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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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I'm hoping someone can help me diagnose an illness with my tropical catfish. He's a 13” Pleco (I'm not sure the species), 15 yrs old, who seems to have some sort of infection (see pictures).


Details: My pleco has some white sploches on his stomach, at the base of his fins, and around his gill openings; and also a white film over much of his dorsal fin. I asked at my usual fish store and they thought it might be a fungal or bacterial infection, but couldn't get more specific than that. It doesn't have the puffy, cotton-ball look that I have read about for typical fungal infections. It more looks like someone was coloring on his with a white crayon.
In the pictures you can see white stuff around the bottom of his gills; near his left shoulder; centered between his pectoral fins; and on his dorsal fin, esp the front part.



Treatment so far: Last Sunday (8/7/15) started treating with API-brand Pimafix and Melafix, 5ml of each/10 gallons/day, as recommended by the fish store. Did a 25% water change yesterday, as per directions. The fish store also recommended adding salt to the water, but the tank also has some Coolie Loaches, which are supposedly very sensitive to salt, and so I am hesitant to do so.


The Pleco's condition doesn't seem to have gotten worse since starting the treatment, but hasn't gotten any better.


Background: We had to move my Pleco quickly to get out of the way of a wildfire. I was out of town at the time, and he was not moved carefully. I'm afraid the whole thing was extremely stressful, and he may have been injured either by being picked up or by banging against the transport tank. There were no visible wounds, though, and it was several weeks until the first white spot appeared.


He's currently in a friend's tank. The friend has added a few new fish after he moved in but before we noticed the white splotches. It's a 55gal freshwater tank, planted with anubias, duckweed, banana plant, and some other plants. Other fish: 3 Otocinclis, 2 Coolie loaches, 1 baby gyrinocheilus.


Water test as of today showed: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate ~5ppm. PH is usually around 8.2. These are pretty much the same conditions he was in in his old tank before the wildfire, though that was a 75 gal and I never managed to keep the nitrates that low.


I've had this fish since I was ten, and he means a lot to me. I'm rather terrified. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!
 

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The white spots might well be ich (look it up and see if that looks right), the film could also be part of that. If you agree, I would change more water to get all the medication out and vacuum the substrate as well as you can (ich often hides in substrate), and then begin slowly raising the tank temperature--86 degrees F should kill all the ich. Medication along with raising the temp, though, could be toxic, so do make sure to get it out first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When I've seen pictures of Ich, it always looks like a bunch of individual, raised dots - like the fish was sprinkled with sand. But I've never dealt with it in person. You think it can look like this sort of surface-covering stuff, too?
 

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When I've seen pictures of Ich, it always looks like a bunch of individual, raised dots - like the fish was sprinkled with sand. But I've never dealt with it in person. You think it can look like this sort of surface-covering stuff, too?
Hmm, maybe not... I've seen it in person, but it's been a while--you're right that it didn't look exactly like these splotches. The film over the fin (and eyes), though, can be a side effect of ich.

Check this out, though (and then google for pictures): Chart on Fish Diseases, Symptoms and their Treatments

I'm not convinced it's something bacterial, as the sores don't look typical of that, but of course there's a million types of bacteria, so who knows. It looks more parasitic or fungal to me, or maaaybe like fish pox? Fish pox would also explain why the meds weren't helping. Maybe just keep dosing the meds for another week? If they stopped the spots from progressing, they might be doing something.
 

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Your best bet is to take the fish to the vet, or at least a scraping from the white spots.
I have never seen ich look like that.
 

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Not ich! But then I don't have a better answer, either. Plecos are tough so I might think it best to give him time while watching for changes in the spots. Having pictures and then taking pictures again later may be one good way to look rather than trying to remember the size of the spots. Look for slow increases or decrease in size, color, etc?
One reason for not being ich is that ich moves fast. the spots seem to change almost overnight. Ususally that means they get lots more spots but not in the same place. Like dipped in salt and then rinsed and dipped again!!!
Us care in choosing meds for catfish. Aware thet they often react differently? But the good side is that they rarely get to the point of needing meds.
Maybe the old boy is just getting grey hair/ I hear that happens to folks at times!!
 

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As I said if it is a cherised family member, a vet visit will be the best hedge.
There are many viruses, bacteria ans fungi which look alike to the naked eye. With plecos you want to know what you are dealing with as you don't want to play around with medicines if avoidable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey everyone!
Thank you so much for your replies! (Sorry I haven't respond earlier, I thought I had email notifications set up but actually I didn't :/ )
We have a vet appointment set up for the morning, though I'm a little nervous about moving him I think it's the best way to figure out what is going on.
So far antibiotics haven't helped, and the spots have spread, so definitely trying to get this taken care of quickly.
Thank you all again for chiming in, I'm happy to hear any more advice and I'll post the results of the vet appointment for anyone curious - or anyone who runs across this in the future.
Thank you,
El
 

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Wishing you best of luck, hopefully it isn't just a case of the fish reaching the end of its natural lifespan.
 
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