Whats wrong with my pleco? Fungus or fin rot?

Lyndseyk81991

My common pleco "squeaky" is approx. 7 years old and i havent had any problems until recently. A couple months ago, I decided to add a few more fish into the tank. The store I went to said tiger barbs and green barbs were ok for the tank, so thats what I purchased. I will say that I regret my purchase because since then, we ha e had nothing but problems with them. We've had a few die from others nipping them to death im assuming, and a little over a month ago I noticed a few of the barbs were nipping at my plecos tail occasionally. We have noticed now that when he comes out of his cave to eat and raises his dorsal fin, there is a small hole towards the end of it, and the edges now seem like they're more jagged. Also, ive noticed lately that he has several lighter patches on the sides and top of his body...they don't look fuzzy, just like his skin is lighter colored. I took pictures close up of the ones on his side. I couldn't get a good picture of his fin though other than the ones on his side...which seen jagged looking in the pictures as well. Im not sure if they're normal or not. He has been behind the plant stuck to the glass in the same spot as in the picture, for about 3 hours now..which isn't normal for him. I am somewhat attached to this fella, and would be devastated if something happened to him! I've checked water and ammonia isn't present and everything else seemed to be ok as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
 

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mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I have found when plecos are stressed their color can get mottled. It seems Squeaky is being bullied by the other fish. Since he is then he will be stressed out. Is there anyway you can remove the bullies from his home?
 
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Lyndseyk81991

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I have found when plecos are stressed their color can get mottled. It seems Squeaky is being bullied by the other fish. Since he is then he will be stressed out. Is there anyway you can remove the bullies from his home?
Yes I have several smaller tanks i can put them in for now. Do you think I should treat squeakys water with anything once I get them out? (If I can because they are FAST)
 
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Jo7984

I'm not an expert on plecos, (and happy to be wrong when the experts come along) but my initial thoughts were that if it is the bullying from the other fish, once they are removed it should reduce stress for him and he will be happier.

I'm not one to medicate fish for the sake of it. I would personally just keep his water nice and clean with some water changes and hope that the fresh water helps him to heal himself once he is chilled in his home again.

Hope you can catch them and he gets back to his normal self :)
 
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mattgirl

Yes I have several smaller tanks i can put them in for now. Do you think I should treat squeakys water with anything once I get them out? (If I can because they are FAST)
I wouldn't. Let's calm him down first and only reach for medications if it proves to be necessary. Medications are the last thing I would recommend after everything else that can be done has been done. If these are just stress blotches they shouldn't be detrimental to Squeaky's health.

Try feeding your barbs in a net dipped just below the water line. Move it slow and ease it up when one goes in for a bite so as to not make them fear the feeding station. It may take a few days to catch all of them but it might prevent you having to disrupt the whole tank to get them back out of there.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

I wanted to thank you all so much for your concern for Squeaky & for the reassurance you provided me! I was so worried I would lose him! I had a late night, but after help from my boyfriend and brother, we caught all of the barbs except the single green barb, without causing much chaos and relocated them to another tank. (The striped ones were the evil ones anyway LOL) but since then, squeaky has been swimming around like his normal self. As for the green barb that I actually like, the other ones almost pecked him to death once before, and I quarantined him, and is fine now..but would he be ok alone in the tank with him or is it best hes with the other barbs? Anyone have any suggestions on a non-aggressive single fish that would be ok to add in the tank with squeaky, or should I just leave him alone and let that be his bachelor pad? Lol
 
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mattgirl

You are so very welcome. I am happy to hear the bullies are now out of his home. Tiger barbs are the only fish I ever returned to the fish store. I insist on having a peaceful tank. They disrupted the peace by picking on everyone.

It may be best to remove this last little guy but if the other barbs bully this one putting it back in with them may be a problem. If you add other fish this one may turn into a bully to them. I really don't know what is the best option when it comes to this one fish.

I am fond of various Tetras. I've never had problems with any I have ever had. Some folks report black/white skirt tetras being brats but I've never experienced problems with them. I have Long Fin Black Skirts. I am not fond of the regular finned variety. I love the long flowing fins on the long finned variety. Fins are not overly long. just long enough to keep them from looking stubby.

If you can't find peaceful tank mates it might be best to just let him have the whole tank to himself.
 
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RayClem

Tiger barbs and their color variants (including the GloBarbs) are very popular fish due to their coloration and active disposition. Unfortunately, unless they are kept in a large aquarium with a variety of other fish to act as dither fish, they tend to nip the fins of slow moving fish like Plecos. I gave up trying to keep Tiger barbs many years ago due to their tendency to nip.

Unfortunately, nipped fins are an ideal point of attack both for opportunistic bacteria and fungi. The best thing you can do to treat the infection is to "clean the wounds". Plecos are a form of "armored" catfish, so they do not have scales to protect their skin from infection. The best way to clean their wounds is through clean water. Frequent water changes with dechlorinated water will do wonders to reduce the concentration of bacteria and fungi in the water column. Hopefully, clean water will allow the fish's immune system to fight off the infection.

Because Plecos do not have scales, you have to be very careful of the medications you use to treat them. They are even sensitive to salt. Thus, reducing stress and providing clean water is the best remedy. Only if this fails should you resort to medications, and only then after doing much research.

One thing I have done to treat fin and tail rot is surgical amputation of the infected tissue. If you use a sharp pair of scissors to trim off just the damaged portion of fin or tail, it will usually grow back. Of course, if the infection covers a large part of the fin or tail, or if the infection has spread to the body, then surgery might be feasible. Again, such drastic steps should only be taken when other methods have failed. Hopefully, it will not get to that point.

I have a common pleco that is well over a foot in length. He is the sole occupant of a 29 gallon tank. I realize that the tank is too small for him, but he has lived alone in that tank for many years. I try not to overfeed him; I have oversized filters, and I do weekly water changes to keep his water clean. I have lost track of his age; but I think is somewhere around 15 years. He has outlived any fish I have ever owned and shows no sign of dying any time soon. Thus, do not be concerned about keeping him in his own tank.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

Ok guys, i finally got a pic of his back fin and tail that I attached, to get a better opinion on whether he has fin rot. And I thought he was back to normal, but I was wrong. Still not acting like his normal self...a lot of the time he seems to stay in the back corner now behind the fake plant again, kind of propped up and sitting still, but as far as I can tell sectioned to the glass. I attached a pic of him back there a few minutes ago. I ran across something about dropsy..and looking at him from his back, to me he does appear fatter than he used to be, like he may be swollen or bloated...& his skin looks spikey (also added pics of) The lighter spots on him I mentioned in my first post, haven't seemed to go back to normal either. What should I do? Im really starting to worry.. He sits in that corner for a majority of the time. After I freaked out during my first post i bought API Stress Coat, API Melafix & Fritz Maracyn Two. Should I treat him with any of these or any suggestions on what I should do? I feel clueless! :-(
 

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RayClem

In the photos, the water looks kind of murky. I still think multiple water changes is the best treatment.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

I have yet to find a peaceful way to add the water back in after vacuuming it out. I usually use a pitcher and do it by hand. Ugh.
I have yet to find a peaceful way to add the water back in after vacuuming it out. I usually use a pitcher and do it by hand. Ugh.
Any suggestions on a better way wld be appreciated.
 
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mattgirl

I have yet to find a peaceful way to add the water back in after vacuuming it out. I usually use a pitcher and do it by hand. Ugh.

Any suggestions on a better way wld be appreciated.
Pour the water through a colander or set some kind of container in the tank and pour the water in it. I have a sloped side feeding dish in my pleco tank and pour the fresh water in it. Doing it this way it doesn't disturb the substrate at all.

I agree with RayClem I would try water changes to keep the water as clean as possible before adding medications. The new fish could have disrupted the harmony in this tank. It may take a little while for your little guy to feel safe and secure again.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

I had just remembered actually, and keep in mind I had NO idea that you weren't supposed to clean your sponge in your filter in order to keep beneficial bacteria, but I completely switched filters. Im not sure if this is what could've made him sick. Also now I was wondering if this was anything or im just worrying too much again. I took a picture of him again..hes been sectioned to the tank lately hanging out directly under the filters water flow...and we noticed yesterday when he come down to the bottom, he has little air bubbles on his side that the water from the filter comes down and hits him on. Could my water have too much oxygen in it? The bubbles seem to go away on his side but I do notice there are bubbles sticking to my fale plant as well all the time
And also, I was wondering if it would be ok to just quickly rinse the charcoal filter pad off every now and then...mine tends to get completely gross after just a few days and I think its restricting water from flowing correctly out of the filter. I have a penn plax cascade hang on filter. Not sure how I really feel about it. :-/
 

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mattgirl

If you are still using the cartridges they do clog up fairly fast. I too run cascades on my tanks. In fact I have 2 of the 300's on my 55 gallon tank. Instead of using the expensive cartridges that clog up so quickly I replaced them with a piece of foam cut to size. I also put some matrix, lava rock, crushed coral and ceramic rings in a media bag and have a big bag of this mixture in each of my filters. This bio-media never has to be replaced so you are never throwing your bacteria away like you do when replacing a cartridge.

Of course you don't have to have the variety I have in mine. If your pH is stable you don't need the crushed coral. Any one of the other things I have in mine would work just as well. If you are running the 300 there should be enough room behind the cartridge to put the more permanent media.

If you continue using the cartridges i recommend you cut slits in the fiber on them and dump the carbon out. If you do this before getting a new one wet the carbon should be easy to dump out. Don't toss it. There may come a time when it will be needed. Such as removing medications should you ever need to use any or it can also remove unpleasant odors should you ever need to do so. I've not run carbon for a very long. It really isn't needed and by having it inside the cartridges it tends to clog the cartridges pretty fast as it breaks down.

I don't think you can add too much oxygen to the tank so try not to be concerned about that. If you have been testing and are not seeing a spike in ammonia changing out the filter didn't cause your cycle to crash. If you aren't testing for ammonia and there is some in there then it is a possibility it could be causing what's happening to the big guy.
 
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RayClem

Sooner or later, you have to clean filter media, replaces cartridges, etc. Even sponges go bad eventually. Thus, I always recommend having two filters in every tank. They can be any combination of canister, HOB, undergravel, internal corner, or sponge filters that you desire. Some of my larger tanks even have three filters. The advantage of having at least two filters is that you can clean one filter without disturbing the others. That way your nitrogen cycle is affected minimally. Even if you have one of the HOB filters that comes with two cartridges, never clean or replace both of them at the same time.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

If you are still using the cartridges they do clog up fairly fast. I too run cascades on my tanks. In fact I have 2 of the 300's on my 55 gallon tank. Instead of using the expensive cartridges that clog up so quickly I replaced them with a piece of foam cut to size. I also put some matrix, lava rock, crushed coral and ceramic rings in a media bag and have a big bag of this mixture in each of my filters. This bio-media never has to be replaced so you are never throwing your bacteria away like you do when replacing a cartridge.

Of course you don't have to have the variety I have in mine. If your pH is stable you don't need the crushed coral. Any one of the other things I have in mine would work just as well. If you are running the 300 there should be enough room behind the cartridge to put the more permanent media.

If you continue using the cartridges i recommend you cut slits in the fiber on them and dump the carbon out. If you do this before getting a new one wet the carbon should be easy to dump out. Don't toss it. There may come a time when it will be needed. Such as removing medications should you ever need to use any or it can also remove unpleasant odors should you ever need to do so. I've not run carbon for a very long. It really isn't needed and by having it inside the cartridges it tends to clog the cartridges pretty fast as it breaks down.

I don't think you can add too much oxygen to the tank so try not to be concerned about that. If you have been testing and are not seeing a spike in ammonia changing out the filter didn't cause your cycle to crash. If you aren't testing for ammonia and there is some in there then it is a possibility it could be causing what's happening to the big guy.

I have been thinking about using seachem renew possibly in the place of the carbon, as it doesn’t mess with the tannins of a dark water tank. I have been told charcoal filters it out pretty quick. Would you use any of the media you mentioned in combination with that? Usually my Ph is pretty stable, and I check my ammonia (I’ve tested like a mad woman lately) and I’ve never had a problem with it really. Once my hubby builds a stand for it, we are moving him to a bigger tank. (Around a 40 gal) which I’m nervous to do as well..but squeaky is pretty tough, and is doing great by the way, so I think he will be ok! But any advice for the “big move” would be greatly appreciated! :) thank you so much as well, for all the great advice! I love my water babies as much as my furry ones! Haha
 
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mattgirl

I have been thinking about using seachem renew possibly in the place of the carbon, as it doesn’t mess with the tannins of a dark water tank. I have been told charcoal filters it out pretty quick. Would you use any of the media you mentioned in combination with that? Usually my Ph is pretty stable, and I check my ammonia (I’ve tested like a mad woman lately) and I’ve never had a problem with it really. Once my hubby builds a stand for it, we are moving him to a bigger tank. (Around a 40 gal) which I’m nervous to do as well..but squeaky is pretty tough, and is doing great by the way, so I think he will be ok! But any advice for the “big move” would be greatly appreciated! :) thank you so much as well, for all the great advice! I love my water babies as much as my furry ones! Haha
From the little I have read about renew it is much like carbon. It is quickly used up and has to be replaced. Each time you have to remove and replace something in your filter you are removing and tossing bacteria. To be perfectly honest I would not use either one. Neither are really needed. The space they take up in your filter would be better served by using more permanent bio-media. Such as Matrix or small chunks of lava rock or ceramic rings. All of these will last for many years if not from now on.

Like I said, I too run the cascade HOB filters. I run 2 of the 300's on my 55 gallon tank along with 2 sponge filters. We can never have too much filtration and when we have a pleco more filtration is necessary. I have a piece of foam cut to size in the bottom of the filters. I Have a media bag filed with the bio-media I previously mentioned on top of the sponge. I have poly-fill on top of the bag of bio-media. Since I don't depend on the poly-fill for holding bacteria I remove and replace it at least once a week but quite often twice a week. I have to clean my filters more often than most but that is simply because I am way over stocked in this tank. By running 2 HOB filters and 2 sponge filters I can clean each of them once a month. I just rotate through them with my weekly water changes.

This tank has Elbert, my BN Pleco, at the very least 25 bronze corys, one Siamese algae eater, lots of mystery snails and an assortment of Tetras so the poly-fill get pretty gross after a few days. Most of the mystery snails will find new homes before long.

BTW: I rinse the poly-fill in a bucket of water before throwing it away. My plants, both inside and out, love this fish poop filled water. :D

When it comes time to move him to the bigger tank you can simply move the cycle from this tank over to the bigger tank. Bacteria is growing on every surface in the tank. By moving everything over you are moving most of the bacteria over. Some will be left on the walls of the tank but it shouldn't be enough to adversely affect your cycle.
 
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Lyndseyk81991

From the little I have read about renew it is much like carbon. It is quickly used up and has to be replaced. Each time you have to remove and replace something in your filter you are removing and tossing bacteria. To be perfectly honest I would not use either one. Neither are really needed. The space they take up in your filter would be better served by using more permanent bio-media. Such as Matrix or small chunks of lava rock or ceramic rings. All of these will last for many years if not from now on.

Like I said, I too run the cascade HOB filters. I run 2 of the 300's on my 55 gallon tank along with 2 sponge filters. We can never have too much filtration and when we have a pleco more filtration is necessary. I have a piece of foam cut to size in the bottom of the filters. I Have a media bag filed with the bio-media I previously mentioned on top of the sponge. I have poly-fill on top of the bag of bio-media. Since I don't depend on the poly-fill for holding bacteria I remove and replace it at least once a week but quite often twice a week. I have to clean my filters more often than most but that is simply because I am way over stocked in this tank. By running 2 HOB filters and 2 sponge filters I can clean each of them once a month. I just rotate through them with my weekly water changes.

This tank has Elbert, my BN Pleco, at the very least 25 bronze corys, one Siamese algae eater, lots of mystery snails and an assortment of Tetras so the poly-fill get pretty gross after a few days. Most of the mystery snails will find new homes before long.

BTW: I rinse the poly-fill in a bucket of water before throwing it away. My plants, both inside and out, love this fish poop filled water. :D

When it comes time to move him to the bigger tank you can simply move the cycle from this tank over to the bigger tank. Bacteria is growing on every surface in the tank. By moving everything over you are moving most of the bacteria over. Some will be left on the walls of the tank but it shouldn't be enough to adversely affect your cycle.
I actually went ahead and bought everything for the permanent filter media bags..the matrix, crushed lava rock, ceramic rings and a big bag of poly fill. Also the foam to put in the bottom. I have been running the cascade 150, and only have 1 in there as of now. I thought about buying another cascade, adding the new filter media to it from the start so good bacteria is established. Then after that (not sure how long that would take) take the carbon cartridge out of my current one and add the new media to it. I’m just not sure what would be the best approach as far as swapping the media. Also, the black bio sponge that would sit behind the carbon cartridges that came with the filter..do I keep those or take them out as well since I’m adding the sponge cut to size in the bottom? Thank you so much for being so helpful. I’m tellin ya I’m clueless!
 
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mattgirl

I actually went ahead and bought everything for the permanent filter media bags..the matrix, crushed lava rock, ceramic rings and a big bag of poly fill. Also the foam to put in the bottom. I have been running the cascade 150, and only have 1 in there as of now. I thought about buying another cascade, adding the new filter media to it from the start so good bacteria is established. Then after that (not sure how long that would take) take the carbon cartridge out of my current one and add the new media to it. I’m just not sure what would be the best approach as far as swapping the media. Also, the black bio sponge that would sit behind the carbon cartridges that came with the filter..do I keep those or take them out as well since I’m adding the sponge cut to size in the bottom? Thank you so much for being so helpful. I’m tellin ya I’m clueless!
Good job on getting permanent media. Your thoughts on getting and running an extra filter with all new media is a great idea. By doing so you can gradually change out the media in the original once the new one is well seeded. I would give it a least a month before starting to change out the media in the original,

I didn't keep any of the media that came with my cascades. If you get another cascade I will recommend you get the 300. I was very disappointed when my 150 quit on me after only 2 years. I was shocked by the reviews on anything smaller than the 300's. My original 300 has been in service for 15 or more years and is still going strong. I have been running my second one for about 5 years now. I am very tempted to put one of my backup 300's on my 5.5 gallon tank now that the 150 crashed on me. I was going to order a 200 to replace the 150 until I read all the problems folks are having with it. :(

The problem with trying to buy a reliable filter is it seems every one these day are designed to fail after just a short period of time. At least I am used to the cascades so I will just stick with them. It seems to me like no matter which brand we buy there is a change it will fail much sooner than it should. Should you decide to get a 300 and find it is moving too much water it is very easy to slow it down.
 
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