Plecos Keep Dying In My Tank

  1. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    I started up a new 35gal tank about 2 months ago. Currently have 10 cardinal tetras and about 20 cherry shrimp that are all doing great. I had added 4 albino long fin bristlnose and one by one they all died in under two weeks. All my water parameters are good and the tetras and shrimp are doing fine. Thought maybe it was just the breeder I got the batch from so just ordered 8 more from a different breeder. Have had them for two days and have already lost 4 of them. It's a 35g planted tank with fine and medium sized black substrate.

    The first batch didn't seem to be eating much. I've tried vegetables, algae wafers and bug bites. This second batch seems to eating but they're dying off quicker than the first did. Any thoughts on what could be causing this?
  2. TwoHedWlf Well Known Member Member

    To begin with, 4 is too many for such a small tank. 8 is ridiculously overstocked.

    How are you acclimating them? What's your PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, NItrate, etc? I tend to blame poor acclimation if fish die in under a week, but clearly the conditions aren't bad enough to kill the other fish

  3. NavigatorBlack Well Known Member Member

    Each other?
    When you get a bunch of bristlenoses (Ancistrus, not plecos) ragged from shipping, the first thing they want is territory. It's a small tank, and the turf is limited. If they are fragile from shipping, they can die quickly.
    I just put two together in a 75 gallon yesterday, and I am watching them closely. I hope they get along, but there are no guarantees.
    Males will fight, and in close quarters, the loser can't run for it.
    @TwoHedWlf and I are probably at opposite ends of the acclimation approaches, as I equalize temperature and net fish straight out of the filthy shipping water and right into the new tank. I haven't lost a fish to acclimation in years doing that - when I used slow drip methods the ammonia could have more time to get to their gills. I don't keep many tough fish - mostly rainforest blackwater creatures, and they are none the worse for the quick change.
    When I bred Ancistrus, I could have large groups in a tank for a while, as everything was worked out as they grew. Ranks, turf, all was pre-sorted. When I try to make pairs, as I did yesterday, I am cautious and watch closely. It could be your interest in large numbers of these often grumpy and solitary fish that is causing you trouble.
  4. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    Actually the tank is only stocked to 81% capacity with the 8 juveniles. I'm running a SunSun 404b on it and it's handling the bio load fine.

    The first batch we just temp acclimated and the second batch we drip acclimated.

    The water params are Amonia 0, Nitrates 10, Nitrites 0, ph 6.75

    I personally haven't had any territory issues with them. There's been no fighting between the fish and they all have spread out across the tank. None of the fish have shown any type of fin damage or signs of disease.

  5. NavigatorBlack Well Known Member Member

    Bioload is one thing. Social load is another.

    I am the same biomass as an adult northern cougar. But if I had to be locked in a small room with someone, I'd pick me over an adult cougar. We both have the same bioload on a room though. It's the behavioral aspects that the online calculators for stocking can't factor in well.

    I have only seen one of two Ancistus fights in years of keeping them. But I have found the results. When I was breeding them, I had many to learn from. They can have an edge to them.

    I don't know if that is your problem. It is a real possibility to examine.
  6. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    Well if you want to compare yourself to a 1.25" fish then the room you'd be in would be approximately 216' x 84' or an 18,144 sqft room... And that's not even taking into account the vertical area a fish can use. And considering I have no aggressive fish in the tank, comparing a cougar is a bit exaggerated. But thanks for your input.
  7. vikingkirken Well Known Member Member

    @NavigatorBlack is one of the most experienced fishkeepers on this forum. Rather than dismissing his input, I would take what he has to say seriously. He's been doing this for decades, with more tanks than even he can probably count.

  8. goplecos Well Known Member Member

    Well first of all I agree with @NavigatorBlack. The biggest issue here is the territory. For the most part Plecos are a solitary fish and even if they aren't fighting the stress of another Pleco in their area is enough to kill them after a stressful shipment. When I was breeding Plecos I found that I could keep 2 pairs in a 60 gallon, and if I had an overly aggressive male that didn't always work. That is 4 fish in a 60 gallon and that didn't even work all the time. So I would highly doubt that 8 fish in a 35 gallon would work at all. Also another issue that none of us are addressing is the temperature. Unless breeding is the goal I wouldn't keep BN Plecos above 75 degrees, and the Cardinal Tetras prefer 78+ degrees. After the stress of being shipped and being put in a less than ideal temperature that is probably also a contributing factor to there deaths. I would rehome the remaining BNs and get 1 I repeat 1 Clown Pleco. He will be much happier in your setup.
  9. NavigatorBlack Well Known Member Member

    No problem, anytime. What you are ignoring is that you do have aggressive fish - within their own species. Ancistrus, bristlenoses. They will bother no other tankmates of other species. But among themselves, even a superficial look at decent sources on them will give you plenty of warnings. That wouldn't be convenient info - so the bristlenose deaths you are experiencing may have a supernatural cause.

    I won't bug you again.
  10. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    No disrespect was intended but what everyone seems to be ignoring is the fact that the fish are barely 1" long in a 35g wide tank and have shown absolutely no aggression towards each other since I received them and they're dying. The 35g was never intended to be their final home. So telling me that there's too many in the tank, doesn't help me with the actual issue that's going on. I highly doubt that the fish are dying because there's another fish 10" away from them. What I'm looking for is maybe someone who has had a similar experience or can think of something else (perhaps substrate or plants maybe?) That might be adversely effecting the plecos but not anything else in the tank since the filtration and water parameters seem to be good.

  11. TwoHedWlf Well Known Member Member

    Yeah, I get up to 50% losses doing less than 3-4 hours acclimation just going from the LFS to my straight rainwater tank. Maybe a few hours at most in the bag, water shouldn't be remotely filthy by then.
  12. Koiman Member Member

    I'm surprised that no one has brought up the diet he is giving them.

    As a BN pleco breeder myself, space isn't an issue now at the juvenile stage. But once they reach around 2", I'd strongly urge you to keep one MAYBE two. But that's it.

    Do the plecos have driftwood to rasp on? Bristlenoses definitely need driftwood because the fiber in the wood aids heavily in their digestion and is essential to their survival. Please ditch the algae wafers because they disintegrate very easily and can pollute the water. I feed blanched zucchini and cucumber slices everyday and take them out after 12-16 hours.
  13. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    @Koiman Finally! Someone who understands what juvenile means. There's a few pieces of drift wood in the tank for them. Of this last batch of 8, I'm down to 4. 3 of which I'm hopeful for that seem to be eating well. The 4th i can see some food in his belly but not nearly as much as the other 3. Havent been using the algea waffers much because they dont seem to care for them. Have been giving them either cucumber, zucchini or watermelon about every other day and the 3 I have hope for seem to cycle on and off them. Also they seem to like the bug bites but as with the ages wafers, they do make a mess of the tank though the shrimp seem to like those as well. Hopefully the 4th one starts eating more. Tried soaking the veggies in garlic juice but it didn't seem to do much. Just been trying to figure out why so many new plecos ive been getting either died in the first couple days or seemed to starve themselves to death.
  14. Koiman Member Member

    Hmm that's weird that the plecos are dying so rapidly. And you even have driftwood and fresh veggies. As far as I can see, you're doing everything right.

    A lot of people are saying that plecos are too territorial among themselves. IME, it's only among full grown adults and not juveniles like you have. That is definitely not your issue. I think your stocking is fine for now.

    The last thing I can think of is just Mother Nature doing its thing. When i had a 100 gallon goldfish pond, the pond could only handle a load of 5 goldfish. If I added more they'd die within a few days/weeks until 5 were left even though I fed them daily and had great filtration. So I think your ecosystem is just trying to balance itself out. Even if your filter is world class I think it's just Mother nature doing its thing. I wouldn't get anymore plecos for now and just see how things play out. I think you'll probably end up with 2 surviving but I hope all 4 end up surviving.
  15. SoCal Fish Fan Member Member

    Yeah... I was wondering if maybe it was a substrate issue or perhaps one of the plants I have since everything else seemed like it should be fine. Hoping that with the three that seem to be doing well I can get a male and two females to start breeding. (Crossing my fingers).

    As a side note, just got a L240 from my LFS that'll be going into my 110g Amazon tank I'm building.
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  16. Zofia♥ Member Member

    For anything under a 75 gallon I'd only do 1 or 2 BN Plecos to begin with. Food may have been the biggest issue. Plecos eat a lot, and failure to feed them enough often does result in early death. You did have some form of wood in the tank, correct? I'd wait a few weeks, make sure there isn't anything wrong with your water before getting new ones. Plecos are extremely hardy fish and are very flexible in the temperature and pH they're kept in so water conditions most likely weren't the problem. Of course even a breeder may have a bad batch of fish here and there which is unavoidable, hopefully your other fish won't be affected.
  17. goplecos Well Known Member Member

    When I bred them I had to separate them before they reached 1 inch. So space is an issue at that size.