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FAQs on Giant Sailfin Plecos, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys: Behavior

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

FAQs on: Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids 1, Large Plecos 2, FAQs on: Large Plecos Identification, Large Plecos Compatibility, Large Plecos Stocking/Selection, Large Plecos Systems, Large Plecos Feeding, Large Plecos Health, Large Plecos Reproduction,

Related Catfish FAQs:  Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, 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, ReproductionAlgae Eaters

Plecostomus     6/24/15
<.... Michelle... 6.5 Megs in pix... about an order of magnitude more than we can/do allow>
My parents gave me their fish tank and all of the fish in it, along with this guy. I thought they weren't supposed to come out during the day?
<Do when hungry>

He's out all day everyday, but he doesn't seem to be in distress at all.
He just swims around playing in the current and eating whatever he can get a hold of, is this normal?
<Yes. For Background: Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/GiantPlecosArt.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Pleco belly turning white?   2/8/10
<... 16 Megs in pix?>
I am concerned about my Pleco , who I have had for 10 years.
Recently his belly has turned a grayish white color.
<I see this>
It doesn't seem to bother" Mr. Bigfish", as he is still eating , sucking, swimming, and pooping away....
Always swims to the top of the tank on the side to say hello when I talk to him...He has always been a happy healthy fish.
The only thing I have read as this is normal with older age but I really want to make sure as we love our Mr. Bigfish.
He is very well fed, clean home, vacuumed regularly and great temp and PH...all checked daily , as he is a big pooper...
His belly used to have a very black and white contrast of a maze like the color on his sides...I started using Melafix today just in case...
<I would not use this product period. See WWM re>
I have included some pictures..Please tell me if this is normal or of there is something I must do for him.
*Pictures can be enlarged for you.....Thank-you very much for any help!
<This fish is likely fine. Some such changes in colour are due to variable water quality... in turn accounted for in being in too-small volumes, inadequate filtration, maintenance. Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pleco belly turning white? 02/08/10
Hello Bob,
<Hello again>
Thank-you for answering so fast.
First, I must say I am very sorry for the size of my pictures I thought I had made them smaller and included a link for the larger size....
<Ahh! I understand>
I fear with what you have told me that Mr. Bigfish needs a larger home.
<Some Loricariid species get REALLY big indeed... I got to be in a "mud wrangling contest" at a Tampa fish farm once with Pterygoplichthys that were well over two foot in length!>
He lives in a 30 gallon tank all to himself as he doesn't play well with others...He is 17".
How big of an aquarium should he have to be happy?
<Really? About six plus foot in length>
I change 50% water weekly and vacuum , I use a AquaClear powerhead undergravel filter that pumps 175 gph, I keep his PH 7.0 and temp 75.
I also add PH up to keep up with the PH between water changes, as well as using a net to scoop the poop daily.
I read the link you sent...Thank-you. I couldn't find anything regarding not using Melafix on WWM...
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/phonyfwmeds.htm
or just use the search tool... on every page>
Although I did stop using and did a 50% water change this morning ...could you please send me a link?
Love this site as your articles have helped me in the past to establish this clean home.
<Am very glad that we have aided your efforts>
I never expected to have such a big fish but he is my beloved pet and I want to spoil him as best I can.
Thank-you again for your time in helping me...
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Pleco question, sys., growth/beh.     8/5/09
My Plecos (standard black BIG ones--LFS) only seem to live about 3-5 years.
<Should live much, much longer.>
I've read their life expectancy is over 10 years, and I don't want to do the wrong things.
<Ten years is barely middle aged for these catfish! Under good conditions they routinely live for more than 20 years, and exceptional specimens have been reported as living for around 30 years.>
Does something happen to them that they need something different at that age...
<As they grow, they demand more in terms of filtration, swimming space and oxygen availability, and all those factors can come together to cause problems for the less accommodating aquarist.>
I seem to remember reading that there are fish that develop the need for brackish water at maturity but can't seem to find anything to prove or disprove this theory...
<No, they don't need brackish water. While it is true that some Hypostomus species live in slightly brackish water in the wild, and feral Pterygoplichthys in Florida have colonised slightly brackish water canals and ponds successfully, none of the Loricariidae actually needs brackish water. Your "big black Plec" is presumably Pterygoplichthys pardalis or something similar; these fish naturally inhabits freshwater habitats in South America and do not need salty water.>
Currently I have one Pleco, small/young/6 months, in a 55 gallon with 4 Balas (I purchased a 100 gallon tank currently being cycled etc for when they out grown the 55 gallon....) 1 convict, 5 blackstriped minnows, and 4 rainbow darters. The Pleco lives in the castle during the daytime. I took a piece of pvc pipe and rock covered it for my last Pleco--he was about 12", and I want this guy to inherit it and live in it a long time....hence why I am asking you for help.
<One problem is the 55 gallon tank. It's simply too small for adult Pterygoplichthys. (Oh, by the way, this is pronounced "Terry Gopp Lick This".) Your 100 gallon system is much closer to the mark. Water turnover will have to be substantial, and I'd be aiming for something like 8 to 10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So, for a 100 gallon system, you'd need filters (likely plural) that together offer a turnover off 8 x 100 = 800 gallons per hour, minimum. That's about equivalent to four Eheim 2017 canister filters (each rated at about 260 gallons per hour). Sounds a lot I know, but these catfish produce huge amounts of waste, and without massive filtration, water quality and oxygen availability will drop. Don't clutter the tank up too much since that will cause debris to accumulate in corners and under rocks, but instead use a few large rocks and flower pots that can be easily cleaned around, or removed for cleaning, if need be. Do also review things like diet and water temperature. For these catfish, the diet should contain both plant and animal foods. Zucchini, melon rinds, spinach, cooked peas, Sushi Nori and cucumber all fit the bill on the greens front; for meaty foods look at frozen lancefish and mussels as good sources of protein. Wood seems to consumed, perhaps as a source of fibre, so there should be at least a small piece of bogwood available for these fish to chew on. Keep the temperature at a low to middling level, around 22-25 C/72-77 F. When the water gets too hot, metabolism speeds up while oxygen concentration in the water drops.>
What am I doing wrong? Thank you.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco question   8/5/09

Ok then! That should solve the mystery/problem.
<Glad to hear it!>
I now know who will be migrating to the BIG tank!
<Very good.>
Thanks! As you say our critters are dependant on us. 5 big fish in a 100 gallon tank. Could I add some colorful tropicals with that mix (4 Balas and one Pleco).
<With big Plecs, good choices including Rainbowfish (lots of bright colours), Swordtails, Xenotoca eiseni, Congo Tetras and Bleeding Heart Tetras. Kept in groups, these fish would provide colour and activity.
Indeed, a school of 20 Rainbowfish, for example Melanotaenia boesemanni or Glossolepis incisus, would be hard to beat. If you opt for Rainbows, remember to get *equal* numbers of males and females, or you'll not get the full colours. Lots of people think just getting males is best; they're wrong!>
All I seem to acquire are grey fish, and it would be nice to have some color... I was thinking some swords or something that size etc
<Swords are good, and enjoy the fast-flowing, somewhat cool conditions Plecs enjoy.>
PS thanks for the very quick response!
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco question   8/5/09

Thanks Neale!!! You have been a huge help. Suggestions I wouldn't have thought of!
<Glad to have given you some ideas. Enjoy your Plec! Cheers, Neale.>

Spotted Sailfin Pleco behavior, health 7/15/05 Hi I was wondering if you could help me. I have a 190 litre tank which is currently being filled out with Tetra. I also have a spotted Sailfin Pleco which I have had for approximately five years.  I came home yesterday to find the Plec at the bottom of the tank resting on the artificial grass but more on its side.  It looked liked it was dead! Anyway when it was touched it swam off but came back minutes later to again lie on its side and not move. <Happens> It has never been like this before it has always been an active fish and I am quite concerned.  I have checked the ph and nitrate levels which seem fine and the water temp hasn't risen dramatically (very slightly due to the weather).  I have also caught him and given him the once over but there are no odd areas of spots or anything on him.  Any advice as to what is happening or is he just dying of old age.  Thanks.     <Large Loricariid species can/do live for a few decades. I suspect yours was just resting... natural. Bob Fenner>

Gulping Plecostomus A few months ago I spoke to Marina about my tetra with no eyes. Sadly he passed away some time ago. I think I over-enthusiastically gave him too much food which possibly removed a lot of the oxygen from the water in his protective container as it began to decay. I came home from work and he had died during the day. It was upsetting - stupidly you always get attached to the sick or injured ones! Thanks for all your help though Marina. I have two huge (8ins, 7 1/4ins) plecs in my 4ft tank, which is getting too small for them now. The tank is in my bedroom and I think its been one or both who've been keeping me up at night! Over the last 4 nights or so, I've been waking up what seems like every few minutes. Yesterday I couldn't get to sleep because of the irregular splashing, gulping noises coming from the tank every few minutes or so. I think this might be the cause of my insomnia, but I'm concerned from the plecs' perspective. I understand some plecs do gulp to "gain better control of their buoyancy", to allow themselves to graze upside down etc. However this shouldn't be necessary every few minutes should it? They hardly ever do it during tank light hours. I have two huge internal filters (Fluval 4 Plus and Fluval 3) that double as aerators (they are great wave machines!) so do not use a separate air pump. The Fluval 3 has not been running well the last few days. Could this have affected the oxygen content enough to cause this behaviour? The other fish seem unaffected. The only other thing I can think is that is might be a symptom of their outgrowing the tank. The dominant Plec has begun to physically harass the submissive one, though thankfully there have been no actual battles - the submissive just swims away as fast as possible! What do you think? < When water enters a canister filter it contains oxygen. The bacteria in the filters utilize this oxygen so when it comes out of each filter it essentially contains no oxygen. Now two things could get going on with your tank. If it is an oxygen deficiency then the addition of a small air pump and an airstone should take care of the problem. Plecos are really nocturnal so I suspect that they are feeding on the algae and left over food that may accumulate at the waters surface along the edge of the tank. If they are hungry then give them a couple algae wafers when you turn out the lights and that should keep them busy until you fall asleep.-Chuck> Thanks ever so! Rachael Bartlett

Plecos and Goldfish Hi, I was just given a 12" Pleco that had outgrown it's tank. After three days I noticed it was trailing long ropelike poop. Is this normal? If not what is the cause and what should I do? < This is normal for large algae eating Plecos and requires no attention> Also, I have several large goldfish. Are there any problems keeping them together? < Your Pleco comes from South America were the water is soft , acidic and warm (80+). Your gold fish like cooler water below 70. So if you try and keep it around 75 they will survive but may not thrive. If either becomes ill then you may have to place them in their own tanks with either warmer or cooler water depending on the species.-Chuck> Thank you for your help. Doug

Sailfin Pleco problem, Pleco Problems? Howdy, <How Y'all doin. Scott F. here for you!> Great website, w/ great info. I've seen that you have given helpful advice to tons of people and I hope that you can do the same for me. I have a 29 gallon freshwater, planted, community tank. My 4" sailfin's tail has turned reddish orange at the very tips on the top and bottom. His activity seems to be normal although he doesn't limit his eating schedule to just night time. Diet consists of algae, algae discs, and the occasional zucchini. Ammonia, Nitrite, and pH levels all proper. Regular 1.5 - 2 week water changes (RO). No sudden changes in any aspect (except for maybe slight water temp fluctuation.) Aeration seems to be OK, Sailfin and other fish seem to be breathing at normal rates. That is about all the info I can think to report. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Bill Walker <Well, Bill-it sounds like your water conditions and husbandry are excellent, the Pleco seems to be eating well, and his diet seems okay. I cant be 100% certain from here, but I'll bet the red is just a color variation for your particular fish, or perhaps this is a pattern unique to a specific geographic "race" of Plecos. I have had leopard Sailfins that developed a reddish tinge on the upper part of their tails, and they were fine. The fact that the color is on both tips, and no where else on an apparently healthy fish is a good sign, IMO. In the absence of any disease "symptoms", I'd say that there is nothing wrong with your fish. Do keep a close eye on him, and be prepared to take action if disease becomes evident. Perhaps you should check the store where you acquired him to see if the other Plecos show that coloration, or check with fellow hobbyists who own this fish. But I'll bet he's fine!>

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