Sick common pleco, white cotton on nose—Please Help!!

All posts regarding the care and breeding of these catfishes from South America.
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Sick common pleco, white cotton on nose—Please Help!!

Post by cwebster »

Have a 4 inch common pleco in a 29 gal tank with four flame tetras (tetras added three weeks ago). Tank set up 10 yrs ago, had a 23 yr common pleco in it before who aged out.

Substrate is small gravel. Normal water parameters, RO water, ph 7.0. Changed water x2 this week and cleaned filter, put new filter media (Penn Plax cannister). Temp 78F ( Eheim). Have a linear airstone as well as two four inch round air stones, very well aerated. Large mopani wood and two small ceramic hides for the fish.

Treated tank 2 months ago with rid ich but lost the 2 cories and 3 serpa tetras, in with current Patches pleco, all from Petco. Patches pleco (from Petco). was fine. Will not buy any more fish from Petco. The sinking pellets turned yucky looking so had to remove them frequently with a net.

After tank stable, added 4 new flame tetras (not from Petco...because previous fish seemed to come with ich from Petco).

Everything was fine for three weeks, then Patches Pleco started showing a white nose three days ago, it got cottony, he started swimming funny, sliding down the glass and laying sideways.

Did water change, put in Maryacyn Oxy sodium chloride) for two days at half strength. Pleco (Patches) improved his balance but nose now appears kind of bloody with white hanging from it. He looked happier but still wasnt eating. He has been rolling his eyes at me a lot which we do all the time.

Only other change was a month ago, when i began giving pieces of cucumber and zucchini, which he seemed to really like. Also he is fed small pieces of Hikari pleco wafers and tiny Tetramin sinking shrimp pellets. The flame tetras eat Tetramin wafers.

Just took carbon out of filter and did a 1/4 water change. Want to put in Maracyn Oxy, Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2. Poor Patches nose looks awful. Do i use half the dose? Thank you!!!
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Re: Sick common pleco, white cotton on nose—Please Help!!

Post by Ltygress »

Got a lot of typing here, but hopefully I can give you a better idea of what you're dealing with, and what to do.

First of all, a study was done at the University of Florida regarding fish diseases. I have the paper that was written about it which goes into great detail (and can email it if you PM me your email address) but I'll give you the basic gist of it. They discovered that most medications are ineffective unless injected or eaten. The exception would be external parasites, such as the ich you had, and deep wounds. But I would also ignore ich medications. You can overcome that by raising the temperature to 86 (ich can not reproduce above 85 degrees) and adding salt to help the parasites detach from the fish. Not much salt is needed, just a teaspoon per 10 gallons. Just do that until all of those little dots go away, and you should be fine to return to normal temperature after that.

They also found that most diseases *have* to be treated completely or they will actually create germs that are resistant to medication and will kill your fish anyway. So none of this is to be taken lightly! Deep wounds can be "treated" with medication added to the water but there is another problem with that. Water-based medications aren't usually potent enough to actually treat a disease. So you're looking at injections or medication-based food. The best medicated food I have found is oxytetracycline flakes which you can find on eBay. If your pleco is eating, I would recommend you start there. It's cheap, easy, doesn't add more stress to the fish, and usually works as long as the fish are eating. No specific dosage there - just however much your fish will eat. Try to avoid Erythromycin, because it tends to treat gram-positive bacteria, which aren't usually the ones causing the really bad diseases! Feed *only* the medicated food for 7 days straight.

Now, let's talk injections. If they aren't eating, you'll have to use the injections. Again, oxytetracycline is a good one to use - if done properly. You can get the injectable form at most farm feed stores. You can also get syringes and needles there too, but I would STRONGLY suggest finding a microliter syringe. It is typically glass and had it's own needle permanently attached, and often times a metal plunger. To keep it sterile, you can boil it after each use. You'll also want a scale that can measure in grams - so a kitchen scale. The dosage is body weight in grams, divided by 2, equals how many microliters. So 2 grams would be 1 microliter of medication, 10 grams would be 5 microliters, and so on. The injection site is right behind the dorsal fin. Try to get BETWEEN the scales - they are very tough to get through with a needle! You are likely to have so much force from piercing the scale that it will go deeper into the fish that it needs to and you'll have to back it out a bit - and hope you didn't hit an internal organ on the way through! And to help avoid that issue, hold the fish head-down as you push the needle in. It helps their organs move away from the injection site. Do this once every day for SEVEN FULL DAYS. DO NOT STOP before those 7 days are up! If you do, bacteria are likely to survive the antibiotics and eventually cause a super infection that you can not get rid of with any medication at all!

But with deep open wounds, there is one more option using the injectable form of oxytetracycline. I have used this with success many times. Using any size syringe or needle, draw out a good bit of the oxytetracycline. Hold the fish (out of the water) in a way that his gills and mouth are ABOVE the wound. So if the wound is on his nose, then hold him face down. Also avoid his actual nose OPENINGS. If that's where the wound is, you'll need to use injections. But if it's on the tip of his entire snout, you're good. If it were on his tail, you'd hold him face up. Then drip, pour, or spray the medication directly on to the wound. Make sure you put it on the entire wound. Hold him for five more seconds, then release him back into the tank. Do this once per day until the wound is no longer open.

That last method has worked wonders for me on many fish. I'd even used it on a stressed altum that had a "peeling" slime coat when it came in. You just have to avoid the mouth and gills because the medication is a bit like oil, and will suffocate them if it gets in there. The first time I used it was on a cory that had gotten stuck between a heater and the glass, and burned his side. The wound got bad - deep enough to see his organs! I doused his wound with that, and it had visible healing by the second day. He survived it, healed completely up, and lived just fine (and he's being used for breeding now).

I'm also using it on a betta right now. He was supposed to be a Glofish (doesn't look like one though) and came to me with a bunch of white scales on his back like a saddle. I thought maybe it was like dragonscales that eventually take over the fish and even make them blind, but it stopped growing across his body soon and grew thicker. A few days ago, I noticed something was eating through that exact spot on his body. While waiting for the new bottle of oxytetracycline to arrive, it ate through his scales and into his body. I've been pouring it on him for three days now, and he finally started to eat again today. He's got a while before he's actually better, but eating again is always a good sign.

So, hope that helps with a lot of these issues. The good news is, it sounds like your pleco may have rammed something to injure his nose and cause all of this. The bad news is, it sounds infected, which means you'll need something mentioned above. Just remember that if he's eating, those medicated flakes are the best choice. If he's not, you'll have to get more drastic.

But in the meantime, you can probably throw away almost all other medications (except anything with copper, as it has effective external uses).
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