View Full Version : What's wrong

03-27-2009, 05:16 PM
I have noticed the my pleco has started to change colors over the past few weeks. It has always been a uniform color and has seemed healthy. He still moves around great and seems to be eating well. Now he seems to have pale spots forming over his body. They seem randomly distributed and some seem to get "better" but then I notice them in another spot. I have had it for probably 4-5 years but I do not remember when I got it. I had a pair of which one died about a month ago. The pleco is in the 6-8 inch range. I have a feeling that he may just be on his way out but was not sure. Any help would be appreciated.

03-27-2009, 05:37 PM
Can you try to get a picture of him? It would make it easier to diagnose the problem.

03-27-2009, 08:22 PM
It's quite possible that the pleco is simply showing a varying pattern for camoflage. Any changes to the setup (decorations, gravel, etc.) before you noticed the difference in color?

03-31-2009, 01:33 PM
Sorry it has taken me so long to get the picture but here they are. There has not been any changes to the tank setup. I have not added anything but I did move some things around. I did not realize that they could change their coloration as an adaptation to surroundings. I did add a light color piece of driftwood in December. I know these pictures are not great but you can see the light spots somewhat. There does not appear to be any changes in the skin as far as texture or injuries. The light spots are just lighter areas. I really do not know any other way to describe them.


Lady Hobbs
03-31-2009, 01:36 PM
He has something alright and I wonder if this could be "velvet". That's a grayish/goldish dust appearance on him in areas. Read up on velvet and see what you think.

Lady Hobbs
03-31-2009, 01:38 PM

03-31-2009, 02:40 PM
Looks more like water spots and reflections from the glass to me. Look "past" those and it looks like a common pleco, though if it's only 6-8" after 4-5 years it's definitely been stunted in growth. How big is the tank?

04-01-2009, 08:58 PM
The spots that you are seeing are in fact the discoloration of the pleco. There are spots visible on the glass (consequence of owning an english mastiff) but they are not what is causing the discoloration on the fish. I think he is closer to the 8" mark and honestly I cannot remember when I got him. I know he is not over 5 since I have not been living in this house that long. I know I got the pair after I moved but have no clue as to when. He may actually be younger than 4 years. I would guess at least older than three. Either way I would agree that he is not as large as he should be. There has only been growth that I could tell over the last year or so. He is in a 60 gallon aquarium. I will look into the idea of velvet and appreciate the help so far. If I can ever find my camera, I will get a much better picture of the spots. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow between classes.

04-01-2009, 09:04 PM
Plecos discolor with age. When they get older they will get those splotches and will turn almost white and earn the term given of "white king".

04-01-2009, 11:05 PM
Sorry for the double post to late to edit but heres an example of this age discoloration on my butterfly pleco

04-02-2009, 11:32 PM
For what it's worth...

My pleco will get light spots on him when he's upset about something, like if I disturb him during the day with the gravel vac. He will thrash around the tank, suck onto the back wall and get light splotches on him. When I spy on him at night, he's all black.

When I changed my substrate, I had him and all his tank mates in a bucket for a couple hours (filter, heater, air-stone running on it), upon netting them back in, he was a cream color, with tan markings. After an hour or so, he darkened again.

Mine is a common pleco. He's about 7 (head to tail tip) inches last he "stood" still enough for me to measure and around 7 months old.

Just my .02 cents. :11:

04-03-2009, 01:36 AM
Thanks for the advice. I looked at the article about velvet and have some thoughts. I guess I need some more advice from you all and some more information may be needed for you all to get a full picture.

First of all, I am hesitant to just treat with copper sulfate as I really would rather not use any chemicals. I am looking into the effects that this chemical would have on my bacterial colony. I am not worried about the colony dying as I can separate some substrate and keep the colony up. I guess this is just the evils of being a microbiology student that is really interested in what effects different things have on microbes(evil I know). I also am concerned about my ghost shrimp in my tank. I read copper is deadly to invertebrates and I really do not want to lose them.

I looked at the symptoms given and have not noticed lethargy, loss of appetite/weight loss, fins clamped to body(seems to hold them as close as always but still put them up/out when swimming), or labored breathing. The only real symptom is the spots. I tried to get a good look today and it does appear to have a gold coloration. I shined a flashlight across his body and saw a very gold color across the dorsal aspect of his tail. The spots along his body are a little gold but not as prominent. I am going to take a better look in a dark aquarium tonight when I get home from studying.

The other things I mentioned that might be useful to know are as follows. About 3-4 months ago I noticed an ulceration on the side of a male Australian Rainbowfish. I chalked it up to a fight or hitting something in the tank. The spot got better after several weeks. The spot then came back maybe a month ago. This time, he had the spot for a week and then was dead. I removed the fish with no more problems seen. About a week later, I had a cory dead on the bottom but there were no signs of anything prior to its death. I was cleaning out my Rena filter and found a "creature" in the foam filter media in the bottom of the filter. The only way to describe it is it looked like a baby earthworm. It was very slender and about 1-1.5 cm long. It looked exactly like an earthworm though. No way it could be though. I washed the foam filter under very hot tap water for a while hopefully to drive anything else in there out. Appeared clean. Several weeks later during a similar cleaning, I discovered two more of these "worms" in the foam filter. I placed all the foam in a 1:10 hypochlorite solution. Good enough to disinfect my ambulance, good enough to disinfect my filter. A week later my filter died and I ended up with a new one. I transferred a small amount of my biological filter media to my new filter. I was washing the foam media last night and did not see any of these worms.

I noticed that water quality could affect the fish causing them to become symptomatic. I would say that my water quality is good. The pH will not budge from 7.4, GH stays around 5, and KH stays around 3.5-4. The nitrates stay at 2.5 with an occasional test showing .05 of nitrites. Do not remember when I actually had a positive for ammonia/ammonium. The water temp stays at 82-84 F (turned it up to treat ich a year and a half ago and never turned it down, fish seem to love it).

I may be missing something but I hope I haven't. I am very sorry this ended up being so long and I really do appreciate the help so far. Thanks.

04-03-2009, 03:03 AM
I do not think it is velvet. Does it look similar to the pic of my butterfly pleco?

04-05-2009, 02:20 PM
From what you describe I'd say it's normal color variations. Mine sailfin did not do it until he was about the size of yours. Any time I came close to the tank you could actually see the color drain. If I stood still for a minute I would see his color return. Just keep an eye on him. If he's eating fine and not going crazy, I honestly would not worry about it.

The worms sound like the nematodes that I had living in my java moss. They were feeding on excess food and junk. I'd assume filter foam is a buffet for these guys. There are many thousands of different types of nematodes so finding which one you have might be a challenge.

04-05-2009, 02:47 PM
My 14 inch common pleco will sometimes get some white blotches from time to time and it seems to be when his slime coat builds up... then it seems as though he 'sheds' the old slime coat and away goes the blotches and he looks all nice and black again. Lemme see if I can find a pic... see the small white patch on his head behind his eye? I bet this is what you're seeing with your pleco.

04-07-2009, 01:37 PM
My plecos, especially one will always change colors. When I clean, or move things around my one guy will get all splotchy. But when they're left alone, they look normal again.

04-18-2009, 08:59 PM
My plecoes, even when they are not being disturbed, get these color blotches quite frequently. This can be one of a few things: They are stressed. They are simply camouflaged or are attempting to be camouflaged to their environment. The last reason is they might have a sickness, but I would doubt it as plecoes hardly get anything other than ich.