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Old 01-28-2018, 01:49 PM   #1
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Paralyzed pleco

Hallo everyone,

I have a question concerning my 4 year old 10.6 inch pleco. Tank mates: one guppy, one otocinclus.. in a 20 gallon tank. I had this fish gang for 2 years together now, with only minor problems. I adopted the guppy and the pleco from a colleague so they have been together for quite a while before.

A few days ago (Wednesday night) the pleco started acting weird..not being able to suck on the glas anymore for a long time, not being able to swim properly (almost like paralyzed; laying only on his side) and certainly no appetite. It takes a lot of strength for him to pull himself up and it is so painful to watch.

There were multiple occurrences before that within the last two months: filter broke and I had to wait a few hours over night to get a new one from the store. The radiator in my apartment broke and the fish were in the cold (- degrees) for a while (the guppy almost died). Due to this incidence we decided to move them after everything had stabilized to the new apartment since there is more maintenance there compared to the previous one. We changed quite a bit of water in the process. I actually wanted to keep more of the old water, but a guy who helped us move the fish (he called himself an expert) said we only need one or two gallons of the old water...still mad that I let this happen. The move was over 3 weeks ago.

I got the tank water checked on Thursday morning and all the values ammonia, nitrites, nitrates were almost off the chart. The person working at the pet store gave me the bacteria mix they use for their tanks and we carefully changed a bit more than a quarter of the water over the last few days not to shock the pleco even more.
Tested the water again yesterday, ammonia went down as well as the pH. Nitrites and nitrates are still high. Added some more bacteria yesterday and now I play the waiting game.

Could this be ammonia poisoning, stress or swim bladder problems? The guppy and the otocinclus are perfectly fine. Was it just too much stress for the pleco?

I hope you guys can help me. Thank you very much in advance.
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Old 01-28-2018, 01:57 PM   #2
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Update:
He just turned on his belly for the first time in 4 days. Hopefully he is getting better.
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Old 01-28-2018, 03:06 PM   #3
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Sounds like a water quality issue then. I'd do a 25% daily water change until your water parameters come down to 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and no more than 20 on nitrate. You are essentially doing a fish in cycle.
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Old 01-28-2018, 11:27 PM   #4
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Plus on water changes..
The amount of ammonia and nitrite removed will be the % of water changed ..
So off the chart is like 8 on ammonia and 25% change still leaves with 6 ammonia..
I would do multiple 50% changes..
You did not need to bring the old water[the expert was right ]..
You only needed to keep the old filter wet and not mess with it...
Did you change or clean the filter when you moved it ???
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:44 AM   #5
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Plus on water changes..
The amount of ammonia and nitrite removed will be the % of water changed ..
So off the chart is like 8 on ammonia and 25% change still leaves with 6 ammonia..
I would do multiple 50% changes..
You did not need to bring the old water[the expert was right ]..
You only needed to keep the old filter wet and not mess with it...
Did you change or clean the filter when you moved it ???
Hard to know what off the chart is. Lol. A number would be better to work with. I agree on your water change percentage as well. I should have said multiple water changes every 4 hours.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:31 PM   #6
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Yes, I changed the filter, because the pleco started more than a week ago to go up to the surface for air. That's also when I made the water change. But since Thursday it has been this bad.
So this morning he had pulled himself up on the glas like he used to and seemed to be okay. Came home some time ago and he looks like this now. Still breathing, but oddly laying in the tank. It seems to go up and down. Just while I am typing this he wiggled his way up on the glas again.
Spoke to the vet just now. She suggested that he has another thing going on linke an infection, etc.
I am really desperate since the pleco hasn't eaten since last Wednesday.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:32 PM   #7
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Sorry, here is the pic.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:54 PM   #8
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Your tank is not cycled .
Do you know what the levels are now?
Change water.
50% temperature matched and dechlorinated.
Leave the filter alone[for like a month].
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:15 PM   #9
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Thank you very much for your suggestions.

We are slowly changing the water right now. I am conditioning the water and it is in bags in the tank to adjust to the temperature.
I don't know the levels. The guy in the pet store told me to let the bacteria work and come back this Wednesday.
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:16 PM   #10
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Is there anything else I could do for the pleco? He hasn't eaten in a while.
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:58 AM   #11
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Like coral said you need to be changing the water 50% daily. In the meantime get an API master water test kit. They are accurate. You will need to be testing your water daily or every other day so you can establish a water change schedule. Also, how much surface water agitation do you have? The more agitation you have the more oxygen you get in the water. Maybe I missed this but what size filter do you have on your tank? You should be running 3 times the filtration necessary for the tank IMO. This keeps your water quality good.
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Old 01-30-2018, 03:43 AM   #12
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You have to do frequent water changes temperature matched and treated with prime to detox the ammonia that's in the tank, do 50% pwc's daily, treated with seachem prime, get an api master liquid freshwater test kit
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Old 02-04-2018, 12:23 AM   #13
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Update from the battlefront. We tested the water again today. Nitrites and Nitrates at 0 ppm, Ammonia still at 1 ppm and the pH is around 6 (dropped from 7.2). Nitrites and Nitrates were at 5 ppm and 160 ppm respectively before and we are glad that we got it down. We change water every day and add bacteria. We also bought an air stone and bubble oxygen in the tank.
The pleco is at least not on his side anymore, but he isn't the crazy swimming fella that we knew before. Mostly he is on one spot during the day and moves only a little bit like he never learned how to swim. I hope he will make a full recovery. Battle's not over yet. Ammonia needs to go down to 0 ppm and we need to fix the pH.
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Old 02-04-2018, 01:20 AM   #14
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Water changes and try a slice of zucchini (maybe even shove a wafer in it to get him to eat. Stick it on a fork and place it on the bottom so he don't have to swim much. Put it close to him, he might smell it if it close.
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Old 02-04-2018, 02:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel_K View Post
Update from the battlefront. We tested the water again today. Nitrites and Nitrates at 0 ppm, Ammonia still at 1 ppm and the pH is around 6 (dropped from 7.2). Nitrites and Nitrates were at 5 ppm and 160 ppm respectively before and we are glad that we got it down. We change water every day and add bacteria. We also bought an air stone and bubble oxygen in the tank.
The pleco is at least not on his side anymore, but he isn't the crazy swimming fella that we knew before. Mostly he is on one spot during the day and moves only a little bit like he never learned how to swim. I hope he will make a full recovery. Battle's not over yet. Ammonia needs to go down to 0 ppm and we need to fix the pH.
The pH of 7.2 is absolutely fine for a pleco, what is the pH of your tap water? If it's 7.0-7.2 you just do more frequent water changes to keep it at that level which also lowers the ammonia, use prime to condition the water.

Don't try to alter your pH with chemicals
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Old 02-04-2018, 02:40 AM   #16
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If your pH is at 6 and you want to raise it. Get some airstones and crank them up. It will raise the pH gradually without chemicals.
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:53 AM   #17
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Thank you all very much for your kind help. I really appreciate it.

One thing that worries me a lot though is the pleco's general behavior. He hasn't moved that much in the last two days. He is still "blinking" and breathing.
I put a pleco wafer (his absolute favorite) in front of him. He somehow managed to shove it aside and since it fell apart I can't really tell, if he has eaten at all.
Is this going to get better eventually? Maybe when the ammonia is completely back to 0 or is his system damaged so much that he'll never recover?
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:31 AM   #18
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If he was actually poisoned by the ammonia he could 'recover' apparently completely only to have another issue down the road..
Ammonia poisoning is known to have permanent life shortening effects..
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:02 PM   #19
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So another update. The ammonium is, after daily water changes (with conditioned water with bacteria at the appropriate temperature), still at >1 ppm. Nitrites, Nitrates at 0, pH at 6. Now the guppy started showing signs... not being able to swim, etc. The pleco is still alive, but hasn't really moved that much for 2 days. He might have eaten a little bit, but I am not sure (I am getting the uneaten stuff out).
Added Ammo Lock this morning as last resort, because I don't really know what to do anymore.
I wonder, if I should just wait and continue the water changes or if I should euthanize the fish at this point. I mean they held tight for the longest time in the tank, while we were trying our best to get the ammonia down. What are their chances of a full recovery? It hurts so much to see them suffer.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:46 PM   #20
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Have you tested your tap water in the new place? Might want to. And it's even worse now you gotta go through and cycle your tank all over again. Your nitrate is 0. That's not too good if you can't get the ammonia down more. Kinda like working out in the cold when your already sick. It just gets worse. I'd test your tap.

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