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

Related Articles: Loricariids, Otocinclus, From 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 Behavior, Large Plecos Compatibility, Large Plecos Stocking/Selection, Large Plecos Systems, Large Plecos Feeding, 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, Reproduction, Algae Eaters,

inflamed gill in a common plecostomus      1/2/17
I have a pair of common plecostomus, one about 13 inches long and 8 years old and the other one about 16 inches and about 10 years old. The smaller fish has suddenly developed what appears to be an inflamed gill, with spongy pink tissue protruding about a quarter inch from one gill slit.
They are in a 75 gallon tank with some neon and Blackskirt tetras. Two days ago the bottom of the tank was disturbed when I reset some partially buried bubblers and sediment in the gravel was released into the water, but it was rapidly filtered out by the canister-type filter which keeps the water sparkling clean. This is not the first time this has happened by any means as the fish are large and strong and tend to disturb the tank furnishings frequently. The tank heater is set to keep the water at about
76 degrees F. The fish seems to be acting normally and is eating the Hikari algae wafers I normally feed it. I have no idea of what to do about this and could use some help.
<Hello Jim. The first thing to check is that the two Plecs haven't been fighting. Now, before you say "they've been fine together for years", recall that (a) Plecs don't always get along in groups; and (b) you've exposed them to a sudden change in conditions, so any existing territorial accommodations have been re-set, which can cause territorial fish to squabble over their domains again. So, check it isn't the gill cover that's been damaged (as they often are when fights break out) and look to see if there are any other signs of violence, such as scrape marks on the flanks or shredding of the fins. Next up, the gills themselves can re-grow, but they are prone to bacterial infection, so some type of antibiotic would be a really good idea here. Double check ammonia and nitrite are zero, of course, but also add a bit of extra water movement and/or aeration, because this damaged fish is going to be struggling a bit getting enough oxygen into its blood. Plecs can breathe air when they have to, which will help, but you don't want to push your luck. All else being equal, a mature, healthy catfish shouldn't have any trouble healing gill damage given time and good water quality. Good luck, Neale.>
re: inflamed gill in a common plecostomus     1/3/17

Thanks for the prompt reply!
Ammonia and nitrate are low and I have a bubble curtain across the entire rear of the tank so aeration should be better than good. Sounds like I need to be watchful but not overly concerned. I'll watch and monitor the situation. Any tips on what antibiotic I might use and dosage ?
<I'd probably go with something like Kanaplex or Maracyn Plus, but it doesn't really matter too much. Antibiotics are unlikely to harm catfish, and it's more about using one that's safe with your filter bacteria.
Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco with bubble on protective eye lens       4/29/15
I didn't see this issue addressed in any of your Pleco questions and answers.
<Mmm; having put away queries the last couple decades; have seen such... let's see: Put the terms: "Pleco bubble injury" in the search tool (on every page) and read:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BigPlecDisF.htm Re such>
My Pleco, approximately 7 or 8 yrs old has a orange colored bubble on the outside of the protective eye lens and in front of the bubble the lens is a reddish color. He lives in a 75 gal planted tank and I do a 30% water change once a week. I had a co2 tank which has run out and I have not reattached yet. Water parameters are good.
<Aye ya; need actual test results, not subjective evaluations... What is this FOX, CNN?!
No ammonia, etc. At night the aerator is on for approx 8 -9 hours. One Fluval canister and one hang on the back filter with sponges on the intakes which I change 1 or 2 times a week. There are Colombian and Diamond Tetras along with 5 or 6 shrimp and two algae eaters.
<Are these.... CAE? Gyrinocheilus? If so; could be the source of the injury. I'd remove, trade-in
All have been together for a long time. The older Columbians occasionally develop black spots on their bodies and die within a few weeks.
<Oh! So we're back to mal-environmental influences....
I've done research and this seems to be a common problem and not treatable?
<Actually; finding, ferreting out the basic causes and removing them.... so far; social and env. here>
The aquarium heater is near where he lies and is long enough that it touches the gravel. Is it possible this is a burn?
Any help would be appreciated.
<Time to revisit the system en toto... vacuum the substrate weekly, review foods, feeding... get rid of the CAEs.
Bob Fenner>

Please help! Plecostomus - Red Growth on Fins (Bob, do you have any ideas?) <<Stated. RMF>>      8/19/13
Hi there!
I'm hoping you can help identify this issue; I've searched the web quite extensively, and the fish guy at our local PetSmart hasn't seen it before. Our big (8in.), beautiful, 2.5 year-old plecostomus has developed red, bulbous growths where it's front fins meet it's body, and they seem to be getting bigger.  I have attached some pictures.  The PetSmart guy sent me home with a bottle of PimaFix
<<See my comments re this/these "tea extract/s" on WWM. They're a cruel joke, scam in the trade. High mark up do-nothing placebos at best; causes of troubles themselves more often>>
and told me to remove the carbon filter on my tank during use.  I just started using it today so I don't know if it's
helping yet - but I'd still like to know what the illness is called, regardless if the PimaFix clears it up or not.  I'd really hate to lose this fish to some unidentified disease!  Anything you can tell me is appreciated!! :)  There are also 2 black tetras and 4 blue tetras in the tank as well that show no signs of illness.
The tank seems to be clean and balanced;
<<I'd still make consecutive water changes... 10-20 percent a day for a few days. What other fishes are present? What water tests have you done? I concur entirely w/ the stmt.s made by Neale below. Bob Fenner>>
the scribbles you see in the pics are on the outside from my 2.5 year old daughter's crayons. :D
Looking forward, Ian
<Hello Ian. PimaFix (like it's stablemate MelaFix) is, at best, a preventative, and WetWebMedia owner Bob Fenner thinks even less of these products than that! Basically, they're unreliable, so I'd rely on neither once symptoms of infection have become manifest. So, looking at this fish, I'd be thinking about some sort of viral infection, though why you have two
similar patches on both pectoral fin eludes me. If these were bacterial infections, which would have popped up overnight, I'd imagine they'd followed some sort of injury, perhaps one that tore the tissue on both fins, such as by being snagged in a nylon net. Bacterial infections tend to look like a mix of dead white tissue and red streaks, and don't tend to extend outwards very far from the body -- indeed, they tend to grow inwards as healthy tissue is eroded away. Bacterial infections appear quickly, often within a couple of days of injury, and grow rapidly, usually becoming life threatening within a week or two if not properly treated. Think of gangrene and you have an accurate idea of what bacterial infections (like
Finrot) are like for your fish. Viral infections are different. They often swell outwards, have a cauliflower-like texture, and resemble cysts or tumours (both of which could be alternative explanations). Viral infections often take weeks or months to develop, starting as tiny blisters, but week by week getting a little bit bigger. Lymphocystis is the most common viral
infection but by no means the only one. Viral infections are slippery customers to deal with. For a start, they're impossible to treat directly.
A vet might prescribe something, but just as with viral infections in humans, nine times out of ten it's up to the body's own immune system to do the real work of getting rid of the virus. Fortunately viral infections in fish tend to be unsightly rather than harmful, and in many cases clear up by themselves (though this may take months). What causes viral infections
to happen is difficult to say precisely, but usually environmental issues are suspected, especially with bottom-dwelling fish that tend to exposes to the worst conditions in the tank -- dirty substrate, lack of oxygen, poor water flow, accumulation of "gunk" at the bottom. The common scenario with most Plecs is to end up in an undersized tank -- by which I mean anything
less than 75 US gallons/350 litres -- with inadequate filtration and water changes. Being durable animals they often put up with poor conditions, but chronic problems (as opposed to immediately dangerous acute) are often reported, ranging from the minor like erosion of the whiskers through to more serious problems like viral infections. I've asked Bob F. to chime in
here, perhaps he has a different diagnosis. But in the meantime, try to pin down whether this is a bacterial infection or a viral infection from the clues given above, perhaps using Google to find photos of other fish that may be relevant. If you think it's a bacterial infection, use a reliable anti-Finrot remedy, something like Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 (ideally used
together) in the US or in the UK something like eSHa 2000. As your retailer said, remove carbon while medicating (and I wouldn't bother with in a freshwater system anyway, and instead use filter canister space for more biological media). If the problem is viral you don't need to medicate, but you might treat as per Finrot anyway, just in case you mis-diagnosed and it
*was* a bacterial infection. But whether bacterial or viral, you do need to review environmental conditions and handling, to try and figure out what's amiss. Viral infections especially need optimal conditions (water quality, oxygen, varied diet, appropriate vitamins) to be cleared up, and needless to say bacterial infections won't go away/will keep coming back if the
environment isn't appropriate. Cheers, Neale.> 

Plecs gill has popped out  6/24/13
I have a problem with my Plec that I cant seem to find an answer to so any thoughts would retreat please, it's gill on the right has been swollen for a few weeks but now it seems to have completely popped out I think see pic, He seems ok and is behaving normally, he is in a tank 140l with 1 kissing gourami 2 opal gourami 3 golden barbs and 2 goldfish, one of the goldfish has a small growth on his side but has had this since I inherited them over 18mths ago so I don't know if there is a link there.
Thanks for reading and any help you can offer x
<Hello Lisa. "Gill Curl" is almost always environmental; specifically, the fish in question is kept in an aquarium that's too small, inadequately filtered, and/or not given enough water changes. Given an adult Plec needs upwards of 200 litres, minimum, to do well, my money would be on a combination of all three, especially when you factor in the other fish,
some of which, like the Kissing Gourami and Goldfish, need a fair amount of space themselves. No "treatment" as such; Gill Curl usually fixes itself once conditions improve. If you can't move the Plec to a bigger tank in your home, a phone call to your local aquarium shop may be useful in rehoming; in the UK, the Maidenhead Aquatics chain usually takes in fish and rehouse them without any hassle. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Plecs gill has popped out– 6/24/13
Thanks for your help, i am moving the goldfish to the pond outside so hopefully this will help and i will save up for a bigger tank. Many thanks
Lisa x
<Ah, sounds like a good plan. Good luck! Neale.>

Sailfin  catfish     1/4/13
I have a big Sailfin catfish   "Big Bob" and he  has a wound/sore on his nose.  I have had him for just over a year and he  is about 9/10 inches he has a ferocious appetite and a nice varied diet. He is has recently been moved  from a three foot tank where he was housed with discus fish, ghost catfish and some tetras.  I noticed before he was moved that he had what looked like a burn on his nose or maybe a nasty bump? . I decided to move him  to a deeper and larger 4 foot tank so that he could have more room ..this was about 4 weeks ago Big Bob has settled in very well and very active and still has a massive appetite, he is now housed with 2 angles, 8 clown loaches (loaches are  small.. Largest is only 3 inches) rainbows, 4 small Geos, a few Tetras and Murray ( a small sucker fish).   I do regular water changes  and test the water a couple of times a week.  My ammonia level is slightly elevated at the moment but nothing that would cause a major concern, all the other levels are fine, because  of the elevated ammonia levels I have recently done a large water change.   The wound on Big Bobs nose has  not appeared to get any worse since his move and he has what looks  a protective membrane which is whitish in colour almost like a scab, underneath looks like a hole, I originally thought it might be hole in the head, but I am not sure that it is as any pictures that I have seen  or things that i have read that i have seen  do not match Big Bobs wound,  sometimes the wound looks awful and other times you would hardly notice it's there.  The tank has been treated with Protozin and I have now started another treatment of it.  Apart from his nose Big Bob is in really good condition, and appears to be happy and healthy, his nose does not seem bother him at all, all the other fish in the tank are healthy.   Any advice  you could give would be greatly appreciated as I am at a total loss or what to do.  I have attached a photo of Big Bobs nose.  Photo is not great he kept moving!
Many thanks
<Greetings. Is this Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus? Or Synodontis euptera?
In either case, fix water quality and the wound should heal up. Personally, I've never found Protozin terribly reliable, but in any case, it medicates against Whitespot and other skin parasites. It isn't the medication you'd use now, and indeed, because Protozin contains formalin, it's fairly toxic and not something I'd recommend with catfish or loaches. Assuming you're in the UK, as suggested by your use of a Waterlife product, you'd be much better off with eSHa 2000, a catfish-friendly anti-Finrot medication that should help the wound clear up. Do also understand that Geophagines are even more sensitive to water quality problems, so if this catfish is having a hard time, those cichlids will be as well. So get the filter problem fixed. By the sounds of your stocking list you have a lot of fish, and while they may be juveniles now, I do suspect your tank is overstocked, overfed, and/or under-filtered. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
<PS. Just saw you sent a photo. Your catfish is Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps.
Massive, messy fish and incidentally likely to not get along with any other Loricariid catfish in the tank. By "not get on" I mean try to kill, at least if its a territorial male. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sailfin  catfish     1/4/13
Hi thanks for your reply, 
Just a quick reply to your note...  I am in Australia not  UK... but am English!
<My mistake. I guess Waterlife sell their products in Oz! Didn't know that.>
I  Have just retested all water and all water parameters  are back  are where they should be. (As I  breed Discus and Angels.. I am a bit neurotic about levels and am always checking them)   As far a filtration is concerned I have a Fluval 406 external filter which is cleaned on a fairly regular basis.  I am not sure that I was clear when I was saying about stocking of the tank all the fish I mentioned are not in the same tank as that really would be overstocking!!
<Likely so.>
I should of mentioned that I have several larger tanks   (as things get to big they get rehoused to other tanks ) none of which i have had any problems with .... The Geos and loaches are displaying no signs of stress which is why there is a question mark over the Head of Big Bob.
<Agreed. Do wonder about physical damage then, i.e., fighting. Are there other "Plec" type catfish in with him? Males can be surprisingly vicious, under aquarium conditions at least.>
As I am no closer to a solution of the mysterious mark, I will isolate him in a 3 foot tank  and will treat him on his own with  as you suggest treatment specially for catfish.  If I find out what it was I will let you know!  Many thanks for your help.
Many thanks
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sailfin  catfish     1/4/13
He's all on his own!!  King of the tank! ..... When you go near his tank he swims up to the glass to see you....  I thought I was that but I have a suspicion it's to see if you are bringing him food! 
As he grows he will be moved to an 8 foot tank.... Where he can reign supreme!
Kind regards
<Ah, good. Do believe that in the big tank with good water, the wound should heal of its own accord. Medicate as per Finrot if it doesn't show signs of getting better within the next couple weeks. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?    9/16/12
First, I apologize for my tone in my previous mail. I was (still am) very stressed about plec's condition, and replied hastily.
<? Re changing water not reducing nitrite and some nonsense re raising NH3/NH4OH?>
No good news, unfortunately. I've done several water changes -- NitrITE will go no lower than 0.5, which is still no good. Am using Prime to help,
but can't be good long-term.
<... have you searched, read on WWM re as directed?>
I've added aeration - now at 570gph.
<... circulation is not aeration>
Not sure if that is enough, but it is more than twice the previous, and has the water roiling. 800gph of the filtration is from two HOBs, and so the water from that should be adding some aeration as well.
I also moved all the other fish to another tank, which was the intended goal at some point, anyway. They seem to be doing well and seem healthy.
<Ah, good move>
No meds are in the water, so beyond feeding, there should be no oxygen loss there. Not sure what to do about feeding -- I know anything decaying will result in oxygen loss as well, and he's exhibiting no feeding behavior, that I can see.
Unfortunately, I've seen no improvement in behavior, and perhaps a lot of worsening. Today he's worrying me quite a bit -- he'll lay on the bottom (in any position) for about 30 minutes or so, then take off in big looping circles. When he encounters the top (22"), he would but into the lid for some time, and then seem to go crazy. It's literally like he's trying to bash his way out of the tank any way he can -- through the lid, the walls, the bottom... It's heart-wrenching, because he acts as if he's been spooked terribly and is frantic to get out.
<The nitrogenous issues... burning this fish>
From watching, it's clear that he has a great deal of strength when he wants to show it, so I'm not entirely certain that lethargy is quite the right indication of what's going on -- mainly he seems to "rest" in a given position for a while, and then have a sudden burst of energy, sometimes (but not always) directed at the top of the tank. He's not jumped out yet, but his urgency at doing so makes me wince.
I'm starting to wonder if there's some neurological damage? He does attempt to "right" himself, and can do so occasionally, but not always. He doesn't appear to do the typical "air gulp" routine anymore, either (where he would release stored air, run to the top, gulp it, and then settle to the bottom)
-- that stopped as soon as he started going on his backside, and hasn't resumed. Not sure if the current rushes to the top are in any way the same, since he's not releasing stored air prior to making the trip.
I'm at a loss as to what to do,
<I'm not... this fish needs to live in a larger world, sans metabolites... Simple>
if only to ease the poor thing's suffering. A larger tank is out in the future --
<Then trade it in to the local fish shop, other hobbyist>
there simply isn't the funds to get one at the moment, so the 37g must make do. If I had a friend with a larger tank, I'd happily give him up, but this is a small town, and none of my friends have fish.
<Try Craig's List>
Likewise, short of traveling a long distance, the local fish stores have made it clear that they don't accept fish, though the thought of simply showing up on their doorstep with him has occurred to me, hoping they'd be guilted into taking him. That said, the only place I can see that he would be put would be in the "plant" tank, and it's not terribly large either, and typically populated by Koi or goldfish.
I've read through what you sent -- but haven't seen anything that exactly matches what this fish is doing. He was fine and happy until just a few days ago, and then it was like a switch was flipped, and overnight turned into a very unhappy fish. No other fish exhibited any signs of distress (though they were all small, so I can understand that they wouldn't necessarily be affected like Plec).
When I bought him, he was about 3" long, if. I should have read up on him before buying, but it was an impulse buy -- never good, and lesson learned (quickly) as he graduated a 10 and 20g quickly into the current tank. Not sure if 3" to 14" in a year and a half is normal or not, but he's always seemed to thrive. I looked at going to a 55g but I've been trying to find a good tank that will give him plenty of space on all dimensions, and the only 55gs locally are 12"D. Plenty of depth, but will be no more comfortable on the bottom than the 37g. So I've been planning more for a 65 or 75g (and finances permitting, higher) that is at least 18"D. But like I said earlier, the finances simply don't permit it at the moment, and won't until later in the year.
Short of making continual water changes and trying to keep the poor thing from jumping out of the water, is there anything else I can do to either to help him or ease his suffering?
I've thought about (but haven't tried):
- Methylene Blue -- If I understand it correctly, it would help combat any potential nitrite poisoning and improve oxygen to the blood stream. But am hesitant with this, as increasing the aeration and thus the oxygenation hasn't appeared to help in any appreciable way.
- Adding a little more salt -- current levels are way below the 1tbsp/5g level, and though I know Plecs don't appreciate salt, but it's supposed to ease breathing somewhat. Again, given that Plecs don't like salt, I don't know that it would make enough difference to try, and I don't want to make it worse.
Any ideas? Or am I pretty much stuck, and just have to try and make him as comfy as I can?
<... see above>
Thanks for any ideas, and again, I do apologize. Your resource online is invaluable, and has helped many other fish in my care.
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?    9/16/12

Ok, new info:
He /is/ /trying/ to do the air-gulp thing.
<Not unusual behavior.... Loricariids are facultative aerial respirators>
 He releases the air bubbles, and then this is where the problems start: it's like he can't get to the top on his own, so he thrashes around until he either thrashes to the top (and runs into the lid, walls, etc. on the way) or occasionally manages to ride a bubble wave up to the top. Then he will land back on the bottom in various positions, and stay there for some time until the next urge for an air-gulp hits. At least that's what it looks like?
His swimming is quite strange -- it's almost like he has no control over the front part -- only his tail his doing the work of swimming, and he can't stay straight that way. At least that's the way it appears -- sometimes he will bounce up and down on his tail trying to get up to the top...
If this is the case, perhaps I should lower the water level somewhat?
<I wouldn't... as prev. stated, this fish needs to be moved to a viable system>
 I know this would reduce water volume, but if he could get to the top easier, it might be less stressful? I don't know anymore -- am just grasping at straws.
Re: Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?    9/16/12

Assuming I can find a fish store or someone to trade him to, or a miracle happens and I can afford the tank upgrade, what can I do in the meantime to ease any suffering?
<Keep monitoring water quality, change a bit out daily>
 I'm not asking for a long-term fix, just something that will tide him over the day(s) that it would take to find something better for him. If adding some Methylene blue or salt would help him breathe easier until a fix can be had, then I'd like to know what else I can do, if anything.
As to the quality of the water, I'm not trying to talking "nonsense". Our tap water here tests out at 1ppm Ammonia,
<I would not drink this... I do hope you have an RO device for potable purposes... I would store new water (as gone over on WWM) for a week ahead of use>
.25 - .5 NitrIte, and up to 4 NitrAte. It's rotten here, which is why I don't drink it. Had I known it was that bad prior to starting off with fish, I'd have rethought.
Correct me if I'm wrong, /but/ if I'm constantly changing water, then would I not be constantly introducing those levels, and surely it does take at least some time for the biological filter to process them? That was the point I was making -- if our tap water has that much Ammonia & NitrIte in it, I'm doing him no good by replacing his existing water that has the same levels with new water that has the same levels. (Seriously, after every water change, our Seachem Ammonia monitors turn green for several hours.)
As to aeration, I didn't intend to equate circulation to aeration. If I sum what the air pumps I have running are rated for, it would be equal to a 570g tank. Given that manufacturers overstate their numbers, I would assume half that, give-or-take, but still, the pumps should be more than sufficient. The surface area of the water isn't, granted, but surely the tank is about as oxygenated as it can get - though not enough for Plec, apparently. [Side question: why, when they /can/ breathe air and obviously survive in environments with very low diffused oxygen, would this be insufficient?
<The build up of carbonic acid...>
 Shouldn't he just run to the top more often? Or is there some critical point at which they can't get enough from the water in order to fully execute their need to get to the top?]
Re: Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?    9/18/12

You'll be happy to know that I found a store that would take him, today.
<Ahh, very good!>
He's in a 90g there, and after some time he seemed to perk up a bit. Not "him" yet, but better. No idea if he'll make it long-term, but it's better than what I could provide. Just wanted to provide an update, and thanks for your assistance.
<Thank you for your diligence and this follow up. BobF>

Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?   9/11/12
I apologize in advance if this question has been asked before; I did a quick search, but may have missed it.
My 14" common Pleco started to act very strangely yesterday. I woke up to find him in a corner of the tank, upside down. He was still alive, and can swim around fine for a while, and then every once in a while, it's like he "faints" and ends up in some odd-ball position at the bottom of the tank. This has been going on for two days now. (As is typical, I've found varying ideas online as to whether or not this is "normal" or "dire"...!)
Tank Parms: 37g, filtering rated for 205g (with about 1000 gph). 0 Ammonia. 1 NitrIte.

 10-20 NitrAte. 1/4tbsp/5g. 7tsp Epsom salts total. 76-80°F.
<Change some... a good quarter to half of the water now. And add aeration/filtration. This is too small a volume for this animal... and what you've done w/ the antibiotic below has reduced the dissolved oxygen to dangerous level>
Medications: Kanaplex.
Pleco: Common 14". 2-3yrs old (? -- I've had him for a year and a half, in which time he's grown from 3" to 14".) Fins clamped about half the time (usual for him). He has wood, though he rarely eats from it. Color is good on top; bottom color is more contrasty than normal (very white + black).
<... When you have time, read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GiantPlecsF.htm
the linked files above>
Other fish: 2 Bettas (in an isolation container -- they prefer it!? If I take them out, they jump back in.) 3 Pictus Cats (about 3", birth control), 1 emerald cat (2.5"), roughly 30 or so platies (ranging from 1" to 2"). Definitely overstocked -- am working on a solution. The plan is to give them the 37g, and the Pleco a 60g or more. I'm debating between several large tanks for him, but want to make sure that he has enough height, width, and depth to be comfortable.
The nitrIte is not where I want it, but it is next to impossible to get our tanks to 0 with our water quality here. Performed two 50% changes yesterday (upon noticing the odd behavior) to get anything out, just in case, with no improvement. Because of the proximity to an unexplained die-off of platys/catfish (about 2 months ago), I've already started the tank on Kanaplex (and hence the salt). Frankly, I'm surprised he never seemed affected by the "plague" -- perhaps it is a very delayed reaction? I would prefer to treat him on his own, but given his size, no hospital tank would be sufficient. (I suspect this could also be part of the higher nitrIte reading, since I lose the cycle every time I medicate.) The temp was originally around 76°F, which I upped to 80 in order to see if that helped -- no change.
Not sure if this is related, but I had a think, and realized that Plec hasn't been "pooing" -- or at the very least, he isn't leaving strings around (and this has been for several months now, as I think about it). His stomach is nice and round, so he should be getting enough food. I did worry about constipation, so have also dosed with Epsom salts, again. This hasn't appeared to help, so I don't think it's that.
His swimming (when the episodes occur) does feel a bit like a swim-bladder problem, as it appears that he can't quite get his orientation correct. He will still suck on the walls a bit, but not nearly as frequently as he used to. Some times he is oriented correctly, but will often end up upside down after a swim, or laying on his side. When in a corner, he is often curled up in an odd position as if he is leaning on the wall with his tail curled.
I apologize for the length and ramblings -- I am very worried about the poor thing. (I swear, if only fish could talk...) I am curious if you have any thoughts?
<A simple case of over-stocking in too small an under-filtered system. Bob Fenner>
Re: Upside-down and Lethargic Plec?   9/11/12

Thanks for the quick response, but, frankly, the answer is of no help -- I know all of that already. I did forget to include the Aeration which is rated at 270gph. That should be sufficient, surely.
<Ah no>
Performing a water change will not lower my nitrite by much, if any, and will increase the ammonia to around 1ppm.
<Please.... stop writing and just search, read on WWM. B>

 Yes, the water is horrible. But changing it will be just as bad. I suppose I shouldn't even try to keep fish with this water, but I'm already in the situation: hindsight will do nothing to change it.
I fully admit the 37g is overstocked and not suitable for a large Plec -- I'm not stupid on this account (though I was when I bought him), and am planning an upgrade. Given $ and the economy it is difficult to justify an upgrade now if he has something he won't recover from.
Therefore, for once, it would be appreciated if you would look past the pat answer and offer some alternatives. (Giving him up isn't any an alternative -- none of the fish stores will accept fish returns after a short window.)

My Pleco has owies...help please    7/2/12
My Pleco has a sore on his underside (first noticed 3 days ago and has possibly increased in size).
 His home is a 29 gal tank that he shares with a Jack Dempsey (who at times pick on him by nipping or ramming)  The tank is heated at 76-78 degree Fahrenheit and is filtered.  I do vacuum/ water treatments weekly.
I have never had Ph issues or any other issues for that matter.  Being unsure of injury by Jack or sore from disease i decided to quarantine the Pleco.
 You would think this a smart decision but you would be incorrect as the only aquarium other than the 29 gal with a Red Eared Slider Turtle in it was a 10 gal tank.  This Pleco is not small and is approximately the height of the tank (standard 10 gal) in length.  This is fish abuse as this tank is waay to small for him.  I need to diagnose this as soon as possible and return him to the other tank after necessary measures have been done.
The sore is light (almost white) in color and appears to me as if it is multiple layers of skin / tissue deep (hope picture helps though they are not great).  Upon putting him in the 10 gal (roughly 12 hours ago) I have noticed he is extremely itchy and scratching himself along gravel and the one smooth stone i have in there.  He is going to rub himself raw ( as in more raw than already)  There seems to be another "spot" that appears as though caused by this rubbing / scratching located on his underside.  I put 10 guppy fry in with him to keep him company as well as offer me signs of illness or disease. (as i breed them recreationally there are plenty more where they came from if they were to perish). They show no signs of discomfort at this time.
He is also showing another "spot" similar on his back near the front of his sail fin (picture attached).
  and the rear of his sailfin is "disconnected"
(possibly from rubbing as well as possibly caused by Jack???
<And current poor water quality>
You know more about fish disease than I so you would be aware of the myriad of other possible causes.
Thank you so much I want to make him better.
Was going to attach images however I still cannot figure how to resize as i am stressing over the fishes health and getting this email to you before my kids wake making it impossible to do so.
<Sarah, in the short term, the fish would be better off w/ it OR the Dempsey placed temporarily in a plastic floating colander in the 29. It can NOT live in the turtle tank. These matters are gone over and over on WWM if you'd search. Bob Fenner>
 Re: My Pleco has owies...help please    7/2/12
Why on EARTH would i put the Pleco in the turtle tank?  the turtle is in a 29 gallon tank the Pleco is temporarily in a ten gallon tank as clearly stated in my email.
<Ahh, sorry. I mis read>
 the Nitrates and Nitrites are extremely high and the Ph is low (which i found out upon using my mothers test kit after sending the email) so my next step is to do a complete water change
<Mmm, no; not complete. The most I'd change is half... PLEASE search, read before writing us>
 with gravel vacuum as well as filter change.  Thank you for your response even if it was completely in no relation to the question nor the information provided with the question.  I sincerely appreciate the timely response.
Re: My Pleco has owies...help please    7/2/12

As per my last email i recant the "completely in no relation to the question nor the information provided" ... comment as the poor water quality statement was in fact accurate I just had only seen the other response and not this one when i replied.  I apologize for that portion of my email.
<Ah, no worries. B>

Pleco, spots/marks 4/8/12
Hi Neale!
I know ur on holiday but I need ur opinion on this pic of my Pleco. Seems all my swordtails are back in good health.
Water quality all checks out good all at acceptable levels we discussed earlier. Tested by me and a local shop...And as u can see by the clearness of the water we've done 2 water changes & all medication seems to be out.
Then I notice these spots on my mammoth Pleco.
<I see it.>
No other spots on him or any other fish. And to let u know about the water hardness experiment, it's my water. Changes on its own. Weird. Funky water I guess...
<Perhaps. As I think I've said before, try to do smaller water changes, more often if necessary, so no more than 20% at a time. That way water chemistry in the tank shouldn't change too much.>
So these weird spots? Harmless? Ick?
<No idea what these are. Would do nothing right now. You have salt in the water, yes? Would just leave alone, exposed to salt, and wait and see. Do suspect these are damage (perhaps infected, though not seriously) rather than parasites, and will heal in time.>
Tank has been under stocked, I know it's still too small for him but I can't give away a sick fish so any input/advise/opinion would be great! I did ask the local shop but the guy on duty seemed to be stumped, wasn't sure of what it could be and didn't want to guess without actually seeing the fish. Little hard to transport a fish this size.
Hope u had a great holiday!
<Yes, very much so.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco 4/8/12
Thanks so much! Yes, salt and yes smaller water changes like you said.
Thanks again! Have a great day!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Common pleco's fins constantly down, and a strange black "fungus" on the nostrils? Env. 4/3/11
Dear crew,
I am hoping you can help me out. I have had this Pleco for about 2 years now and he is about 8 inches I think? We recently purchased a new 29 gallon tank and put water in it and the aqua safe and let it sit over night before putting any fish in it. We had a beta, an angelfish, and the Pleco at transfer the pleco's barb had been caught on the net we got it out and put him in. The next morning the beta was dead and the angelfish was acting strange swimming to the bottom of the tank and not able to swim up. I went to get some of the salt for the aquarium and a giant air stone but by the time I got back home the angelfish was also dead. The Pleco became lethargic and was laying behind a rock (not inside like normal) and doesn't seem to want to move. We prodded it a little and it moved slowly, we then realized that all of his fins are down, even when he swims his fins are still down. We are worried about him, we just placed more fish in the tank (5 tiger barbs, 2 Bala sharks, and 1 blue crayfish) We woke up this morning and realized that the Pleco now has what looks like fungus on its nostril and its black. He is still not moving much at all very occasionally he will swim up and around on the side of the tank sucking for algae? Please I hope you can help us out.
Thank you,
<Hello Brittany. The problem is that your aquarium is less than one-fourth the size it needs to be for this collection of fish. Do you have any idea how big Bala Sharks get? These are active, schooling fish that need something like 150-200 gallons, and even if your Plec was kept on its own, without any tankmates beyond a few barbs perhaps, you'd still need *at least* 55 gallons. The world you have created for your fish is far, FAR too small. If you want to keep the Plec, you'll need a bigger aquarium; if you want a Suckermouth catfish for a 29 gallon aquarium, then you need a small species like a Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.). But those are your two options; there aren't any others. Your Plec is stressed (that's why its fin is down) and the discharge from the nostril could be anything, but likely bacterial and/or mucous thanks to some irritant in the water, perhaps ammonia or nitrite. He isn't swimming about much because he is deeply, deeply unhappy. What else? Well, crayfish don't belong in aquaria with fish, end of story. Tiger Barbs need to be kept in groups of at least six, and realistically ten, if you want them to behave themselves rather than chase, nip, and otherwise harass other fish. Salt has nothing to do with freshwater fishkeeping, and I'm wondering what you've been reading that led you to add salt instead of immediately recognise that your aquarium was far too small. Hope this clears things up for you. Cheers, Neale.>

env. burn... RMF

Re: Common pleco's fins constantly down, and a strange black "fungus" on the nostrils? 4/3/11
I appreciate the quick response
<Happy to help.>
my next comment would be that he is 6 inches,
<Still needs more than 29 gallons>
and was in a 10 gallon tank with the angel fish for almost a year and was fine,
<He survived life in 10 gallons. There's no possible way a 6-inch Plec would be "fine" in that small an aquarium.>
he acted normal and swam around more and also ate more. The signs that he is giving off didn't start to occur until after the tank change. I was not sure if this would change anything at all?
<Nope, nothing. His world is too small. Once fish grow too large for a given aquarium, or if a hobbyist adds too many fish for that aquarium, *without fail* things start going wrong until the population of fish dies back to what it can support. No different to any other aspect of ecology -- exceed the carry capacity, and starvation, sickness, stress or some other factor will cull numbers back down to where they should be. That's what you're seeing there, with one fish dead, another showing unusual symptoms and off its food. What happens next is up to you. Remove the fish or replace with an aquarium big enough to humanely stock these animals, and they should recover.>
Thanks again
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Common pleco's fins constantly down, and a strange black "fungus" on the nostrils? 4/3/11
Just a quick update, after you said the tank was too small we started looking into other tanks, we haven't found anything yet.
<Oh, I see. Well, depending on where you are there may be options available if you're on a budget. Many cities have fish clubs, often with online forums, and they're often great sources of local information. Pet stores sometimes have great deals on aquaria, either new but end-of-line models, or else used models used for display.>
However, last night we lost 4 out of 5 tiger barbs, and 1 out of 2 Bala sharks.
<As I explained, this is what'll happen. You see, diseases tend to affect just one species at a time, usually with quite specific symptoms. But environmental problems affect a range of species, and the symptoms will often be very vague, general "unhappiness" type things before the fish in question dies.>
The Crayfish is still alive and so is the Pleco. Then we came to realize the tears on the dead sharks fin, we looked at the Pleco who also has tears on his fins.
<Do bear in mind the Crayfish can, will tear at the fins of weakened fish.
As I've stressed, Crayfish are NOT suitable additions to most fish tanks.>
We came to understand where the nightmare began. Back when we first bought the tank I told you we let it sit to get ready for the fish. We put in a male beta and an angelfish. Soon after we put the beta in we realized that the tail fin had rips and tears. At first we did not think anything of it until now and we are thinking that the beta had fin rot when we put it in the tank and now it has spread like a plague to everything we have put into the tank.
<No, no, no. Finrot is NOT a disease in the sense of there being a germ that other fish catch. Finrot is caused by bacteria called Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, both of which naturally live in healthy fish tanks where they do no harm. It's only when fish are stressed do these bacteria cause problems, because the immune system of the fish can't keep these opportunistic bacteria at bay. It's rather like bacteria such as E. coli and Golden Staph in humans. Normally these bacteria cause no harm at all because our immune system can stop them damaging cells and tissues. But in certain situations both can cause very serious, even deadly, illness.
Finrot is basically gangrene, and what you're looking at is the difference between a wound on a human that clears up and a wound that goes septic. The bacteria that cause Finrot are in ALL aquaria ALL of the time. What varies is whether your fish are healthy (and therefore able to resist these bacteria without much effort) or unhealthy (and unable to stop the bacteria getting into their skin and blood vessels). Water quality is at the heart of this problem, though other factors, including social stress, excessively high/low temperatures, poor diet, etc. can all play a role.>
I have looked up what all techniques there are to cure fin rot and I have found a few things: putting more aquarium salt into the tank,
and a few different treatments such as Tetracycline,
<As a cure, yes, but without fixing the environment, won't be a long-term solution. As soon as you finish the treatment, the fish will get sick again, and may even die from something else.>
Maracyn, and Pimafix?
<I don't rate either of these except as preventatives, much the same as you'd use Iodine to clean a wound on a human but you wouldn't use it to fight a full-blown bacterial infection.>
All of these I have never used before, any insight on the treatments and which will work best?
Thanks again
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Sick Pleco 3/31/2011
Hi Guys
I have 2 Sailfin leopard Plecos. One has a hugely swollen belly (resembles a frog) he also has what looks like little blisters on his skin. Apart from the visual symptoms he seems happy enough, feeding, swimming etc
Any ideas
<Hello Debbie. Are these Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps? A few things spring to mind. The first is simple living conditions. A singleton needs a good 250 litres, not just because of its size -- potentially 45+ cm -- but also because they're extremely territorial. Gibbiceps Catfish can, will fight one another, and they do so by rasping away at each other's skin. The weaker one will often end up severely damaged, and yes, there have been cases of one Gibbiceps killing another Gibbiceps. Secondly, they're strongly herbivorous, and do need a fibre-rich diet, including not just raw and blanched veggies (peas, carrots, sweet potato, courgette) but also bogwood that they rasp and consume, using the wood chippings as a kind of laxative. Without these, they're prone to bloating, especially if given a rich diet. Finally, their sheer size means that massive filtration and regular filtration are essential. I'd be looking at water turnover rates of 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, and 20% water changes every week, if not more. In any case, I really do need much more data on your aquarium before I can comment further: tank size, temperature, water chemistry (at minimum, pH) and water quality (at minimum, nitrite) will all be important.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Pleco 3/31/2011
Hi Neale
I checked with my daughter and he is actually a Red Spot (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps ). We brought 2 at the same time about 12 months ago. His buddy has always been much larger and is approx 20cm and is in good health the sick Pleco is approx 13 cm long. They were "brought up together" and tend to hang out together in the same log without any aggro. The symptoms are severe bloating rather than injuries.
<I see.>
They both live in a 250 litre community tank with approx 30 assorted smaller fish & 2 angels.
<Much, much too small for two Gibbiceps catfish. Even a singleton would be pushing your luck.>
All other fish are healthy, in fact my angels have just laid eggs. They have a good environment with plenty of rock caves and hollow logs for hiding. They have access to grazing logs, natural plants and algae discs.
I have never given them blanched vege as a was told all they needed was algae disc.
<Not true at all. They do need fibre. Bogwood can work, but fresh greens are better. Cooked/canned peas, blanched lettuce leaves, raw carrot, raw courgette all work well.>
Temp is around 27deg, I do 25per cent water change every week. I have noticed that the filters are a lot dirtier than normal recently.
<Faeces from these big catfish.>
I do not use chemicals in my tank, and have never had any disease problems.
PH currently 7.0 nitrate No.2 .25 nitrate No.3 20 carbonate hardness 40 - water change due tomorrow
<Nitrite with an "i" is what I assume is the "No 2" test kit. This MUST be zero; the fact it isn't zero indicates the tank is overstocked,
under-filtered, or the fish are grossly overfed. Likely some combination.>
I have only had my aquarium for 12 months so I'm still learning - so far I have been fairly successful with very few losses and successful breeding.
I'd appreciate any advice you can give. Queenstown is a small place and the only place to source fish is the local vet and they have very little knowledge .
<I see. Well, the second Gibbi surely needs rehoming. Do that, and I'd predict your aquarium will settle down quickly. Short term, reduce food input, favour greens over protein-rich foods (including algae wafers, which are some 20-40% protein), and make sure the filter is optimised for biological filtration (e.g., don't waste filter capacity on carbon).>
Thanks Debbie
<You're welcome, Neale.>

sick fish 3/4/11
We have about a 4 yr old algae eater in our 50 gal. tank at our work office. He is about 12 inches long. About a week ago I came in the office and he was on the tile floor. I put him back in the tank & now he is losing scales rapidly & has bulging eyes & is really looking pitiful, is there anything I can do to help him out? If need be I can send a picture. Any help is appreciated.
<Hi Missy. Is this Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, the so-called Chinese Algae Eater that doesn't come from China and doesn't eat enough algae to be worth keeping? These have average-sized scales and can be physically damaged quite easily compared to, say, Plecostomus catfish. If the eyes are bulging
out and the scales are being shed, you may well have left things too late.
You should add some anti-Fungus and anti-Finrot medication to the aquarium, something like Seachem Paraguard (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in Europe) should work well against both fungus and bacterial infections. Note that salt, Melafix, and other make-believe medications aren't likely to be much good here. Use medications as directed, paying attention to dosage and remembering to remove carbon from the filter -- if used -- during medication. Cheers, Neale.>
Pleco fish :(
This is the picture of our algae eater I recently emailed you about.
Thanks - Missy
<I see, it's a Pleco, Pterygoplichthys pardalis. Advice as before, and I'd be a bit more optimistic. The white patches are damage to the skin -- by definition, catfish don't have scales -- and will heal given good water quality, time, and the right medication. The eyes should hopefully settle back into the head as well. Do make sure there aren't any other suckermouth catfish in this tank, or anything aggressive likely to nibble on the sore, damaged skin. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco fish :( 3/4/11 Thanks so much, we were really worried. We do have some African cichlids in the tank, they are only 3 weeks old, but we have separated them from the sick one with a screen net & cannot get to him. Our office mate has gone to get the medication. Missy
<By "African cichlids" I assume you mean Mbuna, i.e., aggressive cichlids from Lake Malawi. These *will* attack injured fish and they *will* make a bad situation worth. If you're mixing a Pleco with a bunch of Mbuna, you'll need a tank at least 75 gallons, and realistically 100 gallons, in size; anything smaller likely has poor water quality (possibly non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite, but very likely nitrate levels above 20 mg/l) and this will mean the catfish won't have a good chance of healing. Cheers, Neale.>

Odd growth on my pleco's mouth 10/25/10
Hi there, I'm hoping you can help me.
Roughly a week ago I noticed this fluffy looking growth on the edge of one of my pleco's mouths. I'm not sure how long it's been there but it doesn't appear to have grown any over the last 7 days. My other Pleco is unaffected and the one with the growth is still eating and behaving normally. The rest of the tankmates detailed below are also fine. Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
Tank 200 litres
Temp 25 C
pH 7.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates <5mg/l
2 Plecos, 2 small angels, 5 red wag platys, 6 scissortails, 5 zebra/pearl Danios, 2 African dwarf frogs, 4 japonica shrimp
Many thanks in advance
<Hello Claire. First things first, your aquarium will soon be much too small for your Plec, which is a Common Suckermouth, Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. While I doubt that's the reason why this chap is sick, in the long term water quality problems are going to stress your other livestock. Plus, two Common Suckermouths will rarely cohabit in a tank this small, and often they fight, in some cases causing such damage the weaker fish dies. As for what precisely is going on here, well, your Plec has some sort of growth, but whether it's viral or bacterial is hard to say. Either way, it's likely to be "benign" in the sense of not causing any immediate health problems, but on the other hand there's no particular cure for these
sorts of things outside of a trip to the vet for surgery and suitable wound cleaning and antibiotics. It may heal in time, given optimal environmental conditions and a balanced diet. One last thing Claire, please do note that we ask for images to be resized down to 500 KB each, rather than the 3 MB images you sent, presumably fresh from the camera. Big files clog up our e-mail allowance and cause other people's messages to be bounced back.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Odd growth on my pleco's mouth 10/25/10
Dear Neale, Many thanks for the very quick reply and the helpful info. I plan on getting another, larger tank and will now do that sooner rather than later. I'm obviously pleased that the growth is likely benign as I'd hoped that would be the case. With regards to the file size of the photos I must apologise. I had put them from camera into the computer and had a set with reduced size as well as the originals. I sent you the wrong ones. I will be more careful should I need to send pics again. Many thanks again for your help. Claire
<Glad to help, Claire, and no harm done. Good luck, Neale.>

Plecostomus bump by dorsal fin 9/23/09
Hi there!
<Hello Louanne,>
One of my 2 plecostomus fish has a red bump (like a pimple) just in front of it's dorsal fin. Could this be a tumor?
<Almost certainly not.>
Both fish are friendly and let me hand feed them and pet them.
<Hmm... Plecs are not famed for being friendly towards one another, so keep an open mind here. Territorial males will attack other Plecs under some circumstances. Look for mysterious scrapes on the body and fins.>
This one is not the dominant one but it was the first to hand feed. For 2 days it didn't come out during the day for food. It hid and wouldn't come out when there was any light. Today it is back to eating and isn't so shy but the bump seems to have gotten a fraction bigger. The bump is the size of a large pimple and is very well defined (pert).
<Most likely a reaction to something in the environment, perhaps triggered by physical damage. Review living conditions, especially ammonia and nitrite levels. Make sure the pH is stable and ideally somewhere around 7 to 7.5. Make sure the fish aren't being bothered by each other or other types of fish, and check they can't burn themselves (a very common problem here).>
A few weeks ago we had a major shut down with the pumps and lost 10 fish.
I had to transfer all the fish to a holding tub and I dropped the plecostomus on the floor when transferring it back. It was okay but visibly shaken.
<Could easily have damaged the skin in the process.>
The 2 Plecos consoled each other and were very close for weeks after. I have a 55 gallon tank.
<To be honest, too small for two adult Plecs, assuming we're talking about Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or similar. They are gross polluters, and even in a 55 gallon tank you're going to have a lot of solid waste as well as ammonia in the water. A big tank dilutes this, and this is as important as the high-turnover filter. On that score, the filter needs to be upwards of 8 times the volume of the tank, i.e., a turnover rate of not less than 440 gallons per hour for a 55 gallon system. Actually, I'd want more than that, given how small this aquarium is.>
I moved most of the knick-knacks out then so the big fish could move around. Now there is only a large PVC pipe to hide in. It could have bumped itself on that but never has in the past. Also, we have a perpetual problem keeping the tank clean and 4 days ago we did a 25% water change.
<A clue here: the tank's too small. In a 100 gallon aquarium with massive filtration, you'd find 25% water changes once a week adequate.>
Could stress have triggered this bump?
<Well, a combination of being dropped, being exposed to nitrite/ammonia some weeks ago, and being maintained in an aquarium that's fundamentally too small, could all be playing a role here.>
For instance - maybe it was afraid of being transferred again?
<Not, animals don't have "fear" as such, since their memories and thought processes don't work in the way ours do. If exposed to a stimulus and then a shock again and again, yes, animals will often learn to avoid that stimulus, and show signs of stress when exposed to that stimulus, even without the shock. But a one-off event isn't going to traumatise them. If you think about it, animals spend their entire likes making narrow escapes from danger, be they predators or changes in the environment. If they became "scared" they'd never leave their burrows, and end up starving to death and not interacting with other members of their species. So animals can't afford to be fearful. Instead they tend to be more nervous than scared; they do stuff, but they always try to keep an eye open for danger, and have an escape plan handy.>
They are very sensitive and emotional.
<Loricariid catfish are nocturnal by nature, and while they will learn to swim about in the daytime if they get fed, they're always nervous, and their instinct is to hide away if something alarms them.>
I know it sound funny but it's true.
<Preaching to the choir here. Some of my fish do exhibit distinct personalities. But we always have to be careful about anthropomorphising; that is, putting human behaviour interpretations on what animals do for
completely different reasons.>
Since I started hand feeding the dominant Pleco gets mad if I miss a day or a feeding. It won't let me pet it and will brush my hand away with it's fin.
<How sweet!>
Thanks and kindest regards. Louanne Wilson
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re Plecostomus bump by dorsal fin 09/26/09

Hello WetWeb Crew,
First, I'd like to thank you and commend your fabulous web site. Thank you for the great advice. I was wondering why my tank was getting cloudy and filthy so fast.
<Glad to help.>
One more question, it seems like the specific gravity of my water is a bit off--things seem to be suspended in the water sometimes.
<Uh... no... specific gravity is a measure of density, and related in fishkeeping circles primarily to how salty water happens to be. Unless you're adding salt to the water -- and you shouldn't be -- this isn't an issue.>
I have well water and use the tap water for the tank without any additives.
We live next to the river and the water tests real good for drinking.
<The issue is likely lack of mechanical filtration. A tank with Plecs needs to have very robust filtration. We're talking turnover rates around 8-10 times the volume of the tank. That is performed best by external canister
filters, but other systems might be used at a pinch. Regardless of the filtration method used, the system will need a strong pump and lots of mechanical media. That's the media that collects silt. If there isn't enough mechanical media, the water stays silty, i.e., murky. Note, mechanical media isn't the same thing as biological media: you can have
silty water with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, just as you can have silt-free (i.e., clear) water with dangerously high levels of ammonia and nitrite. In general though, a big, strong filter will ensure both clear and clean water.>
Again, thanks for the advice. I hate to get rid of my fish but it might be the best option. I also figured out that one is a male and the dominant one is a female.
<Sexing is difficult, and indeed, two males are more likely to fight than any other combination. In general, mature males tend to develop longer odontodes ("bristles") on the cheeks and the pectoral fins. But this isn't an easy characteristic to judge unless you've looked at a bunch of mature fish of that species, so know which ones are bristly and which ones less so, since even the females have *some* bristles.>
When I bought them I thought that they would stay small like the catfish.
<What, like Corydoras? No, Plecs certainly don't do this. Average size in captivity is 12-18 inches in length, usually within 2-3 years. Big fish. Of course, not the biggest catfish: there are catfish that get far, far larger. Among the biggest freshwater fish in the world, in fact. Google "Pangasianodon" and prepared to be impressed. If you want a small Plec, look for things like Ancistrus (Bristlenose cats) and Peckoltia (Clown Plecs).>
I was too eager to fill my tank with fish and didn't do proper research.
<Ah, I see...>
I will try to send a video of my pleco's hand feeding. I have found that most any animal will do odd things for food--good food.
<Sounds cute!>
Best regards, Louanne
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco swollen gills, env. 6/10/09
<Hi there>
Thanks for having such an informative website! My Sailfin Pleco, now about 4 years old, is living alone in a 25 gallon tank with natural substrate and plants.
<Mmm, is this a Glyptopterichthys gibbiceps? Needs much more room... and what goes with it... better, more stable water quality...>
There is also a driftwood in there for him. Recently I noticed a small red sore around his gill area on one side while he was sucking the tank glass. Today (about a week later) the sore has spread on both sides on or around his gills. His temperament is the same as always; he swims around, sucks on the glass and eats fine, but I'm worried about these sores. I've never dealt with Pleco illnesses so I'm not sure how to diagnose this.
<You have... just not acknowledged the root cause... Poor environment>
I clean his water and filter regularly, the water is properly aerated with an air tube, and he eats algae pucks. The tank is rather clean so I'm not sure where he could have contracted the sore from.
<Cleanliness is not sterility... Do you do water quality tests?>
The only thing I can think of is that a month ago my absolutely gorgeous, healthy and very spunky fantail goldfish who shared the tank with him died very mysteriously.
<Mmm... not likely too mysteriously>
Literally. One night he was totally fine, feeding well, and the next morning he was just still behind his plant (his sleeping spot), not belly up, just hovering there, but clearly dead (broke my heart). There were
absolutely no visible signs of any illnesses. But could my Pleco have contracted something from him?
<Just shares the same too small world>
Problem is, I have no idea what killed my goldfish.
Thanks for your help in advance!
<Please read, at least on WWM, re the needs... system and water quality (and stability) wise re these species. The overall most likely "cause" here is environmental. Bob Fenner>

Sick Pleco 4/18/09
I have a 6 year old, 14 inch long "basic" Pleco.
<Pterygoplichthys sp.; a challenging fish in many ways because it needs a large tank. If yours isn't well, there's a very good (90%) chance the issue is environmental. Should be hardy in a 55+ gallon tank with a strong canister filter rated at 6+ times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Anything less than this, and your problems are very likely "fixable" by moving the fish to an appropriate aquarium.>
There are only 4 very small neon tetras in his tank and they do not show any signs of illness. Two days ago, I cleaned his tank and filters.
<How did you clean the filters? Did you replace any media? What's the water quality and water chemistry here?>
He was fine. When I woke up this morning, I thought he was dead. He was laying extremely still on the bottom of the tank, had a white film over both eyes and has white spots starting at the tip of his nose moving down his back to the beginning of his front fins.
<Sounds like an opportunistic bacterial infection, if we're talking about white patches and white films; these are usually environmental. So while there are cures (for example eSHa 2000 or Maracyn) these MUST be done in conjunction with fixing the environment. At minimum, do a pH test and a nitrite test, and then give me the results. It's dollars to doughnuts that something's amiss.>
He appeared not to be breathing and didn't move at all. I had to know if he was alive or not so I prodded him a little and he moved. It was very slow at first. He began to swim around the tank bumping into things.
<Again, common sign of systemic bacterial infection.>
But he was not moving in a way that made me think he was panicking. Through the day, he is swimming around as usual, not bumping into things in the tank, hanging out in his favorite places and sucking on the side of the tank as usual. It appears the white film on his eyes is not so thick. I can see the "round brown" middle of his eye slightly. Any ideas of what I should do or what it is since it just popped up overnight?
<Very likely a water quality, water chemistry, or possibly a toxicity issue (e.g., detergent, paint fumes or bug spray got into the tank). So: [a] test the water; [b] review conditions, and fix them if necessary; and [c] treat
for Finrot using something reliable (as opposed to salt or Melafix).>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco... damaged? 2/5/09 Hi I couldn't find an answer to my question on your website or through Google. If I missed it I apologise. I have a 15" Pleco that seems to be in good health except that it appears to have one scale missing from it's side, showing what looks like the bone (white skin ?) underneath. There are no marks, sores, scrapes, red or cloudy areas, it just looks like one small scale has been removed. I have put a fin-rot medication in the tank as about 8 months ago it lost about 1 inch of one fin spike to what I presumed was fin rot - this never grew back but it stopped rotting and has been good since, but the medication seems to have had no reaction either way, good or bad. Could this just be where the Pleco has rubbed against something in the tank or should I be more suspicious ? Thank you for being there and apologies for the long winded question Regards Chris <Hello Chris. Catfish don't have scales, and what look like armoured plates on Plecs are in fact thick pieces of skin. They do get damaged sometimes, most commonly either through heater burns or through Plec-to-Plec violence. Heaters can be very dangerous with catfish generally, because if a catfish nestles under a heater that is cool at the time, and the heater switches on, the catfish might not realise until it's been burned. (Presumably, their plates of skin aren't sensitive to heat, so they can't tell they're being burned until the heat has travelled deeper into the body.) Aggression between Plecs is common and yet often ignored by retailers and hobbyists. If adult Plecs are kept in the same tank, e.g., at a pet store, it is not uncommon for the dominant Plec to scrape the skin away from the weaker ones. Some Plec species are worse than others, with Acanthicus, Panaque, and Pterygoplichthys spp. particularly nasty towards rivals. In extreme cases, deaths can result. Now, Finrot or some similar bacterial infection is a possibility, so treating against them is wise. Do also check water quality: Plecs are big, messy fish that put a lot of stress on their environment. It's hard to keep an adult the size of yours in a tank less than 250 litres (55 Imperial gallons), even allowing for a robust filtration system and copious water changes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco, injury, heater? 2/5/09
Thank you so much for the comprehensive answer. I am going to keep an eye on the Pleco for any repeat sores. There is only one Pleco in the tank, (tank is 48" x 24" x 18") so it may be water (which is changed (20%-25% weekly) and well filtered, or the heater. Thank you again for your excellent help. Regards Chris <Happy to help. Do look for a heater guard (a simple plastic mesh that encases the heater) or else use an external heater like the Hydro ETH units or the Eheim Thermo--filters. Tank is a bit small, so be aggressive water changes, and check the nitrite level periodically. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco hlth. strange bubble 12/31/08 My father has asked me to research a problem he has with his Sailfin leopard Pleco. He is about a year old and is about 8+ inches long. My father does not test his water and when I checked it last, the ammonia levels were through the roof , the Neons had mouth fungus and he had a white spot problem which has meant the death of most of the other fish. Having found strange worms in the water he decided to clear out his 120 litre tank which meant a complete scrub out including the gravel. He has 3 uplift tubes and an under ground filter and he does a 50% water change about every 3 weeks. I know this isn't the "ideal" maintenance program but I've given up telling him he needs to watch the water quality. However he comes to me when things go wrong! His big catfish had caramel patches on it after the ammonia poisoning and looked very dehydrated but has recovered well since we cleared out the tank. We put in some Methylene blue when we cleaned the tank and some filter start and saved "gunge". The catfish initially looked very well, put on weight, lost his caramel colour and became a lot more active. Of late he has been jumping out of the water and gasping lots of air and then flushing his gills at the bottom of the tank. Anyway now ( a week later and 2 30% water changes) we see that around his anal vent he has a large bubble (polo mint size)with a small cotton thick strand from the centre of it. He is not showing any other signs of distress but hasn't eaten all week and isn't pooing. He is not bloated or sunken. He usually gets algae wafers and catfish pellets. He has 2 tank companions(only ones left)... a neon and a platy. Prior to the changes the water was acidic (6) nitrate (5)ph (6.4) ammonia (4). Now the levels are good but the blue tint remains from the Methylene blue. Is this chemical not good for catfish? Great site. I've learnt loads! Karen <Hello. Saying this tank isn't "ideal" doesn't begin to cover things! This tank is a death trap, and nothing I can say here will fix things unless your father is prepared to return the fish he can't keep (i.e., the big catfish) and properly maintain the tank so that the rest of the fish have a chance of surviving. The Plec is swimming about because water quality is poor; normally they rest during the day, but when poisoned they surface regularly to gasp air. The various signs of Finrot (damage to the fins) and systemic bacterial infections (around the anus) may be fixed with a suitable antibiotic (e.g., Maracyn) or antibacterial (e.g., eSHa 2000) but without fixing the tank, treating the fish thus would be spitting into the wind: they'll get sick again within weeks. Ditto any fungal infections (anything that looks like white cotton threads) or Mouth Fungus (slimy tufts on the face and body). Your "levels" don't make any sense to me: acidity and pH should be measured with the same test kit, and a pH of 6.4 is low, and dangerously low so far as Platies are concerned. The ammonia level is just plain lethal. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: strange bubble, Pleco dis. ~ 01/01/09
Neale Thanks for your prompt reply. <My pleasure.> We shall get some of the treatment you suggest and work on the water quality. <Cool.> You will be pleased to know that after another water change today the levels are better but still a way to go. A 30% water change and addition of stress zyme and stress coat hopefully with help. <The water change will certainly do a lot of good; the other "potions" certainly do no harm, may even help a little.> Can you tell me if it would be ok to do this every couple of days or is this too drastic? <Just fine; so long as the water going in has roughly the same chemistry and temperature of the water going out, you can change as much as you want!> I am mindful that it is not good to alter conditions too quickly. <Quite so; does depend on whether you're in a hard or a soft water area. Most of Southern England for example is hard water, and water chemistry changes hardly at all between water changes. So if you're in a hard water area, the bigger the better so far as water changes go. In parts of the UK with soft water, like the Scottish Highlands, things are different, and it's best to do multiple small water changes rather than big weekly or two weekly changes.> I think the problem occurred because he doesn't test the water and because he cleared everything out he hasn't been maintaining the bacteria to restore the biological filter. <Sounds a good hypothesis.> He has however reduced the feeding to a fraction of what he was until the catfish starts eating again. <I'd not feed at all while ammonia is not equal to zero; fish can go many days, even weeks, without food.> Have you any advice re improving the biological filter in the short term? <Rinsing out the sponge or ceramic noodles in a bucket of water from the tank is a good way to clean away silt without losing bacteria. The "cleaner" the biological media, the more bacteria it will host. Of course, brand new media contains no bacteria at all, hence the art is keeping mature (6+ week old media) as silt-free as possible.> How often could the stress zyme be added safely? <Weekly should be ample. It isn't a product I use myself, but I have no objections to others using it as they prefer.> I think this problem has encouraged him to take notice of the levels as what arrived as a small sucker fish to keep the glass clean has grown into the ugliest and biggest thing I've ever seen but he is really quite attached to it and is very sad he has caused it distress. <Big catfish can be fun pets; I've had a Panaque nigrolineatus Suckermouth cat for some 15 odd years, and am very attached to her -- despite the fact she destroys any plants or wood I stick in the tank!> Regards Karen <Happy new year! Neale.>

New Pleco has white lines on underside... Need info. 12/28/08 I recently added a Pleco to a 20 gallon tank that already has one cichlid in it after my last Pleco passed away. <What species of Cichlid, Pleco?> He was very light in coloration when we first got him and has darkened a lot in our tank, <Will change with mood... conditions> and his coloration now resembles the one we had before (before he died). I have notice whit lines on the underside of the Pleco and I was wondering if Plecos have plates on the bottom, <Yes they do><<Mistake... Only on the rear area underneath, not the "belly". RMF>> and if it is common for them to have this or if it is a fungal infection. Unfortunately I do not have a quarantine so he's in there with the cichlid now. Do you think it's a fungus? <Mmm, no. Not likely... else it would be dead in short order> If so I can treat with Mardel powder I have on hand. Thanks, Brett <Brett... like the show "House" on TV, we need more information (and your test results) to make accurate "diagnoses"... Need to know the species involved here, your set-up and maintenance history, water quality tests... to help you. Bob Fenner>
Re: New Pleco has white lines on underside 12/28/08
The cichlid is Julidochromis ornatus. The Pleco is Liposarcus anisitsi. <Mmm, gets much too large for this tank: http://fish.mongabay.com/species/Liposarcus_anisitsi.html> The tank is my dad's and does not get cleaned very often, it's a 20 gallon with a bottom filter. The cichlid is about 4 inches long and the Pleco is about 3. pH 6.4-6.8; <Mmm, low for the Juli...> alkalinity b/w 120-180; hardness 250-425; <Good... sufficient buffering> Nitrates are at 40 ; <Yeeikes! Much too high... see WWM re...: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm...> nitrites are 0.5. Temp is 72 F. Let me know if you need to know anything else. Thanks Brett <For you to read the linked files above. BobF>
Re: New Pleco has white lines on underside 12/28/08
Thanks, those links were very helpful, I'll take care of the nitrates and pH. <Bob didn't mention, but will add, that nitrite levels not equal to zero are dangerous in freshwater tanks generally, and highly dangerous to Tanganyikan cichlids. Suspect this tank is overstocked: a single large Plec-type catfish would overwhelm any but the most heavily filtered 20 gallon system.> I also noticed that there were chunks missing out of the Pleco's left rear fin and was wondering if that might be fin rot. <Could easily be.> Also, do you think I should worry about the white lines around the plates on the Pleco's underside? <Plecs don't have plates on the underside of the body; they bellies are leathery skin. This is distinct from the other armoured catfish family, the Callichthyidae, such as Corydoras, which have plates all around the body forming a robust "box". By contrast Plecs (family Loricariidae) are armoured on the flanks and dorsal surface only. Plecs generally do not suffer from many diseases, but Fungus and Finrot are certainly possibilities and worth being on the alert for. Fungus usually looks like fluffy white stuff, whereas Finrot on the body at least reveals itself as patches of dead white tissue around red inflammation. These two diseases have similar causes and often occur together.> Brett <Cheers, Neale.>

Fungus on Pleco's head? 8/29/08
I have a Pleco who is about 12" long. I'm not sure of type or age since he was given to me. He is very healthy and looks great except for his nostril. I think it is a nostril on top of his head. It looks like it was full of a pink, flesh colored worm. I have treated with an Ick and anti fungus medicine.
<Could be Fungus, but equally likely Finrot or Mouth Fungus (this isn't actually a fungus despite the name). Need to treat with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Do remember to remove carbon when medicating. A photograph would help us confirm.>
I have also done a good water change and am using metaflax.
<Melafix is pretty useless.>
The longer it goes, the more this pink pop-corn looking stuff keeps coming up out of the hole.
<Probably decaying organic matter, or pus to put it another way. Needs fixing, fast.>
Can you tell me what this is and how to get rid of it?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Pleco's head? 09/07/08
Thank you for your quick response. Although things are not better. Sunday I started a treatment of Maroxy from Mardel. <Don't know this product, and looking over the list of ingredients it isn't one I'd recommend. With fungal infections and certain bacterial infections looking so similar, you want something that zaps them both. Hence Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in the EU) are my standard recommendations.> I also gave 3 treatments of Tetracycline tablets. <Do you mean Tetracycline? Again, not a recommendation I'd make (had made). There's a reason we recommend specific medicines: from experience, we know they work. While there's nothing to stop you experimenting with other medications, I have no more idea if they'll work than you do!> I also kept the tank in the dark since when I did a water change, I had fuzzy little pieces floating around. <Could be anything! Whatever they are, siphon out.> Today, I have taken the tank down and cleaned and re-set up. <Not what I'd do. When you're treating fish, you need to avoid causing problems by stressing the fish or upsetting the biological filter. Stirring the gravel and doing a decent water change prior to dosing the tank on Day 1 of treatment is fine, but after that leave it alone. The medication is often designed to be used over a series of days, and the people who did this assume you're NOT doing water changes in between. By altering things by removing water you're going to throw the medication off track.> In the process, I tried to pick the fungus off his head...now it is bleeding and only a small part came off. <I bet. Don't do this. Just like your mom said when you grazed your knee -- don't pick at it! Secondary infections set in because the skin is damaged; by picking at the skin you're exposing more of the delicate tissues under the skin, making things worse.> What now? <Grab either Maracyn or eSHa 2000 depending on where you live. Don't mess about with other medications. We know these medications work! Dose and use EXACTLY as the leaflet says. Do not alter anything through the treatment. Make sure there is no carbon in the filter. If this catfish is on its own, don't feed it while treating; that'll keep the water a bit cleaner.> Chris <Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fungus on Pleco's head? 9/20/08
Today is the 19th and I have done the treatment that you recommended. do you think this looks good? It is getting bigger.
<That's actually pretty nasty, and looks like an ulcer, seemingly coincident with the nostril. If Maracyn isn't working, switch to Maracyn 2 (Minocycline). These two medications have complimentary actions, one working on gram-positive bacteria, the other gram-negative. In other words, if Maracyn doesn't work, Maracyn 2 should do.>
Also, I have another 55 gallon tank that is overrun with bright green, furry algae. I have tried everything to get rid of it - closed tank for months and have taken it down, cleaned and put back. What do you recommend? Chris
<I'm guessing these is Blue-green Algae. This stuff looks like slimy, matted threads, and can have a dark blue-green colour. When removed from the water it has a very distinctive musty smell. Anyway, it's impossible to "eliminate" unless you fix the conditions in the tank. Blue-green Algae (BGA) is almost always a sign of three things: poor water circulation, high nitrate/phosphate concentration, and direct sunlight. Could easily be two or three of these. Often a real pest in overstocked, under-filtered tanks. Review, and act accordingly. The stuff could be Red Algae. Despite this name, freshwater varieties are green! Anyway, doesn't have the same smell as BGA and looks more like turf or long (often dark blue-black) threads. Most commonly infests solid objects and around the edges of plant leaves. Again, plague levels of Red Algae are difficult to fix because nothing much eats it vigorously, though Siamese Algae Eaters and a few other species will peck at minor infestations sufficiently well to keep them in check. The only 100% reliable way to control Red Algae is to provide intense lighting and use lots of fast-growing plant species. Somehow, and no-one really understands why, fast-growing plants have a strongly negative effect on these types of algae. Ensuring the nitrate/phosphate level is low will also help, particularly if you manually remove Red Algae on sight. It's worth mentioning that none of the fish or snails sold as "algae eaters" have much use in controlling outbreaks of either Red or Blue-Green Algae. Controlling algae is almost entirely about getting the environment right, in particular by balancing the fish with healthy, fast-growing plants. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco? Hlth... 9/29/08
Hello it's me again. My Pleco still looks no better and I've done the treatment twice...just wait a little longer?
<If you've tried Maracyn, try switching to Maracyn 2. These two drugs treat different sets of bacteria, so often when Maracyn fails, Maracyn 2 works. Certainly do a water change between starting a different medication.>
thanks for your help Chris
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco head -10/28/08 Hi I've been speaking with Neale about a Pleco with some kind of growth on his head. The water is fine, he is acting fine but the growth has not went away. I have tried 2 5-day treatments of Maracyn and Maracyn 2. It is in his nostril and has ripped it open. the ulcer itself looks like fleshy, popcorn. Any suggestions? Chris <Hi Chris. If I recall correctly, the nostril has been infected. On the plus side, on fish the nostrils don't connect to anything important, so the infection isn't likely to be fatal. But the infection will certainly take a long time to fade away; the dead tissue will need to fall away, and then the wound close up. This will surely take some months. Antibacterial medications are the best you can do to speed things up, so far as I can judge. Use them carefully and not excessively (wait a few weeks to a month after one treatment and then decide if it needs to be used again). You're essentially trying to make sure things don't get worse, and then wait for the fish's immune and repair systems to put right the damage. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco Bloat or Preggers 9/18/08
I was just looking at my Pleco (standard) who is about 4" long from nose to tail, a yellow and black striped Pleco (meat eater kind) that is about 3 1/2" and 2 Bushynose who are around 1 1/2". FYI. It is a planted discus tank with a giant apple snail, a few tetras and several discus. It is a 150 gallon. I noticed last week that the Pleco seemed a little chubby, but there is a lot of algae to be eaten, so I gave it no thought until today after dinner it was SO fat that it couldn't barely lay flat against the glass and there was a clear round thing coming out of its rear. It is perfectly clear like glass with a little red dot in it. I have pictures if you want, but I figured you may know what it is.
Carrie :)
<Hello Carrie. The standard Plec is Pterygoplichthys pardalis, or some very similar species, a fish that gets to about 45 cm/18" when full grown. So I'm glad you have it in such a big tank! They are generally extremely robust and don't normally get sick when kept in big, clean tanks. Now, like most herbivores they are capable of consuming a lot of food and will look very plump. Providing they don't stay plump indefinitely, this isn't a problem. Cut back on the food for a while and see how things go. In fact with Plecs generally skinniness is the thing to be most cautious about. Being egg-laying fish, they don't become pregnant. The anus does indeed end with a small, nipple-like structure, and under some circumstances it can be visible when the fish is pressed against the glass. This is not normally a problem; the only things to be wary of are Camallanus worms, but these will be very obvious wiggling, red, thread-like animals protruding from the anus. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco Bloat or Preggers 9/18/08

The Pleco was dead this morning. :(
<Oh dear! Just goes to show that doing a diagnosis without a photo isn't completely reliable. In any event, your job now is to understand why the fish died. Do check water chemistry and water quality. Also look at the cleanliness of the substrate. What aquarists called Dropsy, technically oedema, appears when organ failure occurs. Realistically, cures are very difficult to effect because the damage has already been done. This is why you need to try and establish what factor in your tank wasn't precisely right. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco Bloat or Preggers 9/19/08

I do water changes of 20 to 40% every couple of weeks.
<Less than I'd recommend for such messy fish, but if your nitrate levels stay low enough for Discus, no big deal.>
All the other Plecos I had were fine. Just a fluke I guess.
<Maybe. But do remain open-minded and critical. Observe the other fish, and consider the possibilities. Cheers, Neale.>

Help!! Pleco hlth. 8/7/08 Hi <Hello!> Firstly, sorry if this is the wrong way to contact you guys. I've checked through your (excellent) site but ended up with this email address. <Yep.> Ok, I have a Pterygoplichthys pardalis. I'm just back from hols and had my sister look after the fish when I was away (one week). Since I got back I've noticed that the Pleco has developed a pale colour along its extremities (i.e. edge of tail, outer fins(?), and seems paler around his mouth). <Sounds a lot like Finrot or Fungus. Treat promptly with a suitable medication; in the US Maracyn seems to be the drug of choice, but here in the UK I recommend eSHa 2000 as being reliable and safe with finicky fish. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter (if used).> I've had him for over a year, when's he's gone from 2 inches to 18! <Wow!> I asked in my local store, but was told he's probably ok.. as you can imagine, 'probably' isn't enough. <Agreed.> I'm quite worried and would really appreciate if you could give some guidance. <These are very hardy fish, and assuming you treat promptly, I have every confidence the fish will recover. A photo will help use make a positive diagnosis, but if you send a photo, be sure and follow the rules and keep the file size small (~500 KB). We have only limited e-mail space and big images cause other messages to be bounced back to their senders.> Again, apologies if this is the wrong way to contact you. however I cant find a similar post anywhere. Many thanks Alan <Cheers, Neale.> P Please consider the environment before printing this email <???> <<A spiel re the use of paper et al... vs. some sort of electronic storage/sharing... RMF>>

Re: Help!! 8/7/08 Hi Neale Many thanks for your fast and helpful mail. <Happy to help,> I'm off to the fish store to get the treatment advised (I'm in Ireland). <Very good. Make sure you avoid Melafix (or Pimafix), tea-tree oil products at least some of us here have found to be less than reliable.> Also, I will take a phone picture and send it on to you (if that's ok). <Yep.> Thanks again for your help, its very much appreciated. Best regards Alan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help!! Pleco hlth. 8/8/08 Hi Neale <Alan,> Further to the below, please find attached two pictures of our Pleco. I've tried to show the affected part (on his tail) and also a full length picture for information (hope there not too big file-wise). <Hmm... does look like a secondary infection of some sort. I wonder if the fish was scalded by the heater? Does happen. Would recommend putting a plastic guard around the heater where catfish are concerned because they do like to wedge between the heater and the glass.> I have a couple of other pictures if required. When I went to the fish-store, the treatment they had is "Interpet No. 8, Anti-fungus and Finrot", a UK product. <Haven't used this medication for years, but it should do the trick. Do follow the instructions and always remove carbon while treating fish.> Thanks again for all your help, and hopefully the above will help our man get better. <I suspect he will.> <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help!! Pleco hlth. 9/11/08
Hi Guys
Just a quick mail to thank you all for your help.
I followed your advice to the letter and everything is right with the world of my Pleco. He's back to full health and everything is in order.
Many thanks again to you all.
Best regards
<Hello Alan. Well, this is great news, and I'm glad that we were able to help. Enjoy your fishkeeping, and thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco... chatting... Referral please, PLEASE! 2/17/08 Hi Neale, I went into the fish shop today and saw a 30cm Pleco and just had to get it - now it's in my 10 gallon (just for today quarantine) as when I was going to put it in the 200 I saw a few white spots on it. Do you think it will be ok for today in the 10 gallon, I only put it in there because I wanted to watch it to see if it showed any signs of distress and if those white spot grow, or if it's just because when the lady was putting it in the bag it got tangled in her net and she pulled it out of the net rather then cut it out. She was also handling it roughly, so I put it in the 10 gallon just to make sure it doesn't any infections. Will be moving it out of there tomorrow morning. Do you think it will be ok in there for tonight. Also, it's HUGE so how many wafers do I feed it? Thanks, Neervana <I'd put a fish this size into a bigger tank than 10 gallons, even for quarantining. If that means putting it with the Pictus and the Bala Sharks, then so be it, but have Whitespot medication to hand and treat at the first sign of disease. If you put it in the small, immature tank you may end up poisoning the fish (ammonia, nitrite) and having to deal with Finrot/Fungus. Don't see any advantage to that. As for food, the golden rule with all Plecs is to focus on the vegetables rather than pellets. I'd stick in sliced carrot, sweet potato, potato, courgette, or cucumber as often as required. Soft vegetables usually go overnight, but carrots often take a few nights. Save the algae wafers for 1-2 nights per week, and provide 3-4 of them. Once every couple of weeks add a nice little bit of seafood: maybe a prawn, shelled mussel, or piece of white fish. Common Plecs are omnivores, and the more varied the diet, the better. The main thing is that they always have some vegetables to eat at night. A bit of bogwood is also useful as a source of fibre. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Pleco 2/17/08 Hi Neale, I did as you said and put the Plec in with the Bala sharks and the pictus. Good thing I did it early because after him being in the tank for so many hours he has defecated everywhere and I couldn't even see the water clearly, it was really messy! <Yikes!> So now he is in the 200 gallon tank, he looks fine - He is still a dark black colour which is a good sign, right? I read on one of your FAQs that their colour changes from darker to paler when they are stressed and don't like the water quality. <Perhaps; does rather depend on the species though.> I think that it wasn't Whitespot, but just some prickly things on his back, the armour maybe? Because it looks like a stripy pattern of dots all over his body, in lines. Anyway, the pictus loves him and will lie down beside him, and when he moves, the pictus moves as well!!! It looks like they are schooling together! He keeps on chasing the sharks really frantically, and the pictus is behind him as well. <Sounds like they're happy.> I'm getting a bit worried as the sharks keep jumping out of the water and I can hear them hitting the hood of the tank and then thumping back down again. I hope he settles in, the sharks look really scared. <Getting more Bala Shark specimens might help. Also try adding floating plastic plants. There are some excellent ones out at the moment for about Ã'£12 that are 3 feet long. The leaves float along the top. Fish are less likely to jump out of tanks with plants at the top.> I was reading about Discus fish online, and I was wondering how many I could put in that 640 litre tank I ordered? <A school of at least half a dozen specimens would work well in there.> Also, would not mind buying a pair of the blue Discus. I would like to buy them as I have never had them in an aquarium before. Would they be able to live with Silver Dollars? <Discus are best kept alone, or failing that, with very peaceful tankmates. Cardinal tetras work well, and as far as catfish go, *the* Corydoras for the Discus tank is the warm water-tolerant species Corydoras sterbai. But I'd get a bit more experienced under your belt with your new catfish first. Also consider carefully whether you have the right water chemistry, and also if the nitrate level is sufficiently low (20 mg/l or less) out of the tap. Discus are sensitive to high-nitrate, high-hardness water. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco with red spots 1/11/08 Hello, <Ave,> I have a 4 1/2 year old, 14 inch Pleco, the brown one with a squiggly line pattern and approx. 11 or 12 rays on his sail fin. <That would be one of the traded Pterygoplichthys sp., which attain a length of up to 45 cm/18" in captivity.> I had him in a tank with a pair of zebra Danios only. I decided the tank could handle a few more small fish so I got a couple more Danios and neon tetras about 2 weeks ago. He was very content with the "one pair of Danios". <No such thing as a pair of Danios; they are schooling fish, and the only kind way to keep them is in groups of at least 6 specimens. Anything less is, not to be too fine a point on it, cruel. Likewise with Neon tetras. Do note that both Neons and Danios appreciate cooler than normal temperatures, around 22-24C is ideal for Neons, and as low as 18C good for Danios. This is a bit cooler than your catfish wants, but it should be fine at 23 or 24C.> The tank seemed a little empty. As soon as I put the new fish in, my Pleco "Jaws" became very unhappy. He wasn't calm anymore. He became agitated, swimming from one side of the tank to the other, up and down, whipping his tail around taking out all of the fake plants and trying to push around the decor with his "nose". <Very odd. Do check water quality.> All of this because I added some tiny fish???? It seemed like he doesn't want anything in his space. Can a Pleco be a very solitary fish? <How big is this aquarium? Yes, Pterygoplichthys is territorial, but not normally towards midwater fish. So in the smallest possible tank for these catfish, a 55 gallon tank, the addition of a school of Neons or Danios should make no difference.> Now, he has started going up and gulping air - frequently. <Again: check water quality, i.e., nitrite and pH at the very least.> He used to do it occasionally but it has become quite often and when he comes back down he makes a splash with great force. I have even wondered if he has hit the lid. <These catfish will breathe air when water quality drops or it is too warm for them.> I recently noticed he had some spots on his head behind his eyes that appeared to be fungus after doing some research. They looked like matted hair but the same color as his skin. <Sounds like fungus, yes. Treat with a combination Finrot/fungus medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Don't waste your time with Melafix/Pimafix. Do remove carbon from the system (if you're using it) while treating. Do not delay! Treat right now!> Today, on his belly, some of the tiny dots in his pattern that are usually cream colored are now red dots. The edges of his fins are red, his rays on his sail fin appear to be red and the tail fin appears to be red on the bottom edge also. I also saw a couple of red circles on his side. <Sounds gloomy.> I checked the water quality and all things checked out normal. <Meaning what precisely? Give me numbers! Zero ammonia and zero nitrite are essential, and nitrate should be less than 50 mg/l, ideally less than 20 mg/l. The hardness should be in the "slightly soft" to "very hard" range, and the pH should be between 6 and 8. Salt is not required.> I have a 55 gallon tank. It has a 80 gal Eheim canister filter, plus I put a 60 gal Topfin filter and two bubble curtains. I think there is good aeration. <The ratings stuck on filters in terms of tank size are meaningless. Rather, assume a big, messy catfish needs filtration of at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So a 55 gallon tank needs filter (or filters) that provide not less than about 300 gallons per hour turnover. You'll see the turnover rating on the pump someplace (either in GPH or LPH).> I keep the temperature between 76-78*. <A bit too warm for Danios and Neons, both of which come from relatively cool environments. Aeration is relatively unimportant in a tank with good water circulation, but certainly does no harm.> What could be causing the spots that look like matted hair, all of the red streaking/spots and is any of this related to the possibility of him just getting to big for the tank? <Finrot/Fungus is the immediate problem, and needs to be dealt with ASAP. Both are almost always caused by either [a] poor water quality or [b] physical damage, such as fighting or rough handling. This type of catfish should be happy enough in a 55 gallon system, though obviously 'the bigger, the better'. Do check the filter you have is properly maintained, and you're doing sufficient water changes.> Thanks, Julie <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco with red spots 1/11/08
Hello again, <Hello!> Thanks for the quick response. <No problems.> What would be an acceptable temperature for my Pleco, Danios and tetras to live with? <I'd go for 24C, tops.> According to the test strips I am using from PetSmart to test my water quality, the results are: ammonia = 0 <Good.> chlorine = 0 <Good.> nitrite = 0 <Good.> total hardness = 50 which is at the top of the soft end and bottom end of the? moderate scale (done by color coding so it is a guesstimate) <This is mg/l calcium carbonate, I'm assuming. Yes, this is pretty soft, and one problem here could be lack of pH stability. To cut a long story short, all tanks acidify, and tanks with limited carbonate hardness (measured with a carbonate hardness rather than total or general hardness test kits) is that the pH plummets between water changes. There are various ways to deal with this, but all involve raising the carbonate hardness. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm > pH = 6.8 (done by color coding so it is a guesstimate) <Acceptable, though would be interesting to compare plain tap water with aquarium water a week after a water change. The absolute value is rather less important than the rate of change.> My test kit doesn't include a nitrate test. <Ah. In that case, pre-empt things by doing 25-50% water changes weekly.> I have 6 Danios and 5 tetras with my Pleco. They have been swimming at the bottom of the tank - could this be due to the water temperature being to warm? I thought they were mid-water swimmers? <Neons actually stay close the bottom; Danios at the top. Does rather depend on how secure/happy they feel.> I have done a recent water change and cleaned the filters. <Good.> I have done some quick research and my combined filters (if you can add them together) are doing about 400 gph. <Should be ample for a 55 gallon tank.> I will get the medicine to take care of the fungus. Any ideas on the red stuff? <It's irritated skin/blood.> My Pleco has been jetting all over the tank, hitting everything in sight, just like he is in a bad mood so maybe the redness is due to him slamming into everything. <very odd, and usually a sign there's something that's making him cranky. If water quality is acceptable, as seems to be the case, then do check other factors. Do you use dechlorinator when doing water changes? If your local water supplier adds Chloramine (call/check web site) you need a dechlorinator that removes that as well. I'd do a big (50%) water change now and another tomorrow. Why? If there's something in the water, like a poison, this will dilute it. Possible poisons include things like paint fumes. It's surprisingly easy to poison fish.> He has 2 small holes in his sail fin where he has tried to squeeze into between some fake plants. I have seen that before and it heals up. <Should do again, all else being equal.> Your advice is greatly appreciated. Julie <Happy to help, Neale.>

Pleco with weird spots 10/30/2007 Hello, <Hello.> I have, what I assume, is a common Pleco (Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus). He looks like the picture that appears with this name. <Also check Pterygoplichthys pardalis; the two species are sold interchangeably as "Common Pleco" and are easily confused. There are other Pterygoplichthys that might be traded too. All very similar.> He is approximately 4 years old and 13 inches long. <Ah, still a young 'un! Maximum size of Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus is 50 cm. These are BIG fish.> I got him when he was less than 2 inches long and started in a 10 gallon tank to a 20 gallon tank and now in a 55 gallon tank. <Yes, they grow fast!> The tank has good filtration, 2 bubble curtains for aeration and is sparsely decorated so he has room to move around with ease but he can hide. Although, he likes to be out in the open and comes up to the front of the tank to see me. His only tank mates are a pair of zebra Danios. <Sounds fine. But you might want to add some more Danios.> I feed him: algae tabs, veggie tabs, cucumbers, occasionally water melon, he cleans up any left over fish flakes and he keeps the tank algae free.? <All good. But do also try carrot, sweet potato, Sushi Nori and courgette. Cucumber is 99% water, so not really good for anything much, though I agree that all Plecs seem to love it. Do also add some bogwood, which Plecs seem to use as a source of fibre. The odd prawn or mussel will also be welcomed, maybe once a week. Pterygoplichthys is an omnivore rather than a strict herbivore.> I was having a hard time keeping the tank water clean and water conditions stable. <No surprise. Welcome to the Big Catfish = Dirty Tank club. I was thinking of having some jackets made up.> He was producing a lot of waste. <You're effectively keeping a cow in an aquarium. So expect masses of faeces. On the plus side, there's hardly any ammonia in them, so the ammonia and nitrite will stay low. It's more a cosmetic problem, though obviously a clogged-up filter is a Bad Thing.> My filters were constantly dirty regardless of how often I rinsed them out or put a clean one in. <Normal. That's why you need something around 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover, and ideally 10 times. In other words, in a 55 gallon tank, you need filters with ~ 300 to 500 gallons per hour turnover.> It was suggested to me, to add "Waste Control Organic Waste Eliminator" by Nutrafin and "Nutrafin Cycle Biological Filter Supplement" to help break down my Plecos waste and any left over food. This has solved my water condition problems. <Can't think why. Neither product sounds magical, especially the latter, which is basically unnecessary in a healthy aquarium. The solid waste produced by your catfish is mostly cellulose. It will break down over time, but it is messy. Because it contains minimal nitrogen, its effect on water quality is virtually zero. Here's my strategy: arrange your gravel so one of the corners is shallower than in the rest of the tank. The filter current should push the faeces into this "crater" over time. Each day, you can siphon out the unsightly waste.> I noticed he had a round brownish looking spot on the side of his head towards the top. I actually thought he had gotten a burn from the heater. He likes to get close and suck on the heater at times. Today, I noticed he has several spots that are roundish in shape, brownish in color and have a light white fuzz like coating on top of the spots. I had to use a magnifying glass to see the white fuzz. I do not recall these spots before I added the "Waste Control Organic Waste Eliminator" by Nutrafin and "Nutrafin Cycle Biological Filter Supplement". <Hmm... the fuzz is fungus and needs to be treated immediately. The heater MUST have a "heater guard" around it. These are plastic tube-shaped grills. Some heaters come with them anyway. If yours doesn't, go buy a heater guard. Put it over the heater. That will prevent heater burns. What you are describing is quite common, and easily prevented.> His overall color is good, he is eating and moving around the tank as normal. Do you have a suggestion of what these spots are and what I should do? <The fungus is eating up dead skin caused by heater burns.> Thanks, Julie <Good luck, Neale>

Treating Pleco Wounds 07/24/07 Hello One or All, <Hello.> I guess tank issues first right? 100 gallon tank. Everything is testing fine, and everything has been going just fine until last week. The tank's inhabitants are: 5 Rasboras, 1 Danio (who thinks he's a Rasbora), 4 Neon Tetras, 20 Corys (long story) and 1 Pleco. Nothing fancy about him, he's just your everyday kind, but I think he's exceptional. We've had him for 6 years and he's survived a lot of stuff: moves, poisoned tank, living in a 30 gallon tank for too long. He's grown from 2 inches to 15 inches, and has always been healthy. <OK.> Last week I noticed he wasn't eating his zucchini, and this guy is addicted to the stuff. The Corys were acting weird too. I also noticed some little white areas on some of the Corys. All other fish were fine. Then I noticed some small patches of white on Pleco too. <Fungus or Finrot. Treat quickly.> Long story short. Husband treated the tank for something. Used Maracyn and Melafix. Took out the charcoal. <Melafix largely useless, but OK.> The Corys got better, but Pleco was on death's door yesterday. <Oh dear.> He had a large white patch around his mouth, and his tail looked bloody. For a couple of days I noticed that I could see blue streaks in his tail and fins, but now these were all bloody or the fins were dissolved looking. <Bacterial infection moved from fins to body, and now very serious indeed.> He was breathing rapidly and unable to hang on to the tank sides. I yelled at hubby that I didn't care what the meds were supposed to do they were killing Pleco. <Some catfish do indeed react badly to common medications. That said, I'm not familiar with Plecs being among them.> So we did a 50% water change and washed all the fake plants and stuff in the tank. When the water was really low, he went to the corner where the water was pouring in from the filter. It actually seemed to revive him somewhat. Enough that I said hold off on the clove oil. <OK. Now, when you see a fish pep up after a big water change, that's often a sign that the problem is more complex than just disease, and that the disease may even be a symptom of a water quality/chemistry issue. Always worth following up this line of thinking. Test the pH, hardness, and nitrites. Double check for any potential toxins or sources of anaerobic decay. Make sure the fish isn't burning itself on the heater. That sort of thing.> This morning he's in another corner, breathing slower, but the white around his mouth has turned bloody. All other fish are fine. Is there anything I can do to save him? Treatment for the wounds? <Plecs are pretty tough, and I've seen them come back from worse. But it all depends. Treating the bacterial infection is clearly critical. I'd be wheeling out the antibacterial or antibiotic medications. perhaps not Maracyn given your bad luck here. But certainly something like a Furan or Sulfa drug. Seawater dips can also be excellent for cleaning up wounds.> If I can reduce this down better - started out with white patches on his mouth, and blue streaks in his fins. Now the fins are ragged, and the area around his mouth is bloody. Also some other bloody patches. <It sounds like Finrot to septicemia. Since Finrot usually follows from something else like water quality issues, double check the aquarium conditions.> Help if you can before I have to use the clove oil. I really care about this guy. Tara <Well, it sounds 50/50 right now, but I think you have time. Switch treatments, optimise water quality, increase aeration, and hope for the best. Good luck. Neale>
Re: Treating Pleco Wounds 7/26/07
Thanks so much for your response. I know there's a way to make a donation for the help, but not sure what it is. Let me know. <Hello Tara. Yep, there's a "tip jar" on the front page of the site. If you scroll down, you'll see an Amazon logo at bottom left.> Update: we were ready to euthanize Cos last night when he perked up, went upright, and is sucking on the glass. He has some bad wounds though that are growing a little fuzz on them. I know this can't be good. Is there anything we can put directly on the wounded areas to help him out? We retested the water and everything is good. All the other fish are fine now. Really hate to lose this guy if there's something I can do to help him. I put a piece of zucchini in just in case. He's still staying where the water flow is strongest....with his injured parts right above the bubble stones. Thanks again. Tara <OK, the white stuff is fungus or Finrot bacteria. You have to treat, right now! I'd also recommend that AS WELL as adding anti-fungus/Finrot to the tank (to kill the infectious organisms) I'd recommend doing some saltwater dips to clean the wounds. These are simple. Put a few litres of aquarium water into a bucket. Add 35 grammes of non-iodised salt (e.g., aquarium salt or marine salt mix) and stir well. When it's dissolved, dunk the fish for a short period. At first, do this for about 1-2 minutes, each day, for two or three days. This should clean up the open wounds, much like iodine does on wounds on humans. It isn't a cure for the pathogen, but by cleaning the wound it helps the medication get to the pathogens more easily and so helps the fish heal more quickly. As you've noticed, your fish is swimming into the 'cleanest' water. Fish do this when sick, and it's something that happens in the wild. When fish are sick they will swim towards warmer patches of water to speed up their immune systems, effectively "running a fever". So, there's your list of things to do: 1. Check water quality; 2. Add Finrot/fungus medication; 3. Dip fish in salty water. Follow that, and I think your catfish has a good chance of surviving. I've seen plecs come back from far worse. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Treating Pleco Wounds 07/26/07
Me again. Quick question. I don't have a quarantine tank. Will it be ok to treat the entire tank? Reminder: 20 Corys, 4 tetras, 5 Rasboras, 1 Danio. I'll start treatment ASAP. Pay on the way. Thanks so much! Tara <Hello again Tara! You should be fine treating all these fish together in the one tank. Be sure and remove the carbon from the filter (if you use any) and always follow the instructions on the packaging to the letter. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Treating Pleco Wounds 08/17/07
Hi again, I just had to let you know how things turned out. Cosmus (the Pleco) was looking really bad. Laying on his side, bloody sores, etc. So we finally decided to euthanize him. My husband went out to get Clove Oil, and we put water in a bucket. Then we read the part about the vodka. No vodka in the house, so he went out again to pick up a bit. Comes back and gets ready to start the process. I told him that I couldn't watch and started to leave the room. Right then Cosmus straightened up and started swimming around! It was like a Monty Python skit (but I'm not dead yet). So we changed our minds. Did a major water change, and everything else we could think of, including cleaning everything in the tank. Here we are three plus weeks later. Didn't lose a single fish. Cos only has a very small place on his tail that we're still treating. He's eating and swimming, and coming up for me to hand feed. I think I read on your site that you shouldn't give up on these guys and you're right. He did lose some of his tail fin, shortening him from 15 inches to about 13 and a half, but other than that.... Thanks for your help. Tara <Hello Tara. Nice to have a story with a happy ending! Fish have amazing recuperative powers. His tail will grow back. Have you ever seen pictures of wild piranhas mating? They bite chunks out of each other, down to the spine sometimes. A few weeks later, they're right as rain. I'm always loathe to give up on an injured fish, and more than once I've seen a fish seemingly come back from the dead. Anyway, good luck, and enjoy your fish. Neale>

Plecos, hold the salt please 5/30/07 Hello, <<Hello, Julie. Tom with you.>> I have a question about adding salt to my freshwater tank. I have a 55 gallon tank. Currently, it contains black mollies, gold balloon belly mollies, zebra Danios and one 12 inch Pleco. <<Hmmmokay. Mollies are typically categorized as brackish water fish, Julie. Your Pleco has little, if any, tolerance for salt. Not ideal but lets see what we can do.>> My problem - the black mollies have Ich and I am having trouble getting rid of it. I read that my tank needs salt and this will aid in getting rid of and keeping the Ich out of my tank. <<Salt is one of the safest ways to go, Julie, but not the only one. In this case, a treatment level of salt for Ick will do your Pleco no good whatsoever. We need to look for an alternate course of action.>> I also read that my Pleco will not do well with too much salt in the water. <<True.>> Is there a certain amount of salt that I could add to my tank that might help my mollies but not hurt my Pleco? <<In this case, Julie, there isnt. Plecos can tolerate no more than a dosage of one tablespoon of salt per five gallons of water and even that is iffy. Youd likely need to up this to around two-three tablespoons per five gallons to effectively do battle with this parasite. Not an option, Im afraid. You should consider Maracide here. Not quite as effective as other forms of treatment but scaleless fish seem to do quite well with this treatment. Quick Cure is a formulation of formalin and malachite green which is very effective, particularly when combined like this but, it does have safety drawbacks as its toxic to fish and plants if dosing isnt done properly or, if treated for a prolonged period. Treatments with this product can be very successful when half-dosed in 12-hour intervals, however. Id go with the Maracide here, though. If this were a more serious outbreak, Id direct you to go with the Quick Cure but Id rather that you feel comfortable with this rather than put you on the spot. Also, remember to increase the temperature of the tank to 82-86 degrees F. over a period of several hours to speed up the life cycle of the Ick.>> Thanks, Julie <<Youre welcome, Julie. Best of luck. Tom>>

Crab Eating Plec or is it Plec Eating Crab? - 10/21/2006 I have a rather large common-sail fin cross Pleco that is showing signs of discoloration and his armor it starting to stick out. I have tried krill shrimp to boost his color I have treated with a medication made for many illnesses including parasites and scaling. I even tried feeding him algae wafers. I am all out of options. I have seen that one of my fiddlers is missing can a Pleco eat a fiddler by accident if so can this make him sick? He is a male. I was also wondering if I need to get him a mate or another larger Pleco. I have tiny tot the baby Pleco, it is the same breed as he is, which by the way is fat and happy. I did put my Bettas in the tank with him while I cleaned their tank and the female is a bit more aggressive than the male which made them chase each other and the female beta did challenge big boy. Could they of stressed him out? I feel I am running out of options he's not even full growth potential yet, he's supposed to get up to 18 inches and he's only 10 could it be old age he is a rescue fish from a lady that didn't want him anymore. Do I need to get him more tank mates? Please help in stuck up the creek without a paddle... and need as much help as I can get. <It may be that a bit of crab shell is the underlying problem. Bloating is usually caused by either constipation or an infection. If this is a blockage, and he's still eating, you can try some fresh or frozen veggies. Shelled raw peas work well to get things moving. If he's not eating you can try adding Epsom Salt to his water. One heaping tablespoon per 5 gallons of water. For an internal infection medicated flake is called for. But only if he's eating. Internal infections that progress to a point where the fish is not eating are very difficult to treat. In that case your best chance is keeping his water pristine with very frequent (daily), and very large (50%), water changes and crossing your fingers that his immune system will kick the bug. I doubt a three inch Betta stressed out a ten inch Pleco. Also, there are no crabs that can live a full life in freshwater. So no more crabs, OK? Don> This is the edited copy I am sorry I sent it before I checked last time I hope this is better on your eyes. <Thank you!>

Sick Sailfin Pleco With Bloat - 10/21/06 I have a rather large common-Sailfin cross Pleco that is showing signs of discoloration and his armor it starting to stick out. I have tried krill shrimp to boost his color. I have treated with a medication made for many illnesses including parasites and scaling. I even tried feeding him algae wafers. I am all out of options. I have seen that one of my fiddlers is missing. Can a Pleco eat a fiddler by accident? If so can this make him sick? He is a male. < Plecos eat anything including algae and a fiddler crab if he thinks he can get it down.> I was also wondering if I need to get him a mate or another larger Pleco? <No not needed.> I have a tiny tot, the baby Pleco which is the same breed as he is. He by the way is fat and happy. I did put my Bettas in the tank with him while I cleaned their tank and the female is a bit more aggressive than the male. Could they of stressed him out? < No, not really.> I feel I am running out of options he's not even full growth potential yet he's supposed to get up to 18 inches and he is only 10. Could it be old age? < Not likely.> He is a rescue fish from a lady that didn't want anymore. Do I need to get him more tank mates? < No, that is not the problem.> Please help in stuck up the creek without a paddle... < I think that your fiddler crab may have died and you Pleco tried to eat him. The hard exoskeleton of the crab is probably lodged in his digestive system somewhere. Bacteria in the gut are now working on the skeleton and breaking it down. In the process they are developing gas and distending the gut of your Pleco. Try treating with Metronidazole and hope he is able to move this waste through his gut.-Chuck>

Sick Sailfin - 10/22/2006 We have a Sailfin Plec who is very poorly. He seems to have developed some sort of fungus/disease (I thought it was the disease 'Velvet' at first) which has made large parts of his body discolored, almost red raw and what must be extremely sore. There are approx 3 whitish 'eaten away' marks on his body and he has redness along his fins, tail and top lip as well as near the white marks. He has lived happily and problem free for a number of years in our tank and has always been a hardy fish so we are upset at watching him decline in this way and are feeling quite helpless. He has been lying on the bottom upside down breathing quite rapidly and seems to be stressed. We were told to try applying sea salt to his wounds which we did approx 4 days ago where his condition seemed to improve but now seems to have taken a downward turn. No other fish in the tank are effected (we also have Corydoras, tetra and silver dollars) and we are at a loss at what to do. We have also changed approx 50% of the water following the salt treatment. What would be your advice? Many thanks. M. Bradshaw Devon, U.K <If he is laying upside-down on the bottom it would seem your fish is near death. There may not be anything you can do at this point. But since the salt seemed to work, I would pull him away from the others and add about two tablespoons of aquarium salt to the water. Take the temp up to 82 to 84 and add an airstone. Good luck. Don>

Bloated sail-fin Plecostomus 8/4/06 Hello , <Hi there> My sail-fin Plecostomus (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps) has bloated up in the past 4 hours. He (I assumed) is so bloated that the slight current from the stone running in the back of the tank nearly bowls him over. He uses his fins to level himself out. I also noticed when I nudged him a bit, when he swims upward he struggles and semi-sinks back down. Here are my stats: 20 gal high tank <Too small for this species> Penn-Plax Cascade 100 power filter fake plants 2 pots ( not sure of composition) Gravel bottom 1 - 12" air stone 3 x-ray tetras 1 sail-fin Plecostomus Tested water here are those stats : Temp: 84F PH : 6.6 Nitrite : 0 Nitrate : 5 ppm Ammonia : .25 or 1 ppm <This last should be zip, 0.0...> I get confused with the ammonia test result. The product I use is Red Sea Fresh Test NH3/NH it gives a chart for PH values between 7.2 - 8.8 & temps between 68F - 89F, The lower the PH & temp the lower the ammonia reading. So I assume based on this with the PH has low has it is that the above reading is correct. If I'm wrong please correct me. <I'd seek out another test kit/make/model> There is no salt added to my tank. Was told by Petco that X-ray tetras were a freshwater only fish. <They are> I have seen that this may not true, that they may be a slightly brackish fish. (yes/no?) <No> I have done no other tests not sure if there are any others I should be doing. The tank has been set up for 2.5 months. I will be adding live plants in the next couple of weeks, Has soon has I figure out what is best for my tank & fish. Have been researching for awhile. I haven't had a tank in 20 years and I seem to suffer from CRS. <Mmm... a common human ailment... to be recognized, guarded against> I had 2 Rosey Barbs , which I figured the reason they died was the Pleco sucked them to death. <Mmm, not likely> I also has 3 Silver-Tip sharks all died. I read on your website they are copper sensitive. Is there a way to test for copper ? <Yes... there are commercial test kits for this> How would I remove or avoid poisoning my fish with copper ? <... avoiding its introduction... filtration, using removal products> I've attached a couple of pictures of my Pleco showing how bloated he is. The red dot is from my camera. I've cropped them has much has possible. I've blanched a pea & pealed it , but he has no interest in it. Well I've given you all the information I could think of. Any ideas or suggestion . would be greatly appreciated Thank you for your time & help. Sheri N. Maine, USA <May be something it ate... the Ammonia should be addressed immediately. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwammfaqs.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Ill Loricariid 8/1/06 Hi. <<Greetings, Emma. Tom>> I have a leopard Sailfin Plec who is about 5 - 6 yrs old, lives in a community tank. Over the last few days I have noticed the tank glass getting dirty inside, he usually cleans it well. Tonight I have noticed he has gone very, very pale. At first I thought it may be the sunlight coming into the tank, however I pulled the curtains and he has stayed the same pale colour. <<The "paling" in color is almost certainly stress related rather than tied to a specific pathogenic problem. Not all that uncommon with Plecos, in general, but pretty disconcerting when you see it for the first time...in an otherwise healthy animal, no less.>> The water temp is between 25 and 27degC; normal for my tank. No new fish have been introduced or plants, in fact, nothing has changed in the tank at all. The water test is also normal for my tank. <<When a problem occurs and nothing has seemingly changed to cause it, I look for the "unusual". In this case, Emma, the one thing you haven't mentioned is your Pleco's diet. All fish, regardless of what their primary food source is, appreciate variety to some degree or another. Cichlids, for example, kept on a perfectly healthy, yet boring, diet, can/will become ill, sometimes to the point of death. With nothing else to "hang my hat on" here, Emma, I'd look into a change of diet to see if your Pleco snaps out of it. If, by any chance, you observe something else that you can share that might give us more to go on, please post back to us. I, for one, am interested in this one.>> Please can you help Emma <<My best. Tom>>
Re: ? FW... What? Disease... no prev. corr., no prev. title... Search FW dailies to match up... Ahh... Ill Loricariid 8/1/06
Hi <<Hi, Emma. Tom once again.>> Thank you so much for your reply.... <<Any time, Emma, and happy to do so.>> I always feed him on algae tablets, cucumber and courgette but a few days ago a friend gave me some home grown VERY large courgette/ marrow. <<Which, as you are no doubt aware, is nothing like what you purchase at the produce store. Tough, fibrous and tastes like (fill in the blank). :)>> He tucked into it but on looking at him very closely something strange has happened to his mouth. <<Without going further, I can pretty much guess...>> It seems to be torn and there are small possibly fungal growths around his mouth. He can't suck on to the side of the tank. I have tried holding him and putting food on his mouth but with no luck he just will not suck. He seems to be starving to death.... <<To put you a little more at ease, starvation isn't our immediate problem. He's most likely torn up his mouth on the "homegrown" courgette and, while laying on the bottom of the tank - as he is wont to do - has "inherited" a bacterial or fungal infection. Aquarium salt is effective but Plecos aren't very tolerant of it and we've got enough stress going. MarOxy, Maracyn, Furanace (Furanace) or Sulpha-based antibiotics may be used for this. My recommendation - albeit not from "firsthand" experience - would be MarOxy. It's purported to be effective against external bacterial infections as well as being an anti-fungal, and (importantly) should be easy to come by.>> He is also getting very frustrated and thrashing round the tank. <<Understandable. You'll want to start the treatment ASAP.>> I really don't know what to do. I am not sure if it is the courgette/marrow I have given him. He has normal courgette from the super market all the time with no problem. <<Last time around, I mentioned that I look toward the "unusual". You gave it to me. Courgette/marrow that you purchase at the market is harvested at a very immature stage of its growth. Not the same "critter" as the veggie (actually "fruit") that's left on the vine for a long time. Very, very different textures and possibly/probably the cause of the problem. Regardless of the "cause", we've got an "effect" and it needs to be treated promptly.>> It's desperate to watch him, I just don't know what to do. Any advice I would be most grateful. <<You have the best that I've got right now, Emma.>> Thank you Emma <<Keep me posted, please. Best regards. Tom>> Re: Ill Loricariid 8/2/06 Again thank you, <<No problem, Emma.>> I will get that in the morning for him. Will this treatment affect my other fish at all? All community fish. <<Worst case (thus far), Emma, this is Columnaris, which is highly contagious. Ideally, you'd medicate any single fish in a quarantine tank (QT). I think it best that you medicate the entire tank, removing any carbon filtration you have going. Follow the manufacturer's instructions with the medication. You'll be instructed to replace the carbon media/filter at the end of the medication period to remove the med's from the tank. Following this, discard the carbon media/filter. It can't be re-activated or "cleaned" and is, therefore, worthless to you. Also, follow the water change protocol that should be included with the instructions. Typically, this will call for a change of about 30% prior to starting the treatment.>> Emma <<Tom>>

Pleco Melting Away - 04/11/2006 Hello I have always found your site very helpful in the past, I am hoping you can help me now. My mum has a Plectropomus fish that she has had for about 8 years, he's not very big about 13" long. The thing is all of a sudden he has become very sick, his back fin is all peeling away and looks all shredded and the surface of his body has started going a lighter colour and he has now started getting white looking smears around his mouth and gills. The thing that is worrying me the most is the speed that all this has happened in less then 48 hours he has gone from a happy sucky fish playing with his cucumber to a sorrowful looking sucky fish laying on the floor refusing to move and breathing rather short and heavy, and I fear he will not last long at all. The fraying of his back fin happened so quickly it only took about 5 hours, is this right for this to happen so sudden and quick? No changes have been made to the quality of the water up until he got sick no new fish, ornaments, chemicals nothing. So far since he has got sick I have put in a bacterial and fungus medicine (guessing that it may be something like fin rot) and a aloe vera stress relief tonic. I have also done a strip test and everything quality wise is perfect. What else can I do? I'm just concerned that its happening to quickly to do anything. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks < These nasty bacterial infections can be very difficult to stop. Start by placing the fish in a hospital tank with clean water. I would try a double dose of Nitrofuranace or a single dose of erythromycin. These medications will effect the nitrifying bacteria in an established aquarium.-Chuck>

Sick Pleco - 01/24/06 Our office has a 50 gallon aquarium up front with two Oscars and a large Pleco. <Need more space...> It's probably about 10 or 11 years old, and about a foot long. He was acting normally last week, but we came in this morning, and he's laying upside down at the bottom of the tank. <Not good> He's still breathing, and occasionally we see him move, but nothing more than an inch or so from a small wave of the tail. He looked in good shape last week, but we noticed he's got a small white spot on the tip of his nose, like he scraped it on something. <Likely so... generally not a problem> We've seen him do that before and it's gone away pretty quick, so I don't think that's a cause here, I just wanted to give all the details. We tested the water, and everything seems to be in the normal range. Any ideas what we can check next? Or is this maybe just the end of the road for an older fish? (How long does a Pleco usually live?) <In this setting... a decade is a good long time. In a bigger tank, perhaps twice this long. I would change about a quarter of the water (every week) and leave all else be. Bob Fenner> Any help would be great. Thanks, Mike Williams

Pleco With Bloat 1/14/06 Hello, I have a Pleco that isn't well. He(?) is about 7 years old & about 8-10 inches long. The other day he started to swim to the top of the tank more often than usual. Now (3 days later) he is violently swimming up and down. I noticed he can't stay down. He struggles and fights and gets comfortable on the glass then his tail slides up to the surface. He has been holding himself down with the heater and return from the filter to just keep under the water. I am very concerned, I don't want him to die, but I'm not sure how to help him. I've read all of the Q&A's on your website, which are very helpful! The water tests fine, no major changes recently. The other fish are all fine. Water quality appears normal. I have recently (3 weeks ago) added a Cory catfish to the tank? I feed them discs regularly and cucumber every now and then. Note from reading your Q&A's, I do not have any live plants or driftwood in the tank? I've never had any? Is that a big issue? Besides the buoyancy problem, I believe he is slightly bloated. Also I have noticed he always had waste hanging from him, but none at all this week. I believe his anus is enlarged/swollen and pinkish in color. I have added some additional stress coat and stress zyme hoping that might help him. I'm trying not to disturb him too much. Any suggestions? Thanks Nicole < You Pleco is suffering from an internal bacterial infection. Probably found an algae wafer in some form of decomposition and the long intestines of the Pleco just could not pass it through in time. Do a 50% water change vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Try treating with Metronidazole. When they are this bloated it is difficult for them to recover.-Chuck>
Pleco Almost Better 1/19/06
Hi Chuck, Thank you very much for your advice, he is doing much better. He is almost normal again. I followed the treatment directions and treated the tank twice. Do you recommend a third treatment? < In your reply you said he was almost normal. I would treat one more time until he is acting normal.> He now has a few tears in his fins and one pinkish sore on his back from all of his thrashing around. Any advice on helping the recovery along? Thanks again for the quick and good recommendation. Nicole < Keep the water clean and watch the spot closely. If it looks like it is getting bigger then treat with Nitrofuranace. This medication will affect the good bacteria needed for breaking down the fish waste. After treatment, use a good carbon to remove any leftover medication and then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the bacteria going again.-Chuck>

Sick Plec - 08/16/2005 I got a new common Pleco (about 8") inherited from a 125 gal. tank I am starting in my basement, but put him in my 55 until it is ready. There were 3 other small common Plecos in there before adding him (I know it was overkill, but I fed them enough algae discs to make it.) <Feeding isn't so much the issue, as aggression.> Well the smallest of the four died the next biggest, then the other, and now the big guy is sick. His eyes are very cloudy, and his stomach is puffy. <Many, many possibilities, here.... test your water, first and foremost - ammonia an nitrite must be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.... adding such a large, waste-producing animal may have caused your tank to cycle again. Another major possibility is Ich, which typically only affects a plec's gills; possibly internal parasites or bacterial infection. Adding an unquarantined fish is always risky when it comes to any disease.> I can't find anywhere online what to do, you are my last hope, he's not going to make it much longer if even through tonight. He lays on his back and just breathes, but is not eating. Can you help me out? <Test your water, fix if necessary.... Beyond that, I would consider treating for Ich - it's very, very difficult to know if that is the problem, though.... and there are so very many other things it could be. From your descriptions, though, I doubt if you would have success treating if it were something internal, at this point.> I appreciate it. <I wish I had better advice.> Mark Cygan, Olathe, KS <Wishing you well, -Sabrina, who grew up in/near Augusta, KS.... I do miss those Kansas storms!>

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>

Pleco-Ulcer Hi, <Hello> I have a Pleco that's approx 9" long that developed a small ulcer on its belly between its front fins, about 2 weeks ago. I don't know if it was caused as an injury or a bacteria. Since then I have bought an antibacterial treatment which I have administered to the ulcer as instructed by the shop owner where I purchased the Pleco from. The fish is in a quarantine container and is eating it's food ok, however the ulcer has gotten considerably bigger and the ulcer is quite deep now. Can you advise me as to how to treat the Pleco please. <I will try... I strongly suspect what you have here is a tumor born of nutritional deficiency... and the best way to treat this is to soak this animals foods in a vitamin and iodine based supplement. Please check with your fish store re brands, and add to the food ten-fifteen minutes before offering. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pleco with big spot Yes, I have done all of those. Although, about every 3 to 4 weeks, it seems I will see a fish staying constantly at the top, and picked on by other fish, then a few days later, is dead. As far as ammonia, the natural cycling of the tank would show a high level of ammonia before high nitrites, and then nitrates. I am currently out of Nitrite/Nitrate test sticks, I do have ammonia testing available, and it remains at 0. (Although a test at PetCo after fish had died indicated slightly high ammonia, I immediately went home and tested, and my test kit indicated 0.) <Thats the correct pattern but sometimes an ammonia spike will be so fast that if you arent testing daily you will miss it. I recently had a new tank show 0 ammonia but the nitrites were at 5. This was after just one day of being set up. However, I dont think thats the problem in this case. Since these are smaller tropicals (judging from your photos), it is still possible that whatever is on your Pleco is killing them even though they dont show signs of it. I know I said yesterday it wasnt likely but I did some thinking on this last night and with the small size of them it is possible that there would be no visible symptoms.> I have considered that the 2 indications I mentioned point to 1 of 2 things - a fish constantly at the top is supposed to indicate a lack of oxygen or burning of gills, correct? <Usually> And being picked on by other fish of the same species indicates something may be wrong with that fish, right? <With the types I saw in your pictures, yes. These are generally non aggressive fish that dont often pick on their own species.> I have made a few mistakes. Buying fish from PetCo and immediately introducing them into the tank. After doing so, I had been at the same PetCo a few days later, and noticed a lot their fish had Ich, or the cotton effect, and a lot of their tanks had dead fish floating in them. I pointed this out to them, but they really could have cared less. <Ouch. Unfortunately, this is all too common.> What I learned from that situation is, don't buy fish from anyone who doesn't care about the condition of the fish. <Sometimes theres no other option though. A strict QT period is necessary for all new additions, regardless of where its purchased.> I suppose this might be a cause of some of them dying. <Not the Ich but they may have been mis-handled somewhere along the line. Or they may have some sort of internal problem. At this point, I would recommend just keeping exact track of when you lose a fish. Mark the day on your calendar and see if youre actually losing them as often as it seems. And when one is dying, inspect it closely both before and after death to see if you can find anything.> I appreciate your help with this, but I still haven't found enough meaty info by looking on this site, do you have any exact links that go in depth? Or any other sites that give a step to step? <Unfortunately, I dont. Use your favorite search engine to search for Plecostomus disease and see what it pulls up.> One of the descriptions of the problem suspected with the Pleco, says Black or yellow nodules, ulcers on or under skin. ON the skin would be accurate. It actually looks like a dime sized area where someone piled caviar. So this one, I tend to think is not it - Flukes. Red or Black nodules under skin. Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thanks. Kirk <I agree but I couldnt see closely in the pictures so figured they were both worth mentioning. At this point, unless you find something more definitive in your search, isolate him and treat him for Ichthyosporidium. Have you been feeding him anything or just letting him eat whats in the tank? If you arent already, you may want to try supplementing him with algae wafers, particularly ones with Spirulina. I am very sorry that I havent been of more help! Oh, the correct link (since I gave you a broken one yesterday!) is http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm Ronni>
Re: Pleco with big spot He has been in a tank with many other tropical fish, are they infected then? I lose about 1 fish every month, is this why? Kirk <Its possible but they would probably have been showing some kind of symptoms. My guess is that the losses are from something else. Have you tested your ammonia and nitrites recently and kept up with the water changes? Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot Yes, I have always fed him algae discs, but when I feed the fish, he always goes to the top and gets as much of that as he can too. I feed him 3 or 4 discs at a time (since he is so big) about every other day. (since I know he eats the other fish food too) <Very good> I have an 18 Gallon tank that I took down when I moved, and never set it back up. I had a lot of trouble with that tank. Fish always died. The temp was incredibly difficult to keep steady (thus I bought a Tronic settable heater) The gravel in the tank was large gravel, which I later learned is a no, no, especially in a smaller tank. It had only an undergravel filter, which wasn't doing the job, so I bought a small power filter for it. But fish were always dying, and I was always busting the small Pleco in that tank, harassing, attacking, or eating the other fish. I got rid of that Pleco, and moved the remaining fish from that tank (molly babies) To my 65 Gal. (where the 13 inch Pleco is) <Not uncommon with some Plecos. Theyre generally mild mannered but once in a while they can be a terror. For now, I would suggest setting the 18g back up with the power filter, no gravel, a heater, and a light if you have one.> Also, that smaller tank, when I would look close at the gravel, had some very tiny white creatures, about the size of a speck of dust, swimming and squirming around in it. I was told this was sometimes normal, and those creatures were not harmful to the fish, but actually gave them more protein to eat. <Yes, its true that these are harmless. Many tanks seem to get them.> Anyway I will get some smaller gravel and set that tank up, but shouldn't it sit with only water, gravel, plants and filtering for about 4 weeks to get the cycle in place? <Nope, you can set it up and begin using it immediately by filling it with water from your 65g. Try to get some of the dirt that accumulates in the gravel and put it in the 18g also. This will seed your tank and you wont have to wait for the full cycle. You will still have to monitor ammonia and nitrites and possibly do a few water changes but by setting it up this way you can at least reduce the cycle period to just a few days (my longest cycle period with this method has been about 4 days)> Would it be safe to treat the entire 65 Gallon tank for what the Pleco has? <Its not recommended. Some fish are more sensitive to medications than others and you also run the risk of medicating fish that dont need it.> And if so, will doing so destroy the carbon in the filters, thus they should be removed? Does any type of additive that requires removal of the carbon cause harm to the fish if put in and carbon is not removed? In other words, does it cause a reaction or dissolve the carbon and send it into the water, being dangerous for the fish, or does it just ruin the carbon? Or, does the carbon do its job and remove the additive from the water making it a waste of time to use the additive? <The latter. It doesnt ruin the carbon but the carbon removes the medication.> OK, enough for now, thanks again for your help. Kirk <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot I am replying to you again to send better pics of the Pleco. <Yes, these show the affected spot much better> I have now set up the 18 gal tank, and quarantined him. <Very good> I am still unable to truly know exactly what this is he has. He displays no signs of any of the descriptions I've researched, other than the obvious raised cysts you can see in the pics. Basically, about all I have found are these 2 things, and have found no references after endless searching as to exactly what it could be, and even if it is the Ichthyosporidiosis, how to treat Ichthyosporidiosis (other than this one reference to food additives and water treatment). One of the descriptions even indicates that at the point that cysts appear its most likely too late for the fish. This greatly saddens me. Here are the 2 descriptions I have come across: Ichthyosporidiosis A. Ichthyophonus hoferi; large 10-250 micron spores which may germinate to form large hyphae (similar to the hyphae of Saprolegnia). B. This fungus infects all species of fish. C. Clinically the fish are emaciated with small round occasionally ulcerated black granulomas in the skin. Scoliosis is occasionally observed. Internally numerous granulomas are observed in many visceral organs. Microscopically the lesion consists of granulomas with encysted large PAS-positive spores. Occasionally large irregular shaped hyphae are observed. D. Transmission is unknown. Ichthyosporidium Symptoms: Sluggishness, loss of balance, hollow belly, external cysts and sores. Ichthyosporidium is a fungus, but it manifests itself internally. It primarily attacks the liver and kidneys, but it spreads everywhere else. The symptoms vary. The fish may become sluggish, lose balance, show hollow bellies, and eventually show external cysts or sores. By then it is usually too late for the fish. Treatment is difficult. Phenoxethol added to food as a 1% solution may be effective. Chloromycetin added to the food has also been effective. But both of these treatments, if not watched with caution, could pose a risk to your fish. It is best, if diagnosed soon enough, to destroy the affected fish before the disease can spread. Here are the latest pics: (also notice how he always gets all splotchy with areas of lighter color on his skin for a few days after I have moved him.) <OK, I have conferred with others on the crew and Bob suggests that this may actually be the plecos internal mass showing through after and injury. Hes seen this before in some pond fish and it generally heals itself with time. You may want to keep him QTd during this time just to make sure no other fish pick on him and in case you do need to medicate but its not absolutely necessary at this point. The lighter colored splotches that you see when you move him are just from stress and will disappear once he relaxes again. Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot OK, here's the thing though. Last July, when I picked this Pleco up from my sister (the previous owner) I transported him and an Oscar 6 hrs north to my house. It was a rough ride, and later I discovered transporting them the way I did was a no, no. The Oscar died the next day. The day after that, as I was setting up the tank, and preparing to put the Pleco in, we noticed the spot, and wondered if he had been injured during the move. <Possibly> I asked my sister (who was in poor health, and actually hadn't looked at the fish tank in about 4 months) and she said, well, last time I saw him, he didn't have any sores. Now keep in mind, that he was in a tank, that the water had gone down to about half way, no water changes had been done in all those months, the filtration system was turned off all that time, and it was questionable whether they had been fed any time recent, or if there were even any fish in the tank, because the water was so murky, you couldn't even see anything but grey murky water. <Goes to show how "tough" these animals are> I fished around through the water later and discovered the Oscar and the Pleco. After observing that sore back in July 2002, I have kept an eye on him, and the sore has not gotten smaller, its gotten bigger. He has been in a 65 gal tank with other tropicals and lots of plants and ornaments, until I moved him to this 18 gal tank for quarantine the other day. (which he is mad about, I've observed him trying to swim around, and he bumps against the glass, then swims to the top, then bumps the glass again, like he is having trouble accepting that this tank is smaller than what he is used to. Have never seen him do that in the other tank) So, I suppose its possible this is an injury. My question is, why has it gotten bigger? <Perhaps a continuing infection, maybe secondary> I also suppose he could be re-injuring it, but if so, I have seen no behaviour to indicate how or when he would have, other than the last few days in the new tank. Kirk <Catfishes come in two "varieties", "naked" and armored... Plecos are of the latter group. Once the skin and armor is broken it can be trying to cure an infectious disease. Bob Fenner
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