Sick Pleco - Red Belly/Sidet Help

Discussion in 'Pleco - Plecostomus' started by ekrabs, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. ekrabsNew MemberMember

    Hi, I'm new to this site and need some help with my Pleco.
    Tank - 6 x 1.5 x 1.5 foot. I don't know the exact number for my nitrates and amonia but the pet store I went to said that they were okay. The ph had fallen to 6.5. I've never have ph this low and check it fortnightly when I do 1/4 or 1/3 water change. I plan on going to a fish store who only sells fish who hopefully will know more but as it's Sunday none were open.
    Serenity is about 4 years old and until today has never had any problems - no fin rot, no fungus', nothing. Three days ago her pleco tank mate Chewbucca died, he was about 32cm long. I didn't see him until he was deceased and there was nothing I could do. However, the tank seemed fine, Serenity showed no affects from it. I thought that maybe he just died. However, he had a red patch on his belly that looked like internal bleeding or something but I can't be sure as I've never seen fish with internal bleeding. When I looked in the tank this morning I noticed that serenity was on her back and sucking slowly. I got a clean tub and put rain water into it and some warm tap water as the tank is normally 25c. I moved her into the tank, keeping her on her back and placed her against the side to keep her from moving. I took a water sample up to the pet store and he tested it for me. He said I needed to raise the ph in my main tank, the box she was in and probably in the quarrentine tank. He also said I needed to add aquarium salt about 300g for the main tank and a flat teaspoon for the box and for the quarrentine tank. I went back and raised the ph to about 7.2 in the main tank and put a small amount of ph upper and salt into the box. Within a minute or two serenity turned herself over and changed back to her normal colouring. As the box was so small and I figured would get cold quickly, I filled the bath tub up with warm water and placed the box inside it and placed the heater in the bath water to keep the whole thing at a constant tempreature. I set up the quarrentine tank and left it to sit for 8 hours. I kept her in the box/bath for 8 hours with the air rater things and she seemed to be doing well. I figured that she must be better and put her back into the main tank. She sunk to the bottom after giving about two flicks of her tail. When she landed on the bottom she was half on her side and I noticed the same red mark on her, the bright lights in the tank showed it. I pulled her out and put her back into her box. Instantly went back to normal. I put her into the quarrentine tank adding the water from the box also as she seemed happy in that. I put the heater in it even though it was a bit big for the tank/ depth, with the air rater and covered 70% of the tank with a towel to keep it dark. It's ph has stayed stable at 7.4.
    The only thing new in my tank was a rock that my mother added. It's only about the size of a fist but it's a sedimentry rock?? I think that's right... It has the lines of different coloured rocks in it? There hasn't been anything else added to the tank other then food, which hasn't changed and then taking out Chewbucca who would have only been dead an hour as I had seen him then.
    Serenity appears to be mostly okay, a little bit of damage to her fins from the crayfish/yabby - blue with pink spots. Hole punch is going to be rehomed asap once I can find someone who won't eat him. She has a slight mark on her nose which seems like rub wear from hitting against something. The red patch, which looks like blood is under the skin, on her left side to belly. It is below her second set of bottom fins. There was no red on her belly and her belly appeared to be the same white/dark brown patches it always is. I haven't been able to see the other side in bright light. I thought about shining a torch on that side but didn't want to stress her and have been keeping her in the dark.
    What is wrong with her? How do I help her get better? Is there anything more I can be doing? I don't want to loose another fish. I love them.
    Sorry about not knowing more about the water condition. I hope I gave enough info about her.
  2. ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore! Sorry you're having issues with sick fish.
    Generally it's better to leave the pH alone as the fish will acclimate to whatever your tank pH is. When you use pH adjusters it changes the pH rapidly then when it's time to add more adjustor the pH will start changing again. It's like a roller coaster ride. A stable pH is better than a fluctuating one.
    Most Pleco don't like salt so keep a close eye on her. Salt is an irritant (causes them to over produce slime coat) and it can dehydrate them as it pulls fluids from their bodies. This is true for most freshwater fish.
    The first line of defense when you notice a problem in a tank is a water change. That's what I recommend first. A water change and a thorough substrate vacuum. Plecos produce a huge amount of waste and this can affect your tank very swiftly. I recommend at least 25% water change each week. Larger if necessary.
    I wish you knew what your ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate numbers were.
    LFS are in the habit of saying numbers are OK instead of giving numbers in hopes you will buy something.
    I think the new water is what perked your pleco up. but don't change it too fast just a little at a time in the little tub. The good clean, warm water should take care of her red spots.
    Everything you have told us(thanks for all the details . They are very helpful) makes me think you have a case of whats called "old tank syndrome".   This can happen to tanks as young as a year old or older. What happens is that more and more waste, food, plant detritus are deposited in the tank. Some of it dissolves and accumulates in the substrate some of it is dissolved and changed by the beneficial bacteria. Then the nitrates begin to raise. Everything changes so gradually that the fish acclimate to it. Then suddenly the pH drops and other signs of sickness show up. Even dead fish. The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are sky high.  
    The way to cure this and bring your pH back up naturally is to do small water changes (10%) about every other day. this way nothing changes rapidly.
    We recommend you get a test kit so you can test your own water and have a better idea of what your water parameters are.
    Didn't mean to write a book but I hope it helps. Please keep us posted as to how she does.
    Again Welcome to FishLore!
  3. ekrabsNew MemberMember

    Thanks so much for your reply. Unfortunately she died this morning. I took her to the vet and he said that he thought it was toxic shock syndrome. I will buy the test kits in the coming few days and do the cycling of water like you suggested. I still don't know if I believe what the vet said but I am going to do everything I can to get my tank better, get the test kits so I will be able to watch it better and then purchase some new pleco's. My local pet store has a baby peppermint pleco and some golden spot pleco's.
    Thanks so much for your suggestions and help. How long should I cycle the tank before adding any more fish, would two weeks be okay with the 10% water change?
    Once again, Thanks so much