Help!!!! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-14-2010, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Help!!!!

I need some help asap!! I have a 75gal tank with a 12inch pleco and three 1inch bumblebee cichlids and this morning when I went to feed them, I found my pleco upside down with a gaping hole just under his mouth. I quickly moved him to a 10 gal isolation tank but his condition hasn't improved much. They usually get along so well but the cichlids must have attacked him, help what do I do? Is there a medicine I can buy for him? Should I have left him in the tank?I don't know what to do...
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-15-2010, 12:28 AM
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Hi Christy, welcome to the forum and so sorry to hear of your problem.

The best thing to do at this stage is to keep that QT tank water in excellent condition and watch for signs of infection. I would hesitate to add medications at this time. Plecos can be very sensitive to meds, and they have some incredible healing abilities if they are in pristine conditions and well fed.

Is your pleco still able to eat? This is going to be very important and be a big determining factor in whether he makes it or not. What kind of pleco is it? I'm also wondering about a 12 inch pleco in a 10 gallon tank... I can't imagine any way to keep that water quality clean enough to promote healing. Is it possible to move the pleco back to the larger tank and the small cichlids to the isolation tank instead? While stressing the pleco further isn't a real good idea, I don't see there is much choice. A 12 inch pleco isn't going to last long in a 10 gallon tank, even if its healthy. Check your water params on the larger tank, if there is any ammonia or nitrite, or nitrate is above 20, I would strongly suggest getting some Polyfilter into the filter asap.

Cut a piece big enough to fit into the filter with the cartridge, leave it in until it turns brown/green, but no longer than 4 days at a time. After 4 days, remove it, wait 1 day, then cut and place a fresh piece into the filter. This is a temporary thing, until the pleco starts to heal. Polyfilter can't stay in the filter full time for long periods because it will purify the water too much for the fish, but its the fastest and safest way to handle situations such as yours. Short term during recovery, it can be a life saver. I always keep this stuff on hand. Any of it that you don't use can be sealed in a zip lock baggie and stored in a cool dry place until a time comes you can use it. It has a shelf life that lasts yrs, so no worry that it will go bad anytime soon.

The polyfilter should help keep your larger tank in good enough condition for the pleco to heal if it isn't injured too severely and no internal organs were damaged. If you notice the skin around the injury turns pink or red, or begins to look fuzzy... post again and we will have to discuss medications to treat secondary infections. The polyfilter will help to avoid the risk of infection, so if you can get some soon enough, meds may not be needed.

Best of luck to you and your pleco. Let me know if there's anything more I can do to help.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-15-2010, 03:25 AM
iamntbatman's Avatar
Is there any way you can post pictures of the pleco? African cichlids being nasty to plecos is nothing out of the ordinary but big plecos like that are usually quite capable of defending themselves so it seems unlikely that the damage was done by tiny 1" cichlids, especially since the injury is on the underside of the pleco where the cichlids would have a hard time reaching it. Do you have any decorations in the tank that the pleco could have injured himself on? I think either that, or some sort of infection, is a more likely candidate than injury from those little cichlids. Finding the cause of the injury is important because that will help prevent future problems.

I agree with Bettababy though; pristine water quality is the key to getting sick and/or injured fish on the mend.

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post #4 of 4 Old 04-15-2010, 01:04 PM
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iambatman, I will have to disagree with you here. Not only is it possible, but very likely the damage was done by 1 inch cichlids. The smaller fish would have a much easier time in getting underneath the pleco. Just as with other cichlids, plecos can work well in their tanks provided they can't get to its belly, which is its most vulnerable spot. There are a great many species of cichlids who are known for eating plecos from the underside, including many species of African cichlids, red devils, jack dempseys, convict cichlids, and piranha's. The fish don't have to be large to be a real threat.

Because African cichlids are such heavy vegetarians, most people try to avoid mixing plecos into those tanks for just that reason.. they are competition for food as well as aggressive. You'd be surprised how much damage a small 1 inch fish can do. I've seen the destruction first hand many times over the years.

I do agree with asking how the tank is decorated though... because that is a possibility not to completely rule out... and because the amount and type of decor in the tank may have contributed to the smaller fish being able to get under the pleco for an attack.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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