Common pleco has red spot on tail

tuesdawg

I would like to preface this post by acknowledging that i am fully aware a larger tank is needed. My pleco is approximately 15 years old and about 8-9 inches in length. He used to be in a much larger tank but when i moved away from home my parents eventually downgraded him to a 10 gallon. im moving back home and am in the process of upgrading him to a 60 gallon tank with live plants. unfortunately the tank ive purchased will not arrive for at least another month which means im stuck trying to make this 10 gallon work for the time being. this is my first post, so thank you in advance for any information you can give!

What is the water volume? 10 gallons
How long has the tank been running? at least a year
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 75-80 ( i need a better heater)
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) one common pleco about 8 inches in size.

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Once every 2-4 weeks
How much of the water do you change? 50%
What do you use to treat your water? I have previously been using API stress coat & water conditioner but just switched to seachem primer today.
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? i vacuum the substrate

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? no fish have been added
What do you use to test the water? API master kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 40-80 ppm (i couldnt differentiate between the colors but it is at least 40, maybe in the 60 range)
pH: 8-8.2

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? my mom (until about a month ago) was feeding him wafers every other day, i have reduced feeding to once a week for the last month.
How much do you feed your fish? 1 wafer
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari algea wafers
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Dried

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 15 years
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? i first noticed a spot about 2 weeks ago. it has since gotten larger.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? overall behavior seems normal, however he has a small risen red splotch on his tail that has been slowly getting larger.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? since i am not totally certain as to what the spot is, all i have done is test water & a water change.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Not that i have noticed

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now) I first noticed a small red dot on his tail about 2+ weeks ago. I thought it was perhaps just a small scrape at first but the spot has gotten larger since. I also noticed today a small boil looking thing on one of his fins. see attached images.
 

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BigManAquatics

I don't know what it is, kind of makes me think of when you pinch the skin of a finger real good on a pair of pliers. Any where in the tank he could have got real tight into or stuck/partially stuck?
 
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pagoda

A fish that large in an aquarium that small with only 2-4 week water changes is asking for trouble tbh.

You should be doing at least 50% water changes 2-3 per week for the common pleco that size with such a small volume of water since even the slightest injury will inevitably become infected very fast. As Betta'sAnonymous rightly stated, getting caught up or trapped somewhere in an aquarium of that size when he is unlikely to be able to lie flat anywhere comfortably is a real issue.

Not to put it too strongly...an 8 inch Pleco in a 10g aquarium...on the current water change routine...he/she is swimming in its own waste cos they make ALOT of waste. The nitrate level is way too high, indicative that you need to get a much larger aquarium sooner and do more water changes per week. A common Pleco actually does not really need heated water, they can handle room temperature since they can exist happily in ponds, lakes and rivers.
 
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tuesdawg

A fish that large in an aquarium that small with only 2-4 week water changes is asking for trouble tbh.

You should be doing at least 50% water changes 2-3 per week for the common pleco that size with such a small volume of water since even the slightest injury will inevitably become infected very fast. As Betta'sAnonymous rightly stated, getting caught up or trapped somewhere in an aquarium of that size when he is unlikely to be able to lie flat anywhere comfortably is a real issue.

Not to put it too strongly...an 8 inch Pleco in a 10g aquarium...on the current water change routine...he/she is swimming in its own waste cos they make ALOT of waste. The nitrate level is way too high, indicative that you need to get a much larger aquarium sooner and do more water changes per week. A common Pleco actually does not really need heated water, they can handle room temperature since they can exist happily in ponds, lakes and rivers.

Thank you for this! I am still very much a novice but one of the first things i said to my mom when i got home was why is Doug (the pleco) in such a small tank??? even with the little that i currently know, i was aware of how big of a problem that is. I will absolutely increase the water change frequency to 2-3 times a week.

in your opinion (assuming it is a small injury that has gotten infected) do you recommend that i introduce a treatment for the wound? or in other words do you think it will heal over time with more strict water change schedule? I am hesitant to add medicines to the water right now because of how all over the place the water quality is already, im worried it would only create more stress.

in regards to the urgency of an increased tank size, we still have the old (i believe 35 gallon?) tank lying around. theoretically i could set that up while i wait for the 60 gallon tank to arrive, my only concern with that is moving him to 2 new freshly established tanks within a 1-2 month time frame might increase the probability that he will pass during said transitions. And at this point im not sure whats riskier. Focusing on improving consistency & quality of his current tank for 2 months, or moving him to 2 new tanks within the 2 month time frame.
 
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TheAnglerAquarist

I don't know what it is, kind of makes me think of when you pinch the skin of a finger real good on a pair of pliers. Any where in the tank he could have got real tight into or stuck/partially stuck?
I would like to preface this post by acknowledging that i am fully aware a larger tank is needed. My pleco is approximately 15 years old and about 8-9 inches in length. He used to be in a much larger tank but when i moved away from home my parents eventually downgraded him to a 10 gallon. im moving back home and am in the process of upgrading him to a 60 gallon tank with live plants. unfortunately the tank ive purchased will not arrive for at least another month which means im stuck trying to make this 10 gallon work for the time being. this is my first post, so thank you in advance for any information you can give!

What is the water volume? 10 gallons
How long has the tank been running? at least a year
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 75-80 ( i need a better heater)
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) one common pleco about 8 inches in size.

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Once every 2-4 weeks
How much of the water do you change? 50%
What do you use to treat your water? I have previously been using API stress coat & water conditioner but just switched to seachem primer today.
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? i vacuum the substrate

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? no fish have been added
What do you use to test the water? API master kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 40-80 ppm (i couldnt differentiate between the colors but it is at least 40, maybe in the 60 range)
pH: 8-8.2

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? my mom (until about a month ago) was feeding him wafers every other day, i have reduced feeding to once a week for the last month.
How much do you feed your fish? 1 wafer
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari algea wafers
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Dried

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 15 years
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? i first noticed a spot about 2 weeks ago. it has since gotten larger.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? overall behavior seems normal, however he has a small risen red splotch on his tail that has been slowly getting larger.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? since i am not totally certain as to what the spot is, all i have done is test water & a water change.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Not that i have noticed

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now) I first noticed a small red dot on his tail about 2+ weeks ago. I thought it was perhaps just a small scrape at first but the spot has gotten larger since. I also noticed today a small boil looking thing on one of his fins. see attached images.
If you can’t keep him in a bigger tank and do more water changes you should consider rehoming him after he is healed
 
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tuesdawg

If you can’t keep him in a bigger tank and do more water changes you should consider rehoming him after he is healed

I have ordered a 60 gallon tank, & will be filling it with live plants, the problem is the tank will take 4-7 weeks to arrive so im trying to figure out the best plan of action in the meantime. I am going to start doing water changes 2-3 times a week (if not every other day). My only hope is that he can hold on for another month or two in his current tank because such a bright future is coming his way! I do have an older 35 gallon tank i can set him up with, my only concern with that is moving him to 2 new freshly established tanks within a 1-2 month time frame might increase the probability that he will pass during said transitions
 
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TheAnglerAquarist

I have ordered a 60 gallon tank, & will be filling it with live plants, the problem is the tank will take 4-7 weeks to arrive so im trying to figure out the best plan of action in the meantime. I am going to start doing water changes 2-3 times a week (if not every other day). My only hope is that he can hold on for another month or two in his current tank because such a bright future is coming his way! I do have an older 35 gallon tank i can set him up with, my only concern with that is moving him to 2 new freshly established tanks within a 1-2 month time frame might increase the probability that he will pass during said transitions
I say do it his quality of life will be much better
 
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pagoda

Get the larger aquarium fully cycled...you can use part of the media from the 10g to help kickstart things.

The 35g is way better than 10g but still absolutely nowhere large enough for such a big waste producing fish. Even with the 35g once it has cycled you will need to do water changes every 2-3 days until the even larger aquarium has been set up and cycled, again using media from the 10g/35g to kickstart.

As long as you keep doing big water changes every couple of days you should not need medications. Good, clean water will allow things to heal without intervention of chemicals.

Just do 50% water changes every other day, if things get worse on his wounds, do them daily until you have the largest aquarium sorted. Medication should always be a last resort since Pleco's absorb through the skin and it will do more damage than good.
 
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Linda1234

In the end you will need a tank much larger than 60 gallons - something around 150 to 200 gallons. Having said that it doesn't look infected. It looks like he scraped it on something sharp and it should heal on its own. I would remove anything in the tank that has any sort of edge until the new tank arrives.You might also check those artificial plants carefully to see if they have any sharp edges.
 
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tuesdawg

In the end you will need a tank much larger than 60 gallons - something around 150 to 200 gallons. Having said that it doesn't look infected. It looks like he scraped it on something sharp and it should heal on its own. I would remove anything in the tank that has any sort of edge until the new tank arrives.You might also check those artificial plants carefully to see if they have any sharp edges.

WOW! 150!!! I will definitely keep that in mind. From what I've read, common plecos life span tends to average around 15 years but ive also seen they can grow to be as old as 30. So i dont really know if he will be around for a couple months, a couple years, or another decade and a half. If he makes it through the next couple years in the 60 gallon, i will start to research potentially rehoming him, because (at least at this point in my fish tank journey) i have a hard time believing a 150-200 gal tank is something i could manage or even find the space for.
 
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pagoda

If you have a large garden and not enough room indoors for a huge aquarium, you could always dig an enormous pond especially for him to live out his days in. They are quite at home in large, deep ponds
 
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mattgirl

I would love to see a full photo of this big guy. I've never seen one like this. His markings are very unique. He may not be a normal common pleco. Some common plecos have been known to grow up to 2 feet long. Since this guy is about 15 years old already it is possible he will grow no bigger than he is right now or he could start growing again once he is in a bigger home. Only time will tell what is going to happen.

When you get his bigger home just move EVERYTHING from the tank he is in right now over to the bigger tank. Make sure you have been doing regular water changes on the tank he is in right now. By regular I mean no less than 50% of the water every week. By dong so the parameters in the tank will match the parameters of the fresh water in the bigger tank. If you've not been doing this you will have to slowly acclimate him to the fresh water. If you take him out of a tank that hasn't had frequent water changes and put him in fresh water it could very well kill him.

By moving everything from this tank you will be moving the cycle (bacteria) from this tank to the bigger tank and the bigger tank will basically be cycled to his bio-load. It will take some time to get firmly established but there will be enough bacteria to handle his bio-load. Be sure to run both the filter on the small tank and the new filter on the bigger tank for at least a month after making the move. After that you can remove the smaller filter if you want to but running both is best. We can never have Too Much filtration.

I know some may be confused by this and wonder how we can use a 10 gallon tank to instantly cycle a 60 gallon tank but the amount of water doesn't matter. The bio-load is what matters. As long as the bio-load isn't increased there will be enough bacteria to get the job done no matter how much water there is. You will be leaving some bacteria behind on the glass walls but moving everything else over will be moving over enough bacteria. The little bit left behind should be quickly replaced.
 
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tuesdawg

hey everybody!

just wanted to circle back with an update. my pleco, Doug, has successfully been moved into the temporary 35 gallon tank (he will be ugraded to a 65 gallon planted tank in 4-8 weeks depending on shipping time & how long it takes for me to cycle it). ive been testing his water parameters daily to monitor any fluctuations, as well as doing water changes at least twice a week. i also purchased a proper water thermometer so i can make sure any new water i add is the same temp as the tank.

i ended up moving everything from his 10 gallon over to the 35 gallon tank to carry over the BB & added the second larger filter to run simultaneously. the first few days post transfer, he was definitely distressed - pale in color, closed fins, erratic breathing, hardly moving etc - but i got some new decor to give him a few more hiding places & started feeding him zucchini & his color & demeanor are quickly coming back alive.

in regards to the red spot that initially started this thread, it still remains. but hopefully with the bigger tank, better & more consistent water quality, and improved diet it will at least halt the spot's growth & maybe in a month or so it will start to go away.

but today is the first day where his personality is really starting to show again so im taking some time to appreciate Doug, the work im putting into his tank, and THIS COMMUNITY!!!!! I'm very grateful for all that responded & very grateful for those that have helped cumulate decades worth of knowledge and experience on this site. ive spent many hours the last few weeks digging through old forums so i can provide the best possible care for my little oldest friend & look forward to the many more hours i will spend on here throughout my fish tank journey. so cheers!

(p.s im working on getting some better pictures of him but he likes to rest against the glass when he knows people are around. i staked out by his tank for an hour and did an army crawl up to his tank to get a pic of him eating the zucchini)
 

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pagoda

Good to see that you have the intermediate aquarium sorted for him and that he is improving. Keep up the maintenance routine and stay away from the medicine cabinet....good food, good filtration, clean water and lots of TLC and he should be good to go once you have the full sized aquarium organised for him :)

He's a handsome lad, nice work so far :)
 
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mattgirl

Thank you for the great photos of him. He has such unusual markings. I can't say I've ever seen another one like this. I am so happy to hear that he is being moved up to a tank better suited to his size.
 
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