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Sick Pleco — Please Help?

2156 Views 14 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  IDR
I recently upgraded my freshwater aquarium from 20G to 30G, moving over my community of fish in the process. I have the old filter as well as the new both running to transfer bacterial colonies, and I even transferred a portion of the old substrate into the new one as a means to speed things up and minimize nitrate, nitrates and ammonia.

The tank has a standard black gravel substrate, petrified wood, drift wood, slate and is planted with two chain swords, two amazon swords and two java ferns, as well as two small moss balls and some java moss in the substrate that I'm hoping will eventually carpet.

Here's a photo of the tank from about a week ago:

I just did a 10% water change, and my nitrates and nitrites are both at zero, pH is around 6.6 and ammonia levels are just slightly above zero.

The tank houses Red-Eyed Tetras, Rasporas, Cory Cats and Pristella Tetras, as well as the Pleco — all of whom I've had for more than two years now. No new fish have been added. Average temperature is around 80°F.

He has a bit of discoloration going on on his back, by his high fin, and he seems lethargic – so much so to the point that I even manually moved him from in behind a plant without him struggling at all (very weird — as he's usually quite skittish) to try to get him to eat.

I snapped this photo of him tonight:

Any ideas? I think I've given adequate information, but any questions, please just ask.
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Does he have a cave to hide in or under? They are very territorial and he might not have accepted his new tank yet. 80 is a little too high for rubberlips, 78 is the upper limit, 75 would be better. They are from fast moving highly oxygenated rivers. The new tank probably does not have any algae growing in it yet. His main food. Try feeding him some zucchini.
He's routinely hid on the underside of the driftwood over the last year, and he will also hide in a gap behind the largest stone in the back right corner as well.

This is only recently that this has come about, though — the new tank has been in place now for more than a month, and it's only really the last two days he's been like this. He's actually been much more active in the larger tank.

Could it be a stunting issue? I do have a friend who lives close by with a 75G who mentioned being able to take him in.
Mine stays stuck upside down to the bottom of a rock and only comes out to graze on algae after lights out, the fish are always curious of him because they hardly ever see him
A 30 gal is plenty of room for a rubberlip.
I've done a second water change, again, zeros across the board (Nitrate, Nitrite, et all) — just trying to get him to respond. He's still totally lethargic — allowed me to move him again.
That means your tank is still cycling.
This could be the case. I brought over quite a bit of the old substrate, and am running two filters, including the old one, to try to advance the cycle as much as possible.

I just find it so odd that it's taken this long for him to act like this. I mean, the tank has been running more than three weeks now without incident.
This is not a Rubberlip Pleco. Looks like a Common, to me.

Discoloration on the dorsal surface is one sign of Columnaris. This is a Gram negative bacteria, and needs to be treated.

Put the fish in a hospital tank (the old tank is fine) and treat with antibiotics that target Gram negative organisms. Medicated food will work, if you can get the fish to eat. Otherwise add medication to the water.
Optimum water conditions to reduce the viability of the bacteria:
Lower temperature, under 76*F, and Common Plecos are just fine at much cooler temps.
Lowest possible NO3 (Not a problem)
Reduce other stresses (in the hospital tank you will need some beneficial bacteria, so perhaps set up the old filter on this tank, with only a little of the media since most of the fish have been moved)
Supply something for the fish to hide under or behind, such as a rock.
Keep the tank very clean so the medicine will attach to the disease organisms.

Google for more info using the following terms:
Flex (old name of disease was Flexibacter)
Flavobacterium columnare
Saddle Disease
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A friend mentioned that using Hydrogen Peroxide might be the cheapest possible alternative.

I've been medicating the tank for two days with Pimafix, though it doesn't seem to have done much. The Pleco is still very inactive and pale, and he won't eat (at least that I've seen — though I have left food quite close to him).

Is this something I could do?

I know very little about the medications you posted, Diana, so I'm not quite sure where to even start there. Would I need to contact my LFS to acquire them?

The tank temperature has always been an issue I've battled. I live in a warmer climate in New York, so I tend to use an air conditioner during the summer to try to keep things at 80°F or less, if possible. I'm not sure how I could get it to 76°F or lower without constant water changes at a much cooler temperature. I'm talking daily. Our apartment is just generally on the warm side, even without the heat on, windows open, etc.
Should have included in my last post, the other option he said, which is affordable is Furan-2. Fish & Aquatic Supplies Furan - 2 Powder Packet: Pet Supplies

Would this be more effective than the Pimafix or Peroxide? I do have Prime, so I could have this to me by Wednesday. Should I continue the Pimafix in the meantime, if so?
If that's a rubberlip pleco, I'm a ninja.
I am not a ninja.
He's a common, I'd say. Rubberlips are shaped differently, look like they have plates, and are sort of tan. So I'd say that yes, this is possibly a stunting issue. You need to give him to the friend with the 75g, that might help.
I'll agree on the temperature thing, actually. 78 is better for most fish, especially your cories.
Yeah, I plan to get him over to him once he's healthy. I don't want to give him a sick fish, ya know?

I ordered the Furan-2 above, which arrives tomorrow, so hopefully that gets him back to normal so I can get him moved over to a larger home, for his own sake.
Just an update, ran the Furan-2, and no change. He still has the same lethargic temperament, the same discoloration at the body/dorsal fin.

Been medicating, without charcoal, a five gallon quarantine tank with a piece of drift wood for him to hide under. Tank temp around 74°F.

I got my 29G down to 73°F, but does it make sense to even get him back into that tank if he hasn't been cured?

Any more ideas of what to try?
Haven't gotten much response, but I just thought I'd update everyone that I ran the Furan-2 in a quarantine tank to what I thought was no avail, and ended up moving him back into the 29G again to see if he responded at all. At first, he didn't, but he's been a lot more active tonight, and is even eating for the first time in days! Very encouraging sign. Maybe the Furan-2 actually worked?
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