Help Sick Pleco!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish and Invertebrates' started by NilusFishFamily, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. NilusFishFamilyNew MemberMember

    Our pleico has started hovering over the bubbler almost exclusively. We just noticed it this evening, but over 20 minutes it’s all he’s doing, sometimes swimming up and around to approach it from another angle but more or less keeping HIS MOUTH over the bubbles. He was out earlier this afternoon just hanging out near the bottom of the tank. We have seen him hang out near the bottom(out of the rock) like this alot lately since getting his new rock about a month ago.
    Also in the last month:
    -he’s either in the rock or next to it on the bottom of the tank just hanging out. We have seen him sucking on the sides but it seems like less. (His old rock wasn’t big enough to completely hide inside of)
    -here and there we have noticed a wafer (or more than one) uneaten which is unusual for him
    -he’s not rushing out to eat anymore when we drop wafers right away. My husband thought maybe he was just being overfed but we’ve always given him the same qty
    -filters need changing and sponge is VERY old but water tests are good
    Other details:
    almost 13 inch pleico, approx 5 years old in a 37 gallon tank.. he is our only fish.
    We have a sponge filter and top tank filter as well as a bubbler in there for him. He gets 2-4 wafers of algae or shrimp wafers each night.
    About a month ago we changed his ‘rock’ to a new one large enough for him to hide in it is listed as a reptile rock (same as the previous rock).
    We plan to upgrade him to a 75-90 gallon before Christmas and we’re waiting for Black Friday sales.
    His name is Squiggly - if you’re the type to say a prayer for his improved health.
  2. Fish0nValued MemberMember

    Petco might still be having their dollar per gallon sale (although for one that size I believe it is ~50% off).

    I don't keep anything other than bristle nose plecos but pictures & the type of pleco might help others with the diagnosis.
    Hope he gets better!

  3. NilusFishFamilyNew MemberMember

    31EC23AC-49BD-4C41-9176-E59FD8CCE2EC.jpeg9A20679B-626D-4694-9178-F7396EA9F10E.jpeg3422614A-13F2-4E33-919C-B6D024837BD3.jpegE28F9D33-D14D-48CB-9D8F-C71E31575129.jpeg7F1D7696-B5FC-4022-9269-64D18527B543.jpeg I’m going to try to add some pictures...
    This is him right now. I’m aware of the ‘pin hole’ he has had them before and they heal on their own. Unknown cause & seemingly unrelated. He moved away from the bubbler earlier and (we did a water change- nitrates were high after all), but he’s back there over the bubbler now. I’m worried could he be doing it for oxygen?

  4. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    What is it fed ?
    I doubt it is about oxygen, maybe it is munching on biofilm.

  5. NilusFishFamilyNew MemberMember

    I’ll check the brand in the morning but they are just store bought pleico wafers. The algae wafers are green, a little larger than a dime but smaller than a nickel and fairly thin, and the shrimp wafers are pink/red, and about half the size.

    It’s possible I’m worrying over nothing but he really is loved and we don’t want to lose him. Hovering over the bubbler is definitely unusual behavior...

    Here are *healthy* pics for comparison. Just to note, he did have his full sail out earlier today even though I didn’t manage to get a picture.

    Attached Files:

  6. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    Could it be these plecos need a little change in diet when maturing (just thinking up loud here)
  7. AquatilibusValued MemberMember

    Lovely Plec Nilus, IMO 4 wafers a day is on the high side. Most wafers contain phosphates which can raise your nitrates to dangerously high levels and increase unfavourable algae. Don't worry too much about underfeeding your Plec they are incredibly hardy and can survive for weeks on the biofilms, microfauna and good algae in the tank. Swimming in currents of air, especially filter outlets and bubblers is something most of my Plecs used to do but since I introduced a twinstar M5 the oxygen levels have increased and they no longer do this. I would check your nitrate levels, wash the sponge filter in siphoned tank water and cut feeding by 50%
  8. DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    uhhhhh phosfates raising nitrates ?
  9. AquatilibusValued MemberMember

    yep....high phosphate levels will cause an increase in some undesirable algae which will elevate nitrate levels when they start to die off

    Generally, algae use nitrates for food but this can be reversed when a larger amount of algae dies. Looking at the OP's pics again, I don't think algae is a problem in the tank but would definitely rinse the sponge filter.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2018
  10. NilusFishFamilyNew MemberMember

    Thank you everyone. I think based on comments here we are going to swap the sponge filter in the tank that’s really old and look at new/less food. I really appreciate the help!

    1) I have read their diet changes as they mature and that they eat less algae and more meat (shrimp). So I’ll defi look at options. Ideas?
    2) when we first saw the uneaten shrimp wafers we thought maybe he was constipated and swapped some shrimp for more of the algae which have zucchini added (can’t get him to eat fresh /blanched). That likely added to the problem.
    3) I knew the sponge needed to be replaced but squiggly usually eats the algae right off it so I think the discoloring is more age of the sponge. We had 2 goldfish about two years ago who got sick and ended up with tails caught in the main filter so we bought the sponge filter and bubbler at the time. It was only replaced about a year ago in December. We’ve cleaned it many times since in the tank water but at some point it’s time to just get a new one so that time is now.
    Very much appreciated- thank you again to everyone who answered! I’ll start a new thread on pleico tips as I’d love to hear more

    32B4DA97-70F6-432B-ADFD-A7BFCD996F1B.jpeg Here is what he is currently eating (pic) ideas on brand/type that might be lower in phosphates and healthier for him?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2018
  11. M-StokesValued MemberMember

  12. AquatilibusValued MemberMember

    This is what I suggest you do to get your Plec back to full health:
    1) Monitor your water parameters daily for the next week (If you've rinsed out or changed your filter you need to keep an eye on the nitrite levels.
    2) Fast your Plec for a wafers, nothing.
    3) After the fast, just feed half a wafer and take it out after an hour or two if he hasn't eaten, if he eats some of the wafer, siphon out the residue which can raise your nitrate level if you leave it in.
    4) Once he has eaten the portion of wafer within a couple of hours then leave it for 6 hours or so before adding another portion.
    5) Continue like this until he eats a maximum of 2 wafers per day. Plecs are natural algae eaters and feeding him any sort of processed food will make him lethargic after a while.

    In my Plec breeding tank I only feed the pair of them a single wafer a day. I keep a large piece of bogwood in the tank and allow this to get a covering of algae. Both fish will spend hours grazing on the algae and biofilms and sometimes won't bother with any other food (wafers, zucchini etc), this is a good sign and is indicative that they are returning to their natural eating habits.
  13. AuthmalValued MemberMember

    Some do. It depends on the species. Baby bristlenose, for example, are great at eating algae and biofilm. As they age, not so much, and they need driftwood in their diet.

    Those filter sponges are pretty hardy, and you probably don't need to replace it, simply do the maintenance on it. Basically, take it, put in a bucket of removed tank water from the water change, squeeze it out a few times, until you're either tired of doing so or it looks like nothing more is coming out of it, and put it back in the aquarium. That'll remove detritus which can impair performance, but retain the bacteria which perform the biological filtration.

    Any idea what species? That'll give you the best insight as to dietary changes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2018