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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats 2

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

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Panaque, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, ReproductionAlgae Eaters

Scobinancistrus aureatus

Re: Blue eyed Pleco/ Columbia info needed. Not. Pleco fdg f'      2/16/14
Questions on feeding L numbers.  Filtration/ scyphon choices. I was tired of alage disks as the rams and angel were eating them too so I tried a vegetable
<Offer algae wafers at night, and only the catfish will eat them.>
I placed a skinned thick slice of cucumber, weighed down with some metal weight cut off from an orimental plant. the L204 Pleco gorged itself i was shocked that such a small catfish could eat so much.  it must have eaten almost 2/3s of it.  i netted out the remains- how often sould I offer cucumber.
<As often as you want, really, since plant material has little impact on ammonia and nitrite levels. Realistically, a suitable portion 2-3 nights a week is ample. Offer portions big enough that there's a bit left the next morning but not so much it's become rotten. Rotting plant matter won't have much impact on ammonia or nitrite, but it is unsightly and may clog up
filter inlets.>
Anyway the angel has been on a hunger strike so I did a large water change to clean up and was wondering how do you start a syphon I have an extra long one thats only works if you suck on it and a self working one thats broken the pump isnt working/ Any good subjestions for a self starting brand of syphon.
<In the US the Python brand is well regarded. Me, I suck the siphon by mouth, but there's a risk when swallowing water of consuming Salmonella and other bacteria.>
.Afterwards i plugged in and primed my new power filter a Hagan 300 aquaclear  works great i also have 2 large sponge filters in the tanks
<Real good, Neale.>
Re: Blue eyed pleco/ cloumbia info needed.    2/16/14

I'm offically a member of "feed my starving Panque"  charity to the
neglected L numbers. In other words if kim has no use for the cucumber i'll
donate some to tropaquatics for their L number shipments. in other words
What you do to sucker fish gets paid back tenfold. Figured i'd be nice.
<Words to live by, indeed!>
I saw an L240, vampire glaxy pleco, at my fish shop  would it and my flash
pleco get along or should i not risk it.
<It's generally best not to mix L-numbers in the one tank, though I suspect
small Panaque (such as your Panaqolus albivermis) and medium-sized
Leporacanthicus (like your Leporacanthicus galaxias) might be dissimilar
enough in size and colouration to coexist, given space. Males are most
likely to be territorial; females much less so. Still, the best approach is
to keep one L-number per tank, mixing with active catfish like Corydoras
that won't elicit their territorial tendencies. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Blue eyed pleco/ cloumbia info needed.

Maybe i could get another flash pleco- a female- dont the gals have no fin
extentions. just an idea.
<Maybe. Do review PlanetCatfish; their forum is an excellent place for chatting, speculation... much more so than the "fish tank emergencies" channel that is the WWM Daily FAQs! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Blue eyed pleco/ cloumbia info needed.

Thanks for the tip i'm now a member I will only post questions on my tank/
if trouble happens or if i want to know about a fish. I'll leave the chats
to planet catfish.
<Real good...>

my angel is still going on a food/hunger strike he seems to spend lots of
time by the outlet of the power filter., on the plus his fins look better
since the water change and he seems plump- from what i dont know- he hasnt
eaten in a few days , do angels eat cucumber. the rams and catfish are avid
eaters and i've noticed some bullying going on beteen the female ram and
the angel- angel gets chased and hassled not real bad but i've notived
<Do try some live or frozen foods, brine shrimps or bloodworms for example, as healthy Angels love these. Good quality floating foods may also be easier for the Angel to eat since the Rams and L-numbers won't normally feed from the surface but Angels can, and do. Something like Hikari Micro Pellets or New Life Spectrum flake tick all the right boxes, and while a little pricey, you wouldn't have to use them all the time, just as occasional treats alongside standard Tetra and similar foods. Do bear in mind all flake and pellet foods go stale, and it's often best value to keep small quantities by the tank while keeping the bulk somewhere cool and dry, only opening to top up the smaller, tank-side pots. Stale food is unappetising, and often when fish ignore flake, pellets it's down to this.>
Tropaquatics has a deal with large banjo cats  $10 each, do you think once i deal with the angel these would do well with the angel, cory pair, rams and L204. they look cool but I dont want fish to die or have issues.
<$10 isn't an especially good price for the standard tiddlers in the UK trade (typically 3-inch Bunocephalus coracoideus) but may be a better price where you live, and for larger specimens of this or some similar species it'd be a very decent deal indeed. Regardless, Banjos are hardy fish but do need a sandy substrate and are strictly nocturnal feeders, so do bear in mind their requirements and plan accordingly. The main cause of mortality is starvation. Feed them at night and avoid too much competition (a few small Corydoras and small L-numbers are fine, but not big catfish or loaches) and they're easy to keep. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco Grand champion - Arofanatics Carnival, Sing. 2012    9/3/12
Bob I have never seen such a colorful Pleco before Perry
<Have seen something similar... B>

Advice on transporting my Pleco  8/21/10
Hello wet web media crew,
<Hello Hannah,>
I hope my email finds whoever answers it in good spirits.
<Does indeed.>
I've got a rather difficult task on my hands that I wish to consult about.
I have a 55 gallon tank with a 14 inch, 11 year old Pleco. I dearly love this fish, but after much thinking I thought it would be best to get him a new, larger home. My mom has a co-work with an appropriately large, well maintained pond of Koi (I've been assured this is a safe place for a Pleco to live. True?),
<Assuming it's warm enough, sure, Plecs can be kept outdoors. Minimum water temperature for a Common Pleco (such as Pterygoplichthys pardalis) is about 22 C/72 C. Short term temperature drops to 18 C/64 F will be tolerated during the winter, but anything colder than that is lethal. A few pond keepers have been lucky and seen their catfish survive cooler conditions, but on the whole these are tropical fish, and there's ample evidence from Florida that established populations of Plecs die off during cold winters. Now, as for mixing them with Koi, it has been done. However, there have been many instances of Plecs "sucking" at the mucous of both Goldfish and Koi. These mostly occur in small ponds where the victims can't swim away easily, but even in a big pond there's an element of risk.
Sucking damage is obvious and severe, and obviously allows secondary infections to set in. Once the catfish is in the pond, it's extremely difficult to remove because it lives at the bottom, is well camouflaged,
and basically nocturnal. Taking a "wait and see" approach may therefore be impractical. So on balance, I wouldn't do this, but it's up to you to make your own opinion. I've asked Bob to chime in here, and perhaps he can say something more concrete.>
<<I do agree w/ what Neale has mentioned. RMF>>
and we're stuck on how to transfer him. My question is about how do safely transfer him and acclimate him to his new home. I've heard suggests of getting a 5 gallon bucket and trying to get him out of the tank via a large container. Is this a good method? Or is there a better method? Forgive me if this has been asked and answered before, I did a search and couldn't find what I was looking for, and as your site is my trusted source of caring for my fish I thought is best to ask.
Thank you very much,
<Hannah, really, moving a Pleco isn't going to be a big deal. They're air-breathing fish and generally very hardy. I'd start by using a large bucket, 5 gallons is good, or something like a large cool-box. Use enough
water to cover the fish, but there's no need to completely fill the thing unless the trip is going to take more than a couple of hours. Don't use an air-tight lid; instead, simply cover the top with a towel so that the
catfish is in the dark and can't jump out. Some lids can be clipped on loosely, and if you can do that, that's fine too. Either way, get the catfish to its new home. Once there, acclimate as you would when
introducing a new fish to your aquarium, using some variation of the "drip method" across an hour or so. Obviously, the pond's conditions have to be within the tolerances of the Pleco, in particular with regard to water temperature and pH. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco question 5/14/10
<Hi there>
I wanted to ask a quick question regarding Plecos. According to what I have read male Bristlenose have more pronounced bristles than females. Is it easy to tell the difference even when they are small (about 3/4 of an inch long)or is it harder to tell until they are bigger?
<Much easier to discern when larger>
Mine had two bumps on either side like nostrils but totally flat the rest of its face I say "had" because I seem to have lost it. Pretty much tore tank apart after 3 days of not seeing it. I wanted to get another one probably a little bit bigger to start with this time. Also I am wondering how big they get.
<Need to know the species... there are several Loricariids, mainly genus Ancistrus, with this common appellation... Some a few, to several inches in length>
I have a 40 gallon long tank. If the answer is they get quite large then which ones stay fairly the smallest of the Plecos.
Thank you
<Do peruse Fishbase.org with this common name... read. Bob Fenner>

Pleco Spikes?   5/17/09
I am sending this e-mail separately to make it easier to categorize.
<Okey dokey.>
On to my question: Do Plecos have spikes?
<Sort of. Males and females have what are called "odontodes", structures similar in composition to teeth, except they cover the cheeks and the front edges of the pectoral fins. Males tend to have more of them than the females, or at least that's what is generally assumed to be the case. Their function is obscure, and like many of the things that separate male animals from female animals, they may not have any particular function at all.>
In my early aquarium days, I read that Plecos have retractable spikes on their back, and should be netted and handled with caution.
<This is true, and if I need to manhandle my Panaque nigrolineatus, she raises her cheek bristles, and they can get tangled up in nets. They are not venomous though, and don't pose any particular risk to humans. This contrasts with, for example, the spines on saltwater catfish such as Plotosus and Arius species, which can deliver very painful stings. Equally, the serrated fin edges on thorny catfish (such as Humbug Catfish) can be used like a "trap", closing in on a fingertip carelessly put between the fin and the body. If that happens, the pain is severe and said to take a long time to heal.>
I have never seen my pleco's spikes, so what's the deal? Are they real, or just a myth?
Could this be referring to the pleco's potentially dangerous dorsal fin rays?
<Dorsal fin is neither covered with odontodes nor armed with a sting (so far as I know).>
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Pleco Spikes?   5/17/09

What you wrote about Dorsal Fins? Well, I'm using Yahoo mail, and the service gave me a link to Wikipedia from those words. Here is what it said:
"A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of some fish, whales, dolphins, and porpoises, as well as the (extinct) ichthyosaurs. Its main purpose is to stabilize the animal against rolling and assist in sudden turns. Some animals have developed dorsal fins with protective functions, such as spines or venom. Many catfish can lock the leading ray of the dorsal fin in an extended position to discourage predation or to wedge themselves into a crevice."
<Ah, Wikipedia... yes, this definition is basically sound. Catfish are actually a very much more varied bunch than people often think, and while it is common for them to "lock" their dorsal and pectoral fins in the three-way arrangement of spines, this isn't universal. I don't think many of them wedge themselves into crevices (something Triggerfish are famed for doing) but Catfish certainly do use their erect pectoral and dorsal fin spines to make it difficult for predators to swallow them. Obviously this is a more of an issue for small Cats like Corydoras; the big Cats like Red-tail Catfish are the top predators of their world, and don't have much to fear save Man!>
(My highlight). Adding this to your explanation (which I appreciate thoroughly), I think we get a very complete answer!
<Pretty much!>
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Help! My Dragon Goby just died! & Plecos in gen.  05/02/09
Wow, thank you, Neale!
Such great advice! We will definitely be doing everything you suggested ASAP! Just a few questions, though...
To treat the goby for the fin rot, should we put her in a separate tank for the treatment?
<No real point. Treat the Goby along with all the other fish, unless there's a compelling water chemistry or financial cost to do otherwise. If treating the Goby in its own aquarium, keep the tank basically empty, but
us a PVC tube for a burrow; these Gobies love such homes!>
Also, when we move the Plec to his own tank, should it be freshwater, then?
<Ideally, yes.>
Can you suggest any companions?
<Almost anything. Plecs tend not to get along with other Plecs, but beyond that, they're basically bomb-proof, so work well with all sorts of things. Ideal companions would be medium-sized midwater fish: Rainbowfish, Congo tetras, Bleeding heart tetras, Giant Danios. Plecs also work well with most
cichlids, including Angelfish, Firemouths, Kribs and so on.>
Is the gravel that we have in our current tank ok for him?
<Plain gravel is fine. Plecs do like to dig, but they tend to be messy, so it's just as good to use plain vanilla gravel.>
Are the tropical fish flakes and pellets ok to feed him, or does he need something special as well?
<Regular food is good, but Plecs do enjoy stuff from the kitchen. Bits of carrot, sweet potato, courgette (zucchini) and cucumber all go down well.
Some of these sink, some float, in which case, tie with a rubber band to a rock or something. You can get special "screwcumbers" and other such devices for the purpose too. Once a week, offer something meaty to chew on: a prawn, a small piece of white fish, a clam or mussel on the half-shell.>
What about temperature?
<Most anything should do, but ideally 25 C/77 F.>
Our current tank has two heat lamps. We turn them on during the day and off at night. The tank stays in a temperature range of about 78 degrees F to 82 degrees F.
<A trifle warm, so do check circulation of the water is good, or else you may have oxygen problems at the bottom of the tank. I'd always recommend against heat lamps for warming aquaria, but if you must use them, adjust the time they're on so the tank varies between no lower than 18 C / 64 F at night and no higher than 30 C / 82 F in the daytime.>
Thanks so much for everything! We will definitely check out your book!
Thanks, Monica
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Plecos and Cory Cats 3-24-2009
Hello Crew, hope all of you are doing well!
<Hello! Doing great! Merritt here today.>
I have a couple of questions, please. I have always read that when introducing fish to a tank the least aggressive should be put in first, then the next, etc.
Does it make a difference between a Bristlenose Pleco or Cory cats as to which one to put in first?
<Plecos and Corys are very docile towards each other and other types of fish, so you can introduce both at the same time if you want to.>
Also, how many Bristlenose would you suggest for a 75 gallon tank?
<Considering the mature size of a Bristlenose Pleco, around 5 inches, I would recommend at the most two or three for a 75 gallon tank.>
And lastly, can they eat the same food as Corys if it has vegetable matter in it?
<No, you want the Plecos to eat algae in the form of wafers or pellets, not vegetable matter. Corys do not eat algae they are purely scavengers, thus they should be eating a pellet made with shrimp or some other type of meat. You want your fish on the correct diet or health issues will occur as they age.>
Thanks for your help.
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>

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

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

Moving a Pleco    5/15/07 I came across your web site and found that it is full of great info for the new/inexperienced fish enthusiast. <Good> My question is "Is it possible to physically move cross country) with a Pleco?" <Yes> I started with a 10 gal tank, a few fish and this tiny 1 inch Pleco about 4 years ago.  Since then, my Pleco (Jaws) has moved from 10 gal to 20 gal to his new home of 55 gal.  He is now 12 inches long.   <Neat> The 55 gallon tank is full of fish and Jaws - I am sure he will continue to grow with this new amount of space. <Likely so... a Pterygoplichthys sp.... See the Net... get much larger> My family is in the military and our time at our current location is coming to an end and we will have to move soon.  I just can't imagine giving my Pleco away.  He has his own personality and is like  part of the family.  The remaining fish in the tank, I can give to friends. Is it possible to move my Pleco or best to find him a new home -  I have read he can live for many many years.... Thanks, Julie <Mmm, yes... Well either you can "live haul" your pet with you (bagged, oxygenated and boxed for thermal insulation) for a couple of days... or in an open container, with attention paid to switching out some water, starving the animal a few days before moving... Or consider leaving it behind to be shipped (perhaps by a friendly LFS) once you're resituated, and the system is up and going. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movelvstkfaqs.htm the same principles, techniques apply to freshwater. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Pleco... something  - 02/16/2006 Dear Crew,    One of my Plecos looks like it is losing its color on top of his head.  My other Pleco is fine.  My water levels are perfect.  The spot looks like it is turning white.  It is not little specks of white just a big white blotch on its head.  Can you please tell me what it is and what I should do for it?  All my other fish are just fine.      Thanks   Alexia Galindo <... not with this little information. Please see WWM re Loricariids: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm The files linked at top, re Systems, Disease... Bob Fenner>

More Myths About Livestock Scratching Acrylic Tanks - 11/18/05 I recently bought a 220gal Tenecor tank (72X24X24) with the Simplicity Plus system with the intention of setting up a FOWLR system. I originally wanted to buy a shark, but after reading your site, I realized that this tank is simply too small for one. <<Yes, and shaped wrong too.>> I would like to put a couple of triggers in though, maybe a Blue Throat and a Picasso. <<Cool! I have a Blue Throat in my Tenecor 375.>> The guy at my LFS said that triggers sometimes scrape their teeth along the sides of the tank, and since this is an acrylic tank, I thought I'd better check. I've never read about this behavior, have you? <<Nope...probably falls in to the same category as the stories about the Ctenochaetus genus of tangs scratching acrylic tanks with their teeth...mostly wives tales. >> <<Did you bring this up with your wife?  MH>> I think you need not worry...and believe me when I say...YOU will put far more scratches in the tank than any fish!>> Thanks! Robert in Texas <<Welcome, EricR in South Carolina>> >Mmm, do agree with the hobbyists causing more scratches... but have seen trigger-made scrapes in acrylic... and a Pleco-destroyed one recently. RMF<

125g Plant Tank, Inhabitants, Compatibilities - 10/22/2005 - Sabrina Learns Hawaiian - 10/23/05 Hi, <Aloha! Sabrina with you today, soon to be leaving Hawai'i to head back home....> Thanks for all your help in the past in assisting me with my F/W Planted Discus aquarium. It has been set up now for about three months and has been doing well. I just have a few short questions. First I'll give you the tank specs. * 125 Gallon tank- glass * 1 -Rena XP3 Canister Filter * 1 -48" Coralife Double Bulb Compact Fluorescent Light * 1- 24" All-Glass Double Bulb fluorescent Light * 100-150 Assorted Live Plants * 2- Large Pieces of Driftwood * 3-4" of a Mix of Fluorite and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate * 2- 300 Watt Via Aqua Steel Thermometers * 6- Small/Medium Discus- about 3-4" * 6- Lemon Tetras * 20- Cardinal Tetras * 6- "Golden Wonder" Killies- about 2" * 20- Grass Shrimp * 50 Small Snails- I tried to keep them out of the tank! * 2-Large Common Plecos- 6" * 1- Small Common Pleco * 2-Clown Plecos * 6- Assorted Small Corydoras Cats (Julii, Emerald, Panda) * 6- Dwarf African Frogs * 12- "Oto" Cats * pH- 7 * Nitrate- 20ppm * Nitrite- 0ppm * Ammonia- 0ppm * 30% Water Change every Saturday So, my questions are these: Can I add six German Blue Rams to the mix? <Mm, in all honesty, I would not.> Also, can I add six more Corydoras Cats and two more "Bushy Nose" Plecos? <The Corys, yes, but the plecs I would be a bit concerned about, since you already have several of two species. If you add these, do so with extreme caution and be prepared to remove immediately.> What is the best way to remove a green mat algae- I think it's Cyanobacteria? <Mostly just nutrient control.... In your case, you might want to explore the amount of light, needs of your plants, amount of CO2 and fertilization you use.... I heartily recommend a book called "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by (don't laugh) Peter Hiscock (I love that name, really I do!). You can likely gain a lot from this book. Aside from that, it's a pleasant read.> Thanks, -Anthony <Ahuiho! -Sabrina>

Pleco donation 7/13/05 Hello WWM crew! <Hi there> I am looking for ideas on where to donate a Pleco that is too big. I want to find him (his name is Harley) a good home. I wish I had known when I got him how big he would get. He is about 14" long and we've had him for several years. We have a 50 gallon tank and he is cramped in there with other fish. We don't have enough money to buy anything bigger. Do you have any suggestions of safe homes or places where there would be a mutual benefit? Thank you for any help you have to offer, Rain and Harley <Mmm, you could try a local public aquarium if there is one... Or the local tropical fish society (likely listed on the Net)... maybe place an advert. at your local fish stores, or even ask them for a trade for a couple of smaller Plecostomus. Bob Fenner>
Re: Donated Pleco 7/14/05
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I had not thought of the aquarium. I tried the zoo, but they said they don't take animals that don't have known histories. I appreciate the thoughts - Rain and Harley <Thank you for your concern, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Pleco ID Where can I find out what type of Pleco I have as it does not seem to match any photos on the net? Can I send you a photo?
<The best site for all info covering Plecos is planetcatfish.com. I'd be happy to take a look. Don> Thanks Chetna

The Start of Something Big We have just bought a spotted Plecostomus about 5cms long, the tank was set up in July with three tetra's. Having finally got the green light with the water testing we got the fish that I had been hankering after. There was a fair amount of algae in the tank mainly brown and we have two plants, bogwood and stone. I have put in Algae wafer and live feed. <OK to the wafers, but what "live" food? They will take small worms, but I'd stay away from them. Try zucchini, cucumber, squash, carrots. And a raw shrimp a few times a month. Attach to a rock and feed just before the lights go out. They are much more active at night> Scooby seems to be constipated as there is a long trail of poop hanging down when he is glass sucking. <Well phrased> I do not have a quarantine tank. We are starting small due to space limitations. I read your site and will try the defrosted frozen pea, <A good food> but I am unable to starve him! Any other ideas? <Yep, stop worrying! Plecos are poop machines! Very normal to see what you're seeing. I'm not really sure what species you have. There are a few type of Plecos with "spotted" in their name. And the Common Pleco usually has a spotted pattern. If you have a Common he will be "decorating" your tank more and more as he grows. They get big, over a foot, to eighteen inches! You haven't seen anything yet! Don>         Thank you for your help Sara

A Sick Pleco Hello, I just recently emptied my 29 gallon tank and cleaned it while I was redecorating my bedroom. Two days after I had the tank up and running again, my parent's cleaning lady found my 7+ inch Plecostomus, that I have had for 3 years, laying on the carpet. She put it in a bowl of water, changed the water twice then when I got home about 4 hours later I put the fish back in the tank. Today I noticed what looks like blood dripping off the fins and sore spots on the stomach area. I have read on the internet about Septicemia and Red Pest. I don't know what to do with him (or her). Can you help? < Any time fish are handled the hand or net needs to be wet. Anything dry removes the fishes protective slime that prevents them from bacterial infections. The bouncing around on the carpet sounds like it removed quite a bit of the fish's protective slime. Make sure the water is clean by servicing the filter and do a 30% water change. Treat with Nitrofuranace and use a water conditioner with a protective coating in it to help replace the fishes slime.-Chuck> Jill

Pleco Feeding Basics Hi Don - First of all, I need to let you know that I've tried to go to the forum but get an error every time. <Zo, you reading this? Try again. some features do hang up once in a while> I have also read the FAQ's all over the website but cannot find anything about aquarium salt. <??? talked about all the time> I have, once when I started losing fish and cleaned the tank and did a complete water change, added 2 tablespoons as it says on the box. <OK> I had never heard of this before but was instructed to do so by the fish store. <Good as a rule. Some fish are salt intolerant, catfish among them. But a tbls per gallon is OK.> Also, when I did my 50% partial water change yesterday, I added 1 tablespoon, having not even thought about it between times. <Steady is best in all thing having to do with your water. Once you start you should replace with water changes. Not in top off water. Salt does not evaporate.> I have been doing a 50% water change and daily vacuuming since your email of 10/13. <Wow, better than me> All three fish seem to be doing fine except my Pleco won't eat the zucchini <Strange. I assume you have the Common Pleco. They usually tear it apart. Try a raw shrimp, fed the same way, after we get done with the cycling.> and my local fish store is out of algae wafers! But he must be eating something because he's growing and still with us. He's "shy" but he's always been that way. <normal> I know from other FAQ's that it takes sometimes a month or more for the tank to cycle so I'm patiently changing water and vacuuming; but just today the alkalinity level has dropped from 120 (ideal) to 80 (moderate), and the ph level has risen from 7.2 (neutral) to 7.8 (alkaline).  This was AFTER I did the water change. I have not added any salt today.  Otherwise, the nitrate level has dropped to between 20 and 0 (safe<Yep, it is>); nitrite level is still between 1.0 and 3.0 (stress <leading to death>); and ammonia is .25 (safe<No way!>). My source water readings are: nitrate 0-20; nitrite 0; hardness 150; alkalinity 120; ph 6.8; ammonia .25. Should I add a C-100 water purifier? Says it prevents new tank syndrome and removes ammonia. I obviously have new tank syndrome but ammonia is "safe". <No it's not> Also what about the salt? <I would keep about one tbls per gallon in with the goldfish. Not needed or wanted by the Pleco, but that level will not hurt him> Thanks much for your help and I'll keep trying to get to the forum. <Please> Robin <Robin, you do have new tank syndrome, but not for long. Hang in there. Things will become much easier soon. Be aware, there is no such thing as a safe level of ammonia or nitrite. You have it in you tap because your water is treated with a combination of ammonia and chlorine called Chloramine. Your dechlorinator is breaking the bond between them and removing the chlorine. The only way to remove the ammonia is thru a bio filter. You'll have that when the tank is done cycling.> Don>

Pleco Feeding Hi there, I have both a 5 inch Arowana and a 4 inch Pleco. <Two very big fish as adults. That Arowana will out grow a 500 gallon tank. The Pleco can grow to 18".> As much as possible I make sure that the water in the tank is crystal clear and free from algae and poop. <Great> I change the water every week (25%). <That may be good. Test for nitrate. Adjust the schedule to keep below 20ppm> How will I know that this Pleco/tank cleaner/algae eater fish will survive and have enough food/algae to eat? <He will not unless you target feed him> The water is already clean and free from algae. It has been a three weeks now and the Pleco is still alive <and very hungry I bet> but only positions itself in one corner of the aquarium (sometimes on top, sometimes on the bottom of that same corner). <Normal for a Pleco. Far more active at night.> The only one that I feed with Hikari food sticks and dried krill is the Arowana. <Great! Stay away from feeder fish> I do not know if the Pleco will be fine by itself without me feeding it. <Of course it depends on the size of the tank, but few produce enough to feed a Pleco. Target feed at night by offering assorted vegetables attached to a rock. Zucchini, cucumber, carrots, squash are all good foods. A small cocktail shrimp fed in the same way is also good. Remove any uneaten in the AM. Hikari makes an algae wafer that you can feed as a staple. Always feed at night, in the dark.> Thanks, Antonio <Unless you have a massive tank I would suggest you trade the Arowana for some other fish. Even the Pleco will need 100 gallons in time. The Arowana needs a pond size tank. Don>
Pleco Feeding Basics
Good morning, Don and thanks for answering me so fast.  A stupid question, maybe, <Not!> but I need some clarification re feeding my Pleco: zucchini - I'm assuming you mean steamed and kind of squishy? <I feed mine raw veggies. Many here recommend a light blanching first. Never cook to the point of squishy> Do I chop it up in tiny little pieces, <no> or leave a small piece intact so he can suck away? <Leave it in a chunk that he can chew on. Attach it to a rock to keep it on the bottom. I spear mine on a long thin piece of slate. Rubberbands will work. Do not use metal twist ties. Remove any uneaten in the AM.> Not sure what you mean but with all the problems I'm having with water, etc I want to give these fish every opportunity for survival! Also, since he prefers to feed at night, should I just feed all the fish at night?  <No. Just the catfish> How do I ensure that when I drop in a brine shrimp pellet, my Pleco gets some of it?  <Drop it in just before you go to bed and the tank is in total darkness. The others will sleep while the Pleco feeds.> Also, re the algae tablets, do the other fish eat this as well or is that something that only the Pleco will want? <Your goldfish will nibble at them, maybe gobble them up.> Re the peas for the Pleco, my two goldies gobble it up as soon as it hits the water. How do I ensure the Pleco gets some because there seems to be nothing left of the peas at all. <Feed in the dark. If the goldies still get them, switch to a chunk of zucchini, squash, carrot etc., too big for them to swallow. Go light on this, and all feeding, until we get the tank cycled. If he comes out during the day to take flake or pellets, then I'd hold of target feeding him until that cycle is going.> Sorry if these questions are stupid <Not at all> but please remember, I'm a complete novice!  Thanks very much - Robin <Robin, have you joined us in the forum yet? Please do. There you will find many people, and get many opinions, on every aspect of the hobby. You can learn a lot from just reading the old posts. Hope to see you there. I'm "Fish Soup" in the forum. Don>    

Plecos won't suck for long Can you give me any idea as to why our Plecos keep dying?  I did research your web site and cannot seem to find anything other than an article suggesting that we tear the tank apart, remove the gravel and start over again.   We have only one large goldfish in a 20 gallon tank and every time we add a new Pleco, it lives for about 5-6 days and then I find it dead!  Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your assistance, Sherry < There are hundreds of species of Plecos available today. Go to planetcatfish.com and you will see many types of pleco's with tips on there feeding requirements as well as other info. In general when buying pleco's look for ones that have full bellies so take a good look under them and make sure that they have not been starved. Unfortunately most pleco's are wild caught and are held in facilities for a long time until they catch enough to ship. So what you will find is that some look fine while other are starved and have no food reserves. Pleco's come from tropical South America so you may be keeping them too cold with your goldfish. Stone lapping sharks from the genus Garra are better in goldfish tanks that pleco's. When you get a new Pleco I always feed then some black worms at first to get some much needed protein in them. After that I give them occasional algae wafers or a rock from another tank that needs to be cleaned. Fish need vitamin C especially Plecos. Sometimes I give my pleco's some Guinea pig pellets. Guinea pigs like humans cannot make there own vitamin C and need to get it from their food. These pellets are nutritious alfalfa pellets enriched with vitamin C. They really seem to love them too. -Chuck>

Zebra Pleco purchase I am trying to buy a tank bred juvenile zebra Pleco for my home tank in Hawaii.  I am not adverse to buying from Europe but wonder if there is a closer source so that the fish has a greater chance of surviving the shipping process.  Can you be of any help? < There are a few breeders in the US breeding zebra Plecos but they are very expensive and slow growing. Check Aquabid and be prepared to pay because these fish don't come cheap. BTW they don't eat algae. They are actually shrimp feeders. To get some info on the new Plecos check out planetcatfish.com. -Chuck> Loralyn Cramer

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

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

Plecos and Acrylic Aquariums <Hi, MikeD here> I just finished building several acrylic tanks to house and breed (hopefully) a few species of Plecos (L169, L114, L271, and L081).  Today, while reading an article on Planet Catfish, it read that zebra Plecos will scratch acrylic tanks up so bad you can't see through them.  Have you ever had a place scratch an acrylic tank or heard from a reputable source that they do?<Yes. Plecostomus catfish all have teeth set up in various arrangements around their mouth in the center of the sucking lips. They use these teeth to scrape plant matter from the rocks and substrate, but have even been seen scavenging on dead fish, where they busily rasp away at the flesh for a meat dinner.  In most cases, it takes a considerable amount of time for the damage to show on the acrylic unless you have very large specimens.>  I was hoping to getting them in their new homes as soon as possible, but I don't want to have them destroy all my hard work. <That's a definite possibility here, even a probability with larger animals.>  Thanks for you time.<Sorry I couldn't give you a better answer.> - Jason Seymour

Suckermouth Catfish young! hi bob, today a bigger clean up for my fish tank was due. I noticed for a while the Bristlenose catfish male sitting in the terracotta pot underneath the filter. I have a submerged pump with filter. because he was too long and always sticking out with head or tail I thought I give him the pot with the big hole in the bottom so he could fit better in. I took the pot out and noticed something falling out. I first believed it to be old rotten leaves but when they were wiggling around I already lost some. I put the pot with the remaining larvae ( about a dozen) in a small tank on the kitchen bench top where I usually raise brine shrimp. lucky that it was just cleaned and refilled with water. now there is the bigger pot under the filter and the male is still guarding it. I feel sorry for him that I pinched his fry. I will probably leave him the next batch of fry and see how they are going in the tank, especially after he stops guarding the nest. now they are sitting in the pot and got a sponge filter and some potted java ferns with them. I didn't expect such a thing to happen because the temperature is going down. currently 20 degrees c. I noticed the bitterling male displaying to his favourite girl. she doesn't look pregnant to me but one can try anyway. back to the Bristlenose fry. they must have hatched just before I found them. now after about 36 hours there is still one egg. will it hatch or do I have to remove it that it doesn't go off and foul the water? < The one remaining egg is probably infertile and will fungus up but should not be too big a problem.> I find the egg quite huge compared to the rosy barb and goldfish eggs we were breeding years ago. the fry looks big too, with their big egg yolks. they were orange yesterday but they start to get darker now. I called "my" pet shop yesterday and he said I have to put some driftwood in otherwise I wouldn't have much success with raising the fry. so I went into the garden and picked some bigger pieces of timber from my mulch ( I don't use pesticide) and boiled them for a couple of hours. later on when they are free swimming I will feed them brine shrimp, vinegar eels and small pellets. do you have any suggestions? I would appreciate them. < Baby Bristlenose Plecos should be feed algae. Put in any plastic plant or rock covered in algae for them to feed on. Algae wafers can be used to except that the fry soon become imprinted on a food source and can be hard to get them to switch over. I know some people that have bred them and can't get the fry to eat algae at all. Some Plecos species require some wood in their diet. I don't think this species requires it but it can't hurt to have it in there either.-Chuck> Silvia

Sick Whiptail Hello, First I'd like to thank you for the advice you've already provided on this topic, unfortunately I haven't been successful in treating my catfish and I'm hoping you can shed some more light on the problem.  Here are the specs on the tank and its maintenance:  I have a 45 gallon freshwater aquarium that houses 5 calico platies (2 male, 3 female), 1 female pineapple swordtail, 2 'skunk' Corydoras catfish, 3 Oto catfish, 3 Serpae tetras, and 1 magnificent 6" female whiptail catfish (She's an import; Loricaria sp. 'Columbia').   The tank is planted with many plastic plants, with a medium sized piece of driftwood, and two pieces of bogwood. I use an Aquaclear 200 power filter (with 2 bio sponges; never changed, only rinsed, carbon; changed every two weeks, and floss; changed weekly), a Penguin 170 Bio-Wheel filter, a UGF (bubbles, not powerhead) and a smallish Fluval power filter with an Aquaclear sponge instead of the regular insert. The tank is cleaned with a diatom filter every two weeks (to 'polish' the water and reduce the population of parasites). I do a 20% water change every week. The pH is a very steady 7.3 and has 0 ammonia and nitrites, nitrates are <20ppm (the lowest level measurable with the kit I have). The temperature is a steady 80F.The whiptail has been growing steadily fatter for about two months. At first I thought she (I'm pretty sure she's a female, no whiskers / bristles on her cheeks or pectoral fins) was egg-bound. After I wrote you my first email you (thank goodness!) let me know she was more likely sick-either with parasites or constipated with bacteria bloating her up.  Our Oto cats have also become bloated, but don't seem constipated; they're pooping. I do not see typical 'Pleco poop' from the whiptail, but never really have since buying her; there is always some waste in the gravel, it's tough to tell if a particular fish is pooping unless I actually see them in the act.  I medicated the tank (we don't have a qt tank but believe me we're getting one as soon as we can) with 1 tsp Epsom salts / 5 gallons, and 'General Cure' (Each capsule contains 125 mg Metronidazole, 13 mg Copper Sulfate and 8 mg Trichlorofon and treats 10 gallons of water) because it was the ONLY medication I could find at any of the 9 stores I visited that contained Metro, which is what you suggested I medicate her with. I medicated the tank for the recommended 3 doses, and noticed no improvement.  I visited a specialty aquarium store (Big Al's) and asked their resident disease guru about my catfish's condition. He suggested that since she's a wild import she would certainly be infested with intestinal parasites /worms, and suggested a course of 'Disco-Worm' (a metal based medication; I don't know how this works, but they told me it would). I cleaned the aquarium, filtered through carbon, and then began a course of Disco-Worm.  Again, there was no improvement.  I am now trying the General Cure again, with 50% water changes between treatments (every 48 hours), vacuuming the gravel thoroughly each time.  Today I applied the third dose of this medication (the package says this is a full course of medication) and there is no improvement. In fact, she's actually larger.  The whiptail is active, eats well (I initially fasted her for 4 days, since then have fed her only Spirulina pellets (Hikari) and the occasional thawed frozen pea) and her colour is normal. She does not look like a fish with dropsy. For two days now she has been more active in the daytime than usual, swimming around and landing on the plants resting head down. She looks uncomfortable; I can understand if she doesn't want to rest on her bloated belly, it looks about to burst. My questions are:  Have you any idea what could be wrong?  Should I continue with the Epsom salts?  Should I discontinue the General Cure or continue? The package says "treatment may be repeated if necessary" but one of our Serpae tetras recently died (with no signs of disease / stress) and now the other three look unhappy; they're listless and not eating eagerly, a little pale. I assume this is because the treatment is very hard on them and / or they are experiencing the same illness that the catfish are.  I appreciate your input more than you can know. I have asked staff at aquarium stores, searched high and low for info on the internet, and I've come up with almost nothing. I have Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases, but I can't seem to find anything within that quite meets the criteria of what's happening to my girl. I absolutely adore my fish, and will do anything within my means to make them feel better. I look forward to hearing from you, Amy <<Amy, sorry for taking so long to get to this email. My apologies. Is she still doing the same things? Bloated? Your best bet is to double check your water values, bring a sample to Big Al's and have them test it, then compare their test results to yours. Easy enough. While you are there, buy a ten gallon (or 15g) tank for a hospital. One thing you must realize is that many times the infections our fish have need a great deal of time in order to cure them. I have treated some fish for up to a month in order to rid them of their problems. Please do not give up. Metronidazole is not a strong medication, and the levels in these prepared medications could be way too low to help in your fishes advanced situation. Metro can also possibly affect your biofiltration, it depends on how well established your bacteria colonies are. Old, well established tanks suffer much less. Always treat fish in hospital tanks if possible, I know you already are trying to do this. Please do :) Make sure to test your hospital tank as often as possible for ammonia and nitrites. I would switch to a stronger dose of Metronidazole. Levamisole and Piperazine will also help kill internal parasites. However, the problem could be an internal bacterial infection that has already damaged internal organs due to pressure inside the body cavity. Feeding with metro is your best bet. You must feed and treat for a few more weeks, I'm afraid. Crush a half tablet of Metronidazole into a couple teaspoons of tank water, add food, let it absorb the medication, then feed to the fish. A long shot, as it's hard to say what the fish is actually eating, and I hope the fish survives this lengthy treatment. As I mentioned, the situation is advanced, so there is no guarantee, it is possible you started to notice when the fish was already beyond hope. This is often the case with internal problems. Please update me on your fishes status ASAP. Again, I apologize for the delay in responding. -Gwen>>
Re: sick whiptail - Follow-up
Hi Gwen, Just a quick note to say thanks, I'll leave her where she is, feed her peas once a week, and give her Metro-soaked algae wafers each day for a few weeks (or longer) until she feels better.  Her tank is planted with _plastic_ plants, should have said that! It has a light; I was curious about hospital tanks needing a light in case I needed to go out and purchase a special hospital tank (and, therefore, possibly a new fluorescent fixture) for her.  I'm so thankful you guys are out there watching out for us amateurs!  I'll keep you updated on her progress :)  Amy <<Amy, you are most welcome, and good luck! And do keep us posted :) -Gwen>>
Sick Whiptail Catfish-Update
Hi Gwen, Thank you so much for your help! A few days ago I moved the whiptail into our 10g (established - both tanks have been up and running for years). It usually houses a Betta and two Otos, which I've moved into the 45g community tank. All the water parameters are steady (no ammonia or nitrates, nitrates below 30ppm, and are identical for both tanks, including temperature (80F) and pH (7.3).  I will double check this by taking a sample to the store when I go to buy *fingers crossed* the Metro.  I hope using this tank is okay, it has plants, wood, gravel, algae, an established bio filter... not exactly a hospital tank. If getting her a bare, 'sterile' tank is better, I will try my best to come up with the funds to purchase another tank, a heater and a sponge filter (I have a Fluval 2 with sponge media inside, would that work?). Does a hospital tank require lighting? (Our bedroom has large windows and gets a fair amount of natural light, would this be sufficient for her during her stay in the hospital?)  For the last two days I have fed her only thawed, shelled frozen peas (1 each night). I have added 1 tsp Epsom salts/5g to the water (she has been in Epsom salted water now for quite some time, hope that won't cause problems). We have had a bit of a breakthrough since moving her: SHE'S POOPING! Sorry to shout, I never thought a fish pooping would make me happy *grin* but it does. I have a feeling she hasn't pooped in ages (hard to tell, but never found any 6" fish sized poop in the big community tank), it's good to see something finally happening.  What is coming out looks pretty abnormal to me, LONG (up to 3") stringy clear things that catch on the plants and wave in the current like fine hairs, some rice-sized bright green/white pods, and some semi normal 1/2 inch long bumpy (not long smooth ropes like Pleco poop) brown poos (all alternating; this morning she's back to the white stringy stuff).  Sorry to be graphic, but I know that you can tell a lot of things by looking at a fish's waste.   Should I use antibiotics as well as the Metro? I never considered that she might have a bacterial infection. I have some Kanacyn, this is what the LFS suggested once when I thought my fish had fin rot (turns out they were just being nipped by the serapes), is this a good medicine to use when you're not sure what kind of infection you're trying to tackle?  Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Don't worry, I'm not ready to give up, I adore this prehistoric looking fishy of mine.   Thanks again for your help, Amy P.S. I've been trying to send pictures, but the messages are returned as 'undeliverable' without explanation. The files are digital camera pix, VERY small (~15 Kb), JPGs. Just wondering if maybe you're not accepting mail with attachments right now? <<Dear Amy; Congratulations on the POOP! LOL, also, the ten gallon she is in sounds fine. The reason hospital tanks are usually kept more "sterile" is because treating with medications can be hard on fish, plants and biological bacteria. Plus, you don't want the added trouble of siphoning dirty gravel when half the battle is in keeping water parameters perfect...At any rate, the treatment you are using now will not harm your plants, and since you seem to take care of your water quality, the gravel shouldn't be a problem either. Light doesn't matter, except that you have live plants? Keep the lights on only long enough to ensure the plants don't suffer. Probably this tank will help her heal faster, given she has places to hide and therefore will be less stressed. Adding Metronidazole to her food will not affect biofiltration, since you are only adding the treated food. Adding metro directly to tank water should not affect anything, since your biofiltration is well established. Metro IS an antibiotic, so you should test the ammonia etc anyways, but I don't foresee any trouble in that area. Just make sure she ONLY gets medicated food, no other foods from now on because she must eat the treated food. You may give her the peas once a week for now, it will help keep her intestinal tract clear. You can go back to her regular diet after the treatment ends. The white, stringy feces is a sure sign of internal infection, therefore the medication must be taken internally. As I mentioned, this will take some time, do not stop treating her even if her feces return to normal in a few days. Keep going for a couple of weeks. I once fed a pricey Asian Arowana some metro-treated food for three entire weeks before his eye infection went away...:P Kanacyn, by the way, may harm your biofiltration, again, be careful using it. I doubt you need it at this time. It is an excellent antibiotic, though. -Gwen>> 
Re: Sick Whiptail-Update
*smile* Hi Gwen, Im happy to report that my girl looks like shes getting better!  Ive been feeding her Metro-soaked Hikari algae wafers and also medicating the tank water with Metro.  I do daily 50% water changes, vacuuming the gravel well (not touching the filter media in the outside power filter though) and Ive been using Cycle to support the filter bacteria since Im stirring up the UGF every day. Im also still using Epsom salts, replacing after each water change. She still looks quite bloated, but nothing like she did a few days ago; she could have balanced on her belly and had her chin and tail off the gravel at one point, now she just looks pudgy. Shes also more active today than shes been in ages; a couple days ago she wouldnt even move for the siphon, today she jumped out of the way and then stared that Python down until I was done cleaning under the driftwood, at which point she immediately swam back over to her favourite resting spot and glared at the siphon while I cleaned the rest of the tank.  Her poops look more normal every time I see one (and shes going every day, yay!), but yesterday she had another bout of the white stringies. I saw what looked like very tiny white dots in the cloud of white uh excreta about ¼ Ich sized. I wondered, could these be the parasites? Are they visible to the naked eye? Ill continue to keep you posted, Amy <<Hey Amy, that sounds great! You are doing a wonderful job :) My only concern is the UGF, when it is disturbed a lot of nasty build-up can be released into the water. Perhaps you might want to run some good quality carbon for a few hours in between medicating just to add to the safety margin, and keep doing those water changes :P Carbon removes meds, so I normally would not suggest it, but I am unsure about what might be lingering after the UGF cleanup....The white dots in her poop could be anything, but yes, parasites are possible, most likely small worms. A good microscope might help you see them easily. Doesn't matter if you don't actually manage to figure out what they are, the Metronidazole should clear them up. Keep up the good work! I can't recall offhand how long the treatment has been going on at this point, but a few weeks is not too long, so keep treating her until the poop becomes normal. Even three weeks, if necessary. Keep us posted! :) -Gwen>> 

Peppermint Pleco hi let me first say what a very informative site. I've recently purchased a peppermint Pleco L30 which I understand will become an L31 when it matures and have tried to find some information as I do with all my fish as I like to understand there needs as best I can and have spent hours trawling the internet and all I can find is pictures which as I'm sitting looking at my Pleco as I write isn't much use to me. could you please help or tell me where I can find what I'm looking for < Planetcatfish.com will have everything you need.-Chuck> thank you for your help Darrell

Egg bound Whiptail Catfish? Hello, I've been reading your site for some time now, it is absolutely amazing! I have a 45 gallon freshwater aquarium that houses 5 calico platies (2 male, 3 female), 1 female pineapple swordtail, 2 'skunk' Corydoras catfish, 3 Oto catfish, 4 Serpae tetras, 1 nickel-sized blushing angelfish and 1 magnificent 6" female whiptail catfish (I've been trying to find out exactly what kind, I'm reasonably sure she's a 'Loricariid parva'). Tank and water specs: The tank is planted with many plastic plants, with a medium sized piece of driftwood in the centre. I use an Aquaclear 200 power filter (with 2 bio sponges; never changed, only rinsed, carbon; changed every two weeks, and floss; changed weekly), a Penguin 170 Bio-Wheel filter, a UGF (bubbles, not powerhead) and a smallish Fluval internal filter with an Aquaclear sponge instead of the regular insert.  The tank is cleaned with a diatom filter every two weeks (to 'polish' the water and reduce the population of parasites like Ich). I do a 20% water change every week.  The pH is a very steady 7.3 (a little high, but I don't want to alter it with chemicals and none of our fish have objected so far) and has 0 ammonia and nitrites, nitrates are <20ppm.  The temperature is a steady 80F. I feed a varied diet of veggie and regular flakes, bottom feeder algae and regular pellets, freeze-dried krill and occasional freeze-dried Tubifex and bloodworms. And now that you know all that, here's my question: Our whiptail seems very healthy, has a voracious appetite for almost everything I put in front of her (although I've never seen her eat in a traditional 'Pleco' way from the glass or on the driftwood, she just puts entire pellets into her mouth and 'gums' them until they're gone), but has been growing fatter and fatter over the last four weeks.  At first I thought she was just settling in, growing up and filling out, but now I'm worried she may be egg bound. I have been looking high and low at all our local (and not-so-local) fish stores for a male of the same species, without success.   Is there anything I should do, or can do, to encourage her to let go of her eggs? Her poor belly is very distended; she looks horribly uncomfortable, and a little bit like she's going to explode! < Unfortunately I don't think she is egg bound. Females are typically wider that males and have fewer whiskers around the head. You little whiptail probably has eaten some left over rotting food and now has a case of bloat/dropsy. In the wild they eat mostly algae. They have a very long intestinal track and the fiber in the plant matter takes a long time to digest. When they are fed lots of animal protein, then it is quickly utilized in the gut but still has a long way to go before it gets excreted. This indigestible material starts to be broken down by the bacteria in the gut. As the bacteria eat this matter then they multiply and grow and give off gas. As the fish continues to eat, then the bacteria continue to grow and blocks off the intestine. Your fish is in real trouble. Isolate the fish in a quarantine tank. Treat with 250 mg of Metronidazole per 10 gallons of water. Treat every other day and do a 30% water change too. A good sign would be to see some long stringy fecal matter. Do not feed until the swelling has been reduced. In the wild these fish do not get this much animal protein and really can't handle a constant diet of it.-Chuck> Thank you for any insight you can provide, Amy

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

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

Baby Plecs! Great article on the WWM site regarding these little workhorses... <Sabrina here, this evening - sorry for any delay.> had I known the information on them that you presented with regard to their breeding it would have made more sense for me to purchase only one of these little guys.   <Indeed, I do normally recommend one Plec per tank in most cases, but due to territoriality, size, etc....  Definitely breedable, though, given proper circumstances, proper genders, and a large enough space.  I do believe these fellahs are bred in huge quantities, both in the US and abroad, for the aquarium trade.  A very fun fish.> My two Plecos spent the summer in a tiny 90 gallon outdoor pond and came indoors for the winter, where they apparently decided to plan a future together.   <New tank, new digs, new water, a bit of Barry White, and presto!  Breeding season!> The 12 or so fry seem to be tolerating their new environment, and their hungry Shubunkin tankmates have been moved to larger quarters which should make the water quality easier to keep stable.  According to everything that I have read, I have inadvertently treated these little guys to horrible conditions (too much light, too large a temperature swing, not enough plants, undesirable water conditions, etc) and yet they still  reproduced... <These really are pretty durable fish!  Could be, though, that stress induced them to spawn - the "our world's coming to an end, let's reproduce!" idea, but I would think it more likely that the big change from the pond to the tank simulated their rainy season and triggered reproductive behaviour.> what is the average life span and average frequency of reproduction for my pair?   <Lifespan?  Well, that's not an easy question, ever - but I would think it likely that these fish will live upwards of ten, fifteen, perhaps twenty years, even.  As for frequency of reproduction....  I think it's more a matter of stimulating them by "faking" their rainy season, with a huge influx of new water, perhaps incorporating a bit of a drop in pH and temperature.> Thank you so much in advance for your response.  Sincerely, Carol Thrush <Any time, Carol.  So glad to hear you're enjoying WWM.  Please also take a look at PlanetCatfish if you haven't - http://www.planetcatfish.com/ - for more information, perhaps even specifics on breeding, etc., and good luck with your new little charges!!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

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