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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats: Baryancistrus

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
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, 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, Panaque, 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, Reproduction Algae Eaters

Swordtails golden nugget... ? Env./hlth of both I guess    1/6/12
Hi I know this sound like a weird combo this will be sorted, but at the moment I keep 5 golden nuggets
<Suckermouth Catfishes, Baryancistrus sp.?>

( unfortunately now four) a group of seven syrillis cories, along with roughly 5 large female and a mixture of baby swordtails.
 To the point I recently have lost a few swordtails to a problem that creeps up every now and again where my large swordtails look slightly unwell then within 24-48 hours there scales fall off and there flesh looks flakey as if it's falling off but this only happens from there belly up and from tail towards head that's the direction the problem
Move along there body over this short period of time, I have been keeping these fish together for over three years  with no problems what is causing this?
<Mmm... could be pathogenic... there are some bacterial issues and protozoan parasites that appear like this... Requires microscopic examination of sample smears to detect/identify specifically. Or, could be a matter of water quality issues... Like quite different conditions than the catfishes>
 My next question is could my golden nugget have suffered a random heart attack it had been fine as usual and died in the blink of an eye when I was looking at my tank no joke so I am baffled to the nuggets problem.
My tank is 220 liters plus extra ten from filter which is a Fluval 405 my water is fine and constant and doesn't change I do two to three water changes per week between 20-50 liters  and once a month I do a 50% ( expensive I no but only the best for my golden nuggets) No2 0ppm No3 0ppm ph 6.8
<Ahh, this could be the problem w/ your Swords. Xiphophorus need hard water...>
 ( my water is very hard in my area so I struggle to get soft water
<How do you do this? All aquarium life needs some Biominerals, alkalinity>
 but I am setting the nuggets up a 350 liter river setup and paying for ro on just there tank (once that tank frees up when I get my new 2500 litre Oscar Arowana setup)) no ammonia no chlorine chloramine all heavy metals are barely detectable for what I can test.
 Any thing you can suggest
<See above for my questions, input thus far>
 I generally cure any illness using natural methods i.e.  I have cured hith in  many a friends fish just using Epsom salts I even saved my local fish shops Oscar) any help too the swordtail problem would be appreciated, any conformation on the nuggets would be appreciated but I know they are a niche for information
Thanks yours sincerely aleck Fletcher
<The swordtails really need to be raised in a separate system... Cooler, harder water... Bob Fenner>
Re: Swordtails golden nugget    1/6/12

As soon as I repair my another spare 180 litre I'll move the swords thank you very much, what would I be looking for under the scope ?
<... please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM>
 I have never had experience under the scope but have done swim bladder deflation on my Frontosas before so should be capable with research on scraping etc
but what exactly under the scope am I looking for?
<... posted>
How do I soften the water?
<This also>
 I just have lots of plants and have homemade soil substrate under the gravel and lots of bogwood and it just seems to sit around 6.6-6.8 I'd like it bit lower but cannot afford r/o how hard should I also make the water for the swords cooler?
<Yes, depending on the current temp....>
 What sort of temp mines at 28c ATM and it goes up to 30-32 in summer  and it cools at night to 28-29c, any more clues to nugget death would be appreciated too.
<... see/read on WWM under Loricariid health/disease.>
 I'll move the swords once I repair there old tank
<Cheers, BobF>

Baryancistrus sp.  9/13/10
Hello Crew,
<Hello Paul,>
I recently purchased a Golden Nugget Pleco (Baryancistrus sp.) and I have a couple of questions about care. I did some research online regarding care
and the trouble I keep running into is feeding and water conditions.
<Oh? Should do well in most community tank conditions.>
The ph of my water is around 7.8 for the cichlids I keep in the tank. Is the water going to be to hard for it?
<Let's start with the basics. pH isn't hardness. You can have soft water with a high pH. You can have hard water with a low pH. While the two things are usually related, they don't have to be. Fish actually don't care about the pH. Anything between 6 and 8 will suit this species fine. However, hardness is important. Let's assume your cichlids are Rift Valley cichlids such as Malawian cichlids or Tanganyikan cichlids. These need hard water as you know, at least 15 degrees dH general hardness, and 5 or more degrees KH carbonate hardness. Such an aquarium would, it is true, have a pH between about 7.5 and 8.5. But the reason your Baryancistrus couldn't be kept in that tank is the hardness, not the pH. As I hope you realise, Baryancistrus is a South American Loricariid and not compatible with Rift Valley cichlids or Central American cichlids. On the other hand, West African cichlids (such as Kribs) and South American cichlids (such as Acara) would make fine tankmates. West African and South American cichlids prefer soft water, something around 5-10 degrees dH, and a pH between 6.5-7.5. That would be just fine and dandy for Baryancistrus. One slight complication is that some Gold Nugget Plecs are Baryancistrus L18, a variety from the Rio Xingu, and these need much warmer water than most South American fish, a trait shared with other Rio Xingu fish. You're aiming for around 27-28 C/79-82 F.
Obviously that's far too warm for most cichlids, rather few of which do well above 25 C/77 F. You'd need to choose tankmates for Baryancistrus L18 very carefully.>
My other question is feeding, what in your experience works best with try to get food past a bunch of hungry cichlids?
<Depends on the cichlids. I'm trying to think which South American and West African cichlids eat vegetables. Hardly any, except perhaps Severums and Uaru. I'm worried you're talking about Mbuna, and you absolutely CANNOT keep Baryancistrus with Mbuna, so the question is a non-starter.>
What would be the best food to give it? Other sites suggested blood worms, algae tabs and blanched zucchini. Any suggestions or ideas would be helpful.
<Baryancistrus are omnivorous, like most Loricariidae, so a mix of zucchini, cooked peas, mussels, fish fillet, bloodworms, algae wafers and catfish pellets would all be accepted. Feed some of these at night, and provided there aren't too many other catfish or loaches in there, the fish should feed itself just fine. South American and West African cichlids are mainly predatory and/or substrate-sifters, so there may be some competition for bloodworms and meaty foods, but only during the daytime. At night the catfish will be on his own.>
<Hope this helps. Nice catfish by the way, but don't expect it to last long in Rift Valley aquarium!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Baryancistrus sp.  9/13/10
I should of mentioned what its take mate would be. I have 6 Labidochromis caeruleus, 3 Haplochromis sp. 44 and 2 female Protomelas taeniolatus (which are getting moved to a different tank when they get a little bigger).
<Labidochromis and Protomelas are Malawian cichlids, while Haplochromis sp. 44 comes from Lake Victoria; mixing Victorian and Malawian cichlids isn't recommended for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their different water chemistry requirements. Contrary to popular misconception, Lake Victoria isn't especially hard and alkaline, at least not as much as Lake Malawi. This is where this nonsensical "African Cichlid" idea gets the unwary into deep trouble. If you haven't already invested in books by the
likes of Paul Loiselle or Ad Konings, can I strongly encourage you to do so? There's a lot of balderdash provided online in terms of what cichlids need, and retailers often seem to have only the vaguest ideas about the different needs of Malawian, Tanganyikan, and Victorian cichlids.>
My tank set up includes heavy rock work with a few dense fake plants and fine white sand for a substrate.
<Well, I hope the rockwork has been secured. I'd strongly recommend a layer of gravel at the bottom of the tank about a half-inch deep, and then a gravel tidy, and then the rocks on top of that. I have seen first hand what happens when rocks slip down because the gravel is moved, hit the glass, and then crack the bottom of the tank. You don't want a piece of that, trust me!>
I will be adding a couple pieces of driftwood after they are done soaking for a couple of days.
<Driftwood will of course lower the pH if your carbonate hardness isn't sufficiently high. That will stress Malawian cichlids in particular. A small bit of wood shouldn't make much difference, but it's still not
generally recommended to do this with Malawian aquaria. It's not as if these cichlids use wood as habitat. Protomelas is an open-water Haplochromine that darts into the rocks only when alarmed, while Labidochromis is a typical Mbuna that spends its time around the rocks.
These two genera should get along quite well; though Mbuna generally terrify if not kill Haplochromines, Labidochromis is one of the few exceptions, Iodotropheus being the other.>
There are a bunch of hiding places around the tank so I didn't think that territory would be a issue.
<Labidochromis doesn't form breeding territories, so in that regard no, it shouldn't cause problems with any catfish.>
How concerned should I be with the other fish harassing and trying to kill it?
<Least of your problems. Baryancistrus doesn't belong in this aquarium because of the radially different requirements in terms of water chemistry and potentially temperature. Let me be as clear as crystal here: this fish needs its own soft or at least not-too-hard water aquarium. A regular community tank with tetras, barbs, etc. would be fine. Malawian cichlids?
Nope. Who told you this would be a good idea? There are some Synodontis that would work, for example S. nyassae, but Baryancistrus? No, no, no. To be fair, there are some hardy Loricariidae that do okay in Malawian tanks; I have a Royal Panaque that spent many years in just such a system, and I dare say something like Hypostomus punctatus or Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps would do just fine as well. But Baryancistrus spp. are much less adaptable, and really do need something more like you'd provide for Corydoras and South American fish generally, though as noted in my previous e-mail possibly with higher temperatures if you have a Rio Xingu specimen.>
So far the other fish were content to just swim up to it and see what the new fish was all about, after a few minutes they left it alone to do its own thing.
<Indeed. Your cichlids aren't a bad mix in terms of temperament assuming the tank is adequately large, though Haplochromis sp. 44 doesn't want quite the same conditions as the two Malawians. Neither should they cause undue harm to Malawian species of Synodontis. But I fear that your Baryancistrus will not have a particularly long and happy life in this aquarium. Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>

Gold nugget not eating   4/20/08 Hello, I recently bought a gold nugget Plec from wildwoods online. He arrived and seemed to be ok, but when I put him in my tank he slid up to the glass he seemed to have a sunken belly - I have tried to ask on forums, but users there are saying this is a bad sign, that he is unhealthy and that he is probably going to die. Its been around two days since I got him and he won't eat. I was wondering whether the reason he had such a sunken stomach is because wildwoods were sending him by post and didn't feed him anything due to ammonia build up? I've tried to feed bloodworms, various balanced vegi, pellets, wafers - all sorts of food, I'm getting worried because he is not eating and he always hides. I caught him once, moving around a bit but then he hid again. This is my first time having an L number and I have no idea what to do. I'm getting worried, cannot sleep because I know he has not eaten for days. He is in a 400L Juwel Rio tank, which also houses 6 small angel fish, two clown loaches, one baby bronze Cory, and two guppies. I did a water test today and the results are: Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0.25 Ammonia: 0 pH: 7.8 Temperature is 28 deg Thank you for any help you can give me. <The issue is water quality: until you get (and keep) nitrite at 0, this catfish will become steadily weaker. Baryancistrus spp. are sensitive to poor water quality. Review the articles and FAQs here at WWM re: water quality and filtration, and then act accordingly. Baryancistrus are among the more carnivorous plecs, and will need a mixed diet including not just softened vegetables but also algae wafers, bloodworms, and the occasional piece of chopped seafood like mussel and prawn. In good conditions, it is certainly possible to get Loricariidae back from the sunken eyes, hollow belly stage. Have done this myself. But requires dedication, a varied diet, and optimal water quality. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco question... hlth... aggr. damage?  -- 02/07/08 Hello Neale, I've been big fan of your answers on WWM for long time. Excellent job, THANK YOU. <Very kind of you to say so.> I have a question about my leopard Pleco L085. <Do we really me L85? L85 is Baryancistrus sp. "Gold Nugget Plec", whereas Pterygoplichthys pardalis is one of the (several) species called "Leopard Plec" in the trade. I'm going to assume you mean the Gold Nugget Plec.> It is currently in 55 g tank with 2 Severums and 2 blood parrots. (I know you don't like them, but I have them, enjoying them and taking care of them). <It's not that I have something against Blood Parrots, they're just not my taste. Like fancy Goldfish and Pit Bull Terriers. I'm sure they're lovely pets. Just not for me!> Pleco had been in the tank for about 10 months and it's about 6 inches long. My water parameters: Temp-80'C pH-8.0 NH3-0 NO2-0 NO3-10-25ppm (50% water change/week) <All sounds fine, though very slightly warmer than I'd tend to keep them. There's no real advantage to temperatures above 25C/77F for most tropical fish, and indeed some positive disadvantages (faster metabolism, less oxygen in the water). But if this works for you, then great.> Food: Frozen food for algae eaters (I think you know what it is)-4 times/week <Actually have no idea! But sounds useful!> Algae wafers- 1 every night Fresh vegetables-occasionally I also have big peace of wood in the tank. <I would mix this up a little; Baryancistrus spp. are omnivores rather than herbivores, and appreciate things like bloodworms, chopped seafood, even the odd bit of whitebait. That said, most fish seem to thrive on good quality algae wafers (such as Hikari Algae Wafers), and my Synodontis pretty much eat nothing else.> Problem is that my Pleco is only fish in the tank who very often has torn fins and tail. (Could it be due to occasional fight for space and food with my parrots?) <Hmm... could indeed be scuffling with the cichlids. But don't rule out [a] water quality issues and [b] heater burns (catfish are wont to lie against heaters if that seems a good hiding place). So check these other issues as well. In any even, giving the catfish a nice burrow where the other fish can't harass it should fix this. Clay pipes and flowerpots are ideal. Get one big enough for the cat, but not for the cichlids. Problem solved hopefully, as the catfish will basically stay completely out of sight while the lights are on.> Also very often it has big gray spots all over the body. These spots disappeared when Pleco start swimming or eating. But when it is just lay down on the gravel it all covered with these spots and fish looks terrible. <No idea what this could be. If we're saying it changes colour from yucky to nice depending on whether it's swimming, that's one thing. But if we're looking at patches of dead skin or something that come off when the fish moves, that's another issue entirely. Really need a picture to understand this. It's also worth mentioning that the adults do somewhat lose their contrast as they mature. This is pretty normal with Loricariids, especially the ones with white spots on a black background. It's very obvious on Ancistrus, for example.> I tried to find any info about this in the web with no luck. Your help would be appreciated. Thank you again, Mark <Hope this helps, but honestly am a bit mystified. Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater silica sand/substrate question(s) 1/19/08 Mates, <Hello,> Thanks for the all the help in the past and, generally, for keeping this site active and (extremely) useful. <Cool.> I am setting up a 120g freshwater tank, to house rainbows, Congo tetras, various Plecos and a few Corys. <Hmm... be careful with the "various plecs" idea -- not all of them play nicely together.> I've got them all in a 50g right now, with HOB AquaClear (way oversized for current application), silica sand substrate from home depot, healthy amount of Mopani wood and some lace rock. A few freshwater plants for decoration...java moss and water lettuce. Everyone is happy. No casualties at any time...been good for about 9 months now. Plecos have been much less nocturnal recently...to me, a good sign they are starting to feel comfortable in their current home. <Indeed.> On new tank (don't know if it matters, but I'll give it out anyways), planning on dual internal overflow boxes from glass-holes.com with 1.5" holes on both, sump below with filter sock for mechanical filtration, FBF for biological (don't want bio-balls/bio-bale...too much commotion and trying to avoid as much CO2 loss as I can...it will be moderately planted with primarily low input plants...FBF just seems like the best fit), return pump either an Eheim submersible or pan world external. 240w t-5 full spectrums. I am planning on keeping plants on Mopani driftwood (like Anubias, java moss, java fern) and in pots, probably not going to drop anything directly into the substrate. <My feeling here is CO2 is a waste with very slow growing plants like these. Their growth is slow enough the ambient CO2 in plain water will be adequate. As you probably know, CO2 is something you need to add to brightly-lit tanks because the fast-growing plants need the CO2 for photosynthesis to keep up with amount of light. Your selection of plants live in shade and don't like a lot of light (Anubias tends to get covered in algae). Java fern also seems to thrive in hard, even brackish, water and likely removes carbon from bicarbonate in the water anyway. Since CO2 is toxic to fish if not dosed carefully, I'd balance any benefits against the potential risks.> This tank will probably be converted to reef tank in a few years...trying to plan for that during freshwater set up, but treat the freshies appropriately now. (Any other suggestions/warnings on the set up are appreciated). <Above.> Anyhow, I realized this week how much substrate it was going to take to fill up the tank. It is about 8 square feet...at 3" deep, that's about 2 square feet of substrate. That is a ton (well, not literally). Probably in the neighborhood of 150lbs of sand. For river sand/cafe sand/beach sand, that is going to be around $160 at the local LFS. <Yikes!> Now, as mentioned above, I've used the #30 silica sand from home depot. it is just listed as industrial sand, but states on the back purity in excess of 99.?% silica sand. I've used in two tanks with Corys, Plecos, aquatic dwarf frogs, and never had any issues (no casualties, no evidence of barbel/gill/skin/scale damage of any kind), other than it takes for ever to rinse and about a week to clear up once it is in the tank. I read in the Neale Monks article (great name by the way - "Nice Bottoms") that you have to watch out for 'sharp' silica...I have no idea how to tell if it is sharp or not. Can you help me on this? <Sharp sand is a specific grade of sand used in horticulture at least for providing good drainage in potting compost mixes. It's also used in building work of various kinds. The grains are angular rather than rounded, and it feels sharp or scratchy to the touch. Smooth silica sand, the kind used in aquaria, has a lovely silky feel.> As well, there are two different grades - #20 and #30. I combed through the internet (got to love Google) but couldn't really find an explanation as to grades and granule sizes. From what I could gather, #20 granule is bigger than #30 granule. Is this right? <No idea. Provided the sand is smooth, the size of the grains couldn't matter less really. I suppose bigger sand grains would be better in some ways, since they're less likely to get swooshed about into the water column when fish swim by. (And big fish really do kick the stuff up into the tank!)> Obvious, I'd want to go with the largest granules I can get to minimize dangers of compacting/anaerobic decay/nasty gases. <This issue at least is largely irrelevant. Anaerobic decay is a bit of an exaggerated problem. If you're not planting anything, then you don't really need much sand anyway. In deep sand beds, any anaerobic decay mostly breaks down nitrate (a good thing, encouraged in marine tanks!) and any H2S produced reacts virtually at once with oxygen should it get into the water column and has little real impact on fish health. Go visit a pond and see how much anaerobic decay there is there... and yet the fish are fine.> Last, and off topic but something I've always wondered, would a protein skimmer provide any benefit to a freshwater set up? <Generally no. A standard skimmer requires a certain amount of salinity to work at all. Brackish systems at SG 1.010 seem to be about the minimum. If the salinity is too low, the bubbles don't stick together and you don't get the froth. There are freshwater skimmers, but they're rather different (and bigger) and used primarily for ponds. Besides, in a freshwater system, water changes are so cheap that you may as well use them for nitrate control. Few freshwater fish are particularly sensitive to nitrate, so provided you keep things below 20 mg/l, you're fine, even with Discus or Tanganyikans. By contrast, marine aquarists generally want to maintain much lower nitrate levels than that. Bottom line, there's no particular need for skimmers in freshwater tanks.> Thanks. Paul in San Diego. <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: freshwater silica sand/substrate question(s) 1/20/08
Neale, thanks for the response. A follow up if I may. <Hello again,> I wasn't planning on adding CO2. haven't on past tanks and don't plan to do so on future tanks. I like the way my tanks look...I'm more of a Walstad guy than an Amano guy. I've got a 10g Walstad style tank that is the easiest tank to care for that I have ever owned, by a significant margin, and I am very pleased with the appearance (so are the inhabitants...no casualties and impressive growth from variety of fish). So I'm not sure what you meant by the discussion re: CO2...was that in response to my comment that I was trying to minimize CO2 loss (aka out-gassing?)? <Misread the original e-mail. Oops.> On another thread, do you think the FBF is the best route, or would you have another suggestion? I really want whatever gets used to be in the sump to minimize clutter in the tank itself. <Use whatever meets your budget and interests. With freshwater fish, the sort of filter you use doesn't matter enormously. Water changes have a bigger impact on water quality, and manipulating water chemistry is more important if you're breeding fish or keeping demanding species. Yes, some filters can become "nitrate factories" if not maintained, and yes, some filters interfere with plant growth. But these are all fairly trivial issues that can be worked around easily. If you want to experiment with the sump using marine-grade filtration, then by all means do so, but there's unlikely to be any dramatic impact on water quality.> As for Plecos, I took a risk with two gold nuggets (who can be territorial), but even in their present tank, they are peaceful and often hang out in the same cave (one is about 4", the other about 2", so maybe the 4" doesn't see the smaller one as a threat...I also considered they may be M/F, but noticing a near dearth of information about successful breeding in captivity, that idea quickly faded...). <Breeding plecs is a relatively uncommon event (though Ancistrus at least are easy to breed. I'd experiment.> The rest (queen arabesque, royal, king tiger and galaxy/vampire) are rather mellow and 'play nice.' <So far... I have heard some horror stories of one Plec scraping off the skin from another as they fight over living space. On the other hand, I've seen plecs of different species become very friendly, sharing burrows amicable, even following one another around. Some plecs at least are schooling fish in the wild, even if territorial in captivity, so it likely depends on a variety of factors we can't altogether control. Be vigilant.> Might be different story when they get bigger, but they are about to get a much larger tank, which I am hopeful will fully mitigate any potential problem. <Sounds like a plan.> As for sand, I'll just use the feel test. thanks <Cheers, Neale.>

L-25 Scarlet Pleco disease ID  12/29/07 Hello once again WWM crew. Thanks again for the services you guys/gals provide and a Happy Holidays to all of you. Anyhow, I recently got a beautiful 10" L-25 Scarlet Pleco from a friend that can no longer house/care for it. It seems to be healthy at this moment with no abnormal behaviors, but when I got it, I did notice there was three whitish blemishes around the nostril area and one on the side of its body, slightly circular in shape about 3-4 mm in diameter. Reading through the FAQ make me think it might be a fungus of some sort, but just want to make sure. Might possibly be just slight impact damage that is healing but does look like fungus to me. Looking at it closely seems to be only on the upper layer of the skin/armor, not penetrating nor deteriorating deep into the skin. No signs of blood or anything. What do you think? Should I be treating it and if so, with what and how? Should I just wait it out awhile to see if the situation improves or advances before any medication is administered? Please help and thanks a lot in advance. Sorry if the pictures are so blurry. Andy <Hmm... difficult to tell precisely what the issue is here. But I would recommend using a combination Finrot/Fungus medication. This factors out the uncertainty with regard to determining the pathogen involved. Most of these combination treatments will deal with Finrot bacteria, mouth 'fungus' bacteria, and plain vanilla fungal infections. With catfish you do need to be careful to dose carefully and look out for signs of distress, as some catfish react badly to some medications. I've found eSHa 2000 to be safe with a variety of Loricariids including Panaque, Ancistrus, and Otocinclus, but your own experiences may vary. Do take the precaution of increasing aeration during treatment, and of course remove carbon from the filter (if you're using the stuff, something not normally necessary in freshwater community tanks). Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy problem, feeding Pleco   1/21/06 That was something I did forget to mention, during the week I left the tank to settle I added AquaPlus and cycle to get rid of chlorine and add bacteria to the water. I isolated the two ill fish in a smaller tank, added some salt and went out and bought MelaFix to treat both tanks but unfortunately the two fish died overnight. I'm continuing to treat the water and haven't added any more fish to give it time to fully cycle. <Good> I have one other problem: my Snowball Pleco. I had a look about the internet to try and find what to feed him and most sources say they're not picky eaters but I can't seem to get mine to eat. I left a cucumber <Would not use this... try blanched Zucchini instead... with the skin if small> for him, which I'm told they like and I bought special bottom-feeder food but he doesn't seem to have touched any of it. When I got him the lady said he needed wood in his tank, which he seems to be permanently stuck to, is he eating that? <The wood sort of helps with digestion... like gravel, sand and a chickens crop> They're fond of algae and plants I think, but I'm too scared to add anything else to the tank until everything has settled. Can you advise me on what I should be doing? <Try the Zucchini and algae wafer (sinking) food here... if not eating still, raise temperature, consider lowering pH and hardness. Bob Fenner>

Gold Nugget of Info  9/26/05 Thanks for all the information you've given me. I would have gone crazy with out you guys. Ok here's the question. Actually my Pleco is not a common Pleco. Is it a Gold Nugget Pleco. And they say they get up to only 6 inches not 12 like you said. Could I keep it in a tank with a Green Terror and a pair of Convicts. (55 Gallon Tank) And could I add a Snowflake eel to the tank? Thanks a LOT <There are at least two, maybe three, species of Gold Nugget Pleco. The smaller does max out around five or six inches. The largest, and most common, can go about a foot. The problem is they are very hard to tell apart when young. Collection location is needed to be sure. These plecs are aggressive towards other bottom fish. No problem with him attacking the cichlids. But I'm not so sure about housing anything with a pair of Convicts. They are very aggressive when they spawn. Don>

Gold Nugget Pleco Dying 8/6/05 I just bought a golden nugget algae eater 6 days ago. He was doing find just a little shy, but he was swimming around and sucking on the glass. Yesterday I noticed he would just lay on the bottom of the tank breathing heavy. Today he was doing the same, barely any movement, but now he is laying on his side. He is still breathing, but I think he is dying. I feel helpless I don't know what to do for him. I tried the drift wood, but he could care less and the vegetable pellets. Do you have any advise. PLEASE help. Thanks. < With so many new species of Plecostomus coming into the hobby these days in is becoming more difficult to determine their exact needs are in the aquarium. I feel sorry for you because these are very expensive and beautiful fish. In the wild they are caught and placed in holding pens were they receive no food whatsoever. When they catch enough to fill a box then they send them to the U.S. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to catch enough Plecos to fill an entire box. The result is that you get many Plecos that have been starved to death. Because of there shell like structure it is difficult to determine how thin they are. Next time you buy a Pleco you need to examine the belly area. It at least should be flat. Fish with sunken bellies are already too far gone and will die shortly. New fish need a nutritious food right away. Algae has very little nutritional value so they need to eat a lot of it to catch up. I always feed new Plecos a high protein food like live Calif black worms. Many Pleco species aren't even algae eaters! I'm afraid your Pleco may be too far gone if the belly is already sunken in. If the belly is flat then it may be Ich attacking the gills or a pH problem. Go to Planetcatfish.com and find the Pleco species you currently have. Once you have found the species you will find water chemistry and food requirements. Check the water chemistry in your tank and compare that to your fishes requirements. Good luck.-Chuck>

Goldfish and Pleco nutrition Hello- <Hello.> Right off hand id like to thank you for taking the time to read my message. <Glad to have the opportunity to help.> There area few things am concerned about.  Firstly, I'm worried that my goldfish are getting too much protein, and I had read that it is good to give them vegetables to balance out their system, but they wont eat anything except their fish food, and blood worms. They're completely uninterested in spinach, lettuce, nor will they eat tiny pieces of cut up carrots.  They spit them right back out...  I cant seem to find anything they like! <Try frozen/thawed peas (just squeeze the shell off), blanched zucchini or cucumber, and offer them some Anacharis/elodea/Egeria plants to eat - these plants should be quite inexpensive at your local fish or pond store.> Also, I just bought a gold nugget Plec. <Oh, one of my favorites!> I purchased algae wafers to drop in after my goldfish are fed for him to eat, because I don't recognize any significant amounts of algae... the goldfish are eating these.  I'm worried he may not be getting the nutrition he needs either. <Well, to be honest, this Plec (L-018/L-085, L-081, or L-177, all Baryancistrus sp.), is actually a meat eater.  I doubt that he'll ever accept algae wafers, but he would benefit from a bit of blanched cucumber or zucchini once in a while.  Offer him meaty foods, like frozen raw shrimp (just like you would eat), frozen bloodworms (from the fish store), or frozen prepared foods like Ocean Nutrition's "Formula One" (my meat-eatin' Hypancistrus plecs LOVE this).> Please help.  I don't want my Plec to starve or my fish to get sick or die!! <Try the above suggestions, I'm sure they'll take some of those offerings.  The Plec may be a bit tough to feed at first, as they're a bit skittish during the day, so you might try using a veggie-clip (like the ones for saltwater fish feeding) to get a piece of shrimp near him just after lights-out.> Thanks,  -Shiga Ryukin <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina>

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

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