Disease FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American
Suckermouth Cats 4
FAQs on "Pleco" Disease:
Loricariid Disease 1, Loricariid Disease 2, Loricariid Disease 3,
FAQs on "Pleco" Disease by Category:
Nutritional (e.g. HLLE),
Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial,
Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...),
Related Articles: Loricariids, Otocinclus,
Related Catfish FAQs:
Loricariids 1, Loricariids 2, Otocinclus,
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma,
Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys,
Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra,
Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Panaque, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Selection, Loricariid Systems,
Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction,
Odd parasite or injury 1/11/18
Hi! I have a Pleco (I honestly am not sure what breed) who is
about 15 years old.
<Likely Pterygoplichthys species of some sort -- by far the most common of the
"Common Plecs" in the hobby.>
I rescued him in 2010 from a foreclosed on home in the middle of the Las Vegas
summer. The previous owner had left a fish tank in his home in a living room in
front of uncovered windows. For several months I would jog past this place and
see the tank and decided to ask the bank if I could remove the tank, not knowing
there was a fish in it still. It’s a miracle he was still alive.
<They are tough fish, that's for sure!>
The original owner’s children informed me he was almost 8 years old.
<Nice. They can live a long time, given good conditions, easily well over 20
Needless to say this fish has bonded to me.
<It's lovely when these Plecs become tame. They're so shy otherwise, and
reportedly nocturnal, but once settled, they'll come out during the daytime. My
Panaque is right now at the front of the tank begging for food. If there was
anyone else in the room, or any noise, she'd be inside her cave hiding away.>
I have had no idea that a fish could have such an awesome connective
personality, he sits in my hand, follows me from one side of the tank to the
other and greets me when he sees me come home from work.
He even plays soccer with me with his own little aquarium soccer ball that he
also sleeps on.
The problem is that he got a spot on his nose a few months ago and I treated the
water with a multi-purpose fungus and parasite treatment. It didn’t go away but
didn’t seem to get bigger. Then one morning it had a weird transparent mushroom
bubble looking thing growing out of it.
<Understood. Bubbles or blisters under the skin are a sort of injury, with gas
or liquid collecting underneath the skin, creating a sort of bubble. Sometimes
they're caused by supersaturation of the water with oxygen. This almost never
happens in freshwater tanks, but is slightly more common in marine tanks. Either
way, it's caused by ridiculously too much aeration, so that too much gas
dissolves in the water, and for some reason it comes out of solution inside the
fish, rather like when you open a can of soda-pop and the bubbles all fizz out.
The bubbles cause substantial damage to nearby tissues, and can develop into
visible bubble-like growths just under the skin. Anyway, toning down aeration
helps, and eventually the "gas bubble disease" fixes itself. Now, if the bubble
is fluid-filled rather than gas bubbles, we call it a blister, and these are
usually caused by a bacterial infection. They can respond well to anti bacteria
treatments. The fact the bubble is around the snout suggests some sort of
physical injury, such as the gravel being too sharp, and catfish generally are
particularly prone to these odd problems because they rest with their nose,
whiskers and belly on the substrate. So unlike other fish, which float, they're
more prone to becoming scratched and/or infected with bacteria living on the
substrate. It's more or less similar to what we'd call Finrot, and might be
treated with the same medicines. But I'd also recommended reviewing the tank,
cleaning the substrate as thoroughly as practical, and ensuring that there's
nothing rough in the tank that the catfish might abrade itself with.>
I treated his tank again and it fell off or went away and he seemed happier.
Then a month goes by and now there’s a new one there and the first one is back
and is red like it’s full of blood. I have done so much research and can’t find
any information on it. Can you give me some suggestions as to what this is and
what I should do?
<Do see above.>
My buddy is in his senior years and I want him to continue to be healthy and
happy. I feed him zucchini and algae wafers (which he doesn’t eat, he prefers
the zucchini). I once gave him a piece of mango which he promptly spit out of
the tank at me so mango is a NO! Spinach just became a rotting tank plant, so I
supposed I have a picky eater. I named him Old Greg. I love him so!
<Do try some other foods to vary the diet. Algae wafers will be eaten, but also
offer slivers of white fish and shrimp, bits of mollusk such as cockles and
mussels, sweet potato, cooked or canned peas. A lump of bogwood may also provide
useful fibre for Plecs of all types, even those that don't actually digest wood
(as Panaque spp. do) and merely consume it while rasping away at any algae.>
Thanks for your help!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Is this normal? 1/8/17
My Plecostomus has been in hiding since moving to the tank
<Oh; not unusual for sucker mouth catfishes to hide; especially when new to a
and this is the first time I’ve seen it’s under side. Is this normal?
<Looks fine to me. What is worrisome is when the area is reddish>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Red patches on albino Bristlenoses 1/5/17
Just wondering why the light yellow Bristlenoses tend to have those red patches
on them. Is it stress or just the fact that they are albino?
<Judy, if you're talking about the pinkish-red colouration most obvious on the
underside, that's simply their blood seen through the skin. Albino and
leucistic (yellow) catfish lack skin pigment (except, obviously, yellow on the
leucistic ones) so it's easier to see beneath the skin. See the
attached photo (that hopefully Bob can use on the website) of a perfectly
healthy, but albino, male Ancistrus. But anything that looks like pink to
bright red inflammation, especially somewhere without a strong blood supply,
such as the fins or whiskers, is likely to be incipient Finrot.
While perfectly treatable when caught early on, the easiest approach is to avoid
such specimens. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red patches on albino Bristlenoses (RMF, please see my attached photo)<Yes>
It is just a patch on top of the head.
<Do see my previous image and commentary; read; do draw your own conclusions
from there. Cannot really say anything else without seeing the
ill Pleco 9/17/17
hi I'm new to everything about fishes and keeping them in aquarium , in my
country isn't much of knowledge about Pleco and I'm not sure i can even find the
right medicine . but i don't want to keep a Pleco infected with
fungus or parasite so i wanted to ask you about a red bump on the nose of my
baby Pleco . what is it ? is it a fungus or parasite or worm ? please help me.
<Appears to me to be a physical injury... perhaps a scrape against something
hard, or rub?>
i don't know which specie it is but i can send you a picture of an adult Version
. my Pleco is 5 cm long (nose to tail ) . i gust got it 2 days ago and i saw the
red bump (i send the picture).
<I would not treat this fish, injury with medication/s, but just keep the
system stable and water quality optimized. I want to have you read here Re:
Re: ill Pleco. Now fdg.... 9/17/17
thank you soooo much for you're help , i was scared to death that maybe it's a
parasite . they are very very expensive here���� thank you again .
sorry for bad English �� and i will definitely read the page you send me .
forgive me but one more question if i may�� does these small Pleco eat fish food
or just microplants ?
<Mainly feed on algae... tablets are fine; some folks supplement with a bit of
animal matter (bloodworms, frozen/defrosted, or dried/soaked so they sink are
best here). >
and do i gave them any vitamins ?
<Likely prepared foods will provide these>
thank you for
all you're hard work and help ��
<Glad to help/share. Bob Fenner>
Medusa Pleco and stress 7/25/17
I have a couple of pieces of driftwood in a 38 gallon with a couple of
angelfish and a medusa Pleco. Just wondering if the Pleco needs another
decoration he/she can hide in. There is a piece of PVC pipe in there,
that is about 4 inches in diameter and about 4 inches long that I put in
there today. I was thinking of getting another 4 inch piece and using
aquarium safe glue to glue the PVC pieces together to have something
longer. Do Bushynoses really enjoy a good hiding place for the feeling
that they are safe?? Thanks
<Does really depend on the tank, but generally a male Bristlenose will
commandeer a single tunnel or burrow, and that'll be his home. He won't
need another burrow provided he can use and defend this one
Additional burrows or even rocky nooks will be welcome, particularly in
a busy tank with bright light. But in quiet tanks with lots of shade and
vegetation, Ancistrus are much less retiring. The main thing is that
each fish should have at least one home so that competition between
individuals isn't serious. Cheers, Neale.>
Pleco with Heavy Breathing 2/24/17
My common Pleco has been breathing hard a while. What I mean by
that is that her gills move rapidly and her mouth does too.
<Do try (a) doing a substantial water change; and (b) making sure there
is plenty of aeration, and if necessary upgrading such using an airstone or
spray bar; and (c) checking the water isn't too warm, 22-26C/72-79F being
optimal for most of the common Plec species and varieties. Many aquarists keep
their Plecs much too warm, with the result their fish are somewhat stressed,
especially as the fish get bigger and consume more oxygen than they did as
She appears to be normal other than that. Her appetite is good. Her body is
light at times. She gets faded patches on her and faded stripes. It appears to
get better in the dark, but they are still there. She does have a more white
patch towards her tail (it seems different colored than the others), but it is
not raised. She doesn't appear to be thin. No breathing at the surface. I am
current trying to watch her poop for parasites. It appears it is always the
color of the food she eats, and it occasionally gets small clear connections
But not all the time. Would that still mean parasite?
<Hard to say, but de-worming is usually worthwhile with Plecs and L-numbers
She seems normal, just breathing hard all the time. I just started feeding her
veggies. I didn't realize the importance of them. She was just eating algae
flakes. I am highly concerned. I would be devastated if something happened to
her. She lives by herself right now, she has since I have had her for the last
year. She wasn't very healthy when i got her. What I mean is she was pale all
over, never fed, and lived in ammonia (this was at her old home). Here current
tank has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and, 40 nitrates.
The tank recently had tons of nitrAtes! Very high, I could not tell if it was
over 80, or over 160. I don't know how long it was like this. It could
have been a long time. I started doing daily water changes and got it to 40. It
appears I have to do one everyday to keep it to 40. There are no or low nitrAtes
in the city water. I know my tank is over stocked.
<See above; Plecs are riverine fish that are sensitive to low-oxygen levels and
will breathe faster (and in extremis, gulp air) under warm, stuffy conditions.>
I am about to move her to a 150 gallon, but I don't want to move her if she is
sick. I bought this tank just for her! She also jumped out of her tank a few
months ago. I do not know how long she was out. Could this is damaged her gills,
and cause rapid breathing?
<Certainly gill damage, e.g., from Velvet, can cause these sorts of symptoms,
but I'd review environment first.>
We also moved a couple months ago, but her tank is just like it was. Could
nitrate poisoning have caused this? I thought maybe she had gill flukes but I
don't see her scratching.... Since their gills are underneath them would they
just rub on the rocks? I don't know what to do! I am worried sick, I have been
researching for days! What should I do? Thank you!
PS. OK so I have been watching her poop. I have been giving her sweet potatoes
so I could see the color of her poop better. Most of the time, like 80% of her
poop is the color of the food. However about 20% of the time her poop is the
color of the food with clear, whitish sections in between and sometimes you just
get a very thin, kind of curly looking dirty white stand.
<Mucous; it's fairly normal for Plecs and L-numbers to consume silt and organic
detritus in the tank, and this binds with mucous to form stringy parts to their
normal faeces. Some bogwood to rasp away at is worthwhile, offering extra
Way thinner than normal poop. And just like I said in the last email. She is
active and eating just fine. Parasites? Stress? I don't know. Would this cause
the heavy breathing?
<Hope the above helps. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Pleco with Heavy Breathing 2/24/17
So my temperature is 76 always. There should be a good amount of oxygen because
I have bug filters on the tank with a lot of surface movement.
<Do you mean "big" filters?>
Should you suggest moving her to the new tank where she may be more comfortable?
<Adult Plecs need at least 55 US gallons, and realistically 75+ gallons.
They also need a filter with turnover rated at least 8 times the volume of the
tank per hour; i.e., for a 55 US gallon tank, the filter should be rated at 440
gallons/hour. Obviously filter media needs to be mature.>
Also, I'm assuming you mean it would be a good idea to deworm her? What would I
use? Is it safe to do it not being 100% sure?
<Antihelminth medications are widely sold in aquarium shops; for example Prazi
Pro. They are generally safe to use.>
Also is it normal for her to hold her head up? She holds if off the ground all
the time. Like an inch usually.
<Sometimes this means the bottom layer of the tank has poor water quality, for
example little water flow, or an abrasive substrate that irritates the fish, as
is sometimes the case where "funky" coloured gravels are used instead of smooth
river grave. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Pleco with Heavy Breathing 2/24/17
She started holding her head up with the heavy breathing. And it is common for
nitrate poisoning to cause breathing problems right?
<Nitrate isn't normally toxic to catfish like Plecs; regular water changes
should dilute nitrate sufficiently. Of course nitrate levels above 100 mg/l
aren't healthy, even for robust fish, hence the need to control the amount of
food that goes into the tank, the frequency of water changes, and the overall
volume of the tank.>
Plecos dying suddenly 2/20/17
I have 2 tanks with Bristlenose Plecos one with a mated pair and 4 Cory
cats and some of the babies that I was letting grow out. The
Bristlenose fry suddenly started dying last night, I've had 4
deaths so far and the rest seem very ill, including my mated pair whom
I've had over 2 years. I had noticed odd white specs all over my
driftwood in that tank and didn't think much of it but now I'm
wondering if it was a sign as the Plecos all have tiny white dots- very
hard to see and not many but they are there.
<Mmm; no to their being the same disease... white spots on the wood and
Ancistrus... BUT, the decomposition of the wood may well have a direct
or indirect effect on water quality, the issue w/ your BNs. I would be
checking what parameters re water here that you can, and in any case
removing the wood for now, executing a good percentage water change
(like half) while vacuuming the substrate... to remove organics>
I know driftwood cannot get ich, but didn't know if the eggs could have
been attached to it like they would the gravel?
<Mmm; Ich is very often present in captive systems; just in a
non-clinical phase... enough "stress" level and it expresses itself...
in numbers and aggressiveness>
I have not introduced anything new into my tank for 1 year 6 months+
(including driftwood) and the Cory cats seem to be acting fine. Before
the sudden deaths I noticed the Plecos had started going to the
surface for air a lot and were hanging out at water line, some even with
their heads above the water.
<The above... removal, water change: Stat!>
I know the tank was overstocked but I did one-two large water changes a
day to combat any issues and my water parameters were always correct
when I tested.
<Ah good; and who knows what... that is untestable by you re the second>
I was actually about to take them all to the LFS when this happened. My
male albino also looks bloated and his tail area is very red in color,
plus his sides are white almost as if he has lost his pigmentation. To a
degree he has always been like that on his sides, but it seems to be
worse. I took a lot of the Plecos out and moved them into other
and have done a big water change already and will do another before bed.
Should I treat this like ich and raise the temp to 86?
<I would not; as the fish going near the surface... the higher temp.
will result in higher metabolism and less dissolved oxygen>
I have raised it a little but am afraid as they already seem to have
trouble breathing. They are acting very lethargic and not eating and I
am worried more will die if I don't treat them soon. I did add some
extra air pumps to their tanks to increase oxygen as well. Thanks for
any advice you can give me, it is greatly appreciated.
<The added air is a good idea; and moving them to known good quality
settings even better. I do not think the problem here is really
pathogenic, but environmental. Bob Fenner>
Re: Plecos dying suddenly 2/20/17
Just an update- lost 4 more Plecos since I wrote you, mostly the smaller
ones that are only a couple months old,
<A good clue... re the cause here being env.>
but also a few up to 5-6 months.
However all seem very ill, not eating, lethargic, showing some very
small white granule like spots, and have noticed some with eyes that
appear sunken. A lot of the dead ones eye's are sunken into their
sockets and have dark grey patches of slime, not sure if this is just
normal with death or not. Thanks so much for the help!
<MOVE THEM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Plecos dying suddenly 2/22/17
Thanks for the response...I have lost about six more from the main tank
and tank I moved others into, the tank I moved them in seems to be
stable now, have not lost any for over 24 hours, but lost 2 from main
tank that I found this a.m. The tank has the weird tiny white stuff all
over the filter, glass, heater, and floating through water and it looks
like what is on the Plecos.
<Organic... likely decomposition products from the wood>
The Plecos have more of it on them and even have it in their mouths. The
cories are also starting to get white spots and acting sick.
It looks like the exact stuff that was on the wood as well. What Im
wondering is, should I set up a new tank and new filter, new everything
to put them in even though I won't have the beneficial bacteria?
<I wouldn't... the previous mentions of removing the wood et al. should
(To even assume the bacteria in there is beneficial at all at this
point) Or leave them in their tank and continue with the gravel vacs and
water changes twice daily even though they still seem to be gasping for
air, ill and dying?
<You did remove the wood...>
Do I need to treat for ich, and if so what is safe to use?
<No treatment necessary or advised. I think I've mentioned this already
Thank you so much for your help, I am very worried about doing the wrong
thing and losing more of my fish.
<Understood. Bob Fenner>
Re: Plecos dying suddenly 2/22/17
So I figured out what was in tank- they are some type of worm, I'm
guessing gill/body fluke due to their symptoms and appearance. They were
difficult to see, had to use high power flashlight and magnifying glass
but there were definitely worms squiggling everywhere and one was
attempting to burrow into my boyfriend's hand (actually how we
discovered and starting investigating further.) I have moved them to a
new tank, but since they are already infected do you have a
recommendation for medication safe to use on Plecos and cories,
including my Pygmy Cory? I am in the U.S. Much
<Yes; there are a few Anthelminthics of use... Prazi/quantel is a fave.
I'd have you read here first:
and the linked files above; where you lead yourself... till you're aware
of your options. Do this soon.
Re: Plecos dying suddenly 2/23/17
Will read the link you gave me, thanks SO much for all your help
<A pleasure to share, aid your efforts Katelin. Bob Fenner>
Egg-bound BN Pleco 2/8/17
I have 3 Albino Bristle Nose Plecos (2 female 1 male all of breeding age) in a
30 gallon tank that has been running for over 6 months. A few days ago my 6"
long female plumped up with eggs. They have several suitable caves to breed in,
but they have been unwilling to seal the deal. I know she is plump with eggs as
she has dropped at least 5 over the last 24 hours. This evening she has stopped
dropping eggs, and a large round bump has developed with a few bursting blood
vessels please see the attached picture. Is she egg bound? Will this kill her?
Is there something that I can do to help her
pass the eggs? The tank is planted with CO2 and lots of hiding places.
Running a Fluval canister filter. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, Copper 0,
Salt 0, GH 8, KH 5, pH 7.0. Other fish in tank are 7 Zebra Danios and 5 Mollies.
<I'd be treating as per Dropsy at this point; i.e., 1-3 teaspoons Epsom
Salt per 5 gallons/20 litres, raising the temperature by a degree or two as
well. While I don't think she has Dropsy as such, the laxative effect
of the Epsom Salt should help her pass out the eggs. I'd also optimise diet
(more fresh greens for example) and ensure water quality is appropriate
(relatively cool, 22-24 C/72-75 F is optimal for Ancistrus species across the
long term, but regardless, high levels of water movement and oxygenation are
essential). As you seem to realise, Ancistrus breed freely giving suitable
conditions, and assuming your have a fertile male, you'd expect spawning to
happen quite readily. Do review the types of caves on offer: long, hollow tubes
are preferred, while more open caves, such as coconut shells, are less favoured.
Albino Bristlenose plecostomus 2/1/17
Hello I was told by a PetCo employee to ask you about my plecostomus.
The end of December we upgraded to a larger tank. He used to be very active
always out where we could see him. since we set up the new tank he has lost most
of the webbing on his fins and he has a sore on his belly.
<I can see this. It's a bacterial infection (so I'd be using a reliable
antibiotic, not MelaFix or salt) but the question is why is it like this.
Usually when catfish show this sort of damage, it's because the
substrate is either too sharp, too dirty, or some combination of the two. What
you've got there are ulcers, you see.
I'm not a huge fan of funky substrates and
would instead always recommend smooth, plain vanilla gravel rather than anything
sharp or jagged. Failing that, a thin layer of smooth lime-free sand (such as
silica sand or pool filter sand) works well too. While sharp or coloured gravels
are often fine for midwater fish, catfish drag themselves across those
substrates, and in the process can damage themselves. Bear in mind that your
Ancistrus naturally comes from shallow streams where the water flows over sand,
boulders and bogwood. So he's adapted to smooth surfaces and has a very tender
belly. Review, and act accordingly. Fix the substrate, keep it clean, treat with
antibiotics, and all should be well.>
We check the water levels regularly and they are always fine. He lives with
three zebra danios, three Dalmatian tail platys and a Japanese algae eating
shrimp. Two of the zebra danios have died though. I'm putting stress coat and
MelaFix into the tank and he is now being more active but he still doesn't look
healthy. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for him!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Albino Bristlenose plecostomus
Thank you for the prompt response!!
I will switch out the substrate for a softer one. What antibiotic do you suggest
and where can I get it?
<Depends where you live. In the US, various antibiotics are sold in aquarium
shops, such as Kanaplex. Outside the US, antibiotics are normally legally sold
only with a prescription, which you get from a vet. So alternatives to
antibiotics are sold in aquarium shops that work almost as well. Here in the UK,
I recommend a product called eSHa 2000 as inexpensive and reliable. Cheers,
Red bumps/ sores on Bristlenose Pleco /RMF
I noticed today that my Bristlenose Pleco has two lumps/sores on it and
wondered what it might be. It lives in a 240 litre tank with harlequins,
<Best kept in a school, can be/come nippy>
phantom tetra, minnows, Oto's, Synodontis catfish,
<Mmm; which species? Might be picking on your Pleco>
Cory catfish, 2 small Pakistani loaches, 2 small clown loaches. The tank
is 6 months old. Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is 20. The
Bristlenose has been in the tank for about 3 weeks and is about 2 and a
half inches long. I have tried researching antibiotics in the UK
but do not know what is good to use if it becomes infected.
<Am referring you to Neale Monks here... he is a Briton... and think he
will suggest eSHa's line>
There is nothing sharp in the tank. Thank you for your time.
<Saw your pic... could be a trauma at work here (as I suggest above);
Re: Red bumps/ sores on Bristlenose Pleco /Neale
Sorry. I forgot to attach a picture.
I noticed today that my Bristlenose Pleco has two lumps/sores on it and
wondered what it might be. It lives in a 240 litre tank with harlequins,
rosy tetra, phantom tetra, minnows, Oto's, Synodontis catfish,
<As Bob has mentioned, Synodontis spp. can be boisterous. Much variation
though. Synodontis nigriventris is a schooling species that is fine with
Ancistrus spp., and even "gentle giants" loners like Synodontis eupterus
are pretty good. But there are some species in the trade that are less
reliable; Synodontis nigrita for example is often sold as Synodontis
nigriventris when young, but grows twice the size, isn't sociable, and
throws its weight around quite a bit!>
Cory catfish, 2 small Pakistani loaches, 2 small clown loaches. The tank
is 6 months old. Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is 20. The
Bristlenose has been in the tank for about 3 weeks and is about 2 and a
half inches long. I have tried researching antibiotics in the UK but do
not know what is good to use if it becomes infected. There is
nothing sharp in the tank.
<Oh yes there is! That substrate looks horrific! Definitely not catfish
friendly. Catfish like to stick their heads into the substrate,
thrash about a bit, and extract any bits of food they can find. Fine
"pea" gravel or smooth silica sand are ideal. I'm wondering if these
"sores" are actually more like cysts or blisters, perhaps even viral,
but undoubtedly related to the environment somehow.>
Thank you for your time.
<I would recommend eSHa 2000 as a good all-around antibacterial. Don't
forget to remove carbon (if used) while medicating. I'd also review the
substrate and strongly recommend changing it. Not only is it much too
coarse, it's a bright colour guaranteed to make your fish "fade" their
colours and look washed out. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red bumps/ sores on Bristlenose Pleco
Thank you for your response.
The catfish is a Synodontis Petricola which was sold as a Pictus Catfish.
He isn't aggressive.
<Indeed; definitely one of the better Synodontis. But does have rather
specific environmental conditions. Hard, alkaline water for example, which
makes it an odd choice for life alongside tetras! That said, if yours is
thriving in soft or medium hardness water, then obviously not a big deal.
Flip side, if your water is very hard, keeping tetras can be tricky.>
He lets the Pleco in his cave. The Pleco is still very small.
<Can we not call him a "Pleco" or "Plec"? He's a Bristlenose, genus
Ancistrus. Although they belong to the Plec (UK)/Pleco (US) family, the
Loricariidae, they're no more closely related (or similar) than, say, house
cats are to lions. Much better to think of his specific needs rather than
those of a "Plec". In other words, he's relatively small (to 14 cm), prefers
coolish conditions (22-25 C), needs a secure hiding place, and feeds
primarily on algae and tiny invertebrates rather than scavenging for
leftovers. They're actually MUCH better aquarium fish than the Common Plec,
but they aren't interchangeable. As your specimen shows, they're a bit more
delicate. Whereas the Common Plec is able to survive in oxygen-poor habitats
in the wild by breathing air, your Ancistrus comes from quite fast-flowing
streams where the water is shallow, well-oxygenated, and as mentioned
earlier, relatively cool. Ideal companions for tetras in this regard, many
of which come from similar habitats.>
It is also very active. I was watching the tank in the dark and the only
thing it avoided on it's endless laps around the side of the tank was the
clown loaches. I have two and they are about 5 centimetres long. I had 3 but
one died. I was told they are peaceful fish but these are new to the
aquarium (3 weeks) and seem aggressive. Is it normal for them to attack
<Yes. All Botiine loaches have the potential to throw their weight around.
On top of that, Clowns are social (to the point they misbehave in groups
smaller than 5) and get extremely big, certainly over 20 cm, and I've seen
specimens 35 cm long and almost as round as dinner plates! While they do
grow slowly, long term, 240-litres isn't nearly big enough for the
There are 6 black phantom tetras, 6 white finned rosy tetras and 6 rosy
tetras. They generally all stay together. They are not overly aggressive but
I have seen one go to nip a tail of a different fish.
<Quite so. Tetras are normally well behaved, but like a lot of schooling
fish, can be nippy if bored. None of your tetras are serious nippers like
Black Widow tetras or Serpae tetras, but if they misbehave, adding a few
more of the species in question often fixes things. In a tank your size, I'd
be keeping at least ten of each. Their impact on water quality will be
The gravel is a pea gravel but seeing it enlarged so much in the picture I
do agree it does look incredibly sharp and not fine enough for the catfish
so I will change that.
<Understood. Garden centre smooth silica/silver sand or the finest grade
gravel is easily good enough and very cheap. Just needs a lot of washing,
and check that it's lime-free. If using sand, just a thin layer, a couple
cm, is all your need unless your tank has rooted plants. Search WWM re: sand
in freshwater aquariums for more. As for gravel, this is the substrate of
choice for most, being nice and dark, and so bringing out the best in the
colours of the fish.>
Other than the substrate is there anything else that usually would cause
cysts or blisters that I should change? The water parameters are fine.
<Really hard to say. Blisters usually indicate either heat damage (such as
burns if the catfish hides wedged by the heater) or else physical damage
(including scratching on the substrate, bites from other fish, and even
clumsy handling by the owner). Usually they heal in time, and while treating
as per Finrot with something like eSHa 2000 is useful to stop any
bacterial infections, good water quality is the main thing. Viral infections
(such as Lymphocystis) often go along with some type of environmental
stress, from the wrong water chemistry through to heavy metal exposure. No
actual treatment is needed, as these viral infections tend to clear up after
a few months or so (sometimes a year or two!) but again, reviewing the tank
is a good idea.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Red bumps/ sores on Bristlenose Pleco
Some really helpful information thank you.
What size tank is suitable for clown loaches?
<A tricky question. Let me direct you to the Loaches.com website if you haven't
already seen it:
Anyway, they suggest a minimum tank for a school of adults around 6 x 2 x 2
feet, which works out at about 650 litres. That's a big tank! While it wouldn't
be the best way to keep them, I think you could probably get away with a trio in
450 litres, but with the proviso that these loaches are prone to being either
nervous or aggressive when kept in too-small a group, and the benefit of a
really big tank is the potential to keep 5+ specimens, which is the best
approach. For sure these fish grow slowly, and it can be several years before
they're even 15 cm long, in which case a tank around
the 450 litre mark would work okay. But when all is said and done, these are a
demanding species not well suited to the average aquarist (or the average
budget!) despite their wide sale. If you remember the Red Tail Catfish debacle
of the 1980s, much the same thing pertains to Clown Loaches; i.e., far more of
them are bred and sold than can properly be
looked after. Pangasius Cats, Silver Sharks, Oscars, even Common Plecs fit into
this category too.>
I don't want to buy more in the hope that they settle down and not be able to
care for them when they get bigger.
I am a bit worried because I did suspect that one had injured another of my fish
<Personally, I'd hang onto the ones you've got, but with a view to rehoming them
once they become too big. Maidenhead Aquatics are a chain of stores in the UK
that are very good at rehoming fish. Indeed, the branch in Crowland (near
Peterborough) actually specialises in loaches!>
I do have other tanks but they are smaller. I have a 120 litre with 2 musk
turtles (under a year old) and 2 sucking loaches which are larger than the
<Do they all get on? Given how nasty the Sucking Loaches can be at times,
keeping them with Musk Turtles makes good sense!>
I don't really want to put them with the turtles in case they feel a bit peckish
and decide they want a snack. I have a 90 litre with female Betta, 3 Otos and 3
sterbai Corys in it. If I moved them into the larger 240 litre tank would it be
adequate for the clown loaches until they started to get larger?
<For a while, yes; but I think once they go to, say, 10 cm, I'd be looking to
rehouse them. 240 litres is a brilliant size for a community tank. Can't be
beaten, in fact. It's just bad luck that Clowns are too big for community tanks.
There are any number of smaller loaches, like Yo-yo loaches, that would work
Lastly I have been looking on the internet at different substrate, mainly soil
as there is a layer under the gravel. It is very expensive and wondered whether
there was a cheaper alternative.
<Heavens yes! If you're setting up a serious planted system with CO2 and all the
rest of it, then a proper plant-specific substrate is probably a good idea. But
if you're just sticking in a few hardy plants (Crypts, Amazon Swords,
Vallisneria, etc.) then plain gravel is just fine. Just remember to stick plant
fertiliser pellets into the substrate near the plants every month or two. That's
all you need to do. Plants normally fail because of lack of light. If the
substrate is at fault, their leaves still grow but go yellowy, in which case you
add fertiliser to the water or, I think with better results, as pellets for
their roots to 'suck up'. In fact unless you have super-fast plant growth, a
rich (i.e., expensive) substrate will more likely spur algae into becoming a
pest. If you really want to pamper your plants, leave them in their
rockwool-filled pots, and the hardy plants will happily spread out from these,
sending runners or daughter plants out all over the gravel. Easy peasey! The
thing to remember about aquarium plants is that the easy ones are basically
weeds, and need no more fussing over than dandelions, though just like weeds,
they grow in sunny spots away from competitors, hence the fact light is the
Don't forget also that Java Ferns, Java Moss and Anubias couldn't give a rip
about the substrate because they aren't stuck in the ground but stuck to rocks
and woods, and obviously floating plants don't care either. In other words, the
fact plain gravel is what you want/can afford is NEVER a reason to worry about
not having a nice green tank!>
I used to have sand in one of my smaller tanks and found that difficult to
<Understood. But you don't actually need to clean sand. If you use it in a tank
with plants, their roots send oxygen down into the sand. Snails or catfish will
skim the top layer, especially if you choose snails that burrow but don't breed
quickly, such as Tylomelania species, or Assassin Snails. Set up thus, sand
should basically stay clean, though it will darken a bit in time, and that's
fine. The idea of "bad gasses" coming from deep sand is a bit of a myth -- look
up deep sand beds in marine tanks, and you'll see they're actually a good idea,
and the freshwater hobby is a bit paranoid about them!>
The Bristlenose's name is Mr. Plexy so that is why he was referred to as Plec
and I agree he is different to the common Plec and quite lovely in his own
<Even better when this species starts breeding!>
Re: Red bumps/ sores on Bristlenose Pleco
Wonderful advice Neale.
I have separated the Clown loaches and the Pakistani loaches from the community
tank. Unfortunately too late as not sure which of them attacked my Betta and it
<Could be either, to be honest. But Bettas are, basically, bad choices for most
community tanks. Sticking one in a community tank is like keeping a Pug
alongside a pack of wolves, on the theory they're all dogs. We've bred Bettas to
such a degree they don't really work with ordinary fish.>
As for the sucking loaches and turtles they actually are really good tank mates.
They are both full of attitude and won't take nonsense.
Have lots of space and hiding spaces too. I have very clean turtles as the
loaches clean them regularly haha.
<I was going to ask you about that! Mixing fish with turtles is done, but it is
tricky, and only certain combinations work. I think you've hit on one of them!
Angelfish parasite? HITH?
Hello! I have two questions please:
1. My established veil koi angel stopped eating about a week ago. No
outward symptoms of illness (clamped fins, labored breathing,
twitching)....just won't eat. She stays at the top of the tank at night
in the front right corner and sits near the bottom by the heater during
Sounds some at night.
Today she had a 1/4" string of white poo....after reading your
site for a long time seems it may be a parasite?
<Does sound consistent with irritation of the gut, which causes extra
mucous in the faeces. While worms can do this, Hexamita is a more likely
bet with cichlids also showing symptoms such as lethargy and poor
colour, and doubly so if there are also signs of lateral line erosion
("pits") on the head or flanks which seem to be related to
Hexamita in a way not clearly understood (by me, at least). Treat as per
Hexamita or HITH; in other words: Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic
(Nitrofuran recommended); optimise water quality especially nitrate
level, temperature, and oxygenation. Remember to remove carbon during
medication, if you use carbon, and really, there are better ways to
waste your money!>
She looks perfectly normal otherwise. 2. New larger veil koi angelfish
added to tank today. Purchased at LFS. Watched the fish for quite awhile
at store before making my selection.....checking skin/scale condition,
fins in good shape, activity, etc. Once acclimated and added to tank,
she is pretty constantly moving her head from side to side/twitching?
Just her head. Also tapping/hitting glass with her mouth. She looks
pristine. I see no issues with outward condition at all. Could this be
situational or stress related?
<Twitching in Angels can be aggression, as they do grate their jaws and
flex their pelvic fins when agitated. But irritation of the gills is
another reason, Velvet and Whitespot being the two commonest
explanations here. The old salt/heat method works extremely well with
Angels, 2 gram salt per litre of water doing the trick nicely, and
tolerated across a couple weeks without any problems by Neons,
I have a 55-gallon tank stocked as follows: the 2 angels mentioned, 4
small marbled angels (about quarter sized), 6 neon tetras,
<Be aware that these can be Angelfish food!>
6 peppered cories, and 3 Longfin albino Bristlenose Plecos. No issued
with Amy of my other fish in 2 years. Parameters all normal....pH 7.5,
no ammonia spikes, worst reading is hard water at 180, but always that
Recently had 3 angels with fin rot from LFS moved to hospital tank all
died. The two angels I ask about now have no symptoms of that. I have a
natural 24-hour cycle LED light system so lights are not harsh. I feed a
combo of flake discs, freeze-dried bloodworms, algae/shrimp wafers (for
Plecos and cories but angels like them too) and fresh cucumber every two
days. I SO enjoy the angels (and all my fish)....any suggestions for
diagnosis/treatment? There are absolutely no other symptoms I can see.
THANKS in advance! Kristi
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
re: Angelfish parasite? And Loricariid dis.
Hi, Neale! Furst off, thanks for the response.
Unfortunately my angel with the stringy poo and no appetite passed this
<Sorry to hear that.>
She was at the bottom of the tank barely breathing. All gentle attempts to
rouse were unsuccessful. I euthanized with clove oil. She was very special
<Understood. And thank you for euthanising humanely. You'd be surprised how
many fish are still flushed, half-dead, or worse.>
The new koi has settled somewhat though still about 50% of original head
twitching action....NO evidence of holes or indentions in head or body.
It's almost as though I could compare him to a "hyper" person who just
cannot sit still. I will try the salt treatment if you feel warranted at
<It will do no harm, at least. Just keep at the low concentration described,
and be sure to use some type of non-iodised salt; kosher salt, aquarium
tonic salt and pure (cooking) sea salt are all fine. Don't use marine
aquarium salt unless you have to; it contains other chemicals to raise pH
and hardness that aren't especially useful in this context.>
Yes, aware the neons can be "angel appetizers"...I must be lucky. ...same 6
neons and many angels over past two years and they're all still kicking.
<To be fair, most farmed hybrid Angels rarely exceed a body length of 10
cm/4 inches, and these aren't as dangerous as full-sized wild-type Angels
that can be 15 cm/6 inches across.>
So, I can treat entire tank without worry for the HITH and not affect the
Plecos, cories or neons? Is HITH contagious?
<Hexamita has been reported from a very wide range of fish. However, it
seems to be latent in many fish rather than contagious. It's something that
happens to the fish that makes it become a problem. To be clear: with
cichlids such as Angels, some combination of poor diet, high nitrate, and
bad luck (perhaps genetics) seems to be involved. The diet aspect seems to
be vitamin deficiency; the nitrate link seems to be with infrequent water
changes. As for luck and genetics, hard to pin these down. Some Angelfish
breeds to seem to be more delicate that others; all-black and koi Angels at
the more delicate end, standard wild-type, marbled, and golden Angelfish at
the hardier end. As with dogs, a crossbreed is usually a sounder animal
compared with a pedigree, so for example a nice-looking marble Angel with
patches of gold is probably a good choice for the average community tank.>
One other unrelated question if I can....my big male BN Pleco has a red mark
on his fin "rib" and recently lost a piece of the opposite "rib".
"Jet" is a robust active tough Pleco who has gathered two beautiful batches
of babes. He's acting normally -seems like another injury. .....any advice?
<It does look inflamed. I'd review the substrate for a start. Is it sharp
enough to scratch him? Has it been cleaned recently? I'd medicate as per
Finrot, but otherwise I'd expect this catfish to make a quick recover.>
See attached pics of new angel and Pleco.
Re: Angelfish parasite? 5/3/16
Thanks so much for the additional info, Neale! I do appreciate it so much.
The angel with the "twitching" issue seems to be continuing to improve
slowly. I'll keep an eye on him and add the recommended salt to the tank.
<2 gram per litre. No more! You can of course use standard Whitespot
medications, but these can be toxic to some fish (loaches, catfish
especially) and obviously cost a lot more. Raising the temperature to 28
C/82 F alongside the salt helps greatly.>
I feel confident on cleanliness of tank and my water changes are done
religiously. As for the Plecos, they do seem to be VERY hearty little fish.
I'll treat as Finrot per your suggestion. Substrate is very fine sand.
The only thing in my tank with "sharp" edges might be the cut end of his
favorite piece of driftwood, where he and the two females constantly fight
over the prime spot (a very small crevice they squeeze into headfirst. I
have a huge piece of driftwood on the other side of the tank, but "Jet"
prefers the little one.
<While it's possible a splinter is at fault, I'd wager not. Perhaps simple
bad luck... "one of those things"... and if the fish recovers, nothing to
worry about overmuch.>
Thanks again, your advice has been invaluable. :) I hope to be able to
update you with good news on both fish as they progress.
<I shall look forward to it! Cheers, Neale.>
Catfish with fin damage 11/7/15
I apologise if my grammar are bad, English is not my first language.
<No worries. I understand you>
I have a catfish with a damaged fin and a pink/red spot on the side of the back,
the fin is also of that color.
<I see this in your pix>
it has had this for 2 weeks now and i am worried it might be sick or if it just
is a scratch?
<Looks to be both... a physical injury, and a bacterial "fungal" wound site>
I have 2 catfish and the other one is all fine. All water levels is good and he
is acting as if there is nothing wrong.
<Mmm; At this point I'd not treat the system.... some very old time remedies
might encourage daubing a mercury compound on the site (Merthiolate likely); and
some later ones might suggest 250 mg. per ten gallons of a Sulfa Drug.... A most
recent method might include using a gram positive and negative antibiotic...
E.g. Maracyn I and II.... Again; if it were me/mine, I'd just keep water quality
optimized and hope for a self cure here. Bob Fenner>
Catfish with fin damage Neale's take
I apologise if my grammar are bad, English is not my first language.
<Better than my Dansk!>
I have a catfish with a damaged fin and a pink/red spot on the side of the back,
the fin is also of that color. it has had this for 2 weeks now and i am worried
it might be sick or if it just is a scratch?
<Bit more than a scratch. Looks like he's damaged himself. Or been damaged.
Would treat for Finrot if it gets worse, but otherwise leave alone and it should
get better on its own.>
I have 2 catfish and the other one is all fine. All water levels is good and he
is acting as if there is nothing wrong.
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Long-Fin Albino Ancistrus with a fin injury
Thanks to your wonderful knowledge I have been a fishkeeper for many years now.
My favorite fish, a full-grown long-finned Albino male Ancistrus, suffered an
injury this morning and I'm trying to determine which course of action to take.
About a half-inch tip of one of his side fin rays seems to have been completely
severed, but is still hanging on thanks to the clear fin tissue. Is it better to
net him and clip this off?
<Nope. Will detach itself. Keep a close eye out for Finrot though. Normally
damaged fins grow back without problems. Occasionally you'll see the membrane go
a bit cloudy around the wound. But if you see small red specks on the fin
membrane and a distinctive raggedy edge to the fin, then Finrot may be
happening. In itself a little bit of bleeding might not be abnormal.
But when the blood vessels become congested with bacteria and dead cells they
create reddish (often pink or even white) swellings. The lack of blood flow
means fin membrane beyond the congestion dies, and the fin gradually erodes.
This is Finrot.>
The severed end is a little less red right now, but earlier it was quite red and
other fish (discus) kept coming near probably thinking it was a worm. He's smart
so he swam away and doesn't seem to be in distress. I know Ancistrus with their
claws can have trouble being netted, so I hesitate to do that. Will it resolve
itself if left in perfect water conditions?
<Yes. Absolutely. In the wild fin damage is very common, through fighting,
accidents, narrow escapes from predators, even bites from dedicated fin-eaters.
All fish have the ability to regrow damaged fins provided the very base isn't
Or is it better to net him and clip it off, then put him in a separate tank?
<Almost never a good idea.>
The back story is, a few days ago I added four 2-year-old Discus and two less
than half-grown brown male regular Ancistrus to my long established 90-gallon
tank. The big tank held 5 adult discus (parents of the additions) my long-finned
albino & a Siamese algae eater. All seem to be getting along beautifully, but
one of the little brown male Ancistrus is
kind of aggressive, always has been... Could that little bugger have bitten this
damaged fin on a fish over twice his size?
<It's possible because they do have quite strong teeth. But it's more likely
damage from some type of misadventure. Do bear in mind "long-finned" varieties
of fish have been bred to have longer fins than they evolved to have.
Consequently the things that maintain and protect those fins aren't there. The
bones may not bone strong enough, and the behaviours needed to
avoid damage to extra-long fins aren't there either. Kind of like women who grow
long fingernails. Might look good, but not natural, and hard to keep that length
if you're doing manual labour!>
Or could it be that because I added all the tank decor from both tanks (to
change the surroundings) he somehow hurt himself. Thanks in advance for your
Albino Ancistrus solved his own problem! 7/31/15
Hi again WetWebMedia experts,
Just wanted to report that my favorite fish, my male Longfinned Albino
Ancistrus, solved his own problem of the severed fin ray. It tore off once the
transparent fin gave way, and he seems just fine. I'm so glad, I wasn't looking
forward to chasing him around with a net!
<Cool. Should heal and grow back just fine, assuming good water quality.>
So thanks again for all your expertise, you have taught me so much. You are an
Thanks for all you do,
<And thanks for the kind words. Neale.>
Worried about my new Pleco
Hi I have just started a tropical tank I set it up and took a bucket of
dirty water from my friends goldfish tank when she cleaned it out and poured it
into my tank to start the cycle off after a few hours it was crystal clear I
added a few plants and then yesterday bought a few starter fish ten barbs 5
tigers and 5 leopard also I bought a couple of albino long fin Bristle nose
Pleco's they are only babies but I have just noticed that one of them has a red
lump on his belly I have sent some pictures for you to look at .
Sent from my iPad
<He's starving. You're seeing the blood around/inside his
internal organs. Hmm... how to be clear? Plecs, including Bristlenose Plecs,
scavengers. Even algae is a small part of their diet. These very young specimens
slip from starved to dead within a week or two. Run to your fridge and find some
fresh vegetables he can eat immediately. Cucumber is popular but contains little
nutrition. Courgette (sometimes called Zucchini) is better. Serve both raw.
Canned or cooked peas are usually taken as well. But in a starvation situation,
something energy-rich is important too. A small piece of prawn or mussel will
work nicely (though these are Thiaminase-rich, so shouldn't be used too often,
once a week maybe). Most of all, buy some "algae wafers" such as those from
Hikari or Tetra. These make excellent staples for Plecs of all types. Specimens
under 5 cm will get by on half a wafer every couple of days; above that, a whole
wafer ever day for specimens 5-10 cm long; above that, pro rata, to maybe 2-3
wafers for an adult Plec alongside the usual fresh vegetables and meaty treats
you're offering. Feel free to give more if your specimen looks hollow bellied,
but don't overfeed. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Worried about my new Pleco
Thank you so much I have been putting Algi wafers in only half a wafer but I
have crushed it up
<I would not do this. Tiny crumbs will not get eaten and simply pollute the
water. Instead, snap the wafer into as many pieces as you have Plecs, so if you
have two Plecs, then snap into two pieces. Plecs can graze the piece as it
softens up, which will be the right way for them to feed with minimal waste.
Other fish can't feed so easily this way, so they'll be less likely to steal
food from the Plecs as well.>
also I have put in a little bit of cucumber, I will buy some zucchini for them I
have two about an inch each they are so cute I don't want to lose them, I
noticed their poo was very pale that is why I crushed the wafer and spread it
about a bit so they could find it . Thanks again for your reply
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Worried about my new Pleco
Hi thanks for all your help he is looking much better here is a photo of him
<Definite improvement! He should be fine now. Good luck, Neale.>
We put some new fish in the tank a few weeks ago and all but one of the
four new fish died. The majority of the fish that were already there
before have also died off over the past week. When they all started dying, I
moved all of the fish to a new tank for a few days while I thoroughly cleaned
this tank and let the filter run for a few days. Shortly after putting the
remaining fish back in the tank, three more died and my Pleco developed
small white spots on his eyes. Now he has one red bump on each eye. Do
you have any ideas what might be happening? As soon as all of this started I
started testing the water everyday and everything keeps coming up fine..
<Hello Michelle. Need some data here. At first glance this all sounds like New
Tank Syndrome. All very generic symptoms of environmental stress. The fact your
photo is a picture of a Pterygoplichthys species catfish, which grows to 45
cm/18 inches within two years suggests you have a very large aquarium. Or should
have, anyway, as anything smaller than 55 gallons won't work (too much ammonia
excreted), and anything smaller than 75 gallons will look filthy (these fish
turn defecation into an Olympic sport). So please confirm the aquarium size.
Also, your idea of "fine" might not be my idea
of "fine", so rather than a subjective editorial, can you let me have the actual
nitrite, pH and hardness values. These are important. Things like Neons have
totally different requirements to Guppies, so a tank that contains both will be
bad for one of them. Make sense? Nitrite values tell me something about how well
the filter is doing its job. Anything above 0 is toxic and explanation enough
for sickness and fish deaths, while nitrite values above 0.5 mg/l are quickly
lethal to fish, killing them within days of exposure. Put another way: if one
fish dies for mysterious reasons, you could be unlucky. But when numerous fish
die within a few days, it's almost always the environment. Exposure to toxins of
some sort, whether intrinsic (ammonia, nitrite) or extrinsic (household cleaning
products, paint fumes).
Conceivably, you can introduce diseases with batches of new aquarium fish, but
almost always these are obvious problems such as Whitespot or Velvet. Even then,
you wouldn't expect all the fish to die for no obvious reason.
Instead you'd see a succession of fish coming down with obvious signs of
parasitic infection. That's not what happened here, so we're back to the
environment as the problem. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Pleco 5/3/15
Nitrate is just above 0,
<Check your test kit. This is virtually impossible in a 55-gallon tank with an
nitrite is at 0, GH is at 75, KH is at 60, pH is at 7.0, and ammonia is at 0.
<Given the dubious quality of the nitrate reading, I'd be skeptical of any of
these. Could well be the source of your problems: thinking things are fine, when
they're clearly not. Plecs are filth factories. They eat massive amounts of
green and dried foods, and produce a lot of solid waste as well as dissolved
metabolites. Unless there's massive amounts of plant growth, by which I mean
you're pulling out overgrown plants pretty much daily, there's no way nitrate
will be zero. Nitrate is the end product of biological filtration, as you
probably know. Only water changes dilute it, and unless you change 100% of the
water, you reduce nitrate level by a certain amount, you don't reduce it to
zero. That's why I simply don't believe your nitrate reading. Double check
you're using it right, and if
you get the same answer, then the test kit is shot.>
Currently they are in a 55 gallon (they being the Pleco, a rainbow shark, and
two unidentified fish that I have attached a picture of),
<Both Trichopodus trichopterus, the "Three Spot Gourami". Nice fish, hardy, but
males can be aggressive in small tanks.>
but we do have a 100 gallon tank that we will be buying soon.
We inherited these fish from my parents as they are moving a few states over and
it's kind of difficult to move fish that far. Currently the Pleco is about 10
inches long, 3 years old.
<Stunted somewhat. Quite common, especially when left to "scavenge" or eat algae
rather than properly fed. Nonetheless, even at this size will be producing a lot
of waste. Anyway, I'm 99% sure the environment is the issue here,
notwithstanding the test kit results. The low hardness is a little troubling
too; do bear in mind that low hardness can mean an unstable pH,
and sudden pH drops are harmful to fish. Low hardness and acidic pH levels also
reduce the efficiency of filter bacteria.>
Our tank is about 5 feet wide, just over 2 feet tall.
Loricariid Disease Question; and microscope use f'
I've recently adopted a few fish from a friend of a friend who
is draining their pond due to leak in there waterfall and was
possibly leaking into the foundation of their house.(I was bribed with
several bottles of wine to adopt these fish)
<Heeeee! I surrender!>
Included are 2 large albino common Plecs, a male and female and their
offspring( six babies). My concern is brown pigmenting on body
that looks like fungus.
<Mmm; more likely algae (happens) plus some other Protists, Monerans...
not a worry... just need to as smoothly as practical transition these
animals to a warmer, biologically cleaner setting>
Some spots are fairly flush and look like freckling, although some spots
are raised (fleshy appearance) and resemble fungus. I've never seen a
fungus/bacteria of this color. I've also never seen albino Plecs with
brown spots either. What would be the best way to sample/ID.
<A glass slide passed head to tail over the area, scraping off a bit of
this material... not to worry, the scutes of the Loricariid will protect
the fish otherwise. Spreading this in turn on another slide, covering
with a slip, and dabbing a part of a drop of water on the edge of the
slip to prevent drying.... no dying/staining necessary>
I do have a scope powered to X400.
I'm a little new to the whole sampling thing. I've generally used it to
ID parasites. Any chance I could swab the area?
<Yes... there are prep.s, even just the mercury-containing ones used on
humans for topicals... rinsed off after ap.>
My scope maybe underpowered to do any good.
<It is not for most purposes... microbes, culture... distinguishing by
way of are a bit more advanced... that might call for higher power (a K
(I am shopping around for a better scope) I should mention the other
fish in pond are a large red Oscar, CAE and swordtail/guppies that look
Although filtration had been cut off, I'm sure their were some nitrate
issues IMO. Currently these fish are in a 300g quarantine tank. I am
unable to send a picture. Thank you very much for your time. Aloha
<Thank you for such an interesting and informative email. Bob Fenner>
Bristlenose Pleco - Red Sores
About two months ago after selling off my Bristlenose Pleco fry (52 cuties ♡), I
kept two after noticing each had a red bubble-like sore on their bodies.
<I can barely make these out... you need to learn to crop your pix ahead of
I had quickly set up a 10 gallon hospital tank dedicated to the two Bristlenose
Pleco (now 10 mths old). After this being my third surprise (2 yr newbie to
freshwater fish or any fish))
of seeing eggs laid & hatching (what a thrill I might add), I separated the
parents (finally got wise). But now to my question...how should I treat this?
<Mmm; with just good care... High, consistent water quality and good nutrition.
I fully suspect these sores are physical injuries... Not worth the risk of
medicine/s addition; nor warranted. Will heal in time on their own>
I've attached photos. They seem to be fine in regards to moving around the tank
-as well as eating...they especially love when I give them blanched zucchini &
I've treated them with all natural meds (PimaFix)
<These "tea" treatments are worse than worthless. can/do interrupt biological
processes... like nitrification. I wish they'd be forced off the market>
but no change, as well as, Epsom Salts (1 tsp?) which I was looking on your web
site for confirmation of the correct dosage for a 10 gallon tank. Suggestions??
<You can read Neale's piece here re:
and the linked file above. Bob Fenner>
Pleco problems... gen. hlth. 6/8/14
I recently moved my albino Pleco (along with some of his fishy friends)
to a bigger tank. All the other fish (.guppies, mollies, x-ray fish) are
doing fine, but my Pleco can't seem to stay stuck to the side of
the tank. He fixes himself to the glass but then slides to the
top of the tank (almost like reverse gravity is dragging him to the
top). Please help, he is my most favourite fish!
<Sarah, it's not essential for Plecs to latch onto the glass, and some
are definitely better than others. Focus more on ensuring he's in good
shape, feeding properly and getting a nice range of foods. He doesn't
need to scrape the glass for algae. It's possible he's weaker than he
was before, perhaps because he's not eating enough, a common problem
with Plecs; do remember they aren't primarily algae eaters in the wild,
and need a good range of things to eat. Algae wafers, pieces of cucumber
and courgette, cooked peas, small pieces of fish and seafood, frozen
bloodworms, etc. As always when a fish isn't behaving as you expect,
check environmental parameters. Zero ammonia and nitrite, aquarium size
at least 55 gallons,
and so on. Cheers, Neale.>
Sic <sic> Ancistrus (another Mela-doesn't-fix-it story; Bob,
some input re: treatment) <<>> 8/28/13
I have two Ancistrus one of which has something growing on it's
stomach. I was told to bath them in Indian Bay Leaf oil but there was no
<Unfortunately most of these plant oil medications are pretty
unreliable, and some would say do more harm than good.>
I have included two photos, one showing the pair feeding an a close-up
of the stomach showing the parasite/ fungus?
<Yikes, pretty messy. Not really sure what we're looking at underneath
this catfish. Would treat as a combination fungal-bacterial infection
(e.g., with something like eSHa 2000 or Seachem Kanaplex) because it's
hard to specify the exact kind of infection here. If you can, I'd use
Metronidazole as well because this treats some of the more challenging
bacterial infections well, and also works well against protozoan
Basically, we're taking a broad-brush approach here. I'd also look at
the aquarium. The fact the underside of the fish is far worse than the
flanks or back suggests a problem with the substrate. Often, these
infections start because of anoxic, polluted conditions on the
substrate. Poor water circulation is a very common cause, and your big
pebble substrate looks a bit off too, not just in colour (bright colour
substrates do stress fish) but because it's too big and rough for your
catfish to move around easily, and catfish can easily scratch themselves
under such conditions. Sharp, jagged rocks for decoration aren't a great
idea, either. These are speculations on my part, but nonetheless you'd
be wise considering what started the problem, and looking critically at
the bottom half of the aquarium in particular.>
The growth is pressed against the glass in the photo, it hangs down
about 1/2" while swimming. The problem is getting worse but they still
have good appetites. Something needs to be done soon but the more I
research the problem the more I realize I nor anyone I have talked to
have a clue as to what the growth is or how to cure it. Thank you for
your time. Robert
<Don't think this fish is Ancistrus, by the way. Or at least, none I've
ever seen! Too many rays in the dorsal fin (there appear to be 1 spine
and 13 rays) and the barbels around the mouth are far too long for
Looks more like a Pterygoplichthys species to me, rather like
Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps though the colours are back to front compared
to that species. In any case, Pterygoplichthys get very big, and I do
suspect this catfish is suffering environmental stress. Pterygoplichthys
are intolerant of one another for a start, so stress or outright
aggression could have started the infection or even caused the wounds.
Singleton Pterygoplichthys need at least 55 gallons and realistically
75+ gallons to do well, as well as very robust filtration, turnover
rates 8 or more times the volume of the tank per hour, and frequent
water changes. If you can, try joining the Planet Catfish forum and
posting a photo of your catfish up. Someone should identify it very
quickly, and maybe will have experienced the same problems as you have,
so will be able to give you some more specific advice. Cheers,
Neale.><<I do concur re this being environmentally mediated...
tumorous... Would improve water quality, nutrition and hope for the
Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose
I have noticed in my Albino bristle nose brood that one has a puffy looking
enlarged mid-section, I was wondering whether it could be a genetic defect
or whether there was something I could do to assist him/her.
S/he has been this way for months.
I have attached a photo. If you are able to assist, please advise me of your
<This grossly appears to be some sort of bacterial/microbial infection
(internal); but as you state it's been this way for half a year... Perhaps
genetic/developmental. I would leave this fish and all else as is. Bob
Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose
Thanks Bob, this fella has been this way since s/he was quite small.
<Yes; as I understood you. Am asking Neale Monks here to respond
Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose
I have noticed in my Albino bristle nose brood that one has a puffy looking
enlarged mid-section, I was wondering whether it could be a genetic defect
or whether there was something I could do to assist him/her.
<A good varied diet with fresh algae will help clear any constipation. You
might also try using Epsom salt, which is an effective laxative for fish and
completely safe. If used with an antibiotic can also help with early stage
S/he has been this way for months. I have attached a photo. If you are able
to assist, please advise me of your thoughts. Thank you.
<Do read here...
Suspect constipation may be an issue, often is with herbivorous fishes.
Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose
Thanks again Bob, Neale suggested we change the feeding and we will try
some blanched skinless peas. Can't hurt to try!
<And you; BobF>
Re: Genetic defect/health query- Albino Bristlenose
Thank you for your advice. We'll give the peas a try.
<Most welcome and bon chance! Cheers, Neale.>
Plecs gill has popped out 6/24/13
I have a problem with my Plec that I cant seem to find an answer to so
any thoughts would retreat please, it's gill on the right has been
swollen for a few weeks but now it seems to have completely popped out I
think see pic, He seems ok and is behaving normally, he is in a tank
140l with 1 kissing gourami 2 opal gourami 3 golden barbs and 2
goldfish, one of the goldfish has a small growth on his side but has had
this since I inherited them over 18mths ago so I don't know if there is
a link there.
Thanks for reading and any help you can offer x
<Hello Lisa. "Gill Curl" is almost always environmental;
specifically, the fish in question is kept in an aquarium that's too
small, inadequately filtered, and/or not given enough water changes.
Given an adult Plec needs upwards of 200 litres, minimum, to do well, my
money would be on a combination of all three, especially when you factor
in the other fish,
some of which, like the Kissing Gourami and Goldfish, need a fair amount
of space themselves. No "treatment" as such; Gill Curl usually fixes
itself once conditions improve. If you can't move the Plec to a bigger
tank in your home, a phone call to your local aquarium shop may be
useful in rehoming; in the UK, the Maidenhead Aquatics chain usually
takes in fish and rehouse them without any hassle. Hope this helps,
Re: Plecs gill has popped out– 6/24/13
Thanks for your help, i am moving the goldfish to the pond outside so
hopefully this will help and i will save up for a bigger tank. Many
<Ah, sounds like a good plan. Good luck! Neale.>
Plec injury 1/6/12
I have a Plec about 4-5 inches long in a 50l (UK) tank
- we plan in getting him a bigger tank soon, he was about 1.5 inches
when we got him!
<Do you really mean 50 litres? Not 500 or 250 or something? For sure 50
litres is way too small, and the small volume of water makes a bad
He is currently with 5 neons. During a water change two days ago we
think he got injured.
He hid in his cave as usual, but when I came back in the evening he had
upturned his cave and his belly/fins looked sore. His belly had a
whitish patch by his fins, and his dorsal fin seems to have a cut where
it joins his back. I added stress coat to the water the next day to try
to help him heal (assuming it was an injury and not bacterial).
<Stress Coat is largely a preventative, and should not be relied upon as
I have also now removed the cave and put a larger hiding place for him
to live in. This evening though, his injuries seem worse.
<Small tank means the water quality is almost certainly inadequate, and
this environmental stress means his immune system is weakened. Plecs can
and do recover from this sort of injury without problems, but only in
He doesn't seem to be suffering in character (still active in the
but attached is a picture of the wound today, looking quite bloody with
some kind of lesion by the fin.
Are injuries of this sort supposed to look worse before they look better
when healing, or do you think this looks like some kind of fin rot?
<Certainly treat with an anti-Finrot medication. Finrot isn't a single
bacterial disease any more than gangrene or septicaemia are in humans.
Finrot simply means ordinary bacteria that live in the aquarium have got
into a wound, taken advantages of the weak immune system of the host
fish, and started to multiply. As they do so, they cause blood vessels
to become congested, and that leads to redness and eventually further
damage to the surrounding tissues.>
My 5 neons are unaffected, although we are currently getting over a
small snail infestation (I don't think this would affect the Pleco
<Indeed not, assuming you didn't use an anti-snail "potion" as these are
fairly toxic and not much recommended by modern fishkeepers.>
Many thanks for your time and thoughts,
<Move to a bigger tank (250 litres minimum for a Plec) and medicate as
per Finrot; I'd recommend eSHa 2000 as inexpensive, reliable, and
seemingly Plec-safe. Cheers, Neale.>
|Re: Plec injury
Thank you so much! Bigger tank is imminent, and I'll go out for the fin rot
As for the snails, we haven't used treatment, just a good old fashioned pair
of fingers to pluck them out, and a cabbage leaf for the rest of them!
<Sounds safe enough!>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Plec injury
Hello, just a quick note to say thanks very much for your advice! We found
the treatment you suggested and after a 3 day dosage Pleco is looking much
<Great to hear some good news! Hope things work out well, Neale.>
White 'sore' on left side of the mouth of my
BN Pleco 3/15/12
I purchased a BN Pleco yesterday and I put him in a quarantine
tank. I noticed when I got home from my LFS that he seemed
to have a white spot on the left side of his mouth.
<Mmm, yes; I see this... where a/the usual
"bristle/barbel" of these fish's would be.
Evidently damaged, worn off... too likely in transit, rubbing
against others in the bag>
This morning, it looks like the 'sore' became
open. As I am relatively new in the hobby (about 1 year), I
do not know a whole lot about diseases. I did do an
extensive search on the internet, but to no avail. Can you
identify what is wrong with the Pleco from the attached picture
and maybe suggest a cure?
Thank you very much,
<Just good care should see this fish recover... water quality,
No medicine advised, needed. Bob Fenner>
|Re: White 'sore' on left side of
the mouth of my BN Pleco 3/16/12
Thank you so much, I am very relieved to know that he'll make a
recovery with time.
<Ah yes. This genus of Loricariids is very tough. Cheers,
Tank troubles, iatrogenic
Hello, I was given a tank a couple of years ago with a group of fish
including 1 now 10inch id shark
<Grows to a few feet... why don't you, others search, as
directed, on WWM ahead of writing us?>
(he was alot
<No such word>
smaller when i got the tank) 4 Tetras and a large Pleco 8 inches
. I wasn't told anything about fish keeping just keep the
temperature right do water changes watch out for signs of infection
(knowing what i do now i wish i did my research earlier).
My tank is 4ft by 2ft by 1ft. Since i upgraded to this
tank. A few problems have occurred. Iv never had disease in the
tank. In all the time i had it, However i decided to buy some new
tetras and then the problems seem to start (fin fot).
Also my Pleco fights with my Id shark and in diving
around the tank damaged the end of his two front fins very
slightly. It appeared to be heeling very well so i didn't put
any treatments in the tank as i was already treating for the fin rot
and i didn't want to add more chemicals after reading the id shark
having no scales is very sensitive to treatments
and i don't own a hospital tank. The end of the fin healed over
but after some days turned red on the end of both fins. Also he seems
to be covered in tiny air bubbles. Im not sure if this is
<Not; again, env.>
Apart from this he eats like a horse, Holds his fins out and dances for
me still and is showing no other signs of disease. After seeing the red
develop on his 2 fin tips i treated the tank with anti bacterial for
ulcers and infections and so on (what the pet store advised). I cant
get rid of the red in his 2 fin tips, Im presuming it is an
<READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/PangCatDisF.htm
and all the linked files above; compatibility>
After treating him twice no change i feel stuck not knowing what to do
<... help yourself>
Also i added two albino red fin sharks to the tank last
week just over an inch long
<Likely will be inhaled, killed by the Pangasiid>
(since i have the tetras who are small i didn't see a problem with the
bigger fish eating them he leaves everyone alone mostly) All was great
they seem to hide alot but i read that was normal. Last night before i
went to bed they were both swimming around happily playing, In the
morning i woke up and found one of the small albino sharks dead. The
only sign of possible death i can see is bleeding under the skin where
i think the heart is only no where else. His colours are still bright a
beautiful like before. Im worried something is going on in the tank
now. I love my 2 large fish alot i don't want anything to happen with
them. Also i never knew much about water testing and when i read online
or go to the pet store Im abit overwhelmed with so many different
things with expensive prices! i don't have alot of money, Please can you
advise me of the main and most important tests i need to carry out to
determine what is going on in my tank and tips how to treat my Pleco
and save my tank before all hell breaks lose and everyone dies.Thank
you for your time
<Learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM, and run your writing
through a spell- and grammar checker before sending to us if writing
again. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank troubles. Why we eat the rude
Thank you for your rude reply, Firstly I know exactly how big the
catfish grows that's why I didn't search this.. I didn't
even ask you for the size so not sure why you needed to be rude there.I
was nervous about posting anywhere else in fear of a rude response and
I find it hard to use your site and read through things to find what I
need unless sent there by google!. So I thought it would be better to
describe my tank and get the right advice and ask you my self! Thanks
for the English lesson, I wont be writing your site again for advice :)
not sure why you linked me to the Pangasiid page i have already been
there a million times. It is the Pleco who is sick not the id
shark as I said in my previous email to you. Have a nice
Swordtails golden nugget... ? Env./hlth of both I
Hi I know this sound like a weird combo this will be sorted, but at the
moment I keep 5 golden nuggets
<Suckermouth Catfishes, Baryancistrus sp.?>
( unfortunately now four) a group of seven syrillis cories, along
with roughly 5 large female and a mixture of baby
To the point I recently have lost a few swordtails to a problem that
creeps up every now and again where my large swordtails look slightly
unwell then within 24-48 hours there scales fall off and there flesh
looks flakey as if it's falling off but this only happens from
there belly up and from tail towards head that's the direction the
Move along there body over this short period of time, I have been
keeping these fish together for over three years with no problems what
is causing this?
<Mmm... could be pathogenic... there are some bacterial issues and
protozoan parasites that appear like this... Requires microscopic
examination of sample smears to detect/identify specifically. Or, could
be a matter of water quality issues... Like quite different conditions
than the catfishes>
My next question is could my golden nugget have suffered a random heart
attack it had been fine as usual and died in the blink of an eye when I
was looking at my tank no joke so I am baffled to the nuggets
My tank is 220 liters plus extra ten from filter which is a Fluval 405
my water is fine and constant and doesn't change I do two to three
water changes per week between 20-50 liters and once a month I do a 50%
( expensive I no but only the best for my golden nuggets) No2 0ppm No3
0ppm ph 6.8
<Ahh, this could be the problem w/ your Swords. Xiphophorus need
( my water is very hard in my area so I struggle to get soft
<How do you do this? All aquarium life needs some Biominerals,
but I am setting the nuggets up a 350 liter river setup and paying for
ro on just there tank (once that tank frees up when I get my new 2500
litre Oscar Arowana setup)) no ammonia no chlorine chloramine all heavy
metals are barely detectable for what I can test.
Any thing you can suggest
<See above for my questions, input thus far>
I generally cure any illness using natural methods i.e. I have cured
hith in many a friends fish just using Epsom salts I even saved my
local fish shops Oscar) any help too the swordtail problem would be
appreciated, any conformation on the nuggets would be appreciated but I
know they are a niche for information
Thanks yours sincerely aleck Fletcher
<The swordtails really need to be raised in a separate system...
Cooler, harder water... Bob Fenner>
Re: Swordtails golden nugget 1/6/12
As soon as I repair my another spare 180 litre I'll move the swords
thank you very much, what would I be looking for under the scope ?
<... please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM>
I have never had experience under the scope but have done swim bladder
deflation on my Frontosas before so should be capable with research on
but what exactly under the scope am I looking for?
How do I soften the water?
I just have lots of plants and have homemade soil substrate under the
gravel and lots of bogwood and it just seems to sit around 6.6-6.8
I'd like it bit lower but cannot afford r/o how hard should I also
make the water for the swords cooler?
<Yes, depending on the current temp....>
What sort of temp mines at 28c ATM and it goes up to 30-32 in summer
and it cools at night to 28-29c, any more clues to nugget death would
be appreciated too.
<... see/read on WWM under Loricariid health/disease.>
I'll move the swords once I repair there old tank
Red blood cysts 12/22/11
So i have a yearling Pleco and i noticed his tail had
these red bubbles at the end of his tail. So when i went to check it
out his tail was slimy and it had little white things under it. His
tail is getting more and more
ripped. I was just wondering if you knew what it is and how to treat
Thanks so much, Emily
<Sounds like a bacterial infection, e.g., Finrot. So, what's the
environment like? How big is the tank? What sort of filtration are you
using? Plecs are extremely hardy animals, but they do have minimum
requirements in terms of aquarium size and filtration. Cheers,
(email 1) Baby Plecostomus Deaths
Hello Bob and Crew,
This incident happened a few years ago, so please forgive my inability
to completely remember all specific details.
I have researched the issue in my fish/aquarium books and extensively
on the web, but have never been able to find any information on what
caused the odd death of these fish....I am still curious as to what
could have happened to the little guys.
I had purchased two small baby Blue Eyed Albino Plecos If I recall
correctly they were Bristlenose Plecos. I believe they were somewhere
between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch. They initially looked healthy and acted
and ate well. I think it was somewhere between one and two weeks later
when the first fish started to have issues
<As is often the case with catfish.>
It developed a thin and increasingly dark band around the mid area of
its body, which looked as if it was situated just beneath the skin I am
fairly sure the band was just before the Dorsal Fin, although if my
memory does not serve me correctly it would have been just behind that
at the front portion of the fin. This band seemed to get tighter and
tighter as he seemed to be trying to grow around it while it
constricted him. It seemed and looked just like a rubber band was
wrapped around him and was squeezing him to death yet the dark band was
definitely internal. As this was happening he lost his appetite and
became increasingly pale (from the usual yellow coloration to white),
until he died which I believe was 3 to 4 days later. Just before the
first baby died, the other baby developed the dark band and died in
exactly the same manor.
There was nothing in the tank they could have ingested that they should
<With juvenile catfish the problems are twofold. Firstly,
they're living in what is normally the low oxygen part of the tank.
That's because many filters, particularly hang-on-the-back filters,
don't suck in water from the bottom of the tank. So the bottom
layer tends to have little current and little mixing with the
oxygen-rich surface of the tank. Undergravel filters are much better
because they suck water through the substrate, but such filters
aren't much used these days. So if you want to keep catfish in peak
health, especially juveniles, you need to ensure strong water current
right down to the bottom of the tank. Try placing a filter close to the
bottom of the tank or installing an airstone or two right at the bottom
of the tank so water is pulled upwards with the bubbles. The second
issue is feeding. When newly hatched, the Ancistrus or Corydoras fry
can feed on algae and micro-organisms they find in the aquarium. But as
they grow, they need more of these foods, and eventually they exhaust
the supply of edible microbes of the type they want to eat. At some
point, and it is indeed around a couple weeks post-hatching, they can
start to starve unless you make a special effort to provide them with
4-6 meals of appropriate type and size.>
I attempted to treat with small doses of Melafix and Pimafix,
to no avail. The area pet stores I had contacted had also
never heard of this condition and were not able to help.
The fish were in a 5 gallon tank, which I was planning to keep them in
until they grew large enough to escape the mouth of the 6 inch Raphael
Catfish in my main tank (who is soon to be 19 years old!).
I set this 5 gallon up only when needed as a hospital or quarantine
tank, using 3 to 4 gallons of water from my main tank - The main tank
is a fully cycled 29 gallon which has been up and running for many
years. I then top the 5 gallon tank off with 1 to 2 gallons of new
water. The main tank has never had any water quality issues when tested
although the PH in this area does run a bit high at about 7.6. I have
had a few other Plecos over the years (including the Albino Bristlenose
currently in my tank), who have never seemed to have problems with the
higher PH, although they were much larger than these little guys when I
The 5 gallon the babies were in had a power filtration system with
floss and carbon suitable for the tank size I also had added a small
piece of floss from the 29 gallon tanks filter to aid biological
filtration. I had a heater in the tank which was sized for 2 to 5
gallon tanks, and had a factory set temperature of 78 degrees. I always
use water conditioner whenever adding water or making a water
I have been an aquarium hobbyist since I was a very small child, and
have never seen or heard of such a thing. What possibly could have
happened to these fish?
Thank you so much for your help and advice, and for your wonderful
<Most welcome! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: (email 1) Baby Plecostomus Deaths 12/16/11
Hello, Neale. Thank you for the quick reply.
<You are welcome.>
Could it all have been due to the oxygen issue you mentioned?
<Yes. Low oxygen level will stress fish without immediately killing
them. Ancistrus are adapted to cool, shallow, fast-flowing streams with
lots of oxygen. They're tough fish, and adults can do well in
ordinary aquaria. But the juveniles are less resilient.>
I don't believe lack of food was an issue....I had been feeding
them small bits of algae wafer, some crumbled flake food, and
'smooshed' frozen peas minus the pea casing - all of which they
were eating well.
I monitored them closely (checking on them several times a day), making
sure they had food at all times .
I also made sure older food was removed and replaced with fresh.
Thank you for the information. If I ever purchase any Plecos that small
again I will certainly include an air stone! I am also going to add
another air stone to my 29 gallon tank for my adult Pleco, just to be
I'm curious to know physically what this brown band and
'cinching' of their bodies could have been,
<Starvation, stress, secondary infection hard to say.>
as well as the initial cause of it. Any ideas as to what that thing was
and how it constricted their bodies like that?
Thank you so much.
Dear WWM Crew-
I have a 11 year old Pleco that became acutely
disoriented last night. He is frequently ramming into the
sides and lid of the tank. The only other thing noted is that his eyes
are suddenly sunken. He does not seem to be breathing rapidly or have
any other signs of distress (other than the disorientation...) The tank
is a 75 gallon and also houses a clown loach, an angel, half-dozen
tetras, and two small catfish. None of the other fish are showing any
of these symptoms. I tested the water quality last night and everything
tested fine. The nitrate was at about 30-40 mg/L so I went ahead and
did a 25% water change last night. So far, no improvement in his
symptoms. Any other suggestions?
<Do check you haven't used a copper- or formalin-based
medication in the tank, as these can upset catfish. Also check the
substrate is clean and if you're using gravel, the gravel has been
regularly stirred and siphoned, because anoxic decay can cause more
problems for bottom-dwelling fish than other sorts. Do check the filter
is working well and water chemistry is appropriate ("everything
fine" means nothing to me) -- for a Common Plec, Pterygoplichthys
sp., we're talking about 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 2-25 degrees dH
hardness, and a pH of 6-8. With all this said, I'd expect Loaches
and Angels to react more quickly to environmental problems than a Plec.
At 11 years of age yours is in middle age, but not old, so I don't
think old age will be the problem here. But your Plec is an
air-breather, so do check you aren't using paints or other
chemicals in the room that might introduce toxins that could harm the
Plec (it's a good idea to switch off airstones when painting rooms
with fish tanks, and to keep windows open for at least 24 hours so that
the air in the room stays as fresh as possible). Sunken eyes are a bad
sign for newly-imported L-number Suckermouth cats, but most commonly
suggest starvation, so do make sure your Plec has been well fed with
lots of greens. Your tank is rather small for a Plec and Clown Loach
together, and I'd be surprised if they both get enough to eat AND
water quality stays good at the same time. The fact you have a rather
high nitrate level may well be a clue, especially if your tap water
nitrate level is lower than 10 mg/l (check it). Cheers, Neale.>
Odd growth on my Pleco's mouth
Hi there, I'm hoping you can help me.
Roughly a week ago I noticed this fluffy looking growth on the
edge of one of my Pleco's mouths. I'm not sure how long
it's been there but it doesn't appear to have grown any
over the last 7 days. My other Pleco is unaffected and the one
with the growth is still eating and behaving normally. The rest
of the tankmates detailed below are also fine. Any help or advice
would be much appreciated.
Tank 200 litres
Temp 25 C
2 Plecos, 2 small angels, 5 red wag platys, 6 Scissortails, 5
zebra/pearl Danios, 2 African dwarf frogs, 4 japonica shrimp
Many thanks in advance
<Hello Claire. First things first, your aquarium will soon be
much too small for your Plec, which is a Common Suckermouth,
Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. While I doubt that's the
reason why this chap is sick, in the long term water quality
problems are going to stress your other livestock. Plus, two
Common Suckermouth will rarely cohabit in a tank this small, and
often they fight, in some cases causing such damage the weaker
fish dies. As for what precisely is going on here, well, your
Plec has some sort of growth, but whether it's viral or
bacterial is hard to say. Either way, it's likely to be
"benign" in the sense of not causing any immediate
health problems, but on the other hand there's no particular
cure for these
sorts of things outside of a trip to the vet for surgery and
suitable wound cleaning and antibiotics. It may heal in time,
given optimal environmental conditions and a balanced diet. One
last thing Claire, please do note that we ask for images to be
resized down to 500 KB each, rather than the 3 MB images you
sent, presumably fresh from the camera. Big files clog up our
e-mail allowance and cause other people's messages to be
Re: Odd growth on my Pleco's mouth
Dear Neale, Many thanks for the very quick reply and the helpful
info. I plan on getting another, larger tank and will now do that
sooner rather than later. I'm obviously pleased that the
growth is likely benign as I'd hoped that would be the case.
With regards to the file size of the photos I must apologise. I
had put them from camera into the computer and had a set with
reduced size as well as the originals. I sent you the wrong ones.
I will be more careful should I need to send pics again. Many
thanks again for your help. Claire
<Glad to help, Claire, and no harm done. Good luck,
Pleco belly turning white? 2/8/10
<... 16 Megs in pix?>
I am concerned about my Pleco , who I have had for 10 years.
Recently his belly has turned a grayish white color.
<I see this>
It doesn't seem to bother" Mr. Bigfish" ,as he is
still eating , sucking, swimming, and pooping away....
Always swims to the top of the tank on the side to say hello when
I talk to him...He has always been a happy healthy fish.
The only thing I have read as this is normal with older age but I
really want to make sure as we love our Mr. Bigfish.
He is very well fed, clean home, vacuumed regularly and great
temp and PH...all checked daily , as he is a big pooper...
His belly used to have a very black and white contrast of a maze
like the color on his sides...I started using Melafix today just
<I would not use this product period. See WWM re>
I have included some pictures..Please tell me if this is normal
or of there is something I must do for him.
*Pictures can be enlarged for you.....Thank-you very much for any
<This fish is likely fine. Some such changes in colour are due
to variable water quality... in turn accounted for in being in
too-small volumes, inadequate filtration, maintenance. Please
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pleco belly turning white? 02/08/10
Thank-you for answering so fast.
First, I must say I am very sorry for the size of my pictures I
thought I had made them smaller and included a link for the
<Ahh! I understand>
I fear with what you have told me that Mr. Bigfish needs a larger
<Some Loricariid species get REALLY big indeed... I got to be
in a "mud wrangling contest" at a Tampa fish farm once
with Pterygoplichthys that were well over two foot in
He lives in a 30 gallon tank all to himself as he doesn't
play well with others...He is 17".
How big of an aquarium should he have to be happy?
<Really? About six plus foot in length>
I change 50% water weekly and vacuum , I use a AquaClear
powerhead undergravel filter that pumps 175 gph, I keep his PH
7.0 and temp 75.
I also add PH up to keep up with the PH between water changes, as
well as using a net to scoop the poop daily.
I read the link you sent...Thank-you. I couldn't find
anything regarding not using Melafix on WWM...
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/phonyfwmeds.htm
or just use the search tool... on every page>
Although I did stop using and did a 50% water change this morning
...could you please send me a link?
Love this site as your articles have helped me in the past to
establish this clean home.
<Am very glad that we have aided your efforts>
I never expected to have such a big fish but he is my beloved pet
and I want to spoil him as best I can.
Thank-you again for your time in helping me...
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Sick Pleco, Really Need Help 1/29/10
Hi. I've been researching online and reading posts on your
site, which is really excellent.
After what I think has been a pretty good search, I'm still
not sure about how to help my sick Pleco and am in desperate need
of expert advice. I don't know the gender, age, or type of
Pleco, but "he" is about 6" long and I've
attached some photos in case that helps.
<Pterygoplichthys pardalis, likely a male given the size of
the genital papilla.>
I apologize in advance for the long history that follows. It may
not be relevant but so much has happened in my fish tank that I
am including it in case it provides some clue to the best
I am a relatively new aquarist but have had more than my share of
problems with this tank.
<Problems of your own making, I'm afraid. Looking over the
selection of fish for example, you've made bad choices, and
then misdiagnosed problems and probably caused them through poor
water quality. While I'll do my best to explain where you
went wrong, I fear you're going to get a bit annoyed with
It is a 25 gallon tall tank with an undergravel filter and a
Marineland Magnum Pro filter/bio wheel.
<This aquarium is less than half the size needed for your
Pterygoplichthys pardalis is barely viable in a 55 gallon tank,
and realistically needs something 75 gallons upwards. Be under no
illusions here: healthy fish reach a length of 45 cm (about 18
inches) within two years. They are incredibly messy herbivores,
and will completely overwhelm your filtration system.>
It was given to me by a friend 5 months ago, along with the
Pleco, 2 lemon tetras, 1 angelfish, 1 cardinal tetra, 1 phantom
tetra and a Cory cat.
The tank and fish were not very healthy (pH was lower than 6.0
and the angelfish had lip fibroma, big white granules that were
not Ick, scales falling off, problems with slime coat, etc.).
<Not a "Fibroma" but either Columnaris or Finrot,
two very common bacterial infections that set in when fish are
exposed to chronically poor conditions.>
The cardinal did not survive the move. I did a lot of research to
try and prevent any more casualties and kept a close eye on water
quality (tank cycled quickly because biofilter was already
established) but despite heroic measures, the angel died about
three weeks later, and the phantom tetra about a month after
that. He had no visible problems but just stopped eating and did
not respond to any treatment.
<Again, I suspect you misjudged water quality and water
chemistry. For a tank like this, you're aiming for slightly
soft to moderately hard water, with a neutral to slightly basic
pH; in other words around 10 degrees dH and a pH around 7 to 7.5.
All seemed stable for about a month so I started adding more fish
in two week intervals. I was aiming for two schools of 7 tetras
plus the Cory and the Pleco, which based on my reading seemed OK
but the more I learn about Plecos still may be too many for this
First I added 3 phantom tetras, then 2 lemon tetras, and finally
3 more lemon tetras. Unfortunately, I did not quarantine these
fish. One of the last three I added died within 48 hours and
another stopped eating and then started swimming sideways so I
moved her to an already established hospital tank. This happened
late last November. On advice (always) from a local fish store I
treated her with Maracyn Two. She stopped swimming sideways
within a day but still was not eating after full treatment. Then
I tried General Cure and something called "Lifeguard",
which killed the biofilter in the hospital tank but she finally
started eating again. Joy!
<Adding random medications without diagnosing the problem will
merely kill your fish. Imagine if your doctor just gave you the
first packet of pills he laid is hands on! You might get aspirin,
or you might get warfarin! So you have to be sensible here.
Relying on your pet store is, frankly, foolish. Grab an aquarium
health book -- I assume you have at least one aquarium fish for
beginners book -- and read through the diseases. There really
aren't that many diseases to worry about, and in almost all
cases they're caused by bad fishkeeping.
Do remember that some medications (e.g., ones with copper in) are
toxic to catfish, loaches and certain other fish. Do also
remember that carbon -- if used in your filter -- will remove
medications before they have a chance to cure your fish.>
In the mean time, however, one of the original (male) lemon
tetras in the main tank was becoming increasingly aggressive,
chasing the others around until they hid behind filter
<Schooling rarely behave properly when kept in less than six
He was especially mean to the other original (male) tetra, who
along with several others was starting to look like he had fin
rot. FYI, the lemon tetras also have a white tip on their nose,
which gets worse when they are stressed but is not furry. I
showed this to someone at a fish store told me they thought it
was some kind of color variation but that doesn't seem right
to me. He suggested that I remove the aggressive fish, and put
the previously sick (but now eating) fish back in the main tank.
Within 24 hours she was swimming sideways again. So once again, I
cleaned and changed water in the quarantine tank and put the
aggressive one back in the main tank. I tried two more rounds of
antibiotics in the hospital tank but she never swam upright
again. After much soul searching I euthanized her. This was a
week ago but it still feels awful.
Back in the main tank, the one that had been getting picked on
originally has now become the new bully and the formerly
aggressive one who left and has now come back to the tank is
hiding and not eating, though he still chases the females around.
There seems to be lots of spawning going on in this tank, which
makes me think the water quality is OK. Right now ammonia is 0,
nitrite 0, nitrate 20, and pH 7.6. It is a planted tank and I use
RO water with equilibrium, alkaline/acid buffer, Flourish, and
Flourish excel added. I haven't been able to get the pH
lower, it always climbs back up and sticks around 7.6. GH is 4,
KH is 4.
<This water chemistry is fine, provided it is stable.>
Finally, back to Mr. Pleco. He seemed absolutely fine through all
of this except that about a month ago I noticed that he was
coming up to the top of the tank when I fed the other fish and
eating on the surface, which seemed like very odd behavior for a
<They will gulp air when kept in poor water quality. Indeed, a
tank this size with so many fish may not even have enough oxygen.
This is especially problematic for catfish because they are at
the bottom of the tank where there's least oxygen
I had been feeding him a slice of zucchini or broccoli about once
a week and the fish store salesperson said he was probably
starving. He sold me some wafers about the size of a nickel and I
started feeding him one each night. Then I noticed that his belly
was kind of bloated so I thought it might be too much and started
About a week ago I noticed him belly up and breathing heavily for
a short time and the last few days he seems to be struggling with
his buoyancy, not sucking on the side of the tank as much or
slowly floating upwards when he does. He hides under plants, as
if he needs them to hold him down, and he seems to be active a
lot during the day whereas he used to hang out under the rock.
From the posts, I thought he might be constipated, but he has
actually been making huge amounts of poop - long strings about
4" - 6" long or more. It is all over the tank. They are
dark greenish color, a bit like the color of the wafers. It also
sounds from the posts that a problem like this could be an
internal bacterial infection, eggs, or tapeworms. I can see from
one of these photos, though I had not noticed it earlier that his
gills are very red inside. He is clearly not a happy guy (or
girl), but I just don't know what to do to help him. Should I
stop feeding him the wafers?
<These are fine, but wouldn't use them every night; 3-4
nights per week is fine.>
Move him to a hospital tank or maybe treat the whole tank? If so,
with what? I'm not really trusting the fish stores for advice
I love my fish tank, it gives me so much pleasure to watch them
and care for them but I'm not sure how much more suffering
and death I can handle.
<Do start by reviewing stocking density, and then thinking
about what types of fish to keep. Not all fish work in all tanks,
and not all the fish commonly sold either get along or are easy
I feel so responsible for these little lives and my small garden
is running out of burial space. I've thought about tearing
down and sterilizing everything but the idea of cycling a
"new" tank with all these fish,
<No, this wouldn't fix anything. Once an aquarium is
cycled, treat the live filter bacteria like gold dust!>
especially when they are not healthy doesn't seem like the
best idea either.
<Much fish health is opportunistic. When fish are provided the
right conditions, their immune systems fight off the bacteria;
when fish are weak, the normally harmless bacteria cause
I can understand why so many people give up on this hobby.
<Usually the ones who fail created their own problems. If you
read and plan ahead, and do things precisely "by the
numbers", it's actually a very easy hobby.>
Thank you so much, I am grateful for any advice you can
<Suspect nothing actually wrong with the Plec beyond poisoning
by overuse of medications and/or poor environmental conditions.
Do a series of water changes to flush out the tank. Optimise
water quality. Stabilise water chemistry. Stock the tank
sensibly. Return the Plec or move it to a much larger aquarium.
Buy a book.
"A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater
Aquarium" is cheap and covers all the key aspects nicely.
"Manual of Fish Health" is heavier reading, but a good
book on fish health, water chemistry, and other practical
Re: Sick Pleco, Really Need Help 01/29/10
Hi Neale and thank you so much for your quick and very thorough
<Always happy to help.>
It sounds like despite good intentions I have been my fish
tank's worst enemy.
<You are not alone in this, so don't feel too bad. We
aquarists create most of the problems we have to deal with. On
the up side, most problems are easy to avoid, and fixing them
once they've occurred isn't necessarily difficult. But,
as is often the case in life, forethought is the key.>
Specific to the Pleco, I want to clarify that I have never put
any type of medication in his tank, the main tank, so that leaves
environment/water quality as the most likely cause of his
<Does sound probable.>
From what you are saying, even though the chemistry is fine
(those numbers have not changed very much for months), the water
quality is likely bad because the current population mix is
causing too much waste for the system to handle.
<Again, sounds a logical deduction.>
Since a larger tank is not an option right now I will focus on 1)
getting the water in pristine condition and 2) finding the Pleco
a better, larger home.
<I suspect that (2) will largely make (1) happen all by
itself. A 25-gallon tank is actually a pretty good size for, say,
15-20 small, Guppy-sized fish. Throwing in a Plec is where the
I did a 40% water change last weekend but will do another right
away with a very thorough gravel cleaning and continue to do so
weekly (? I had previously been doing 5 gallons every 2-3 weeks)
until he is feeling better
and can be adopted.
<Yes, water changes will help. Cleaning the gravel tends to be
neither here nor there, though a good stir before you siphon out
the dirty water is very beneficial.>
I do own and have read cover-to-cover a guide to freshwater
<Cool. But you'd be surprised how many people haven't
read a book since they left school.>
I have scoured the Web for info, and consulted with
"experts" (fish stores, fish forums). There is so much
info out there, often conflicting, that it can be confusing and
difficult to know who or what is right.
<Yes, I appreciate this. It's difficult to know who to
trust. One advantage of having a book is that you can compare
what the book says with what your advisor says. Books are edited,
and the people who write them are normally experts. So book
content is generally good. Yes, some books contain errors or old
fashioned ideas, but mostly what books say about the basics is
very reliable. To our credit, at least some of the crew here at
WWM are book and magazine writers, and all the crew will have
been "screened" by the older crew members before being
set loose on the Daily FAQs. So while we may sometimes be a bit
harsh, you can at least be sure what we're saying is based on
real expertise rather than bluff.>
One place swears by salt, another says salt is really bad,
<Often times, it's the shades of grey that cause problems.
Catfish aren't "allergic" to salt as some suggest.
Indeed, some catfish live in brackish water, and some even live
in the sea. But not all catfish are equally tolerant of salt, and
the amount of salt matters. Your Plec for example will tolerate a
little salt rather well, and compared to copper-based Ick
medication, adding a little salt to treat Ick would actually be
kinder and safer. On the other hand, adding salt on a constant
basis doesn't provide any benefit, and those catfish that
need soft water, like Corydoras, may be stressed by it over time.
So the problem is when people make sweeping generalisations
without considering the outlying data points.>
I guess the best thing is to pick a source I feel I can trust
(your site and one of the books you recommend) and then do it, as
you say, "by the numbers".
<Quite so. Your tank is probably more or less stable in terms
of filtration. Remove the surplus fish, and the filter should
settle down nicely, and a couple of schools of midwater fish, and
maybe five Corydoras, could happily be maintained with few if any
Thanks again for your feedback, it stung a little but I very much
appreciate the help.
<Then my work here is done.>
Pleco hlth. 1/7/10
Hello. I have looked over many and many of your links on Plecos and
haven't seen this question at all. So I'm going to ask.
I have a Pleco in my tank, I have had him a couple years now. I noticed
a couple weeks ago he was hiding a lot, not really coming out of that
place much at all. Finally he did, he had what I thought looked like a
<Generally caused by poor water quality.>
So I used some Melafix in the tank. I thought it might have been
helping some. He was out a lot more an back to cleaning my glass again.
Tonight I noticed that same eye looks kinda bloody.. raw? It looks bad.
Was wondering what I can do to help him out. I would really hate to
<Any sharp decor? Territoriality/aggression from the Cichlids, which
vary in aggression, depending on type, but are generally an aggressive
fish, especially when in small, overstocked tanks?>
I have a 15 gallon tank. He is in with 3 cichlids. My tank is pretty
<Some may call it normal... sounds overstocked to me... from
moderately to heavily depending on what kind of Cichlids these
Temp is about 74 or so.
<This is a little cool. Do you use a heater? I'd keep it at 78
with the use of a heater. If you're not using a heater, then this
small volume is likely experiencing radical temperature fluctuations
from night to day, when the house heating/cooling system comes on, when
it goes off, etc.>
Any help would be greatly appreciated. And will you write me back here
or should I try to find this on your website for an answer? Thanks for
anytime you can offer me on this.
<Hi, Jami. Firstly, if you would have read the information on the
same page where you found our e-mail address, you'd have noticed
our request for folks to use proper capitalization, punctuation,
grammar, etc. when writing us. If you don't, we have to fix it, and
it takes time. "I" is capitalized, and the end of a sentence
can be adequately signaled by the use of one period. Secondly, please
write back with useful data, i.e., your Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate
levels, as well as what kind of Pleco you own, and what kind of fish
his tank mates are. Melafix is generally useless once you see a problem
on the scale that you're seeing here; however, this is likely a
problem caused by poor water quality in an overstocked, underfiltered
tank. Even if the primary reason for the problem is otherwise, i.e.,
aggression from tank mates or a scrape by sharp decor; there's a
reason this isn't healing on its own, and that reason is likely
water quality, and possibly continued aggression from tank mates, or a
piece of sharp decor that has not been removed. I'd like to help
you get your guy back on the road to recovery, but you just haven't
provided much of the information that I can use to help you. Please
feel free to write back with that information.
Plecostomus bump by dorsal fin 9/23/09
One of my 2 plecostomus fish has a red bump (like a pimple) just in
front of it's dorsal fin. Could this be a tumor?
<Almost certainly not.>
Both fish are friendly and let me hand feed them and pet them.
<Hmm... Plecs are not famed for being friendly towards one another,
so keep an open mind here. Territorial males will attack other Plecs
under some circumstances. Look for mysterious scrapes on the body and
This one is not the dominant one but it was the first to hand feed. For
2 days it didn't come out during the day for food. It hid and
wouldn't come out when there was any light. Today it is back to
eating and isn't so shy but the bump seems to have gotten a
fraction bigger. The bump is the size of a large pimple and is very
well defined (pert).
<Most likely a reaction to something in the environment, perhaps
triggered by physical damage. Review living conditions, especially
ammonia and nitrite levels. Make sure the pH is stable and ideally
somewhere around 7 to 7.5. Make sure the fish aren't being bothered
by each other or other types of fish, and check they can't burn
themselves (a very common problem here).>
A few weeks ago we had a major shut down with the pumps and lost 10
I had to transfer all the fish to a holding tub and I dropped the
plecostomus on the floor when transferring it back. It was okay but
<Could easily have damaged the skin in the process.>
The 2 Plecos consoled each other and were very close for weeks after. I
have a 55 gallon tank.
<To be honest, too small for two adult Plecs, assuming we're
talking about Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or similar. They are gross
polluters, and even in a 55 gallon tank you're going to have a lot
of solid waste as well as ammonia in the water. A big tank dilutes
this, and this is as important as the high-turnover filter. On that
score, the filter needs to be upwards of 8 times the volume of the
tank, i.e., a turnover rate of not less than 440 gallons per hour for a
55 gallon system. Actually, I'd want more than that, given how
small this aquarium is.>
I moved most of the knick-knacks out then so the big fish could move
around. Now there is only a large PVC pipe to hide in. It could have
bumped itself on that but never has in the past. Also, we have a
perpetual problem keeping the tank clean and 4 days ago we did a 25%
<A clue here: the tank's too small. In a 100 gallon aquarium
with massive filtration, you'd find 25% water changes once a week
Could stress have triggered this bump?
<Well, a combination of being dropped, being exposed to
nitrite/ammonia some weeks ago, and being maintained in an aquarium
that's fundamentally too small, could all be playing a role
For instance - maybe it was afraid of being transferred again?
<Not, animals don't have "fear" as such, since their
memories and thought processes don't work in the way ours do. If
exposed to a stimulus and then a shock again and again, yes, animals
will often learn to avoid that stimulus, and show signs of stress when
exposed to that stimulus, even without the shock. But a one-off event
isn't going to traumatise them. If you think about it, animals
spend their entire likes making narrow escapes from danger, be they
predators or changes in the environment. If they became
"scared" they'd never leave their burrows, and end up
starving to death and not interacting with other members of their
species. So animals can't afford to be fearful. Instead they tend
to be more nervous than scared; they do stuff, but they always try to
keep an eye open for danger, and have an escape plan handy.>
They are very sensitive and emotional.
<Loricariid catfish are nocturnal by nature, and while they will
learn to swim about in the daytime if they get fed, they're always
nervous, and their instinct is to hide away if something alarms
I know it sound funny but it's true.
<Preaching to the choir here. Some of my fish do exhibit distinct
personalities. But we always have to be careful about
anthropomorphising; that is, putting human behaviour interpretations on
what animals do for
completely different reasons.>
Since I started hand feeding the dominant Pleco gets mad if I miss a
day or a feeding. It won't let me pet it and will brush my hand
away with it's fin.
Thanks and kindest regards. Louanne Wilson
Re Plecostomus bump by dorsal fin 09/26/09
Hello WetWeb Crew,
First, I'd like to thank you and commend your fabulous web site.
Thank you for the great advice. I was wondering why my tank was getting
cloudy and filthy so fast.
<Glad to help.>
One more question, it seems like the specific gravity of my water is a
bit off--things seem to be suspended in the water sometimes.
<Uh... no... specific gravity is a measure of density, and related
in fishkeeping circles primarily to how salty water happens to be.
Unless you're adding salt to the water -- and you shouldn't be
-- this isn't an issue.>
I have well water and use the tap water for the tank without any
We live next to the river and the water tests real good for
<The issue is likely lack of mechanical filtration. A tank with
Plecs needs to have very robust filtration. We're talking turnover
rates around 8-10 times the volume of the tank. That is performed best
by external canister
filters, but other systems might be used at a pinch. Regardless of the
filtration method used, the system will need a strong pump and lots of
mechanical media. That's the media that collects silt. If there
isn't enough mechanical media, the water stays silty, i.e., murky.
Note, mechanical media isn't the same thing as biological media:
you can have
silty water with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, just as you can have
silt-free (i.e., clear) water with dangerously high levels of ammonia
and nitrite. In general though, a big, strong filter will ensure both
clear and clean water.>
Again, thanks for the advice. I hate to get rid of my fish but it might
be the best option. I also figured out that one is a male and the
dominant one is a female.
<Sexing is difficult, and indeed, two males are more likely to fight
than any other combination. In general, mature males tend to develop
longer odontodes ("bristles") on the cheeks and the pectoral
fins. But this isn't an easy characteristic to judge unless
you've looked at a bunch of mature fish of that species, so know
which ones are bristly and which ones less so, since even the females
have *some* bristles.>
When I bought them I thought that they would stay small like the
<What, like Corydoras? No, Plecs certainly don't do this.
Average size in captivity is 12-18 inches in length, usually within 2-3
years. Big fish. Of course, not the biggest catfish: there are catfish
that get far, far larger. Among the biggest freshwater fish in the
world, in fact. Google "Pangasianodon" and prepared to be
impressed. If you want a small Plec, look for things like Ancistrus
(Bristlenose cats) and Peckoltia (Clown Plecs).>
I was too eager to fill my tank with fish and didn't do proper
<Ah, I see...>
I will try to send a video of my Pleco's hand feeding. I have found
that most any animal will do odd things for food--good food.
Best regards, Louanne
Bristlenose with fungus? 08/04/09
I have a Bristlenose Pleco who has been sharing a 40-gallon aquarium
with a handful of African cichlids for the past 3 years. They normally
get along quite well; the cichlids ignore the Pleco (but maybe
there's a first time for everything...), and he usually stays out
of sight in a cave among the rocks during the day.
<Ancistrus are at risk of being harmed when kept with the more
aggressive African cichlids, particularly Mbuna.>
I had noticed that algae had been building up on the glass over the
past few days, but I assumed the Pleco was holding out for an algae
cookie, as he tends to do - he's a bit spoiled in that respect!
This evening, when I moved the rocks around to do my weekly water
change & vacuum the gravel, I was horrified to discover that the
Pleco's snout was a mottled pale colour, and that his bristles were
almost all gone. His snout also has a coating of some fuzzy white stuff
that looks like fungus. He usually scuttles out of the way when I clean
the tank, but this time he barely moved. He looks awful!
<Assuming it's fungus, which looks like white cotton wool
threads, treat accordingly.>
I had some Maracyn (about a year old - is this ok?) on hand, so I dosed
the tank with that,
<Unlikely to cure Fungus. The same goes for Melafix (tea-tree oil).
You do need a genuine anti-fungal medication.>
and I added a bit of extra aquarium salt as well.
<Don't. Salt won't help, and some African cichlids, such as
Mbuna, may develop bloating when exposed to saline conditions.>
All of the water parameters are normal.
<As in...? I need numbers, not judgments! Fungus is caused either by
poor water quality or physical damage. So, check firstly you have 0
ammonia and 0 nitrite. Secondly, think about the companions. Some
African cichlids are harmless enough when kept with Ancistrus, notably
Kribs. But Mbuna would be a very bad choice of tankmates, since
they'd persistently nip and buffet these poor catfish, causing
I realize that a separate tank would probably be best, but my old
10-gallon tank is in storage and doesn't have a proper cover (and
with a new kitten in the house, this just spells disaster). Is it ok to
continue dosing the main tank? Is the treatment even worth it?
<Yes. Fungus clears up pretty well.>
The Pleco seems to be in really bad shape and I don't want him to
suffer needlessly if it's a lost cause.
<Well, the "suffer needlessly" bit assumes you're
going to euthanise a fish in a way that doesn't cause pain. See
Thanks for any advice you can provide,
Pleco swollen gills, env. 6/10/09
Thanks for having such an informative website! My Sailfin Pleco, now
about 4 years old, is living alone in a 25 gallon tank with natural
substrate and plants.
<Mmm, is this a Glyptopterichthys gibbiceps? Needs much more room...
and what goes with it... better, more stable water quality...>
There is also a driftwood in there for him. Recently I noticed a small
red sore around his gill area on one side while he was sucking the tank
glass. Today (about a week later) the sore has spread on both sides on
or around his gills. His temperament is the same as always; he swims
around, sucks on the glass and eats fine, but I'm worried about
these sores. I've never dealt with Pleco illnesses so I'm not
sure how to diagnose this.
<You have... just not acknowledged the root cause... Poor
I clean his water and filter regularly, the water is properly aerated
with an air tube, and he eats algae pucks. The tank is rather clean so
I'm not sure where he could have contracted the sore from.
<Cleanliness is not sterility... Do you do water quality
The only thing I can think of is that a month ago my absolutely
gorgeous, healthy and very spunky fantail goldfish who shared the tank
with him died very mysteriously.
<Mmm... not likely too mysteriously>
Literally. One night he was totally fine, feeding well, and the next
morning he was just still behind his plant (his sleeping spot), not
belly up, just hovering there, but clearly dead (broke my heart). There
absolutely no visible signs of any illnesses. But could my Pleco have
contracted something from him?
<Just shares the same too small world>
Problem is, I have no idea what killed my goldfish.
Thanks for your help in advance!
<Please read, at least on WWM, re the needs... system and water
quality (and stability) wise re these species. The overall most likely
"cause" here is environmental. Bob Fenner>
Sick Pleco 4/18/09
I have a 6 year old, 14 inch long "basic" Pleco.
<Pterygoplichthys sp.; a challenging fish in many ways because it
needs a large tank. If yours isn't well, there's a very good
(90%) chance the issue is environmental. Should be hardy in a 55+
gallon tank with a strong canister filter rated at 6+ times the volume
of the tank in turnover per hour. Anything less than this, and your
problems are very likely "fixable" by moving the fish to an
There are only 4 very small neon tetras in his tank and they do not
show any signs of illness. Two days ago, I cleaned his tank and
<How did you clean the filters? Did you replace any media?
What's the water quality and water chemistry here?>
He was fine. When I woke up this morning, I thought he was dead. He was
laying extremely still on the bottom of the tank, had a white film over
both eyes and has white spots starting at the tip of his nose moving
down his back to the beginning of his front fins.
<Sounds like an opportunistic bacterial infection, if we're
talking about white patches and white films; these are usually
environmental. So while there are cures (for example eSHa 2000 or
Maracyn) these MUST be done in conjunction with fixing the environment.
At minimum, do a pH test and a nitrite test, and then give me the
results. It's dollars to doughnuts that something's
He appeared not to be breathing and didn't move at all. I had to
know if he was alive or not so I prodded him a little and he moved. It
was very slow at first. He began to swim around the tank bumping into
<Again, common sign of systemic bacterial infection.>
But he was not moving in a way that made me think he was panicking.
Through the day, he is swimming around as usual, not bumping into
things in the tank, hanging out in his favorite places and sucking on
the side of the tank as usual. It appears the white film on his eyes is
not so thick. I can see the "round brown" middle of his eye
slightly. Any ideas of what I should do or what it is since it just
popped up overnight?
<Very likely a water quality, water chemistry, or possibly a
toxicity issue (e.g., detergent, paint fumes or bug spray got into the
tank). So: [a] test the water; [b] review conditions, and fix them if
necessary; and [c] treat
for Finrot using something reliable (as opposed to salt or
Ancistrus help! 3/25/2009
A little question about my Bristlenose Ancistrus.. I had two, one
with more bristles than the other.
<Likely a male and female.>
About 4 or 5 weeks ago they became a lot less active in the day,
co-inciding with the arrival of some adopted fish, which were two
upside down catfish, and a red tailed black shark amongst others.
My research suggested that maybe they were just getting older, as
I have had them 7 or 8 months now.
<Ancistrus are nocturnal fish in the wild, so it's
entirely normal for them to be 'shy', especially in a
Anyhow, I found one dead yesterday. No signs of any lesions or
anything, water parameters were fine (nitrites 0, ammonia 0,
nitrates less than 10) I do a 30% water change every 10 days or
so, and have a 180ltr Juwel Rio with the internal filter it comes
<Hmm... if the water quality is good, then may just be
"one of those things". But I would be alert to possible
problems, and keep an eye on both fish behaviour and water
Other tank occupants are (BTW - is this overstocked? They are all
very small at present..)
<Certainly busy rather than overstocked, though the Red-tail
Shark shouldn't be here. The addition of a secondary,
external filter will help with water quality as the fish mature,
and should be on your Christmas list perhaps. Something like an
Eheim 2217 or equivalent will work well, and that's what I
have on my Rio 180.>
14 x 5 banded barb Puntius pentazona
Around 14 zebra Danios (they move too fast to count!)
5 adult platies (2 male, 3 female) 2 juvenile platies
3 x Siamese Algae Eaters
1 x Trichogaster Leeri
2 diamond tetras
3 rosy tetras
3 Columbian tetras
<Fin-nippers these, especially when kept in insufficient
numbers, as here...>
2 upside down catfish
<Gregarious, would add at least one more...>
1 red tailed black shark (NB - he is under surveillance for signs
of aggression, with plans to move him soon. He is no bigger than
the Platies and so far has shown no interest in anything other
than food, no territorial behaviour)
<Non-aggressive now because he's young. Once sexually
mature he will become much more aggressive. The Siamese Algae
Eaters will get chased, a lot. This tank is certainly below the
size recommended for Red-tail Black Sharks
because of this aggression issue.>
Around 5 weeks ago, when the Ancistrus became less active, I had
slowly lowered the tank temp to 25 C from 27C, as I had lost two
small platies and wondered if this was due to the tank temp being
too high for them. I also lost two small Danios (around 10 weeks
old) at the same time. As these were inbred (!) and all other
tank inhabitants were fine, water parameters read normal, I had
not overly worried.
<Temperature unrelated to the death of the catfish; 25 C is a
happy medium for all these species.>
The remaining Ancistrus is very inactive. Should I quarantine
It has been suggested he could be guarding eggs (he has taken to
the same place all the time, when I am cleaning the tank they he
tries very hard to stay around the same log).
<Could certainly be brooding, but they are territorial anyway,
and rarely stray far from their resting site during the
There are no external signs of illness, but I have not seem him
feeding for at least the last week. I wondered if they have just
become a bit more nocturnal, but when I found one dead..
<I'd not worry unduly beyond the comments already made
Same with the upside down catfish. I haven't seen them since
I put them in the tank to speak of. I know where they are, each
has chosen the underside of a log, and there they stay. How would
I know if there is anything wrong
with them if I cannot see them?!
<At best, Synodontis species are nocturnal fish that often
move about very little during the day, but because this is a
schooling species, this shyness is doubled if they aren't
kept in big groups. Keep six of them, and they might be more day
active. Certainly try and keep three or more specimens, and
you'll likely see them somewhat during the day. I have
in a Rio 180, and while not massively active by day, they will
scoot about when I feed bloodworms, and periodically they chase
one another about. Charming, hardy fish.>
Any advice would be appreciated, I was very fond of the
Ancistrus, they were such fun to watch.
<Quite. Perhaps buy some more?>
Re: Ancistrus help!
(selection; also Colisa chuna; toxic fumes)
Thank you Neale - your responses are always helpful and prompt
which is just great!
<Happy to help.>
I think the 'shark' will have to find a new home soon,
before he chases anyone or harasses them. My local pet shop has
some baby Ancistrus bred in the shop (very nice they are too) I
will see if he will do me a swap. Will also consider a few more
upside down catfish in a couple of weeks.
<Cool. Baby Ancistrus don't always travel well, or more
specifically, they can become starved in pet shop tanks, and so
lack the energy reserves to handle transportation and being
settled into a new home where they may have to compete for food.
If their specimens are clambering about on the glass, take a peek
at their bellies: they should not be concave. Some of the better
pet stores keep bits of cucumber in their tanks for the Ancistrus
to nibble on, in which case, so much the better.>
Sadly today I lost a little Gourami (I missed these off my list,
they are small golden or honey Gourami, also adopted from someone
just before Christmas) yesterday evening it did not feed, this
morning before school run it was struggling to swim against the
current of the filter - dead when I got back from school. No
external signs of any illness at all.
<Colisa chuna is not an easy species to keep, despite its wide
availability. Indeed, when I started keeping fish as a teenager
back in 1980s, they were considered quite "specialist"
fish because of their need for soft, acidic water. So when you
saw them, they were usually expensive. Nowadays they are mass
produced on farms, including some non-natural colour forms like
the one in your image. While they may be less expensive and
certainly easier to obtain, I'm not yet convinced they're
"easy" fish. I wouldn't really consider them
community fish, but rather better kept in either a single-species
aquarium or in a tank with very small, non-aggressive fish such
as Marbled Hatchetfish or Dwarf Corydoras.>
I tested the water again - it was as it was on Monday after the
water change, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate.
<All sounds fine.>
Now I am a bit paranoid. Last weekend I varnished some wood
nearby, but I kept the doors to the room the tank is in shut, and
all the windows around the varnished area open. Other than this
nothing has changed.
<Ah, in theory, yes, paint and varnish fumes can kill fish.
Since Gouramis breathe air directly, they'd be especially at
risk; fish that breathe water will only be exposed to the smaller
percentage of the toxic chemical that dissolved in water. That
said, if you open windows, you certainly can paint rooms and
whatnot without expecting all your fish to die. I would recommend
leaving the windows open for at least 24 hours after using
paint/varnish though. If you were worried, this would be one of
those times where adding fresh carbon to the filter would make
sense; carbon removes organic chemicals, reducing the risk of
harm. As you may know, carbon is used for precisely this function
in gas masks for humans as well as in emergency medicine for
I am keeping a very close eye for signs of unusual behavior now.
At present everyone else is feeding well (flake and algae wafer
this morning) and all darting about merrily.
Attached is a pic of my Gourami (pre death!) He had a big bit of
dorsal fin missing when I got him (he came from another local
person getting rid of fish), which did not seem to affect him at
<Fins usually grow back in time, so unless there's Finrot
or Fungus, damage to the fins isn't something that I
personally worry about when selecting fish. If you look at photos
of wild fish from the Amazon, they've all got bloody great
chunks of fin missing thanks to the numerous fin-eating
(enjoying my new subscription to PFK and spotted your name in
<Glad you're enjoying the magazine.
Re: Ancistrus help! (selection; also
Colisa chuna; toxic fumes) 04/07/09
<Have been on vacation, forgive tardiness in replying.>
I am so sorry to keep on bothering you - but I am still
encountering unexplained deaths in my tank.. :(
Today I found my other Ancistrus dead. I am so sad - I thought
she was OK - she's been coming out in the evenings and whilst
not zipping about, was moving around more. I took a really
careful look at her - she hasn't been dead long as I have
only just found her, and I saw her moving about yesterday
evening. I cannot see anything about her at all to indicate cause
of death (I am too squeamish to dissect - and no longer have my
college kit anyhow!)
<Hmm... dissections and autopsies not much help unless you
know what to look for. Mystery deaths usually down to water
quality problems, sudden variation in water chemistry, or
extrinsic factors such as poisoning.
Simple age may be a factor, if the fish was 5+ years old.>
Yesterday I noticed a Danio in the tank with what appears to be
dropsy - I have isolated it in the QT and am treating with eSHa
2000 but I guess it is probably too late. I am baffled though, as
nitrates are around 10, 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. But these deaths
indicate poor water quality?
I am due a water change (it has been 10 days) and always do 30% -
but the tests do not indicate a problem.. I will do more than
usual, and repeat it in a few days.
Have you any idea what could be causing this?
My tank has been running 6 months now, and I do changes of 30%
every 10 days approx. I use tetra aqua safe, mixing it in the
bucket with our tap water, adding water from the kettle to heat
as I do not have a facility to warm the water anywhere else.
<Boiling the water is redundant. Removing 30% of the tropical
water and replacing with cold water from the tap should cause
little harm to your fish. So long as the thermometer doesn't
dip below 18 C after a water
change, I'd not worry.>
I check temp with a thermometer before it goes in the tank. I
make sure that I use the mains tap, as we have a water softener
and we never use softened water in the tanks.
All the fish are behaving fine (even the one with dropsy is
eating and swimming about well)
<Well, that's a good sign.>
Help! I really do not want to lose any more fish. I haven't
put any meds in the main tank as I do not know what is causing
(needless to say, I'm not buying new fish at the moment)
<My gut feeling is let the system "shake itself
out". Don't add fish; do moderate water changes of 25%
weekly; be careful with things like food and removing organic
wastes like dead plants. Generally, adopt a wait-and-see
approach. A lot of aquaria "just work" with a certain
number/combination of fish; likely has much to do with water
chemistry stability, filter, etc.
See what happens for a month. If no other fish get sick, I'd
expect the tank to settle down by the end of that period. Cheers,
Pleco... damaged? 2/5/09 Hi I couldn't find an
answer to my question on your website or through Google. If I missed it
I apologise. I have a 15" Pleco that seems to be in good health
except that it appears to have one scale missing from it's side,
showing what looks like the bone (white skin ?) underneath. There are
no marks, sores, scrapes, red or cloudy areas, it just looks like one
small scale has been removed. I have put a fin-rot medication in the
tank as about 8 months ago it lost about 1 inch of one fin spike to
what I presumed was fin rot - this never grew back but it stopped
rotting and has been good since, but the medication seems to have had
no reaction either way, good or bad. Could this just be where the Pleco
has rubbed against something in the tank or should I be more suspicious
? Thank you for being there and apologies for the long winded question
Regards Chris <Hello Chris. Catfish don't have scales, and what
look like armoured plates on Plecs are in fact thick pieces of skin.
They do get damaged sometimes, most commonly either through heater
burns or through Plec-to-Plec violence. Heaters can be very dangerous
with catfish generally, because if a catfish nestles under a heater
that is cool at the time, and the heater switches on, the catfish might
not realise until it's been burned. (Presumably, their plates of
skin aren't sensitive to heat, so they can't tell they're
being burned until the heat has travelled deeper into the body.)
Aggression between Plecs is common and yet often ignored by retailers
and hobbyists. If adult Plecs are kept in the same tank, e.g., at a pet
store, it is not uncommon for the dominant Plec to scrape the skin away
from the weaker ones. Some Plec species are worse than others, with
Acanthicus, Panaque, and Pterygoplichthys spp. particularly nasty
towards rivals. In extreme cases, deaths can result. Now, Finrot or
some similar bacterial infection is a possibility, so treating against
them is wise. Do also check water quality: Plecs are big, messy fish
that put a lot of stress on their environment. It's hard to keep an
adult the size of yours in a tank less than 250 litres (55 Imperial
gallons), even allowing for a robust filtration system and copious
water changes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco, injury, heater? 2/5/09 Thank you so much for the
comprehensive answer. I am going to keep an eye on the Pleco for any
repeat sores. There is only one Pleco in the tank, (tank is 48" x
24" x 18") so it may be water (which is changed (20%-25%
weekly) and well filtered, or the heater. Thank you again for your
excellent help. Regards Chris <Happy to help. Do look for a heater
guard (a simple plastic mesh that encases the heater) or else use an
external heater like the Hydro ETH units or the Eheim Thermo--filters.
Tank is a bit small, so be aggressive water changes, and check the
nitrite level periodically. Cheers, Neale.>
Pleco hlth. strange bubble 12/31/08 My father has
asked me to research a problem he has with his Sailfin leopard Pleco.
He is about a year old and is about 8+ inches long. My father does not
test his water and when I checked it last, the ammonia levels were
through the roof , the Neons had mouth fungus and he had a white spot
problem which has meant the death of most of the other fish. Having
found strange worms in the water he decided to clear out his 120 litre
tank which meant a complete scrub out including the gravel. He has 3
uplift tubes and an under ground filter and he does a 50% water change
about every 3 weeks. I know this isn't the "ideal"
maintenance program but I've given up telling him he needs to watch
the water quality. However he comes to me when things go wrong! His big
catfish had caramel patches on it after the ammonia poisoning and
looked very dehydrated but has recovered well since we cleared out the
tank. We put in some Methylene blue when we cleaned the tank and some
filter start and saved "gunge". The catfish initially looked
very well, put on weight, lost his caramel colour and became a lot more
active. Of late he has been jumping out of the water and gasping lots
of air and then flushing his gills at the bottom of the tank. Anyway
now ( a week later and 2 30% water changes) we see that around his anal
vent he has a large bubble (polo mint size)with a small cotton thick
strand from the centre of it. He is not showing any other signs of
distress but hasn't eaten all week and isn't pooing. He is not
bloated or sunken. He usually gets algae wafers and catfish pellets. He
has 2 tank companions(only ones left)... a neon and a platy. Prior to
the changes the water was acidic (6) nitrate (5)ph (6.4) ammonia (4).
Now the levels are good but the blue tint remains from the Methylene
blue. Is this chemical not good for catfish? Great site. I've
learnt loads! Karen <Hello. Saying this tank isn't
"ideal" doesn't begin to cover things! This tank is a
death trap, and nothing I can say here will fix things unless your
father is prepared to return the fish he can't keep (i.e., the big
catfish) and properly maintain the tank so that the rest of the fish
have a chance of surviving. The Plec is swimming about because water
quality is poor; normally they rest during the day, but when poisoned
they surface regularly to gasp air. The various signs of Finrot (damage
to the fins) and systemic bacterial infections (around the anus) may be
fixed with a suitable antibiotic (e.g., Maracyn) or antibacterial
(e.g., eSHa 2000) but without fixing the tank, treating the fish thus
would be spitting into the wind: they'll get sick again within
weeks. Ditto any fungal infections (anything that looks like white
cotton threads) or Mouth Fungus (slimy tufts on the face and body).
Your "levels" don't make any sense to me: acidity and pH
should be measured with the same test kit, and a pH of 6.4 is low, and
dangerously low so far as Platies are concerned. The ammonia level is
just plain lethal. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: strange bubble, Pleco dis. ~ 01/01/09
Neale Thanks for your prompt reply. <My pleasure.> We shall get
some of the treatment you suggest and work on the water quality.
<Cool.> You will be pleased to know that after another water
change today the levels are better but still a way to go. A 30% water
change and addition of stress zyme and stress coat hopefully with help.
<The water change will certainly do a lot of good; the other
"potions" certainly do no harm, may even help a little.>
Can you tell me if it would be ok to do this every couple of days or is
this too drastic? <Just fine; so long as the water going in has
roughly the same chemistry and temperature of the water going out, you
can change as much as you want!> I am mindful that it is not good to
alter conditions too quickly. <Quite so; does depend on whether
you're in a hard or a soft water area. Most of Southern England for
example is hard water, and water chemistry changes hardly at all
between water changes. So if you're in a hard water area, the
bigger the better so far as water changes go. In parts of the UK with
soft water, like the Scottish Highlands, things are different, and
it's best to do multiple small water changes rather than big weekly
or two weekly changes.> I think the problem occurred because he
doesn't test the water and because he cleared everything out he
hasn't been maintaining the bacteria to restore the biological
filter. <Sounds a good hypothesis.> He has however reduced the
feeding to a fraction of what he was until the catfish starts eating
again. <I'd not feed at all while ammonia is not equal to zero;
fish can go many days, even weeks, without food.> Have you any
advice re improving the biological filter in the short term?
<Rinsing out the sponge or ceramic noodles in a bucket of water from
the tank is a good way to clean away silt without losing bacteria. The
"cleaner" the biological media, the more bacteria it will
host. Of course, brand new media contains no bacteria at all, hence the
art is keeping mature (6+ week old media) as silt-free as possible.>
How often could the stress zyme be added safely? <Weekly should be
ample. It isn't a product I use myself, but I have no objections to
others using it as they prefer.> I think this problem has encouraged
him to take notice of the levels as what arrived as a small sucker fish
to keep the glass clean has grown into the ugliest and biggest thing
I've ever seen but he is really quite attached to it and is very
sad he has caused it distress. <Big catfish can be fun pets;
I've had a Panaque nigrolineatus Suckermouth cat for some 15 odd
years, and am very attached to her -- despite the fact she destroys any
plants or wood I stick in the tank!> Regards Karen <Happy new
New Pleco has white lines on underside... Need info.
12/28/08 I recently added a Pleco to a 20 gallon tank that
already has one cichlid in it after my last Pleco passed away. <What
species of Cichlid, Pleco?> He was very light in coloration when we
first got him and has darkened a lot in our tank, <Will change with
mood... conditions> and his coloration now resembles the one we had
before (before he died). I have notice whit lines on the underside of
the Pleco and I was wondering if Plecos have plates on the bottom,
<Yes they do><<Mistake... Only on the rear area underneath,
not the "belly". RMF>> and if it is common for them to
have this or if it is a fungal infection. Unfortunately I do not have a
quarantine so he's in there with the cichlid now. Do you think
it's a fungus? <Mmm, no. Not likely... else it would be dead in
short order> If so I can treat with Mardel powder I have on hand.
Thanks, Brett <Brett... like the show "House" on TV, we
need more information (and your test results) to make accurate
"diagnoses"... Need to know the species involved here, your
set-up and maintenance history, water quality tests... to help you. Bob
Re: New Pleco has white lines on underside 12/28/08 The
cichlid is Julidochromis ornatus. The Pleco is Liposarcus anisitsi.
<Mmm, gets much too large for this tank: http://fish.mongabay.com/species/Liposarcus_anisitsi.html>
The tank is my dad's and does not get cleaned very often, it's
a 20 gallon with a bottom filter. The cichlid is about 4 inches long
and the Pleco is about 3. pH 6.4-6.8; <Mmm, low for the Juli...>
alkalinity b/w 120-180; hardness 250-425; <Good... sufficient
buffering> Nitrates are at 40 ; <Yeeikes! Much too high... see
WWM re...: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm...>
nitrites are 0.5. Temp is 72 F. Let me know if you need to know
anything else. Thanks Brett <For you to read the linked files above.
Re: New Pleco has white lines on underside 12/28/08 Thanks,
those links were very helpful, I'll take care of the nitrates and
pH. <Bob didn't mention, but will add, that nitrite levels not
equal to zero are dangerous in freshwater tanks generally, and highly
dangerous to Tanganyikan cichlids. Suspect this tank is overstocked: a
single large Plec-type catfish would overwhelm any but the most heavily
filtered 20 gallon system.> I also noticed that there were chunks
missing out of the Pleco's left rear fin and was wondering if that
might be fin rot. <Could easily be.> Also, do you think I should
worry about the white lines around the plates on the Pleco's
underside? <Plecs don't have plates on the underside of the
body; they bellies are leathery skin. This is distinct from the other
armoured catfish family, the Callichthyidae, such as Corydoras, which
have plates all around the body forming a robust "box". By
contrast Plecs (family Loricariidae) are armoured on the flanks and
dorsal surface only. Plecs generally do not suffer from many diseases,
but Fungus and Finrot are certainly possibilities and worth being on
the alert for. Fungus usually looks like fluffy white stuff, whereas
Finrot on the body at least reveals itself as patches of dead white
tissue around red inflammation. These two diseases have similar causes
and often occur together.> Brett <Cheers, Neale.>
Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness... medication poisoning,
Well, to start I have 9 Zebra Danios, 10 Neon Tetra's, 6
Harlequins, 2 Cory's, a rather peaceful Siamese Fighter, and a
Clown Pleco. My tank was recently infected with the Whitespot disease
which killed off all 6 or my Bleeding Hearts, my other Clown Pleco, a
male and female Dwarf Gourami's (I still have 1 other female Dwarf
Gourami but I suspect she won't make it) and all 7 of my Emperor
Tetra's. (The Emperor's where the ones to bring it into the
tank.) We used Exit
for the Whitespot and the treatment worked on the rest that didn't
die but its started to come back on the Neon's and Siamese (who is
dubbed Jackie Chan ^_^).
We're treating the Ick again
<I would be reading on WWM re... at least elevating temp. to bolster
a cure here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and the linked files above>
but my main problem at the moment is my Clown Pleco. He's chocolate
brown with kind-of yellow spots and stripes.. So far he hasn't been
affected at all by the Ick but I've noticed he's gotten some
lighter patches on his skin.
<Is affected... more by the eSHa product likely...>
They seem to be crescent shape and go down his back (though this is in
a regular pattern). He's also gone very quiet (whereas before he
was quite active) and isn't eating as much. He's barely moved
at all day.
<Being poisoned... have you measured any ammonia,
I did a water test and the results came back fine aside from the pH
which showed between 5-6.
<Dangerously low... likely not well buffered either... Do you know
much re alkalinity AND pH? Please see WWM re, and possibly at least mix
in some source water with appreciable hardness>
I don't know if there is something wrong with the Pleco but I'm
quite fond of him and am not keen on losing any more fish. ^_^;
<Then... I'd be reading... Stat>
Any help would be much appreciated.
<Read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness, Ich 10/12/08
Many thanks for your help, it is greatly appreciated. I read on your
site about raising the temperature to kill the Ick, and I've now
raised it to 80 F however I am concerned about raising the temperature
to the level required to kill off all stages of Ick as I know some of
the fish I have, such as the Danios, tend to prefer cooler
Would it be ok, bearing in mind the different species I have, to raise
<Yes... better by far than to suffer, perhaps perish from the Ich
itself... or more medicine exposure. If they were mine, I'd go
ahead and raise the temperature to 83-84 F.. This is not too high for
Danios in the short term>
What temperature do you consider tolerable for the different fish in
<For all the species you list (below) in your original email, this
temporary elevation will be fine... Do take care in a couple weeks
however to lower it slowly... no more than a degree per day or
I've done another water change. And another water test. The results
came back as:
GH - 180
KH - 180
PH - 7.0
Nitrites CNO2 - 0
Nitrates - 20
<Mmm, the Nitrates are borderline high... going forward I would read
re such on WWM:
and the linked FAQs file above... and do what you can to reduce this
Also, in the past week I have done two 50% water changes (leaving a few
days between each change) and another 25% earlier today.
I checked the Clown Pleco and I couldn't spy any patches on him. I
hope this is an improvement. Though he is still quiet and not moving as
Thanks again for your help.
Plecostomus Question 10/5/08
I have reviewed a ton of websites regarding my plecostomus.
I have had him for ~ 3 years and he has been? very healthy. Just
recently I noticed near his tail fin a small (about the size of a
pencil eraser) area of white/pink, almost bubble-like tissue.
<Hmm... would assuming from the colour/texture this is some sort of
external, opportunistic bacterial and/or fungal infection. Would begin
by assuming this to be the case, and treat with Maracyn.>
I went to the fish store and tried to describe the area and he told me
to just watch it for now OR try to "pick it off!"
<No... more likely to expose healthy tissue, making things
Unfortunately, besides the fact that this information does not sound
right, even if I wanted to I could never catch that fish!? It
doesn't look anything at all like Ick, so I don't know if its a
mass of some type or something I should be treating.
<Yes; also review water quality and water chemistry
He lives in a 72 gallon tank with 4 parrot fish.
<Sounds busy, but assuming you have decent filtration, should be
Any thoughts or ideas?
Fungus on Pleco's head? 8/29/08
I have a Pleco who is about 12" long. I'm not sure of
type or age since he was given to me. He is very healthy and
looks great except for his nostril. I think it is a nostril on
top of his head. It looks like it was full of a pink, flesh
colored worm. I have treated with an Ick and anti fungus
<Could be Fungus, but equally likely Finrot or Mouth Fungus
(this isn't actually a fungus despite the name). Need to
treat with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as Maracyn
or eSHa 2000. Do remember to remove carbon when medicating. A
photograph would help us confirm.>
I have also done a good water change and am using metaflax.
<Melafix is pretty useless.>
The longer it goes, the more this pink pop-corn looking stuff
keeps coming up out of the hole.
<Probably decaying organic matter, or pus to put it another
way. Needs fixing, fast.>
Can you tell me what this is and how to get rid of it?
Re: Fungus on Pleco's head? 09/07/08 Thank you for
your quick response. Although things are not better. Sunday I
started a treatment of Maroxy from Mardel. <Don't know
this product, and looking over the list of ingredients it
isn't one I'd recommend. With fungal infections and
certain bacterial infections looking so similar, you want
something that zaps them both. Hence Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa
2000 (in the EU) are my standard recommendations.> I also gave
3 treatments of Tetracycline tablets. <Do you mean
Tetracycline? Again, not a recommendation I'd make (had
made). There's a reason we recommend specific medicines: from
experience, we know they work. While there's nothing to stop
you experimenting with other medications, I have no more idea if
they'll work than you do!> I also kept the tank in the
dark since when I did a water change, I had fuzzy little pieces
floating around. <Could be anything! Whatever they are, siphon
out.> Today, I have taken the tank down and cleaned and re-set
up. <Not what I'd do. When you're treating fish, you
need to avoid causing problems by stressing the fish or upsetting
the biological filter. Stirring the gravel and doing a decent
water change prior to dosing the tank on Day 1 of treatment is
fine, but after that leave it alone. The medication is often
designed to be used over a series of days, and the people who did
this assume you're NOT doing water changes in between. By
altering things by removing water you're going to throw the
medication off track.> In the process, I tried to pick the
fungus off his head...now it is bleeding and only a small part
came off. <I bet. Don't do this. Just like your mom said
when you grazed your knee -- don't pick at it! Secondary
infections set in because the skin is damaged; by picking at the
skin you're exposing more of the delicate tissues under the
skin, making things worse.> What now? <Grab either Maracyn
or eSHa 2000 depending on where you live. Don't mess about
with other medications. We know these medications work! Dose and
use EXACTLY as the leaflet says. Do not alter anything through
the treatment. Make sure there is no carbon in the filter. If
this catfish is on its own, don't feed it while treating;
that'll keep the water a bit cleaner.> Chris <Hope this
helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fungus on Pleco's head? 9/20/08
Today is the 19th and I have done the treatment that you
recommended. do you think this looks good? It is getting
<That's actually pretty nasty, and looks like an ulcer,
seemingly coincident with the nostril. If Maracyn isn't
working, switch to Maracyn 2 (Minocycline). These two medications
have complimentary actions, one working on gram-positive
bacteria, the other gram-negative. In other words, if Maracyn
doesn't work, Maracyn 2 should do.>
Also, I have another 55 gallon tank that is overrun with bright
green, furry algae. I have tried everything to get rid of it -
closed tank for months and have taken it down, cleaned and put
back. What do you recommend? Chris
<I'm guessing these is Blue-green Algae. This stuff looks
like slimy, matted threads, and can have a dark blue-green
colour. When removed from the water it has a very distinctive
musty smell. Anyway, it's impossible to "eliminate"
unless you fix the conditions in the tank. Blue-green Algae (BGA)
is almost always a sign of three things: poor water circulation,
high nitrate/phosphate concentration, and direct sunlight. Could
easily be two or three of these. Often a real pest in
overstocked, under-filtered tanks. Review, and act accordingly.
The stuff could be Red Algae. Despite this name, freshwater
varieties are green! Anyway, doesn't have the same smell as
BGA and looks more like turf or long (often dark blue-black)
threads. Most commonly infests solid objects and around the edges
of plant leaves. Again, plague levels of Red Algae are difficult
to fix because nothing much eats it vigorously, though Siamese
Algae Eaters and a few other species will peck at minor
infestations sufficiently well to keep them in check. The only
100% reliable way to control Red Algae is to provide intense
lighting and use lots of fast-growing plant species. Somehow, and
no-one really understands why, fast-growing plants have a
strongly negative effect on these types of algae. Ensuring the
nitrate/phosphate level is low will also help, particularly if
you manually remove Red Algae on sight. It's worth mentioning
that none of the fish or snails sold as "algae eaters"
have much use in controlling outbreaks of either Red or
Blue-Green Algae. Controlling algae is almost entirely about
getting the environment right, in particular by balancing the
fish with healthy, fast-growing plants. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pleco? Hlth...
Hello it's me again. My Pleco still looks no better and
I've done the treatment twice...just wait a little
<If you've tried Maracyn, try switching to Maracyn 2.
These two drugs treat different sets of bacteria, so often when
Maracyn fails, Maracyn 2 works. Certainly do a water change
between starting a different medication.>
thanks for your help Chris
Pleco head -10/28/08 Hi I've
been speaking with Neale about a Pleco with some kind of growth
on his head. The water is fine, he is acting fine but the growth
has not went away. I have tried 2 5-day treatments of Maracyn and
Maracyn 2. It is in his nostril and has ripped it open. the ulcer
itself looks like fleshy, popcorn. Any suggestions? Chris <Hi
Chris. If I recall correctly, the nostril has been infected. On
the plus side, on fish the nostrils don't connect to anything
important, so the infection isn't likely to be fatal. But the
infection will certainly take a long time to fade away; the dead
tissue will need to fall away, and then the wound close up. This
will surely take some months. Antibacterial medications are the
best you can do to speed things up, so far as I can judge. Use
them carefully and not excessively (wait a few weeks to a month
after one treatment and then decide if it needs to be used
again). You're essentially trying to make sure things
don't get worse, and then wait for the fish's immune and
repair systems to put right the damage. Cheers, Neale.>