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FAQs on Foods/Feeding/Nutrition of Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats

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, Loricariids 2, 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 Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction
Algae Eaters

Most Loricariids are principally nocturnal... or at least reclusive, out of the light...

Common Plec; an oldie but a goodie       2/7/19
Hi, we have a common Plec who has reached the grand age of 20 with us.
He is now on his 4th tank which is a big 6 foot tank. We had a few problems when we set this tank up but all seems to be fine now but was wondering how old common Plecs live to in general.
<Yours is a good ripe age. Have heard, read of some living to be "in their twenties".>
We love our boy (maybe a girl, unsure to be honest) and want to ensure we give him the best. Are there any food suggestions for his older age or stuff we should be doing. Thanks Debbie
<Sinking veggie wafers are always a hit, as are boiled and cooled zucchini and other soft squashes. Bob Fenner>

Common Ancistrus losing interest in food    11/17/17
Hello crew,
<Hello Jacob, and apologies for being slow to reply.>
I’m writing about my ~2.5 year old female Bristlenose Pleco. I purchased her when she was a juvenile, around 2 inches long if memory serves. She’s now about 4” - 4.25” total length. Here’s some background info about her and her tank(mates):
She has been in the same 29 gallon tank since I bought her and until a few months ago, had shared this tank with 2 German Blue Rams, 8 Rummynose tetras, 5 common Otos, and about 10 Corydoras habrosus. This wasn’t a perfect grouping of species in retrospect and I had to kind of square the circle in terms of temperature by keeping it at about 78-79 F, which is obviously on the high end for Ancistrus, at or above the maximum for the C. habrosus, and at or below the minimum for the GBRs. A few months ago, the male GBR died after a fairly long, slow deterioration during which he spent most of his time in quarantine. About a month after that, the female GBR died rather quickly (from the time she began showing signs of illness). Her death coincided with several of the C. habrosus dying as well, in my estimation 5 of them dying over the course of a month (I had lost 2 others over the years). That left the Rummynoses, the Otos, the Ancistrus, and 3 C. habrosus. I dropped the temp to 75 F and while the die-off was occurring the tank was treated with Praziquantel because the GBR and one of the C. habrosus looked emaciated and I knew the scaleless fish shouldn’t have any particular sensitivity to it. All of these fish were purchased at about the same time and so were a little over 2 years old.
<The tank sounds fine, though German Blue Rams do need more warmth than your Corydoras and Ancistrus, so weren't likely to thrive in this tank. Both like soft water, of course, but for the Rams it's essential, whereas Corydoras and Ancistrus can do perfectly well in even quite hard water. Some species of Corydoras and Ancistrus might be a little picky, especially for breeding, but your standard issue farmed varieties will handle anything up to pH 8, 20 degrees dH.>
Now after having a couple months pass with no further deaths or other problems, I’ve started the process of rebooting the tank. This involved cleaning things up in case this long-running tank had some stuff going on in the substrate, so I completely replaced the Eco-Complete topped with sand with just black sand.
<Do check the sand is smooth, not sharp. Sharp sand can/will abrade the stomachs and whiskers of catfish, making them more prone to bacterial infections. You will spot reddish patches on the stomach, and shorter than normal whiskers, when this happens.>
The tank was and is planted and has a large amount of driftwood, which is often where you would find the Ancistrus. Typical pH is 6.5, gH is 6 degrees out of the tap and usually 3-4 in the tank. I do 50% water changes every 7-10 days. Filtration is an AquaClear 70 (no carbon used, just sponge and extra biomedia) and a small sponge filter that is mostly just an insurance policy in case something happens to the main filter.
<All sounds fine. Do check your carbonate hardness though, and if it's very low (less than 3 degrees KH) I'd be using Discus Buffer or similar to keep the pH steady between water changes.>
Here’s the problem: This Ancistrus loved vegetables. I usually rotate between zucchini and broccoli stems, usually blanched but sometimes just cleaned and put into the tank. More often than not, by the time I had closed the lid she would be on the vegetable already. But this hasn’t been the case for the past few weeks to a month. She has been far more reclusive and I have seen her several times do something unusual that I’d only seen once or twice before: lying on her back on the substrate, not suctioned to anything (but usually underneath driftwood that she would suction onto if startled). And when I put veggies in the tank, she ignores them.
<Odd. It might be the change in the tank that's spooked her. Loricariids are very sensitive to changes. My Panaque is quite bold and will happily come out during the day to feed -- if she's left alone. If I rearrange the rocks or temporarily move her into a bucket for some reason, she will become very shy for weeks at a time. Provided the Loricariid catfish is otherwise normal -- e.g., fins are whole, no red marks, and the belly and eyes are not sunken -- there's nothing much to worry about. Just allow some time for said catfish to settle back in.>
I haven’t seen her get near them and I strongly doubt she eats them overnight since usually she leaves very visible bite marks, especially on the skin of zucchini. I know there’s nothing wrong with the veggies because the Otos still eat them relentlessly. I do put other foods into the tank for her on occasion, a commercial algae wafer (one low on protein and with minimal meat ingredients) and Spirulina flakes from Ken’s Fish. I think I’ve seen her show interest in these, but she was never as enthusiastic about chasing those prepared foods even in the best of times. There’s not nearly enough algae in this tank to sustain her. And yet, surely she cannot go so long without eating, so she’s eating something. I know Ancistrus may eat some driftwood, but I always assumed this was more “roughage” than nutrition. Her stomach against the glass looks as full as ever. I’ve attached a few photos, though I couldn’t get one with her on the glass), to show that she seems as robust and healthy as ever from the outside.
<I agree, she looks fine. Have you tried some meaty fare? Ancistrus are aufwuchs feeders, consuming green algae AND the small invertebrates found therein, such as insect larvae and tiny crustaceans. Alternatively, a prawn or mussel will often be nibbled on happily.>
I’ve speculated that perhaps the reduced stocking levels over time made her more anxious, that the GBRs and larger group of C. habrosus had acted as dithers. It’s certainly true that the Rummynoses were more confident with the GBRs around. I now have a group of juvenile C. habrosus in quarantine to bring up the numbers.
<Understood, but I think Corydoras habrosus are too small and too nervous to fulfill this role. You really want something bold and active; Pristella maxillaris is a useful default tetra for most systems, being hardy, adaptable, bold and attractive.>
I also just added a pair of Laetacara curviceps (well that’s what they’re sold as, I think they are in fact L. dorsigera) since I wanted another dwarf cichlid for this tank, these seem more appropriate for the conditions the other fish prefer, and I hope it may help the dynamics in the tank.
<Laetacara are lovely, but shy; they're also a bit prone to Hexamita infections, so keep an eye out for that and medicate accordingly.>
They haven’t been around long enough for me to draw any hard conclusions, though the Ancistrus has been out and about some more and the Rummynoses are exploring more of the tank. Still, though, she pays no mind to the vegetables.
<Maybe try something new?>
At this point, I don’t think it’s an emergency problem, but I’m at a loss for how she’s getting her nutrition and don’t want to be overlooking some obvious thing I should be doing to help her out. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for what I should do going forward?
<For now, I'd wait and see. I'd look at her belly to see if it's sunken -- if not, she's eating something!>
Thanks for all the help you folks provide,
<Most welcome. Neale.>


Re: Common Ancistrus losing interest in food      11/21/17
Hello Neale,
<Hello Jacob,>
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I’ve been monitoring the Pleco and while she still hasn’t been her old, bold self, I was just going to let things run their course since she still pretty much looked well. I nearly sent a follow-up the other day when it appeared she had some bloating/enlargement near the cloaca, but it seemed to pass after about a day so I didn’t bother. She has shown some mild interest in New Life Spectrum community flakes, though I can’t say I’ve definitively seen her consume any. I haven’t witnessed her eating in a way that was obvious to me. She ignored the latest bit of broccoli in the tank (still beloved by Otos) and wasn’t a fan of the blanched kale I tried (though it drew mild interest from the Otos).
But I’m replying because things seem to have taken a bad turn.
<I agree.>
This morning she relocated to the front of the tank and is very pale and *very* bloated.
<Yes; I would be treating with Epsom salt, 2 gram/litre; in addition, if practical, use Metronidazole, as instructed on the packaging. The Epsom salt will help with bloating, constipation, even egg binding; also helps with incipient dropsy; the Metronidazole is good for a range of intestinal microbial parasites, not just Hexamita. The two together, often done alongside a Furan-type antibiotic, are very useful and widely used for this sort of thing. Epsom salt is obviously very cheap and available everywhere, the Metronidazole will require some effort to obtain outside of the US.>
She’s now laying halfway on her back right out in the open and hasn’t moved for some time. It may not be obvious from the attached photo, but she is not attached to the glass. I also don’t think the picture quite does the extremity of the bloating justice. She’s never looked anything like this. It’s hard to see from the photo, but it almost looks like she has an ovipositor hanging out, something I noticed the other day as well. This maybe is an illusion and is actually something else (and she’s never been around a male) but I wonder if she could be egg-bound?
<It is possible, but rare in fish.>
Anyway, I’m not sure of the best course of action. I’m not sure if I should, say, add Epsom salt to the tank. I could put her in an isolation tank and do the same or another treatment, but I don’t want to stress her to death either. Of course, at this point, lying on her back in the open is probably pretty darn stressful too.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding a Bushynose Pleco while away        9/28/17
We are going away for about a week to ten days and are using a battery powered feeder. I usually give the Pleco one of those circular crisp things every second night. I was wondering if it is possible to crush up the Pleco
food and put it in the feeder so the Pleco gets his food or can a Pleco just have what the angelfish have per day. Thank you
<Likely the food for the Angel will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Ancistrus ranunculus   /RMF   7/6/17
<Hey Judy>
I have a black Medusa Pleco or Ancistrus ranunculus. It turns out they are partially into meat eating besides the algae, does anyone know the best way to feed him/her so that the Pleco can get both? Thank you
<Mmm; will ask Neale to respond separately (he's likely working/teaching in the UK (I'm in California) at this time. Not being a fan of live bloodworms, I am a promoter of pellets made of same, as well as earthworms.
Some folks report that brine shrimp are readily taken, and even Ghost Shrimp (live) are attacked by such animals. Whatever format you use, it needs to get down to the bottom where the cats are. Bob Fenner>
Feeding Ancistrus ranunculus   /Neale      7/7/17

<Hi Judy,>
I have a black Medusa Pleco or Ancistrus ranunculus.
<A very nice catfish! Good choice.>
It turns out they are partially into meat eating besides the algae, does anyone know the best way to feed him/her so that the Pleco can get both?
Thank you
<Good quality algae wafers, such as those from Hikari, will be 100% fine as staple foods. If you check the ingredients, you'll see these contain fish and/or shrimp meal, alongside Spirulina and vegetable foods. By all means add occasional offerings of standard catfish pellets (like you'd feed Corydoras) at night, perhaps 1-2 times per week. Between the two, these will be a good all-around diet, alongside treats of frozen bloodworms, slivers of white fish fillet, crushed shrimps, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Worried about my new Pleco       5/3/15
Hi I have just started a tropical tank I set it up and took a bucket of dirty water from my friends goldfish tank when she cleaned it out and poured it into my tank to start the cycle off after a few hours it was crystal clear I added a few plants and then yesterday bought a few starter fish ten barbs 5 tigers and 5 leopard also I bought a couple of albino long fin Bristle nose Pleco's they are only babies but I have just noticed that one of them has a red lump on his belly I have sent some pictures for you to look at .
Sent from my iPad
Please advice
<He's starving. You're seeing the blood around/inside his internal organs. Hmm... how to be clear? Plecs, including Bristlenose Plecs, aren't scavengers. Even algae is a small part of their diet. These very young specimens slip from starved to dead within a week or two. Run to your fridge and find some fresh vegetables he can eat immediately. Cucumber is popular but contains little nutrition. Courgette (sometimes called Zucchini) is better. Serve both raw. Canned or cooked peas are usually taken as well. But in a starvation situation, something energy-rich is important too. A small piece of prawn or mussel will work nicely (though these are Thiaminase-rich, so shouldn't be used too often, once a week maybe). Most of all, buy some "algae wafers" such as those from Hikari or Tetra. These make excellent staples for Plecs of all types. Specimens under 5 cm will get by on half a wafer every couple of days; above that, a whole wafer ever day for specimens 5-10 cm long; above that, pro rata, to maybe 2-3 wafers for an adult Plec alongside the usual fresh vegetables and meaty treats you're offering. Feel free to give more if your specimen looks hollow bellied, but don't overfeed. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Worried about my new Pleco         5/6/15
Thank you so much I have been putting Algi wafers in only half a wafer but I have crushed it up
<I would not do this. Tiny crumbs will not get eaten and simply pollute the water. Instead, snap the wafer into as many pieces as you have Plecs, so if you have two Plecs, then snap into two pieces. Plecs can graze the piece as it softens up, which will be the right way for them to feed with minimal waste. Other fish can't feed so easily this way, so they'll be less likely to steal food from the Plecs as well.>
also I have put in a little bit of cucumber, I will buy some zucchini for them I have two about an inch each they are so cute I don't want to lose them, I noticed their poo was very pale that is why I crushed the wafer and spread it about a bit so they could find it . Thanks again for your reply
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Worried about my new Pleco        5/9/15
Hi thanks for all your help he is looking much better here is a photo of him
<Definite improvement! He should be fine now. Good luck, Neale.>

Twig Catfish Not Eating     4/22/13
Hi, I bought a twig catfish 3 days ago and so far doesn't seem to be eating. Last night I blanched a piece of cucumber and put it in the tank and he didn't even go near it. Any suggestions on getting him to eat?
<Mmm, what re your water chemistry/quality? Water should be tropical, acidic, soft/er...
Try the purposeful algae wafers? Bob Fenner>

Pleco diet - 5/9/2012
I need to know how much to feed our new sucker mouth/Pleco. Its about 1.5 inches now. Its our only algae eater and the nitrates shot up. I supplement with algae wafers. I break off a small amt., but it may still be too much. Thanks, Cindy
>WWM: A single algae wafer will be fine for catfish around 3-4 inches long. Offer more to bigger fish, and less to smaller ones. You only need to offer these 3-4 times per week: they are very rich! You can supplement these with sliced cucumber and courgette (zucchini) which Plecs love. Some Plecs enjoy cooked/canned peas, cooked spinach, raw carrot, raw sweet potato, and even melon rind. Try these out and see what your chap enjoys. They also uproot plants (eating them or not as the case may be). Add some bogwood, which they'll graze on and it seems to help. Occasional meaty foods are good: prawns and mussels can be offered once a week, but be sensible and offer suitably small pieces. Even a 24-inch adult would only need a piece about an inch long, so a juvenile needs only a teeny-tiny piece. Yes, Plecs pollute the tank massively, and maintaining good water quality will be impossible unless the tank is large and you do regular water changes. An adult Common Plec will need about 75 US gallons, and will get to about 12 inches within the first year and up to 24 inches by the end of the second year. They're messy fish totally unsuitable to the average community tank. Cheers, Neale.

Baryancistrus sp.  9/13/10
Hello Crew,
<Hello Paul,>
I recently purchased a Golden Nugget Pleco (Baryancistrus sp.) and I have a couple of questions about care. I did some research online regarding care
and the trouble I keep running into is feeding and water conditions.
<Oh? Should do well in most community tank conditions.>
The ph of my water is around 7.8 for the cichlids I keep in the tank. Is the water going to be to hard for it?
<Let's start with the basics. pH isn't hardness. You can have soft water with a high pH. You can have hard water with a low pH. While the two things are usually related, they don't have to be. Fish actually don't care about the pH. Anything between 6 and 8 will suit this species fine. However, hardness is important. Let's assume your cichlids are Rift Valley cichlids such as Malawian cichlids or Tanganyikan cichlids. These need hard water as you know, at least 15 degrees dH general hardness, and 5 or more degrees KH carbonate hardness. Such an aquarium would, it is true, have a pH between about 7.5 and 8.5. But the reason your Baryancistrus couldn't be kept in that tank is the hardness, not the pH. As I hope you realise, Baryancistrus is a South American Loricariid and not compatible with Rift Valley cichlids or Central American cichlids. On the other hand, West African cichlids (such as Kribs) and South American cichlids (such as Acara) would make fine tankmates. West African and South American cichlids prefer soft water, something around 5-10 degrees dH, and a pH between 6.5-7.5. That would be just fine and dandy for Baryancistrus. One slight complication is that some Gold Nugget Plecs are Baryancistrus L18, a variety from the Rio Xingu, and these need much warmer water than most South American fish, a trait shared with other Rio Xingu fish. You're aiming for around 27-28 C/79-82 F.
Obviously that's far too warm for most cichlids, rather few of which do well above 25 C/77 F. You'd need to choose tankmates for Baryancistrus L18 very carefully.>
My other question is feeding, what in your experience works best with try to get food past a bunch of hungry cichlids?
<Depends on the cichlids. I'm trying to think which South American and West African cichlids eat vegetables. Hardly any, except perhaps Severums and Uaru. I'm worried you're talking about Mbuna, and you absolutely CANNOT keep Baryancistrus with Mbuna, so the question is a non-starter.>
What would be the best food to give it? Other sites suggested blood worms, algae tabs and blanched zucchini. Any suggestions or ideas would be helpful.
<Baryancistrus are omnivorous, like most Loricariidae, so a mix of zucchini, cooked peas, mussels, fish fillet, bloodworms, algae wafers and catfish pellets would all be accepted. Feed some of these at night, and provided there aren't too many other catfish or loaches in there, the fish should feed itself just fine. South American and West African cichlids are mainly predatory and/or substrate-sifters, so there may be some competition for bloodworms and meaty foods, but only during the daytime. At night the catfish will be on his own.>
<Hope this helps. Nice catfish by the way, but don't expect it to last long in Rift Valley aquarium!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Baryancistrus sp.  9/13/10
I should of mentioned what its take mate would be. I have 6 Labidochromis caeruleus, 3 Haplochromis sp. 44 and 2 female Protomelas taeniolatus (which are getting moved to a different tank when they get a little bigger).
<Labidochromis and Protomelas are Malawian cichlids, while Haplochromis sp. 44 comes from Lake Victoria; mixing Victorian and Malawian cichlids isn't recommended for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their different water chemistry requirements. Contrary to popular misconception, Lake Victoria isn't especially hard and alkaline, at least not as much as Lake Malawi. This is where this nonsensical "African Cichlid" idea gets the unwary into deep trouble. If you haven't already invested in books by the
likes of Paul Loiselle or Ad Konings, can I strongly encourage you to do so? There's a lot of balderdash provided online in terms of what cichlids need, and retailers often seem to have only the vaguest ideas about the different needs of Malawian, Tanganyikan, and Victorian cichlids.>
My tank set up includes heavy rock work with a few dense fake plants and fine white sand for a substrate.
<Well, I hope the rockwork has been secured. I'd strongly recommend a layer of gravel at the bottom of the tank about a half-inch deep, and then a gravel tidy, and then the rocks on top of that. I have seen first hand what happens when rocks slip down because the gravel is moved, hit the glass, and then crack the bottom of the tank. You don't want a piece of that, trust me!>
I will be adding a couple pieces of driftwood after they are done soaking for a couple of days.
<Driftwood will of course lower the pH if your carbonate hardness isn't sufficiently high. That will stress Malawian cichlids in particular. A small bit of wood shouldn't make much difference, but it's still not
generally recommended to do this with Malawian aquaria. It's not as if these cichlids use wood as habitat. Protomelas is an open-water Haplochromine that darts into the rocks only when alarmed, while Labidochromis is a typical Mbuna that spends its time around the rocks.
These two genera should get along quite well; though Mbuna generally terrify if not kill Haplochromines, Labidochromis is one of the few exceptions, Iodotropheus being the other.>
There are a bunch of hiding places around the tank so I didn't think that territory would be a issue.
<Labidochromis doesn't form breeding territories, so in that regard no, it shouldn't cause problems with any catfish.>
How concerned should I be with the other fish harassing and trying to kill it?
<Least of your problems. Baryancistrus doesn't belong in this aquarium because of the radially different requirements in terms of water chemistry and potentially temperature. Let me be as clear as crystal here: this fish needs its own soft or at least not-too-hard water aquarium. A regular community tank with tetras, barbs, etc. would be fine. Malawian cichlids?
Nope. Who told you this would be a good idea? There are some Synodontis that would work, for example S. nyassae, but Baryancistrus? No, no, no. To be fair, there are some hardy Loricariidae that do okay in Malawian tanks; I have a Royal Panaque that spent many years in just such a system, and I dare say something like Hypostomus punctatus or Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps would do just fine as well. But Baryancistrus spp. are much less adaptable, and really do need something more like you'd provide for Corydoras and South American fish generally, though as noted in my previous e-mail possibly with higher temperatures if you have a Rio Xingu specimen.>
So far the other fish were content to just swim up to it and see what the new fish was all about, after a few minutes they left it alone to do its own thing.
<Indeed. Your cichlids aren't a bad mix in terms of temperament assuming the tank is adequately large, though Haplochromis sp. 44 doesn't want quite the same conditions as the two Malawians. Neither should they cause undue harm to Malawian species of Synodontis. But I fear that your Baryancistrus will not have a particularly long and happy life in this aquarium. Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Several Questions (Water chemistry; Ancistrus), now fdg.  6/7/09
Thank you, and as far as feeding goes, can I put the Plecos food in the same place as the Corys at feeding time, or do I need to feed them in separate areas?
<If the Corydoras are the only other bottom feeders, then they will happily feed during the daytime. So you can then leave out algae wafers, courgette, catfish pellets and so on for the Plecs (or Bristlenose Cats) to eat during the night. No problems keeping them together then.>
Do I need to put the Plecos food close to their caves?
<Plecs feed at night, and will scoot about the tank feeding wherever they can. In fact, once settled, you'll often see Plecs coming out of their caves in the evening, in anticipation of you feeding them.>
Thank you again.
<Cheers, Neale.
Re: Tank Volume, now Loricariid fdg.    1/6/09
Thanks again, and on the Bristlenose Plec, do I wait until I get algae to put him in or does he eat regular food as well? <Algae should only be a minor component of its diet; mostly it needs algae wafers and soft vegetables. So pop the catfish in as soon as you want. You'll actually get better results when algae eaters scrape clean surfaces than by expecting them to mow back established clumps of hair algae or whatever. 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.>

Gold nugget not eating   4/20/08 Hello, I recently bought a gold nugget Plec from wildwoods online. He arrived and seemed to be ok, but when I put him in my tank he slid up to the glass he seemed to have a sunken belly - I have tried to ask on forums, but users there are saying this is a bad sign, that he is unhealthy and that he is probably going to die. Its been around two days since I got him and he won't eat. I was wondering whether the reason he had such a sunken stomach is because wildwoods were sending him by post and didn't feed him anything due to ammonia build up? I've tried to feed bloodworms, various balanced vegi, pellets, wafers - all sorts of food, I'm getting worried because he is not eating and he always hides. I caught him once, moving around a bit but then he hid again. This is my first time having an L number and I have no idea what to do. I'm getting worried, cannot sleep because I know he has not eaten for days. He is in a 400L Juwel Rio tank, which also houses 6 small angel fish, two clown loaches, one baby bronze Cory, and two guppies. I did a water test today and the results are: Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0.25 Ammonia: 0 pH: 7.8 Temperature is 28 deg Thank you for any help you can give me. <The issue is water quality: until you get (and keep) nitrite at 0, this catfish will become steadily weaker. Baryancistrus spp. are sensitive to poor water quality. Review the articles and FAQs here at WWM re: water quality and filtration, and then act accordingly. Baryancistrus are among the more carnivorous plecs, and will need a mixed diet including not just softened vegetables but also algae wafers, bloodworms, and the occasional piece of chopped seafood like mussel and prawn. In good conditions, it is certainly possible to get Loricariidae back from the sunken eyes, hollow belly stage. Have done this myself. But requires dedication, a varied diet, and optimal water quality. Cheers, Neale.>

L-25 Scarlet Pleco feeding 12/9/07 Hello WWM crew, As always, greatly appreciate the services you guys/gals do. Very respectful. Anyhoo, quick question. I'm picking up a L-25 Scarlet Pleco for my 170 gallon tank soon and have read that they required meaty foods. The thing is, on another catfish site, it is stated that the meaty foods should be fully cooked, mainly mussels and shrimp/prawns. Is this correct? Or should I just blanch or feed it raw to them? My plan was to feed them Hikari Algae wafers, raw vegetables, and shrimp/mussels. Sounds like a good diet for these fellas? Thanks a lot in advance. Andy. <Hello Andy. First off, thanks for the kind words. And may I just say that Pseudacanthicus sp. 'Scarlet Plec' is a superb fish. Big Loricariids are terrific pets, and looked after properly last for decades. Now, Pseudacanthicus generally are less exclusively herbivorous than, say, Hypostomus or Panaque spp. So yes, you need to offer this fish a mixed diet. Alternating one night with the use of algae wafers with the next night offering meaty foods such as shelled mussels and unshelled prawns sliced longitudinally so they can happily scrape out the innards (even my Panaque loves these!). Mussels are cheap but highly nutritious, containing a gut-full of algae that provides additional vitamins and minerals, so make a very useful staple. If you can't buy them in your local supermarket, most Asian food markets will have them. Small Pseudacanthicus enjoy bloodworms. Pseudacanthicus tend to be a bit indifferent to vegetables, but by all means try things like courgette (zucchini), sweet potato, and tinned peas. Cucumber and lettuce are often recommended and eagerly eaten by Plecs generally, but have zero nutritional value. I'd also offer bogwood in the aquarium; while only Panaque seem to digest the stuff, most Plecs seem to consume a certain amount as a kind of dietary fibre. I hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: L-25 Scarlet Pleco feeding 12/9/07
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! Once again, thank you very much for the useful info., but there is a point you missed from my question :) Should the meaty foods be offered raw, slightly blanched, or fully cooked? Another popular catfish site stated to offer all meaty foods fully cooked. What do you think? Feeding fully cooked prawns to the fish doesn't make much sense to me. Fully cooked mussels on the half shell is widely available here in CA. Are these ok? Please let me know. Anyhoo, thanks a lot for the info. Always good to learn more. Thank you very much and have a save and happy holiday season. Andy <Andy, glad the message was useful. Seafood can be used either cooked or raw. It doesn't matter. The main thing is (I hope obviously!) that it hasn't been cooked in some sort of sauce or fat. So plain boiled mussels and prawns, like you'd find at most grocery stores, are fine. My prawns in tomato sauce or mussels in garlic butter would be bad! The main thing is you don't overfeed your fish, and depending on the size of your catfish, chop the seafood up accordingly. An inch-long mussel or portion of a larger item of seafood should be ample for one day's meal for a foot-long catfish. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco Fecal Matter Build Up 11/5/07 Hello, the website is great! question for you. I have 2 3" Plecos (leopard looking) that suck and eat all meaty leftovers (shrimp, silver sides). The thing is, there poop is all over the place and I'm constantly cleaning the tank because of these guys. Is there another type of Pleco or fish, snail or something that will eat their poop? or should I just get rid of them? I have no algae and it was recommended I have these guys from the LFS with my community tank. If you can help that would be great. I understand since its meaty food that they are eating, their poop will not dissolve/liquefy as if it was herbal food. is that true? k. My tank: 100gal fresh,3 silver aros, 2 tin foils,2 silver dollars, 2 clown knifes 2 parrot fishes, 2 leopard Plecos < Your Plecos are probably eating the algae and other plant matter to keep your tank clean. Unfortunately the fecal matter from your Plecos is pretty much void of nutrients so nothing else will eat it. It is probably the vegetable matter and not the animal matter that is causing the extensive fecal "worms". Your Plecos will only be getting bigger and making things worse. I would recommend that you trade these two Plecos in for a couple of Plecos that stay relatively small and possibly make clean up a little bit easier. Next time you submit a question we would appreciate it if you would use the spelling and grammar checks on your computer prior to sending in your question. This way we can spend more time answering questions and less time correcting the grammar.-Chuck>

Plecostomus Nutrition - 10/07/2007 Hi, Crew I have a 55 gallon tank with 4 cichlids in it: 2 parrots and 2 Severums and leopard Pleco (L83). My question regarding Pleco feeding. It's hard to feed Pleco with algae tablet since cichlid steel it easy all the time. I try to feed it with raw vegetables: cucumber, lettuce. Is it enough for Pleco? How long should I keep peace of vegetable in the tank? What kind of vegetable or other food can you recommend for Pleco? Thank you for your help, Mark <Greetings Mark. Cucumber and lettuce are NOT enough for your catfish. The correct diet would be something like this: Some vegetables from the following -- carrot, potato, sweet potato, tinned peas, Sushi Nori and curette. Also a small piece of bogwood; these catfish eat the wood and use it as a source of fiber. Catfish algae wafers and small pieces of seafood (such as mussels and prawns) should be fed at NIGHT, when the cichlids can't see them. Severums are herbivorous cichlids, so MUST be given green foods as well. Peas, blanched lettuce, Sushi Nori, and chopped spinach are ideal. Soft aquarium plants such as Elodea are good too, and can be bought very cheaply and simply left in the tank for a few weeks. Blood parrots will certainly eat some plant material. Virtually all cichlids eat algae and soft plants given the chance. Vegetables like carrot and potato can be left in the water until they're gone. They won't pollute the water. Soft vegetables like curette can be removed after a day or two if you like, because they tend to make a mess. But they won't harm water quality either. Hope this helps, Neale>

How much to feed a Plecostomus  7/29/07 Hello, <Hail and well met.> I have read/written to your site and found it very informative and helpful before.? My question - I have a 12.5 inch Plecostomus. I bought him when he was one inch long and I had a 10 gallon tank. <Almost certainly not a Hypostomus plecostomus but something like Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or Pterygoplichthys pardalis, the two "common plecs" of the trade right now. Easily get to around 45 cm long, potentially significantly more, up to 70 cm being the record.> Since then, he has moved from the 10 gal to a 20 gal and now a 55 gallon tank. <Very good. A 55 gallon tank is about right for one of these fish: they grow very fast.> He is about 4 years old. <Four down, another twenty to go. These catfish live a long time if properly cared for. Most *aren't* properly cared for, though.> I think I have him with an appropriate amount of fish (calculating by fish inch per gallon of water) in the 55 gallon tank. <Inch-per-gallon estimates are rubbish. If I lined up 200 inch-long guppies that would be about the length of a Great White Shark. Do you think a tank big enough for 200 guppies would house a Great White Shark? Me neither. What matters is a bunch of factors as well as length: things like the mass ("weight") of the fish, its activity level, its territoriality, etc. As it happens, your catfish is fine in a 55 gallon tank.> He has quite the personality and moves all around the tank. <Yep, they're nice fish.> I enjoy watching him. <That's the basic idea of the hobby! Otherwise it's just work...> At 12.5 inches in length, he appears very large to me. <Then you should see how big they get in the wild! Your specimen is about half the size of the largest specimens. In an aquarium, it'll get a little larger, but 18"/45 cm is about the tops for a tank-reared specimen.> My tank is algae free. <I bet.> How do I know he is getting a sufficient amount of food? <A healthy Plec should have a gently convex stomach and the eyes should be bulging out of the skull. A starving Plec will have a concave stomach and sunken eyes.> I feed him algae wafers and give him cucumbers once or twice a week. <That's pretty good. But try different green foods. Lettuce, melon rind, spinach are all good. Something with some protein, like tinned peas, are also worth adding. Once or twice a week put a whole prawn or mussel in the tank; they'll latch onto these and scrape them away to nothing by morning. They also love rooting about for small invertebrates like bloodworms and krill, but faster-moving fish will generally eat these before the plecs get a chance.> Is there any basic "rule" to follow on the amount of food to supplement him with due to his size? <Not really, no. You have to go by instinct. Pterygoplichthys are omnivores, so you want to vary the diet as much as possible. There should always be some greens in the tank and also some bogwood (they seem to use wood as a source of fibre) but portions of meaty foods should be used once or twice a week, no more. The algae wafers are a good staple, but relatively expensive. Greens and seafood make a cheaper and just as good staple for these fish.> Thanks, Julie <Hope this helps, Neale>

Planaria - On The Menu for Plecostomus? - 10/19/2006 <<Tom here.>> Do Plecos eat Planaria? <<Not without mustard and ketchup. Actually, I suppose they will but Planaria sure wouldn't be a Pleco's first choice off the menu. If you're experiencing a Planaria "outbreak", better to give your aquarium a good cleaning, particularly the substrate, and keep nitrate levels to a minimum, i.e. below 20 ppm. Tom>>

Plecos and Plants  - 09/02/06 Dear WetWebMedia, I have recently acquired two good sized dwarf Panaque a flash l204 and Panaque albimaculatus 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

Feed Plecos Guinea Pig Pellets  - 04/24/2006 Hi Chuck, Maybe I will try the Nitrofurazone tomorrow if the Plecos still look  pretty good-I figure at this point I will try anything- these last  ones still seem to have plenty of energy, but they are still 'off' - a  lot of the time they don't even hide- they don't seem to be eating  either. BUT I still have hope for the last few......guinea pig pellets-  I have not heard of that for Pleco food before- I bought dried seaweed  at the Japanese food store- the Plecos seem to like to pretty good. < Fish, humans and guinea pigs can not produce their own vitamin C. These pellets are fortified alfalfa pellets with vitamin C added. Lots of protein and vitamins for young fish fighting a disease.> I  know it is healthy- I really appreciate your help - your site is great  - hopefully you will post one of the photos I sent you, because I found  very little info about septicemia- I think I found only one photo on  it, but the fish was dark colored and I could not see what the symptoms  looked like.  The albino Pleco is an excellent fish for seeing the  red throughout the body that the bacteria is causing. Thanks ! I will let you know if I finally save a few of these guys - Sheryl < Good luck.-Chuck>

Loricariid, medusa cat    3/24/06 Dear WWM <Ben>   Am just enquiring to whether you know anything about the spotted medusa cat Ancistrus l225. <Mmm, don't have this species, but have kept others of the genus> Have obtained one and am finding good info on them hard to come by. <The "L" numbered catfishes are much better reviewed in other languages... Do you read German?> I Bought the cat with the intention to have as an active algae eater, planning to swap it in the tank for two common Ancistrus. Have found some conflicting info on it though, some for eating algae predominantly and some for meat based bloodworms etc., my water parameters are ph7 and temp26 which seem fine. <Yes> If this isn't a great algae eater is there a need to get another algae eater in the tank, I have a Sturosoma aurum already, a couple of doras,2 flag cats, and Rainbowfish also keep 5 Kuhlis in a 280ltr tank. <Mmm, the algae question is up to you. If you don't want one, would rather wipe, scrape, so be it. I doubt if the present catfishes and loaches will eat much of the types of algae that grow on the viewing panels or substrates. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can recommend. Best Regards Ben

Starter FW Questions...  - 3/1/2006 Good Afternoon, <And to you> I purchased a 20 gal tank for myself for Christmas. Just a couple months later, I have a 5 gal at work (guppies), and started another 10 gal tank at home that I will use as a quarantine/hospital if necessary. Amazing how addictive this hobby can be. <Ah, yes> Being new, I was wondering if you could help me with a couple of questions. <Go ahead> 1. I use a dechlorinator that I add to my bucket for water changes. Then add the water to my tank when doing my water changes. Should I be letting the water sit with the dechlorinator in it, or is it ok to add to the tank right away. So far, I have not had any issues, but I want to make sure I'm doing the best I can. <Better by far to treat your new water as detailed here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm> 2. My fish recently caught Ick (hence the new quarantine tank). I have 3 clown loaches, a L136 Pleco, and 2 dwarf gouramis. I've been using Jungle Ick Guard II as it was recommended because it's more sensitive to scaleless fish. The directions state, " Second dose may be added in 24 hours." All the reading I've seen says to keep medicating until days after all Ick is not visible (up to 16 days) as their life cycle still goes on. I've been treating daily as directed for 4 days but I'm not sure how long to go with the medication. The white spots are almost gone, but I don't want to hurt the fish. <You are wise here... one really needs to measure the active ingredient/s in such "medicines" (most are non-selective biocides)... I would rely on elevated temperature and time going by to assure a complete cure here. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> 3. My local fish store told my the L136 would be good for eating algae off the tank walls. But, he doesn't seem to like algae a bit. <Mmm, a common myth/mistake... Please see: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/loricari/INDEX.PHP> What's the best type of food I should be feeding him? He doesn't seem to be eating the algae wafers I put it, and they leave quite the mess. Thanks for any help you can provide. Adam <Isn't the Net wonderful? Bob Fenner>

Pleco Feeding  1/30/06 Good day folks, I have been reading your site for weeks now and have gleaned a huge amount of information on tanks, fish and the works in regards to my new saltwater tank.   However, my one and only question for you regards Pleco feeding, and it is merely a technical query.  I see you mention blanching zucchini, and I wonder if there is a particular reason why that is preferable to just slicing and feeding raw. < This softens it up and makes it easier for the fish to eat.> I have been slicing mine up and weighing it down and mine go crazy over it, different species actually going for different parts of the veggie. Just as a  background for you,  I run a very diverse and successful tank with many of my fish being 5 to 7 years old and a couple of them much older.  It's a 110 gallon Oceanic, and I have 11 varieties of Pleco in it including Royal, Vampire, Gold Nugget , Clown and Rubber with no troubles at all. Additionally I have Otos, 14 or 15 varieties of Cory, plus some normal community tank type stuff like Cardinals, Black Neons and Zebra Danios.  My filtration is varied, using a Hydro V Sponge, Penguin Bio Wheel and H.O.T. Magnum as I know the load is big and needs massive filtration to keep the tank healthy. Again, my thanks for such a wonderful site and all the information and help that you give to myself and countless others. Bill < Go to planetcatfish.com and search for your particular species of Plecos for more detailed feeding recommendations. Many Plecos don't eat algae at all.-Chuck>

Re: Guppy problem, feeding Pleco   1/21/06 That was something I did forget to mention, during the week I left the tank to settle I added AquaPlus and cycle to get rid of chlorine and add bacteria to the water. I isolated the two ill fish in a smaller tank, added some salt and went out and bought MelaFix to treat both tanks but unfortunately the two fish died overnight. I'm continuing to treat the water and haven't added any more fish to give it time to fully cycle. <Good> I have one other problem: my Snowball Pleco. I had a look about the internet to try and find what to feed him and most sources say they're not picky eaters but I can't seem to get mine to eat. I left a cucumber <Would not use this... try blanched Zucchini instead... with the skin if small> for him, which I'm told they like and I bought special bottom-feeder food but he doesn't seem to have touched any of it. When I got him the lady said he needed wood in his tank, which he seems to be permanently stuck to, is he eating that? <The wood sort of helps with digestion... like gravel, sand and a chickens crop> They're fond of algae and plants I think, but I'm too scared to add anything else to the tank until everything has settled. Can you advise me on what I should be doing? <Try the Zucchini and algae wafer (sinking) food here... if not eating still, raise temperature, consider lowering pH and hardness. Bob Fenner>

Pleco Feeding 11/6/05 Hello I'm new to this hobby and recently purchased a 29 gallon tank for my 4 yr old daughter (ok ... maybe it was a little for me too!). The tank has been up and running for about 2 months with 5 platys (4F, 1M), 4 zebra Danios, and two balloon belly mollies (2F). I have a Emperor 280 filter, some artificial plants, a small cave and a piece of driftwood. Water quality levels are ideal. I do a 30% water change every two weeks (the Lee's Ultimate Gravel Vac is simply *AWESOME*!) Algae has now built-up on the glass surfaces so I purchased a Bristle nose Pleco yesterday to handle some of the cleanup. My question is: should I wait until he has cleared the glass surfaces of algae before I offer him any Algae Wafers or any other kind of food? Thanks! -Chip <Nope, you should definitely offer the Pleco algae wafers to ensure that he is eating. Another product that is on my "*Awesome*! list" is the magna float magnetic algae scrubber, you can scrub the algae off the glass and don't even have to get your hands wet. You might also want to check out the article below on Algae control Best Regards and congrats on your new tank, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm

Oscars Are Eating Pleco's Wafers  9/19.5/05 A friend of mine has a problem with his Oscars and asked me to send you guys a message because I have used your guys' services before and have gotten many problems solved.  He has a pair of young albino Oscars and a medium sized Plecostomus.  He typically feeds the Oscars Hikari Cichlid Staple pellets and supplements that with Rosy Red Minnows once every week or so.  He feeds his Plecostomus Hikari algae wafers but his Oscars always eat the wafer.  I told him that I thought it was because of the Oscars being used to eating the Cichlid Staple that is so high in vegetable matter and that the wafers probably taste very similar.  My friend would like to know why his Oscars continuously eat his pleco's food and if there is any way to get them to stop doing so.  Thank you so much for your help. < Oscars are pretty intelligent for fish. They know that these wafers are good food and don't mind eating them as soon as they hit the water. This is a problem with many aquarists trying to feed bottom dwelling fish. Pleco's are mostly nocturnal while Oscars are mainly diurnal. So turn out the room and fish tank lights about an hour before you go to bed. Just before you go to bed you can throw in the algae wafers. The Oscars should be asleep and the Plecos will be up and eating.-Chuck>

Plecostomus I have a 10 gallon tank that is temporarily holding a 3.5" Oscar, 3" Jack Dempsey, a 4" Plecostomus, and a 1 1/4 Cory catfish. I have two filters in the tank, a power and an underground. Lately, my Plecostomus -Leo- has not been eating as much as he used to, and I was wondering if it was because of the lack of space in the tank or if he is not hungry at all? I watch and make sure that the Oscar and Jack Dempsey eat all of their food, sinking pellets and some flakes. When I put in the pellets for the Plecostomus the Oscar eats them... Figures, he begs all the time. But I'm worried about the Pleco. The Cory is doing just fine, though I've seen her going up and down the tank's sides like she is looking for something... The fish are waiting for a 55 gallon tank that I have that is just getting fixed up, the stand and such, just so you know :). >> Your Plecostomus is likely not getting enough food in such a crowded situation. Or the water conditions are not as good, due to crowding and he is feeding less. Your Corydoras is likely to get eaten in the very near future, most likely by your Oscar. When you move the cichlids to the larger tank you may want to keep the Corydoras in the 10 gallon. Good Luck, Oliver <<

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

Bristlenose problems Dear Robert, my Bristlenose having been doing ok I guess. They are eating the zucchini and cabbage. It hasn't been boiled or cooked in anyway-sorry but I did it before I read your email. I bought some algae tablets for them-Wardley premium algae discs. When I put these in my Bristlenose cats liked it so they started 'sucking' at those 'discs'. Then here's the problem: My livebearers (guppies, mollies, platies, and swordtails) started taking bites out of the discs. The mollies started first- I read that they need some plant in their diet. They were very aggressive and my Bristlenose cats are too small in size to defend their meal....the algae discs were all consumed. The mollies were very aggressive with the males raising their fins all the time and attacking other fish that tried to eat the algae discs.  What should I do? <Feed them all the algae discs and even greenery-based flake foods... it is good for them... what these livebearers principally eat in the wild.> What signs can I look for to tell if my Bristlenose are starving? >> <Though they are "armored" catfishes, you can see them getting skinny, concave in the area right ahead of their vents... keep them well fed.> Bob Fenner

Ancistrus temminckii Dear Robert, could you please tell me all the foods that Ancistrus temminckii (Bristlenose catfish) can eat. I have a wonderful book and it says I can feed it lettuce-I have NO algae in my tank. BUT I want to give it some variety; without wasting money on algae tablets at the pet store-the employee there said I should give it those algae tablet things. But then those people "must make a profit", I don't believe him.  Can you tell me what vegetables it can eat. Can it eat cabbage???  Will it die if I give it a fresh vegetable diet?  I haven't really seen them rasping at the cabbage. What signs should I look for? , I worry they will starve as my sucking catfish recently died.  If they have nothing to eat, will they start eating the aquatic plants? if so, will this be enough? Thanks a lot  >> In the wild, this species, genus and most of the family of sucker-mouth South American (though some are Central) Catfishes (Loricariidae) consume mainly greenery, insect larvae and worms and wood!... In captivity they still require daily greens (the tablets are about the best route to go, cost wise, ease of use, and non-messiness... along with different types of terrestrial materials like boiled/blanched/microwaved zucchini, peas, spinach... not just fresh greens thrown in... hard to manipulate and digest... expensive but readily taken are "human consumption" algae as well (Nori, kombu...) and incidental and not meaty foods that you'd otherwise feed to other types of fishes... and that wood.... something in the way of driftwood works best...

Pleco feeding hi, Thanks for your help. I took your advice and got two pleco's to go in my tank with my Oscars and Severums. Everyone is still quite small ( Oscars are already bigger than the rest ). I never see the pleco's eating ( one is Gibbiceps Pleco and the other is a Gold Nugget ), so at night night I place some algae wafers and cucumber slices in the tank. <Good idea. Do you have a bit of sunken "driftwood" in the tank? A very useful adjunct to these Suckermouth South American Catfishes nutrition.> I noticed the Oscars and Severums like these foods as well and my questions : Am I over feeding the Oscars and Severums by leaving large pieces vegetables in tank overnight ? <No worries... these materials won't cause them trouble (unless there's so much in the system that it rots)> I know about the 5 minute rule...but I'm worried about the pleco's not having a chance to eat if I don't leave the food in overnight. The tank is a newly cycled tank and is very clean. Thanks, Adam <Do keep an eye on ammonia for a few weeks more... and start in with regular (weekly, biweekly...) gravel vacuum, water changing, etc. Bob Fenner>

Re: starving Pleco Hello Crew! <Hi there!> It's been a while since I've requested your assistance concerning my Pleco Puc (a good thing).  However, after all we have been through (dead fish friends, strange black worms, split fins, dropsy, QT, not eating, etc...) he has stopped eating again.  It has been about a month.  I've tempted him with everything I can think of (zucchini, romaine lettuce (his favorite as a baby), algae tabs, bloodworms, brine shrimp, shrimp pellets, peas) but he just goes along sucking at the glass and seems to "run-away" from the food.  We got him a new piece of driftwood about 3 months ago since his old piece just kept floating up to the top and he wasn't too jazzed about the new piece, so a couple of weeks ago we got him another one.  Apparently he likes being able to have a choice because he goes back and forth between both of them (one he can lay on the other he likes to attach to upside down :).  I was hoping that the wood would get him back to wanting to eat food (I don't know why), but no such luck.  Its getting to the sad point where I can see his bone structure by his gills and vent and know that he is starving to death but I really just don't know what to do at this point.  I think he may be too fragile to force feed - and I really don't want to stress him out further :( <Poor thing. Its really sad watching when this happens but sometimes theres just nothing you can do. In this case, the only thing I can think of that you havent tried is the dried algae sheets that are available now. There are three different flavors available, red, brown, and green. Theyre fairly inexpensive and my fish seem to love them. You just tear a small strip off and rubber band it to a rock or piece of wood and they can be left in the tank for several hours before they start to foul.> His water conditions are good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, pH 7.4, temp 79f) and I clean up the food daily.  I have done frequent small water changes (rather than a bi-monthly moderate change) as we set up a QT for some new Buenos Aires Tetras and wanted to acclimate them to the main tank conditions from the start.  Today I noticed that he has a small red circle on his belly that doesn't look like a cut, lesion or abrasion, but something under his skin (was not there yesterday).  Our gravel has some angled shell pieces but mostly rounded medium sized rock, so unless he is so delicate that he bruised himself on the rocks or wood ...Any ideas? <Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm to see if any of that sounds like what he has. But its possible that he just rubbed himself on something.> Some people don't think you can get attached to a fish but he has survived so much that I can't stand to see him waste away like this.  Maybe strange to some, but I was going to get him a 50G and put in a sad bed for his 3rd "birthday".  In some of the FAQs I've read here, I've seen references to appetite stimulants for salt water fishes...do these work for FW too?  Or are there comparable products for FW fishes?  Obviously this is a get the fish to eat or watch him die situation - any suggestions?  I don't think I can euthanize him.  Please let me know if I've left out any info you would find useful. <I dont know for sure of any food stimulants that would work but do run a search on your favorite search engine. I dont think its strange at all to become attached, Im that way with many of my own and theres been times that I lost one that I just wanted to bawl.> Thanks for any ideas and suggestions. Dana <You're welcome! Ronni>
Starving Pleco
Well Crew, I have happy news to share!  While I was not able to find the dried algae sheets at either of my LFS, I kept trying with the algae tabs and to my absolute joy Puc is eating. Everyday since the 30th.  Just wanted to let you know and say thanks again for all your help. Dana :) <Wonderful!! Im very relieved to hear that hes eating again. Thanks for the update! Ronni>

Comments on Gold nuggets and such.... >Hi Marina >>Hello Wayne. >Just some notes re: the lady who lost her gold nugget and clown Plec...  First of all you're right to ask how much food made it to these plecs - I believe that the majority of these fish (like many numbers) die of starvation due to both inadequate and incorrect diet.  Notice how so many people complain they grow so slowly, well there's a good reason.   I have a few baby Bristlenoses I kept in a tank and hammered with food, they're about 5 months old now and the largest is nearly 3 inches.  I remember keeping a bristle in with some Mbuna, and that [fish] just stopped growing when it went in there, in contrast to its brother who is now a good, fat, fully grown 4 inches.  Also, as you point out the fish, esp. the gold nugget do not feed on algae, except in utter desperation, rather they pick up worms, bugs, critters and chew on the biofilm I believe.  These fish are fussy on water quality and also water movement and dissolved oxygen content.  Notice how this lady's and so many hung on the filter outlet.  In the only good breeding report I've seen  a powerhead was pointing at the spawning cave!  30% a month is thoroughly inadequate, and that LFS was pretty stupid to say so.  My fish respond well to 10, 15 percent 3 times a week.  I only gravel Hoover every 2 or 3 weeks though to maintain a biofilm of mulm for continual chewing.  I don't think these fish are too fussy about pH within reasonable limits, but I'm pretty sure nuggets at least are from acidic blackwater rivers (Lower xingu, but I need to check that).  There is a theory that these low pH rivers are not terribly bacteria friendly, so fish from these areas are all prone to bacterial infection as they simply don' have a 'bacteria unfriendly' immune system - (examples wild caught Apistos, discus, L nos).  Again, another reason for those frequent water changes.  So my bet here is a slight slip in water quality, plus a minimal diet caused a bacterial infection and pop.  You might not even need the bacterial bit to kill a slowly weakening fish.  So I would say if you're going to keep these fish be prepared to overfeed the tank and counter it with frequent small water changes.   >>Agreed. >I truly wish I could help with the questions but I simply don't have an hour a day (small children = zero time at home) Regards,  Wayne Oxborough >>Much to my chagrin (and others on the crew who know how much we truly need knowledgeable help), I do understand.  Thank you for your input, though.  Marina

Moor Root?! Do you know what moor root is?   <Well, I could be wrong, but I think this is just a European way of saying bogwood.   A moor is a vast boggy heath, basically, and I imagine "moor root" refers to sunken, waterlogged wood/roots.  Bogwood.  Driftwood.> I read about it in the Aqualog catalogs.  I have a 75g Pleco tank and I would like to have some in my tank.   <Indeed, bogwood is of great importance to the diets and overall well-being of many plecs.> I've asked people in my area no one knows.  PLEASE HELP!  Also where do you think I can get some living in Tampa? <Any local fish store, most likely.  Ask about bogwood/driftwood instead of moor root, though, unless you're visiting London for your wood!  ;)  Or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can collect/clean/prepare your own.  Have fun!  -Sabrina>

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