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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats: Hypostomus, the Original Pleco

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

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, 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

Black moor Goldfish Peeling    11/27/11
Hi, my Black moor goldfish has began losing all of its scales on both sides of its body, and I am finding its skin peeling at the bottom of the tank.
Due to all of the peeling its sides are now showing a red color. It shares the tank with another black moor and an algae eating catfish
<... This is highly the cause... Is this Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? Look it up on the Net and WWM>
in a 5 gallon tank which I know is too small for the three fish.
<... then... why... are you killing these fishes?>
I've changed the water recently and have began doing a 30% water change weekly. The day after I changed the water, the black moor's eye began to bleed internally and now the outside of the eye is peeling as well. It has also developed a cut on the top of the eye. It is acting completely normal and eating regularly. I have had it for about a year now and it has grown to about 5 inches. Its poop sometimes comes of clear with brownish orange bubbles along with clear bubbles.
<... Look up the CAE name, remove it and move these goldfish to sufficient space/quarters. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black moor Goldfish Peeling   11/28/11

The catfish is an Hypostomus Plecostomus
<Still very problematical; and still likely the culprit here>

 I wasn't aware how large it would grow due to it still being small.  I have moved the Hypostomus Plecostomus and the other one inch Black moor Goldfish to a 5 gallon while separating the 5 inch Black moor into another 5 gallon alone.  All of the water has been changed.
<... I would not change all of the water ever>
Is there anything I can do to make the skin better along with its eye.
<Time going by, good maintenance and nutrition. BobF>
Re: Black moor Goldfish Peeling, Pleco incomp.  11/29/11

I removed the catfish, it was been two days and the black moor's scales are now growing back.  Thank you very much.
<Ahh! Thank you for this follow-up Melanie. BobF>

trying to verify if my Pleco is a Trinidad 4/21/10
Its been awhile since I wrote in with a question. But today I have a quick question. I bought a Pleco from a pet store, not a fish store. The girl at the store said she thinks its a "Trinidad" Pleco but wasn't sure.
I bought him cause I liked how he looked different from the standard Plecos I have normally seen. I was looking at pics online but he is small and looks like he "could be" a different kind.
<Would appear to be a standard issue Ancistrus, what is often called the "Bristlenose Plec". The photo is really to blurry to be sure though.
"Trinidad Plec" is a name given to Hypostomus punctatus. While that species was common enough in the 60s and 70s, I haven't seen it traded much, if at all, in recent years. Normally the cheap Plecs in most European and North
American pet stores are Pterygoplichthys pardalis and Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. When discussing catfish, Latin names are generally much more useful than trade names, so I'd encourage you to use these names whilst
searching online for photos of these species.>
I know that pet stores are not always dead on with what they think the fish they are selling actually is. I was wondering if you might be able to tell from this pic that I attached if it is indeed a Trinidad Pleco and is that
the common name or what he might be if that's not what he is. He is a baby and he is dark brown with light yellow spots and about an inch long right now.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco in small tank or aggressive tank? -04/11/08 I recently bought a 20 gallon high tank that included 3 fish; an 8 inch Pleco, a 3 inch Pink Gourami, and a Guppy. They all get along fairly well but I'm afraid the tank is just too small for the Pleco, especially if he continues to grow. <I'm assuming we're talking about a Hypostomus plecostomus, those "classic" Plecos it seems like everybody has? If so, yes, he'll get huge (like, possibly almost 2ft).> I was considering moving him to my 130 gallon tank but I am unsure how he would do with, not only the different water conditions, but the Cichlids as well. Currently in the big tank are two 6 inch Jaguars, two 2 inch Jaguars, a 9 inch Flowerhorn, a 4 inch Convict, a 2 inch Convict, a 3 inch Jack Dempsey and a 4 inch Tiger Shovelnose Cat. All are at least somewhat aggressive and the Flowerhorn is just downright mean. I would hate to leave the Pleco in a tiny tank but I would also hate to see him beaten and nipped to death by territorial Cichlids. From what I've read, the chances of a Pleco thriving in a Cichlid tank are very circumstantial <I think an 8in Pleco stands a decent chance in this tank. Btw, have you ever touched this fish? ...not exactly an appetizing texture (even for a Cichlid). ;-)> and I'm just too scared to risk it without some professional advice. Any information you could give me would be very helpful. <If you have enough rockwork in the Cichlid tank for the Pleco to hide around, I'd go ahead and give it a try. You can always remove the Pleco if the other fish are too aggressive towards it. But it definitely shouldn't stay in a 20gH!> Thanks. <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Discus Fish System, Loricariid comp.  2/25/08 Neale/Crew of WWM, <Hello,> Thank you for the quick answer once again. I have two more questions: As far as the Discus go, I've read in many places that they aren't good to mix with, say, a common Pleco, because there's the possibility they will eat the slime coat off the discus. <Correct; doesn't always happen, but happens sufficiently often.> However, certain ones that stay on the smaller side and aren't too active would be okay. I really like the Gold-Nugget Plecos and have read they only get to be 5-6 inches or so. How would this work? <Baryancistrus sp. L018 could be okay, and does like quite warm water, which meshes nicely with what Symphysodon wants. But regardless: keep an eye on things, and act accordingly.> Second, I've been reading a lot about filtration (still...) and currently have a Penguin Bio Wheel filter.. rated for 30 gallons. Obviously this will not be sufficient for the 55 gallon alone. I have two choices I'm kicking back and forth: an Aqua Clear 50 HOB filter, for about $45, or an Eheim Ecco 2232 which is rated at 127 gph for a 35 gallon tank for $89. (or another brand/model...) Is the canister filter worth the extra money here? <Yes.> My concern is in regard to the build of nitrates (yes, I do realize they will build in all mech. filters and have to be changed). <Nitrate build-up in canister filters may well be an issue, but with proper maintenance it shouldn't happen. Actually, "your mileage may vary" -- I know people keeping very successful reef tanks that use canister filters they clean only once or twice a year! The benefit of canister filters is the generous water turnover and the option for useful selections of media. Hang-on-the-back filters come with these stupid "cartridge" modules that contain useless junk like carbon and Zeolite. While great for the manufacturers and retailers, they're a waste of space for freshwater aquarists. What you want is a filter with empty modules into which you can put good-quality media like Siporax as well as filter wool that can be changed as often as required (which will be OFTEN in a planted tank.> Thanks a lot for the help! Eric <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Fish System; filter options, and catfish -02/25/08 Good day, Thank you for the answer in regard to the Pleco and the filter. I will definitely keep an eye out for any harmful interactions. I did hear that the discus actually 'like' the slime coat-action? (Even though it's not good for them) Interesting.. <I doubt they actually like it. There's a whopping great fish scraping their skin off with big sharp teeth. About as much fun as having a ferret in your underpants I'd imagine.> As for the filter: the AquaClear 50 is rated at 200 gph, while the Ecco Canister is rated for 127 gph. I guess I'm confused as how the latter would be more flow? <In theory then the 200 gph filter would be better. But my experience of hang-on-the-back filters is that they are less good at cleaning solid wastes from the bottom of the tank. They're also less flexible in terms of media options, though that varies. In any case choose whichever you prefer, provided the 4x volume of the tank in turnover per hour is observed.> Is that because the canister is more efficient, or the design? <Canisters are more flexible in terms of options and accessories, but if you place one under the tank it actually is less efficient in terms of turnover than a hang-on filter at water level (because the canister now has to work against gravity).> The AquaClear also has different options for media, and I can use the pre-made 'bags' for pretty much anything. <The bags are often pretty rubbish. Anything pre-packaged does so to extract more money for less stuff. Nothing sold to consumers breaks this law.> I do think part of my hesitation (besides that which is listed above) is because I am familiar w/ the AquaClear, while I've never used a Canister before. <Almost all experienced freshwater aquarists migrate from hang-on filters and internal filters to external canister filters. They are just better value and more flexible. Of course, you're free to do whatever you want, so long as the basic rules are observed.> One last question (I promise): what about noise levels? I have read favorable things in regard to quality, longevity, etc. etc. about the Ecco (and entire Eheim line, for that matter) but there's not much in regard to how noisy it will be; in relation to the AquaClear. <Canister filters can be noisy if they get air bubbles inside them, but are generally silent when up and running properly.> Thanks again, E <Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery bumps on edges of Pleco fins (plus some other random questions involving goldfish)  12/30/07 Happy holidays to the WWM crew! <Thanks!> Thanks again to Neale for the helpful responses a few weeks ago -- Ginger the goldfish seems to have more or less recovered from the whole ordeal and has been back in the main [35g] tank for a couple weeks - Fancy (the little Ryukin) seemed quite happy to have Ginger back, if that's possible... though I'm wondering if Ginger is really male and Fancy a female, after reading the FAQs on fish sexing? <Goldfish are difficult to sex outside of breeding condition; in breeding condition, males develop very obvious white spots (tubercles) on their heads.> There was quite a bit of "tail bumping" and not-overly-intense chasing of Fancy by Ginger yesterday, which seems to have resulted in a tail tasting -- I assume the small 'ribbon' of missing tail will heal up uneventfully, but will it regrow? <Fin should grow back, though possibly a different colour.> I'll keep an eye on the tear to make sure no infection/fungus takes hold, and continue to maintain the water change/testing schedule for now. Fancy seems otherwise content and isn't having any trouble swimming. A photo of the 2 (Ginger's the orange one, Fancy's the calico; the arrows point to the tear in Fancy's tail, and what I suspect are 'breeding stars' on Ginger?): http://appj.com/photos/fish/gingerfancy.jpg <Looks like Ginger is indeed a male. The give-away is if the pattern of white spots on each side of the head looks about the same. Ick (Whitespot) never does.> [Grr... my stupid webmail client just ate the detailed paragraph I wrote on my Pleco... for lack of energy, here's an abbreviated version, below] <Oh dear.> My Pleco (Hypostomus sp?) has some strange, whitish-clearish-fleshy, gelatinous growths on the edge of the left ventral fin and the top of the caudal fin. The small bump on the tail fin appeared several days ago, but seemed smaller the last couple days and hasn't really changed much. The pleco's still eating/moving normally, but was cleaning the front glass this evening despite the aquarium light being on -- not completely normal for him. That's when I noticed that a much bigger cauliflower bump had appeared on the edge/underside of another fin in the last day. There's no apparent injury underlying these bumps, which "saddle" the outer edge of a fin. There had been a bit of a spat between the Pleco and Fancy over a particular algae wafer last night (despite the other 2 identical wafers next to it in the tank!), so maybe the stress of that exacerbated whatever condition this is: http://appj.com/photos/fish/plecobump.jpg <Hmm... could be Lymphocystis, a viral disease with no cure other than time. Rarely fatal, but does take a long time (potentially many months to a couple years) to clear up. Fairly convincingly ascribed to less than perfect water quality issues. Lympho tends to be an issue with "advanced" fish, so this may in fact be more akin to Fish Pox, an equivalent disease found on carps.> Currently, there are no bumps quite like this on any other fish, though Ginger has had a small whitish bump/discoloration "in" her/his tail for several weeks now. I'm guessing it's unrelated, unless it's some sort of viral thing? I'm hoping the Crew may have a potential diagnosis / treatment recommendation. <Does sound similar. Either way, these sorts of cysts/tumours/warts can't be treated directly except by improving water quality. Do make sure conditions are otherwise optimal. Since Plecs are tropical fish, do make sure the temperature is adequate.> Thanks in advance :) - Jen [p.s. see "goldfish 911 (lethargic, anorexic)" FAQ thread from a couple weeks ago, for more setup/background info] [p.p.s. I'll be writing again soon with some questions on the new 125g tank I just purchased for my aquatic critters - too exciting!] <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Constipated Pleco - 10/07/2007 My Hypostomus plecostomus a.k.a. sucker fish is constipated and usually he is decorating my tank like it was Christmas. His color is still good but his belly is a little bloated. I have had my tank for awhile his roommates are a killifish, a Sailfin molly, cream molly, 3 Dalmatian mollies (not to mention 8 babies from a 2 litters I know of), and a platy. All of them seem to be fine. The only thing I have done different is a few weeks ago I started giving them Tubifex worm cubes because all of the fish seemed to always be hungry except my Pleco he seemed to fancy the small cichlid pellets which he hasn't done his little dance for since his plumbing problem started, which he does try to eat but it reminds me more of an infant when they have trapped gas and they are restless and only want to keep sucking on that bottle. I also just read tonight that they need live plants and DRIFTWOOD well right now I am broke and I live in Arizona & I have no clue what wood would be okay. What can I do before he explodes?:( Thank you for you time, Jaimie <Hello Jaimie, First things first. You almost certainly don't have Hypostomus plecostomus. That species hasn't been in the trade since the 70s, though for some reason it's the name that retailers seem to stick on their tanks. You almost certainly have a species of Pterygoplichthys, likely Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or Pterygoplichthys pardalis. Both of these get big (around 45 cm/18 inches in aquaria). Pterygoplichthys is an omnivore not a pure algae eater, so its diet does need to include a mix of foods. Sinking algae wafers are an ideal staple, but add to that are a mix of foods including mussels, prawns, carrot, potato, curette (zucchini), Sushi Nori, tinned peas, bloodworms and catfish pellets. Being big animals, they need quite a lot of food, which is why the minimum aquarium for an adult specimen is around the 200 litre/55 US gallon mark. In anything smaller all they do is create cloudy, messy water conditions that compromise the health of their tankmates. As far as dealing with constipation go, tinned peas work well. Bogwood is an ESSENTIAL addition to the aquarium. These catfish must have access to the stuff; it is, as you hypothesize, a source of dietary fiber. Given a small bit only costs a couple of quid, expense really shouldn't be an issue. You don't need a big bit, just something it can nibble on. You can collect your own hardwoods like beech or oak (as opposed to resinous softwood) to feed to these catfish, but the problem is you need a supply of wood that has never been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Also, "fresh" wood rots, so before long it's covered with fungus and not at all attractive (though the catfish seem happy to eat the fungus!). So buying a little bit of bogwood from a reptile or aquarium store is simply safer and easier. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Bent Plecostomus Hi, <Hello> Could you give me some advice on my juvenile common Pleco? Getting home from work today I realized that he was in the middle of the tank, bent like a 'C' and not sucking onto anything. He is unable to swim balanced.  I believe this came on suddenly as he was fine a few hours ago. Please advise. Thanks, Jen <He may have just eaten something that didn't agree with him or he could be reacting to water quality. Check your water (especially ammonia) and if it's fine, observe him closely for a while to see if he gets better. Ronni>

Can Plecostomus be effected by skin flukes I have a 29 (long) aquarium, I have had problems keeping any fish alive in there except 2 large, super veil angels and a (Hypostomus) Plecostomus. (Every Cory Cat fish I put in there, came down with a "pop eye" disease). So the 2 angels and the Pleco have been the only residents for 2 years. The angels were a breeding pair, until the female came down with a bad case of huge growths on her upper lip, (they looked like 2 large peas, but white or gray in color). After that she got really grumpy, I talked to an expert on angels, he said it was "kind of a wart" or a better lack of words, and that surgically removing them, and not accidentally removing her lip was the only was to get rid of them, or these growths would eventually get so big, that she will no longer be able to eat, and she'd starve. Monday the male Angel died. I couldn't see anything wrong, I have had good water conditions, certainly no over crowding. The next day I noticed white spikes coming out of my female angel, up close that is exactly what they looked like. >From the other fish experts I've talked to, it sounds as though she had body flukes. All I can think of is they must have came in on a live plant I purchased. Can Body flukes at some stage in their life be transmitted on plants?  < Anything is possible but pretty unlikely>  Nothing else was new in the aquarium. She had 12 or more of these "spikes". The next morning I had her "put down", so to speak. I have the Plecostomus out of that aquarium now, in quarantine. As far as I can tell I have done everything right with him. He has never shown any signs of problems. He still doesn't, he went into quarantine yesterday.  I have a 2000 gallon outdoor decorative pond, I have Koi and a very large Plecostomus who will be going into very soon, ( I am waiting for the pond to do it's bacteria build up thing.) The Koi are various sizes, but I three which are 17 or 18 inches long, there are 9 Koi all together, and the Plecostomus in the pond is 18 inches.  How long should I keep this other poor Plecostomus in quarantine?  < If you are really worried I would keep him in quarantine between two and six weeks.>  Also, do you have a good suggestion on how to really sterilize that 29 gallon aquarium?  < I am not a really big fan of sterilization. My suggestion would be to heat your tank up to 80 degrees plus for a week or two. Any pathogens will starve without any hosts in that time period. At the end of that time I would do a 50% water change. Pick out some new fish to add to your tank and put them in the quarantine tank. In two to four weeks they could be added to your main tank. Make sure your filter is cleaned often. The BioWheel is a great invention and gives you many options. Make sure that you gravel vac the sludge from the gravel.>  It has gravel, plants (one live one, which I plan on pitching), a nice large back flow filter, with a bacteria wheel, also a good powerful pump with an under gravel bacteria filter. What should I do.  < Check you water conditions. You left out some important information. Keep the water temp at 80 degrees. I would clean the filter at least once but no later than twice a week despite what it looks like. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. You should have no ammonia , no nitrites and the nitrate levels should be no higher than 25 ppm. Elevated levels of these compounds lead to long term chronic problems that you have described.>  I also have another 29 long ~ aquarium, with fish, and the 150 gallon decorative pond in my living room, which is the Koi's winter residence. But water changes every three days and running 3 pumps in there (and all the fish are healthy) this is driving me nuts. I am fished out. And I still have to decide what to do the Pleco in quarantine, and the tank with a problem. Suggestions please ~ Deb  < Unfortunately big fish generate lots of waste. There is no magic potion to make this problem go away, but I do have some suggestions. With all those Koi you need a pump that moves at least 450 gallons an hour. This could easily be done with one pump instead of three. You need a filter that is easy to maintain. Look at the Marineland Tidepool line of filters. The trays are easily removed for cleaning and nothing needs to be turned off. Look at the food and make sure the fish are eating it all in a couple minutes. Excess food is usually a big problem. Check the water chemistry. If your nitrates are fairly low as described above then maybe the water changes are only needed weekly.-Chuck>

New Pleco Not Eating I have a 10 gallon tank containing 6 1" X-ray Tetras and a 4" Common Pleco (damn he's cute)<My favorite fish>. I've had the tank about 1 month and am keeping a sharp eye on the Ph/A/N/N. <What are the numbers? Plecos make a lot of waste. At four inches, your OK for now. But he will get over a foot in time> I just got the Pleco 3 days ago and I'm not sure if he is eating. I can see no discernible algae in the tank yet, though when I repositioned an air hose it felt slimy. <How long has it been running? If the tank is not cycled you will be getting ammonia and nitrite spikes. Be ready for large daily water changes> I've been dropping algae wafers in and the next morning they are gone, for the most part. Or so I thought. I vacuumed the gravel yesterday when I did a water change and it seems that the wafers just disintegrated and fell unseen between the gravel, uneaten. The Pleco will suck on the glass and rocks, but also all over his cave, which is brand new. I tried zucchini but he ignores it. <A great food, along with squash, carrots, cucumber, even a raw shrimp once or twice a month. Stick with it. He's just new to the tank> How long can a Pleco go without food? <Weeks, if healthy. But, of course, it is not recommended> It might just be the stress of a new environment, <Yep, give him a few days> but I don't want him to starve. <I have never seen a healthy fish starve> He's fairly active at night, but I don't know what is  considered "normal" activity. <Yep, I consider it a "Rare Fish Sighting" when my Big Spots come out while the lights are on> He's my first. Also, assuming the little bugger survives, <He will> I was thinking of getting moonlight, so I can actually see it sometimes. <Thinking of this myself, but have not it tried yet> I'll turn out the tank light, but he still won't come out until the room is dark. Will that keep my Tetras active at night? <Not sure. It would depend on the brightness> I don't want them competing with him for his wafers, etc. They eat everything. <I feed all my Plecos just before going to bed. Try putting wafers in a shallow bowl or a clean ashtray. You'll get a better idea of what he's eating and keep the leftovers out of the gravel.  
Re: New Pleco Not Eating
Thanks for the super fast reply! Lets see, numbers... I test the tank every day. <Great> The pH has held a steady 7.6 since inception, same as the tap and water temp steady 79. <Same as the tap is the important part of this. No problem with water changes> I understand the pH should come down naturally as the tank cycles? <Maybe, but one big advantage of doing frequent water changes is keeping the two pHs close. The fish will adapt. It's a sudden swing that is bad> The max numbers I've gotten are ammonia 2ppm, nitrite .25, nitrate 20. That's all within acceptable range, I think? The longest I've gone between water changes is 2 days, will do it more often now with the Pleco. <There is no safe amount of ammonia or nitrite. Both must be at zero. 2ppm ammonia will kill. Nitrates at 20ppm is good. I usually do my water changes when they hit 20. But you are going to have to do large (50%+) water changes daily until that ammonia is gone. This will slow, but not stop, the formation of the bacteria needed to eliminate it naturally> Here's the weird thing. From the first day I started the tank the nitrate level was 10?? I have a bottom layer of sand that came with the tank (used). It had sat in a bag in someone's garage for a year+, so I figured any creepies would be dead. I washed it thoroughly. I also put new gravel over most of that, kind of a gravel/sandscape. Looks nice and so far hasn't mixed except slightly where they meet towards the front of the tank. If my Am and Nitrite started off at 0, how is that possible? The used sand is the only thing I can think of, its 0 out of the tap. I've tripled checked the tests. The tank has been running three weeks (thought it was longer), I added the first fish 2 weeks days ago. <Most likely organics in the sand. With tap water at zero, this will control itself as you deal with the ammonia. Not a worry>    My Pleco is getting a little bolder, he was out and watching me work last night, but whenever I turned toward him, he'd back up into his cave. <All normal> Though once he just sat on a flat rock and blinked at me. I think I'm in love now. :) <LOL> Thanks for the ashtray tip, what a good idea. <Not mine. Just passing along a tidbit. Don>

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