Please Help - Can't Keep Plecos Alive!
So, last July I decided I wanted an albino bushynosed pleco. I got him right before I went on a 3 week vacation and put him in my solitary angelfish tank which was in the care of my mother. He had an odd bubble under his tummy when I bought him but he was very active so I thought he was normal. He died about a week and a half into my vacation. No ammonia in the water, no nitrites, minimal nitrates per usual. Always an algae wafer, mysterious death. Water stays at a stable 79 degrees.
Bought another ABN when I got back from vacation. He lived 3 days again in my angelfish tank, but when I did a 20% water change on the tank, he suddenly started bleeding out of his gills! I pulled him out of the tank into QT, he was gone less than 15 minutes later.
Furious and broken hearted that I can't seem to keep alive the easiest aquarium fish, I waited until yesterday to try again. This time, I got two brown bristlenosed babies about 1" long each. I put them in a 10g QT tank and stabilized their temperature at 76 degrees, boiled driftwood, and a filter for aeration. I also popped in an algae wafer and acclimated accordingly to the tank. They were very active. However, I feel the water may not have been oxygenated enough because every so often they would rush up for air*.
I get home today and I ask my fiance how the plecos were. He said they were alive when he got home earlier at about 4. Four and a half hours ago. I look in the tank and they both look fine - full finned, just sitting in the tank.... Just sitting. I look closer at their faces and see "whiskers" coming out either side of their gills that I didn't see there before. Those same "whiskers" appeared when my second ABN died... Wanting to get some of the poop out of the tank, I reached the net in there just to see if they would move...
Nothing. I essentially was just pushing them along the floor. I was mortified; and so was he. I checked my water. Minimal ammonia, no nitrates, no nitrites. Plenty of food. Temp of the tank at 74 - low end, but not enough to KILL them. Worried that it was the heater, I popped in a stronger heater to bump it up 2-4 degrees, seeing if they'll come around... But they haven't moved thus far. I was going to do a water change to get the ammonia down from the food and poop and possibly decaying fish, but my filter intake is vertically challenged right now, so I would be cutting off air supply if they were indeed still alive... Which I now doubt.
Is water being used from tap? Does house have domestic water softener system?
Have you placed the fish in (cycled) quarantine tank, or borrowed a filter from existing tank for quarantine?
If not,,daily water changes while fish are in quarantine will be needed.
Ammonia and nitrites must read zero each day,all day.
If food is laying on the bottom Between weekly water change,then you may be offering too much food = more poop.
Bristlenose enjoy oxygen rich water with some movement and do poorly in stagnant water (no movement).Filter must work properly.
If problem fish are coming from same source,,I might consider purchasing elsewhere.
Would not buy fish that had 'bubbles' on their bellies or any other obvious deformities .
Would not buy fish that have what appear to be sunken bellies or (concave).
Would offer occasional foods like chopped krill,bloodworms,carvivore pellet or bottom feeder pellets once or twice a week along with vegetable matter like zucchinni,spianch leaves,sweet potato, sweet red pepper,cucumber which can be softened by placing veggies in tuppeware dish and microwave the veggies for 20 to 30 seconds.
Would acclimate fish by floating bag in tank for 20 minutes and then adding a half cup of aquarium water to the bag every five minutes until the bag is almost full.Then net the fish from the bag and release it into the aquarium.(throw away water from bag).
Would not attempt to keep bristlenose in tank smaller than 20 gal and temp less than 76 degrees or warmer than 80 degrees F.
Okay, just to make sure I got everything :)
Water is being used from the tap. I've had it tested and it is neither soft nor hard water.
It was not a cycled QT tank. Just a plain tank with a filter, heater, and driftwood to isolate for at least a week before adding them to a fully established, planted tank. The first two plecos I got were added straight to cycled, filtered, heated tanks. The two that just died yesterday were not in a cycled tank.
The ammonia that was in the tank was the overnight ammonia that crept up. They were only in the tank for a day before they died. I was going to do a water change, before I found them dead.
They had half of an algae wafer in there as a food source. It was added in yesterday, I was going to remove the uneaten food this afternoon until I found them dead. I had a piece of celery cooked and ready for them when I went to check on them to do the water change.
I bought the two albinos from one location and the two browns from a different location.
I didn't initially see the bubble when I got him. But upon research, I learned that he might have been impacted.
Never bought any fish that look like they may be sick. Especially not plecos.
I always offer my plecos and fish bloodworms as well as their staple diet of pellets or an algae tab. I also keep a type of celery or cucumber in the fridge.
They were acclimated over the course of 45 minutes to the new water.
Aaand lastly: The bristlenose were still small, only about an inch each. They were being held in QT before being added into my established 30g tank that sits at a cozy 78 degrees.
Whew. I think that's all of your questions. :)
What water conditioner are you using? Google says Tampa Bay uses chloramine in the water. Chloramine must be fully neutralized before being added to tank water.
Prime will work, but are you adding it to water before it's in the tank, or as you add the water?
Ok, based on my own experience with Bristlenose plecos (I currently have 11, I lost 4 others learning).
Assuming no disease or water issues - If your plecos are really small, try blanching the cucumber (zucchini squash may have more nutrients). Blanching the veggies softens them and allows young BN an easier time eating the food, resulting in more caloric intake. Two of mine basically starved to death when I used fresh zucchini instead of blanched. Older BN's seem to have no issues with fresh zucchini. I'd avoid too much bloodworm, high protein diets are not the best for plecos, particularly very young, but they certainly can use some occasionally as they grow larger. Also, celery has almost no nutritional value, I'd avoid that.
How to blanch = boil for 5 minutes, then immediately place into ice water to stop the cooking process.
Is unclear to me why fish were placed in uncycled quarantine tank, with non zero level's of ammonia (does tend to sneak up), If you have an established planted tank with healthy biological filter.
Next time,, use more filter media from existing (cycled tank) for the( un-cycled) quarantine tank and perhap's ammonia level's will stay more manageable and won't sneak up on your fish at night as you report.
Few fishes tolerate even low level's of ammonia and some are less tolerant than other's.
Young fish seem to suffer effect's sooner.
I add the Prime to my water before I add it to the tank :)
What confuses me is that the second ABN I bought WAS in a cycled, established tank with filtration and still dropped off. No one at my LFS has heard of a pleco suddenly bleeding from its gills and dying within 15 minutes. Which is why I put these two in an unestablished QT.
Learning from this experience, would it be best to establish a a cycled, planted QT tank for new arrivals? I thought the purpose of a QT tank was to be able to see if the fish is passing food properly and eating properly, and that's hard to do with a planted/graveled tank.
I use a planted, cycled QT tank with a sponge filter. It does make maintenance and observations a little tougher, but the fish are less stressed during quarantine. I keep new arrivals in QT for 6-8 weeks before they are allowed anywhere near my larger tanks. I also routinely run my QT tank inhabitants through a cycle of anti-parasite treatments (internal parasites). I treat any other health issues as needed, but keep the QT water pristine with 40-60% water changes every other day, probably overkill, but it works for me and it's only a 10g tank.
I can recommend a couple of good sources for ABN's if you need them. These are folks I have purchased from myself.
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