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Old 02-04-2005, 03:40 PM   #1
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My pleco is freakin' me out!!

I have seen just a few times where he has flared out what I think are his gills. The slats just behind his eyes open for just an instant, and this bristly looking white stuff shoots out and then retracts. Is this normal?? Its kinda scary.
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:47 PM   #2
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If the bristly looking white stuff looks at all bone-like it is probably his gill rack (small flexible bones surrounding the gills - in some species contain teeth like projections for chewing up food). How big is the birstly stuff - does it look organized like a structure or maybe less so like a mess o' parasites??
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:54 PM   #3
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I don't think its parasites. They are not very big. And it appears to me as if he is flaring them out on purpose. I am going to try and catch him doing it to take a pic. Do plecos normally stick their gills out?
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:57 PM   #4
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I've never noticed this behavior in my plecos but it sounds like he's flushing out his gills or something. Could be a sign or irritation but probably nothing to be worried about unless he does it all the time.
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Old 02-05-2005, 02:10 AM   #5
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It would really help to know the kind of pleco.
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Old 02-05-2005, 08:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
1 bristlenose pleco
taken from her sig.
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Old 02-05-2005, 02:37 PM   #7
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I have a bristlenose pleco and he has done a very similar thing. He sometimes will flare his gills and for what I thought was for no reason. But he had air trapped under his mouth and was trying to get it out.
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Old 02-05-2005, 03:05 PM   #8
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Hmm. do they have two gill slits? I noticed when he is eating on the glass, he has these little flaps that open right near his mouth and then there are other slits closer to his eyes that dont really open very far. Is there a good pleco anatomy site somewhere?
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Old 02-05-2005, 03:36 PM   #9
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I just found this online. Could this be what it is? What is this exactly? interoperculum


The interoperculum of these fishes has a cluster of sharp, curved spines, which can be extended outwards, and point in a forward direction. These are probably a defence against being swallowed by predators, and would no doubt be very effective, their forward pointing angle making it impossible for a predator to swallow them, and the Bristlenose's ability to move in any direction enabling it to escape backwards out of the startled predator's mouth. Although they don't look very athletic, Bristlenoses can move with remarkable speed when they want to, scuttling across the rocks with great agility, so they would not be the easiest of targets for a predator anyway.
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Old 02-05-2005, 03:42 PM   #10
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that has got to be it.
another thing I found

Bristlenoses have evertible interopercular spines at either side of the head, which appear when the fish is upset. The spines are tipped with minute hooks, which can make it difficult to extract a bristlenose from a net.
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Old 02-05-2005, 09:15 PM   #11
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Good detective work, Meredith! Thanks for posting the part about the spines possibly getting caught in a net.
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:18 PM   #12
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I dont really know why im posting this i shouldve posted it earlyer on in the thread but when i bought my pleco the bloke said when he was catching it... "Im just gonna wait a minute cus they flare and spike out when there scared"

I'd like to see that it sounds pretty cool! lol
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:46 PM   #13
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He does it when I get down to eye level with him. If he is just sitting there, and he sees me staring at him, he will flair a few times. I think I freak him out.
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:57 PM   #14
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Oh right, well my pleco is really shy(there all like it tho arent they?) either that or he thinks he's seriously ugly.

Whenever i turn the light on or it comes on he darts into the colloseum, behind a plant or on some bogwood at the back of the tank.

He's never on the front of the glass only at night.

But yeah i bet there pretty tough when it comes to fights they look pretty mean normally so when they flare they must look pretty evil!
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Old 02-07-2005, 01:51 PM   #15
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Bristlenoses have evertible interopercular spines at either side of the head, which appear when the fish is upset. The spines are tipped with minute hooks, which can make it difficult to extract a bristlenose from a net.
The interopercular spines are external features of Loricariid anatomy. The interoperculum is part of the suspensorium, the frame that houses the branchial basket (the gills). Since the interopercular spines are on the outside, it's unlikely that these are exclusively what you're seeing.

If you're seeing interopercular spines, you've got a male (female IO spines are quite substantially smaller). So, you're probably seeing the male flare his interopercular spines (possibly in fear, rather than in display) and swinging open the gill flaps, to show the white and pink gills beneath.

So, in conclusion, the white things aren't the IO spines, but he probably is flaring the spines, which is why you're seeing the gills exposed.

Hope that helps. 8O
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Old 02-07-2005, 02:21 PM   #16
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I wish I had a picture of what I see. Its definitely white, and pointy fuzzy looking. And for just a split second. I cant tell if its coming from under the flaps or on top of.
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