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Behavior FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats

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

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



About all they do... Loricaria profile. 

 

catfish escapades   (Loricariid beh., comp. f's)  10/10/16
Hi,
You have always been such a great resource for me and my fresh water tropical aquarium. I just did a cleaning and 50% water change out. I have a large Oscar and two large catfish(spotted... one light, one dark) housekeepers. Until today they have always been fairly solitary in their activities. But today they are inseparable and dancing together. What's
going on if you know????
Thanks.
Courtney
<Most likely territorial interactions if they're different species.
"Catfish" covers thousands of species, of which hundreds are kept as pets, so no idea what you're talking about here. If you mean Plecs of some type, usually Pterygoplichthys spp., these don't breed in aquaria. They are territorial, and if you did a big clean, moving rocks and bogwood about, they might be reasserting their territorial rights. Do keep an eye open for damaged fins and other such scars: Plecs can and do damage one another seriously when fighting, sometimes leading to death. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: catfish escapades (Bob F; any books on fish behaviour you recommend?)      10/11/16

<<Ah yes: Would have readers use BookFinder.com put in the two words: "Fish Behavior"; and see the selection there>>
That's the funny thing, they appear to really be enjoying each other. It looks like play and dancing. I haven't seen any aggression. At times they look like synchronized swimmers side-by-side doing almost the same movements.
<I'd still be cautious. Fish "size each other up" by swimming parallel, usually but not always nose to tail. The idea is that they push water onto each others heads and tails, and the one who can't push water on both head and tail at the same time must be smaller, so backs down. Or so the behaviour guys tell me! Precisely what's going on we probably won't ever
know. But the point is, "play" as understood in higher vertebrates (a recreational activity done in itself or to learn/practise a skill) has not been convincingly demonstrated in many fish. The only ones I'm sure about are Mormyrids (such as the famous Elephantnose) and these fish do indeed have huge brains relative to body size, comparable to that of birds and
mammals. For most fish the brain is quite small, and while I'm not saying they're stupid, far from it, but behaviour tends to have a strict, clearly defined function. So swimming of the sort you're describing is more likely to be aggression, or perhaps social behaviour if the species is a schooling species, or a pre-mating courtship behaviour. There are some excellent books on fish behaviour out there, including some aimed at non-scientists; "Pisces Guide to Watching Fishes" is aimed at divers rather than aquarists, and is a bit old, but it's very readable. Bob F might have some other suggestions.>
It's really a trip. They also like to bathe the large Oscar which he allows.
<If by this you mean sucking on the Oscar's flanks, this isn't good at all!
Plecs can do serious damage doing this,
removing mucous (which is what they're feeding on) but worse, lifting scales and making Finrot more likely. It's also a clue the catfish are hungry. If that's what's going on here, review diet, and provide more filling fare; for Plecs, things like sweet potato and courgette are both good staples, along with the odd piece of white fish fillet, prawn or clam. Bogwood is probably useful too.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Sent from my computer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: catfish escapades

Oh and I do believe that they are Plecs I bought them years ago when they were quite small. They are both spotted but one is a lot darker than the other but they match in size. They really are a couple of characters.
<Cool. There are a few Pterygoplichthys species widely traded as "Common Plecs". Pterygoplichthys pardalis is light grey with dark grey squiggles. Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus is more light brownish with dark blotches and spots. Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps is beautiful wood brown with dark brown spots, very giraffe-like. Hypostomus plecostomus is similar but seems to be quite rare. Nonetheless, you can easily tell Hypostomus from Pterygoplichthys; whereas Hypostomus has 7-8 rays after the dorsal fin spine, Pterygoplichthys have 9-14 such rays after their dorsal fin spine.
Hypostomus are much smaller though, around 12 inches/30 cm rather than the 18 inches/45 cm typical of Pterygoplichthys. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco behavior    3/26/14
Hello:
I have one female Bristlenose Pleco in a 75 gallon along with 7 emperor tetras, 6 Congo tetras and two angelfish. The Pleco has always kept the glass on the tank clean and has been fed algae wafers every second day and has real wood that it attaches itself to. The Pleco has been in the tank for about six months. Recently the Pleco has just stopped cleaning the glass. Is this common or a sign that something is wrong? Thank you.
<Mmm, well... your tank may be getting more "nutrient laden" with time; fueling more algae than one Ancistrus can handle... See WWM re control, maintenance... Or the type/s, species of algae may be changing to something unpalatable... Or the fish may just be satisfied w/ other sources of foods.
The phenomenon isn't uncommon. Bob Fenner>

 

Pleco 7/15/11
Dear WWM Crew-
I have a 11 year old Pleco that became acutely disoriented last night. He is frequently ramming into the sides and lid of the tank. The only other thing noted is that his eyes are suddenly sunken. He does not seem to be breathing rapidly or have any other signs of distress (other than the disorientation...) The tank is a 75 gallon and also houses a clown loach, an angel, half-dozen tetras, and two small catfish. None of the other fish are showing any of these symptoms. I tested the water quality last night and everything tested fine. The nitrate was at about 30-40 mg/L so I went ahead and did a 25% water change last night. So far, no improvement in his symptoms. Any other suggestions?
<Do check you haven't used a copper- or formalin-based medication in the tank, as these can upset catfish. Also check the substrate is clean and if you're using gravel, the gravel has been regularly stirred and siphoned, because anoxic decay can cause more problems for bottom-dwelling fish than other sorts. Do check the filter is working well and water chemistry is appropriate ("everything fine" means nothing to me) -- for a Common Plec, Pterygoplichthys sp., we're talking about 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 2-25 degrees dH hardness, and a pH of 6-8. With all this said, I'd expect Loaches and Angels to react more quickly to environmental problems than a Plec. At 11 years of age yours is in middle age, but not old, so I don't think old age will be the problem here. But your Plec is an air-breather, so do check you aren't using paints or other chemicals in the room that might introduce toxins that could harm the Plec (it's a good idea to switch off airstones when painting rooms with fish tanks, and to keep windows open for at least 24 hours so that the air in the room stays as fresh as possible). Sunken eyes are a bad sign for newly-imported L-number Suckermouth cats, but most commonly suggest starvation, so do make sure your Plec has been well fed with lots of greens. Your tank is rather small for a Plec and Clown Loach together, and I'd be surprised if they both get enough to eat AND water quality stays good at the same time. The fact you have a rather high nitrate level may well be a clue, especially if your tap water nitrate level is lower than 10 mg/l (check it). Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco question, sys., growth/beh.     8/5/09
My Plecos (standard black BIG ones--LFS) only seem to live about 3-5 years.
<Should live much, much longer.>
I've read their life expectancy is over 10 years, and I don't want to do the wrong things.
<Ten years is barely middle aged for these catfish! Under good conditions they routinely live for more than 20 years, and exceptional specimens have been reported as living for around 30 years.>
Does something happen to them that they need something different at that age...
<As they grow, they demand more in terms of filtration, swimming space and oxygen availability, and all those factors can come together to cause problems for the less accommodating aquarist.>
I seem to remember reading that there are fish that develop the need for brackish water at maturity but can't seem to find anything to prove or disprove this theory...
<No, they don't need brackish water. While it is true that some Hypostomus species live in slightly brackish water in the wild, and feral Pterygoplichthys in Florida have colonised slightly brackish water canals
and ponds successfully, none of the Loricariidae actually needs brackish water. Your "big black Plec" is presumably Pterygoplichthys pardalis or something similar; these fish naturally inhabits freshwater habitats in
South America and do not need salty water.>
Currently I have one Pleco, small/young/6 months, in a 55 gallon with 4 Balas (I purchased a 100 gallon tank currently being cycled etc for when they out grown the 55 gallon....) 1 convict, 5 blackstriped minnows, and 4 rainbow darters. The Pleco lives in the castle during the daytime. I took a piece of pvc pipe and rock covered it for my last Pleco--he was about 12", and I want this guy to inherit it and live in it a long
time....hence why I am asking you for help.
<One problem is the 55 gallon tank. It's simply too small for adult Pterygoplichthys. (Oh, by the way, this is pronounced "Terry Gopp Lick This".) Your 100 gallon system is much closer to the mark. Water turnover
will have to be substantial, and I'd be aiming for something like 8 to 10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So, for a 100 gallon system, you'd need filters (likely plural) that together offer a turnover
off 8 x 100 = 800 gallons per hour, minimum. That's about equivalent to four Eheim 2017 canister filters (each rated at about 260 gallons per hour). Sounds a lot I know, but these catfish produce huge amounts of
waste, and without massive filtration, water quality and oxygen availability will drop. Don't clutter the tank up too much since that will cause debris to accumulate in corners and under rocks, but instead use a
few large rocks and flower pots that can be easily cleaned around, or removed for cleaning, if need be. Do also review things like diet and water temperature. For these catfish, the diet should contain both plant and
animal foods. Zucchini, melon rinds, spinach, cooked peas, Sushi Nori and cucumber all fit the bill on the greens front; for meaty foods look at frozen lancefish and mussels as good sources of protein. Wood seems to consumed, perhaps as a source of fibre, so there should be at least a small piece of bogwood available for these fish to chew on. Keep the temperature at a low to middling level, around 22-25 C/72-77 F. When the water gets too hot, metabolism speeds up while oxygen concentration in the water drops.>
What am I doing wrong? Thank you.
Kimmie
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco question   8/5/09
Ok then! That should solve the mystery/problem.
<Glad to hear it!>
I now know who will be migrating to the BIG tank!
<Very good.>
Thanks! As you say our critters are dependant on us. 5 big fish in a 100 gallon tank. Could I add some colorful tropicals with that mix (4 Balas and one Pleco).
<With big Plecs, good choices including Rainbowfish (lots of bright colours), Swordtails, Xenotoca eiseni, Congo Tetras and Bleeding Heart Tetras. Kept in groups, these fish would provide colour and activity.
Indeed, a school of 20 Rainbowfish, for example Melanotaenia boesemanni or Glossolepis incisus, would be hard to beat. If you opt for Rainbows, remember to get *equal* numbers of males and females, or you'll not get the full colours. Lots of people think just getting males is best; they're wrong!>
All I seem to acquire are grey fish, and it would be nice to have some color... I was thinking some swords or something that size etc
<Swords are good, and enjoy the fast-flowing, somewhat cool conditions Plecs enjoy.>
PS thanks for the very quick response!
Kimmie
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco question   8/5/09
Thanks Neale!!! You have been a huge help. Suggestions I wouldn't have thought of!
Kimmie
<Glad to have given you some ideas. Enjoy your Plec! Cheers, Neale.>

 

Skittish Pl*co and Feeding Fry, reading  5/12/09
Hey guys! Me again.
<Oh?>
First of all, thanks for the help with my convicts; they are doing fine, and the eggs are noticeably brown now. I am hoping for fry by tomorrow!
Anyways, I have a couple new questions.
First, my pl*co: He's becoming very skittish now. There was a time when he was very aggressive, latching onto one of my gouramis, but not the other; ever since the picked on Gourami died (of unrelated causes; the pl*co left him along for the last few months of his life) the pl*co has been peaceful.
He even made progress towards being more of a day fish; for the last few weeks, he was more active during the day. But now he's regressing, becoming skittish whenever I go to check on him. An worse: He's developing a few bite marks on his dorsal fin and tail.
<From?>
At least I think that they are bite marks; there are no color changes, just missing pieces, and a few at that. I probably shouldn't worry, but I do anyways. I don't know why this would happen; I've never seen him
attacked during the day. My one guess is that he strayed too close to the Convict cave, and was bit;
<Very likely>
but the missing pieces are too big for a tiny Convict,
<More than one bite>
so I don't know. In fact, no fish in the tank is really big enough to take a bite that big at once. What do you
think happened, and what should I do? Is this normal? (The rays are just fine, and aside from some skittishness, he seems happy enough.)
<Stay observant and no, not natural>
On a happier note, how should I get the food to my Convict fry when they hatch?
<Read... on WWM re their reproduction, that of other Neotropical Cichlids... http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm>
I've read to take a plastic bag with a small hole, fill it with ground-up fish food, and squeeze some out when near the fry. Is this right?
<Nope>
And won't the parents be annoyed?
Thanks again, and eagerly waiting for an answer;
~Babale.
<Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

 

Loricariid aggression 1/4/08 Hello WWM Crew, This is the first time I've written to the fresh side of your website. I have a 150 freshwater tank that has been established for over three years, and up until this point I have had a few minor occurrences happen to this tank but nothing too serious. The livestock that is in this tank include 7 Severums (five green, 2 gold) 2 rope/reed fish, 2 blue Acaras, 1 port Acara, 1 very large Fire eel (18 inches), three Plecos 1common, 1 L-113, and one king tiger Pleco, and some trap door snails. Up until about three weeks ago everything had been going just fine until I woke up one morning to find my common Pleco swimming upside down, running into things etc. the first thing that occurred to me was he had been fighting with the L-113 (note, both of these fish are well over the 1 foot range) as they sometimes do The L-113 usually winning out (these "fights" are usually nothing more than minor scuffles). After about a day, my common Pleco settled into a spot by a sunken log (upside down).We tried to turn him over but it just seemed to upset him, so we left him alone. That's when a curious thing happened, the larger L-113 Pleco shortly there after wedged himself under a different log, and has remained there since. We have not seen our king tiger Pleco, but that's nothing unusual since their are plenty of places to hide and he is a bit shy. It has been three weeks ago and I am starting to get very concerned. neither one of them has moved from their "spot". They are still breathing because I can see their gills moving. As far as eating I have not seen either one of them move when I feed the rest of the troops, when they are usually very active when food has been added to the tank. My water parameters have been within the norm. temp is good pH is good no nitrites or ammonia are present. I am at somewhat of a loss as to what's going on, or what to do for that matter. Do Pleco's hibernate? Help! Thanks, Steve <Large Loricariid catfish are NOT good at sharing. Territoriality between specimens and between species can be pronounced, and several species have been reported to kill weaker tankmates. Large Panaque catfish for example will kill rasp the skin from other Loricariid catfish they deem to be "squatters" in their caves, reducing the victim to a bloody pulp. Large Panaque will do this too each other too, which is one reason they aren't bred in captivity, so far as I know; do read Ginny Eckstein's piece over at Fish Channel for some idea of the scale of carnage we're taking about. http://www.fishchannel.com/media/freshwater-aquariums/species-info/catfish/royal-and-blue-eyed-plecos.aspx.pdf Similar reports have been noted for Acanthicus and Pterygoplichthys. To quote Planet Catfish, a single male Acanthicus "can easily be the most dominant fish in a 1000 gallon aquarium". Oddly, many species live in schools in the wild, but since most (male) Loricariids guard their eggs and fry it is entirely possible that this aggressive behaviour would be related to reproduction in the wild. In any case, the bottom line is that few of the big species mix well unless so overcrowded that they cannot establish territories. This is how they are kept at your retailer, for example, and in itself causes problems with water quality and doesn't entirely eliminate the problem of skirmishes between specimens. When kept in twos and threes in home-sized aquaria, collections of large Loricariids can be distinctly unpredictable. The bottom line is that your fish may simply be at the age and disposition where they won't get along. While you could add a bunch more caves and hope for the best, my gut feeling is that it is now time to decide which one you want to keep, and rehome the other specimens. Cheers, Neale.>

 

Pleco Bloat or Preggers  9/18/09
Hi,
I was just looking at my Pleco (standard) who is about 4" long from nose to tail, a yellow and black striped Pleco (meat eater kind) that is about 3 1/2" and 2 Bushynose who are around 1 1/2". FYI. It is a planted discus tank with a giant apple snail, a few tetras and several discus. It is a 150 gallon. I noticed last week that the Pleco seemed a little chubby, but there is a lot of algae to be eaten, so I gave it no thought until today after dinner it was SO fat that it couldn't barely lay flat against the glass and there was a clear round thing coming out of its rear. It is perfectly clear like glass with a little red dot in it. I have pictures if you want, but I figured you may know what it is.
Thanks
Carrie :)
<Hello Carrie. The standard Plec is Pterygoplichthys pardalis, or some very similar species, a fish that gets to about 45 cm/18" when full grown. So I'm glad you have it in such a big tank! They are generally extremely robust and don't normally get sick when kept in big, clean tanks. Now, like most herbivores they are capable of consuming a lot of food and will look very plump. Providing they don't stay plump indefinitely, this isn't a problem. Cut back on the food for a while and see how things go. In fact with Plecs generally skinniness is the thing to be most cautious about. Being egg-laying fish, they don't become pregnant. The anus does indeed end with a small, nipple-like structure, and under some circumstances it can be visible when the fish is pressed against the glass. This is not normally a problem; the only things to be wary of are Camallanus worms, but these will be very obvious wiggling, red, thread-like animals protruding from the anus. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco Bloat or Preggers 9/18/08
HI,
The Pleco was dead this morning. :(
<Oh dear! Just goes to show that doing a diagnosis without a photo isn't completely reliable. In any event, your job now is to understand why the fish died. Do check water chemistry and water quality. Also look at the cleanliness of the substrate. What aquarists called Dropsy, technically oedema, appears when organ failure occurs. Realistically, cures are very difficult to effect because the damage has already been done. This is why you need to try and establish what factor in your tank wasn't precisely right. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pleco Bloat or Preggers 9/19/08
HI,
I do water changes of 20 to 40% every couple of weeks.
<Less than I'd recommend for such messy fish, but if your nitrate levels stay low enough for Discus, no big deal.>
All the other Plecos I had were fine. Just a fluke I guess.
<Maybe. But do remain open-minded and critical. Observe the other fish, and consider the possibilities. Cheers, Neale.>

 

Pleco problems   5/20/07 Dear Crew, <Hello!> It is so good to be able to write to experts. <Sorry, the experts are all out right now, so you'll have to talk to me instead.> I have a Pleco, named Plotya, whom I love very much. <Very good.> He started having a hard time navigating. Something makes him float up to the surface and he turns belly up and gulps. <Sounds like water quality issues. When Plecs are in polluted water, they breathe air. It helps them survive in ponds during the summer.> For three weeks he had one red-tinted side fin and a couple of red spots that looked like tiny wounds on his belly. The spots stayed throughout these weeks but the redness on the fin came and went. Now he looks entirely normal and it seems that everything has cleared on its own. <Which is good.> I changed his diet when I saw the red spots. I added shrimp pellets to his usual half wafer of algae to make him stronger. Last night I was not at home to feed him but I gave him more shrimp pellets before I left in the morning and then I fed him more pellets this afternoon. <All good, but take care not to overfeed. These catfish need mostly vegetables in their diet. 90% vegetables, 10% protein. I'd give him zucchini (courgette), cucumber, broccoli, carrot, potato, cooked cabbage leaves, dandelion leaves, etc. Use meaty foods only sparingly. Plecos are the "sheep" of the catfish world, and feed mostly on algae and plants.> And then he suddenly starts floating on the surface! I have made a 50% water change and he seems to be able to  hang onto the wall vertically, head up. Maybe this is my answer? <Indeed. Clean water makes him healthy...> He lives in a 10 gallon tank with 1 angel fish and 9 mollies. Is our tank overstocked and it makes him sick?    <Probably not sick, but suffering. Yes, 10 gallon tank is much too small. Must be at least 30-40 gallons for an adult Plec. Preferably more. If you have no space for a bigger tank, maybe you can find a friend with a bigger aquarium he can live in?> Thanks a lot! Anastasia <Good luck! Neale>

Re: Pleco problems    5/20/07 Dear Neale and Crew, thank you so much for your prompt response! <Hello Anastasia!> When I wrote the letter yesterday, Plotya was vertical but later he surfaced again belly up and had a hard time keeping his mouth in the water. This morning he managed to tack himself behind the plant at the surface to keep his head under the water. <So, he's not quite at death's door yet.> Part time he is attached to the wall by his mouth but it is obvious that his belly keeps him afloat. <Sounds very odd. Catfish breathe by putting air inside the intestine, and it is possible this is making him float. But I think the main problem is water quality in the aquarium. Your 10 gallon tank is too small for a Plec.> And so his head is at the wall and the body is twisted and upside down off of the wall, floating. And Part time he is just afloat sideways with his head under the water. He does not move at all but I can see he is breathing.   <Not good.> Unfortunately I cannot tell if he is bloated or not. He's always been plump. I gave him a fresh peeled pea from the garden but it seems that there is no way he can make it to the bottom to get it. <Keep trying different vegetables. Root vegetables (potato, carrot, etc.) are usually very good for Plecs, but sometimes they need to soften in the water for 24 hours before the catfish can eat them.> Does he have a swim bladder infection? <Probably not. These are quite rare. Usually when fish cannot swim normally, it is a neurological condition (brought on by, e.g., the wrong water conditions) or a dietary problem (constipation). Adding *non-iodised* cooking salt (NaCl) at a dosage of UP TO 1 gramme per litre is recommended as one possible therapy in one of my fish health books. Certainly worth a shot. Add salt in small doses, a maybe replacing 25% of the water per day with water with some salt. Adding too much, too quickly is sure to shock the fish.> Thank  you so much again! It is Sunday and I am desperate as to where to get advice and how to treat him! Anastasia <Good luck, Neale>

 

Kribs? WWM content to come   3/1/07 Bob, <Neale> Hope you're well! <Yes, thank you my friend> I've been doing a marathon session of Krib writing this month, and  was surprised to see you have nothing at WWM on Kribs and other  Pelvicachromis spp. Have I missed something? <Heeee! Not likely! We are "missing" several life times of work...> Fancy something run up  about them for either the site or Conc. Aq.? <Yes, certainly> I happen to be breeding  P. taeniatus at the moment, hence the flurry of textual and  photographic activity on the genus. <Ahh!> Have you seen that You Tube video of the giant school of plecs  videoed underwater in Mexico? <No... do you have the URL?> It's amazing. Totally *not* what you'd  imagine from their aquarium behaviour... but then isn't that so often  the case. Also, are US aquarists up to speed on "Microrasbora" galaxy? Seems within 6 months of discovery and sale to the trade,  it's heading for extinction! Not good. Neale <Yeeikes! I do wish I/we were more organized... perhaps with the revenue from the upcoming Banner Ad push... to have you pen a "What's News" section... BobF>

Re: Kribs? Microrasboras and Pleco URL!   3/1/07 Re: Microrasbora. <Mmm, M. rubescens... a beauty> I'm (along with others) looking after it's  Wikipedia page, and have uploaded links to the relevant references. I  don't know about the US, but this species was a *big* hit here, each  specimen selling for about £4-5 (around $8-10) -- quite a sum for  such a tiny fish. <I'll say!> It is very pretty though, and seems to do well in  captivity, the first breeding reports being within a couple of weeks  of import. So not 100% gloomy, but certainly alarming (cf. Banggai  cardinals, perhaps?). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestichthys_margaritatus Re: plecs, see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bK5wg2tZ0U <Neat!> It's a lot of fun. Will run something up on Kribs for CA/WWM in the next week or so.  Should have pretty pictures, too. <Ahh, very good indeed. Thank you Neale> Take care, Neale <BobF>

 

Pleco Problem?   9/11/06 Hello!  I have a 30 gallon, year old aquarium with 3 Bala sharks, <Will be too small for these three in time> one Pleco, two spotted catfish, and one cherry barb (it's buddy died recently).  The Pleco, otherwise healthy in appearance, has a white/yellow layer on his belly, <Mmm... may be natural...> and his colours seem slightly lighter all over than normal. <Good observation... these fishes will change to lighter in bright light, light colored surroundings, under stress... I'd be checking your water quality here> He is still eating and behaving normally.  The pet store suggested an Ick treatment <I would not do/use this... too toxic and this is not Ich... or all your fishes would exhibit symptoms> that seems to have done little but maybe give his belly more of a yellow hue.  I haven't been able to find out why the barb died, other than being chunky, he seemed healthy too. Thank you for any help you can offer. Lindsay <Water changes, water tests... What species of Pleco is this? Loricariids don't like hard, alkaline water like the minnow fishes you have. Bob Fenner>

 

Pleco with skin disease?   8/18/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have a Bristlenose Pleco who seems to be losing his colour.  When I first got him, he was dark brown, but now patches of his skin are a lighter tan colour (I would send a picture, but it's very hard to coax him out into the open when it's light out, and he hides whenever anyone goes near the tank anyway). <Mmm....> He's in my cichlid tank, and ammonia and nitrite are both 0, nitrate is always less than 10 ppm.    This change is very recent; he was fine a couple of days ago, and he's been pigging out on algae, but his colour certainly doesn't look healthy.  What could be causing this, and how do I go about treating it? Thanks! <Not likely that this is something "treatable"... either just a behavioral/physiological change from the animal being exposed to bright light, light colored gravel... or a fright reaction to the aggressive behavior of its tankmates. I would not "add" something to the water here, but consider moving this animal to other quarters to check this hypothesis. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pleco with skin disease?   8/19/06 Thanks Bob, <Welcome Kate> Now that you mention it, I think you might be on to something with the "fright reaction," although the problem isn't his tankmates, who   ignore him (except when they steal his food), but it might have been my fault.  I had to remove every single rock (!!!) in the tank to   catch one of the fish the other day, and I imagine the Pleco was quite disturbed by this turn of events. <Oh yes>   Also, the rocks in question are white (or at least they are now that the Pleco has finished cleaning them), so maybe it is just a "camouflage" thing.  Thanks for setting my mind at ease. Kate <Glad to. BobF>

 

Once playful Otos are now lethargic   7/28/06 Hello there, <Hi from... HI!> For the past 5 months, I have owned a 46 gallon, unplanted tank, containing 10 rummy nosed tetras, 10 black phantom tetras, 4 peppered Corys, and 3 Otos. <Better with live plants...> The Otos were originally quite playful, moved around the tank, stayed within view, interacted with other fish and ate any algae that appeared.  However, for about the past month, the Otos have been in hiding. <Something in the way of water quality changed> Now I hardly ever see them, and algae is building up on the glass and plastic plants.   They don't appear to be sick, and none have died.  All the other fish appear to be normal.  My water temperature has increased to about 82 degrees due to the warmer summer weather, but besides that, I can't think of anything that I've changed. I do 20% water changes once every week or two, and nitrate level is 12.5g/L or lower (my test kit measures only measures 1, 0, 12.5, and 25 mg/L).  I don't add any "Oto specific" food to the tank.  Might I simply have more algae than they can handle, allowing them to become more "lazy"?  Do you have any thoughts on the matter? <Yes... I definitely would add some live plant material here... Will address many possible ills, shortfalls that could be at play here... Dissolved oxygen, food, shelter...> Thanks in advance for your help. Bonnie <Welcome. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/otocinclusart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

 

Colour changing Pleco   6/18/06 Hi there, <Neill> Thanks for a very informative and well structured website - it has helped greatly in setting up my 2 foot tank. <Welcome> I have a Plecostomus which seems to change its colour frequently, getting lighter patches one minute, then darkening to a healthy looking dark brown a few minutes later. I really hope it is not ill or stressed! <Mmm, no... more likely "mood changes". Perhaps a communication device> I have sufficient filtration, plenty of aeration, do weekly 20% water changes (mainly to keep the water looking good, the log I have in the tank is still leeching tannins after 6 months). <Sometimes do for years> My chemistry is good, 0 Ammonia/um, 0 Nitrite, <20 Nitrate, although I battle with pH a bit, keeping it below 8.0 requires quite a bit of pH-Down. My Pleco's friends include about 14 Neons, 10 Blood Tails, 7 Platys (including one baby) and 2 Bala Sharks. I feed them Tetra flakes, and then add an algae tablet, which the Pleco loves, and will aggressively protect from the Sharks and Platys! Many thanks, Neill Thompson from South Africa. <As many welcomes from Bob Fenner in S. California>

 

Bully Pleco Or Sick Oscar  - 05/22/2006 Hi guys, just looking on some answers for why my Oscar is letting the Pleco bully him. The Oscar doesn't seem to know he is the alpha male and cowers around the Pleco. The Pleco is far more aggressive than the Oscar. What can I do, my Oscar has stopped eating now.? Thanks for your help. Margo <You Oscar may have an internal protozoan infection and your Pleco is now taking advantage of the situation and dominating the Oscar. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. separate the Pleco to prevent him from harassing the Oscar any more while he is recovering.-Chuck>

 

Floating Pleco beh.   2/2/06 Hi Bob, <Kat> Hope all is well with you and your finned friends. <Thanks> I have a 65 gallon FW.  Recently sized up from a 55.  A very long time ago when I was having a slight algae problem I bought a clown Pleco, not real fond of "common plecs".  Well he sure is cute but a waste of money.  Algae eater my fanny!!!  My early ignorance. <Mine continues unabated> About 3 months ago I was getting the good old red bacteria, Cyanobacteria I have since discovered, and bought a high fin spotted Plec. <Most animals don't eat much/any Cyano>    If I don't feed my high fin he will clean the rocks but of course he doesn't touch the plants nor do the Mollies, or the Gold Gouramis.  So about every third day I break up an algae wafer and drop it around the tank. <Good> Now here is what I find VERY interesting and hysterically funny.  The clown Plec will latch onto a piece of food, any piece of food and be fine.   However the high fin spotted latches on to any type of food and just floats away.  He will allow himself to float about half way up the tank then drops what he has and looks for something else. <Neat> Why in the Sam Hill does one float and the other not?   <Am tempted to go for the Monty Python "Witch Test" hypothesis here...>   When the high fin starts floating some of the gouramis just stop and look at him, like what in God's name are you doing? <Enjoying him/herself> FYI this is what I have. 65 gallon, Emperor 400, Penguin 330 and two powerheads, I know lots of current but all are fine. 6 Clown loaches, after I accidentally boiled my beautiful Synos.  Don't ask or you can.  The guys at the LFS laughed until they cried.  ( I am obsessive about water changes etc) 7 gold gouramis.  All about 3 inches. 6 mollies, three babies, two adult females, one adult male.  (One of the adult females I have had for two years and I can tell she is just about ready to die of old age, she was one of my original fish, and when she goes so will the rest of the Mollies back to the fish store. Maybe They are more mean than the Gouramis LOLOLOL, and the guys at the LFS were worried about the Mollies, RIGHT) 6 various Cory cats, all original, and one I saved from being flushed. 1 spotted Raphael, which I rarely see, unless I sneak in there at night with my tiny flashlight. Ok so now I am writing and can't stop. I know there are some snails or something to get rid of the Cyanobacteria, and I have Phos ban in my filter, but snails won't take care of the Cyano on the plants right? <Correct> Anyway really want to know about the floating Pleco, if there is an answer. Have a good one, Kat <Just a floater... in a good way. Have thought re the "reasonableness" of animal actions? Why do dolphins et al. cetaceans jump out of the water? Obviously because they can... wouldn't you? Bob Fenner, who definitely would>

 

Spotted Sailfin Pleco behavior, health 7/15/05 Hi I was wondering if you could help me. I have a 190 litre tank which is currently being filled out with Tetra. I also have a spotted Sailfin Pleco which I have had for approximately five years.  I came home yesterday to find the Plec at the bottom of the tank resting on the artificial grass but more on its side.  It looked liked it was dead! Anyway when it was touched it swam off but came back minutes later to again lie on its side and not move. <Happens> It has never been like this before it has always been an active fish and I am quite concerned.  I have checked the ph and nitrate levels which seem fine and the water temp hasn't risen dramatically (very slightly due to the weather).  I have also caught him and given him the once over but there are no odd areas of spots or anything on him.  Any advice as to what is happening or is he just dying of old age.  Thanks.     <Large Loricariid species can/do live for a few decades. I suspect yours was just resting... natural. Bob Fenner>

 

Plecostomus poo Hi, my Plecostomus poops ALL the time/ long stringy thingies.  His diet is varied and I keep the tank quite clean, so does he have a parasite, or what???  I can't seem to find info on this problem.                          Thanks,   Norma <Nothing wrong here... Bob Fenner>

 

Research First, Stock Later Hi Don - Oranda died. All this started when I inherited a huge brandy snifter and thought it would be really cool to turn it into a fish tank so I bought 2 goldfish - that turned out not to work too well because it had an air problem which led me to get my 10-gallon tank.  Since then, nothing but problems: daily water changes and testing at least twice a day, constant monitoring, keeping logs, faulty equipment, faulty test equipment, QT tanks, meds, shrinking fish, cannibal fish, etc. and now 5 dead fish to show for my hard work.  Fish should be considered "pets", not disposable hobby items, and I will not be getting any more.  I have decided this is NOT for me and will pack up my tank and equipment once these last two fish die.  I'm going back to kitten rescue which is what I did before. Yep, still hard work but much more rewarding for me. <Sorry to hear this. We all go through these problems at first. Learn from it and improve. Your underlying problem is species selection. Goldfish and Plecos will grow to a foot. Too big for a ten, even when small (but growing)> In the meantime, I'm not giving up on the two fish remaining and am now wondering about my new Pleco (who I've named "Hannibal") and how he was eating my Oranda before she died. Does this mean he's a carnivorous Pleco? Never heard of that, never warned of that, and I need to know if my calico goldie will be in any danger being in the tank with him?  I've read a couple websites that say he will start eating fish mates if he's hungry enough - how to guarantee that Hannibal stays well fed?  Since he was sucking away at my Oranda, I guess this means all the algae in the tank and the algae tabs I put in at night aren't enough. Both pleco's I've had refuse veggies. I have followed the advice of WWM: steamed but not squishy, nice big chunk so it's heavy enough to stay at the bottom, tried zucchini, broccoli and peas, but neither Pleco would touch any. Tiny bite size pieces don't work because they float. Any advice you can give that will save him from being flushed is appreciated. Thanks very much for all you've done for me.   Robin <Robin, no matter your feelings on keeping fish, never flush one alive. Think of the horrible death you are imposing on him. Return him to the fish store. Give him away. Never flush. He is a bottom dwelling scavenger whose normal diet is anything that sinks to the bottom of the river. This includes sick and dead fish. He was doing what nature intended, and what you intended when you bought him. Keeping the bottom clean. A hungry Pleco will try to eat the slime coat and flesh of any fish he can catch. Since this fish seems to want a more meaty diet than most, try a shrimp or other raw human seafood. Again, feed at night and on the bottom. If you would like a fresh start with a all your new knowledge, return them both now. Throw a small shrimp in the tank. It will decay and produce ammonia. No fish in the tank means no water changes. Test it once or twice a week. When ammonia and nitrite have both spiked and crashed AND nitrates are rising, you can add one or two fish without all these problems. Stock slowly, keep the number of fish low and research their adult size before buying and you will find this much easier. But I would return the Pleco in any case. He will outgrow the 10 soon enough. So will a goldfish. In an unheated 10 gallon tank six White Cloud Minnows would work well. Add a heater and it would be a

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