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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats 1: Nutritional Disease

FAQs on "Pleco" Disease: Loricariid Disease 1, Loricariid Disease 2, Loricariid Disease 3, Loricariid Disease 4,
FAQs on "Pleco" Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Trauma, Treatments,

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

Related Loricariid Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Loricariids 2, Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction,
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus,  OtocinclusPterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Panaque, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,

Some "Plecs" need substantial "driftwood" in their diet. They all NEED specific feeding (not left overs, wastes...) of algal, some prepared vegetable materials.


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

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

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

Constipated Pleco - 10/07/2007 My Hypostomus plecostomus a.k.a. sucker fish is constipated and usually he is decorating my tank like it was Christmas. His color is still good but his belly is a little bloated. I have had my tank for awhile his roommates are a killifish, a Sailfin molly, cream molly, 3 Dalmatian mollies (not to mention 8 babies from a 2 litters I know of), and a platy. All of them seem to be fine. The only thing I have done different is a few weeks ago I started giving them Tubifex worm cubes because all of the fish seemed to always be hungry except my Pleco he seemed to fancy the small cichlid pellets which he hasn't done his little dance for since his plumbing problem started, which he does try to eat but it reminds me more of an infant when they have trapped gas and they are restless and only want to keep sucking on that bottle. I also just read tonight that they need live plants and DRIFTWOOD well right now I am broke and I live in Arizona & I have no clue what wood would be okay. What can I do before he explodes?:( Thank you for you time, Jaimie <Hello Jaimie, First things first. You almost certainly don't have Hypostomus plecostomus. That species hasn't been in the trade since the 70s, though for some reason it's the name that retailers seem to stick on their tanks. You almost certainly have a species of Pterygoplichthys, likely Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or Pterygoplichthys pardalis. Both of these get big (around 45 cm/18 inches in aquaria). Pterygoplichthys is an omnivore not a pure algae eater, so its diet does need to include a mix of foods. Sinking algae wafers are an ideal staple, but add to that are a mix of foods including mussels, prawns, carrot, potato, curette (zucchini), Sushi Nori, tinned peas, bloodworms and catfish pellets. Being big animals, they need quite a lot of food, which is why the minimum aquarium for an adult specimen is around the 200 litre/55 US gallon mark. In anything smaller all they do is create cloudy, messy water conditions that compromise the health of their tankmates. As far as dealing with constipation go, tinned peas work well. Bogwood is an ESSENTIAL addition to the aquarium. These catfish must have access to the stuff; it is, as you hypothesize, a source of dietary fiber. Given a small bit only costs a couple of quid, expense really shouldn't be an issue. You don't need a big bit, just something it can nibble on. You can collect your own hardwoods like beech or oak (as opposed to resinous softwood) to feed to these catfish, but the problem is you need a supply of wood that has never been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Also, "fresh" wood rots, so before long it's covered with fungus and not at all attractive (though the catfish seem happy to eat the fungus!). So buying a little bit of bogwood from a reptile or aquarium store is simply safer and easier. Cheers, Neale>

Sick Sailfin Pleco With Bloat  - 10/21/06 I have a rather large common-Sailfin cross Pleco that is showing signs of discoloration and his armor it starting to stick out. I have tried krill shrimp to boost his color. I have treated with a medication made for many illnesses including parasites and scaling. I even tried feeding him algae wafers. I am all out of options. I have seen that one of my fiddlers is missing. Can a Pleco eat a fiddler by accident? If so can this make him sick? He is a male. < Plecos eat anything including algae and a fiddler crab if he thinks he can get it down.> I was also  wondering if I need to get him a mate or another larger Pleco? <No not needed.> I have a tiny tot, the baby Pleco which is the same breed as he is. He by the way is fat and  happy. I did put my Bettas in the tank with him while I cleaned their tank and  the female is a bit more aggressive than the male. Could they of stressed him  out? < No, not really.> I feel I am running out of options he's not even full growth potential  yet he's supposed to get up to 18 inches and he is only 10. Could it be old age? < Not likely.> He  is a rescue fish from a lady that didn't want anymore. Do I need to get him  more tank mates? < No, that is not the problem.> Please help in stuck up the creek without a  paddle... < I think that your fiddler crab may have died and you Pleco tried to eat him. The hard exoskeleton of the crab is probably lodged in his digestive system somewhere. Bacteria in the gut are now working on the skeleton and breaking it down. In the process they are developing gas and distending the gut of your Pleco. Try treating with Metronidazole and hope he is able to move this waste through his gut.-Chuck>

Pleco deaths   7/12/06 Hi Crew, <Spyros> I am facing a really bad situation and I hope you could help me find a solution. During the past 4 months I have introduced 3 Plecos in my aquarium all of which have died (one after another). The first of them died on 17/3/2006, it was around 1 year old. This one was being bullied by one of my Firemouths, so having checked all the water parameters (no ammonia, no nitrite, very low nitrate level) I concluded that it probably died out of stress. <Likely so> Immediately afterwards I added 2 small Firemouths (now I have a total of 4 in a 30 gal aquarium) <Would be crowded if two "pair up"...> and 1 leopard Pleco. The leopard Pleco was very small (3 cm long) and died after 2 days. <Small Plecos/Loricariids do tend to die "easily"> I bought another leopard Pleco, which until now displayed natural behaviour (normal feeding patterns, very active all day long). This Pleco died yesterday. I checked all the water parameters and did not find anything abnormal. <... what were your test results?> I have to note that there is enough algae growth in the aquarium to sustain a Pleco. <Mmm, some types are toxic... others are unpalatable... taste bad> I also have to note that as I live in Greece the water's temperature rises during the hot summer months. <Yes... have been there a few times... Athens, the Saronics, Cyprus...> Do you think that the death might be due to the high temperature of the aquarium (30-31 C)? <Could be a contributing factor... but I suspect you are right re the stress level here, the small tank size. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance Spyros 

Cindy Du Mond Questions, Skinny Pleco   6/9/06 Dear Fearless Leader, I talked to Steve at the Cichlid Exchange and forwarded Cindy's email. He said it was entirely possible that a skinny Pleco went out with out him knowing about it . <Easy to have happen... for sure> The store that they sell fish to in her area never bought any small or female peacocks. They checked their records and the only things they ever buy is adult show males so they don't know what is the problem is  with the female peacocks. <Mmmm> Steve never heard anything back from the store about the Plecos until this email. Steve will contact her and will work something out. I asked Cindy to contact me when things got resolved. I don't think you want to make WWM an aquatic version of Consumer Reports <I don't mind at all> so I will try and get everything done offline. Can you imagine the emails we would get if every aquarist started to complain about their local fish store!!!!!YIKES!!! <A way to make things better... Cheers! BobF>

Pleco-Ulcer Hi, <Hello> I have a Pleco that's approx 9" long that developed a small ulcer on its belly between its front fins, about 2 weeks ago. I don't know if it was caused as an injury or a bacteria. Since then I have bought an antibacterial treatment which I have administered to the ulcer as instructed by the shop owner where I purchased the Pleco from. The fish is in a quarantine container and is eating it's food ok, however the ulcer has gotten considerably bigger and the ulcer is quite deep now. Can you advise me as to how to treat the Pleco please. <I will try... I strongly suspect what you have here is a tumor born of nutritional deficiency... and the best way to treat this is to soak this animals foods in a vitamin and iodine based supplement. Please check with your fish store re brands, and add to the food ten-fifteen minutes before offering. Bob Fenner> 

Gold Nugget Pleco Dying 8/6/05 I just bought a golden nugget algae eater 6 days ago. He was doing find just a little shy, but he was swimming around and sucking on the glass. Yesterday I noticed he would just lay on the bottom of the tank breathing heavy. Today he was doing the same, barely any movement, but now he is laying on his side. He is still breathing, but I think he is dying. I feel helpless I don't know what to do for him. I tried the drift wood, but he could care less and the vegetable pellets. Do you have any advise. PLEASE help. Thanks. < With so many new species of Plecostomus coming into the hobby these days in is becoming more difficult to determine their exact needs are in the aquarium. I feel sorry for you because these are very expensive and beautiful fish. In the wild they are caught and placed in holding pens were they receive no food whatsoever. When they catch enough to fill a box then they send them to the U.S. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to catch enough Plecos to fill an entire box. The result is that you get many Plecos that have been starved to death. Because of there shell like structure it is difficult to determine how thin they are. Next time you buy a Pleco you need to examine the belly area. It at least should be flat. Fish with sunken bellies are already too far gone and will die shortly. New fish need a nutritious food right away. Algae has very little nutritional value so they need to eat a lot of it to catch up. I always feed new Plecos a high protein food like live Calif black worms. Many Pleco species aren't even algae eaters! I'm afraid your Pleco may be too far gone if the belly is already sunken in. If the belly is flat then it may be Ich attacking the gills or a pH problem. Go to Planetcatfish.com and find the Pleco species you currently have. Once you have found the species you will find water chemistry and food requirements. Check the water chemistry in your tank and compare that to your fishes requirements. Good luck.-Chuck>

Bloated Pleco Hello.  I think I may have sent an email before, however I don't know what email address was used. So here I go again. My Suckermouth fish seems to be having trouble staying at the bottom of the tank. His tail or belly seems to be filled with air and tends to float toward the top of the tank. When he moves his body does the same. He can suction himself to the side of the tank and the same seems to happen. Is there a problem and what should I do? Concerned, Angela C <If he's still eating try giving him some peas with the shell removed. Epsom salt at one heaping tbls per 10 gallons may also help get things moving. It sounds like he's constipated. If that does not help it may be an internal infection. Could be bacterial or a protozoa. Treat with medicated flake. You can get it online here. http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/26/cat26.htm?122 Good luck. Don>

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

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

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