View Full Version : Pleco help?

04-01-2005, 07:08 PM
I inherited a 29g with a 9-10" pleco. It is fairly timid and I was told by the previous owner that when its skin is mottled (not all black) that something is wrong. However, virtually all the photos I see of plecos show them multi-colored, so is there a problem with mine? I am not sure what type of pleco I have either. It seems to change colors often right now. I have worked hard to keep the water conditions good, but have a problem with pH spiking. My thought is that is the problem. Anyone have any suggestions?

04-06-2005, 03:51 PM
A pleco can be different colors but if changes color alot then you have a problem.

You should eb able to avoid spiking pH unless you have something in your aquarium that doesn't belong there. have you added any new stones or other decorations altely? are there any white stones in the aquarium? any corals?

I might also add that a larger aquarium would be preferable for a pleco that large.


04-07-2005, 12:04 AM
The Pleco does change colors. The previous owner said it should be virtually black when it is happy. Funny thing is that when it gets "colored" it looks like ones I see in books.

No decorations, no white stones. The pH problem has been since I got the tank with just fish, gravel, and a couple of fake plants. Now it has all real plants, bog wood, and stones. I did put a large shell in it for a while to boost the buffering of the water, which seemed to work, but now I am using a stabilizer. Maybe the Pleco doesn't like the stabilizer?

Also, It is VERY hard to keep iron in the tank. Phosphates are extremely high, which was my original theory on the Pleco. Nitrates have been high as well, but have come down through water changes. I am using a phosphate absorbing media in my filter, but it does not seem to help. I also had another "theory" yesterday when changing out the media: I have been heavily rinsing the sponge media and putting it back in the filter, so maybe it is not getting clean enough and polluting the water. I replaced it with new sponges. Phosphates still very high, but seem to have dipped a little bit.

I had a couple of strokes last Summer and have problems analizing issues now, so any help is greatly appreciated!!!

04-08-2005, 09:15 AM
Are your pH problem upward or downwards spikes?

How much du you feed?

Do you clean your filter with hot water?

whivh plants do you have.

Do you remove dead plant parts?

Are you using bought or collected bogwood?

04-08-2005, 11:52 PM
pH problems are always up, and I am running CO2. My well water, even when heavily filtered has a pH of above 8. I reduce that with pH down.

Feeding is minimal, although I was over feeding until about a month ago.

When I do filter maintenance I usually rinse the sponges and containers in hot water with the exception of the basket with bio-chem stars. I have a Filstar XP3. I have also run the sponges through my dishwasher which gets up to 150F. The fine filter pads have to be replaced, and I switch out the fine filter pad with one that has been cleaned. I run them through the clothes washer sometimes.

I have java fern, banana plant, swords, cripts, micro-sword etc. I really don't know the names of all the plants because when I buy them the store usually just has a generic name rather than a specific plant name. When I was having problems getting the plants to grow, I started heavily dosing with nutrients and that seems to have started the whole bounce cycle. I am not adding nutrients right now. I also shut off the blue moonlight over a month ago because I read that blue light promotes algae growth, and I have a 1 hour break in the middle of the day. Currently I have thread, green, and brush algae. I try to remove anything that has the brush and thread algae on it.

I always remove dead plants, floaters, etc.

The bogwood came with the tank and was supposedly treated for aquarium use. However, the previous owner had never put it in the tank because it floated. I soaked it for a couple of months, changing the water when it got foul. It still floats but not by much and I weigh it down with gravel.

04-09-2005, 12:28 AM
Well i can give you some tips that will improve your water quality and perheps solve you problems.

Never use hot water on any part of your filter and especily not the sponges since that renders them almost useless for 1-2 weeks. Not washing the bio-chem stars in hot water isn't enough. No part of your filter should be washed in hot water. And stop washing it in your dishwasher. even if you donĘt use an deturgent there will be leftovers which gets in your filter which is really hard to rinse away and might end p in your aquarium. also it uses hot water which kills the essentiall bacteria need in your filter.

also you said earlier that you where afraid that your sponges didnĘt get clean enough. I susbect that the sponges are becoming to clean might be a bigger problem. follow my advice above and may i ask how often you clean your filter?

If it is more often then every 3 weeks i would advice you to do it more seldom unless your filter get clogged.

If the shell is stil in the aquarium you should remove it since it causes your pH levels to raise and your problem is to high and not to low pH levels. if you get problems with dropping pH you might but it back but untill then leave it out. don┤t use stabilizers untill you se that you need them.

Let me know if this helps and tell me if you have any other questions.


04-13-2005, 05:21 PM
Thanks for your response! I wasn't using hot water until recently when I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I noticed a lot of "sludge" that wouldn't rinse out of the sponges. This filter uses 2-30 micron and 2-20 micron sponges as its first stage and they had so much stuff in them that I thought that might be the source of very high phosphates. It won't rinse out. I went for months just rinsing them in cold water and only started the heavy cleaning or replacement recently to try and reduce the phosphates.

I will go back to following your instructions and see what happens. Maybe I need to toss the sponges when they get too filled, rather than cleaning them? The shell is not in the tank. The stabilizers help control the pH, which, since I got the tank, have always been high. I can use pH Down to bring it down to 7.0, but the next day it will be right back up to 7.8 to 8.0. That may be the entire problem with the Pleco, as I understand they are "moody" about water quality. I have NOT been able to control the pH without stabilizers. For months it was a problem so I finally got frustrated and turned to the stabilizer.

Generally I will only clean the filter once per month, but the high phosphates have me opening it almost every week to put in phosphate reducing media. When I have it open, I clean it, but maybe I should just pour it out, replace the media, and restart it. I hate to see all the dirt in there so it's hard to not clean it. Last time I opened it, I found about 50 tiny snails also.

"Bouncing" seems to be the problem. When I feed the plants, algae blooms, the filter loads up. When I don't feed the plants, they don't grow or produce much oxygen, and I just haven't found the right combo. The plant food is used up so quickly that I have to replace it often, which encourages the algae. Right now, the algae is in control, but the plants aren't happy. The Pleco reacts strongly to any water quality changes, but if I don't make the changes, the pH would skyrocket and the plant situation would worsten.

Any suggestions on how to clean the last stage fine filter? The one from Filstar is absolutely not cleanable and must be changed. I also put in a felt-like pad I think is called "floss" that is supposed to be reusable. How can I clean that? Sometimes it is nearly black with grime!

I talked with the previous owner of the Pleco and she said that it definitely should be basically black and that it is moody. Problem is, I don't think they took very good care of the tank, so I don't know if that is correct.

05-01-2006, 02:13 PM
Where are you jnarowe? I can't help with your plant situation since I gave up on live plants for the most part except in my smaller tanks with better lights...but I have a suggestion for your ph. I am by no means an expert...but this has worked for me so far since my ph is also at 8 out of my tap. I purchase RO water (reverse osmosis) which costs me $.25 gallon and dilute my tap water just a little to lower the ph of the water itself. I have also used distilled and spring from Walmart, but the RO machine in town is cheaper. I find that if I mix 1 gallon RO with 2 gallons of my tap I get a PH of around 7.4. Before I went this route I tried the PH stabilizers without any luck....ph would come down a little, and then right back up. The RO water dilutes the tap water and makes my life easier. It took some work in the beginning to slowly lower my PH in existing tank ( wanted some fish that may not thrive in higher ph) by doing water changes with tap/ro mix so that I dropped it slowly and now just use my mix for changes. It might be worth a try....and if anyone has any info on possible future problems with this route I would love to be forewarned, but so far it has worked for me.

05-12-2006, 09:47 PM
I cannot help with Ph problems as to be honest I don't adjust mine at all, it stays mainly around 7.6, I have a silfin pleco, a common pleco and a bristlenose pleco, my sailfin changes colour and he goes light and dark all the time, but is perfectly healthy, he is a greedy little bugger too, he is about 3cm at the moment, but will be rehomed as soom as he gets too big for my tank.

I never ever wash my filters in anything but tank water, this presevres the bacterial colonies that the tank needs to remain stable and cycled. it could be the hot water messing up the bacteria and could be causing 'mini cycles' in your tank which may affect the Ph, although I am not sure about that 100%.
If your filters get sludgy, at the next water change, hold back a bucket of used tank water and just rinse the filters out in there, that way you can at least eliminate one possible cause of the problems.

If your Pleco is happy in himself and eating normally I wouldn't worry too much about his colour unless it goes drastically pale, as this can be stress or illness as far as I have heard.

Keep us posted on his progress :) I hope I helped a little bit :)
CoryCat XXxx

06-01-2006, 06:16 AM
Color 'patchiness' is normal especially in common plecos (L021, L023) & sailfin plecos - Glyptoperichtys Gibbiceps (L083)
Try feeding raw cucumber sliced down the middle, weighted down by a rock & rubber band for a balienced along with spirulina algae wafers.