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Old 02-27-2021, 04:17 PM   #1
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Exclamation Un-Cycled Aquarium + Pleco: How to Keep Him Alive

Greetings. Let me start by stating I am looking for solutions, not more criticism. I made a mistake by purchasing a pleco before my nitrogen cycle was completed. It is a brand new 10 gallon tank with minimal to no algae growth. The tank has been running with a filer for 9 days, the fish has been in there for 7. Plecos are normally nocturnal and quite shy (depending on personality) and mine is no different. I was aware my tank had no algae growth and was foolhardy in buying the pleco too early. I believed that algae wafers, lots of soaked drift wood (from another aqaurium), three plants, three moss balls and a moss covered coconut shell would be enough to sustain him. I have been monitoring ammonia levels closely (testing every day) while also checking PH and Nitrites, Nitrates. If the ammonia levels rise above 1ppm I change 25% of the tank water (up to 35% if the ammonia is above 2.0ppm). When first purchasing the fish I had asked the incorrect questions. I asked what to feed the fish, what temp the fish should be at, pH levels, other fish plecos can be with. I failed to ask about the nitrogen cycle or realize how important it is. As such, when I learned of it at the pet store with my pleco already in the tank I knew I needed to take action as quickly as possible. I have kept a log of the fishes movements through the day, feeding patterns and nocturnal activity. That last one is hard to record but I try to check on him when I use the restroom. Zeb, (the pleco, false zebra, do not know L-number) does not eat regularly and is extremely shy. I can catch him nibbling on pellets here and there but its not a regular feeding pattern yet. When I first got him he was good fat boy, and although his width has not decreased I can see what I believe is the start to a concave stomach. It's just barely there, so I might be overreacting, but I would rather overreact then take no action and have him die. There are three clips inside the tank with broccoli and spinach attached to them. All of them are on the bottom and close to his main cave where he likes to hide. I also drop in a bottom feeder pellet once a day paired with an algae wafer in the evening after lights out. I still do not see him eat much and I am worried. He is the only fish in the tank but he does have a little shrimp buddy. There used to be two shrimp (the solid color ones, I believe they are called neo-cardina?) but the other one died on unknown causes. Interestingly enough the other shrimp is quite lively, either muching on some plants/algae wafers or swimming up to the 80gph water pump to be swished away on an exciting ride. He is quite the character. Before the other shrimp passed they could be found right next to each other on the rock, their sides almost touching. It was unusual activity for them but I gave it no thought. I found one of the shrimp dead the next morning. So, what am I asking? I am asking for advice on feeding a pleco in a non-cycled aquarium. I realize this is not ideal and could lead to the fishes death. If I could start it over and ask the correct questions, I would. But I do not have that option and I care very much for this fish. So, people of Aquarium Advice, any advice on how I can make sure my fish survives the nitrogen cycle and continues to have a very happy life?
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:23 PM   #2
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Itís okay we all have to live and learn I would just suggest making sure you donít leave the broccoli or spinach in there too long also it helps to blanch them. And a zebra pleco needs protein they actually arenít to big of fan for algae eating.
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Old 02-27-2021, 10:01 PM   #3
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Great welcome. Here is some basic information about Aquariums.

Information to help you cycle your filter/tank is here for you. Good luck and let us know.
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Old 03-01-2021, 01:10 PM   #4
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Thank you both for the advice! I added some beneficial bacteria from API Enzyme, so i hope that will help speed the process up a little bit. I will be adding in some API Quick Start with the next water change.
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