Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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SophieThomas 10-28-2009 02:50 AM

Not a catfish but a beautiful pleco...
My pleco, Ich (due to his wonderful spot pattern), is displaying some damage on his sides. His cave is not too small yet and I have been monitoring the water daily and stats are great. Is there something I could be missing? He was previouly in with tetras, danios, and cory cats but is now on his own until I firgure this out.

I am also researching adding some South American tank mates for him if anyone has any ideas :-)

bettababy 10-30-2009 01:30 AM

With such limited information that would be impossible to diagnose. Do you have a photo of the pleco and the tank it was in?

There are many things that can irritate in such a way, including gravel that is too coarse, parasite, bacterial, and fungal issues, rubbing and scratching against sharp rocks or other sharp objects, heater burn, etc. What type of pleco is it? How long was it in that tank? What was the temp and where was the heater located? Do you have a heater guard? Is it possible he spent time leaning against the heater?

The more info you can provide the faster someone can help you figure it out. Listing water param numbers also helps, even if they are "fine" to your standards. Those readings and how they relate to each other and the fish can often lend many answers, so it would be helpful if you could post those for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.

SophieThomas 10-30-2009 07:50 PM

pH 6.6
temp 78
nitrite 0
nitrate 0
ammonia .25

I do not have a heater gaurd and he does tend to spend time lurking around it. He is a common pleco and was in the tank for about a month before I switched him into a tank by himself (the stats are from the new tank). There are photos under my aquariums, the 29G being the one I moved him from into his own 20G.

bettababy 10-31-2009 06:00 PM

Considering there are no water params listed for the tank he came from when this issue developed, I will need those stats as well to help determine a cause to the problem. The heater could be the culprit, but better to be safe than sorry. The stats for the new tank are only going to be of importance in making sure he heals up properly without infection issues, and continues to stay healthy. From those stats I can see that his new tank is still cycling. You will want to watch those stats closely and do small (10%) water changes frequently to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels low.

I wasn't able to view any photos of the pleco from your aquarium list. The 2 that showed for the pleco tank were both displayed as broken links. Is it possible you could send me a clear photo or 2 of the pleco, especially where the injuries are obvious? You could send it in pm, email, or ask one of the mods to help you get it posted here in the thread. At this point a photo would help tremendously.

The only other suggestion I can make for you at this point is to keep him well fed. Aqueon flake food is a great diet for many species of tropical fish, but the flake food alone is not going to contain enough of everything a standard pleco needs in its diet. I would suggest the addition of algae wafers, brine shrimp pellets, and other bottom feeding pellet and frozen foods to alternate with the flake foods. If you have the ability to offer him live plants to munch on, that also is healthy. Standard plecos love to munch the leaves of wide leaf plants such as amazon swords.

SophieThomas 10-31-2009 09:28 PM

He doesn't eat the flakes he eats TetraVeggie algae wafers.

The tank he came from was at the end of it's cycling process and was fine (0.0 nitrate, 0.0 nitrite, 0.0 ammonia, 6.6pH, 78 F) until a spike in ammonia which it jumped quite drastically to 1.0ppm the day after I removed him from the tank. My understanding of the situation is that with acid pH the ammonia will convert to ammonium rendering it harmless to fish. I am performing 10-15% water changes on both tanks daily to try to keep ammonia down. I tested my tap water and it does test at .25 ammonia due to chloramines but letting the water sit for a while before adding it the the tank seems to help with that.

I will try to get clear pictures of his sides for you to see as well as try to fix the images on my tanks. Thank you for letting me know they are not working.

Forgot to mention, we are planning an Amazonian biotope in which he will be in so no worries with the natural vegetation :-)

bettababy 11-01-2009 02:33 AM

I look forward to seeing the pictures, that will help alot.

As for the cycling I mentioned... with a 0 nitrate level, the tank is not cycled or it is over cleaned. Either way, nitrate is the end of the cycling process, and when it finishes, if there are animals in the tank, there should be something for nitrate. Also please remember that while ammonia may convert to the less harmful ammonium, it still also converts to nitrite as it breaks down, and nitrite is also very harmful to the fish.

If someone is reading an ammonia level of something like 1.0 - 2.0 but at a pH of 6.0, they may think this is ok and safe enough for the fish. The problem comes when that high ammonia level begins to break down to nitrite... all of a sudden the tank is a toxic mess and it catches them off guard. So keeping up on those small water changes is still important. If you have the ammonia reading in your tap water, if possible to let it sit out for 24 hrs before using it, by all means do so.

Once the tank is cycled, a .25 ammonia level going in during water changes should be accommodated by the bacteria culture and broken down quite fast. As the tank matures it should find balance. Another option for you is to filter your tap water before using it in the tank for water changes.

A rubbermaid tub with a hang on filter that has carbon in it is all that would be required. The carbon should remove that small amount of ammonia within 24 - 48 hrs as long as the carbon is kept fresh. With a hang on filter you can save old nylon stockings, cut off the toes, fill with carbon and tie shut. Lay that in the filter box in place of the cartridges and you're done. This would allow more carbon, faster filtering of ammonia, and only needs to be changed once or twice/month, depending on how much water you are adding during the course of a month. I have used this method in the past due to bad tap water, and it works nicely. Once I use water from it I fill it again immediately so it is ready by the next time I need it. It is also very easy to add a heater to the water so its always the right temp... just be sure to keep a cover on the tub to avoid dust and lint and other nasties in the air from getting in. The cover of a rubbermaid can be cut just as an aquarium cover can be, to allow space for the filter but to keep the remainder of it covered. Then just snap it on and its done. The cover will help to maintain heat in the water, thus the heater is not running constantly and also helps to keep kids and pets out.

Another option that is a bit more costly in the long term would be to use Prime for your water conditioner, mix very well and let sit for 10 - 15 minutes before adding it to the tank. Some people don't like the sulfur smell that it has, and in the long term would cost a bit more than the filter method, but its less mess and less time consuming. Prime will help to eliminate the ammonia in the tap water before you are using it in the tanks. I am not big on chemical fixes, but in your situation it is something that becomes a valid option. Prime is a good quality water conditioner that works well for chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and ammonia.

When it comes to the cycle you start with the ammonia, which feeds the bacteria. The waste product of those bacteria is nitrite. More bacteria feed on the nitrite which further breaks it down to nitrate. An ideal fully cycled tank should read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate under 20. When enough bacteria have populated a tank to handle the current waste load, these levels stay pretty stable as the ammonia is broken down so quickly, as is nitrite... all that we find when we test is nitrate. So removing the extra ammonia, even at the lower pH is still important.

When starting a new tank and the only thing showing a reading is ammonia, it shows lack of bacteria population to break down that ammonia quickly, and nothing converting it to nitrite or nitrate yet. This indicates the tank is not cycled, either from still being very new or from over cleaning which can destroy the needed bacteria population and takes time to replenish.

It might be a wise idea to step those water changes back to every other day to give the tanks a chance to fully cycle. Be sure not to gravel vac or change filter medias during this time. I would also keep a close eye on the water chemistry during this time, testing every few days until the cycle is complete or if any of the fish appears to be in distress.

Your biotope tank sounds like fun, what size are you planning for it? I can't wait to see photos of it! I am currently at my limit on space right now with 14 tanks. The last one is still in the beginning stages, going to be a 29 gallon biocube done freshwater with sump. I am making some modifications with lighting and screening over intake slots because I am hoping to find the scarlet badis I've been searching for forever. I never thought it would be so difficult to find them.

The pleco should love a biotope habitat, so be prepared for him to grow very quickly. If he's a standard pleco he's gonna be a very big fish with an equally big appetite. You may find that for such a habitat you will need to add new wide leaf plants regularly. But oh, he's going to have so much fun in there, lol.

I will do all I can to help you get him well again, and will await your photos of him before we go any further. One last suggestion for you... invest in a heater guard or use rock work to block off the heater so he can't lay against it. It would be plenty safe and also beneficial for him in his current condition if you could notch the temp up to 80 - 82, also. The warmer water temp will help boost his immune system to fight any infection that may try to set in, and it may also draw away from his desire to spend so much time close to the heater because he won't be seeking the heat.

Have a good night!

SophieThomas 11-01-2009 05:24 PM

Taking that into consideration it seems strange that I have never tested positive for nitrate in my 29G tank. Ammonia will go up slightly after a water change and then go down by the next day. I have been vaccuming the gravel of both tanks so I will stop that and continue with water changes of 10-15% daily. In his new tank the ammonia is always slightly elevated to .25 ppm and isn't far enough along to really test positive for nitrates. I was worried that the marks on him were due to over stress from other fish in the tank as the danios are incredibly active which is why I didn't wait the 6-8 weeks for the new tank to cycle.

I have raised the temp. of Ich's tank and I have my camera at the ready for when he is at an angle that I can get a good shot of his side. I hope I manage to get a clear image of it...

bettababy 11-01-2009 06:18 PM

I will be waiting patiently for the photos. I wouldn't worry too much about danios harassing a pleco except for his injuries.. they may try to pick at his injured areas.

I think moving him was still the best thing to do because you have thus eliminated a number of other potential issues or risks due simply to stress caused by the other fish. Moving him also makes for a better situation should he need medication or other type of treatment.

Chin up... plecos are usually pretty sturdy and it sounds like you caught it soon enough that I have high hopes he will heal up and be just fine in the long term. I can't wait to see him!!!

SophieThomas 11-01-2009 09:42 PM

I have posted two pictures of him on the aquarium page. Hopefully they show up. It isn't very clear on the phots but it does show the dimensions of the grey area. I have circled it on one photo.

bettababy 11-01-2009 10:32 PM

I'm still not able to view the photos.. not sure why. Can you send them to me in pm or email please?

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