Fish Digging And Piling Up Gravel

Strummer95

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This seems to be the best place for this question, so hopefully it is.

I have a 60 gallon show tank with a wide variety of pets. Mollies, tetras, guppies, platys, snails, crayfish, angelfish, loach, catfish, rainbow fish, pleco and probably some others mixed in that I’m forgetting. (Before you say anything about the mix, they all coexist well. They were introduced at times and ages to allow them to live together. The loach doesn’t kill the snails, the crayfish doesn’t kill fish, the angel isn’t a bully.)

My concern is that someone has suddenly begun digging significantly. There has never been any digging or piling of gravel before but suddenly over the course of 2 days, there are massive divots and a huuuuge pile of gravel. I’m wondering if this is cause for concern. I am told fish can dig and such, but this was extreme in a short time frame in a tank that it’s never happened before. Can this be a sign of any certain thing? A stress issue, safety concerns, health issue, pregnancy?

Photo attached of my normal tank, then a few of what happened over less than 48 hours. They dug a big hole under the treasure hut, carved out a large area around and inside the ship, and made a huge pile at the back of the cannon.
 

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FishGirl38

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If you don't have any cichlids in the tank (angels don't count in this) than I would think the loaches or pleco is the culprit. My pleco will actually use his tailfin as a fan and push tons of gravel out from under this large piece of driftwood I have in my tank.

I've also got some bristlenose plecos in another tank that do the same thing.

Some cichlids will dig, physically picking gravel up in their mouth and spitting it out in a pile in another area, which is actually what it looks like in this picture, but I'm not sure if you have any fish in the tank that're big enough to actually do this though. Some of the fish you've mentioned may get big enough, but don't usually partake in that kind of behavior (like mollies and rainbowfish)

Angelfish usually find a flat spot (like the aquarium glass or a large, flat plant leave) and peck at the surface of the potential laying area (to clean it) before they lay their eggs on it. I'm not sure if its the angelfish that's doing it, they don't usually dig like that. at least not in my experience
 

kallililly1973

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My guess would definitely be the pleco they love dark hiding places . Mine goes under a cut in 1/2 coconut and makes about a 3-4" pile of sand. As long as I know where he is i'm happy and if I don't see him I drop a piece of zucchinI in and poof there he is.
 
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Strummer95

Strummer95

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I don’t have any cichlids and none of mine are large enough to pick these up in their mouth. The pile by the cannon is at the back opening of the ship so it could actually all be pushed there.

My pleco is a bristlenose and still fairly small, maybe the size of one of my guppies. It would be a ton of work however he is the newest addition. Bought him as a baby a couple months ago.
 

kallililly1973

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Strummer95 said:
I don’t have any cichlids and none of mine are large enough to pick these up in their mouth. The pile by the cannon is at the back opening of the ship so it could actually all be pushed there.

My pleco is a bristlenose and still fairly small, maybe the size of one of my guppies. It would be a ton of work however he is the newest addition. Bought him as a baby a couple months ago.
You would be surprised how strong their tails are even being a smaller size fish.. underwater is much lighter than land
 

Coptapia

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I'm going with the loaches, probably trying to get under something. What loaches are they, and do they have a dark place anywhere to get into?
 
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Strummer95

Strummer95

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Here’s my young bristlenose pleco to see how small he is. Prob less than half their full grown size.

Also, my crayfish never hangs out in the ship, but he is definitely enjoying the extra room under his treasure hut. Any chance he could have done all this work?
 

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