Having some trouble with fish, help!
I have a 37 Gallon tank and I have two common plecos, one about 4 inches and one about 7 inches. These two came with the tank. I also have 5 tetra, a platy and a cherry barb. I also had a powder blue gourami that died a few days ago. He started showing signs of swim bladder disease, spinning around, unable to get control of himself. Now, I recently noticed the smaller pleco has been going up for water more frequently, and jerking a bit on his way back down which hasn't happened before. I took my water to the fish store and they informed me that the levels were alright. My PH has always sat at 7.6, not sure on the rest of the stats but it was just today that I took it. I also do about a 30-40 percent water change every two weeks because of the plecos, I know they poop alot and will eventually have to be removed from the tank due to how big they get but I was hoping to be able to keep them. Can anyone tell me what might be happening to my fish? I'm worried it might be the plecos waste causing these problems such as the swim bladder and the little one all of a sudden acting up.
Well to start off grab your own liquid test kit, most fish store use the strips which can be highly inaccurate (mine for example show nitrate readings of less then 20 when my liquid kit shows it closer to 40), plus you will know for sure what your parameters are. With this many fish you should defiantly do weekly water changes of the same amount, fresh water does wonders for fish plus your nitrogen levels may be high, another good reason to have your own kit.
Not sure what your pleco has but the above is a good start for any treatment that you might need to look into.
staying at the surface or moving up to the surface more frequently might also mean he/she isn't getting enough o2. put an extra air bubble while you find out whats wwrong with the water.
Agree with previous advice. You also have a problem looming. Common plecos reach 18 inches and this is far too big a fish for a 37g tank, even when "smaller." As fish grow they need "space" and the stable water parameters that come with more space. Won't get into all that now, but you will either have to get a much larger tank (at least a 4-foot, preferably 5 or 6 feet in length) for a common pleco or consider exchanging them at the store. Some fish stores will do this. I am not a biologist so I cannot say that the pleco's abnormal behaviour is due to the fore-going, but it is one possibility.
It would help to know the exact numbers for pH, hardness and nitrates. Also, check the water for ammonia and nitrite just in case. Any of these suddenly changing or being in excess (the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) can also cause the symptoms you mention. I agree with previous advice to get a liquid test kit, API make a combo with pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate that will do you fine. Having a good test kit for esp pH and nitrate means you can test periodically and know the tank's "normal" range and quickly spot trouble when the value changes.
The "tetra" and barb are shoaling fish that need to be in a group of at least six of each species. Don't add more fish until this current issue is resolved, but for the future bear this in mind. Shoaling fish alone or in pairs will be subject to additional stress which brings on more health issues.
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