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FAQs on Selecting Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats

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

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Loricariids 2, 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 Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction Algae Eaters


Medusa Plecos; stkg w/ conspecifics      9/14/17
Is it ok to get a female Medusa Pleco L-034 to keep with a male or would they be territorial when not mating?

<Also known as Ancistrus ranunculus, this species is no different to any other Bristlenose Plec. Yes, the male is territorial, but his 'patch' is an area about 30 cm/12 inches around his cave or log, and in the average tank
with several square feet of living space alongside a selection of other hiding places, the female will be just fine.>
Also there would be an ongoing problem of what to do with the offspring which I assume would be showing up on a regular basis.
<This is one of the harder Ancistrus to breed. Sexing them is hard, when young at least, because only mature males develop the full head of bristles. Colouration and fins are otherwise much the same for both sexes.
They are also a bit more fussy than Common Bristlenose Plecs, demanding softish water, warm water (25-28 C), and plenty of oxygen -- typical Rio Xingu conditions, but not the usual conditions in community tanks. Assuming you provided these conditions, any offspring you'd collect would actually be quite valuable, but as I say, this isn't a species that cranks out fry.>
Thank you
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Re: Medusa Plecos    9/15/17

Yes, thank you. The water the medusa is in does have plenty of oxygen, is about 78-80F, but is kind of on the hard side.
<Likely not a health issue for adult fish, but the wrong hardness does tend to make reproduction less likely. Something to do with triggering spawning perhaps, or preventing the eggs developing normally. That said, few catfish are really picky, and if they choose to breed, I'd fully expect a few fry, even in a community tank -- Ancistrus fathers are very protective and capable chaps!>
Tap water in the US always seems to be harder water. I know someone in Canada who has tap water that one could keep Discus in, but that is there
<Likely varies across your country, as it does here in the UK. A lot of Americans in the Midwest and southwest do get water out of a chalk aquifer or some other hard water source, that is true, but elsewhere, like New
England and Washington State enjoy much softer water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>


Day and Night Plecos  9/7/17
<Hello Judy,>
I was wondering if there are any smaller diurnal, day time Plecos that can be kept with a male Bushynose?
<So far as Loricariidae go, the best bets are Whiptails. These are active day and night, won't compete for food, but are completely peaceful. Alternatively, there are the Hypoptopoma species, which are a bit like giant Otocinclus, up to around 8 cm/3 inches in length. Lovely fish, with requirements much like Otocinclus -- lots of current, plenty of oxygen -- but strongly herbivorous in diet.>
I have a feeling the answer is no, as it would be an issue of territory and for some maybe interbreeding. Thank you
<Most welcome, Neale.>


Plecos/ <sel.> and new tank. Child     2/1/14
my Aquarium is for the most part doing well , I'm only changing water once a month and as a reseult I'm getting algae. The angel and rams are doing okay.  i have only 2 corys left so i was thinking of taking them to either aqualand or a world of fish and using the credit towards getting a algie eater of some kind.  I really like the twig catfishes, esspically the royal
whiptail. do you think a royal whip would do okay in the size tank i have, 50 gallon, or should i look into a dwarf pleco, ottos ect  ect.
<No such word. Etc. is the contraction for et cetera res>
<Up to you; either genus will go/do. Do read what we have archived re the Loricariidae. B>
Re: Plecos/ and new tank.   2/1/14

i have looked up prices on royal whiptails its $$$. and they do not have any in stock  I looked on the list of avaible fish my local fish shop has I like L75, L200, L178 are these types okay.
Re: Plecos/ and new tank. Chatting    2/2/14

Well I went to my local fish store Tropiaqatics today after car trouble
and fulty staff schuduleing- I dont drive but the company car had issues
we used a staffs car to drive while the car battery was charging.. I
in the dealers tank and saw about 3 or 4 L204 emperior plecos/flash plecos
for 40 dollars each.  I brought a male, he had longer fin extentions then
the others. i accimated him for about an hour or so by floating the
bag/dumping out water and adding tank want to the bag and then put him in
my tank i also did a water test at the store and my tanks water values are
great. I noticed hes very active and like to hop on the driftwood and hide
behind the sponge filter/lie on the bottom. he seems better color wise
although thin. The dealer told me that they had eaten before in his tank
and i did see poo in the tank. i brought algae waffers maybe tommrow i'll
feed him, should i do this day or night.
<? Just search on WWM re... Loricariid feeding. B>


hungry hungry Plecos. Sel.   10/16/11
Hello WWM crew,
I have a 40 br
freshwater community tank, just finished cycling two weeks ago, so far there are a half a dozen guppies and three ghost shrimp in the tank, about 5 days ago I added a 2" Pleco to the tank to take care of the algae that was rapidly covering the tank walls. ( I realize this system is too small for an adult Pleco, I worked out a deal with my LFS, I bring them a 6" Pleco they give me a 2" Pleco, I will never have an adult in this tank, only babies)
<Why bother? Get a Bristlenose Plec that's [a] smaller and [b] a better algae-eater and [c] not aggressive towards its tankmates. The Common Plec isn't a species with much value to the casual aquarist. It's messy, destructive, and even at six-inches in length, can wreak real havoc in your aquarium.>
The first day the Pleco was in the tank he barely made a dent in the algae that was quickly covering the tank walls, and I thought to myself "should I have gotten two?" well by the second day that was answered, the new Pleco had gone to town on the front of the tank, devouring more than half the algae on it, and well just take a look at the attached pic to see how much he enjoyed it... anyway, we are now on day 5, no algae in sight anywhere in the tank and I'm beginning to worry that my little hungry hungry Pleco is gonna run out of food, I've fed sinking algae wafers twice in the 5 days I've had him, so far he has completely ignored them (the guppies and shrimp went to town though) I have a QT and I'm thinking of pulling him out of the main tank until I can get him to take algae wafers in the QT, the other option I am considering is to offer Nori on an algae clip in the main tank.
Any suggestions?
<Algae is very much a tiny portion of their diet. Buying any Plec as an algae-scraper is missing the whole point of them. Courgette (zucchini), sweet potato and cooked peas are good foods; supplement with algae wafers (he will eat them -- at night!), small pieces of fish meat or prawn, and, crucially, a small bit of bogwood. The bogwood isn't digested, but does seem an important source of fibre.>
I really thought it would take a lot longer than 5 days for this little guy to clean up the algae in the tank, and I want to make sure he is getting enough to eat...
~ Bryan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Snails, now Pleco sel.  4/27/09
Thanks Neale, and one more question please on a different subject. I am considering purchasing a couple of Bristlenose Plecos for my tank. I have read that they themselves put out quite a bit of waste. Is that correct?
<Yes; like all herbivores they produce a lot of faecal material. Not terribly polluting in terms of water quality, but very unsightly. Think of how messy cows and horses are, and you'll have a useful analogy. So, you want plenty of water turnover and mechanical filtration, otherwise the stuff will accumulate on the gravel. A turkey baster is a great tool for spot cleaning, and if you arrange the gravel so it slopes down to the
front, the faeces collect there and can be pipetted or siphoned away.>
Also, would you recommend 2 or three for a 75 gallon tank and does it matter if they are all the same sex or if the sexes are mixed <I'd go for at least three specimens. Sexing is impossible with juveniles, though if you buy adults, males are easy enough to pick out (usually).
Provided they are not overcrowded, males will get along with each other.
They're territorial rather than mean, so provided each has a cave with some clear space around it, he'll ignore other males.>
Thanks again and have a great day.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>


Searching for a L-236 1-11-2008 Hello! <Hello, Yunachin here.> My name is Haavard Midtdal and I am a dedicated aquarium holder. I am looking for Hypancistrus L-236. <A very beautiful fish indeed.> Hypancistrus L-236 is a South American Catfish that is living in Rio Iriri in Brazil. I know it is very hard to get this Hypancistrus L-236. L-236 varies a lot in appearance and it is very hard to get this real/genuine specimen. Do you know about any suppliers in Brazil? I have contacted many suppliers in Europe, but they do not have the right specimen, just "look a likes'. It would be great if you know about this rare Pleco and where to get it. I send you a photo of a real and genuine Hypancistrus L-236 that came to Transfish in Germany in 1997 and was sold to Japan. Thank you very much. <I do not know of any suppliers in Brazil and have seen very few for sale anywhere. I have heard of them being for sale on www.aquabid.com on occasion and also on http://www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk/php/s_Zebra+Plec.php ; Good Luck, I hope you find this rare, gorgeous fish.> Best regards, <You're welcome, Yunachin> Haavard Midtdal Norway


FW Fluidized bed filter question, Loricariid sel.  - 12/13/07 Considering a fluidized bed filter as alternative to bio balls from sump on 120g planted freshwater tank (rainbows and Plecos). 2 questions - Is there any value to sizing up on filter...it is only $10 more to go from 300g to 600g to 900g. Ignoring size limitations on height, is there any reason to not get a bigger one - unnecessary overkill? <No real functional advantage... perhaps some disadvantage in electrical costs to push water through a larger unit> second, re: Plecos, I plan on having the following...any Compatibility problems (I searched PlanetCatfish and can't really find the info): gold nugget, queen arabesque, royal, blue phantom, maybe a zebra. I also have a striped Raphael. Only one of each. Any issues? thanks <Mmm... well... not compatibility... but the smaller Loricariids are more social... I'd likely get more than one of these. Bob Fenner> Paul


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>


Oto <what? Oto parts?>- 6/1/07 Hi Robert, after days of hunting for Otos I feel that it can not hurt to send you a mail. <Hello, Neale here.> > I am in Shanghai and now have a discus aquarium. In Europe I have always had Otos in my tanks and have always been  fascinated by their behaviour and rewarded by their gentleness. Clean  plants no algae growth on the leaves etc. <Yes, they can be excellent algae eaters. But I hesitate to recommend them too widely for a variety of reasons, not least of all the fact they seem to travel poorly and the mortality immediately after import is very high.> > Plenty of algae (green) on the back wall of the tank but not a problem. <Your observation of their liking for green algae is spot-on. Otocinclus are ideal for planted aquaria where the background level of algae is low and limited to green algae types. In "unbalanced" aquaria with few/no plants, Otocinclus have no useful impact and in fact often starve to death because they will not eat the brown, hair, and blue-green algae common in such tanks.> > I have hunted everywhere to try and purchase these fellows here in China but have had no success. <Given you are keeping discus, I would *never* keep Otocinclus with them. I have observed Otocinclus sucking the slime from large, slow fish in my aquaria, and assume that discus would be an obvious target. Other aquarists have observed this, with Otocinclus attacking angels and discus. Far better to choose something a bit large, like one of the "clown" Panaque species (such as Panaque maccus) or even Ancistrus spp.> > I am hoping that with your knowledge of these fish and your reference to the tiger Oto that has been bred in Asia that you may be able to point me in the right direction to obtain them. I have always had the Otocinclus affini but any Otos would be fine. <I personally don't know who is importing/trading that variety, but I'm sure if Bob does know, he'll follow up. As a general rule, placing a "special order" with retailers is often the way to go. I've done this many times.> > I apologise if this mail is out of context as I have no idea how busy you are or how much mail you get from your site. > kindest regards > john Ramsey <Good luck, Neale>

Pleco sel., sys., using WWM...  2/1/07 Hi it's Amanda again. <Hello> I was thinking about getting a small Plecostomus, yes I know it won't stay small. If I get one that's about 2" long at the most, it shouldn't be big enough to eat the guppy fry, should it? <No... Loricariids aren't piscivorous> They're at least...wow they must be a month old. Anyway, is my 10 gallon tank a suitable home for a Pleco? <No... too small> If so, is there any specific species I can get that won't get too big? I tried to look at PlanetCatfish but their site's hard to follow.. Thanks. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Re: hello, Pleco sel.  2/1/07 Hi again <Amanda> On the link you gave me it says that zebra Plecos are about 3 inches maximum, if that's true, are they much different that common Plecos other than size and color? <A ten gallon is not likely to be stable enough for this species...> Sorry I've been emailing you so much. Thanks, Amanda <I'd look to other families, scavenger groups... on WWM, elsewhere. BobF>


Discus Tank Stocking   8/14/06 Dear Crew, <Eric> Thank you for the wonderful resource you provide, and for answering my questions in the past. I have recently moved into a new apt. and have taken the opportunity to redo my tank.  Previously it was a planted community, but I would like to give a shot to discus. I do have about 10 years of experience with fish and have done much research but I would like to get some outside opinions on my plans. <Okay> I donated all of the fish and kept the plants, which are an assortment consisting mostly of various swords, java moss, java fern, and vales. The only other livestock in the tank are some mystery snails, as well as what I believe are small Ramshorn ( though I am not positive ). I don't mind the snails because as long as I feed them once in a while they leave the plants alone.   <A good technique> The tank itself is a 72 gallon ( nominal ) bowfront. The filter is an Aquaclear 500 ( though I believe their model numbers have changed ) using a sponge, carbon and Zeolite bags. Lighting consists of 220w PC (I don't recall the temperature offhand ). The substrate consists of regular gravel mixed with Eco-Complete ( I don't have it in front of me but that's what I believe it is called ) topped off with a thin layer of Tahitian Black Moon Sand for effect. There is rockwork and bogwood as well. Thankfully NYC tap water is good so I don't have to add much in terms of chemicals besides fertilizer which is dosed every few days ( I use Seachem Flourish and Flourish tabs ). Once the plants have taken hold, I am currently planning on stocking the tank as follows ( after proper quarantine ): 3-5 discus bought from a breeder ( who preferably uses tap water so that they are conditioned to my water supply ) <Good> 2 or 3 Bristlenose plecs ( 1 male ) 1 or 2 pairs of Rams ( are the German and Bolivian Rams different species or breeds ? ) <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfsamcichlids.htm and the FAQs file linked above. Different species unless the common names are getting switched> I would like to have a group of a small schooling or shoaling dither fish but haven't decided on which. I will probably go for 10 or so cardinal tetras to keep with the biotype. <Of good starting size> 5 Hatchetfish ( I have a cover ) My main concern is the stocking density as I like to keep away from the crowded tank look because I feel it takes away from the natural behavior of the fish. <You are wise here. It does> I am very open to suggestions both as to species and stocking numbers. While I am not setting this up with any species breeding in mind, I do like to see the fish interact and behave as naturally as possible under the circumstances which is why I tried to pair certain fish. Thanks again for your help, Eric <Unless you have plans to move out some of them, I would stick with no more than three discus here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus/FW (Rams, Pleco...) Tank Stocking   8/16/06
Dear Mr. Fenner, <Eric> Thanks for your quick reply. I choose to go with 3-5 discus because I have read that they better in schools <If not too crowded...> of at least 5 but I was worried that it would be too many. I think that I will get 5 small discus and wait a few months to see if any pair off, then return or sell the 1 or 2 that are at the bottom of the pecking order. <A workable plan> In regards to the rams, I have been told on a yahoo group, and read elsewhere, that the German rams are a breed of rams (I recall it being Bolivian ) <Mmm, no... are the same Microgeophagus... ramirezi, vs. altispinosus... The Bolivian Ram is a different species... http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=15902&genusname=Mikrogeophagus&speciesname=altispinosus> that were developed in Germany to exhibit the better coloration. If I decide to not go with the rams, would a pair or two of another dwarf cichlid do well in this tank, or should I stick with the rams? <Possibly... there are quite a few species... some too shy, easygoing...> Is the proper stocking of Bristlenose plecs 1 male to 2 females? Should there be any specific order of stocking? Thanks again, Eric <Best to place whatever sex ratio here, and keep an eye out for possible pairing, remove others if they're being beaten. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pregnant Aulonocara died - could it be Mycobacteriosis? and Loricariid sel. hlth.  6/3/06 <Mmm, possibly>   <<If this was indeed Mycobacteriosis, what are the chances her baby fry will have it?>> >Frightening to consider... Mycobacteria are pretty much ubiquitous... can become virulently pathogenic under "right/wrong" circumstances. I do suspect this strain, species is still about< I've attached photos of my pregnant female Aulonocara who died recently hoping I could get your opinion.  I thought she had an extreme case of black spot when I got her. <Black spot... as in Velvet? Looks more neurological...>    About a month after her first brood (which are all healthy and 2 months old) she began looking unhealthy and a little bloated.  Mycobacteriosis kept entering my mind and I decided I would isolate her and try to treat her for whatever, when before I could, she was holding a 2nd time.  I decided to wait till after her hatch and lost her.  The first 2 photos were taken a month or so earlier when she wasn't pregnant.  The last 2 were taken recently (one while holding and the other right after).   She started swimming nonstop for 48 hours after moving her into an isolation tank, just 3 days before her eggs should have hatched.  The eve before her due date I saw 2" or so of something black hanging out her gill.  It fell off and appeared to be a black filamentous fungus (in hindsight, maybe it was gill filament).  More bits and pieces are shown on the white nylon bag covering the intake.  More trailed out shortly after and I spotted a dead baby fry in the tank.  She was manic and still making egg tumbling movements with her mouth, swimming in a frenzy and her gills were all swollen.  I realized something was wrong and either the eggs had fungused or she had dead fry in her mouth.  I placed her in a Methylene Blue dip and she spit dead fry.  She seemed better and her gill swelling went down.   The next two days she refused to eat and never rested completely.  Suddenly she darted like a missile across the tank into the walls twice and flipped upside down. I thought she was dead, but then noticed shallow breathing so I rushed her into another MB dip with aeration.  She was able to upright herself and swim.  I diluted the dip and kept her there for an  hour or so (making sure to keep the temperature constant).  I placed her back in her tank, added a few drops of MB and 1/2 dose of Furan 2.  She died several hours later.  I examined her gills and the filaments were completely gone and she had a gaping hole on each side under her operculum where you could see into her mouth and out her lips.   The gill areas were completely flesh colored with no evidence of anything black remaining. Cindy <The swelling, and raw areas could be bacterial in nature. I do wish Chuck Rambo wasn't incommunicado. If this were a breeding facility for Kaiserfishche/Aulonocaras, I'd treat all with a Furan Compound... Likely Nitrofuranace, after isolating all systems thus mal-affected. Bob Fenner> <<Is it safe for me to treat her 9 week old fry?>> >Yes, but I don't know that I actually would. Likely not infected to the >point of actual disease, perhaps some acquired immunity in fact as a matter >of exposure< <<The other female Aulonocara that was in the same tank  is mouthbrooding again.  She doesn't have any of the black markings like the other female had.  She hasn't been looking as healthy lately and does have some fraying of her fins.  Should I treat her tank now, or wait until after she spits her fry and I remove them?>> Cindy Bob,  off the record.. I got this Aulonocara from Cichlid Exchange in Portland.  My LFS orders from them (when they can't get stock from African Northwest in Seattle).  I'm furious after this Aulonocara and recently receiving a special order King Tiger Pleco from them last month with a severe case of sunken belly (take a look at the photo attached). >Did you bring this up with them?< My LFS told me they'd recently received a number of Plecos from them in this condition that died. >Not surprisingly... Not good to let Loricariids get this thin/debilitated<   The LFS didn't put two and two together until I explained to them that these aren't captive bred, they are wild caught. What kind of distributor operates this way? >Poor ones... though many exotic aquatics are still wild-collected< They must ship them out as soon as they receive them.  These Plecos don't have a fighting chance unless they get them eating again and fattened up. >Agreed< I spent 5 weeks trying to save this King Tiger's life because I knew if I returned him to my LFS he wouldn't have a fighting chance.  I fed him you name it 5-6 times a day, did daily water changes, and even ran out to the grocery store one night at 10:00 p.m. to get eggs (to paint egg white on rock and cover it with crushed peas, zucchini & yam), all in an attempt to try to save him.   I got him eating again with a healthy appetite, then he suddenly took a turn for the worse. He died yesterday, so sorry if I'm sounding a little bit angry right now. >No worries< I appreciate all you do with your website.  I love all creatures great and small.  I believe when I adopt something it is my responsibility to care for it as if it were my own and to not treat pets as disposables.  My cats have lived to ripe old ages, averaging 19 yrs, because I spend the money to feed them the best foods available and to get them the best veterinary care.  I try to do the same for my fish. >Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner<

Re: Imported Loricariid death/s  6/5/06 Bob,  off the record.. I got this Aulonocara from Cichlid Exchange in Portland.  My LFS orders from them (when they can't get stock from African Northwest in Seattle).  I'm furious after this Aulonocara and recently receiving a special order King Tiger Pleco from them last month with a severe case of sunken belly (take a look at the photo attached). >Did you bring this up with them?< > >I returned the dead Pleco and talked to the manager of the fish department.  He's worked there for years but was only recently promoted to manager when the previous manager graduated with his PHD in Marine Biology and left to pursue a career in environmental ecology.  He has a lot to learn now that he's in charge of inventory and ordering and appreciates that I take time to do research and share it with him.  He hasn't placed an order with Cichlid Exchange since I got this Pleco with sunken belly and explained to him these are wild caught, not captive bred Plecos and that's the reason he's been having so many recent Pleco losses.  I told him what happened with my Aulonocara and my concern that the breeder's facility might have an outbreak of Mycobacteriosis or some other serious bacterial problem.  He said after hearing this he doesn't plan on ordering from them again.  He has had a number of recent Aulonocara losses and some were large expensive fish.   He thought the problem might be with the Aulonocara species in general and had even considered discontinuing stocking them.  Do you know any reputable breeders/distributors you would recommend for Cichlids and exotic Plecos?  He could use some help now, especially after receiving a shipment of saltwater with cyanide poisoning (? I know nothing about saltwater) that forced him to shut down half his tanks for a week.<< <Am referring this question of supply to our most able Cichlid expert, Chuck Rambo. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pregnant Aulonocara died - could it be Mycobacteriosis? Finding A Source For Plecos and Cichlids 6/5/06 Dear Bob,/Cindy A few comments concerning this email. 1) Pregnant Aulonocara I know the cichlid exchange has been getting in many wild Aulonocara species direct from Lake Malawi. After getting this email I am sure that the fish was not pregnant and indeed died of Malawi Bloat. The stress of being shipped half way around the world takes its toll on many of the fish but especially the females for some reason. I don't know the area Cindy is in but it appears to be the NW area of the US where the water is usually very soft and somewhat acidic. Her tank may be set up for Malawi fish but I wonder if the store itself was set up for wild fish. Captive bred fish are much hardier than wild fish when it comes to water conditions and pH. I suspect that the store was not experienced enough to handle wild fish and did not modify the water as needed. Not ordering these wild fish would probably be a good move for the store, the fish, and their customers. Tank bred species would be better but stores and customers are reluctant to wait while these fish grow and color up.  2) Hollow Bellied Pleco That was really bad. I would recommend that Cindy contact the Cichlid Exchange herself at their website and send along her photo to back up her story. It is true that they are wild fish but that particular fish should not have been sent out. The trouble is, that the suppliers that have good Plecos are very expensive because they hold on to their Plecos for awhile and the Plecos die on them. They make up for the losses by passing the additional costs on to the price of the living Plecos. Many times these prices are too high for many retail customers to buy.  3) Finding A Source For Plecos and Cichlids. If you are interested in Aulonocara species then there really is no better source than the Cichlid Exchange. The owner is one of the most renown experts on this field in the entire world. Next time I would recommend that you order captive bred fry and grow them up. They are the best and are usually as good or better than wild fish without all the problems that wild fish come with. The wild Plecos are a crap shoot. I see these Plecos all the time at my local wholesaler. Some come in with nice full bellies while others right next to them are skeletons. Apparently when an order is placed it may take three weeks for the collectors to get enough Plecos to fill a box. At day one the first Pleco is caught and placed in a container. It stays their until enough Plecos are caught to fill the box. It has not been fed and so lives off its reserves. The recently caught fish look great. The first ones caught resemble the ones in Cindy's photo. There are many good Plecos from vendors at aquabid.com. But the pricing and shipping may make a purchase cost prohibitive.----- <Thanks much for these insights Chuck. Will post/share. BobF>

# of fish after fishless cycle, and Pleco Sel.,   2/8/06 Hey gang.  Great website!  (Not to butter you up or anything.)  My little girl (age 5) got a 20 gallon aquarium for Christmas.  We set it up and fishless cycled it with a raw shrimp (fairly large one).  We have the ammonia and nitrites back down to undetectable levels and are in the process of doing water changes to remove the nitrates.   So...it's fish time.  We have on the menu 4 angel fishes, 3 Kuhli loaches, 1 Oto, and 1 small Pleco (wanted a zebra Pleco until we saw how expensive the are...YIKES!!!). My main question is with this fishless cycle, how many fish can we add at once?   <Mmm, best to put in only a few at first... ones that are the hardiest... likely the Angels... though these will get too big for a twenty gallon... the bottom feeders would too likely go hungry at first...> Couldn't find a good answer to this question searching the site (although with this much information, it's easy to get lost in). Secondly, any recommendations on a Pleco that will remain small that is interesting and only cost and arm instead of an arm and a leg and 20 gallons of gas.  Oh, yeah...it can't have spots (remember, it's a 5 year old).  She really loved the zebra, but that's a lot of chores for a fish. <There are a few Ancistrus, Hemiancistrus species to suggest. Do read over re these on the Net (pix on fishbase.org)... and ask specifically re at the store. Not commonly offered> I'm real proud of how she has been patient with the cycling.  She got a Betta about 6 months ago and has been very good with it.  She makes sure that her Mom and I don't overfeed it.  Just want to get her started on the right track with as few painful memories as possible. <I understand, and agree> Thanks for everything and I'm so glad someone out there cares enough to put a great site like this together.  Carry on with the good work!  I'll be checking in again when I finally get my 135 gal saltwater setup soon (hopefully). Phil <Outstanding. Peace, life to you. Bob Fenner>

Odd Loricariid Suppliers   1/26/06 Hey crew,    I like your site, jammed full of goodies. Thank you. I hope you can assist me, I am looking for a source for pleco's and other not so common fish. I can do a <7 box order without any trouble, but I do not need a container full. I would sooner buy from a broker, and not have to play with all the paperwork on the importation. <I understand, and agree> I understand that somewhere it is raining and the availability is not always there. But some where it is not raining. My local guys have struck out, shipping floaters, or have been reduced to the gouge. <Good way of putting this> Got anybody that is turning around some volume and needs a hand now and then hitting a minimum? Or better yet some one with live product that wants to sell it wholesale? Thanks Scott Bates <What part of the world are you located in? Have you chatted with Oliver Lucanus (here) or at/through his site: Below Water (.com). He's in Canada, but is your best chance among us for a lead here. Bob Fenner>


Sand or gravel? UGF or not? Loricariid sel. 9/13/05 Subject pretty much asks it all. Is sand better than gravel? <In some settings yes, in general, no> (or gravel better than sand?) I've read that sand is bad and is much more difficult to clean. I can understand the difficult to clean part - since it's smaller grain the gravel cleaner would be more likely to suck it up along with the garbage. I got a bag of Flipro #4 natural color 'gravel' (50 lbs) but I haven't opened it yet since I'm still undecided on the color. The LFS didn't have any of the 25# bags of SpectraStone I've been using recently (blue). I'm concerned about the #4 being too fine for a UGF to properly work. <A valid concern> Anything larger seems to build up algae too easily and would be harder on fry should they appear in the tank before I move 'mom' to the delivery tank. Anything smaller would be even harder to clean. This is about 1/2 the size of typical aquarium gravel. I'm leaning toward staying with dark blue (what my current tank is using) since most of my accessories are lighter color (clear plastic or glass / white ceramic / light blue ceramic) and look better against the dark blue (light colors would 'wash out' against the natural gravel). Also, I think it would be easier to see Guppies against the darker background - especially the females - when they are near the bottom. They may be able to see the food more easily as well (as would I when cleaning). Comments? I know the color is more of my preference, but I'm looking for other opinions on my practical reasoning. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubstrates.htm> Another consideration is that the dark blue tends to reflect less light. Would using a lighter color gravel (which reflects more light) make the guppies' colors stand out even more? <If too light, will wash them out> One more point: My stand is light oak. I was thinking that the darker gravel would add more contrast. But, would darker gravel make the stand stand out more than the tank? I need a good aquatic designer's opinion! :-) <Mmm, unfortunately you've crossed over into an area of subjective evaluation ("taste"), of which I am bereft> I've read that UGF (Under Gravel Filters) are bad since they essentially store harmful bacteria. Is there any truth to that? <Mmm, some...> I have one for my 30 Gallon tank, but I haven't added any gravel or sand for it yet, so this is the time to decide to leave it in or remove it. How do you clean the UGF debris that is sucked to the bottom? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwugfiltr.htm and the linked files above> BTW, I was going to buy some plants, but the only tanks I saw with plants had snails. I refuse to buy plants in tanks with snails since you're no doubt buying snail eggs along with them. I don't want snails. (nothing against them - I just want guppies and the Pleco) Sabrina suggested a Ancistrus "Bushynose" Plec that would only get 4-5" long rather than my current standard Plec (I was looking for a smaller size Pleco). I asked a LFS but they only had a "Rubberlip" Pleco. They said it too would only grow to be 4-5" long. Is anyone familiar with that one? <Yes... a bit different, not as hardy as many other Loricariid choices> I couldn't find any that wouldn't get to be 12" long when I was buying one :-( so I bought the regular one. Thanks yet again, Joe M. (my post #5 for reference) <Take a look under the family name on WWM, fishbase.org Bob Fenner>

Chilly Plec and an Ichy Bluegill? - 08/07/2005 Hi crew, <Hello, Andrew.> I have a 30 Gal tank with one 2 inch bluegill, which has Ich on its tail. I've looked through your site, but couldn't find any info on salt baths as an after-the-fact treatment, <Probably because such a method is quite ineffectual.> but I've seen it mentioned briefly in some places. I don't want to add salt to the tank because the water changes would be extremely difficult. <.... Why?  It's just for a couple weeks or so.> Would a salt bath be effective? <No, not really.  If the fish definitely has Ich, then you can be 99% certain that you have Ich in the tank.  Getting the parasites off the fish just to toss him back in an infected tank only stresses him enough to help him contract more.> If so, what kind/dosage of salt should I use and how long should I keep the fish in the bath? <If you wanted to put him into a clean, uninfected hospital tank after the dip, I would use water with a salinity of seawater (SG 1.022 or so) for up to five minutes.  Be absolutely CERTAIN the water is of the same pH and temperature as that of his tank.  Still, I don't think this is an effective or useful method at all, unless followed up by treatment of one form or another.  I have only used a salt dip as a last resort for a Plec whose gills were so heavily infested that he needed relief immediately or die.  I don't think it is necessary or beneficial in your case.> On a different note, I want to add a Pleco to the tank for algae control and for more diversity, but I am not sure if it could deal with the temperature (as low as 65 degrees in the winter). <Just saw a talk last night on collecting fish in Argentina - there were a great many plecs in a river that was colder than that.  I think it would be fine, if you're cautious.> I also am not sure that a Hypostomus (all that PetCo has) would be right for my tank because of its size. Do you have any suggested species? If so, where could I get these? <I *think* the "bulldog" or "rubberlipped" Plec is happier in cooler waters.  The talk I saw did include some Ancistrus, as well, so you might look to the commonly tank-bred Bushynose.  Both of these are relatively small algae eating plecs.  Of course, do NOT add any fish until you're certain the Ich has been eradicated, and be sure to quarantine newcomers.> Thanks, Andrew <Wishing you and your bluegill well,  -Sabrina>

Smaller Plecs Hello, I have a 37g freshwater aquarium with 4 green tiger barbs. The decor is intentionally that of a "toy" aquarium, with dark-blue substrate and a couple very obviously fake plants. For a filter, I have an Eheim 2026 with ceramic noodles, Eheim Ehfisubstrat, and an "activate carbon sponge" deal replaced every other week. The tank is cycled. I filled it with tap water, but am doing 15% weekly water changes with RO water. Is this a sufficient setup for any sort of Pleco, and if so, which? Most of the Plecos available locally grow to be at a minimum 5.5", which I feel is a bit large for the tank. Is my decor going to be an issue, as there are no great hiding places? Will the barbs be nipping the pleco's fins?  Also, is my filter + media setup acceptable for a freshwater tank lightly stocked as mine? Thanks! Chad <If the only other fish are the Barbs then you have plenty of room for one of the smaller Plecos. Stay away from the Common or Sailfins. They get huge. If you are looking for algae control then any of the many Bristlenose (Ancistrus) plecs would be a good addition. A Clown Plec would also fit, but you would need to add natural driftwood for him to eat. And there are many meat eating plecs (i.e. Hypancistrus species) that stay small. The Zebra Plec is one of the smallest at around four inches. But this is a very expensive fish. Please research whatever species you get and feed the correct food after lights out. Planetcatfish.com is the keeper of all catfish knowledge. A great place to start your research. You would need to add a cave for any Pleco to call home. Your tank and filter are fine. Don>

Pleco Picking Dear Sirs: <Morning! Ryan with you>        I am somewhat new to the hobby. <Welcome> I have a 55 gallon tank with mostly angels, and a few live plants which are doing great. <Awesome> I am starting to get some algae in the tank. I am planning on getting some Otocinclus, but would like to get a Pleco as well, one that will not get very large and will not uproot my plants. I have done some research and am still unsure what to get. I have been told that a bristle-nose would be a good choice for my needs, but I was hoping to find something with more color, like a clown or something like that. However, I do know that some Plecos do not eat very much algae, but have more of a diet for meat. I think I need a Pleco with a moderate diet for algae, since the Otocinclus can help out. Any information and advice would be much appreciated. Thanks so much.                    Ben <Ben, many aquarists have this problem.  All the great looking Plecos, such as the Zebra or Royal, are nocturnal.  They do eat algae, but in limited quantities.  If you are really after a great algae eater, I would get a few very small common Plecos.  When they grow to 6 inches or so, trade them back in to your LFS for more small ones.  I wouldn't recommend a bristle nose, they get too big for a 55 gallon as well.  If you're after a great looking Pleco, Zebras are stunning in a display- But don't expect too see him very often.  Also, you'll have to provide meaty foods for him to eat every few days or so-not to mention it's one of the few freshwater fish that you'll pay $50.00 or more for!  Good luck! Ryan>

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

Sailfin Monster Hi, my name is Chris, and am new to your site which, by the way I find enjoyable and very informative. <Hello, Chris.  Thank you for the kind words.> My question is this; My sister has turned me on to a marble Sailfin Pleco, which she says doesn't get any longer than 6". After many searches on the internet, I'm finding most references leaning toward the "Sailfin Pleco", which can grow rather large. Are they one in the same? <Quite likely.  A few fish probably fall under this name, but far and above, the most common is the 'gibbiceps' Plec - Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps - which can and will grow to 18" quite easily.  Take a look here:  http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/loricari/glyptope/148_f.htm . And if not, could you give me the Latin name for the "marble" Sailfin Pleco? <Again, same beast.  If you're interested in plecs, browse through http://www.planetcatfish.com/core/index.htm and browse through the L numbers, see what all there is that interests you.  Sizes, food requirements, and gobs of other info can be found there.  Enjoy!  -Sabrina> Thanks, Chris

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

L-025, the Scarlet Plec - 02/22/2004 Hi! <Hello!  Sabrina with you, today.> I just read your article and found they information very useful and the article well written. I just want to ask you if you know anything about Pseudacanthicus sp. (L025) if you do I would appreciate to know it, since you didn't mention that order. <Actually, there is a great deal of information on this fish here:   http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/loricari/pseudaca/188_f.php .  This is quickly becoming a popular Plec.> Will it be possible to keep a male and perhaps a couple of females in the same tank, if I provide plenty of hiding places and good feeding? <Mm, I suppose this would depend highly upon how large the tank is, especially considering the mature size of this fish.  Unless you plan on a very large aquarium, I would not try more than a pair - male and female - of them.  They can tend to be rather aggressive.> I will probably get the fishes directly from Brazil in a month. You suggest that I feed them with some anti parasitic Tetra product against the gills worm (its actually a crustacean). <Well, unfortunately, Tetra has discontinued their medicinal food line in the US.  Might still be available in Canada.  One source for medicated flake:  http://www.flguppiesplus.com/_wsn/page3.html .  Otherwise, you can consult certain fish health texts for dosages of how much of what to mix into foods.> About choosing healthy fish or getting ones I think is beautiful. I just have to wish for the best, since I don't have the opportunity to overlook the Indians. <I wish you the best, and hope you end up with some nice fish!  Do please quarantine the fish, and be sure to get them eating immediately to ensure survival.  Meaty foods, like supermarket shrimp/prawn, or frozen prepared foods like bloodworms or Ocean Nutrition's Formula One will do quite well.  It is not terribly difficult (but it is stinky!) to make your own frozen concoction using market fish, shrimp, etc., and if necessary, you can implement medication this way.> Even if you don't have time to answer my questions, I will think that your article have the basics covered enough for me to figure the rest out eventually :-)  Kind regards,  Jonas Thank you for your kind words - we are very glad Bob's article was of such great use to you.  Pleased to be of service,  -Sabrina>

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