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FAQs on Compatibility of Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats

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

Related Catfish FAQs:  Loricariids 1, Loricariids 2, OtocinclusOther 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, Hypostomus, Panaque, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction Algae Eaters,  


catfish escapades   (Loricariid beh., comp. f's)  10/10/16
You have always been such a great resource for me and my fresh water tropical aquarium. I just did a cleaning and 50% water change out. I have a large Oscar and two large catfish(spotted... one light, one dark) housekeepers. Until today they have always been fairly solitary in their activities. But today they are inseparable and dancing together. What's
going on if you know????
<Most likely territorial interactions if they're different species.
"Catfish" covers thousands of species, of which hundreds are kept as pets, so no idea what you're talking about here. If you mean Plecs of some type, usually Pterygoplichthys spp., these don't breed in aquaria. They are territorial, and if you did a big clean, moving rocks and bogwood about, they might be reasserting their territorial rights. Do keep an eye open for damaged fins and other such scars: Plecs can and do damage one another seriously when fighting, sometimes leading to death. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: catfish escapades (Bob F; any books on fish behaviour you recommend?)      10/11/16

<<Ah yes: Would have readers use BookFinder.com put in the two words: "Fish Behavior"; and see the selection there>>
That's the funny thing, they appear to really be enjoying each other. It looks like play and dancing. I haven't seen any aggression. At times they look like synchronized swimmers side-by-side doing almost the same movements.
<I'd still be cautious. Fish "size each other up" by swimming parallel, usually but not always nose to tail. The idea is that they push water onto each others heads and tails, and the one who can't push water on both head and tail at the same time must be smaller, so backs down. Or so the behaviour guys tell me! Precisely what's going on we probably won't ever
know. But the point is, "play" as understood in higher vertebrates (a recreational activity done in itself or to learn/practise a skill) has not been convincingly demonstrated in many fish. The only ones I'm sure about are Mormyrids (such as the famous Elephantnose) and these fish do indeed have huge brains relative to body size, comparable to that of birds and
mammals. For most fish the brain is quite small, and while I'm not saying they're stupid, far from it, but behaviour tends to have a strict, clearly defined function. So swimming of the sort you're describing is more likely to be aggression, or perhaps social behaviour if the species is a schooling species, or a pre-mating courtship behaviour. There are some excellent books on fish behaviour out there, including some aimed at non-scientists; "Pisces Guide to Watching Fishes" is aimed at divers rather than aquarists, and is a bit old, but it's very readable. Bob F might have some other suggestions.>
It's really a trip. They also like to bathe the large Oscar which he allows.
<If by this you mean sucking on the Oscar's flanks, this isn't good at all!
Plecs can do serious damage doing this,
removing mucous (which is what they're feeding on) but worse, lifting scales and making Finrot more likely. It's also a clue the catfish are hungry. If that's what's going on here, review diet, and provide more filling fare; for Plecs, things like sweet potato and courgette are both good staples, along with the odd piece of white fish fillet, prawn or clam. Bogwood is probably useful too.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Sent from my computer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: catfish escapades

Oh and I do believe that they are Plecs I bought them years ago when they were quite small. They are both spotted but one is a lot darker than the other but they match in size. They really are a couple of characters.
<Cool. There are a few Pterygoplichthys species widely traded as "Common Plecs". Pterygoplichthys pardalis is light grey with dark grey squiggles. Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus is more light brownish with dark blotches and spots. Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps is beautiful wood brown with dark brown spots, very giraffe-like. Hypostomus plecostomus is similar but seems to be quite rare. Nonetheless, you can easily tell Hypostomus from Pterygoplichthys; whereas Hypostomus has 7-8 rays after the dorsal fin spine, Pterygoplichthys have 9-14 such rays after their dorsal fin spine.
Hypostomus are much smaller though, around 12 inches/30 cm rather than the 18 inches/45 cm typical of Pterygoplichthys. Cheers, Neale.>

Plecos and snails in same tank.       4/17/16
I recently introduced to snails into my freshwater tank that already had a Pleco.
I noticed the Pleco will not leave the snails alone and constantly bang them up against the tank.
The pet store said they were compatible together however this is hard to believe given the behavior of the Pleco.
Is this merely a competition issue and they shouldn't be together please help thanks Gary
<Mmm; well; have seen and heard, read of occasions where various species of  Loricariids "got along" with snails; and ones where they didn't. If your  "Plecos" are doing more than simply cleaning off the snails shells, they'll have to be separated. Bob Fenner>


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

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

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

HELP!!!         4/5/16
My African Parrot Cichlid tried to eat a Plecostomus and it is stuck in my fishs aka Creamsicle mouth, its been 2 days. He is trying to spit it out but since they have spiked fins it has to be stabbing him. I cant afford a vet. What can I do, if anything?
<Try to extricate the Catfish yourself.... GET a friend to help you: remove the fish to a wet hand towel and use a flat metal blade to pass over the head of the Cat in the Cichlids mouth, move the blade to one side and DEPRESS the lateral head spines of the catfish (backward) and pull the Cat out as far as you can. NOW move to the right side of the Cat and do the same with the spines there... continue till the catfish is removed>
If there is absolutely anything you can think of please let me know, either way please contact me.
<Bob Fenner>
re: HELP!!!         4/5/16

My fish has most of the Pleco down it's about A5 or 6 inch Pleco and there's an inch maybe hang out of its mouth
<... may have to use a hand tool to hold onto the Pleco tail to remove. BobF>

goldfish tail spiting; Plec incomp.      12/13/15
Dear Sir or Madam,
One of my goldfish is being treated for Septicemia with anti internal bacteria (Interpet)
<Probably not the medication I'd have used. This is plain vanilla Finrot, and the red blotches are precisely what you'd expect. Where the bacteria infect the skin blood vessels they cause blockages, and those are the red blotches. I'd be using a Finrot medication; eSHa 2000 is my preferred choice. I personally don't find the Interpet equivalents as good as the eSHa ones, and they're a lot more expensive per litre/gallon of water.>
Had water checked, this was found to be ok,
<Define "OK". Finrot is almost always down to two things: physical damage or water quality. In the same way as there might be the odd honest politician out there, there might also be a case of Finrot that isn't down to these two. But I wouldn't bet much money on it.>
the fish tail is splitting, (see picture) There are 2 more gold fish in the tank and a Pleco they are all doing well.
<The Plec is the problem here.
These ARE NOT compatible with Goldfish. Not saying they're aggressive, they're not. But they are big, apt to bully Goldfish (especially at night when you aren't looking), and sometimes "feed" on the mucous produced by Goldfish if they're hungry. Since Plecs are always hungry, this is quite a common situation. If your Plec doesn't
have 24/7 access to suitable fresh greens or vegetables (courgette, sweet potato, etc.) it'll be looking for something to nibble on, especially at night when they're active. On top of this, an adult (45 cm/18 inch) Plec requires, what, 340 litres/75 Imperial gallons to do well. Unless you have a tank that size, your Plec is probably pulling water quality down, which makes Finrot more likely/worse.>
What treatment can you recommend.
Yours in anticipation.
R W Oswald
<Remove the Plec; treat as per Finrot. Job done. Nice to have an easy problem to fix just for once! Cheers, Neale.>

Got the sucked on by a Pleco bluessss!

Lg Oranda help... Loricariid incomp.      2/24/15
You don't happen to recognize the white on my gf side do you? We can't tell if it's a sickened or maybe our Pleco attacked him?
<The latter almost assuredly.... tell-tale missing scale pattern>
He was fine two days ago, last night I noticed him like this, and today, the white is kinda fuzzy!! He's missing a lot of scales in his side as well. We're not sure what to do with him! :(
<Remove the Pleco; see WWM re avoiding GF infections>
Lindsey Hernandez
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Please send either prev. corr. or complete sentences.      3/25/15
Subject: More help
I've been at school all day and I just got home and checked on the Oranda... He's fuzzy... Is that a fungus? I don't know what to do to help him. We took the Pleco to the LFS, so he is gone now. Thanks again for all your help!

Re: re: More help.... GF trauma      3/26/15
I'm sorry,
I've been at school all day and I just got home and checked on the Oranda.
He's fuzzy where his scales had been taken off. Is that a fungus?
<Appears to be hyphae, mycelia... yes>

(His fins are also shredding more this morning)
I don't know what to do to help him.
<A bit of aquarium salt (1 tsp. per five gallons) is all I would do... that and check (daily) re water quality. You want NO ammonia, NO nitrite, and less than 10 ppm of nitrate>
We took the Plecostomus to the Local Fish Store, so he is gone now.

Thanks again for all your help!
<Be of good life, cheers. Bob Fenner>

Re[2]: re: More help      3/26/15
Ok put 1/2 tank water 1/2 fresh and treated water in my 5 gal quarantine tank with the 1 tsp per 5 gal of salt. What do I do daily to ensure no nitrates/ nitrites/ ammonia?
<Biological filtration, water changes.... See WWM re. B>

He's looking worse :'(
Re[3]: re: More help
Ok, is there a common name for the hyphae, mycelia?
<True fungal "threads" (structures), versus bacterial look-alikes>
One site brought up body fungus. also, do I need to worry about my other GF getting the fungus?
<Not so much>
Sorry for all of the emails... I am freaking out here!
<When in doubt, read. B>

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


Large Pleco and baby map or musk, incomp.       12/10/12
Hi my name is Tim from Georgia
I have a spotted Pleco that is a little over a foot long in a 75 gallon tank with a Fluval 305 filter no gravel as of yet. I was wondering if I can add baby turtles I plan on getting to the same environment. I plan on getting maybe 1 razorback musk and two Texas map turtles.
<Mixing dissimilar turtle/terrapin species isn't usually a good idea. In this case, the Map Turtles have the potential to reach around 20 cm/8 inches in shell length, while the Musk Turtles are only about two-thirds that size. They also have rather different diets, the Map Turtle being a definite omnivore with a requirement for fresh green foods and only limited offerings of meaty foods (though not quite so herbivorous as "Slider" type turtles) whereas the Musk Turtle is a definite carnivore that eats little green food. With this said, if you carefully controlled what sort of foods were offered and provided adequate space, they might cohabit. Razorback Musks are among the most tolerant of the Musk Turtles, and (males) Texas Map Turtles aren't nearly as prone to aggression as some of the Sliders like Red Ears, so they could get on just fine. A lot will depend on the size of the tank (I fear 75 gallons might be pushing your luck) and the availability of basking spots under the heat and UV-B lamps.>
I doubt I will be able to keep the razorback with the Texas Map pair from what I have been reading on this website. If I am wrong on those two species not being able to coexist please let me know. But my main question would have to be can I keep either of these turtles in the same 75 gallon tank as my large Pleco?
<Even if you managed to keep two adult turtles in 75 gallons -- and it would require frequent water changes and a very large aquarium filter, I seriously doubt that the humble Fluval 305 would be able to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero. Remember, turtles aren't really too bothered by ammonia because their skin is impermeable, and provided the water doesn't smell and is kept clear enough for you to watch your turtles easily, then the filter is doing its job. But that's a world away from the excellent water quality fish require. Even on its own, the Plec (as an adult at least) would put a heavy strain on the Fluval 305 and needs an aquarium around the 55 gallon mark! Plus, the Musk Turtle especially is an opportunist predator, while the Map Turtle mostly eats snails, so a Plec substantially smaller than them might be viewed as "live food" by either species of turtle. As you know, feeder fish aren't necessary or even a good idea for pet turtles, so the bottom line has to be fish in one tank, turtles in the other.>
I plan on getting a turtle topper and plenty places to hide for the musk.
Can either of these guys exist with the Pleco or can they call exist together?
<Few turtles work well with fish, and those that do tend to be demanding varieties such as the Pig-Nose Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta). It's quite common to see them in giant (200+ gallon) systems with all sorts of tankmates, even Rainbowfish and Clown Loaches!>
Thanks for your time and sorry if this question has been asked but I could not find it.
<Maybe not asked recently, but a perennial question nonetheless. Cheers, Neale.>


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


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>


Quick cherry shrimp compatibility question, Chaetostoma   1/18/11
I have a 35 gallon tank with 6 black neon tetras and a rubberlip Pleco.
I bought 10 medium sized cherry shrimp the other day. I have observed them the last few days moving about the tank and seeming to be eating algae.
However, I have seen none today and, somewhat alarmed, have been watching my tank almost obsessively for several hours with no sighting. I did research before I bought, and the everyplace that mentioned black Neons and cherry shrimp said they were compatible. Have I bought my fish an expensive
snack? Is it possible the black Neons ate them?
<Not the Tetras, but the Loricariid. Bob Fenner>
Re: Quick cherry shrimp compatibility question   1/19/11

Thanks for your reply, and I apologize for the grammatical error. That it could have been the Pleco was a passing thought I, unfortunately, disregarded. Am I correct in assuming this would happen with any Loricariid? Hope you are enjoying your vacation!
<Mmm, I don't think I would trust any Loricariid with these small shrimps... There are other "algae eaters" of use... Bob Fenner>

Something ate the nose and eyes off my Plecostomus, Neotropical Cichlids, other Loricariid incomp.  -- 06/09/10
Hi Crew!
Once again, thanks for everything you do.
<Kind words appreciated.>
OK, the really not good part - something ate the nose and eyes off of my Pleco !!!
<Likely another Plec.>
Now, the back-story: I had a 29 gallon freshwater tank up and running for several years. The tank mates all had lived together for a long time, since they were all 1" juvies. I started off with one male Jack Dempsey (now 6"), 1 pair of young convict fish that were just pairing up in the LFS tank, and one small Plecostomus (now 6"). As Convict fish tend to do, they were hatching fry all over the place, everyone was getting bigger, and the tank was getting cramped. This was all part of my master plan to have a reason to get a larger tank. (Feel free to use that tactic). Today I have the jack, Pleco, and 3 generations of convicts - maybe 6 or 7 convict fish of any worthy size - all the ones that didn't get consumed so far.
<I see.>
So - this weekend I craigslisted myself a 55 gallon tank and stand, the works, with 2 sad neglected Plecostomus in there.
<Oh dear.>
The tank had been drained down to about 3" water, and the last water change was over a month previous. There was one bubbler stone going, and that was it. Overall it was a very sad condition for the fishes.
<Sounds it.>
The Pleco fish themselves are pretty large - one has to be a foot long or more, and the other one is about 9". So anyways I got them loaded up, and all the tank and stuff, came home, and threw them into the 29. They were stuffed in there, but it is good water, and it was too late at night to set up the new tank; I guessed that it had to be better than laying around in 3 inch stink water.
<Likely so.>
Next day, I cleaned and then setup my new 55 gallon tank. I got all the fish transferred (I used the water from the 29 + the same gravel that came with the 55 so I think I'm good on the cycle I didn't stir it up too much), but they seemed to be very agitated; my guess is because 2 pair of convicts had fry when I moved them. One mom was able to gather fry in her mouth apparently, and one was not. The mom that did gather fry actually stayed in a decoration while I picked it up out of tank and transferred it!
Once the debris settled in the former (29gallon) tank, I noticed a school of fry in there - the other moms babies. I gathered them all and put them in by the momma in the new tank, but the fry seemed lost, and I didn't see the mom corral any of them either.
So, the fish count in the new 55 gallon tank is roughly 1 jack, about 7 convicts, some small convict babies, and 3 Plecos. The next day, they still seemed 'not-settled', but were not really chasing each other across the tank too much. They were VERY startled when I turned on the light in the morning.
<Likely a reaction to the change in environment and social hierarchy.>
Today, they didn't seem as startled by the light coming on. Everyone looked OK. Everyone got fed breakfast. So later I come home from work, and all the fish are sort of 'surrounding' this one Pleco. They aren't hitting it, or attacking it, they are just sort of 'around' it. I look at it. It's eye is gone! It's nose flap thing is gone!! I look around its other side - all gone !
It is sitting there breathing, attached to the side of the glass, with no eyes and no nose. It is the middle-sized Pleco, the 9" one. It looks like it's tail has been chewed on too.
<Indeed, and precisely what happened. Pterygoplichthys and Hypostomus species are NOT social under aquarium conditions. Curiously, in the wild they are schooling fish, but in the confines of a small aquarium -- which is what yours is, given their size -- their social structure goes screwy.
It is EXTREMELY common for one Plec to attack another when that happens, and although they look harmless, those scraping teeth they have work as well on flesh as they do wood and algae. Bottom line, you should never, ever keep more than one Plec per aquarium unless you know they get along.
Males are probably more aggressive than females, since it's the males who defend the nests and eggs. But since sexing them is difficult, it's hard to know what you're getting when you buy these fish. I'd wager the damaged one is a male who was beaten up by whichever of the other two Plecs is also a male.>
I instantly removed it to a 'nice' tank with goldfish, tetras, and octos.
It is alive, but it has to be miserable. Is it going to make it doc?
<Hard to say, but if the damage is superficial, and the fish is medicated as per Finrot/Fungus, it should recover.>
So here are some of my thoughts and reasons for writing this epic email: I really didn't find any info online about this sort of behavior. I found one comment on a yahooAnswer
<Famously the worst place on the Internet for information!>
or something, that was it. I have had a lot of fish, including Pleco and convict, and not seen this happen (yet.. up till now anyways).
<Is actually very common.>
I'm worried about my other 2 Plecos, and wonder if I should take them to the LFS and trade them in.
<One Plec per 55 gallons is ample.>
If I trade them in, what sort of cleaner fish can live with convicts/jacks - if Plecos somehow cannot?
<No fish "cleans" so if that's what you're looking for, think again. By definition, adding a fish, even a Plec, makes the aquarium dirtier and algae problems more serious.>
Is it possible that this Pleco was sick somehow and they know it, and the fish are simply taking care of nature?
Any comment and advice is most welcome. Sorry for the huge email, but I hope it helps someone. Thanks! Saylor
<Cheers, Neale.>

Gymnarchus niloticus, gen... & cramming Loricariids, other madness    4/28/10
Hi guys,
<Hello Craig,>
Thanks for such a wonderful site.
<Kind of you to say so.>
I'm picking up an Aba Aba knifefish tomorrow that is very young and small, about 4 inches, that I ordered from my LFS.
<I hope you know what you're getting yourself into here. These fish are insanely aggressive and require huge tanks.>
I currently keep two freshwater tanks, a 135 gallon and small 10 gallon.
<Neither of which is suitable for Gymnarchus niloticus.>
I know that the Aba will require a massive tank by himself as he grows,
<Understatement if ever there was one.>
but will he be ok in my 10 gallon as a baby?
I currently keep some small Plecos in the 10 gallon, a "vampire" Pleco L007( 4"), an albino Bristlenose Longfin Pleco (3" including his long fins), a royal Pleco (3"), and a very small "snowball" Pleco (2").
<You are wildly overstocked already. Even if water quality is acceptable now, it won't be for long, and the Royal Plec alone needs a tank upwards of 55 gallons once it matures. As juveniles these Plecs might be kept together in a 30 or 40 gallon tank, but these catfish aren't necessarily friendly fish, and Royal Plecs especially are notoriously intolerant of other Suckermouth catfish, to the degree they can kill potential rivals.
Leporacanthicus cf. galaxias gets to about 25 cm, Baryancistrus L142 to 25 cm, Ancistrus to 12 cm or so, and Panaque nigrolineatus to well over 30 cm. Bear this numbers in mind, and choose aquaria accordingly.>
I also have two snails in there to help keep the bio load balanced.
<What? Snails don't "balance" anything, and pray tell me what "bio load" might be. If the pet store told you adding snails makes the tank cleaner, then they took you for a ride.>
It has worked well for about 6 months now and the tank is doing excellent.
<Not for much longer. After six months these catfish will have grown appreciably, and really do need to be moved into a proper sized aquarium..
My goal has been to raise some of these Plecs for my 135gal tank, but only the L007 is near acceptable size for a transfer. The 135 gal has a Ruby Oscar (12"), Green Scat (she's been in freshwater for 6 years now, 9"),
BGK (10"), Jardinei Arowana (12"),
<Do you have any idea how aggressive this fish will be when it becomes sexually mature, which isn't far off.>
Jack Dempsey (7"), Common Pleco (15"), Orange Spot Plec (8"), and a "chocolate albino" Pleco. Can I raise my Aba in this small tank for a little while?
Will he and the L007 clash? There's lots of hiding places, but am thinking I may need to move the L007 to my 135gal, or just obtain a new small tank to raise the Aba in for now. Also as far as food goes, I was thinking live
Tubifex and frozen krill to start. Is that an acceptable well rounded diet for this young knifefish?
<Least of your problems. Gymnarchus niloticus eats anything, and provided you avoid fat and thiaminase, you'll be fine. Earthworms are good treats for new specimens, but any fresh or wet-frozen fish fillet and seafood should do.>
Thanks in advance for your help, you all are Godsends!
<Craig, you have some seriously insane ideas on mixing fish. I know it's tempting to buy one of everything, but you really can't, and just as you can "win" at Russian Roulette for a while, that doesn't make Russian Roulette a safe game. Think very carefully about what you're doing here, and what you're trying to achieve. Some of these fish are among my personal favourites, so I sense we share much in the way of taste. But there are limits to what we can do when combining oddball fish in the same tank.
Read, reflect, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Otocinclus, L134 Peckoltia; compatibility, systems   3/25/10
Hello there,
I recently returned from a 2 week stint working out of town to find my 5.5 gallon over run with the soft green algae that Otocinclus fish are supposedly fond of. The tank was intended for another project which didn't pan out (my Australe Killifish pair was living happily in my 29 gallon awaiting transfer but couldn't compete for food in my absence and died after the first week.) I had been contemplating adding four Otos to my already cycled 29 gallon and now I'm wondering if the 5.5 would make a suitable quarantine tank or if it is too small even for the short quarantine period.
<5.5 gallons is really not much good for anything except for a Betta and/or small shrimps, and as you've observed, they are intrinsically unstable and can easily flip into problem mode. You might use it to quarantine very small fish, up to 2.5 cm/1 inch, but other than that, I'd not risk stressing community fish species in such a small tank.>
I removed the majority of the algae with a toothbrush but there is still a fair amount in the tank.
<Algae removal will reduce the problem, but you do have to research why it happened at all.
Without fail, algae comes back if conditions allow.>
There are a couple small plants (Cryptocoryne and some Alternanthera reineckii clippings just floating) and some natural wood decor which have been in the tank for 3 or 4 weeks. The tank itself has been set up for just over a month, I used water from my 29 originally which I dose with aquarium salt as a tonic about every second water change or so.
<Why use salt? The use of "tonic salt" is old school and provides no real benefits.
Is this a reasonable place to keep four Otos for a couple weeks, considering the small size and minor presence of salt?
<Possibly. But Otocinclus require somewhat cool, oxygen rich water with lots of water current. Their mortality in "Nano" tanks is depressingly high, despite their wide sale for such.>
I also wanted to ask whether my leopard frog Pleco which lives in my 29 is indeed a suitable tank mate for Otos or if I have been mislead.
<In a big enough tank with cool (24 C), fast-flowing water and ample green algae, a school of 6 or more Otocinclus affinis/vittatus should coexist with your L134 Peckoltia sp. catfish. Peckoltia spp. feed mostly on the bottom and consume bloodworms and soft vegetables, while Otocinclus graze almost exclusively on green algae from plant leaves. So there shouldn't be much overlap. But L134 prefers warmer water than Otocinclus, so they aren't an obvious or ideal combination. Almost all problems with Otocinclus come down to keeping them too warm, without enough oxygen, or without enough green algae. I doubt 50% of the specimens sold last even 6 months.>
Your time and advice is greatly appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sliders and Plecos   4/19/09
<Howdy. Darrel here>
So I've had my yellow bellied slider (called Rambo) for about a year now, he's(guessing its a he) been a happy little thing. He was looked after by my younger sister for a while when I first went to university and seemed a little depressed as he wasn't eating, so I took him to university so I could care for him. That was at Christmas time, and since then he's grown loads and eats a ton of food.
<It just goes to show you how easily turtles will thrive if given the right kind of care!>
.About 3 weeks ago I brought a Pleco to keep him company, and thought he's not to small for Rambo to want to eat it.
<Umm, not really. Turtles and fish don't mix that well.>
In the same week I got some locusts (I hadn't tried them before) he loved them and seemed to give him a mass of energy and growth!!
<But they're LOADED with the wrong kinds of nutrients, fats & things, Carrie. Sliders are omnivorous (as you discovered, but primarily vegetarian. I grow mine from freshly hatched babies to grown, breeding
adults on Koi pellets and an occasional (once a month or so) earthworm.>
<Feeding the wrong type of food, or simply TOO MUCH food, will cause growth to the point of obesity, but even before that shows on the outside, fatty tissue diseases may take hold on inside.>
Last week I went away for the week but my boyfriend looked after them, and because he works during the day Rambo wasn't getting his lunch food and so he decided he would try and eat my Pleco!!
<Yeah, Turtles don't eat much fish because they can't catch them well. In fact, it's comical and entertaining to see them try... but every once in a while, base on sheer probability, the turtle gets lucky and the fish gets
Upon realizing this, my boyfriend put plenty of food in and Rambo hasn't tried to eat the Pleco.
<Yes, but we could be over-feeding the Slider just to make him too lazy to eat the Pleco.>
However the Pleco has lost half his tail fin, his top one, I think you can see the bone of the fin and above his tail he has no fin and its gone white around the areas The Pleco seems happy enough and keeps clear of Rambo, but should I take the Pleco to the vet for a once over?
<If it were me, no. Fish in general and Plecos particularly have a tremendous ability to recover or compensate for physical damage as long as their environmental conditions are pristine. So as long as your water quality is excellent, the temperature is right and the food is nutritious, the Pleco will likely recover. THAT SAID .... I'm not sure the Pleco, who has an ideal range of 76-83F can survive long term with a slider that should have water in the mid to low 70's. On that same subject, it's hard to imagine keeping the water quality of a turtle tank clean enough for fish to remain healthy.>
The Pleco has a hiding place so he can get away from Rambo. I'll try and send a picture but I don't have a camera right now.
<Well, Carrie -- I think we've got the picture. What we COULD use the next time around is a truckload of Capital I's, apostrophes and other punctuation -- please remember that not all our readers are keyboard kids who can read & write in TXT. (LOL)>
<Seriously, Turtles and Fish do not share an environment, Carrie -- they merely live on the outskirts of each other's worlds and share seemingly similar needs. In the long term they will both be happier and healthier
if they have separate homes.>
<Read this and check all your care against the suggestions given:
Hope you can help!
<We hope we did!>

Will big Pleco eat baby cichlids? Plecos and Cichlid Fry Hello -The eight year-old Oscar that I kept in a 90 gallon tank along with an equally old and large Pleco died a couple of days ago. I am not certain what I am going to replace him with, but it will be a cichlid, or a pair of cichlids, of a large and beautiful variety. It will not b an Oscar. My Pleco eats not only algae but cichlid food. I am wondering if it would also eat baby cichlids? Thank you, Bill < All Plecos will take advantage of any food source available. Cichlid eggs and or fry will be eaten in a heart beat when the parents are not able to defend them.-Chuck>

Loricariid aggression 1/4/08 Hello WWM Crew, This is the first time I've written to the fresh side of your website. I have a 150 freshwater tank that has been established for over three years, and up until this point I have had a few minor occurrences happen to this tank but nothing too serious. The livestock that is in this tank include 7 Severums (five green, 2 gold) 2 rope/reed fish, 2 blue Acaras, 1 port Acara, 1 very large Fire eel (18 inches), three Plecos 1common, 1 L-113, and one king tiger Pleco, and some trap door snails. Up until about three weeks ago everything had been going just fine until I woke up one morning to find my common Pleco swimming upside down, running into things etc. the first thing that occurred to me was he had been fighting with the L-113 (note, both of these fish are well over the 1 foot range) as they sometimes do The L-113 usually winning out (these "fights" are usually nothing more than minor scuffles). After about a day, my common Pleco settled into a spot by a sunken log (upside down).We tried to turn him over but it just seemed to upset him, so we left him alone. That's when a curious thing happened, the larger L-113 Pleco shortly there after wedged himself under a different log, and has remained there since. We have not seen our king tiger Pleco, but that's nothing unusual since their are plenty of places to hide and he is a bit shy. It has been three weeks ago and I am starting to get very concerned. neither one of them has moved from their "spot". They are still breathing because I can see their gills moving. As far as eating I have not seen either one of them move when I feed the rest of the troops, when they are usually very active when food has been added to the tank. My water parameters have been within the norm. temp is good pH is good no nitrites or ammonia are present. I am at somewhat of a loss as to what's going on, or what to do for that matter. Do Pleco's hibernate? Help! Thanks, Steve <Large Loricariid catfish are NOT good at sharing. Territoriality between specimens and between species can be pronounced, and several species have been reported to kill weaker tankmates. Large Panaque catfish for example will kill rasp the skin from other Loricariid catfish they deem to be "squatters" in their caves, reducing the victim to a bloody pulp. Large Panaque will do this too each other too, which is one reason they aren't bred in captivity, so far as I know; do read Ginny Eckstein's piece over at Fish Channel for some idea of the scale of carnage we're taking about. http://www.fishchannel.com/media/freshwater-aquariums/species-info/catfish/royal-and-blue-eyed-plecos.aspx.pdf Similar reports have been noted for Acanthicus and Pterygoplichthys. To quote Planet Catfish, a single male Acanthicus "can easily be the most dominant fish in a 1000 gallon aquarium". Oddly, many species live in schools in the wild, but since most (male) Loricariids guard their eggs and fry it is entirely possible that this aggressive behaviour would be related to reproduction in the wild. In any case, the bottom line is that few of the big species mix well unless so overcrowded that they cannot establish territories. This is how they are kept at your retailer, for example, and in itself causes problems with water quality and doesn't entirely eliminate the problem of skirmishes between specimens. When kept in twos and threes in home-sized aquaria, collections of large Loricariids can be distinctly unpredictable. The bottom line is that your fish may simply be at the age and disposition where they won't get along. While you could add a bunch more caves and hope for the best, my gut feeling is that it is now time to decide which one you want to keep, and rehome the other specimens. Cheers, Neale.>

Florida Gar and Pleco, comp., nutr. of Loricariids   7/24/08 Hi all-- I love your site, and have spent many hours reading in the last few months since I discovered it. However, I've had an issue come up that I have not been able to find an answer to. I have a seven-inch Florida Gar in a 125 gallon tank, with six larger-sized silver dollars and a Pleco. I am not sure of what type he is, but he is definitely not the "common type". He is brown, with a short, wide, compact body, about seven or eight inches long. <Do bear in mind some of these fish will get extremely large; Gar will exceed 60 cm and potentially 90 cm in captivity if they are among the common species traded, such as Lepisosteus platyrhincus, the species usually sold as the "Florida Gar".> Lately, we have noticed him interacting with the gar in a way we had not previously observed. He appears to be sucking on the gar. I know from reading your site and others that this is a bad, bad thing. <Has been reported between these species, and yes, is damaging to the Gar. When the skin is abraded, the mucous is lost and it becomes much easier for secondary infections to get started.> We chase him away and offer algae disks, which he goes for (lately, he's seemed overly ravenous, often eating four times the amount of disks that he used to). <People tend to underfeed Loricariidae. Understand this: they are constant grazers and mud sifters in the wild, and don't understand the "two meals per day" notion many aquarists prefer. You need to give them vegetable foods such as courgette, sweet potato or carrot that they can nibble on through the day, plus bogwood for fibre.> My question is this: is the Pleco suffering from some type of nutritional imbalance that we can remedy? <Likely not an imbalance, but quite probably not enough fibre, so that the fish feels hungry because it isn't full. These catfish are adapted to feeding on a bulky rather than concentrated diet.> If he's just being rude, and that's definitely possible, we can take him to the LFS. However, due to their lack of adequate space for larger fishes, and the fact that hideously overprice any fish that aren't tetras or mollies, therefore forcing the fish to be there in less than ideal conditions for a long period of time, I fear for his life. This would be a last resort. Please help! Thanks. --Melinda <Seemingly no simple answers here, but very likely these fish will need to be separated. Perhaps try offering a better (more vegetable-rich) diet, but if that doesn't help, you will need to rehome one or other fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My Florida Gar and his Pleco Friend, comp., fdg. -- to Neale 8/9/08 Hi Neale-- Melinda here again. <Hello!> You responded to my email a few weeks ago regarding our Pleco (have since found out he is a rhino Pleco) and our Florida gar. <Hmm... Pterygoplichthys scrophus, rather a nice catfish! Not common in the trade, and I think quite a handsome beast.> The Pleco was getting a little too friendly with Fluffy (the gar), and seemed to be trying to snack on him. <Can happen; not commonly, but does happen.> You suggested feeding a variety of fiber-rich veggies, but predicted we'd eventually need to separate the two. Well, Dino (the Pleco) had no intentions of eating any of my tasty veggie offerings. In any case, we have separated them. <Let's see if this helps. If not, then back to the drawing board. I suppose you could try offering her some meaty food. My Panaque is ostensibly a vegetarian, but she enjoys raw mussels in the half shell, partially shelled shrimp and other such delicacies. You may be able to tempt your cat to eat these things instead of her tankmates...> Thank you for your advice. --Melinda <Good luck! Neale.>

Common Pleco in a planted tank......  6/30/08 Hey there, Quick question....can I put a common Pleco in a 150 planted tank? By common, I am referring to Pterygoplichthys pardalis. I am working on a 3D background, etc, and plan on having various plants growing along the back wall space-in-creation. The bottom/mid level will house various shapes of large driftwood protruding from the "river bank"....the very bottom will have various boulders, gravel, and large driftwood. I am worried about a Plec eating plants and disrupting their locale. That is the common complaint that I've found on chat boards and bio-pages. However, more than once I have read of the "exception". So I am confused and looking for a blunt opinion in plain English. I have one that's about 8 or 9 inches currently living in a bucket. (It would be funny if I stopped this email right there, eh?) He was in a 55......I parted that tank out. Had him in a 20 temporarily. I also parted out my 150 reef and moved that in a 55 high current reef......planned on getting a couple of large freshies to put in the 150.......after 12 hours of moving the 150 inhabitants I went on the back porch to have a beer. I heard a loud *!Crack!*....... the 20 gallon, sitting on the counter with the tiniest little nick in the corner glass finally gave way (had been running for over 2 years). I chugged my beer laughing. All fish were saved (Plec and some baby Cichlids that showed up one day in another tank).....and they all now live in a 5 gallon bucket. The cichlids are going to a different tank...... Well, my neighbor has a gnarly fresh water planted tank and he turned me on to the idea of that rather than a couple of big meanies. So....... Can this Plec go in the planted tank? (Could have started and ended this whole damn email with that one sentence!) Thanks in advance for the info. It's funny that sometimes the simplest answers to the simplest questions are the hardest to find. I've searched everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jon <Hello Jon. The short answer is that Pterygoplichthys spp. tend not to eat plants directly, being omnivores with a preference for algae and benthic invertebrates such as bloodworms. This contrasts with, for example, Panaque spp. that are almost entirely herbivorous and feed on plants and wood rather than algae. However, this distinction is somewhat academic, because large Plecs can and will uproot or otherwise damage all but the most sturdy plants. They swim like bricks, as you probably realise, and don't so much avoid plants and bulldoze through them. In the process they will uproot small plants and break the leaves off bigger plants. They also like to burrow, and this sand or gravel shifting can easily end up smothering plants. Finally, they have rasping teeth that can damage soft-leaved and waxy-leaved plants in the process of their grazing on algae. The best plants for tanks with Plecs are robust but flexible and fast-growing species, such as Giant Vallisneria. Java Fern can work well too, partly because it is tough, but also because it doesn't need to be planted in the substrate, so isn't uprooted or smothered easily. Anubias might work well, though when kept with Panaque it ends up being reduced to a Swiss Cheese Plant, so I'd not necessarily recommend it. I'd also mention the fact Panaque destroy painted polystyrene/resin backdrops that go inside the tank; Pterygoplichthys may be different (it has less robust teeth) but I wouldn't bank on it! Bottom line, large Loricariid catfish generally do best in rocky tanks with bogwood and Java Ferns where they can't do too much damage! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Common Pleco in a planted tank......  - 7/1/08 Thanks Neale, I was thinking along the same lines as your "bulldozer" idea, regarding the Pleco in a planted tank, the more that I thought about it today. I am thinking that with the setup that I will be having, smaller cleaners are definitely the way to go here. I have to set up another rocky tank anyways. He can stay in that bucket for a bit longer. Thanks for the info and thoughts on the subject! Jon <Hi Jon. For planted tanks, your best bets on the algae-eater front are invertebrates, in particular Nerite snails and algae-eating shrimps such as Neocaridina spp. If you want to supplement these with fish, then go with small Ancistrus spp./Crossocheilus spp. as grazers and perhaps Jordanella floridae for thread algae control. That said, invertebrates on their own do a much better job when used in sufficient numbers. For example, I'd reckon on at least 4 Nerite snails plus 10 Cherry Shrimps per 30-40 litres. Cheers, Neale>


Leporinus vs. Pleco  6/5/08 I recent wrote and had a nice email exchange with Neale. I had been given a couple of banded Leporinus' who date leave my Bala sharks alone. The Leporinus' are about double the size of the Balas who are only six months old. What surprises me is that I had to move my Plecostomus to a hospital tank. The Pleco is larger than the Leporinus' and I thought of all fish, he was last I'd need to move. They kept nipping and attacking the poor thing! <Absolutely typical for Leporinus I'm afraid. Providing a deep cave in which the Plec can hide completely can help, though the catfish will become completely nocturnal if it feels unsure about swimming about during the day.> Could they be "immune" to the Pleco's dorsal stinger - the area where they kept pecking at)? <Not aware that any of the Loricariidae actually have stings. While it is true the pectoral and dorsal fin spines are serrated, I don't think they have venom glands.> The Pleco doesn't show signs of injury and is in a small 10 gal recovery tank alone in the interim for his own safety and relaxation. <If the Plec is a big one, do check water quality: a 10 gallon tank isn't going to usefully dilute the ammonia produced by a big catfish.> The Leporinus LOVE to eat peas, and I thought about dropping some tasty ghost shrimp in to see if they like those. Either way, they are quite graceful despite being a larger fish and fun to look at. <Indeed they are lovely fish, and very opportunistic feeders, and need a mix of greens and animal foods. I've watched them destroy heads of curly lettuce, and don't even think about putting them in a planted tank!> Skye <Cheers, Neale.>


Blended tanks 4/30/08 Dear "Crew" I have been given the opportunity to get a 35g tank and it's inhabitants. I have been reading and trying to figure out how I could best combine these tanks, although I do have plans for the 35g. I presently have a 125g with: -small Pleco (not the common Plec), -a high fin Plec, -a small school of Corydoras, -3 yoyo loaches, -boesemanni rainbows, -dwarf Neons rainbows -swords -platys -diamond tetras. -small school for zebra Danios. The 35g contains: -2 large Congo tetra -3 large black skirted tetra -3 large clown loaches -1 large Plecostomus I have asked that he try and return the Pleco to the LFS. Was this correct? Can I possibly home him? <Could be okay in the 125 gallon system -- the small Plec is likely Ancistrus sp., in which case the two will largely ignore each other, provided the Ancistrus has a small cave it has exclusive access to. The high-fin Plec isn't an obviously recognizable species to me, though I'm guessing it's Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps. That fish can be quite territorial, so again, make sure there's plenty of hiding places so this species and the Pterygoplichthys pardalis "common Plec" in the other thank. Loricariids can be tetchy about sharing hiding places. Adult Loricariids are mostly only dangerously aggressive towards their own species, but territorial towards everything else.> It is my intention to move the Corydoras, dwarf rainbows and the platys to the 35 and put the Congo and black skirt tetras, and clown loaches (I asked, they are 4"long) in my large aquarium. I have been reading about the clown loaches here and at the loaches web site and think they will be fine water wise, apparently get on fine with yoyos, but have some concerns about aggression to some of the others. Can all the tetras tolerate these guys? <Should do. From my vantage point it's difficult to give a 100% assurance without water quality tests and so on. But I'd expect there to be no problems. You may need to step filtration capacity up though, e.g., by adding another canister filter, so that the additional bio-load is handled.> And about that Plec.... is it possible for my other two to co-exist in the 33g? In which case I could home the large Plec in the 125? Actually now that I am writing about him, seems to me I have read stories about those large Plecs damaging smaller fishes... like sleeping tetras. <Plecs very rarely, if ever, eat small fish. There are carnivorous Plecs to be sure, but they eat invertebrates sifted from the mud. If they eat fish, those fish are dead or at least moribund. So when people report their Plec ate a guppy during the night, what they actually observed was the guppy died, and the Plec then ate it.> Sorry, it is the rescuer in me, cat, dogs and now fish. <!!!> If I go to get this tank on Friday should I just put all the original inhabitants back it in for a month and then start moving everybody around? I do not have quarantine room for everybody although he said he has had the clowns for a couple of months but I forgot to ask about the common Plec. <Should be fine. Perhaps lay in a bottle of Whitespot/Ick remedy (or at least make sure you can buy one at short notice). Clown Loaches are admittedly intolerant of many medications, so do research your options here in terms of suitable brands. Look for formulations safe for "scale-less" fish, or else use half-doses and keep an eye out for unusual behavior.> I would really appreciate any suggestions on this blended family especially if I have missed something important in my reading.....This seems like a big move to me and I do not want to cause to much strife in my life or that of my current pets. <I can't see any obvious problems, except perhaps with the Plecs.> Thanks so much. I might not even consider this if you were not there to ask. Aileen


Just wanted to share - Pleco & Yoyo 03/19/2008 Hi everyone at WWM! <Rachel> Don't have a question this time around, but I do want to extend another thanks to Andrew for all his help with my SW setup questions. (unfortunately, my SW tank plans have been bumped by house remodeling? but someday it will be mine!) <Ahhh!> Went to feed our current fish (55gal FW community, 55gal brackish, and two happy Bettas) this morning, and was greeted with a scene of our Pleco, who's between 5 and 6 inches, and the smallest of our three Biota almorhae having a ?pow-wow? on top of one of our Greco-Roman tank décor pieces. <Shades of Lord Elgin!> I say the smallest of the three yoyos as they were all the same size when we got them in December/January (me and my memory here?), and we now have Big Loach (who's a little over 2 inches now), Middle Loach (just a little smaller), and Little loach, who hasn't grown much at all. He/she hid for quite some time (about a month and a half) after first introducing them to the tank, but is now out pretty much all the time and active, so we're still hoping for the best and keeping a watchful eye on Little. Attached is a smaller image, with a larger version here on my website. http://www.realmofsavage.com/images/big_n_little.jpg I love WWM, and read all the latest FAQs every day. Keep up the great work and I hope to be able to share some SW tank pictures in the nearer future. =) Rachel Savage <Thank you my/our friend. Bob Fenner>

Sick Gouramis... Pleco comp.  -- 03/07/08 Hello, all. I've read a great portion of your website, mainly the Q&A section. I have searched in great lengths for problems similar to mine, but to no avail. However, I have gathered a great deal of knowledge about the hobby in general. <Very good; but please don't think that replaces buying a book! Before you buy a fish, buy a book -- there is so much to learn!> Apologies in advance, this will most likely be fairly long. Also, I am at great risk of sounding like some kind of *emo freak* as I never imagined I would actually get so attached to fish. <I have no idea what an "emo freak" is. Must be some sort of American thing.> Here goes: My hobby started with a Christmas gift. A 5 gal tank with built-in filter & light, hex shaped. <5-gallon tanks are known in the trade as "buckets". They're of no good for keeping fish, and certainly not by beginners.> Being ambitious and completely ignorant, I filled the tank and promptly added WAY too many fish. 2 Dwarf Gouramis, which died within days of what I have read to be Dwarf Gourami disease (brought on by ammonia poisoning, no doubt) and 5 (yes, ridiculously, 5) Paradise Fish - Blue variety. <Oops.> I did a very limited amount of research and learned that for the fish I currently had still living, I needed at least 20gal. <Not a chance. Paradisefish are mutually aggressive, and males are very much "one to a tank". They will also fight with other similar looking fish, including, I dare say, Gouramis. Paradisefish are not community fish and are never, ever recommended for beginners by sensible aquarists.> After several fights with the hubby, he finally bought me a 29gal. I filled it, moved the fish in, and started reading about the cycling process. This is when I started to feel like a serial killer. I read that Paradise fish are actually very forgiving in regards to water quality, and if you are going to be cruel enough to cycle with fish, they are ones to use. <Up to a point this is true, but even hardy fish can be killed by high levels of ammonia and nitrite. That's why you need to have your nitrite and ammonia test kits, and as soon as you detect more than 0.5 mg/l of either, you do a BIG (i.e., 50%) water change. This may well be as often as once a day for the first couple of weeks!> So, I did frequent small water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrites down, and eventually, the tank cycled. It has been steadily 0 ammonia & nitrites, and low nitrates (10 or less) for at least a month now. All my fish actually did great. I got a black Sailfin Pleco for the algae problem. I read up on them, and saw that they will "suck" on sick or slow fish, but mine seem to be active and very quick. <The Sailfin Plec is likely Pterygoplichthys pardalis or similar. These are HUGE fish and require tanks 55 gallons upwards. Completely unsuitable for this system. In any case, they have no positive impact on algae. Think about it for just one second: algae grows when the water has fertiliser added, i.e., nitrogenous wastes from the fish. Add more fish, the water is more fertile, and the algae grows faster. Add a huge catfish, and even though it's eating algae, it is also eating catfish pellets and vegetables, so will be making the water much more fertile. It's a case of one step forwards and seventeen steps backwards. There are only TWO ways to control algae: use lots of fast-growing plants, or use elbow grease and a scraper. There is nothing else. Nada. Nix. Nyet. Non. Nein.> Then... got up one morning, and one of my females looked like she was missing scales. She was still acting normally, so I added some Melafix, as it supposed to help with missing scales and Finrot. <I'm not impressed with Melafix. Because it's cheap and "New Age" people buy into it, but it isn't any more effective than any other cheap, New Age medication.> It only got worse from there. When I got home that evening, it was an open (almost looked to bleeding) wound. I searched the internet, and closest thing I could find was AEROMONAS (hole in the side disease). <Hole-in-the-Head is not caused by Aeromonas bacteria. These are different syndromes. Almost certainly you're dealing with a plain vanilla Aeromonas infection, what on a human would be considered sepsis. The skin is damaged, and otherwise harmless Aeromonas bacteria get into the wound and cause serious problems. Long term: death through blood poisoning. Use something like Maracyn or eSHa 2000 to treat.> It seems, though, that this is more commonly associated with wild or farm fish. <No, the problem here is more than likely physical injury and/or poor water quality. I hear what you say about the good water quality stats, but the overwhelming experience of most newbie aquarists is variable to poor water quality, e.g., by overfeeding, under-filtering, or overstocking. So take a conservative approach, and assume the worst case scenario.> I moved her to the 5gal (now hospital tank, also cycled) and tried feeding her anti-bacterial food (soaked and broken up first). She wouldn't touch it, and developed dropsy that night. She was dead the next morning. <I bet.> Next was one of the males. I tried parasite treatment on him. Dropsy, and died within a day. <When masses of fish die for seemingly random reasons, the problem is 99.99999% likely water quality, water chemistry, or poisons. So: check water quality, and do a 50% water change daily until thing settle down. As for water chemistry, check the pH isn't fluctuating wildly. Fish are somewhat tolerant of the "wrong" pH and hardness relative to what they prefer, but what they can't abide is changing water chemistry. Finally, consider poisons. Things like paint fumes can quickly kill fish. Small children are apt to dump things in fish tanks, so it's important to make sure that doesn't happen.> Now my second female has a hole on either side of her body, well behind her gills, mid-body. Also - a large hole, as if something is eating away at her, on her anal fin. it is near her tail. She is now in the hospital tank, and I ordered Maracyn Two, which is on the third day of treatment, and no change, only getting worse. <Stop moving the fish to the 5 gallon tank. Pointless. Such a tank is a death trap itself. Treat the whole tank with Maracyn. Be aggressive with water changes (big, often). Study water chemistry and quality closely. Above all: DO NOT FEED the fish.> One of the males left in the main tank now has a hole in his side, and the other has a hole in his anal fin, in the same exact location as the female. I have tried to take photos, and they just WILL NOT hold still long enough. If they won't eat the anti-bacterial food, and the Maracyn doesn't help, then I am at a loss. The girl in the hospital tank is developing fungus, and I don't want to treat for the fungus while still using the Maracyn, in case there would be a reaction. I am afraid that they are developing secondary problems due to all the HORRIBLE water conditions I subjected them to. If this is the case, do they stand a chance at all? <If you do precisely what I say, yes, some should recover, assuming any Finrot (for that's the issue) is limited to superficial tissues. But if the body cavity is infected, then realistically, no, the fish aren't likely to survive.> Just a mention - the sick female (now in hospital tank) was being harassed by the Pleco. He would attach to her, and she would shake him off, but he probably did the most harm while I was sleeping and could not monitor. Is it possible this is what is happening to the other? I can't imagine the Pleco would decide to attach to the anal fin, though?? <Obviously this Plec needs to go back to the pet store. This is non-negotiable. How, why it is sucking onto the fish is largely academic (though I imagine it is hungry because you are not providing the foods it needs).> OK, I drew a rough image with Paint, which looks like a child created (hence the file name "kindergarten fish") showing the same location all fish are developing the hole in their sides and fins. <Yikes!> I never dreamed I would feel so bad over fish, but they are part of family now, and I really don't want to lose them. What can I possibly do?? <Read, learn, understand.> Thank you much, Jiffy <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gourami/Paradisefish problems  -- 03/07/08 Thank you, Neale, for your speedy response. <You're welcome.> It seems my worst fears are realized and I have done unrepairable damage to most of my fishy friends. :( <Quite possibly.> Emo = emotional basket case, which is what my hubby and most my friends think of me when I go on and on about saving my fish. <I see.> As of tonight, the 5-day Maracyn treatment will be completed in the 5 gal, and the girl is not doing any better. The reason I have been moving them is because the other fish seem to realize who is weak and pick on them. <Oh dear.> Since the treatment did not work on her, I will treat the remaining 2 (sadly, both males - maybe I need a tank separator) in the large tank. <Does sound a short term solution, at least.> The Pleco was purchased with the understanding that it would eventually be returned, upon aggression or growing to large for the tank, so he can easily be returned to the pet store. Once he cleaned the tank, I started feeding the sinking algae disks when I turned off the lights, and witnessed him eating voraciously. I have read that they attack sickly fish, and suspect this is the case here. <Loricariid catfish are classic opportunists (like humans) and they will have a go at whatever seems edible. That's their ecological niche. While they rarely, if ever, cause problems in tanks with healthy fish... in tanks where fish are dropping like flies, I dare say even the best behaved Plec isn't above taking advantage of the situation.> How long should I not feed? A couple days? the duration of the Maracyn treatment? <The latter at minimum. Fish can last a week without food, and after that week, feed small amounts once per day. No more.> Finally, what book(s) would you suggest? I will gladly purchase and read anything that will help me to better care for my fish. <Many, many choices. Go visit your local bookstore, and have a browse. Look for something published reasonably recently so that it is up to date in of filters, medications, etc. Don't be dazzled with pretty pictures -- some aquarium books that are "coffee table" type books look lovely to look at, but thin on information. Pick something that clearly explains about filters, water chemistry, disease and so on. If it has a section on community fish, listing their water chemistry needs, preferred temperature, social behaviour and diet then so much the better. You can use that to decide what fish you want to get next. But right now your need isn't for a book containing hundreds of fish or advanced topics like plants or cichlids; you want something focusing on the foundations of the hobby. Master them, and the rest of the hobby is pretty straightforward.> Thank you so much for your expertise, Jiffy <Cheers, Neale.>

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.>


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


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


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!>

Plecos and Plants  - 09/02/06 Dear WetWebMedia, I have recently acquired two good sized dwarf Panaque a flash l204 and Panaque albomaculatus LDA31. I have two questions to ask firstly is frozen shrimp and meaty food like that correct? I have a large 450 ltr tank consisting of a rainbow school, also I keep a few doras, flag cats and some other l numbers as well as a greedy elephant nose. I'm worried the Panaques will not get to the food before everything else has got there, do you have any tips to get the food to them? And the second question is that do either fish pose a serious problem to a planted tank? My tank is mainly java fern and a good African tiger lotus specimen that I don't want to loose, also some Aponogeton plants. < Go to planetcatfish.com. Try to identify your Plecos based on the info you have and what they look like. From their they will give lots of good info about what your Plecos eat and how to keep them. Many Plecos are nocturnal, so feed them just after you turn out the lights should make it easier for them to feed.-Chuck> Best Regards and Thanks for any advice you can give. Ben

Blind Pleco   7/25/06 Hi WWM Crew, I have kind of an odd problem. I have a tank with a couple African Cichlids and a "common Pleco" for cleaning purposes. I noticed today he looked a little different, and coaxed him out in the open to discover that where his eye used to be was a hole. I found the same on the other side. The holes are perfectly round and don't show any other signs of damage or infection. What could have caused this? All my other fish are fine. Will the Pleco have any quality of life, or should I "put him out of his misery"? Thanks so much for the help. Chris < The African cichlids have fed on the eyes of your Pleco. He will be fine as long as he can find some food on the bottom of the tank. Not much to look at though.-Chuck>

Otocinclus and Comet DON'T MIX! EMERGENCY  07/21/06 Hi, love your website, thanks for it, but I have a huge  problem!! <<Hi, back. You're welcome. Let's see what we can do. (Tom here, by the way.)>> I woke up today to find my Comet munching on my Otocinclus! Actually, what I mean by that is that the Oto was lodged in his mouth with about 25% of it sticking out. He doesn't appear to be choking because he is still breathing. <<I assume you're referring to the Comet because the Oto doesn't sound to be in good shape.>> I got two new Otos a couple days ago and since then they've both been lethargic with clamped fins, each was tiny, 1 inched guys and my Comet (Harry, don't ask) is about 4 inches long excluding his tail. He's always been greedy and   I think what happened is the Oto died and the Comet finally could catch him and did. <<Not unusual for Goldfish to do this. They tend to be "opportunistic" feeders and your Oto gave Harry the chance he was waiting for...unfortunately.>> No search engines helped me at all! <<In fairness, it's not the typical inquiry.>> At this point, Harry is moving slowly and keeps sucking or blowing his mouth, I can't tell which. This is a major problem and one way or another might solve itself before you answer back, but right now my main concern is lack of ability to eat or transfer air in the swim bladder, and of course lodging it in more and choking! <<As long as he's moving water over his gills, he's not "choking". He may not be very comfortable but he won't suffocate.>> Just in case he lives and for future references please help! I tried using metal tongs and I grabbed the protruding tail but I couldn't get it out, I'm sort of nervous of pulling too hard. How do I dislodge it, or can he digest the head soon enough and eventually pass it through?? (I seriously doubt it though.) <<I seriously doubt it, too. Goldfish are primarily "vegetarians". Their systems aren't developed for dining on other fish. Likely the dorsal rays are getting caught in Harry's mouth as you try to pull the demised Oto out. You might try twisting the Oto one way, or another, to get the rays to "release".>> And should I remove my other Otocinclus and my (very lively and quick) Algae eater? <<First, if by "Algae Eater", you're referring to a common Plecostomus, I wouldn't worry about this. Harry isn't likely to be interested in a "lively and quick" tankmate. My concern here, without getting on a soapbox, is that many Otos are "captured" in the wild by the use of cyanide. I have no direct knowledge of these fish being bred in farms, though it's entirely possible that they are. In any event, the fact that both of yours showed signs of lethargy and clamped fins indicates, to me, that it's possible that they were taken with cyanide, a chemical that will, unfortunately, stay in their systems. Otos, regretfully, show an inordinate amount of "infant mortality", meaning that they often die within hours, or days, of being introduced into the tank. Fish that feed on the dead fish are going to be ingesting cyanide if the deceased fish contain this in their bodies. My recommendation is to get the Oto out of Harry's mouth regardless of what it takes and remove the other Oto from the tank. Easier said than done, I know, but you must do this.>> Thank you for your time, and sorry my email is so long. This is my first major goldfish problem and I'm very anxious. <<Not to worry. You're more than welcome and I completely understand. Tom>>

Pleco and Goldfish, good idea?... generally not   6/13/06 I am owner of a 55 gallon tank, which uses two Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel Filtration systems.  These are a necessity, due to the 13 inch long-finned goldfish <A whopper!> I have, whose superior filthiness remains over my tank.  Recently, about a month ago, I purchased a Plecostomus to help deal with the filtration of algae.  This worked wonders for the tank environment, the walls clearly transparent, and the gravel much cleaner, however, the Plecostomus started to push around my goldfish. <Yes> Now, the Plecostomus is no more than 5 inches, and is no where near the size of my goldfish, and yet my goldfish does not show any aggression, and he does not even move away from his hostile attacker. The Plecostomus swims under the goldfish, and chases him around, I fear this simple aggression could lead to the serious injury of my prized goldfish. <You are correct>   I have read a variety of things to do, such as remove the Plecostomus right away, leave it be, monitor it, feed it algae disks, and the only one I have yet to try is to remove it.   <This is what I would do> I am scared, that the Plecostomus will be overly stressed, and die from our lack of proper temporary tanks in which to house our little beast.  Our last resort, it to have the Plecostomus spend the night in a 4 gallon bucket with no filtration.  I really do not want to subject my Plecostomus to conditions like these, but I Will if I have to.  I will most likely return him to the Petco where I bought him, but I don't want him to be killed either.  I would much appreciate some tips and/or guidance.  Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. Thank you,      Chelsea R. <Unfortunately, most Plecostomus/Loricariid species sold in the trade are incompatible with Goldfish... too often "suck" on their bodies... dangerously removing body slime, sometimes more. Better to use large, non-asexual species of snails as cleaner-uppers with most goldfish systems. Bob Fenner>

Big Plecos In A Community Tank   5/26/06 Hi, Great Site! I have a bit of a problem, and figure you guys can  help me out. I have a 55 gallon aquarium with a cascade filter Rated at 75 gallons) heater, plants, eco complete, light, etc. Would it be ok to keep 3 common Plecos (8", 6", and  4"), 6 cardinal tetras, 4 lemon tetras, several Cory cats, 4: 4" Killie fish,  and 2 smaller tiger clown Plecos, and 6 Rams in this 55 gallon tank? < Go with everything except the two larger Plecos. They will dominate the bottom of the tank and make life very tough on the other fish.> PLEASE NOTE: These are fish I have already (in separate tanks) I know this sounds like an odd assortment, but I am trying to, umm... what's the right word here... condense my collection. If this is not ok, please tell me the minimum tank  size in which I can keep these three Plecos. <There are hundreds of  different species of Plecos. Go to planetcatfish.com and search for your Pleco to determine the total size. They will also have tank recommendations too. Some of the more common Plecos can get very big.> Also, at what temperature should this assortment be  kept? < Somewhere between 76 to 82 f would be fine. The rams prefer it on the high end.> BASICALLY, I am asking if 3 large Plecos will be ok  to keep with smaller tetras/cichlids!? < Too much disruption from the larger fish.-Chuck> Thanks in advance!!! Anthony

Plecos For A Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank   5/9/06 Hi Crew, I have 5 Malawi cichlid tanks and cleaning algae has almost become a full time job. My LFS suggested adding Plecos and I narrowed my choice down to Queen Arabesques. I chose these because I didn't want plant eaters nor did I want Plecos that would outgrow my tanks like the common Plecos that reach 24". When I went to pick up my Queen Arabesques I noticed some beautiful King Tigers and decided to go with 2 King Tigers and one Queen Arabesque, one for each of my 3 largest tanks. Right now they are in my quarantine tank and my question to you is regarding pH.  Here is my dilemma: Malawi cichlids are usually kept in a PH of 7.8 - 8.2. I've read Queen Arabesques do best in a of  7.6 or less. After purchasing the King Tigers I read online that their max PH should be 7.2. I wonder if this is true as Queen Arabesques are closely related and come from the same region. My LFS told me the Plecos would adjust to the higher cichlid ppm. This even suggested I take them from the LFS water (6.8 - 7.0 PH) and place them right in my 8.2 PH tanks that very same day after slowly adding tank water to their bag water over a period of several hours. I didn't think such a drastic shift in PH was a good idea, and I had planned to quarantine them anyway, so I placed them in QT (where they have been 3 days) with a pH of 7.2. My plan has been to slowly raise the pH over the course of 2 weeks. Now I'm questioning whether I made the right decision choosing these Plecos, and whether the higher pH will have long term negative side effects for them. Could a happy medium be found by lowering the pH slightly in the cichlid tanks to 7.6 or 7.8? Or would this cause problems for the cichlids, as well? Please advise. If I've made a poor choice in buying these Plecos, I can always return them to the LFS. Cindy < Many Lake Malawi cichlids eat algae. To reduce algae growth I would check the nitrates and try to keep them under 25 ppm with water changes and by vacuuming the gravel. As far as placing Plecos with Lake Malawi cichlids you have four problems.  First is aggression. These cichlids are very territorial and will defend their areas using their sharp teeth. The fins and eyes will be attacked and the Plecos will be forced to hide most of the time. Second is temperature. Lake Malawi cichlids prefer to be kept in the mid to upper 70's F. Your Plecos come from the Rio Toucatins where the water is up to 82 to 84 F. Third is the pH. The cichlids can handle a pH in the 7's but they will not show much color. Any higher than that will stress the kidneys of your Plecos and they may become weak and sick over time. Last is the diet. I am not overly convinced that these Plecos even eat algae. Many of these Plecos eat invertebrates, wood, and plants too. Check out their diet at Planetcatfish.com.-Chuck>

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

Rubber lipped Pleco in a 10 gallon tank? 10/16/05 Greetings! Three days ago I bought a rubber lipped Pleco for my 10 gallon tank. <... too small...> I have had two zebra Danios and one angelfish <... way too small...> in the tank for about 18 months now. Even with weekly 1/3 water changes <... too much...> the algae is barely under control so I thought a Pleco would be a cute and helpful addition. <No> Unhappily, s/he died today! The Pleco seemed fine, bright-eyed and swimming about a bit when not hiding, but then this afternoon s/he abruptly died. I am so discouraged that I am wondering whether I should try again with another or give up the idea of adding an algae-feeder to my tank.  <Not this type... needs more room as do most of its family... Loricariidae> I don't want to harm my current fish by introducing any diseases, and hope I haven't done so already. I've decided to feed the fish less and have the tank light on less in an effort to reduce the algae.  <Good approaches> I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on whether those changes should be sufficient or whether I should try another rubber lipped Pleco (or other small algae eater).   Regards, Mary <Umm, those (not often lucid) ideas archived here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above... where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: Rubber lipped Pleco in a 10 gallon tank? 10/17/05 Bob, <Mary> Thank you for the input. I'm looking on Craigslist for a larger tank, maybe a 35 or 46 gallon. <<Isn't Craigslist great?  MH>> <Ahh, much better> That might be a better size for my current fish and give me a chance to get a few more fish once everything settles down, cycles, etc. Maybe even a Pleco! <Oh, yes!> Thanks again, Mary <Excelsior my friend! Bob Fenner> 

Plecos and Goldfish  9/26/05 Hiya. I've recently started a coldwater aquarium with a two fantail goldfish and a four Danios (they have been in there for a couple of weeks). I love plecs and would like to have one. Will a Plec get along with my other fish? Also, can he be put in now or do I have to wait longer to let the tank build up good bacteria? Many thanks. Rach <Not a good mix in most cases. It's not a matter of aggression, but of water conditions and temperature. Goldfish like cool water, 65 to 70 degrees. They produce a lot of ammonia in their waste. Plecos are tropical and need a temperature near 80 to thrive. They also produce a lot of ammonia. So the tank would have to be fairly large to dilute the waste. But even then, their is no good way around the temperature problem. 73 to 74 may work for both, but is perfect for neither. Don>  

Mixing Plecos and Goldfish Hi WWM, Hope you can give me some advice as I'm fairly new to keeping plecs although I have kept fancy goldfish for quite a few years. I read a question from someone else who seemed to be losing plecs after a very short time. I've also had this problem. After they have seemed healthy I suddenly find they have died with no apparent symptoms. I also had heard that when using treatments for coldwater fish that dosages have to be altered if you have plecs in the tank. I also have 2 tiny Ramshorn snails & wondered if you could advise me of any precautions I should take when using treatments. Many thanks in advance. Lisa <Very generally speaking dosages should be cut in half when dealing with most types of catfish. IMO most plecs are starved to death. They must be target fed at night or they will not get their share of the food. Rubber band a piece of zucchini or shrimp to a rock and add it just before you go to bed. But I'm more concerned that you are keeping goldfish and plecs together. Goldfish do best in cool water. They thrive between 65 and 70 degrees. Plecs are tropical and require much warmer temps. I keep all my Pleco tanks between 82 and 86 degrees. I'm afraid you are in for many problems with this mix. Don>

Cichlids and Pleco's Hi Bob, My roommate was given a 50 gallon tank with 3 African Cichlids (one being very large and very dominant - always chases the others around).  A friend of mine gave me a large Plecostomus and I added him to the tank today.  I am a bit worried though.  The Plecostomus just sits on the wall and the large African Cichlid comes over and snaps at it's eyes and tail constantly.  Will they get use to each other and knock it off or should I find a new home for the Pleco?  Thanks! < Plecos usually come out a night when the cichlids are asleep. Get him a hollow log or s cave for him to hide in during the day. The cichlids should leave him alone after that.-Chuck>

Bristlenose vs. goldies? Hi, guys!  I've read up on the various opinions on mixing fancy goldfish with Plecos.  The general consensus with regards to the 'regular' store bought Plecos is simply don't mix.  From personal experience, I can also attest to this. <Often they start to "ride" the goldfish... not good> However, I've read there is one particular exception with the Bristlenose Pleco.  Apparently, this whiskered-barbed wonders don't really have a tendency chase and munch on the goldfish slime. <I do agree this is so> What are your thoughts on this mix?  FYI, I have a 60 gallon with 2 weather/dojo loaches and 4 four-inch fancy goldfish (calico, Lionhead calico, black moor and redcap Oranda).  Thanks! Ted <Worth trying. Bob Fenner>

Subject: leopard Pleco and royal Pleco best friends? Hello me again. I am setting up a new 110 gallon tank and was wondering if I could put a leopard Pleco  (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps) and a royal Pleco (Panaque nigrolineatus) could be put together in the same tank because I know Plecos belonging to the subfamily Panaque are aggressive to each other. <Mmm, am inclined to dissuade you from this mix... but actually don't know how well these two Loricariids would get along... In all the years I retailed the more popular Panaque we kept them one to a tank as adults... If the system were big enough I guess you could try them together... observe if there is much negative interaction... I doubt if there would be much damage with these highly armored cats in a short trial. Bob Fenner> 

A Little Freshwater Carnage 2.27.05 Hi, we're new to the whole aquarium life, and have a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 7 cichlids and one algae eater who we call Homer. <Hello, Ryan helping you out today.> Not sure if there are different varieties of them, but ours is brown and bumpy, and about 4 inches long. About a month ago, we noticed that the cichlids were picking on Homer, and then, much to our disgust and amazement, realized that his actual eyeball had been taken out of its socket!  <That's pretty gory!> We immediately put him into a separate sick box where he could safely recover. After a week of separation from the others, Homer was put back into the tank and seemed to be getting along well with one eye. Today he got wedged between the coral and a ship in the tank, and we noticed that his good eye had been scratched. We were gone for most of the day, and upon returning home, realized that his other eye has now been taken out as well. He's in the sick tank once again, but we're really concerned for his well being once he's healed up enough to be released back in with the others. <Not a great idea...I would take him back to the pet store, and start managing the nutrients more aggressively to impede algae growth.> Have you ever heard of this, and what are his chances of living with no eyes? We realize that the cichlids are aggressive fish, but is this a normal occurrence, and how do we prevent it from happening again in the event that we need to replace Homer? We're desperate for any information you can provide.  <It breaks down like this: Cichlids, with some exceptions, are aggressive and territorial. You're keeping these fish in a small enclosure- This much water in nature would be just a piece of ONE fish's territory. So, natural war will be ongoing with this selection. Now, a 30 gallon tank is great for single species tanks, or less "touchy" tenants. I'd figure out what species of fish you're keeping, and then make a few changes. Good luck! Ryan>

Better Safe Than Sorry <Hi! Ryan with you!> I was just wondering if goldfish and Plecostomus could live peacefully together.  I have seen websites that say yes, and others that say no they can't.  I just have 2 regular goldfish, who are extremely active and very healthy, so I didn't think it would be a problem, I just wanted an expert opinion.  Thanks:) <When I first started with goldfish I kept them with a Pleco- and eventually suffered considerable losses.  It's Russian roulette, but because of disease.  Goldfish carry SO many diseases that tropical fish will eventually contract.  It may work for some time, but I would avoid this.  Much better tankmates for a Pleco or a goldfish, in my opinion.  Hope this helps>

No More Black Moor Greetings! <Hello> Your web site it quite informative and very useful. <great>  I have a question for you.  I have a 10 gallon tank with currently 5 goldfishes in it. <too many goldfish, you want about 10 gallons per fish. Oh wait, that was not the question, sorry.> My black moor goldfish died last week so I went and got one yesterday.  I put it in the tank and it seemed to be ok.  However, this morning it was dead, and I am wondering if the Pleco (algae eating fish) attacked it. The reason for this is that all of the black moors scales were missing, and it's tail looked really raggedy.  I watched the tank for a while, and I know that the other goldfish was not attacking it.  Have you ever heard of anything like this?  Looking forward to your answer soon! <I have seen some aggressive Plecos, but they usually keep to themselves.  I am willing to bet this fish was picked over after it died, probably by everyone in the tank.  First thing I would do is some water tests to see if those indicate any problems.  Best Regards, Gage> BV  =^.^=

Plec for an Oscar tank Dear wealth of knowledge, I have a 75g freshwater tank which is currently empty.  I am thinking about purchasing either 2 red Oscars or 1 red Oscar and 1 tiger Oscar.  My question for you guys is what my options for a "clean-up" Pleco are, keeping in mind tank size. <I assume by "clean-up" you want something to eat algae, right?  This in mind, I'd suggest the royal Plecostomus, Panaque nigrolineatus http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/loricari/panaque/151_f.htm .  This is a pretty good grazing Plec, and should do a number on algae; will likely need to be supplemented with greens (like blanched zucchini, for one).  It'll also require driftwood, without a doubt.  And might be a bad choice for a Plexiglas tank, as they have teeth that'll wreak havoc on plexi, leaving scratches.> I also wanted to know a little about freshwater (red tail) barracudas.  I have found it a little difficult to find info on them.  I am wondering about tank size, compatibility, and how prone it is to disease.  Thanks a lot!  Zack <Do you happen to have a Latin name for this guy?  Right now, I'm inclined to think you mean "Acestrorhynchus falcatus".  Try looking this up on fishbase.org, and do a Google search on this name to see what info you can get.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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

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