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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats 1

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

Scobinancistrus aureatus

Plec Problems I've had my current Pleco for about a month and I just started to notice that both front fins on my Pleco have started to form some sort of "bubbles" at the front. Both front fins look the same and the fish seems fine otherwise.  Here are some pictures with red arrows pointing to the "bubbles". http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_1.jpg http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_2.jpg http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_3.jpg http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_4.jpg http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_5.jpg http://www.rbartick.com/cf/pleco_6.jpg Has anyone seen anything like this before? <To be quite honest, taking into account the damage to the fins, I'd say you're most likely dealing with fin rot.  I would isolate the fish in a separate aquarium and treat with Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone (proprietary names include "Kanacyn", "Spectrogram", and "Furacyn" [Aquatronics] and "Kanaplex" [Seachem]).  I have had scaleless fish fare very well with these meds.> Regards,  Ross Bartick <Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina>

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>

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

Somewhat Vague Plec Problems I have a serious problem with my sucker fish, it is having problems with swimming. It will uncontrollably float to the top and then crash to the bottom. It stops moving at times even when you touch it with the net, but he is still alive and comes back to life after you bug him awhile. <Please don't harass the fish with the net; don't poke at it or otherwise bother it.... this will cause further stress to the animal that it really can't handle well in its time of illness....> Please I Need Your HELP my other sucker fish in the tank is fine but we recently had a small zebra tetra die from it being bent and swimming weird, are these two fish related in their health problems???? <It is possible.  I need some more information on your tank to really be able to help, here; can you tell me tank size, other fish in the tank, your readings for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (if you don't have test kits, take a sample of your water to your fish store, they should be able to test these for you - please ask them the results of the tests), and your regular maintenance of the tank (like how often you change water, stuff like that).  Please also include any other details on the sick Plec (is color normal, is he eating, fins clamped/torn, anything) and on the tetra that died (symptoms exhibited, etc.) as well as anything else that you can include.  I know this is a lot, but the more information you can give us, the better we can help you figure out what's going on with your Plec.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>


Water Quality, Plecos, and Praise - Oh My! Sabrina, <Hi again, Chris!> many thanks for the prompt and helpful reply. <Oh, goodness....  I hope you can forgive the delay on this one!  Computers crashing all around me....  I think I have bad computer vibes emanating from my fingertips, or somethin'!> As you suspected water quality was (is still not) ideal. Nitrites and nitrates are high and I'm getting them down with water changes <Ah, good.> although I'm equally cautious about doing too much too quickly. <Not much to be cautious of, here; just be sure to match temperature and pH to that of the tank.> We've added some bogwood and improved the hiding place. <Also good.> We've also left the light off for the last few days, room light is quite good. <That will definitely help soothe this primarily nocturnal critter as he settles in.> The tank bottom is all sand so he (or she - I wish I could tell) <Sex can be determined in adults during breeding time (or if you simulate conditions of their breeding season) - males of most Loricariids will develop "odontodes", these are fine bristles that will show up on their pectoral fins and on their 'face'/'cheeks', especially on the operculum.  Females will lack these odontodes.  Other than that, it can be extremely difficult to tell gender.> should have a soft place to lay up. I've also noticed its adhering to the glass more so I suspect there's some algal growth forming up. <It could also be that the sand is too sharp for him (er, her? it?).  Please watch for any redness/irritation on the plec's belly.> In general the Plec is looking calmer but I'm not complacent. Its just getting the balance right of trying to do the right thing and not causing too much stress. <You nailed it on the head right there, mi amigo!> It's my son's tank and the fish, especially the Plec, are real pets if you know what I mean. <I do know, indeed.> If I could ask you a couple more questions please: 1. How do you sex a Plec? <Yikes!  I jumped the gun.  See above.> 2. We live in a very hard water area - I have access to deionized water - should I mix this in with the tank during water changes? <That is certainly an option.  Though, you could try using peat in your filter instead; this certainly does the trick for my tanks, and I recommend it highly.> 3. Does having hard water change the water parameters I should aim for? <No.  Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrate ideally below 20ppm, and as close to zero as possible - regardless of pH and alkalinity.> 4. The filter is within the tank and has a compartment for charcoal - do you have a point of view on using it as I've received mixed opinions? <It most certainly has its uses!  It can remove toxins that find their way into your water - which is quite important - among other things.  If you choose not to use it constantly, consider at least running carbon in the filter for a few days each month.> Lastly, I have to congratulate you on the web site - truly one of the best web sites I have been to (not just fish but all web sites). Highly informative, realistic in expectations and advice and welcoming to all levels. Well done indeed. <From all the crew, thank you very much for your kind words!  Erm....  I really hope the delay in response on this one doesn't change your view!> Thanks again for your help.  Chris <You're quite welcome, and thank you again for your praise.  Wishing you and your Plec well,  -Sabrina> Plec Problems We have recently moved a 7 inch Plec to a new tank. All other fish in the new tank (36"x 13" X 18") are doing well. However, the Plec, which we have had since 3" long is struggling. It is breathing fast and recently seemed to shed a thin mucus layer over most of the back. Colour seems to change quickly from dark to caramel and back. <The first thing to check is your water parameters - ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate may be too high in this new (and likely cycling) tank; this would definitely cause issues like this in your Plec.> Changes in the tank - its now in a much brighter tank with higher flow.  Rocks are lava type. <Might want to give your Plec some smoother territory; the rough pumice will tear up his belly, if it's the only place for him to hide.  Please consider giving him some driftwood, both to give him some safe cover and to supplement his diet.> No plants.  It was in a darker tank with plants and different rocks. <Then this may be attributable to lack of cover alone - definitely see to it that he has safe, comfy areas to hide during the day.> Is this a case of lack of food (there is plenty of mess in the tank in the  morning) and we are feeding algae pellets and now a piece of cucumber? <Sounds like he's eating well, no problem there.> Any chance the much brighter tank is causing the problem? <Not in and of itself, but again, if he doesn't have anywhere where he feels safe, he will be unhappy and stressed, more prone to illness, etc.> A much loved fish so your help would be much appreciated.  Thanks Chris <Do please check your water parameters, that is of great importance.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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>

Pleco with Ich It seems my Pleco has Ich.  I have been studying up but would like to act fast.  He is the only one in the tank and my QT doesn't have a heater yet. <Does the heater from the main tank fit in the QT?  If he is the only one in the main tank you can treat him here, but there is a chance you will kill off your beneficial bacteria which means more water changes.> I have read many things on meds <Me too, always very blurry, but the Reef Invertebrates book has a lot of pretty pictures.> but am very unsure on what is safe for him.  So at the moment I am raising the temp (slowly of course).  How high can I go with him and can I use freshwater salt? How much? Temp, at only 73 right now but slowly increasing. <You could go up to around 82 over a period of a few days, be sure to keep your water well aerated.  When you bring the temp back down drop it about 1/2degree per day until you reach around 76-78.> I really don't want to lose him.  No rubbing or hanging at the top yet, but he definitely has a couple of white spots on him.  Did an 8 gallon change already.  Please Help ASAP.  I am going to keep studying your website to see if I can find info on plecs and Ich.  Water conditions still the same, Ammonia 0.6, nitrite 0 and PH 7.5 <Check out this page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm "The too-common infestations of Ich can be quickly resolved with malachite with or without formaldehyde preparations. Be wary of utilizing too much salt, metal (copper) or insecticide (DTHP, Masoten, Dylox, Neguvon) medications on these catfishes; they succumb to these treatments more readily than the apparent cause you're treating."  The Ich meds will have the ingredients listed on the back of the bottle.  Best of Luck, Gage> Thank you very much A very worried Tracy

Plec with Ich Good Morning Gage, <Mornin Tracy!> My Plec looks to be Ich free. <Whoo Hoooo!> I went to the forum for help and was told to use salt and high temps.  The person assured me the Plec could survive this.   <Good plan, there are good people on the forums.> LOL I was skeptical but he was getting worse by the day so I went for it.  It worked! I thought at a couple points I was going to lose him but he made it through.  Not a spot on him now.  I am going to continue the treatment for four more days and then very slowly return him to a more normal environment. His color is back to normal and his fins look great.  So far so good.  He has become more of a fussy eater.  He is refusing wafers and peas but will eat romaine lettuce. <Romaine in not as healthy, let him starve for a while, I know it sounds mean, but he will be fine, after that he should be happy to get the wafers back.> I am going to try zucchini after the lettuce is gone, again. <You could leave him with a piece of zucchini as well, wait until he will probably eat the center first and leave the skin, leave the skin in there until he eats that too (unless it gets nasty) that is the healthy part.> I have friends that think I am nuts to have done all this for a 4 dollar fish. <All my friends think I am nuts!> But I believe all life should be cared for.  (except maybe mosquitoes)   <I agree!> I had a therm that was giving incorrect temp in the tank so when I did water changes it was off about two or three degrees.   So I am pretty sure that is what caused the Ich outbreak. <Very possible, I hate it when that happens.  I have three hydrometers that all read the specific gravity differently.> Now I just use my new floating therm that is in the tank for water changes as well.  The hydrometer was crap but it had a therm on it and that is what clued me into the temp problem.  He is at 87 degrees and 1.002-1.003 SG.  The sea test hydrometer is a pain to get an accurate reading in case anyone asks. <My floaty type hydrometer appears to be more accurate than the swing arm type.> Better to spend more money and get one that is more accurate.  All in all he is doing better (knock on wood). <Drift wood? LOL, I love bad jokes.> I enjoyed your last email about his waste products decorating the tank for Christmas.  You aren't kidding!  He is one big poop machine.  LOL, I still love him though. <Just wait till he is 12in long and larger.> I am hoping (although I will miss the humor) I will be able to sit back and enjoy him and spend less time on the comp trying to keep him alive.  BTW, the heater just might have fit in the QT.  Never even thought about that.  Good call.  I am going to get one for the QT now just in case he ends up with a secondary infection that he might need meds for. <Or of the Ich comes back, it may be at a stage in its life cycle where it has fallen off the fish and is incubating in your tank waiting to come back.  It is best to let a system infected with Ich run for a month or so with out any fish (hosts) to infect.> The Danios are going to have to wait a month before I can purchase them, just to make sure the terrible Ich is gone.  You guys are awesome, saved many a fish I am sure.  Take Care!  Let's hope you don't hear from me and hypopleco for some time. <Thanks, happy holidays, Gage> thank you thank you Tracy

Plec with Ich, cont'd Hello Gage, <Actually, Sabrina here - Gage and I have discussed your issue, and he asked that I respond, so here I am!> I thought I would update you on my poor little Plec.  He isn't doing so well.   <Sorry to hear it!> The Ich seems to be gone but his gill movement is very rapid.   <Could be from the salt, or the water quality, or a combination of them, as we've discussed at length in the forum, or even possibly a return of the Ich. He has turned a caramel color.  I found out I had ammonia right out of my tap but I think it was a little too late.  He went through ammonia then nitrite problems.  Amquel seems to have fixed the water quality problems but I fear it may be too late.  Poor guy doesn't look very good.   <Sad, indeed.  Gage and I both have our fingers crossed for him.> He went through a Kanacyn treatment for red spots on his fins which have not gone away. <As I've mentioned in the forums, I think the very small size of your Plec, along with how heavily infested he was, along with the water quality issues you've been dealing with, made him very sensitive to the salt - I still very much think this is the problem with the blood streaked fins (a strong sign of something in the water that the fish can't tolerate). Right now I just have him in the dark (in case of velvet), salt 1.001 SG ready to go back up if Ich appears, temp 86.   <Personally, I'd eliminate the salt.  This Plec has taken a beating - don't know for sure if the salt is affecting him, but I suspect so.> I am going to start lowering his temp today to 82.  I think I may just leave him and then euthanize him when he stops eating and moving about normally.  He is in such bad shape I am not sure I want to use meds. <Good to use caution, here, yes.  Do not consider euthanizing unless he stops eating - a fish that is eating isn't bad enough to want to die yet, in my opinion.> Otherwise, he is eating well and going about his day normally.   <*Definitely* a good sign.> He always comes over when I am checking on him.  He is much more personable than I would have ever thought.  He is a sweet little fish.   <Plecs can be very personable.  Some of the Loricariids are some of my very favorite fish.> I feel terrible to have put him through all this, but I didn't have a clue.   <You are learning, and have learned a lot - that is what's important in this.  You have done a lot and are still trying.  You and your Plec have been very strong through this - don't give up hope yet.> I trusted a pet store and that was wrong. <It is unfortunate how much bad information can be had through some pet stores, out of ignorance (and worse).> I now know a heck of a lot more, and through all this, found a really good fish store.   <Wonderful to hear!!> I figure after he passes I will let the tanks run for a month to kill any parasites, then look at getting some Danios.   <An *excellent* plan!> We still would like to have a common Plec but won't get one till the tank starts to grow algae.  That will also give us time to save for larger tanks. <Do please look into some of the other plecs that stay smaller and eat meaty foods, like L-260 (just happens to be my absolute favorite).  Browse through some of the L-numbers in the "common name" section of the "Cat-eLog" at http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/com_index.htm and see if you find something that interests you.  I think there's a suitable Plec out there for just about anyone.> He is in the QT right now and we are working on getting the 33G water conditions perfected.  Still showing nitrites.  I am sure water changes with Amquel will fix that tank in time just like it did in the QT. <Yes.> Thank you very much.  Between you and the forum I have learned so much valuable information.  I think when it is time to get more fish, I will make less mistakes thanks to you guys.  Keep up the good work.  Tracy <Gage sends his regards, and we are both very glad to have been able to help.  Thank you for the kind words, and good luck with your little Plec!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

New Plec, New Tank, New QT tank, YAY! Hi Gage, No worries, didn't even notice a delay.  I know we all have lives that revolve around more than our fish. <Speak for yourself!  Just kiddin.> I am just happy I can ask someone questions that I trust. <Well we have a great crew here, so what I do not know, someone else will.  It is best to seek many answers and decide what will work best for you and your fish.> The wood is hanging out in diluted bleach right now and will for a while, then I will soak it in dechlorinated water for a while, I won't add it till I start cycling his bigger tank around march, figuring that will give it plenty of time to dry out.  He is in his 33G tank now. YAY! <Excellent> I waited 24 hours and then fed him half a wafer.  He was on it right away.  So he seems to be doing well.  I bought a food clip and blanched a zucchini piece but he would not take it.  I thought it was the clip ( the only one they had was a bright clownfish) so I took it out and let the piece sink.  He checked it out but had no interest.  After 12 hours I took it out and fed him his usual wafer.  He ate it right away. <Well I must admit, the Plecostomus and the clown fish do not meet too often in the wild.  That is fine, better on the bottom of the tank than in the clip.  He may like the wafers better than the zucchini, you can vary his diet in time, no rush.  The plecs I inherited used to steal floating pellets from their tank mates, a pair of Oscars.> I took the rind off the zucchini because I wasn't sure about leaving it on.  Could it be he wasn't sure about the food? <Leave the rind on, its good for them, like bread crust.> He also gets peas weekly which he will eat. <Cool.> I have romaine lettuce, but not sure exactly how to give it to him. <you can try to rubber band it to a rock.  I would not worry too much as long as he is eating his wafers.> Should I leave the food clip in so he can get used to it?  The food clip saves me from having to get my arm in his tank.  My gloves aren't long enough to reach the bottom. <You could scoop the food from the bottom with a net.> Most of what I have read says Plecos are very shy, but mine isn't.  Any time I turn the light on or do a water test he pops out of his cave to see what is happening and will come right over to where I am when I am checking on him. <That is good, you are bonding.> He is most active at night but is out and about during the day as well.  Is this normal? <Perfectly fine.> I am wondering if I am feeding him enough.  I am pretty sure I am because his little tummy has food in it in the morning.  He is two and a half inches long and he gets half a wafer every night unless it is Monday, then he gets a peeled pea. <LOL, that is great Monday Night Football and peas. I hope Sabrina is reading this, she is a Pleco maniac.  Your feeding regime sounds good.  You can really check out their bellies when they suck up on the front of the glass, you should take a look next time you are the fish store; a lot of the younger plecs will have sunken bellies from being starved through out their travels.> My water tests indicate ammonia less than 0.6 but not 0, nitrite 0 and PH 7.5.  We are going to do an 8 gallon change every Friday.  Is this enough? <That will be perfect, currently your tanks bio load is very low, although you will find Pleco waste ends up everywhere, like they are decorating for Christmas.> Also, in the middle of December we were thinking of getting nine Zebra Danios.  Adding them three at a time from the QT.  Is this too many? <Should be just fine, Zebra Danios are quick and slightly aggressive, they will add some good action to your tank.> He will be getting a larger tank around march.  How long should the Danios be in the QT before moving them presuming they are free of disease? <2-3weeks if they are showing no signs of disease.> And are my water conditions okay for them? <Yup.> I have the temp at 72/22 degrees right now but plan to have it at 77/25 by then. <77 is a good temp.> I borrowed some books from the library and researched the Danios online but it is all conflicting. <That is the way it goes.  fishbase.org is a good resource.> Does this mean they are adaptable to many water conditions? <I am not sure if conflicting information leads to adaptable fish, but Zebra Danios are pretty hardy and adaptable.> Also, all I see that they eat is flake food.  Is that good enough? <I would mix in some frozen community food, maybe some small pellets, but yes they will live on flake.> Sorry about the length of this email, I just want to make sure I am doing this right so that when (god forbid) I have to deal with a really sick or dead fish I know I did what I could. Many thanks again! Tracy <No problem Tracy, if I had put as much time, research, consideration, thought, etc. into it when I was starting this hobby, there would be a lot more fish in this world, unfortunately I started as many of us do, making mistakes, getting bad advice, not listening to good advice.  The QT is an excellent idea, your tank specs are right on (the Ammonia will go down), you research your fish before you buy them, RIGHT ON!  You graduate the Gage school of beginning fish husbandry.  If you do end up with sick fish or some other wacky problem, we have experts here to help.  Keep up the good work, Gage>

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

Back To The Future...(Starting Over Again!> Hi, I'm just getting back into keeping fish after a 30 year layoff! A lot has changed, for sure. <It sure has! And the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series, er...Oh- I guess they didn't...Some things still have not changed...But hey, the Undergravel filter is no longer the state of the art, anyways! And I miss those metal-framed tanks, as I'm sure you do! Scott F. sharing useless commentary with you tonight...> Not only in the actual hobby, but in the amount of available knowledge. I've spent the last month or so getting myself up to speed while starting a new fresh water tank. Your site has been very helpful. <Glad to hear that! We sure have a lot of fun learning and sharing experiences together!> Here's the set up. A 55 gallon tank filtered with an Emperor 400 with duel bio wheels. I installed a small pump at the rear of the tank and at the opposite end from the filter. It jets the water along the rear glass towards the filter inlet. I put a small bubble wand along the side wall, on the pump side. Substrate is about 1/2" of natural, dark pebbles, small "half pea" size. No UGF, I use a vacuum to do my water changes. Landscaping consists of 2 pieces of driftwood and about 10 slate caves. No live plants, but 3 plastic to hide the hardware. I added 13 Zebra Danios to start the cycling. 3 died during the process, but the other 10 are very active. <Glad to hear that. I love Zebras- just great all around fish, and fun to watch!> I do 10 gallon water changes twice a week. This keeps the nitrates well below 20 with the small bioload now in the tank. <Love you...> I added one small algae eater, an Otocinclus species. Ammonia and nitrites have stayed at zero since the cycle completed. I'll increase the water changes if needed as I slowly add QT'ed fish. (See, even old dogs can learn!) Water tests at 120 ppm for hardness and a ph of 6.8.   <Sounds good!> Plan is to house a breeding colony of one of the small Plecos on the market today. Nothing over 5" or so. The Queen Arabesque (L260) for example. 3 to 5 adults. I'm not looking to go commercial, but I feel strongly that it is better to breed than capture when dealing with any wild animal. <Whenever possible! I agree> So I want to give them everything they need to breed and hopefully pass the genes along. <Excellent> Of course this is going to be one boring daytime tank if that's all I put in it, so my question (finally) is about tank mates. I would like a group of colorful, active fish to liven up the tank. I was thinking livebearers, but a thought occurred to me. Would the Plecos benefit from an egg scattering species that would supply them with a protein rich "live" food? If so, can you recommend a common species? (Remember the "pass the gene thing"?) It would have to be a type that would be unlikely to turn the (dinner) tables on the Plecos should they breed. Just seems to me that if I'm going to be feeding them, they might as well help feed and condition the Plecos. Just like keeping guppies or swords with small cichlids. Of course I would not count on it as a steady food supply, just a supplement to the meaty diet I would supply.  Don C. <Well, Don- I'm not overly confident in them supplying a food source to the Plecos, which are essentially herbivorous, but there certainly is no reason not to have some small, colorful fishes to bring some life to your tank. Sure, livebearers will fit the bill, but I am a big fan of tetras and Rasboras. If you can get some nice Cardinal Tetras and/or Harlequin Rasboras, you'll get some great small fishes that will add color and interest, and-who knows- maybe a spawn or two! Yep- these little guys rock, IMO! Good luck in your venture...Welcome back! Regards, Scott F.>

BIG Pleco! 10/28/03 Hi all, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for your help in the past, I had an ordeal with a little puffer a while back. <I missed that post.  Do you still have the puffer?> I have a 10 gallon tank that I'm having difficulty keeping clean.  The water is always cloudy an often a bit smelly.   <Usually caused by high ammonia & not cycling properly.> I am using both a Penguin Mini BioWheel filter and an undergravel unit.  The stupid BioWheel always gets stuck and won't spin, perhaps due to accumulation of gunk, cleaning doesn't seem to help it spin though.   <I never liked those filters.  Love my AquaClears!> I have those shiny stones in there instead of gravel.   <Gravel has more surface area for good bacteria to grow on.> I have three fish in there.  One 7" chocolate Albino Pleco (I think he is full grown), and two little catfish.   <Whoa!  You're Pleco is way too big for that tank!  He belongs in at least a 55gal+.> I just can't keep this tank clean.  I do methodical water changes.  My temp is 78 degrees, and pH is around 7.0.  Usually the Ammonia level is zero but at the moment it is above 0, maybe .5 ppm or so.  Nitrite is around .25.  I can't keep the waste from the Pleco from accumulating, I guess there is not adequate filtration or something.  Am I fighting a losing battle??   <I definitely think so!  Plecos are giant poop machines.> If the Pleco is too big for the tank I will give it away to a good foster parent with a larger tank. <Good idea, find it a good, big home & I think your problems will be solved.  Most folks have no idea how large some Plecos can get.  I have a couple that are almost 12".  Do an 80% water change & add gravel substrate to the tank.  You can always put the larger stones on top or in one corner if you wish, but that may make it difficult to clean the gravel.>    In the meantime, any suggestions??  I'm getting nervous about my readings because I have used Amquel Plus and Ammo lock. <Save your money & get rid of the Pleco.  That is definitely not an inch/gallon kind of fish!>   Thanks in advance, Frank. <You're Welcome--Pufferpunk>  

Re: Tank Water Thank You for taking the time to answer. What is the proper cleaning methods for a 10 gallon aquarium, <When you do a water change, put the end of the siphon into the gravel and siphon the gunk out of the bottom of the tank. Do only part of the tank each time, because there are beneficial bacteria living in the substrate.> and as I understand now that even though other fish may not have been affected by dropsy that it is still in the tank, how do I ensure that the others do not come down with this? I completed the antibiotic treatment even after the prior fish died, is this enough or should I treat the water a second time? <Hopefully the first treatment will be enough. Keep the tank clean and the water quality high, feed the fish a variety of good-quality foods, and they're less likely to get sick.> How much gravel should be in a 10 gallon tank, we currently have 1 bag from where we bought the aquarium but it doesn't appear to be quite enough because we cannot get decorations to stay down. <Ah..."one bag" doesn't really tell me how much gravel you have, as gravel is sold in several different sizes of bags. More gravel might help, or you might put plant weights on the artificial plants.> Our sucker fish has tripled in size, and is appearing to be way to big for the tank at this time, how do we resolve that?   <Find someone with a larger tank, or return/exchange him at your local fish store.> Is there any suckers that stay smaller? <For a 10 gallon tank, the only fish that will stay sufficiently small is an Otocinclus species, which are commonly called "Otos". An alternative is algae-eating shrimp, aka Amano shrimp (after the guy who pioneered their use in aquaria), with the scientific name of Caridina japonica. Best of luck with the tank! --Ananda>


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

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>

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

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>

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

Armored Catfish. Okay, I have a new Plecostomus Catfish, he is kept in a tank with a few gold fish. After a couple of days in the new tank I noticed that Kirby's (Plecostomus) color was lighter, it looked as if it had been bleached. A couple of days later the color returned but he now has a big bright red spot on his side, he also has some red in his tail and fins. I am really worried about him. His movement and eating habits are fine. Please help. Juli <would check the water quality in his aquarium, make sure ammonia and nitrite readings are 0 and nitrates are under 30 ppm and check the pH level. Plecostomus change color...dark/lighter with the mood/environment they are in. Do you have a picture of the red spot? if not does it look like a soar? Good Luck, IanB>

Kirby-the Pleco Here is a Picture of Kirby, his red spot has now turned white in the middle and it does look like a scar. <from the picture you sent it looks like a bacterial infection, would look at the information on this link http://www.fishdoc.co.uk/disease/bacterial.htm I would aim more towards doing Short-term baths for a few hours each day using anti-bacterial products such as Chloramine-T, potassium permanganate or antibiotics, Good Luck, IanB>

Large Pleco and Plastic Liner Hi, My LFS has a orphan Pleco that is just huge, probably 18".  I don't have room for him at home but I work at the University of Washington, and in the greenhouse they have a tank that I think might fit him.  It is a round pond about 7' in diameter and 30" high, holding about 700 gallons.  It contains a giant Brazilian lily and about 5 large Koi.  The temp is kept between 21 and 24C, pH about 6.8.  Water from the pond is pushed through a bead filter, then to a container full of water hyacinth that do a great job of removing nutrients-- but there is still a thick layer of algae all the way around the pound, hence the need for a big hungry Pleco.  The greenhouse manager likes the idea but he is worried that the Pleco might gnaw through the liner, which I think is probably 15 or 20 mil plastic.    I know Pleco like to rasp on driftwood but I think the teeth are well inside the mouth... do you think this would be a problem? <Not a problem. I would however provide a piece of sunken wood for this catfish to gnaw on, hide under. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Brett

Pleco thanks and questions, Puc Hi Crew - First thanks to you all who give good advice and care enough to answer.  Please know that it is appreciated by all of us out here who need a knowledgeable base and want to learn more. Second, my previous posts (concerning Puc the Pleco) were answered well and your collective advice followed...now another question. Puc's worm friends are gone (except one but I'll get it!) and the tank is great. Puc is home and his "dropsy-possible-condition" seems to be improving after moving him home and taking your advice and medicating (Maricyn2 - 3rd day now).  However, he still isn't eating.  I'm starting to get nervous that while the other things he has been through haven't killed him that now he will starve to death.  He is obviously less swollen but thin around his vent and tail.  Now, I can't imagine that there is any way to force feed a fish, but is there anything I could do here that I'm just not thinking of?  How long can he go on without eating?  I've tried tempting him with brine shrimp and his favoured algae tabs...nothing - he just sulks, sticking his nose to his driftwood but not rasping at it.  Maybe he just needs more time?  Any thoughts? Peace, Dana <Hey Dana, sounds like Puc has had a rough time, he should come around on his own time.  Continue to offer a variety of food, and clean up what does not get consumed.  These fish are tough, he should be fine.  Best Regards, Gage> 

Swollen Pleco Hi All (again), <Scott F. today> Thanks for the previous input on regarding Puc the Pleco and his little worm friends.  We have now progressed to another problem (there's always another problem isn't there?).  While in the QT Puc hasn't eaten.  I have continued to perform water changes and include AmmoLock to try to keep him comfortable while the QT cycles.  He seemed to be doing ok, but he looked a little bit "puffy" yesterday.  I went away overnight and when I returned this morning he was so swollen his pec fins didn't even touch the gravel.  He puts his tail fin on the bubble bar to keep himself from levitating and can't seemed to stay "stuck" to anything, although he keeps trying.  I consulted one LFS who told me that brine shrimp would help with the bloating and another LFS (where I bought Puc) who told me that while brine shrimp is a very nutritious food. <Interesting responses!> I'd really just have to keep Puc in good water conditions and wait it out, just ensuring that he doesn't flip over and not be able to right himself - which is fine because I don't think that the shrimp floating in the water is going to do much for him anyway since he won't eat. Well, based on the "keep him in good water conditions" I didn't think the QT was the best place for him - so I moved him back to his 20G which has excellent water conditions (just tested yesterday) using two nets so as to not chase him around and stress him out even more. <A fine move on your part!> His dorsal fin is raised and he looks very uncomfortable so I covered the front of his tank so that its dark and I'm hoping that will help him relax a little while I try to find out how to help him. I'm hoping that Puc does not have dropsy.  I read a little about it as it pertains to goldfish and noticed that the recommended treatment would be Erythromycin and medicated food with daily water changes - the water changes can be done but since he won't eat I can't medicate him... He has "pooped" while in the QT, though not in the past couple of days, and since he hasn't eaten I don't think it would be impaction or constipation.  Is there something else that I'm missing that might cause him to swell like this? Help? As always, thank you! Dana <Well, Dana, if the fish does have dropsy, you'll see a swollen body and angled scales (when the fish has scales, of course). If you fish seems to be afflicted, you should take immediate action and medicate, regardless of whether he is eating or not. A condition such as this does require quick attention to affect a cure. I don't like to just dump in medication at the first sign of illness, but it sounds a lot like you're convinced that he has this condition. I'd err on the side of caution and medicate. Good luck!>

Pleco problems - Warning a little long Hi Bob and All! <Gage here, avoiding real work at all costs.> Wow! You're site is fantastic. I've never found so much good info in one place :) <lots of info on worms too if you use the Google search tool.> Background: I was reading your Pleco Q & A as I have one common Pleco and like to know all I can. My water baby, Puc, could really use your help. Puc is about a year and a half old and about 7 inches long. He (I think, and since I don't know how to tell, will continue to think of him as male) lived in a 10G tank for about 3 months with 2 Corys (who sadly passed on of unknown reasons). During that time we ended up with some strange looking worms in the tank. I never knew if Puc brought these into the tank or where they came from or if these worms killed Hamlet and Othello (the Corys). He was then moved to a 20G (fishless cycled, one fake plant, one arch, Millennium 2000 filter, 12" air bar, 1' gravel) where he has since lived alone and with no worms - until two weeks ago, so now I figure he is the host. Problem 1 & 2 & 3 (air gulping, worms and a split pec fin) Puc has always enjoyed sliding down from his perch on the glass to the gravel and then flying up out of the water to "catch some air" but started doing it so often - sometimes gulping air - going to the bottom "burping" out the air and doing it again - that I started to get scared and really scanned his tank which is how I noticed the worms again. My web-research tells me they are either anchor worms or nematodes (more likely nematodes since they don't attach to him) but they do have a sort of forked head. Considering all of this and even though the water parameters were stable (no ammonia or nitrite to speak of, pH 7) I set up a fresh QT tank. I set it up "new" because I was afraid the main tank was contaminated and didn't want to stress him further by using water from it - although cycling a fresh 10G may be worse? I added salt and ammo-lock as well as conditioner and Stress-coat well before I transferred him, so hopefully he'll be ok (its been 3 days and he looked much more relaxed after the first day in there - but now it is getting VERY cloudy - so I did a 20% water change today - he looks no worse). He has only gone up for air once or twice so far. Regrettably, while netting him - or should I say trying to net him, damn is he strong! - it looks like his right pec fin was injured/split just after where the edge meets the fan. Main tank treatment I added salt to the main tank (which unfortunately I haven't done in some time and probably could have prevented this outbreak) which seemed to kill most of the worms and clear the water from extremely cloudy to beautifully crystal clear. Then, after speaking to an actually knowledgeable person (surprising) at my LFS about anchor worms (still assuming they could be that) I decided to use Clout to treat the main tank while Puc is in QT. But then read that Levamisole (the farm animal dewormer) is actually an actual "cure" for the worms. But, as far as I can see, the worms are dead - and after thoroughly cleaning the tank and gravel and doing a massive water change I want to let Puc go home. Questions 1. Are you familiar with the type of worm I have described? and are they harmful to Puc or any other fish I might want to add - if they come back? <Not quite sure what type they are, usually worms appear in a tanks with excess food, too little circulation, or not cleaning the gravel bed well enough. Are the worms actually on the fish, or are they on the glass and in the gravel?> 2. Do I need to actually treat Puc for worms? and is there any other effective way to cure Puc without using farm animal Dewormers? <Depends on if the worms are actually on him.> 3. Have you had any experience with Clout? I plan to ask the manufacturer if the carcinogens become inert/or less potent when added to water...I'm afraid to dump the waste water when I do the water change to public disposal. 4. Could Puc just be bored and that's why he's jumping so often? I've heard that Plecos aren't tolerant of their own kind so I don't to get him a friend that he will hate. <It is perfectly natural for Plecos to swim up to the surface and gulp for air. Some Plecos are more tolerant towards others, but I would not add another one to the 20gal tank, Puc will probably be needing a larger tank shortly these fish get large, not sure what species Puc is, but he will probably grow to be a little over a foot.> 5. Is there anything further I should do to help heal the split pec fin or will the salt and time heal it? <Good clean water, salt, and time.> 6. Would it be too much stress to move him back so soon? <Chances are these worms are harmless if you are having a hard time keeping good water conditions in the QT tank, and the main tank has appropriate and stable water quality, I would move him back. If you can keep the water in the QT clean and within the proper parameters I would let him hang out in here for a little longer, maybe a week or so. The back and forth is going to stress him out too.> I know this is a lot to ask but we'd really appreciate your help. <please get back to us if I missed anything.> Keep jolly, <I'm working on it.> Dana <Best Regards, Gage>

Pleco Problems Thanks Gage, I appreciate your input. The worms were not attached to the fish, just down in the gravel and on the inside of the hood. Overfeeding was probably the problem. It often looked like he had eaten all his food, but he must have been hiding it. <Sneaky devil> You stated that you don't know what kind of Pleco Puc is...from looking at a few of the pics on the site it looks like he is a snow king (great head shot). <If he looks like the head shot of the snow king, he is probably either a snow king or a Hypostomus, either way, a big fish.> I do plan to get him a larger tank but he seems to be doing fine for the time being and tank stands being as expensive as they are I'll have to wait. <My 125gal is currently setup on some cinder blocks and plywood. Some stores carry pine stands that are not painted or stained yet, these come with a slightly smaller price tag.> Concerning Clout, I called the manufacturer (Aquarium Products) and asked about the carcinogen warning label and was told that they are required to put the label on in the State of California as the state has very strict disclosure rules. They have no studies regarding the effects of dumping waste water into public waste water treatment in any state, but I was assured that the amount of the chemical is miniscule and no other state has expressed concern over its use or dumping. So, I'll take that with a grain of salt and hope for the best. <That is good to know. Thank you for taking the time to research that, good to see some folks still care.> Thanks, again! Dana <Thank you, let us know if anything else comes up. Gage>

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.  It's 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. It's really sad watching when this happens but sometimes there's just nothing you can do. In this case, the only thing I can think of that you haven't tried is the dried algae sheets that are available now. There are three different 'flavors' available, red, brown, and green. They're 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 it's 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 don't know for sure of any food stimulants that would work but do run a search on your favorite search engine. I don't think it's strange at all to become attached, I'm that way with many of my own and there's 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!! I'm very relieved to hear that he's eating again. Thanks for the update! Ronni>

To Puc The Pleco (A Poetic Tribute) Just wanted to say thank you to all of the Crew for your help throughout Puc's multiple problems and recoveries.  Unfortunately he passed away a month ago.  I haven't been able to write it... Anyway, thanks. Just because I feel like sharing: :) Puc, my friend, my "big fish man" stuck to the glass waiting for me to say hi and pay attention sailing through the realm I thought might please You You have moved on Back to the old rivers You were born in I love You Thank You
for the honor of learning your world and re-emphasizing the delicate nature of life especially those environments/lives which we alter I will always treasure the time I had with You as my water-baby and I will never forget the lessons You taught me And Thank You for waiting to say good-bye Good-bye my Puc-man <Well said, Dana...Chin up!>

Re: Pleco and driftwood Can I use ocean driftwood in my freshwater tank if I've soaked it for a few days, or do I need to purchase special driftwood from a store? <It will need to be soaked a lot longer than a couple of days and it's recommended that you don't use it at all. If it's not fully cured (soaked long enough) then it can leach into your water and affect several of your readings, especially the pH. And you always run the risk of introducing unwanted things into your tank when you use items that were wild collected.> I am very new and inexperienced in the fish world....I've had this Pleco (a small spotted common variety, cheap from a pet store) for a couple of weeks, and so far it hasn't seemed to bother my 2 little goldfish. (My mom got them for my daughter's birthday about a month ago, and I'm trying to keep them happy.) A friend told me to get a Pleco to keep the tank clean, not knowing they have a reputation for eating the slime coat off of goldfish. But so far, I haven't given it anything besides a romaine lettuce leaf and peas. Is this enough? <Only occasionally will a Pleco bother other fish. Just keep an eye on him. As for feeding him, he will do much better if he gets algae to eat. If there is none growing in your tank you can buy algae wafers that are inexpensive and easy to feed. Lettuce doesn't have a good nutritive value and the peas should only be given occasionally. You can also feed him green beans (canned or thawed frozen) once in a while.> I have a 10 gallon tank with a filter and light, and am hoping not to have to expand my set up. <You will eventually need to and it may be sooner than you want. Goldfish can get quite large and so can Plecos. And Goldfish can grow very fast.> I don't have a local fish store, and the pet store guy wasn't too helpful. Any advice is welcome. <Hope this helps!> Thanks. Erica <You're welcome! Ronni>

Pleco with big spot I have some questions in regards to my 8 year old Pleco that is about 13 inches long. I received this Pleco from my sister who owned him for those previous 8 years. After setting up my tank, I noticed he had a spot on his side, and wondered if he had been injured during the move. But now that time has passed, I can see it is getting bigger, and would like to know what it is, and how to get rid of it. It appears as a spot about a quarter of an inch around, and about a quarter of an inch high (rounded like a dome coming up from the skin) but looks as though it is made up of smaller black or grey bubbles piled on one another. I have included pictures of him, both original pics, and pics where I circled the spot, I hope they are clear, and you can make out what it looks like, and help me figure out how to take care of it. I realize they are not focused on the spot, which may make it harder to see, while the picture itself appears clear, and also, I hope they are not too dark. Please let me know. Thank you. Kirk Saffell <Very nice pictures and a very nice tank! Do take a look at http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm especially Ichthyosporidium and Metacercariae (Flukes) as your description and the pictures lead me to believe it's one of these. You will need to isolate this fish into a quarantine tank and then treat him according to the recommendations at the link above. Ronni>
Re: Pleco with big spot Yes, I have done all of those. Although, about every 3 to 4 weeks, it seems I will see a fish staying constantly at the top, and picked on by other fish, then a few days later, is dead. As far as ammonia, the natural cycling of the tank would show a high level of ammonia before high nitrites, and then nitrates. I am currently out of Nitrite/Nitrate test sticks, I do have ammonia testing available, and it remains at 0. (Although a test at PetCo after fish had died indicated slightly high ammonia, I immediately went home and tested, and my test kit indicated 0.) <That's the correct pattern but sometimes an ammonia spike will be so fast that if you aren't testing daily you will miss it. I recently had a new tank show 0 ammonia but the nitrites were at 5. This was after just one day of being set up. However, I don't think that's the problem in this case. Since these are smaller tropicals (judging from your photos), it is still possible that whatever is on your Pleco is killing them even though they don't show signs of it. I know I said yesterday it wasn't likely but I did some thinking on this last night and with the small size of them it is possible that there would be no visible symptoms.> I have considered that the 2 indications I mentioned point to 1 of 2 things - a fish constantly at the top is supposed to indicate a lack of oxygen or burning of gills, correct? <Usually> And being picked on by other fish of the same species indicates something may be wrong with that fish, right? <With the types I saw in your pictures, yes. These are generally non aggressive fish that don't often pick on their own species.> I have made a few mistakes. Buying fish from PetCo and immediately introducing them into the tank. After doing so, I had been at the same PetCo a few days later, and noticed a lot their fish had Ich, or the cotton effect, and a lot of their tanks had dead fish floating in them. I pointed this out to them, but they really could have cared less. <Ouch. Unfortunately, this is all too common.> What I learned from that situation is, don't buy fish from anyone who doesn't care about the condition of the fish. <Sometimes there's no other option though. A strict QT period is necessary for all new additions, regardless of where it's purchased.> I suppose this might be a cause of some of them dying. <Not the Ich but they may have been mis-handled somewhere along the line. Or they may have some sort of internal problem. At this point, I would recommend just keeping exact track of when you lose a fish. Mark the day on your calendar and see if you're actually losing them as often as it seems. And when one is dying, inspect it closely both before and after death to see if you can find anything.> I appreciate your help with this, but I still haven't found enough meaty info by looking on this site, do you have any exact links that go in depth? Or any other sites that give a step to step? <Unfortunately, I don't. Use your favorite search engine to search for Plecostomus disease and see what it pulls up.> One of the descriptions of the problem suspected with the Pleco, says Black or yellow nodules, ulcers on or under skin. ON the skin would be accurate. It actually looks like a dime sized area where someone piled caviar. So this one, I tend to think is not it - Flukes. Red or Black nodules under skin. Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thanks. Kirk <I agree but I couldn't see closely in the pictures so figured they were both worth mentioning. At this point, unless you find something more definitive in your search, isolate him and treat him for Ichthyosporidium. Have you been feeding him anything or just letting him eat what's in the tank? If you aren't already, you may want to try supplementing him with algae wafers, particularly ones with Spirulina. I am very sorry that I haven't been of more help! Oh, the correct link (since I gave you a broken one yesterday!) is http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm Ronni>
Re: Pleco with big spot He has been in a tank with many other tropical fish, are they infected then? I lose about 1 fish every month, is this why? Kirk <It's possible but they would probably have been showing some kind of symptoms. My guess is that the losses are from something else. Have you tested your ammonia and nitrites recently and kept up with the water changes? Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot Yes, I have always fed him algae discs, but when I feed the fish, he always goes to the top and gets as much of that as he can too. I feed him 3 or 4 discs at a time (since he is so big) about every other day. (since I know he eats the other fish food too) <Very good> I have an 18 Gallon tank that I took down when I moved, and never set it back up. I had a lot of trouble with that tank. Fish always died. The temp was incredibly difficult to keep steady (thus I bought a Tronic settable heater) The gravel in the tank was large gravel, which I later learned is a no, no, especially in a smaller tank. It had only an undergravel filter, which wasn't doing the job, so I bought a small power filter for it. But fish were always dying, and I was always busting the small Pleco in that tank, harassing, attacking, or eating the other fish. I got rid of that Pleco, and moved the remaining fish from that tank (molly babies) To my 65 Gal. (where the 13 inch Pleco is) <Not uncommon with some Pleco's. They're generally mild mannered but once in a while they can be a terror. For now, I would suggest setting the 18g back up with the power filter, no gravel, a heater, and a light if you have one.> Also, that smaller tank, when I would look close at the gravel, had some very tiny white creatures, about the size of a speck of dust, swimming and squirming around in it. I was told this was sometimes normal, and those creatures were not harmful to the fish, but actually gave them more protein to eat. <Yes, it's true that these are harmless. Many tanks seem to get them.> Anyway I will get some smaller gravel and set that tank up, but shouldn't it sit with only water, gravel, plants and filtering for about 4 weeks to get the cycle in place? <Nope, you can set it up and begin using it immediately by filling it with water from your 65g. Try to get some of the dirt that accumulates in the gravel and put it in the 18g also. This will seed your tank and you won't have to wait for the full cycle. You will still have to monitor ammonia and nitrites and possibly do a few water changes but by setting it up this way you can at least reduce the cycle period to just a few days (my longest cycle period with this method has been about 4 days)> Would it be safe to treat the entire 65 Gallon tank for what the Pleco has? <It's not recommended. Some fish are more sensitive to medications than others and you also run the risk of medicating fish that don't need it.> And if so, will doing so destroy the carbon in the filters, thus they should be removed? Does any type of additive that requires removal of the carbon cause harm to the fish if put in and carbon is not removed? In other words, does it cause a reaction or dissolve the carbon and send it into the water, being dangerous for the fish, or does it just ruin the carbon? Or, does the carbon do its job and remove the additive from the water making it a waste of time to use the additive? <The latter. It doesn't ruin the carbon but the carbon removes the medication.> OK, enough for now, thanks again for your help. Kirk <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot I am replying to you again to send better pics of the Pleco. <Yes, these show the affected spot much better> I have now set up the 18 gal tank, and quarantined him. <Very good> I am still unable to truly know exactly what this is he has. He displays no signs of any of the descriptions I've researched, other than the obvious raised cysts you can see in the pics. Basically, about all I have found are these 2 things, and have found no references after endless searching as to exactly what it could be, and even if it is the Ichthyosporidiosis, how to treat Ichthyosporidiosis (other than this one reference to food additives and water treatment). One of the descriptions even indicates that at the point that cysts appear its most likely too late for the fish. This greatly saddens me. Here are the 2 descriptions I have come across: Ichthyosporidiosis A. Ichthyophonus hoferi; large 10-250 micron spores which may germinate to form large hyphae (similar to the hyphae of Saprolegnia). B. This fungus infects all species of fish. C. Clinically the fish are emaciated with small round occasionally ulcerated black granulomas in the skin. Scoliosis is occasionally observed. Internally numerous granulomas are observed in many visceral organs. Microscopically the lesion consists of granulomas with encysted large PAS-positive spores. Occasionally large irregular shaped hyphae are observed. D. Transmission is unknown. Ichthyosporidium Symptoms: Sluggishness, loss of balance, hollow belly, external cysts and sores. Ichthyosporidium is a fungus, but it manifests itself internally. It primarily attacks the liver and kidneys, but it spreads everywhere else. The symptoms vary. The fish may become sluggish, lose balance, show hollow bellies, and eventually show external cysts or sores. By then it is usually too late for the fish. Treatment is difficult. Phenoxethol added to food as a 1% solution may be effective. Chloromycetin added to the food has also been effective. But both of these treatments, if not watched with caution, could pose a risk to your fish. It is best, if diagnosed soon enough, to destroy the affected fish before the disease can spread. Here are the latest pics: (also notice how he always gets all splotchy with areas of lighter color on his skin for a few days after I have moved him.) <OK, I have conferred with others on the crew and Bob suggests that this may actually be the pleco's internal mass showing through after and injury. He's seen this before in some pond fish and it generally heals itself with time. You may want to keep him QT'd during this time just to make sure no other fish pick on him and in case you do need to medicate but it's not absolutely necessary at this point. The lighter colored splotches that you see when you move him are just from stress and will disappear once he relaxes again. Ronni>

Re: Pleco with big spot OK, here's the thing though. Last July, when I picked this Pleco up from my sister (the previous owner) I transported him and an Oscar 6 hrs north to my house. It was a rough ride, and later I discovered transporting them the way I did was a no, no. The Oscar died the next day. The day after that, as I was setting up the tank, and preparing to put the Pleco in, we noticed the spot, and wondered if he had been injured during the move. <Possibly> I asked my sister (who was in poor health, and actually hadn't looked at the fish tank in about 4 months) and she said, well, last time I saw him, he didn't have any sores. Now keep in mind, that he was in a tank, that the water had gone down to about half way, no water changes had been done in all those months, the filtration system was turned off all that time, and it was questionable whether they had been fed any time recent, or if there were even any fish in the tank, because the water was so murky, you couldn't even see anything but grey murky water. <Goes to show how "tough" these animals are> I fished around through the water later and discovered the Oscar and the Pleco. After observing that sore back in July 2002, I have kept an eye on him, and the sore has not gotten smaller, its gotten bigger. He has been in a 65 gal tank with other tropicals and lots of plants and ornaments, until I moved him to this 18 gal tank for quarantine the other day. (which he is mad about, I've observed him trying to swim around, and he bumps against the glass, then swims to the top, then bumps the glass again, like he is having trouble accepting that this tank is smaller than what he is used to. Have never seen him do that in the other tank) So, I suppose its possible this is an injury. My question is, why has it gotten bigger? <Perhaps a continuing infection, maybe secondary> I also suppose he could be re-injuring it, but if so, I have seen no behaviour to indicate how or when he would have, other than the last few days in the new tank. Kirk <Catfishes come in two "varieties", "naked" and armored... Plecos are of the latter group. Once the skin and armor is broken it can be trying to cure an infectious disease. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pleco white patch picture Hey, Here are two pics, sorry for the poor quality. <From what I can see it does appear to be fungus. Treat as mentioned previously. Ronni>

Re: Pleco, white fuzz Hello, <Greetings> I added a marble horned Pleco to my established 29 gal. tank on Saturday.  Today he was quarantined due to a small patch of whitish-ness above his right forward fin.   <It's very important to quarantine all new fish *before* adding them to your main system.> None of the tankmates have this problem. (elephant nose, Bala shark, guppies, Neons, Corys, Kuhli loaches, a common Pleco, and a few Gouramis) <Sounds as if this tank may be very overcrowded. Depending on the species, the Gouramis can get quite large and the Bala Shark can reach over 12'> pH is 7.01, temperature is 78F, ammonia and nitrite are undetectable, nitrate is between 5 and 20 ppm.  Do you think I should take him back to the shop, or try to treat him? < It sounds as if he has fungus and it can be medicated with one of the Maracyns by Mardel or Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Labs. I've had good results from both of these products and they're easy to administer. I have my doubts that the shop would take him back but you can try if you don't want to treat him yourself.> Thanks, -Brett <You're welcome, Ronni>


Re: My Burtus (Plecostomus) is sick Ok here's the deal.  He started getting a patch of skin area that went from black to human skin color.  Now he has 2 areas and they are bigger it is above the tail fin.  Now it is starting to look like it is getting raw.  I don't want to have to treat the tank because I have a pair of mating Jack Dempsey's and a Red tail shark.  Jack and Jacqueline leave Burtus alone since they only care about locking lips at this point.  I do have a 10 gal that can be set up.  But if I treat Burtus in it can I put the babies in it after a quick clean.  We are still learning about the baby business so I don't want to take any chances.  Oh the tank is about 30 - 35 gal (homemade) so is more square than rectangular. Please help!!  He is eating and swimming fine.  Thanks Vickie P.S. We use artisan water and start right on weekly to bi monthly water changes. No underground system. Just a carbon filter and a white one (I can't remember what it is filtering) that I cut to fit. <He does need to be isolated and medicated with an all purpose medication, probably something like Melafix. Also check out http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm to see if any of those fit what he has. As long as you clean the 10g you will be fine re-using it for the JD babies. Good luck! Ronni> Bloated Pleco still hanging on... Over the course of a busy week with out-of-town guests, lots of snow, rain, and flooding basement <Ugh! Hope you got it all straightened out and it didn't cause too many problems!> I managed to do a 25% water change and put carbon back in the filter to try to rid my tank of Maracide.  It's been a couple of days now.  Maracide makes gives the water a blue tint.  It still has a light blue tint.  How can I be sure enough of the Maracide is out of the tank before I can safely start the "Parasite Clear" treatment (that includes Metronidazole for Internal parasites)?   <You should be OK to add the Parasite Clear now since it's been a couple of days. Just to be on the safe side, do another 25% water change before adding it but then go ahead.> My spotted pleco's body is very soft too.  :o)   <Interesting. I never did find out an exact cause of what caused it in my guy. Hopefully yours will continue to get better too though.> Will do...  Thanks so much for your help.  I'm working towards that QT tank. I'd like to make my currant tank the QT tank and get a larger tank for the main tank.  However, my hubby is very resistant.  He doesn't like all the time what I already have going is taking up.  I will pull my ten gallons out of the basement for QT tanks when time permits.   <LOL! My hubby throws a fit every time I so much as even mention thinking about another tank! They can be quite time consuming but I find it relaxing.> Thanks again.  Marianne <Take care! Ronni>

Re: BLOATED Pleco still hanging on... Dear Crew, I still have my BLOATED Spotted Pleco hanging in there.   <Glad to hear he's still with you.> We've been through many water changes.  We've been through a course of Maracyn Two, a course of Maroxy plus Maracyn combined, and we just went to a course in Maracide.  My thought is now that spotted Pleco may have internal parasites, maybe "Hole-In-Head".  I never would have thought it until I realized that the symptoms of thin, stringy excreta and milky bubbles on the side were symptoms of "Hole-In-Head". <I'm very sorry I didn't make this connection. I should have from the faeces but didn't know about the milky bubbles being a symptom.> I've only just realized my mistake in treating spotted Pleco (will be day 3 of 5 today) with Maracide.  Maracide is for external parasites.  I should have started spotted Pleco on something for internal parasites.  I have something I purchased named "Parasite Clear" which is for both internal and external parasites.  Would you recommend I stop the Maracide (for only external parasite, which I don't see) and start the "Parasite Clear" -- which has a few different ingredients, but mainly I think spotted Pleco needs the Metronidazole (that I understand is for external parasites) that is in it.   <Yes, I would stop the Maracide and make sure all of it is out of the tank and then begin treatment with the medication for internal parasites.> I've appropriately added aquarium salt and Epsom salts to the aquarium for healing and possible constipation. All fish are doing well.   <Very good. I still have to recommend using a QT tank though.> The nitrites keep spiking up.  I keep changing off 25% of the water.  I also put nitrite absorbing pillows in my filter.  I did take the carbon out long ago.   <Keep up the water changes and make sure the nitrite pillows aren't going to absorb your medications that you're adding.> We did have a time with my silver angel developing a cloudy eye, but that has cleared up.  Two of my angels keep hiding in the corner, but they are coming out more often now. <Very good.> Please tell me what you recommend.  All seem to be eating just fine.   <Keep on with the course you're on, just with the change of medication talked about above.> At times spotted pleco's breathing seems a bit labored, but other than that you would think there was nothing wrong with it except that it looks like it swallowed a Ping-Pong ball.   <Time for another story from my own tanks. :o) I have a small catfish (black with white spots) that was sold to me as a talking catfish. The catfish was in with Cichlids and was eating leftovers from them and algae wafers. A few months after I got him, his belly puffed up so that it was nearly as wide as he is long. In a panic, I called a Cichlid breeder friend in Chicago and asked him what could be causing it. He didn't know exactly what causes this but he said he's had a couple of his do it to him over the years, the bellies get very large and soft (I don't know if yours is soft), sometimes it goes away on it's own, other times it stays. He's never lost a fish from it and my little guy has since lost his belly and is doing great. So all is not lost with your fish. I do wonder about the labored breathing though. I never saw that on my guy but he hid most all of the time (At one point I actually went 4 months without seeing this fish!) so I may not have noticed it.> By the way, the Maroxy apparently cleared what looked like milky bubbles on spotted Plecos splits in sides.  The splits aren't there anymore. <Very good.> However, I think Bloated spotted Pleco is more bloated since finished the course in anti-fungal/antibiotic medication.  What do you think?  Thanks for all your help. Yours truly, Marianne <You're doing the best possible for him, keep up the good work and keep me posted on his progress. Ronni>

Re:  BLOATED Spotted Pleco Dear Crew, <Hello> Over approximately the last two months I continue efforts to keep water properties appropriate, treated once with Maracyn 2, once with Maracyn and Maracide, twice with Parasite Clear, and now BLOATED Pleco is on Day 6 of 7 of MelaFix.  You'd think the poor thing couldn't get any more BLOATED, but it seems to get more BLOATED by the day.  His breathing seems labored.   <Drat! I was really hoping that since I hadn't heard from you in a while he was doing better. :o(> He is in a 10 gallon QT by himself with the highest allowable amount of aquarium salt in "tank without plants."  Temp. is at 80 degrees.  Filtration system going fine with no charcoal or anything... just the bio-bag.  I just put in a 5-inch airstone yesterday.  I think he's been eating the thawed, frozen peas I've been giving him.  I keep the light off to keep him more comfortable.  What would you recommend?   <At this point it's pretty clear that he's not constipated so cut back on the peas and try giving him algae wafers to see if he'll eat those. Just give him a pea once a week or so.> I plan a 25% water change after day 7 of MelaFix.  If he's still hanging in there after I make sure all water properties are appropriate should I try a course of a different antibiotic or other medication that I haven't tried before, repeat something I've tried once already, or should I just leave his water as close to what would be best water quality for a healthy Pleco, leave him be, and see what happens? <You've tried pretty much everything possible so go ahead and slowly reduce the salt level to normal and get the water adjusted to normal parameters for a Pleco and let him be. I'm afraid that if you continue to medicate him it's going to weaken him more.> Thank you, Marianne <Wish I could be of more help! Ronni>

Re: Regarding BLOATED Spotted Pleco Dear Crew, <Hello again>      This past weekend, I consulted a marine biologist that runs a local fish store about my BLOATED spotted Pleco.  He said he's seen this condition before.  He said he believes it could be one of two things:   #1.  He said my BLOATED spotted Pleco could be egg-bound.  He's seen it happen that they keep producing eggs and get bigger and bigger.  He said that my Pleco could either reabsorb the eggs or could die. <This is something I never would have thought of in a Pleco but it does sound reasonable since other egg laying fish can have this happen.> #2.  He said that my BLOATED spotted Pleco could have a tape worm.  He sold me some Fluke Tabs.  He said for my 10 gallon QT tank, I should put in one per day for three days.  He said each of the three days change off 25% of the tank.  On the fourth day, he said to change 50% of the tank water...  He also said that if it is a tapeworm, I stand to lose BLOATED spotted Pleco to a dead, decaying tapeworm inside her too.  Only time would tell...   <Hmm'¦> Well...  On day 2 of Fluke Tabs, my BLOATED spotted Pleco got incredibly pale and frighteningly listless.  My BLOATED spotted Pleco did not look good at all.   <Ack!> I did not give a third dose.  I changed off 50% of the tank water immediately and replaced it with water from my main tank.  That was yesterday.  Today, BLOATED spotted Pleco looks like she will live a little longer.   <Very good> Yesterday, I was afraid BLOATED spotted Pleco was a goner.  Whew!  I am going to go on the assumption now that if there was a tapeworm it's been taken care of.  I am going to go on the assumption that BLOATED spotted Pleco is egg-bound.  The marine biologist said that if my BLOATED spotted Pleco is egg-bound I should go ahead and put her back in my main tank.  I know it seemed (and seems) like my two Plecos are love birds.  Since I moved BLOATED spotted Pleco to the QT tank that is right next to my main 29 gallon tank, my common Pleco stays in the main tank and hangs out in the corner that is nearest to the QT tank that holds BLOATED spotted Pleco.  Every time I enter the room where the tanks are set up in, the common Pleco in the main tank gets right up to the top of that corner...almost as if to plead with me to put them back together.  I'm serious.  I always had the gut feeling that I should not separate them.  As soon as I figure the time is right, I think I should put her back in the main tank, or at least work it so that the two Plecos are back together.  Please give me your best recommendations at this point.   <OK, at this point I wouldn't put her back into the main tank but if you're willing to take the risk, you might want to try putting the other Pleco into the hospital tank with her. This might at least alleviate some of their stress.> Is there any way I could possibly make her conditions optimal for either releasing the eggs or reabsorbing the eggs??  What is the best thing I could do?   <Do a search at www.wetwebmedia.com and on the web for spawning Plecos. I tried one on the web for egg bound Plecos and didn't pull up much but you might find more info on spawning them so you can get the conditions right. Hopefully if the conditions are right for spawning, she'll at least release the eggs.> Thank you so much for all your help.  By the way, after BLOATED spotted Pleco started looking so pale and listless, I did some research online on Fluke Tabs.  According to what I found, I should not have given BLOATED spotted Pleco more than 1/4 to 1/2 Fluke Tab per 10 gallon tank.  What would be your recommendations?   <Yes, Plecos do tend to be a bit sensitive to certain medications. :o(> Thanks again for all your help. Yours truly, Marianne <Thank you for keeping me posted! Ronni>

Re:  BLOATED Pleco Dear Crew,      Well...  I put BLOATED (Mrs.?) Spotted Pleco back in the main tank with (Mr.?) Common Pleco yesterday afternoon. . .  They seemed very, very happy to be back together.  They appeared to have a great afternoon into early evening.  I think they may have had a great late night.  I had also put some Tetra Blackwater Extract Spawning Aid in the water to make it softer, etc. In the morning, BLOATED Pleco was not BLOATED anymore.  She was definitely deflated.  However, she had also passed out of this fishy world into the next.  I'm sad she didn't survive.   <I am very sorry to hear this. I was really hoping she would pull thru> However, I tried all measures to make her well over the last three months, and felt it was time to send her back to her home in the main tank.  At least I think she died a happy fish.  What do you think?   <I agree, you did all that you possibly could for her, much more than most people would have done. I'm sure she was happy to be back home with her buddy.> Thanks for all your help.  I know that marine biologist at the local FS does biopsies.  I'm thinking about asking him to biopsy deceased spotted Pleco so as to try to know for certain what the problem was.  I dunno...  I wonder if he would do that and if he charges for such services? <It would be interesting to see what he could find. If you do find out, please let me know.> Yours truly, Marianne <Ronni>

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

Injured Pleco Our 6in. Pleco jumped out of the tank in the middle of the night.  We found him very dry and brittle but still alive.  We put him back into the tank with the two Oscars but his scales are all falling off and he looks kinda red under them and his top fin has totally fallen off.  He seems to be feeling and eating good but looks like hell and is getting worse.  Any advice for getting him better and is it safe to keep him in with the Oscars will they get sick two? <Wow, that's one tough fish! You really need to isolate him and medicate him. Probably with Melafix or some other such medication designed for treating injuries. Stress Coat may not hurt either. Ronni>

Re: Dying Plecos? My wife and I started up a 20 gal, freshwater tank about 6 months ago.  All has gone well except we can't seem to get a Pleco to survive in the tank. I'm pretty sure there is plenty of algae and such, we have an algae eater that is doing well.  We have tried 4-5 times and every one has died mostly in a day or two.  One lasted about 3 wks.  All our other fish seem to be very healthy.  Never had any problems introducing any other new fish.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.... <<Without knowing water parameters such as Ph, ammonia, nitrites, and also what kinds of fish (I'm guessing non-aggressive since you have another type of algae eater) it's hard to say for sure. Do you have any visible green algae? Plecos need green algae to eat. They won't eat brown algae even though some of the other "algae eaters" will. Some of the others will also eat food that's left over from your feedings of your regular fish. Check your Ph, ammonia, and nitrites, if the last two are at 0 and the Ph is between 6 & 8 go ahead and try another one but supplement him with daily algae wafers (these can be bought at your LFS) and see if that works. Ronni>>

Seven-Inch Spotted Pleco BLOATED I have a 29 gallon tropical fish tank.  For this tank, I have a Whisper 30-60 outside filter.  In this tank, I have four large (bodies bigger than silver dollars) Veil-Tail Angel Fish, three green aeneus Corys, three albino Corys, one male pearl Gourami, one nine-inch common Pleco, and one seven-inch spotted Pleco (they get along great). <<Whew, that's a lot of fish in this size tank.>> The problem is this:  Over the past seven or so days, we have seen my seven-inch spotted Pleco get large, larger, and completely humongous.  Today is the worst.  Today I knew there was no way she (he/it) was pregnant.  Today I knew there was something horribly wrong.  With advice from my local favorite fish store person, I changed off 20% of the tank to lower the ammonia, acidity, and nitrites.  I added three teaspoons of AquaSafe by TetraAqua to neutralize chlorine, Chloramine, and heavy metals in the water I added (half of the water had been sitting more than 48 hours).  When I do the water change, I siphon the debris off the bottom.  At my fish store person's recommendation, I also added a product called TLC that adds good bacteria.  I also added three teaspoons of StressCoat with Aloe Vera (one to two teaspoons per gallon should be safe).  I did this because spotted Pleco is so bloated that her (his/its) sides are starting to split.  Please tell me if I'm doing the right thing.  Please advise me.  Please help me save my poor horribly bloated 7-inch spotted Pleco.  I've had her (him/it) since it was no more than one-half inch long.  Can you tell me if this has occurred because of the neglected condition of my water.  Please tell me what's wrong.  All the other fish are doing great.  I changed the filters six days ago, and changed them again today.  That's how dirty it had been -- that they needed changing again so soon.  We went away last week for three days.  My fish-sitter may have overfed them, I really don't know.  My tank has been established for however long it took my one-half inch spotted Pleco to get to be seven inches long -- close to a year.  I feed all the fish Tetra-Min Tropical Fish flakes.  I feed the Plecos Wardley Algae discs.  I know I haven't been changing off the water, the filters, or monitoring the condition of my water nearly often enough; however, none of the fish ever seemed stressed at all.  They've been thriving.  Please help. Sincerely, Marianne <<I would recommend immediately putting this Pleco into a QT tank. It sounds as if he's possibly constipated but it could be any one of a number of things, including the poor water quality. Fast him for 3 days and then feed him the inside of a frozen pea (thawed) and see if this helps. You will most likely also need to do some drastic maintenance on your main tank to get your water quality back into a normal (or at the very least safer) range. Three days of overfeeding will affect your water quality but not to the extent that it sounds like yours is currently at. What are your ammonia/nitrite/Ph levels now that you've done the water change? The filters will help some but large daily water changes are probably still in order. Ronni>>

Re: BLOATED Pleco...  I found it in the Q&A! Dear Crew, bloated Pleco is still hanging in there.  bloated Pleco has milky bubbles coming from splits in sides from being swollen.  I'm still treating whole tank with Maracyn-Two (Minocycline).  I noticed yesterday that bloated Pleco has a tiny protrusion (no more than 1/8 of an inch) from what would seem to be it's rectal opening.  It might be a distended rectal opening.  I notice this morning that the tiny (no more than 1/8 of an inch) protrusion has a long strand (about three inches long) hanging from it. <<I'm still not sure on the bubbles but it does sound as if he's beginning to loosen up a bit. If so, you will probably see a large difference in the size of his belly over the next day or so.>> I would hazard to guess that the strand is fecal matter.  I should have asked you before, how does one get a probably extremely constipated, bloated Pleco to eat the inside of a thawed frozen pea? <<This is where the QT tank really works. If he's the only one in there then nobody else can beat him to the pea and if he's been fasted for 3 days he should be plenty hungry enough to eat it. Turn the light off as these guys prefer to eat in the dark.>> I'm about to put it in the tank with bloated Pleco.  I can't imagine how I can insure that bloated Pleco is going to eat it.  I guess this is where a hospital tank would be helpful.  I will work on setting that up today.  Due to bloated Pleco's human's busy life with other humans visiting for the week, bloated Pleco's human has been unable to do this thus far.  Another sorry occurrence of the lack of a hospital tank, with all the changes being made to the tank, Pearl Gourami succumbed to the drastic changes from poor water to better water.  The addition of the Maracyn-Two seemed to be what did Pearl Gourami in.  It's hard to know. <<Most likely the stress caused by the changes in the water and then the addition of a foreign chemical.>> I have to research what I may have done that was bad for Pearl Gourami.  Angels, other Common Pleco, and Corys appear to be fine.  I fear moving bloated Spotted Pleco out of main tank into hospital tank will stress it.  bloated Spotted Pleco and Common Pleco appear to be in love with each other.  They are like Love Birds.  If Bloated Pleco gets moved to hospital tank perhaps I should put both Plecos in hospital tank?   <<I wouldn't move both of them, just the one that is sick. There's no point in medicating the one who isn't and doing so may cause even more problems. Plecos can be very sensitive to diseases/medications so you don't want to take the chance unless you have to. Since the fish are already stressed from the water conditions and Maracyn 2 in their main tank I would try to keep any more stress away from the healthy ones.>> Any and all of your advice is greatly appreciated.  Thank you. Sincerely, Marianne <<Hopefully will get this thing licked! Ronni>>

Pleco Troubles Hi, my name is James. <Hello James, I am Steven.> I acquired a Plecostomus about a month ago. When I got it, it was a dark brown almost black. Now it is a light brown almost a caramel color. What color should it be? <The common Pleco we all see in stores is generally as you first described, dark brown almost black.> Is it sick? <There are a whole host of possibilities as to why your fish has changed color; water quality and/or diet are two/ Please take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm for general care recommendations.> Thank you for your time, James    <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Pleco markings... I have a Plecostomus in a ten gallon tank with a glass catfish, two Gouramis, a male Betta, an angelfish and a Chinese algae eater.  The Plecostomus has developed these white fungus looking growths all over his mouth.  They kinda look like cauliflower, more rubber like in texture than cottony.  The other fish do not have any growths and the Plecostomus has had this for about two weeks now.  I don't know if I should medicate the tank and what I would use since I can't diagnose this disease.  I did introduce a live plant and a mystery snail into the tank about a week or two ago, but other than that I can't figure what this might be.  Does anyone know what this is and how to treat it? <Good Morning, if the appearance is more rubbery than cottony it could be a viral infection.  It is hard to say with out a picture.  This fish should be removed to a separate quarantine tank and treated with Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone.  Your tank sounds a little crowded, I would recommend an upgrade real soon.  The Pleco, Angel fish, and possibly the Gourami (depends on what type) will out grow this tank in no time.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm>

Sick Pleco Hi, My Pleco lives in a well maintained 20 gallon tank and has been living on a diet of algae wafers. I try to maintain a ph of about 6. Eating and elimination have ceased somewhat along with what appears to be feces trailing from the vent, but this is green in color!! Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Rich. <Hi Rich, this sounds like internal parasites. Try feeding a antiparasitic food and see if it doesn't clear up.  Metronidazole is the active ingredient (and very effective) in most of these products.  Craig>  

Sick Pleco, tank, med.s Thank you for responding so quickly! I read your advise but I can't follow it because I do not have another tank.  Can I medicate the tank that I have with all the fish in it even though they show no signs of this infection?  Is this a fatal disease for the Plecostomus, is it supposed to be contagious? I do realize my tank is not really big enough for all my fish and plan to upsize when I have the money. Anyway, do you know what alternatives I have for treating my fish other than a quarantine tank. <If there is no chance of a quarantine tank you can treat the entire tank.  This may add unneeded stress to the other fish.  With this many fish in a small tank water quality will be a concern please have your water tested, poor water quality will make fish more susceptible to diseases. -Best Regards, Gage>

Pleco thanks and questions Hi Crew - First thanks to you all who give good advice and care enough to answer.  Please know that it is appreciated by all of us out here who need a knowledgeable base and want to learn more. Second, my previous posts (concerning Puc the Pleco) were answered well and your collective advice followed...now another question. Puc's worm friends are gone (except one but I'll get it!) and the tank is great. Puc is home and his "dropsy-possible-condition" seems to be improving after moving him home and taking your advice and medicating (Maricyn2 - 3rd day now).  However, he still isn't eating.  I'm starting to get nervous that while the other things he has been through haven't killed him that now he will starve to death.  He is obviously less swollen but thin around his vent and tail.  Now, I can't imagine that there is any way to force feed a fish, but is there anything I could do here that I'm just not thinking of?  How long can he go on without eating?  I've tried tempting him with brine shrimp and his favored algae tabs...nothing - he just sulks, sticking his nose to his driftwood but not rasping at it.  Maybe he just needs more time?  Any thoughts? Peace, Dana <Hey Dana, sounds like Puc has had a rough time, he should come around on his own time.  Continue to offer a variety of food, and clean up what does not get consumed.  These fish are tough, he should be fine.  Best Regards, Gage>

Pleco Thanks Gage, You're right, he has had a rough time of it lately, but I'm glad to report that he is doing fabulous! He has returned to his normal size and ate two shrimp pellets last night!  We finished his Maracyn treatment, did a water and filter change (just the carbon insert) tested his water and everything is perfect.  So thanks again to everyone and I'll keep reading. Dana <Spectacular, great to hear.  Soon he will be a few feet long and eating from your hand.  Keep up the good work and be sure to let us know if you encounter any more problems.-Gage>

Using your article (Loricariids) Robert, I really liked your article at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm

 and was wondering if I could use it with all references to Plecos. I am in the midst of creating a Pleco site and I thought it would be a great addition. Of course I would give you the credit of the articles and would not alter content other then the removal of paragraphs that have nothing to do with Loricariidae. What do you think? <Thank you for your interest and the work that will go into building this site. You are welcome to use any/all of my content as long as this is a non-commercial venture... If it's not designed to "make money". Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMUsePolicyStmt.htm if there is any confusion re this matter. And please do send along your URL so we can add it to articles, links for others to find you. Bob Fenner> Regards, Eric Glab

Re: your article on Plecos.com Completed! I just don't care for 'Edited by Eric Glab', sounds arrogant. :) Thanks again! <You're welcome> Your fish friend, <Please do add a link to our site... and to anyone's that you lift/use their content from. Bob Fenner> Eric

Re: Pleco Article http://www.plecos.com/Plecos/art_robert_fenner.php I made a couple minor changes i.e. genus Otocinclus dwarf Plecos (dropped dwarf Plecos). Also kept out a couple pictures. I hope that is ok. Hope that you like it. <Make sure and ad your name as editor! Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Eric

Sailfin Pleco problem, Pleco Problems? Howdy, <How Y'all doin. Scott F. here for you!> Great website, w/ great info. I've seen that you have given helpful advice to tons of people and I hope that you can do the same for me. I have a 29 gallon freshwater, planted, community tank. My 4" sailfin's tail has turned reddish orange at the very tips on the top and bottom. His activity seems to be normal although he doesn't limit his eating schedule to just night time. Diet consists of algae, algae discs, and the occasional zucchini. Ammonia, Nitrite, and pH levels all proper. Regular 1.5 - 2 week water changes (RO). No sudden changes in any aspect (except for maybe slight water temp fluctuation.) Aeration seems to be OK, Sailfin and other fish seem to be breathing at normal rates. That is about all the info I can think to report. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Bill Walker <Well, Bill-it sounds like your water conditions and husbandry are excellent, the Pleco seems to be eating well, and his diet seems okay. I cant be 100% certain from here, but I'll bet the red is just a color variation for your particular fish, or perhaps this is a pattern unique to a specific geographic "race" of Plecos. I have had leopard Sailfins that developed a reddish tinge on the upper part of their tails, and they were fine. The fact that the color is on both tips, and no where else on an apparently healthy fish is a good sign, IMO. In the absence of any disease "symptoms", I'd say that there is nothing wrong with your fish. Do keep a close eye on him, and be prepared to take action if disease becomes evident. Perhaps you should check the store where you acquired him to see if the other Plecos show that coloration, or check with fellow hobbyists who own this fish. But I'll bet he's fine!>

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 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 question is : 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>

Pleco Injury Hey I could use some advice. <OK> while moving my tank--I had to remove all the fish and in the process my Pleco sustained what looked like a not too serious scrape on his back--he doesn't like being netted or moved and I'm not sure if he banged himself trying to get away from the net or when I put him inside a cooler or if I injured him by getting him stuck in the netting itself but he did sustain a white scrape--some of his scales looked a little banged up as well--but it didn't look bad. <common injury> Until today--now instead of slightly whitish discoloration it looks bloody though the blood appears to be under the skin and the wound is not open. What should I do to treat him--wound ease or something like that in the tank or do I need to dose the tank with some sort of antibiotic or both? <a separate QT tank with a broad spectrum antibiotic would be ideal... but dose the main tank if you must, remove carbon temporarily and do extra water changes for a couple of weeks. A Furazolidone based medication will likely do the trick> I don't want this to get worse--it seems it already has--I meant to get something in the tank yesterday and then got distracted and forgot. I'm just glad I forgot to salt the aquarium while I was being absent-minded! <actually, the salt would be helpful and therapeutic. One tablespoon per ten gallons minimum> any help you can give me would be most appreciated. I'd like to get the stuff tomorrow. Thanks, Karen <best regards, Anthony>

Pleco Injury Thanks Anthony, <very welcome, my friend> you know the main thing with fishkeeping is you get so much conflicting advice-- <conflicting is fine and even productive...inaccurate is another matter altogether <wink>> today I went to Petco before I received your email and the guy there said --Plecos are very hardy--don't dose the tank with anything unless he develops an infection--but then he recommended Penicillin--so I got that figuring I would wait and see if I needed it. <my advice would be to return it... that is a gram positive medication and very few bacteria in aquaria respond to it (mainly diseases of livebearing fishes). What you need is a broad spectrum antibiotic regime (like the aforementioned Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone cocktail)> The dose is every other day for five days. Will this do? <I doubt that it will help or hurt much...save your money> I put in Stress Coat--and since you say salt is ok I guess I will salt the tank as well. <yes... the salt is almost always a very helpful tonic in freshwater> The problem with the QT tank is that he is going to thrash and dodge and carry on and that is how he was injured in the first place once he gets in a sick tank he will probably throw himself against the lid in a panic--I figure my established tank is healthy and clean----brand new Rena Filstar XP on it--freshly cleaned gravel etc--old UG filter still in operation--so I feel the water quality is good---I really need to find this Pleco a new home--he needs a pond or a huge open tank--he is like 12" long and large. <I don't disagree with the above... but any antibiotics can wreak havoc on a biological filter which will require extra water changes... and thus the reason for the standard warning to always treat in a QT tank... less drugs needed, smaller water changes required, and the biological filter than supports many other fishes won't be compromised and stress them possibly into disease as well. You can treat the display if you feel it is best... but beware of the above> I have a question for you about quarantine tanks-sick tanks generally--people make such a big deal about cycling new tanks and not just putting fish into new water-without biological filtration being established and nitrate/nitrite levels going down--what about sick tanks--isn't that hard on fish--to dump them in a new tank that hasn't been cycled when they are sick? <a properly set up QT tank does not run that way. A QT tank rarely needs to be up and running... dry and ready is good enough. A simple $5 sponge filter can be running in the back of the display tank (or a sump on marine aquaria) at all times... thus biologically conditioned and easily able to handle the load of a new fish or sick fish transferred out. When the occasion arises in need of QT, the "dirty"/established sponge filter is moved to the QT tank with 50% aged water from the display. The QT and the display are then topped off with new water. Your mistaken impression is not at all uncommon. Bottom line... QT is necessary... saves money and lives when you think about the great investment in a full display tank to be risked with every new fish randomly thrown in> Ideally I suppose I should set up a hospital/quarantine tank and leave it running--with no fish in it--guess I would have to dose it every so often with live bacteria-- <no need to bother of course... just a simple sponge filter in the main display... hide the QT in the garage dry <smile> for fear of filling it> but I have not gotten around to this yet--maybe I will make that a plant propagation tank as I want to plant my 55 and feel the Silver Dollar will mow it all down in two days anyway--ha, ha I will need replacement plants on a continual basis. <agreed!> thanks for the advice Karen <best regards, Anthony>

Questions about links (freshwater, Pleco information, livestock sources) After some looking around on your site I came to notice the lack of information about many FW fishes. As I am a new Pleco (Plecostomus) keeper I am looking for as much info as I can. I have already discovered Planet Catfish and they have been very helpful in finding most of the info I need. But the one thing that I noticed almost all fish sites are lacking are links to FW livestock sales sites , primarily rare FW fish. As I live in an area where it is very hard to get rare fishes of any kind I was hoping maybe you knew of some FW Livestock places where I might be able to purchase fish online. <I know of one place you can check out that just carries the rare and unusual, http://www.alloddballaquatics.com/

 Also, check to see if you have a local aquarium society in your area. These are a great resource for information and seldom seen fish.> Thank you for your time, Nic Share <Good luck in your quest. -Steven Pro>

I need info on a fish Hello Bob I have a problem,  <WWM crew member, Anthony Calfo in your service> my son just came home with 2 gold fish and a fish he calls (I don't know how to spell it, so I hope you know what I am talking about) PLATASCUOMUS).  <yes, a tropical Plecostomus catfish...AKA algae eater> I hope you know what I'm talking about. If you do then my question is does this fish need a filter and air?  <yes, as all really do (without you having to do daily water changes) but more so than the gold fish in this case> I would be grateful if you can answer me as soon as possible. I don't want to kill my sons pets. he doesn't have much luck with his pets, they usually die on him or run away.) Thank you so much. Have a great day. Mikey <talk that little fella into bringing home books before livestock <wink>. Conduct partial water changes (say 25-40%) daily with dechlorinated like temperature water until you secure a proper aquarium and filtration or trade the fish in, my friend. Anthony>

Newly Set Up Tropical Tank Hi Guys! <Well helloooooow, Lesley!> You've kindly advised me before regarding our marine tank, however, this time my query relates to my new freshwater/tropical tank (obviously, I am working backwards - will be buying goldfish next!) <I have an ant farm and some silly putty back-ordered for you instead> Two weeks ago I set up a 15 (UK) gallon tank (Mirabella 70). The tank has built in filters.  <novel idea...at least on paper> It has live plants and last week I added 6 assorted platies (as advised by my LFS). (As a matter of interest, the fish store I bought the tank from is using their display model - of the same tank - as a micro reef set up with two clowns and a few corals). <which might indicate that they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed...OR... that they are really talented aquarists> Anyway, a few days before I got the fish, I noticed the beginnings of a brown algal bloom on the plant leaves, decor and glass. I am assuming this is part of the natural "cycling" process (as with the marine tank). Is this correct? <usually, yes> As I have seen them eat algae from the leaves and as I have been advised to do so by my LFS,  <they advised you to eat algae from the leaves too?!?> I am under feeding the platies to encourage this "browsing" on algae. No food reaches the bottom - it's eaten in seconds!  <sounds like normal feeding...food should never hit the bottom before active community fish consume it... otherwise it is considered overfeeding... but I do agree with your premise altogether> However, although they have eaten quite a lot of algae from the leaves, the plants still seem to be covered in it. I am worried that the algae will prevent the plants from photosynthesizing (hope I've spelt that correctly!) <do look into buying a small Otocinclus "catfish". Wonderful and peaceful and HARDY scavenger that will correct this problem right quick> Am I correct in assuming that the algae will start to recede once the "cycling" process is over or do I have a real problem?  <correct...but necessarily before harm is done to the plants> Is there anything else I can do meantime? (I have reserved two Suckermouth fish at the LFS for when my tank is more "mature" - a zebra Plec and a "spotty" one - sorry, I was so taken by it's beauty I didn't catch what it was called! It is black with small gold spots). <hehe... I'm starting to have serious doubts about the advice you are being given by your LFS...neither of the two Plecos that you have mentioned above eat algae!!! Incredibly, you have picked two of the few exceptions in this family of catfish. If you weren't informed that they are not obligate grazers...then you were going to watch two expensive fish slowly starve to death from a nutritive deficiency (it would take months...perhaps more than a year). The Peckoltia type "Zebra" and the Panaque type "gold spot/nugget" eat an extraordinary amount of meaty foods (bloodworms top the list) and are miserable algae grazers. Do keep these two beauties... but still consider some real algae grazers, the tiny Otocinclus, as well and promptly> I would also confess that I am adding plant fertilizer (containing iron) as advised by my LFS which I appreciate will be feeding the algae too! <indeed> I have read over your freshwater algae articles and FAQs but they don't seem to relate to a newly set up tank like mine. The only other fish I want to add are a shoal of neon tetras and a few guppies. <really an awkward mix...they like two very different water qualities. Best to stick with the slightly hardened, slightly salted water for the livebearers if the platies will stay (with the guppies)...or, run a more neutral to soft/acidic water south American display for the tetras/catfish> The platies are doing well and are swimming happily with all their fins extended. <excellent> Any advice you could give would be much appreciated. <OK... don't count on votes from the Russian or French judges> Many thanks. Lesley <with kind regards, Anthony>

Please HELP! Breeding, losing Plecos Dear Robert, my name is Dusan and I'm form Slovakia. I have just started breeding my Plecos and they spawned after a short time. I was quite happy to see the eggs in a tube. <Yes, very exciting> I replaced the whole tube with the male into a smaller tank filled with the same water of the big one. My first Plecos hatched and hung at the side of my tank and after 8 days I fed them first time. They grew up after 2 months to about 2 cm. Then they spawned again. I replaced the male and they hatched OK. So it went about 4 times. After hatching I waited 7 days after they absorb the yolk sack. I feed them cattle heart and spinach and they're (were) all crazy about it. But... My second fry suddenly started to die out! After they were all gone, my first fry also died! Now I have stopped feeding them the heart and replaced it with fish fillet. The third fry was OK for a short time, but now they started to die too! I'm so sad to watch them struggle for life. And the way of dying is crazy. They swim around OK then they cannot stick to a wall (they slide down), after they seem to eat a bit and then I find them dead (w/ belly upward). Water conditions: dGH 4-10 ´N, 24-25 ´C (78 ´F), pH 7, no plants, no roots, aeration & filtration YES <Some friends who breed, raise Plecos (family Loricariidae) for sale use pelleted foods (mostly the formulated foods by Purina marketed as "Trout Chow") almost exclusively for very young (hatchlings) to a few months old... grading into par-boiled zucchini and other softened terrestrial greens.> I guess you may know the answer. I would be very thankful if you would respond as soon as you can. Thank you very much. Faithfully Dusan Karac <Am sending your note out to friends on the Net for their assistance as well. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Ancistrus sp. hey Bob, Don from PA. breeding Ancistrus sp. housing, abs tube black 6 to 8in long 1and 1/2 round block one end you have to will to anchor it down it dose not sink. feed( zucchini raw )put a lead weight on it green beans ( French style)', shrimp pellets, drift wood they chew on it. lots of water changes temp.74/76 I do not remove fry good parents. I hope this helps your friend Don from pa. <Thanks for this Don. Your vast experience does indeed "count". Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Bristle Nose Pleco versus Golden Clown Pleco Of the Bristle Nose Pleco or a Golden Clown Pleco,  <There are actually quite a few of the former and at least two species of the latter. Likely you have seen our scant presentation on Loricariids: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> 1. Which would be better at cleaning algae off the sides of the tank? <Probably one of the Bristlenose Plecos. Please look on Fishbase.org for some idea of which fishes this appellation applies> 2. Which one would be better at leaving the plants alone? <The Golden Clowns or some of the smaller species of Bristlenoses> 3. Which one is most friendly? I have a community tank with two clown loaches and two Corydoras Julies and will be getting four Otos. (the other fish are some guppies, mollies, a tetra and a red swordtail. <Ahh, the Goldens.> Thank you.  Ann <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Ancistrus temminckii breeding Dear Robert, I would like to ask you some questions about Ancistrus temminckii and breeding. How long do they need to be (inches/cm) before they can start breeding? <Coincidentally have a friend in PA (Don) who breeds these regularly, including albino ones...> Books say "a hollow in a piece of bogwood will be chosen as the spawning site." - I can't find a piece of wood that big, can I use a clay flower pot (upside-down) with a hole in it big enough for them to enter? <Yes, this is what Don uses mostly...> I guess the main question is: Do they need a 'cave' OR a 'hole' ;where a cave has one entrance and a hole has two? <One is fine, two is okay> If you could reply at your earliest convenience it would be appreciated. Keith <Glad to help... take a read through the "South American Suckermouth Catfishes" section on the www.WetWebMedia.com site yet? Bob Fenner>

Re: Ancistrus temminckii breeding Dear Robert, I have looked at WetWebMedia. What object should I use for the spawning site? -can't find large bogwood with hollow in it. <Either a small diameter piece of PVC pipe or a clay type flower pot with a section broken on the lip for access placed upside down. Bob Fenner> Thanks Keith

Re: Ancistrus temminckii breeding Sorry to bother you again but what if the pot is made of clay? Should I leave only one entrance? <Yes, this is fine. As long as there is enough room for the animals to turn around to make it in/out. Bob Fenner> Thanks a lot for your help Keith

Tank construction Hey Bob, <Hello there> I just discovered your website today and I found it very informative. I wish I would have found it sooner, it answered a lot of questions that I had yet to answer.  <Ah, good> One thing that really was a surprise was the driftwood for the "Plecos".  <Yes, amazing how much, what "we" know collectively...> I have two common's, a miniature (still 8"), and a Trinidad. I feed them vegetables and sinking disks, but I have never heard of giving them wood. Is there a certain kind that they need, and where would I get this (I live in Dallas, TX, not much of an Oceanfront).  <Yes to these species definitely doing better with freshwater "driftwood" of types sold in the trade (most hail from Africa or Southeast Asia, but this is not important)... for food/digestion, decor/habitat, and water chemistry modification... Look to your LFS or e-mail-order "fish shops" for this material> Also, I am looking at purchasing a freshwater dolphin. Can you tell me anything about them. I can't seem to find any information on them. The one I saw at my local fish store was about 10" long. How big do they get?  <A few Mormyrids (Elephantfishes, family Mormyridae) are called by this common name. Check www.FishBase.org under the family name, and get ready to do a bit of reading (201 species)... some of the species you'll peruse have images associated with them... this is probably a Marcusenius or Mormyrus species... likely to more than two feet long in the wild.> You also had great information on the Arowanas. I recently purchased one for my wife, and your section on them really answered all of our questions. <Wow, surprising to me...> I just got some information on a local group called "fish rescue". I was wondering if you had heard about these groups and if you recommended joining one. <What is the gist of their purpose for being? Is this one of the Cichlid family associations that hopes to save wild stocks genome from disappearing?> On to the main reason for this email........... I am interested in building several large tanks for myself, and then maybe growing that into a business. There seems to be little information available on this subject. Are there any books/websites available on this? I saw that this was slightly covered in your Aquatics Business section, but I had a few more questions. Some questions I have are: <Yes... about the best DIY website compilation in our interest is "Oz's Reef"... you can find their URL on the Links pages of the www.WetWebMedia.com site> 1. What is the best material to use? Plexi-glass? <Hmm, actually marine plywood and glass for the viewing panels IMO for function... looks, no-costs considerations thrown in: sure on the plexi> 2. Where can you get or order the wood to go around the glass? <Most any large "hardware" store... if not in stock, they can order easily> 3. The best adhesive? <For the wood? Pre-made strips of fiberglass cloth, laminating resin... Along with good size, type wood screws... and silicone rubber (just 100% of any designated-use product) for the viewing panels for the wood/glass types... Weld-0n solvents for the acrylic...> 4. How to calculate needed thickness? <On the Oz'Reef site> 5. Any other concerns, comments? <How much time do you/we have? Overbuild... make sure the stands for such are level, planar AND strong... Give consideration to how you're going to maintain these... perhaps build in overflows, definitely drains....> I appreciate the help Bob and I can't wait to get your book, I just ordered it. Keep up the amazing work. <Thank you, with your help, I shall> Thank you, Neal Weinstein <Bob Fenner, who used to have a roommate with your last name...>

Zebra Pleco  Hello  I found a page you did on the internet about Plecos and was wondering if you had the time to answer a quick question. I am interested in getting a zebra Pleco or two. I've been doing a lot of research on the fish and  have read a lot of contradictory info. on the pH range that is acceptable for them. My question is this, what pH range can they tolerate?  <Let's see, how to put this... The wild-collected ones display a smaller tolerance and prefer lower pHs... like 6.5-6.8... Captive bred and reared ones have wider tolerance and a bit higher pH is okay with them... up to the low 7.'s...> I live in upstate NY and the water is relatively hard and alkaline (I have a few gold nuggets in a large tank where the pH is 7.6 and they are thriving and was wondering if they zebras could live in this or if I would have to take special care to lower the pH for them).  Thank-you  Jerry <I would lower the pH for the new specimens initially... with organic acids preferably... and a keen understanding and steady eye on an acidity/alkalinity test kit as well as pH... Zebra's are generally much less "touchy" than Gold Nuggets... so, if you're doing well with them... For all, if I were interested in breeding these small Loricariid species, I would pre-prepare water (likely reverse osmosis, then peat moss in a stocking/filter bag...)to use for make up, changes... Be chatting. 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...

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 

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