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For some history, in case it is relevant to the issue, I bought them from another hobbyist who had 9 in a tank of unknown size (probably 55 gallon) with a bunch of clay pleco caves along the bottom, though the tank was otherwise rather bare. Unfortunately, most of the plecos had sustained fin injuries before I received them (both in the webbed part of the fin and the 'limb' ray part) such that some of them had some of their fins almost worn down to nubs. Today the webbing of their fins has fully healed, though their fins aren't as 'full' as they would have been had the rays not been damaged.
Something I hadn't really considered before today was that the fin damage might not have been just from attacking eachother but possibly exacerbated by poor water quality in the previous owner's tank. Unfortunately I don't know anything about how well the previous owner took care of them (in hindsight I should've asked) other than the fact that they had injured fins, and I don't know how old these plecos actually are.
Anyway, fast forward to today, and I estimate the plecos are still at about that 2.5-2.75" size, including tail, even though I'm pretty sure that when I got them they were no smaller than 2.25-2.5". I thought for sure that they should have grown at least a bit more than that during those 2.5 years, no? They are rather girthy and definitely not thin, and some are starting to get very small odontodes visible near the tail, but they just aren't long. Should I be concerned?
For more context, I have 6 of them currently sharing a 36x18x16" 40-gallon tank with 10 Trigonostigma espei and 10 Hyphessobrycon amandae with Flourite substrate, live plants, driftwood, rocks, and terracotta caves, filtered by an AquaClear 70 HOB filter which has Seachem Matrix in addition to carbon and sponge filtration, along with an AquaClear 50 powerhead with floss insert that I added within the past year. The last fish additions were the ember tetras which went in over a year ago. Once or sometimes twice a day I feed the tank one of or a combination of Tropical Discus Gran D-50 Plus pellets, Nutrafin Bug Bites bottom-feeder formula and tropical fish formula, Omega One freshwater flake, Omega One veggie rounds, and Omega One shrimp pellets, and, on rare occasions, frozen bloodworm or zucchini slice (though I don't think the plecos actually eat the zucchini).
Water changes of up to 25% are done every few weeks, though I'm starting to increase the frequency a little bit. Temperature is 80F, ammonia and nitrite have never been a problem, nitrates have never been above 30ppm AFAIK. pH of about 7.4 or so, gH/kH unknown.
With all that information, should I be concerned about the rate that they've been growing at? If this is a slower growth rate than usual, what might be the cause? Is there anything I should be doing differently? More frequent and larger water changes perhaps? I want to ensure that these plecos are healthy and hope to get them to breed some day. Thanks
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Maybe start by adding more meat and raising temp? Might need their own tank if other spp. don't like the heat.
Good luck, Eric
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Eric made very good points. Raise temp to 84F, more meaty foods. I give mine shrimp and mussels chopped up, also good quality flakes and BBS. Also, might be better off to keep an species only tank as they might not be able to compete with food with other species.
I give mine a 25% water chance weekly and plenty of food. They are breeding well
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