dorsal fin missing when I got him (he came from another local person getting rid of fish), which did not seem to affect him at all.
<Fins usually grow back in time, so unless there's Finrot or Fungus, damage to the fins isn't something that I personally worry about when selecting fish. If you look at photos of wild fish from the Amazon, they've all got bloody great chunks of fin missing thanks to the numerous fin-eating characins!>
(enjoying my new subscription to PFK and spotted your name in it..)
<Glad you're enjoying the magazine.

Re: Ancistrus help! (selection; also Colisa chuna; toxic fumes) 04/07/09
Hi Neale,
<Have been on vacation, forgive tardiness in replying.>
I am so sorry to keep on bothering you - but I am still encountering unexplained deaths in my tank.. :(
Today I found my other Ancistrus dead. I am so sad - I thought she was OK - she's been coming out in the evenings and whilst not zipping about, was moving around more. I took a really careful look at her - she hasn't been dead long as I have only just found her, and I saw her moving about yesterday evening. I cannot see anything about her at all to indicate cause of death (I am too squeamish to dissect - and no longer have my college kit anyhow!)
<Hmm... dissections and autopsies not much help unless you know what to look for. Mystery deaths usually down to water quality problems, sudden variation in water chemistry, or extrinsic factors such as poisoning.
Simple age may be a factor, if the fish was 5+ years old.>
Yesterday I noticed a Danio in the tank with what appears to be dropsy - I have isolated it in the QT and am treating with eSHa 2000 but I guess it is probably too late. I am baffled though, as nitrates are around 10, 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. But these deaths indicate poor water quality?
I am due a water change (it has been 10 days) and always do 30% - but the tests do not indicate a problem.. I will do more than usual, and repeat it in a few days.
Have you any idea what could be causing this?
My tank has been running 6 months now, and I do changes of 30% every 10 days approx. I use tetra aqua safe, mixing it in the bucket with our tap water, adding water from the kettle to heat as I do not have a facility to warm the water anywhere else.
<Boiling the water is redundant. Removing 30% of the tropical water and replacing with cold water from the tap should cause little harm to your fish. So long as the thermometer doesn't dip below 18 C after a water
change, I'd not worry.>
I check temp with a thermometer before it goes in the tank. I make sure that I use the mains tap, as we have a water softener and we never use softened water in the tanks.
All the fish are behaving fine (even the one with dropsy is eating and swimming about well)
<Well, that's a good sign.>
Help! I really do not want to lose any more fish. I haven't put any meds in the main tank as I do not know what is causing the problem...
(needless to say, I'm not buying new fish at the moment)
<Also sensible.>
Yours worriedly
<My gut feeling is let the system "shake itself out". Don't add fish; do moderate water changes of 25% weekly; be careful with things like food and removing organic wastes like dead plants. Generally, adopt a wait-and-see approach. A lot of aquaria "just work" with a certain number/combination of fish; likely has much to do with water chemistry stability, filter, etc.
See what happens for a month. If no other fish get sick, I'd expect the tank to settle down by the end of that period. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Algae Eaters, Loricariid, Ancistrus sexing... repro. f'  03/11/09
Hello again, I have read that these Bristlenose are hard to sex
<Mmm, not too so... if you can get them out, into clear view>
so if I unknowingly put more than one male in my tank will there be a problem?
<Not if there's sufficient room, habitat for all>
Also, I have read that they breed easily. If I found myself with babies what are alternatives to keeping them in my tank? Maybe taking to a LFS?
<Certainly so... there are even internet sales sites... Bob Fenner>
Thank you again.

Re: Tank Volume, now Loricariid fdg.    1/6/09 Thanks again, and on the Bristlenose Plec, do I wait until I get algae to put him in or does he eat regular food as well? <Algae should only be a minor component of its diet; mostly it needs algae wafers and soft vegetables. So pop the catfish in as soon as you want. You'll actually get better results when algae eaters scrape clean surfaces than by expecting them to mow back established clumps of hair algae or whatever. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco question 5/14/10
<Hi there>
I wanted to ask a quick question regarding Plecos. According to what I have read male Bristlenose have more pronounced bristles than females. Is it easy to tell the difference even when they are small (about 3/4 of an inch long)or is it harder to tell until they are bigger?
<Much easier to discern when larger>
Mine had two bumps on either side like nostrils but totally flat the rest of its face I say "had" because I seem to have lost it. Pretty much tore tank apart after 3 days of not seeing it. I wanted to get another one probably a little bit bigger to start with this time. Also I am wondering how big they get.
<Need to know the species... there are several Loricariids, mainly genus Ancistrus, with this common appellation... Some a few, to several inches in length>
I have a 40 gallon long tank. If the answer is they get quite large then which ones stay fairly the smallest of the Plecos.
Thank you
<Do peruse Fishbase.org with this common name... read. Bob Fenner>

Re: Snails, now Pleco sel.  4/27/09
Thanks Neale, and one more question please on a different subject. I am considering purchasing a couple of Bristlenose Plecos for my tank. I have read that they themselves put out quite a bit of waste. Is that correct?
<Yes; like all herbivores they produce a lot of faecal material. Not terribly polluting in terms of water quality, but very unsightly. Think of how messy cows and horses are, and you'll have a useful analogy. So, you want plenty of water turnover and mechanical filtration, otherwise the stuff will accumulate on the gravel. A turkey baster is a great tool for spot cleaning, and if you arrange the gravel so it slopes down to the
front, the faeces collect there and can be pipetted or siphoned away.>
Also, would you recommend 2 or three for a 75 gallon tank and does it matter if they are all the same sex or if the sexes are mixed <I'd go for at least three specimens. Sexing is impossible with juveniles, though if you buy adults, males are easy enough to pick out (usually).
Provided they are not overcrowded, males will get along with each other.
They're territorial rather than mean, so provided each has a cave with some clear space around it, he'll ignore other males.>
Thanks again and have a great day.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose Pleco... sys.   4-16-09
Hello Crew, Hope things are going well for you. I would like some advice, please. I have a 75 gallon fw tank which will be housing Corys and angels. I am considering putting a bristle nose Pleco in the tank. I wanted to know if the Pleco should be added before or after algae starts forming as well as how many would be appropriate for this size tank. Thank you for your help.
<It couldn't matter less when you add the Ancistrus, since algae will be only a small part of its diet. You will still need to be adding algae wafers (one coin-sized wafer per night per catfish, 5 nights per week).
They also need to eat vegetables, bloodworms, etc. I'd allow about 15-20 gallons per Ancistrus, though the key thing is hiding places rather than swimming space. Males hold territories about 15 cm around their cave.
Cheers, Neale.>

Is Driftwood Necessary? 4/14/2009
Hello, WWM crew,
I have a 55 gallon tank with 4 ID sharks, 2 parrot cichlids, 1 Danio, 3 black skirt tetras and 1 kissing Gourami. In 3yrs, I plan to upgrade them to a 110 gallon tank. The fish have thrived in this tank for a long time and are doing well. In the meantime, Id like to add a Pleco. The ones I have been researching are the Bristlenoses, clowns and Columbian zebras. Since these are smaller species, I may get two for this tank.
The PH is steady at 7.2 with help from the crushed coral in my Penguin 350 filter. The temp. is 80 degrees and other water parameters are normal. I have read a lot about driftwood and I am not comfortable with the idea of placing it in my tank. I like the look of my fish floating on air in my tank, I use Poly pads in my filter. The color change does not appeal to me at all.
Is driftwood a major necessity? Are there any alternatives to using driftwood that will not stain the water and still provide the dietary needs it provides to the Pleco(s)? I'd like your opinion on this driftwood issue.
<In general, no, driftwood isn't necessary. But there's good evidence that Plec-type catfish are exceptional in this regard, with at least some specimens benefiting from the presence of wood. Panaque spp. digest the wood, while others, notably Pterygoplichthys and Hypostomus, use wood as a source of dietary fibre. Do some people keep Ancistrus and Hypancistrus without wood? Sure. But without doing a major study, we can't be sure whether they live longer (or are at least less constipated!) when offered some wood to gnaw on. As for Panaque spp., including (one of the several) Clown Plec species Panaque maccus, wood is mandatory. Water changes and carbon will both minimise water staining if that bothers you, but I will make the point fish are happier in stained water and certainly develop brighter colours. Cheers, Neale.>

Plecos and Cory Cats 3-24-2009
Hello Crew, hope all of you are doing well!
<Hello! Doing great! Merritt here today.>
I have a couple of questions, please. I have always read that when introducing fish to a tank the least aggressive should be put in first, then the next, etc.
Does it make a difference between a Bristlenose Pleco or Cory cats as to which one to put in first?
<Plecos and Corys are very docile towards each other and other types of fish, so you can introduce both at the same time if you want to.>
Also, how many Bristlenose would you suggest for a 75 gallon tank?
<Considering the mature size of a Bristlenose Pleco, around 5 inches, I would recommend at the most two or three for a 75 gallon tank.>
And lastly, can they eat the same food as Corys if it has vegetable matter in it?
<No, you want the Plecos to eat algae in the form of wafers or pellets, not vegetable matter. Corys do not eat algae they are purely scavengers, thus they should be eating a pellet made with shrimp or some other type of meat. You want your fish on the correct diet or health issues will occur as they age.>
Thanks for your help.
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Re: Native fishkeeping; Ancistrus repro    8/11/08 Hi Neale, <Silvia,> So, you live in the UK. For some reason I thought you live in America. Probably because WetWebMedia is an American site, or is it? At least I thought so. <I am not a citizen of Athens or of Greece, but of the world!> I know that Britain has some nice places with nearly Mediterranean climate. <"Nearly" being the operative word! It's perhaps better to say the UK has a climate that doesn't change much, between about 5 C in winter to about 25 C in summer, but rarely much above or below those values. So we don't tend to be as cold as Northern Europe or most of the continental USA, but neither do we get the long hot summers of, say, Australia or Southern Europe.> When I was at Uni I went there with a group of friends. It was a holiday with all sorts of weather and climates, from rain and cold to sunny and hot but we really enjoyed it. <Ah, yes, the weather is notoriously changeable. This is a factor of the "battle" between the warm Atlantic oceanic weather system (the Gulf Stream) and the cold Arctic weather system. Neither "wins" for long, and at a moments notice it can change from dry to wet. Air temperature tends not to vary much, though windy and wet weather can add a certain chill to the climate. I've lived for a few years in the American Midwest where the climate in winter was much much colder. And yet, despite temperatures of -10 C or less, it never felt as "miserable" because the air was dry and the precipitation was snow rather than rain. English winters are incredibly depressing, made worse by the short day lengths, in December barely 8 hours!> Regarding to the keeping, here you have it again. the native species are not attractive enough, or is it the exotic side of it? <Oh, we do have some lovely native fish. I have sticklebacks in my pond, and the males turn metallic green with sapphire blue eyes and bright red bellies. At university I kept coldwater marines, including a blenny known as the Shanny, and it's like a mudskipper, coming onto land when it gets too warm or just feels like a change. The problem is that there's a lack of information re: keeping Natives.> What a shame! I don't know what we have in Germany, but certainly not such a diversity in marine life. <Mainland Europe actually isn't bad. There are lots of cyprinids, many of which make excellent pets being tolerant of room temperature and relatively small bodies of water. I have some Carassius carassius in a fry-rearing tank and they're fun. Sticklebacks, killifish, small minnows, loaches, etc. can all make good pets.> And I don't know much about the freshwater side either but I remember that friends at school told me they were going to the local creeks and catching sticklebacks to keep in jars. That would be the equivalent to our rainbows here. <Pretty much, except Sticklebacks are very aggressive! Much used in behavioural experiments. Do read 'King Solomon's Ring' by Konrad Lorenz. He's the "father of animal behaviour studies" and a great fan of fish, writing at length on cichlids and sticklebacks.> I had a busy week which ended with a nice weekend. Friday night was another one of our ANGFA meetings which was again very interesting. We have such a wonderful wintertime. Sunny and warm, like 22 degrees Celsius/72 Fahrenheit (do you use Celsius or Fahrenheit in the UK?) during the day and no cloud on the sky. <Anyone below the age of 40 uses Celsius.> That always amazes me, even after 10 years. Nights are cold with only 5 degrees Celsius/41 Fahrenheit. It is such a treat to walk along the beach in the morning. Next weekend we are going up the North Coast, about 3 hours drive from our place, to fish for rainbows and such. I am not very sure about the water temperature but it seems to me we will end up with cold feet. <Sounds fun!> So far the Bristlenose has done a marvelous job. The youngsters are coming out now. The Corys laid eggs again on Friday. I did a water change on Thursday. I still use water from outside. I have a big water tank under the sails. Original it was our outdoor eating area until we build the big pavilion. Now one of the tanks is underneath and catches the rain water. It is more like a big 500 litre/125 gallon bucket with a removable lid. I get very clean water there and use it for water changes till I run out. Than I have to switch to tap water. <I also use rainwater, 50:50 with tap water to get medium hard water ideal for most tropical fish.> That is often the case in winter. The surface of the water was 22 degrees, which is the same as in the tank inside, due to the sun but further down the temperature was down to 19. For the fish it must have seem like rainy season and promptly laid eggs the day after. <Correct. Corydoras in particular use sudden changes in temperature as an indication the rainy season has started, and then spawn.> It works all the time :) <Yep. Ditto with Danios and quite a few other fish.> I didn't intend to harvest the eggs but my daughter couldn't help it. She noticed my "funny" looking female. What happened was that she hadn't closed the fins properly while laying the eggs and two were attached to a little pebble which she lifted when she took off to deposit them. The pebble stuck to the glass as well. I don't worry much about the eggs. I am sure many will not make it. But the other little kittens are all good and very busy during the day. I hope I can keep them long enough in the container and than tip them into the net with the Bristlenose kittens once I removed daddy. <Should work fine.> I am not sure that inbreeding is the only reason for the angelfish's bad parenting skills. Learning or the lack of it might be another one. Many of them are "hand-reared" on farms. I think the parenting skills are partly learned skills and partly instinct. <It's a topic of discussion among Angelfish keepers, and likely a mix of both factors. Certainly hand rearing the fry removes the selection pressure in favour of good parenting, so that dimwit parents produce just as many healthy fry as well behaved parents. So over the generations, Angelfish have lost their good parenting skills. Some aquarists do maintain that letting them "practise" a few times does the trick, but that was not my experience at all. And most other cichlids (wild caught at least) seem to get it right first time, or at least very quickly. A lot of tank bred cichlids (Kribs and convicts, for example) are also very reliable. So it's complex. May well be Angels were never that smart or that good at parenting to begin with! How often do you find beauty and brains in the same body!> Cheers Silvia <Cheers, Neale.>

Tank size recommended for a Bristlenose Pleco   7/25/08 Hi: I have a male Bristlenose Pleco about 5 1/2 inches. <Nice fish! Time to get some females so you can breed them. The males make excellent parents.> I have had him in a 40 gallon community tank for about 2 years. He is starting to uproot my plants on a daily basis. <Pretty common with all Loricariidae once they reach a certain size. Not much you can do about it, short of using robust plants that he can't harm (Crypts, Anubias, Java fern, Vallisneria, etc.). You could also try giving him hollow ornaments, since he is likely broody and trying to make some sort of nest in case a female comes by. Ceramic flowerpots or PVC pipes work great, but any hollow fish tank ornament will do. If he has a place to turn into his private nest, he'll probably do less damage in the aquarium. Worth a shot, anyway.> I'm considering moving him to another tank. What size tank should I put him in? Is 5 gallons too small? <Yes, far too small. He needs upwards of 20 gallons at least, and I'd argue not less than 30 gallons if you intend to keep him with other fish.> Will he be o.k. in a tank by himself? <Define "OK". He'll be bored out of his mind and sexually frustrated, but will he die, no.> Thanks for your help. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tank size recommended for a Bristlenose Pleco   7/26/08 Thank you for the quick response. I will leave my Pleco where he is and try the hollow ornament. I had two Pleco's but they both turned out to be male and this one bullied the other one so bad I had to get rid of him. How do I make sure I get a female? Marilyn <Sexing juvenile Bristlenose Plecs is difficult, but adults are very obviously sexually dimorphic. Males have far longer "tentacles" on the front of their heads; females can have them, but they are never as well developed. Males are also broader at the shoulder, and tend to be longer and stockier too. Do try and track down a copy of Kathy Jinking's excellent book 'Bristlenoses - catfish with character'; you'll find it very useful if you intend to breed these interesting fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Question Regarding Plecos   8/19/07 Keeping More Than One Pleco Per Tank Hi WWM Crew, I have what I hope is a quick question regarding Bushy Nose Plecos. I purchased an albino Bushy Nose Pleco (~1 - 1.5") a couple of months ago and it is doing quite well. I have plenty of algae in the tank and this little guy is always busy working the plants, driftwood etc ... I would love to add at least 1 or 2 more Bushy Noses (not necessarily Albinos) to my tank. However, I am pretty sure that I read somewhere that you shouldn't/can't have more than 1 Pleco in your tank. Not sure what the reason was, but I thought I'd get your opinion before I go out looking for additional livestock. It can't be size since this species only grow to about 4". This is why I chose this species in the first place. By the way, are there any other South American Plecos (they will be living with my Discus) that don't grow too large (> 4")? Thank you in advance for your assistance - again! Regards, Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ < Plecos tend to be a little bit territorial. This means that they will usually try and chase another Pleco away but this usually doesn't result in any serious harm to either fish. The biggest problem is getting enough food for these fish to eat. I would supplement the tank with algae wafers if you are going to be adding more fish. There are hundreds of Pleco species. Usually the clown pleco's stay around 2 inches or so. Otocinclus species are very small and very peaceful too. Go to planetcatfish.com and check out all the pleco's.-Chuck>

Unlucky Loricariids, and Why To Quarantine Plants - 02/20/2007 Hi Crew, <Hi, Carmel!  Sabrina with you today.> I have an unusual situation which I have been dealing with since December. Several tanks all containing assorted catfish. Just prior to onset of illness (about 3-4 weeks prior) I added a new Longfin B/N and an Amazon sword plant to one tank.   <Quarantine, even of plants, is essential....  I have always recommended quarantining or dipping plants, and the one time that I chose not to, I introduced Ich into a well-established tank....  Sigh!  These things do happen.  I hope at least the new fish was quarantined, yes?> In a nutshell, peppermint b/n were the first to develop lesions on head and back areas, resulting in death. 4 weeks later the common b/n's displayed the same lesions. Have worked closely with LFS & vets, during the last 2 months and in desperation sent specimens and water to our Dept of Agriculture (who also work for our Fisheries Dept).  They have identified a protozoan, similar to Chilodonella, but which they cannot positively identify. <Often protozoan parasites are present even on quite healthy fish; this is usually not a big deal.  It's when the Protozoans opportunistically "take over" (fish is sick, weak....) and multiply to virulent quantities that you've got a problem that can then easily spread to your other healthy fish.  Sounds like this is what happened.> This report came to me today and I am about to commence treatment of formalin/malachite green in one tank &  Octozin (Waterlife) in another.  This still leaves me with more tanks & I was wondering if you may have any ideas on a treatment (result of cross-contamination) as we are all as unsure of the treatment as we are of the outcome. I think I will treat at the full dose, but gradually add the meds over a few hours. <Formalin and Malachite Green are toxic, especially to these scaleless animals....  There is a strong likelihood that even your healthiest Loricariids will not survive a treatment at "full dose".  I would re-thing this.  The Octozin, provided that it is Metronidazole as I suspect, is fine to use at the full recommended dose.  Try to find out if it is in fact Metronidazole.  Another option might be a salt treatment, though Loricariids don't "like" salt, it would be much less dangerous than a full dose of the Formalin/Malachite Green cocktail.  The method I would try, if I did this option, is detailed here:  http://www.aquariumadvice.com/article_view.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 .> It would seem these fish are doomed otherwise anyway.  Also, any ideas on a positive ID of the invader would be gratefully received.   <If you have any means of providing us with a microscope photograph of the protozoan, I would gladly try to identify; I have a fish pathologist friend that would probably be glad to take a look and tell us what he thinks.> Regards,  -Carmel <Best of luck to you and your plecs,  -Sabrina>

Bristlenose Plec dis.   9/9/06 I have a male Bristlenose catfish, two years old he is four and half inches long. He is in a 300 litre tank, he used to be kept with Neons, Glowlights and platies. He was very happy, I fed him on catfish pellets, algae wafers, bloodworms, brine shrimps and daphnia. Now he is living with tinfoil barbs. he's not as happy and hides under the filter, he is only getting the catfish pellets and algae wafers, as the tinfoil barbs eat everything else first, I have noticed that he is not cleaning the tank as well for the past week. And he has a lump on his snout in front of one eye, I have telephoned all my local aquatic shops, no one seems to have heard of this before, I'm very worried, to me is looks like a cyst, apart from this his colouring and general condition is very good. I hope you can help me, as the children are very fond of catty! Wait to hear from you, Sue < As your Pleco roots around for food he probably injured himself on a piece of wood or rock. The area may be infected. I would recommend treating him in a hospital tank with Nitrofuranace or Kanamycin as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Pleco with skin disease?   8/18/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have a Bristlenose Pleco who seems to be losing his colour.  When I first got him, he was dark brown, but now patches of his skin are a lighter tan colour (I would send a picture, but it's very hard to coax him out into the open when it's light out, and he hides whenever anyone goes near the tank anyway). <Mmm....> He's in my cichlid tank, and ammonia and nitrite are both 0, nitrate is always less than 10 ppm.    This change is very recent; he was fine a couple of days ago, and he's been pigging out on algae, but his colour certainly doesn't look healthy.  What could be causing this, and how do I go about treating it? Thanks! <Not likely that this is something "treatable"... either just a behavioral/physiological change from the animal being exposed to bright light, light colored gravel... or a fright reaction to the aggressive behavior of its tankmates. I would not "add" something to the water here, but consider moving this animal to other quarters to check this hypothesis. Bob Fenner>

Pleco with skin disease?   8/18/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have a Bristlenose Pleco who seems to be losing his colour.  When I first got him, he was dark brown, but now patches of his skin are a lighter tan colour (I would send a picture, but it's very hard to coax him out into the open when it's light out, and he hides whenever anyone goes near the tank anyway). <Mmm....> He's in my cichlid tank, and ammonia and nitrite are both 0, nitrate is always less than 10 ppm.    This change is very recent; he was fine a couple of days ago, and he's been pigging out on algae, but his colour certainly doesn't look healthy.  What could be causing this, and how do I go about treating it? Thanks! <Not likely that this is something "treatable"... either just a behavioral/physiological change from the animal being exposed to bright light, light colored gravel... or a fright reaction to the aggressive behavior of its tankmates. I would not "add" something to the water here, but consider moving this animal to other quarters to check this hypothesis. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pleco with skin disease?   8/19/06
Thanks Bob, <Welcome Kate> Now that you mention it, I think you might be on to something with the "fright reaction," although the problem isn't his tankmates, who   ignore him (except when they steal his food), but it might have been my fault.  I had to remove every single rock (!!!) in the tank to   catch one of the fish the other day, and I imagine the Pleco was quite disturbed by this turn of events. <Oh yes>   Also, the rocks in question are white (or at least they are now that the Pleco has finished cleaning them), so maybe it is just a "camouflage" thing.  Thanks for setting my mind at ease. Kate <Glad to. BobF>
Re: Pleco with skin disease?   8/19/06
Thanks Bob, <Welcome Kate> Now that you mention it, I think you might be on to something with the "fright reaction," although the problem isn't his tankmates, who ignore him (except when they steal his food), but it might have been my fault.  I had to remove every single rock (!!!) in the tank to catch one of the fish the other day, and I imagine the Pleco was quite disturbed by this turn of events. <Oh yes>   Also, the rocks in question are white (or at least they are now that the Pleco has finished cleaning them), so maybe it is just a "camouflage" thing.  Thanks for setting my mind at ease. Kate <Glad to. BobF>

Mysterious Bristlenose death... African Cichlid sys. as well   7/12/06 Hi, I hope you can help me figure out what went wrong... <Will try> Yesterday, I brought home a healthy-looking 3.5" Bristlenose to add to my tank, which currently houses 5 small African cichlids. <Mmm, don't often mix... I also keep African Cichlids...> I floated the bag in the tank for about an hour and a half, gradually adding tank water, before releasing him.  He seemed fine yesterday; he explored his new home and found himself a cave in the rockwork.  I offered him an algae disk last night, which he didn't touch, but I wasn't too alarmed, since I know it often takes a day or two before new fish will eat.  Anyway, this morning, I awoke to discover him quite dead.  I immediately tested the water and obtained the following results: NH3 - 0 NO2 - 0 NO3 - 0-5 ppm pH - 8.0 <... too high. Most Loricariids live in soft/er, acidic water. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm> Temp - 79 F I then did a 20% water change and added a bit of aquarium salt. <And don't "like" salts...>   All of my other fish are fine.  I would appreciate any insight as to what went wrong.  I would like to keep one of these cute little guys; is there anything else I should do next time? Thanks, Kate <I would look for a larger specimen of one of the species that lives in similar, or closer quality water... Likely a Hypostomus or Pterygoplichthys sp. of at least five inches in length to start with... provide it with adequate hiding space (perhaps a PVC pipe it can get into w/o the Cichlids... or, resolve yourself to do as I do... hand-scrub down your tanks once a week during water changes. Bob Fenner>

Very Sick Albino Bushynose Plecos Hi HELP ! I have an emergency! I have a 10 gallon tank which  I had put about 12 juvenile albino Plecos and one standard juvenile  dwarf Bristlenose in 2 weeks ago (all about 1-2 inches) - I realize  this was overcrowding, but it was a temporary setup until I could cycle  my new 50 gal. -- there is sand substrate, wood, rocks, a few shells, < Lose the shells, they only make the water harder.> and some hornwort. I have a penguin 125 bio wheel filter and 2 aeration  tubes with airstones-water temp has been at about 70- < Too cold. Raise the water temp to 80-82 F.> I had not done a  water change since putting the fish in the tank, and because I realized  it was overdue, I did a 75% water change 2 days ago( I noticed there  were a few dead ones in there that had been decaying or eaten that were  under the rocks)- The fish seemed fine prior to the change, but almost  immediately after the change, the smallest ones started dying! Then  after about a day, I noticed some were starting to get red splotches on  them- at first I wondered if I may have injured them when I dumped the new water in the tank, but it seems that if they get the red, they die  for sure-  I have enclosed photos of one of them before he finally  succumbed.  All the fish seemed to be lethargic, and the small  ones were dying one by one. They don't move until you touch them, and  then quite slowly.  The standard BN is the healthiest looking  one-  I did test the water for all except ammonia- we have high  alkaline water and very hard, but all other things were in the safe  zone. Nitrate and Nitrite was 0. These Plecos were born in the state, so  I think they should be fine with the hard water/ high alkaline-? < Depending on the state water supplies vary from area to area. The best way to know is to test the water yourself and not guess.> I think maybe the ammonia must have been high, and maybe my drastic  water change made them become susceptible to a bacteria...? < Did you add a water conditioner to remove chloramines/chlorine? These chemicals used to treat drinking water are deadly to fish. Get an ammonia test kit and know what you are dealing with.> Well, last  night all the rest of the fish were either lethargic or dying, so I  decided to move them into another 10 gallon that I have had cycling for  a long time that has live plants and a few volunteer snails, but no  fish. Also, I am slowly raising the temp (what should I raise it  to?)- < See comments above.> The smaller ones are still dying, but not as quickly-  it seems that the  tail section is white to transparent looking on  some of them after they die;  I have read that it may be  bacterial, and I have read that it may be treated with salt, Fungus  Eliminator, Maracyn 2, salt, etc. I have also read that treating the  tank can be a bad idea, as the treatment can kill the good bacteria- I  am confused !  I think Plecos are sensitive to salt and a lot of  other treatments- it seems that they are not tough like my cichlids  !  Someone at the fish store told me that my drastic water change  was the culprit, and the fish will either survive it or they won't. I  don't want to believe that without trying to save them- there has to be  something I can do !  HELP! If you can help me save  these guys, I will very much appreciate it! Are albino Plecos harder to  raise than regular BN Plecos? It sure seems like I have had a hard time  with them....... Sheryl < You Plecos were weakened by the cold/cool water and have a bacterial infection. Raise the water temp to 80-82 F and treat with Nitrofuranace. What have they been eating all this time? Have you fed them? Albinos are definitely weaker than normal colored pleco's. Go to planetcatfish.com, find your Pleco and find out what their needs are to be taken care of properly.-Chuck>
Very Sick Plecos II Hi Chuck, Thanks for your input !  I have been feeding these guys Hikari  algae wafers, Sera Catfish wafers, veggie flakes, and last week started  to give them zucchini. Also a few days ago I gave them a few earthworm  pellets. SO the things that changed within the last week were zucchini  attached to a spoon, and a few earthworm pellets-  I started them  yesterday on Maracyn and Maracyn 2 combined- still losing a few,  but  much slower, and I don't see any new red splotches. I had  already started them on that medication before I got your reply, as I  needed to do something ASAP - do you think this medication will work? thanks tons ! Sheryl < Tank raised Pleco babies can become imprinted on a food and refuse to switch. Some eat only algae while others will only eat wafers. Feeding  a varied diet is a good idea. Using this medication is worth a try. watch for ammonia spikes because this medication may affect the good bacteria that provides the biological filtration.-Chuck>

Very Sick Pleco's II  - 04/24/2006 HI  Chuck, Thanks for your input ! I have been feeding these guys Hikari  algae wafers, Sera Catfish wafers, veggie flakes, and last week started  to give them zucchini. Also a few days ago I gave them a few earthworm  pellets. SO the things that changed within the last week were zucchini  attached to a spoon, and a few earthworm pellets- I started them  yesterday on Maracyn and Maracyn 2 combined- still losing a few, but  much slower, and I don't see any new red splotches. I had already  started them on that medication before I got your reply, as I needed to  do something ASAP - do you think this medication will work? thanks tons ! Sheryl <  Tank raised Pleco babies can become imprinted on a food and refuse to  switch. Some eat only algae while others will only eat wafers. Feeding a  varied diet is a good idea. Using this medication is worth a try. watch  for ammonia spikes because this medication may affect the good  bacteria that provides the biological filtration.-Chuck>

Feeding Baby Plecos  - 04/24/2006 Hi Chuck I forgot - I also fed these Plecos a few pieces of dried seaweed in the last week. thanks ! Sheryl < I would offer algae, guinea pig pellets, zucchini, Tubifex worms, and some driftwood o make sure they were getting something top eat.-Chuck>

Baby Pleco's Continue To Die  - 04/24/2006 Hi Chuck Thanks again ! It is good then for me to ask breeders what food the  babies have been raised on. < Yes> I am still losing these Plecos- they  have tail / fin rot as well now. Do you think I would want to switch to  the Nitrofurazone and forget the Maracyn treatment? I feel helpless  !  I thought things may be stabilizing, but maybe not- just took  another dead one out of the tank. Sheryl < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with the Nitrofurazone since the other medication does not seem to be helping.-Chuck>
Plecos Still Die  - 04/24/2006
Hi, Thanks again - there are only 3-4 Plecos left- I have tried the Maracyn  and Maracyn 2, and the Plecos were still dropping, so yesterday I tried  something else- it is for external parasites- it seems to be helping,  along with 25% water changes- however, tonight I notice one fin  starting to get the red streak. The stuff is called ProForm-C   ---- it drives me nuts that I can't just get them over this stuff- it  seems like they got everything ! Sheryl <The water changes are probably doing the most good. The medications you are trying do not have as wide spectrum as the Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Feed Plecos Guinea Pig Pellets  - 04/24/2006 Hi Chuck, Maybe I will try the Nitrofurazone tomorrow if the Plecos still look  pretty good-I figure at this point I will try anything- these last  ones still seem to have plenty of energy, but they are still 'off' - a  lot of the time they don't even hide- they don't seem to be eating  either. BUT I still have hope for the last few......guinea pig pellets-  I have not heard of that for Pleco food before- I bought dried seaweed  at the Japanese food store- the Plecos seem to like to pretty good. < Fish, humans and guinea pigs can not produce their own vitamin C. These pellets are fortified alfalfa pellets with vitamin C added. Lots of protein and vitamins for young fish fighting a disease.> I  know it is healthy- I really appreciate your help - your site is great  - hopefully you will post one of the photos I sent you, because I found  very little info about septicemia- I think I found only one photo on  it, but the fish was dark colored and I could not see what the symptoms  looked like.  The albino Pleco is an excellent fish for seeing the  red throughout the body that the bacteria is causing. Thanks ! I will let you know if I finally save a few of these guys - Sheryl < Good luck.-Chuck>

Plecos' Finally Cured!!!! 4/29/06 Hi Chuck, I just wanted to update you on my Plecos- after all my Plecos had died  except 4, and after noticing they were also starting to get the red throughout the body, I knew they were also doomed if I didn't do  something different in a big hurry- one had red all throughout the  body, so I certainly didn't think he was going to make it........ I had  been doing 25% water changes with well water from my farm every day  while I was treating with Maracyn and Maracyn 2, combined. Well, I  followed your advice and ran down and got some Nitrofurazone- another  25% water change with the Nitrofurazone, and finally SUCCESS ! !  !   YAY!  The red splotching went away after a few  treatments, and the Plecos are starting to eat again!  The  instructions on the pkg were vague - they didn't say how many  treatments to do - I did 2 treatments- 24 hrs apart with the water  change-the Plecos seem to be better now- SO I put my charcoal filter  cartridge back in, and have started diluting the medicated water - I  also added a little salt (1 TB), and I plan another water change later  tonight, continuing with only the well water- I think the Plecos are  happy not to have all the chemicals in the water, finally !    Do you think I treated them long enough with the Nitrofurazone? <Keep the water clean and watch for ammonia spikes. The medication may have affected the good bacteria that provides the biological filtration. Add Bio-Spira from Marineland if you need to recycle your tank.> Was the  salt a good idea to help them heal? < Salt will help create a slime coat on the fish, but these particular catfish really don't like salt so I would not use it anymore.> How often can/should I do these  partial water changes to keep the tank healthy? < Check the nitrates. Keep them under 25 ppm with water changes.> I want to tell  you thanks for all your help, patience, and kindly responses!  2  thumbs up to you and your crew and great website ! ! ! ! Sheryl < Thank you for your kind words. We are glad we could help because that is what we are here for.-Chuck>

Loricariid, medusa cat    3/24/06 Dear WWM <Ben>   Am just enquiring to whether you know anything about the spotted medusa cat Ancistrus l225. <Mmm, don't have this species, but have kept others of the genus> Have obtained one and am finding good info on them hard to come by. <The "L" numbered catfishes are much better reviewed in other languages... Do you read German?> I Bought the cat with the intention to have as an active algae eater, planning to swap it in the tank for two common Ancistrus. Have found some conflicting info on it though, some for eating algae predominantly and some for meat based bloodworms etc., my water parameters are ph7 and temp26 which seem fine. <Yes> If this isn't a great algae eater is there a need to get another algae eater in the tank, I have a Sturosoma aurum already, a couple of doras,2 flag cats, and Rainbowfish also keep 5 Kuhlis in a 280ltr tank. <Mmm, the algae question is up to you. If you don't want one, would rather wipe, scrape, so be it. I doubt if the present catfishes and loaches will eat much of the types of algae that grow on the viewing panels or substrates. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can recommend. Best Regards Ben

Bushynose Pleco With Goldfish  12/05/2005 Good day. I hear a lot about the compatibility of fancy goldfish and Ancistrus temminckii and how it's usually a good match. But what about all catfish within the Ancistrus family? I saw a catfish sold as "mini pointed Ancistrus" at my LFS and I was told all within the family have the same behavior. In other words, my fat (in a nice way) and very slow moving Lionhead Oranda and calico Oranda should have nothing to fear. What are your thoughts on this family and their compatibility with fancy goldfish in general? Thanks a bunch! Ted < Go to planetcatfish.com and check out the new Pleco you are planning to buy. See if the water conditions are compatible with goldfish. Not all Plecos in the genus Ancistrus have the same requirements.-Chuck>

125g Plant Tank, Inhabitants, Compatibilities - 10/22/2005 - Sabrina Learns Hawaiian - 10/23/05 Hi, <Aloha! Sabrina with you today, soon to be leaving Hawai'i to head back home....> Thanks for all your help in the past in assisting me with my F/W Planted Discus aquarium. It has been set up now for about three months and has been doing well. I just have a few short questions. First I'll give you the tank specs. * 125 Gallon tank- glass * 1 -Rena XP3 Canister Filter * 1 -48" Coralife Double Bulb Compact Fluorescent Light * 1- 24" All-Glass Double Bulb fluorescent Light * 100-150 Assorted Live Plants * 2- Large Pieces of Driftwood * 3-4" of a Mix of Fluorite and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate * 2- 300 Watt Via Aqua Steel Thermometers * 6- Small/Medium Discus- about 3-4" * 6- Lemon Tetras * 20- Cardinal Tetras * 6- "Golden Wonder" Killies- about 2" * 20- Grass Shrimp * 50 Small Snails- I tried to keep them out of the tank! * 2-Large Common Plecos- 6" * 1- Small Common Pleco * 2-Clown Plecos * 6- Assorted Small Corydoras Cats (Julii, Emerald, Panda) * 6- Dwarf African Frogs * 12- "Oto" Cats * pH- 7 * Nitrate- 20ppm * Nitrite- 0ppm * Ammonia- 0ppm * 30% Water Change every Saturday So, my questions are these: Can I add six German Blue Rams to the mix? <Mm, in all honesty, I would not.> Also, can I add six more Corydoras Cats and two more "Bushy Nose" Plecos? <The Corys, yes, but the plecs I would be a bit concerned about, since you already have several of two species. If you add these, do so with extreme caution and be prepared to remove immediately.> What is the best way to remove a green mat algae- I think it's Cyanobacteria? <Mostly just nutrient control.... In your case, you might want to explore the amount of light, needs of your plants, amount of CO2 and fertilization you use.... I heartily recommend a book called "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by (don't laugh) Peter Hiscock (I love that name, really I do!). You can likely gain a lot from this book. Aside from that, it's a pleasant read.> Thanks, -Anthony <Ahuiho! -Sabrina>

Please HELP! Breeding, losing Plecos Dear Robert, my name is Dusan and I'm form Slovakia. I have just started breeding my Plecos and they spawned after a short time. I was quite happy to see the eggs in a tube. <Yes, very exciting> I replaced the whole tube with the male into a smaller tank filled with the same water of the big one. My first Plecos hatched and hung at the side of my tank and after 8 days I fed them first time. They grew up after 2 months to about 2 cm. Then they spawned again. I replaced the male and they hatched OK. So it went about 4 times. After hatching I waited 7 days after they absorb the yolk sack. I feed them cattle heart and spinach and they're (were) all crazy about it. But... My second fry suddenly started to die out! After they were all gone, my first fry also died! Now I have stopped feeding them the heart and replaced it with fish fillet. The third fry was OK for a short time, but now they started to die too! I'm so sad to watch them struggle for life. And the way of dying is crazy. They swim around OK then they cannot stick to a wall (they slide down), after they seem to eat a bit and then I find them dead (w/ belly upward). Water conditions: dGH 4-10 ´N, 24-25 ´C (78 ´F), pH 7, no plants, no roots, aeration & filtration YES <Some friends who breed, raise Plecos (family Loricariidae) for sale use pelleted foods (mostly the formulated foods by Purina marketed as "Trout Chow") almost exclusively for very young (hatchlings) to a few months old... grading into par-boiled zucchini and other softened terrestrial greens.> I guess you may know the answer. I would be very thankful if you would respond as soon as you can. Thank you very much. Faithfully Dusan Karac <Am sending your note out to friends on the Net for their assistance as well. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Comments on Gold nuggets and such.... >Hi Marina >>Hello Wayne. >Just some notes re: the lady who lost her gold nugget and clown Plec...  First of all you're right to ask how much food made it to these plecs - I believe that the majority of these fish (like many numbers) die of starvation due to both inadequate and incorrect diet.  Notice how so many people complain they grow so slowly, well there's a good reason.   I have a few baby Bristlenoses I kept in a tank and hammered with food, they're about 5 months old now and the largest is nearly 3 inches.  I remember keeping a bristle in with some Mbuna, and that [fish] just stopped growing when it went in there, in contrast to its brother who is now a good, fat, fully grown 4 inches.  Also, as you point out the fish, esp. the gold nugget do not feed on algae, except in utter desperation, rather they pick up worms, bugs, critters and chew on the biofilm I believe.  These fish are fussy on water quality and also water movement and dissolved oxygen content.  Notice how this lady's and so many hung on the filter outlet.  In the only good breeding report I've seen  a powerhead was pointing at the spawning cave!  30% a month is thoroughly inadequate, and that LFS was pretty stupid to say so.  My fish respond well to 10, 15 percent 3 times a week.  I only gravel Hoover every 2 or 3 weeks though to maintain a biofilm of mulm for continual chewing.  I don't think these fish are too fussy about pH within reasonable limits, but I'm pretty sure nuggets at least are from acidic blackwater rivers (Lower xingu, but I need to check that).  There is a theory that these low pH rivers are not terribly bacteria friendly, so fish from these areas are all prone to bacterial infection as they simply don' have a 'bacteria unfriendly' immune system - (examples wild caught Apistos, discus, L nos).  Again, another reason for those frequent water changes.  So my bet here is a slight slip in water quality, plus a minimal diet caused a bacterial infection and pop.  You might not even need the bacterial bit to kill a slowly weakening fish.  So I would say if you're going to keep these fish be prepared to overfeed the tank and counter it with frequent small water changes.   >>Agreed. >I truly wish I could help with the questions but I simply don't have an hour a day (small children = zero time at home) Regards,  Wayne Oxborough >>Much to my chagrin (and others on the crew who know how much we truly need knowledgeable help), I do understand.  Thank you for your input, though.  Marina

Angels and Clowns I have a 90 gallon show tank. It is decorated with wood, a single large piece of holey limestone, black gravel and floating plastic bamboo plants...sort of a sparse Zen look. It has clown loaches (2"-4")... they eat out of my hand...and Bushynose Plecos... the Plecos are actually breeding on a routine basis. The pH is 7.2, temperature is 80 degrees, and ammonia and nitrite are zero. It has been up and running for 18 months. I use two Emperor 400s. I change 10% of the water daily and wash out the filer pads in the process. I want to add a few angelfish. Are they compatible with the clown loaches? The loaches are pretty active sometimes. Also, would the angelfish help control the Pleco population? My LFS gives me $2 each for them...several hundred dollars so far... but it is a hassle to take everything out of the tank to catch them and it disturbs the fish. >> You should be able to add some angels, but please start with medium sized fish, the activity of the clown loaches at night may bother the small angels. They will, unfortunately, eat some of your baby Bristlenose Plecos. If you want to catch your Bristlenose babies without having to take the tank apart try putting some food (romaine lettuce, tied to an airstone) at night, with a net underneath it. The baby Plecos will enter the net from the top and swim down to eat the lettuce in the stream of bubbles. Use a flashlight to see when Plecos are in your net and lift! Good Luck, Oliver <<

Loricariid fry Hi Bob, or whoever is in, <Don jumping at this one!> My Ancistrus catfish are breeding all the time. Usually the male is looking after the fry for 1 to 3 weeks until they are all gone. Mostly probably eaten by the other inhabitants of the community tank (different rainbows and bitterling). Every here and than I will find a young one weeks later. About 5 months ago I disturbed him just shortly after the eggs hatched and I took them out to raise them in a little tank on my kitchen bench. By now they are developed into 2 different sizes: ~3cm and ~3.5cm. From the size difference and the behaviour I think the bigger ones are the males although I can't see the bristles jet. Am I right? I noticed that the female is already pregnant again even though the male just let go of the others. It is amazing, they are like a breeding machine and each time it seems there are more eggs. What would be the best time to remove the eggs/ fry to raise them in a different tank? I would like to give some of the off-spring to a friend. <Wow, great timing on this one! My albino Bristlenose just spawned for the first time a few days ago. Still waiting for my first hatch. Mine are alone in a 10 gallon so no need to move. But in your case I would move them a day before they hatch. Let the father do his thing fanning them as long as possible. A day or two after they hatch would work, but do it before they leave the cave. Easier to move the eggs, IMO. Not sure if the size difference has to do with sex. Mine were pretty much all the same until they were twice as large as yours. Some may be feeding a little more aggressively than the others. The bristles will not appear until they are 6 to 8 months old. Hard to sex until then, but females may appear thicker when viewed from above>          As with the other inhabitants in the tank they are breeding as well. Well, they try. I notice the courting and sometimes I find all the fishies very busy in one small area and having, what looks like, a nice meal in between. I don't take them out to breed them, so I just enjoy watching their courtship. Thanks for your help Silvia <That your fish are breeding this often is a sign of your fine care. It is no problem at all that the fish are eating the eggs. Very natural and healthy food. But I'd find it hard not to set up a breeder for the Rainbows. Don>

Suckermouth Catfish young! hi bob, today a bigger clean up for my fish tank was due. I noticed for a while the Bristlenose catfish male sitting in the terracotta pot underneath the filter. I have a submerged pump with filter. because he was too long and always sticking out with head or tail I thought I give him the pot with the big hole in the bottom so he could fit better in. I took the pot out and noticed something falling out. I first believed it to be old rotten leaves but when they were wiggling around I already lost some. I put the pot with the remaining larvae ( about a dozen) in a small tank on the kitchen bench top where I usually raise brine shrimp. lucky that it was just cleaned and refilled with water. now there is the bigger pot under the filter and the male is still guarding it. I feel sorry for him that I pinched his fry. I will probably leave him the next batch of fry and see how they are going in the tank, especially after he stops guarding the nest. now they are sitting in the pot and got a sponge filter and some potted java ferns with them. I didn't expect such a thing to happen because the temperature is going down. currently 20 degrees c. I noticed the bitterling male displaying to his favourite girl. she doesn't look pregnant to me but one can try anyway. back to the Bristlenose fry. they must have hatched just before I found them. now after about 36 hours there is still one egg. will it hatch or do I have to remove it that it doesn't go off and foul the water? < The one remaining egg is probably infertile and will fungus up but should not be too big a problem.> I find the egg quite huge compared to the rosy barb and goldfish eggs we were breeding years ago. the fry looks big too, with their big egg yolks. they were orange yesterday but they start to get darker now. I called "my" pet shop yesterday and he said I have to put some driftwood in otherwise I wouldn't have much success with raising the fry. so I went into the garden and picked some bigger pieces of timber from my mulch ( I don't use pesticide) and boiled them for a couple of hours. later on when they are free swimming I will feed them brine shrimp, vinegar eels and small pellets. do you have any suggestions? I would appreciate them. < Baby Bristlenose Plecos should be feed algae. Put in any plastic plant or rock covered in algae for them to feed on. Algae wafers can be used to except that the fry soon become imprinted on a food source and can be hard to get them to switch over. I know some people that have bred them and can't get the fry to eat algae at all. Some Plecos species require some wood in their diet. I don't think this species requires it but it can't hurt to have it in there either.-Chuck> Silvia

Smallest Pleco for Algae Hello.  I have a small (30 gal) tank with a few cichlids in it and need something to take care of the algae that is quickly building.  Until the cichlids were full size, I had a couple Chinese Algae Eaters in there and they worked great.  Well, all at once, they both got eaten so it's time for a change.  I was considering a Bristlenose Pleco, but is there something else I should consider that stays small, eats lots of algae, and won't get eaten by my cichlids?  I've been kind of anti-Plecos since discovering how much waste they produce so I'm hoping if I get one that stays small, they won't produce much waste.  At least, that's the theory. Thanks for all your help and your great site. -Mike in BFE Illinois (p.s.  This is the Cubs' year!) >>Dear Mike: What kind of cichlids are you keeping in the 30g? I ask because a 30g is a tad small for many cichlids, as they will be far more aggressive in smaller tanks. Which makes me wonder if you will put into jeopardy any new species you might add. Also, how often do you do partial water changes? High toxin levels will also make your fish act aggressively towards tankmates that in other circumstances they would ignore. That said, I think you are better off with the Bristlenoses, anyways. They are the best choice for your tank. -Gwen

Breeding Ancistrus sp. hey Bob, Don from PA. breeding Ancistrus sp. housing, abs tube black 6 to 8in long 1and 1/2 round block one end you have to will to anchor it down it dose not sink. feed( zucchini raw )put a lead weight on it green beans ( French style)', shrimp pellets, drift wood they chew on it. lots of water changes temp.74/76 I do not remove fry good parents. I hope this helps your friend Don from pa. <Thanks for this Don. Your vast experience does indeed "count". Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Bristle Nose Pleco versus Golden Clown Pleco Of the Bristle Nose Pleco or a Golden Clown Pleco,  <There are actually quite a few of the former and at least two species of the latter. Likely you have seen our scant presentation on Loricariids: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> 1. Which would be better at cleaning algae off the sides of the tank? <Probably one of the Bristlenose Plecos. Please look on Fishbase.org for some idea of which fishes this appellation applies> 2. Which one would be better at leaving the plants alone? <The Golden Clowns or some of the smaller species of Bristlenoses> 3. Which one is most friendly? I have a community tank with two clown loaches and two Corydoras Julies and will be getting four Otos. (the other fish are some guppies, mollies, a tetra and a red swordtail. <Ahh, the Goldens.> Thank you.  Ann <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Ancistrus temminckii breeding Dear Robert, I would like to ask you some questions about Ancistrus temminckii and breeding. How long do they need to be (inches/cm) before they can start breeding? <Coincidentally have a friend in PA (Don) who breeds these regularly, including albino ones...> Books say "a hollow in a piece of bogwood will be chosen as the spawning site." - I can't find a piece of wood that big, can I use a clay flower pot (upside-down) with a hole in it big enough for them to enter? <Yes, this is what Don uses mostly...> I guess the main question is: Do they need a 'cave' OR a 'hole' ;where a cave has one entrance and a hole has two? <One is fine, two is okay> If you could reply at your earliest convenience it would be appreciated. Keith <Glad to help... take a read through the "South American Suckermouth Catfishes" section on the www.WetWebMedia.com site yet? Bob Fenner>
Re: Ancistrus temminckii breeding
Dear Robert, I have looked at WetWebMedia. What object should I use for the spawning site? -can't find large bogwood with hollow in it. <Either a small diameter piece of PVC pipe or a clay type flower pot with a section broken on the lip for access placed upside down. Bob Fenner> Thanks Keith
Re: Ancistrus temminckii breeding
Sorry to bother you again but what if the pot is made of clay? Should I leave only one entrance? <Yes, this is fine. As long as there is enough room for the animals to turn around to make it in/out. Bob Fenner> Thanks a lot for your help Keith

Ancistrus temminckii Dear Robert, could you please tell me all the foods that Ancistrus temminckii (Bristlenose catfish) can eat. I have a wonderful book and it says I can feed it lettuce-I have NO algae in my tank. BUT I want to give it some variety; without wasting money on algae tablets at the pet store-the employee there said I should give it those algae tablet things. But then those people "must make a profit", I don't believe him.  Can you tell me what vegetables it can eat. Can it eat cabbage???  Will it die if I give it a fresh vegetable diet?  I haven't really seen them rasping at the cabbage. What signs should I look for? , I worry they will starve as my sucking catfish recently died.  If they have nothing to eat, will they start eating the aquatic plants? if so, will this be enough? Thanks a lot  >> In the wild, this species, genus and most of the family of sucker-mouth South American (though some are Central) Catfishes (Loricariidae) consume mainly greenery, insect larvae and worms and wood!... In captivity they still require daily greens (the tablets are about the best route to go, cost wise, ease of use, and non-messiness... along with different types of terrestrial materials like boiled/blanched/microwaved zucchini, peas, spinach... not just fresh greens thrown in... hard to manipulate and digest... expensive but readily taken are "human consumption" algae as well (Nori, kombu...) and incidental and not meaty foods that you'd otherwise feed to other types of fishes... and that wood.... something in the way of driftwood works best...

Bristlenose problems Dear Robert, my Bristlenose having been doing ok I guess. They are eating the zucchini and cabbage. It hasn't been boiled or cooked in anyway-sorry but I did it before I read your email. I bought some algae tablets for them-Wardley premium algae discs. When I put these in my Bristlenose cats liked it so they started 'sucking' at those 'discs'. Then here's the problem: My livebearers (guppies, mollies, platies, and swordtails) started taking bites out of the discs. The mollies started first- I read that they need some plant in their diet. They were very aggressive and my Bristlenose cats are too small in size to defend their meal....the algae discs were all consumed. The mollies were very aggressive with the males raising their fins all the time and attacking other fish that tried to eat the algae discs.  What should I do? <Feed them all the algae discs and even greenery-based flake foods... it is good for them... what these livebearers principally eat in the wild.> What signs can I look for to tell if my Bristlenose are starving? >> <Though they are "armored" catfishes, you can see them getting skinny, concave in the area right ahead of their vents... keep them well fed.> Bob Fenner 

Gill Flukes on Bristlenose Catfish HI, Love your webpage. I am new to fish keeping and therefore not familiar with diseases. I have 2 separate but possibly interconnected questions. My 4.5 cm Bristlenose Pleco (BN) male is living in a 50 ltr long tank with 3 platy and 1 Betta. The tank is cycled, heavily planted, has driftwood and terracotta cubby houses, heater 28 degrees, filtered, gravel sub, and 30 watt light. Ammonia zero  nitrites zero, nitrates, 10. pH 7. Tank established for 3 months. I feed the BN algae wafers (platy eat em too), pea, cucumber and zucchini (sp) and the odd brine shrimp or bloodworm might float his way also. About 3 weeks ago he was attacked by another BN in a different tank so I relocated him to his new tank (he one detailed above). The damage was missing skin at base of body where tail emerges. It is nicely healing now and he is seems active and happy (no clamped up fins). Yesterday I noticed his sucker was pinky/red sort of uneven. Is this normal? I am assuming not. Could it be heater burn? Could it be bacteria? Could it be a sign of gill flukes? What do you all think? <It "could" be any of the above. My bet would be bacterial, but it could be from something as simple as eating algae off of a rough rock. Keep the water clean, remove all but smooth rocks and watch her. I would not treat unless you see it get worse. Then a good broad spectrum antibiotic> Q/2 gill flukes. The reason why I raise this is that I think another BN died of gill flukes but I was too slow to act. I know that not all meds are safe with cats so I hesitated trying to work out what to use to kill the flukes. This is  a chronological list of change in behaviour. The BN was (probably female) 3cm, isolated herself, not hanging on the wood anymore, then, gasping at top of well filtered aerated tank waterline, and then spending all her time on substrate barely moving, before shooting up to top for air, and straight back down to substrate again. Initially, there was another female same size in there with her-which I immediately removed when the (now dead) one isolated herself (I thought they might be having a territory/submission issues). Again ammonia nitrite= zero nitrates 20, ph cannot remember, my tanks are usually 7. So gill flukes seemed to fit the symptoms. I am still not sure though what is safe on a BN to treat with? I'm in oz so limited meds available but it seems Fluke tabs which is Prazi (Praziquantel) or Para-cide which is Trichlorofon.    Anyone have opinions on what is safe out of these two? <Well, I'm not convinced it was gill flukes. Possible, but unlikely in tank bred fish. With your tough import/export laws I doubt they are wild caught, although they may have been pond bred. More likely Ick. Plecs have thick skin which offers them some protection, but not on the gills. You can use a half concentration of most meds, but for twice as long, on Plecos. If you find out it is Ick, use salt to treat. Don>      Jay

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