View Full Version : Newbie but could really do with some help!?

07-07-2010, 04:55 PM

Im new to the site and a beginner with plecos, we own what I think is a gold spotted pleco about 7-8 inches long which we have had now for a few months or so. We call him Mr Pleb :lol:

We use to have him in a 3 Foot tank with angel fish, gouramis, tetras and mollies with wood, plants and gravel substrate, use to be fine and loved it, fed him on algae wafers which he really loved.

We previously brought a 4 Foot tank which is 240 litres/53 gallons to house some Malawi Cichlids in, we brought 9 yellow labs, 3 c.afras, 3 yellow tail aceis, 3 red zebras and a cuckoo catfish. The tank has fine sand substrate, coral rock, vase for hiding, pebbles, fake plants and real plants.

We set the tank up with a internal filter at first and Mr Pleb went in before we brought the cichlids and he found it alright, hid in the vase and up behind the coral rock, couple of weeks later we put the cichlids in and still everything was fine, he was still eating etc.

We hunted for an external filter and managed to come across a Fluval 405 some guy was selling.. we got it home gave it a rinse out, got new media and set it up. Hey presto!

2 or so days later we noticed that Mr Pleb wasnt quite right and started to 'twitch/hiccup/spasm' we left him for 24 hours and noticed he was still doing it and wasnt eating, my other half did a water test and everything was fine, the PH level was at about 8 though because of the cichlids so we moved him into our other tank with wood, plants etc.

We also found out the guy who had the filter before us had it set up on a marine tank so dont know if any left over salt may have got in the tank and affected him?

Unfortunately he is still not moving, eating and still 'twitching' we have tried moving him and he isnt struggling or anything and have checked him all over and havnt found anything like parasites, only that his fins have become more torn.

I have a pic and a video of him, he hasnt moved and been 'twitching' for about 3 or 4 days now, we dont know what to do or what it could be, any help would be much appreciated. All other fish are doing fine.


VIDEO0001.mp4 video by cardibreza - Photobucket (http://s367.photobucket.com/albums/oo111/cardibreza/?action=view&current=VIDEO0001.mp4)

07-07-2010, 05:49 PM
It sounds to me like your new tank hasn't cycled and your fish is suffering from ammonia poisoning. What are your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels?

07-07-2010, 05:58 PM
The cichlids and catfish are doing fine tho! Just the plec it seemed to have affected.

Im not sure what the levels are at the minute, i think the nitrate and ammonia were fine but the nitrite was a bit high.

Il go check in a sec and let you know.. he has been in the other tank for a coupleof days now and is still the same and i dont know what to do to make him better :(

07-07-2010, 06:06 PM
That is a gorgeous looking pleco. Off the top of my head I don't know what the problem is/could be. If you could provide us with more info that might help.

What exactly are your tanks parameters currently?
ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

How did you cycle your tank?

Other than what you mentioned is there anything else that you can think of that you may have done differently or changed? Examples; different brand of food, different dechlor, use of other additives, etc.

Others here with more experience may be able to help you out more, especially if you can give as much information as you can remember. Anyway, I hope you can get this figured out and that everything turns out for the best.

keep us posted on how things go and....

Welcome to the AC, glad to have you aboard.

07-07-2010, 06:26 PM
Right, considering its usualy my other half that does this I just did a water test in the tank that he was in - results

Nitrate - 20 (id say somewhere between 20 and 50 tbh)
Nitrite - 0.3
Ammonia - 0
PH - 8

Now its a 4 foot tank - 240 litre/53 gallon, we had it set up with an internal filter for a week and added plec in, he was absolutely fine and loved it, then we added the cichlids a few days later, then a couple of days after that we changed the filter to an external one which use to be used on a marine tank.

We havnt changed plecs food, he is still on algae wafers but the flake food for the fish has changed to malawi cichlid flakes but he didnt seem to eat it anyway.

I just feel so sorry for him and searched so many sites and still havnt come up with an answer. Like iv said, we have put him in a smaller tank for the time being with hes old tank mates, the gouramis, angels and tetras etc but he hasnt moved for 2 days and keeps hiccuping.

07-07-2010, 06:35 PM
heres some before pics of him in the old tank i had to take him out of and the tank setup...


07-07-2010, 06:35 PM

little hawaii
07-07-2010, 06:51 PM
I've never seen a Pleco do that before. It is obviously in distress and I would get it out of that tank. It's fins are a bit chewed up; may be an injury from a fight.

07-07-2010, 06:56 PM
Very nice looking fish (and tank), sorry to hear he's not doing well.

As for the new tank, you said you switched filters.
Was the tank cycled before with the internal filter?
Did you leave the internal filter in the tank?
Did you move the media into the external filter?
How many fish are in the new tank now?

With .3 nitrites, either the new tank wasn't fully cycled or something set off a mini cycle. Adding too many fish too soon can cause this. You should do another water change asap to get the nitrites down below .25 to protect the remaining fish. Then check it daily until it finishes cycling. I would also check the tank that the pleco is in now to make sure it's stable and doesn't have high nitrates.

07-07-2010, 07:06 PM
oh gosh, sounds like we have done it all wrong.. we had the internal filter running for a week and didnt leave it in there when changing to an external or add the media to the external.. completely forgot about that :S

So kick in the shins for not doing that properly - that will teach us..

The other tank which he is in now which we have had running for a while now..

Nitrate - 10
Nitrite - 0.1
Ammonia - 0
PH - 8

Im guessing that the nitrite is even worse on this one? Thing is all the other fish in both tanks are happy as larry and been doing fine. Just poor Mr Pleb that it has affected.

Which tank should we touch and change etc? dont know what to do next really..

Dont think he was in a fight as we always keep checking on him but then again, the tank he is in at the minute has 3 glass shrimp in there so maybe they had a chew through the night as i only noticed today how bad they were, but the shrimp are only small...

we have done it all wrong havnt we? lol we wouldnt have known any different if mr pleb wasnt having fits like this.

07-07-2010, 07:10 PM
oh and in the tank he was in (4 foot one) there are 18 cichlids in total..

9 small yellow labs
3 c afras
3 yellow tail aceis
3 red zebras

1 cuckoo catfish

all of them are small..

the tank we have just put him in to see if he got any better has

3 glass shrimp
1 small tropical frog
2 3 spotgouramis
2 gold veil angel fish
5 black neon tetras
6 red minor serpae tetras
4 black skirt tetras
1 leopard danio
1 orange molly

07-07-2010, 07:13 PM
His fins do look a little chewed up. Good catch.
You may also want to try turning the lights off except for when you're watching him, unless those are real plants. And if they are real plants, very nice.

07-07-2010, 07:20 PM
yea his fins kinda deteriorated.. :scry:

They are real plants in the middle of the tank he is in at the minute growing on the wood. :)

I dont know how much longer he is going to last, hes been like it for about 4 to 5 days now without eating or moving.

Was thinking about putting him in a Q tank but the parents arnt happy about me setting another tank up, even if i did, i wouldnt know how to treat it as i dont know what is wrong with him. Its never ending lol

Thanks for the comments and help so far..keep them coming :ssmile:

07-07-2010, 07:36 PM
I doubt the shrimp are chewing on him.... most likely the ammonia spike affected him more than the other fish. If you added 18 fish in a short time span, this could cause an ammonia spike even if it was cycled. By replacing the filter (assuming the internal filter was cycled) you just took all the BB (beneficial bacteria) out of your tank. You should have left the internal in place for a month or two until your new filter became seeded (or cycled).

Looks like you might also have a small spike on the other tank as you have .1 nitrites. better than .3 but it should recover fairly quickly since it was a fully cycled tank. Ammonia and nitrites are the most toxic to fish. Nitrates can go higher, but it's good to keep them under 40. Some prefer to keep them under 20, depending on what fish you have.

I would keep him in the tank he's in now and watch the nitrites. Do a 50% or larger water change if they start to go over .25 The ammonia couldn't have been too bad or you would have lost your shrimp.

Your tank is fully cycled when you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and nitrates are going up.

You should also get something like Seachem Stability to treat both tanks. This should keep the toxic levels at a minimum.

07-07-2010, 07:46 PM
well the ammonia on both tanks is 0 - checked them today so thats ok isnt it?

4 foot cichlid tank he was in

Nitrate - 20
Nitrite - 0.3
Ammonia - 0
PH - 8

Tank he is in now (in pic + video on 1st post)

Nitrate - 10
Nitrite - 0.1
Ammonia - 0
PH - 8

So you would recommend him staying in the tank he is in at the minute? Iv got some stuff called Tetra Easy Balance which aparently stabalises PH and KH - reduces phosphate and nitrate... should i use that on either of the tanks?

07-07-2010, 08:39 PM
Sad news - Mr Pleb just died

Didnt treat him quick enough - thanks for all your help anyway


Lady Hobbs
07-07-2010, 08:45 PM
Unfortunately, bottom feeders suffer the most from uncycled tank because they live where the water is the most toxic. Pleco's also do not belong in new tanks because there is nothing for them to eat. They should be saved for a well seasoned tank.

07-07-2010, 08:53 PM
Ammonia reading of 0 is good. Ammonia is produced from fish waste and uneaten food. There is always ammonia in a tank with fish, but you need the BB to eat the ammonia. The bi-product of this process is nitrites. Also toxic to fish. Now your tank needs to grow BB to eat the nitrites. This is where both of your tanks are at now. The bi-product of this process is nitrates. Also toxic to fish, but they can handle them in much higher levels.
You will only have enough BB in your filter and tank to support the amount of ammonia that is produced on a daily basis. By adding a large number of new fish (more than 6 small ones, or 1 big one, depending on their size) you are now increasing that amount of ammonia in the tank. This causes a spike where your tank now has to grow additional BB to support the additional fish.

That's the short version of cycling a tank.

With that said, you want to keep the nitrites to a minimum until your BB catches up. I'm not familiar with Easy Balance but you want something that says it will handle nitrites. If it doesn't say that, I would try to get Seachem Stability or something similar.


In the mean time, I would keep him in his current tank, do daily WC's of 50% on both tanks if you can (or when nitrites get to .25), and keep testing so you know when your tanks have fully cycled.

07-07-2010, 08:57 PM
Sorry about Mr. Pleb.
But you still need to get those tanks under control or you will be losing more fish. Please post back how your tanks are doing and any questions you may have.