Just an anecdote about water polishing

  • #1
So, I kept a 50 gallon tank when I was living with my elderly dad. Covid came along, I couldn't work from home, so the family thing got shaken up, and I moved out when replaced by my retired brother. My new living arrangements, though, were tenuous at first, so I didn't move the 50G with me, i just told my brother what to do... And he followed my instructions, and didn't do badly for a whole year, but it's my responsibility to mind my own hobby, so 2 months ago, he & I moved it to my place.
The fish were fewer in number than when I left the home, but the transport was completely successful. There was a great upheaval in the lives of the fish, but nothing much worse than when they were sold at the pet store, except time was a bit stretched out, more sediment to settle, significant water change (significant amount of their prior water transported, too), Stress Coat added to hopefully help their disrupted lives. A little food )also to alleviate stress), then, I just let them settle in.
Among the survivors, a large pleco, one of my oldest tropical fish. And I could see he was fat. He had been rather overfed. No biggie.
In nature, animals get their meals at irregular intervals. Lots of feast or famine in the wild.
There are differing diet preferences among the different types of plecos. Some lean vegetarian, perhaps, but some are probably more carnivorous than we might at first suppose. They are not predatory, per se, they find dead stuff that sinks. You know how a container of water, like, say a dog bowl, gets that slime if the water is not freshened often enough (and, yet, dogs happily drink from the crotch of a tree or a toilet). That's basically a little ecosystem, with yeast, and who knows what all. Plecos consume that, too.
Standard flake food is very much appreciated by plecos. I try to offer all my fish a bit of variety. Those sinking algea tablets have ingredients to promote growth, though, so I give them, but less often.
Anyway, back to my fat pleco. Not only did it look like the Sébastien Cabot of fishes, it was expelling a continuous string of feces. I had every reason to know this was not a starving fish. He just sucks the sides of the tank, and "exhales" water through its gils, with his big fat white underbelly flattened on the glass. I fed the other fish in the 50G community, but no sinking tablets. I also have a bunch of cories in there, so they can do their thing, and we're just gonna avoid any classic pleco food.
Days turned into weeks. Still the pleco was producing this endless stool. And it was dark in color - this was not clear bioslurm licked off the glass, digested through a fish's intestinal system, it was as good as yours or mine, just about 3mm across. Gracious! What were they feeding you?!?
So, anyway, at some point a month and a half ago, I figured it's time for another water change, i could see the water was not too clear, though I knew from testing that the water was good, but it was time, and I would add back in an additional filtration thing I imitated from a friend, using a power head and a plastic beverage bottle stuffed with floss and some holes drilled, to help clarify the water. I'd done this before, but I hadn't asked my brother to worry about it.. The undergravel filtration worked fine, but the water was not so clear.
So, I put this in place, I go on vacation, I come home a week later, everybody's alive and happy, the water is crystal clear, and...
Mr. French over there now looks like Michael Phelps. And he doesn't have a tube of excrement getting squeezed out continuously like a Play Do barbershop.
WHAT I'M FINALLY GETTING AROUND TO SAYING IS, the fish sucking glass is a fish filtering water, tiny bits of food are acquired, filtered between tiny little bumps that look like taste buds on his lips. After the undergravel filtration system, the pleco was the tank's second biggest filtration system, and he was actually overfed because of the absence of water polishing.
However, now that the polisher (the NEW Second Biggest filtration system) is in place, I again must actively put food in especially for the large pleco

  • #2
My 5 bn plecos do an amazing job keeping food cleaned up in my 45. When i start splitting them up, kind of dreading what my filter sponges n stuff going to look like...

  • #3
Plecos are not filter feeders. I'm trying to come up with a filter feeder people keep in aquariums, maybe those mudskippers (blue spotted?) who die a few weeks after import? Someone said my African Arowana died because they are filter feeders. I don't consider sand sifters to be filter feeders.
As you have under gravel maybe it was sucking food from the gravel that is now stuck in your polisher?
Plecos are normally a poop firehose. No poop, is not good.
A fat pleco is a happy pleco. A skinny Michael Phelps is not where they want to be.

I didn't see a mention of the pleco variety. Is it a common pleco?
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
It was called simply Albino Pleco when I got him in 2016 in Yonkers, NY. It is not bristle nose, and, frankly, it does have some pigment. If it's not a filter feeder, per se, maybe. But except for the particulate organic stuff in the water, flake food crumbs, what did it eat (and poop) for a month? And the water polisher clearly deprived it from food. The same tank has 7 tetra and 4 cories. I used to stir the gravel from time to time, let them nibble on all that debris. Never saw the pleco interested in freshly stirred gravel. And in this case, stirring the gravel got me almost nothing for almost 2 months after moving the tank to the new house, why I didn't change the water for longer than usual.
But, thanks for letting me know he'll be happier on the plump side. I will indulge him.
My 5 bn plecos do an amazing job keeping food cleaned up in my 45. When i start splitting them up, kind of dreading what my filter sponges n stuff going to look like...
My understanding has been that plecos, while fine with most any other fish, are territorial enough that you wouldn't want more than one in a tank. Maybe a big one plus a very small one that represents no competition. Else, they can be a little high-strung. I've never had more than 2 in one tank together, and I never saw anything that seemed like an unhappy pleco. But because of the aforementioned advice I'd heard, I just never had multiple plecos in the same tank.
I have a large Raphael (6") I had to separate from my large albino pleco - they did seem to agitate each other. Raphael now lives in with a still small brown pleco, and they coexist just fine.

And here you are, concerned about splitting them up! Depending on your plans (each w/5 new homes; or 2 here 3 there), I believe the fish will be just as happy or more. Your filters may indeed get gunked up. Still, personally, I go ahead and use my filters as long as possible, preserving the bio benefits. All my tanks have undergravel, plus some auxiliary or outboard filter - it's these aux. ones I'm speaking of. They are usually slimy and green. Every now and then, I swish these glorified sacks of charcoal under the faucet (well water), just to rid them of the toomuchedness, and put them right back in the tank, until they're almost tearing apart. Of course, I buy new ones, too, just not as frequently as our corporate overlords would want.

What is your opinion or experience on multiple plecos together?
  • #5
How large is the "albino pleco"? If it is smaller it could be a female BN. Larger and it could be common, gibbiceps, Adonis, I think those are the more common big albinos.

When breeding you of course have to have at least 2 and often a colony. For me usually July-Aug is cave kill time when I have to keep a careful eye on them to make sure no one dies.
My grow out has no caves in it. I moved caves into it after a cave kill in a different tank figuring the plecos in there were to small to agro. I was wrong and lost some overnight, so the caves came back out.
Big pleco/small pleco is bad for the small pleco. It wants the cave and the big one will kill it if it gets in the cave.

If you aren't breeding just make sure you don't have any areas that don't have an exist. If there is always a way out it is hard to pin down the other pleco.
You are still at risk of males fighting until they die of exhaustion/damage. I have only had Cactus get this dedicated.

Pleco agro generally goes Males of same species > similar sized male plecos > similar plecos > other plecos > things that look like plecos.
Trying to live in their cave is not a good plan. Sometime if the cave is big enough it may not be a risk.
Food agro also happens with some greedy plecos. I had a rhino end a tancho sword breeding project because they touched his zucchini.
Occasionally you also get slime suckers go after fish like discus. These are usually underfed, feed them and they will go for easy food instead of food that runs away.

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