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Salt and plecos


Hally M.
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This is my first time keeping a bottom feeder. It was a spare in the moment kind of decision because his previous owner wasn’t in a position to keep him. What are your guys tips on keeping plecos. Anything I should know? 

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Hi @Hally M.. Do you know what kind of Pleco it is? if not, can you post a picture? Then I have to ask is there a reason you are medicating in QT? Generally if I got a fish from another fish keeper with a healthy tank and fish I wouldn't medicate I'd just observe. 

Now, I can't speak to Plecos and salt, but I have Otocinclus which usually people recommend no salt- they have done fine with salt treatment. When in doubt start with basic dose and work your way up if you have to. @Odd Duck has a common pleco maybe more insight on salt and the species?

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He seems to have fin rot and his fins are clamped, unless that’s normal for plecos? Are u able to identify what type this is? The tank I received wasn’t cycled so the waters cloudy but I switched in a used cycled sponge filter. Hopefully that helps a bit. 

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I won't be able to ID since I'm not a pleco keeper but hopefully someone will see the thread. If the rot isn't devastating I would wait a beat and just make sure he has super clean water with no stress, no ammonia and monitor. If you have Indian Almond Leaf make some tea and put that in there! I'd standby to see if anyone here can help diagnose and ID what kind of pleco you have there. 

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On 9/20/2022 at 8:49 PM, Hally M. said:

Has anyone ever kept their pleco with salt as a quarantine med? Google has mixed answers about it. Beneficial or no?

I keep a variety of plecos and I have not specifically had issues with salt and their care.  Clowns, bristlenose, and rubberlip I have all kept and given the level 2 dose of salt (from the aquarium co-op blog article on salt).

If you're in QT, adding the salt is beneficial.  Fish need to spend energy for osmosis and adding the salt gives them some minerals in the water as well as it gives them less of an imbalance.  They can conserve their energy to fight disease and salt is used to kill some external parasites as well.  Salt also helps with the oxygenation and the added struggle for aeration when you dose meds.  Hopefully that helps.

Welcome to the forum!

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On 9/21/2022 at 11:16 AM, Hally M. said:

He seems to have fin rot and his fins are clamped, unless that’s normal for plecos? Are u able to identify what type this is? The tank I received wasn’t cycled so the waters cloudy but I switched in a used cycled sponge filter. Hopefully that helps a bit. 

Hard to see much in the photo.  The little one is hiding back there because it's trying to get shade / darkness during the day.  You'll likely see the fish out more once the lights start to darken or once they go out.  Usually ~30 minutes after lights go out.  The reason I mention this is to make sure you have some places with cover where the fish can hide in your hardscape 🙂


If not, maybe a pleco cave will help the fish relax when the lights are on.

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Looking at the color pattern possible common pleco I would add no more 1 table for 3 gallons of aquarium salt you want to feed a varied diet really rich in vegetable matter and some higher protein foods you want to feed mixture of algae wafers repashy solient or super green   blanched lettuce spinach green beans cucumber zucchini and some higher protein foods such as frozen blood worms mysis shrimp

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Thank you guys all so much! You’ve been very helpful. I’m currently blanching lettuce, and giving him a cave. Once again thanks guys you  all helped a lot! I plan on keeping the light off than is what I’m hearing is best? Or at least a dim one? Also after Google research it seems there not too picky with parameters. Is this your guys experience or should I work on lowering the PH with tannins?

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On 9/21/2022 at 4:11 PM, Hally M. said:

Thank you guys all so much! You’ve been very helpful. I’m currently blanching lettuce, and giving him a cave. Once again thanks guys you  all helped a lot! I plan on keeping the light off than is what I’m hearing is best? Or at least a dim one? Also after Google research it seems there not too picky with parameters. Is this your guys experience or should I work on lowering the PH with tannins?

Not picky at all and marine salt vs. aquarium salt are two completely different animals (chemicals). They don’t tolerate the former very well but do just fine with the latter.

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On 9/21/2022 at 1:08 PM, xXInkedPhoenixX said:

Hi @Hally M.. Do you know what kind of Pleco it is? if not, can you post a picture? Then I have to ask is there a reason you are medicating in QT? Generally if I got a fish from another fish keeper with a healthy tank and fish I wouldn't medicate I'd just observe. 

Now, I can't speak to Plecos and salt, but I have Otocinclus which usually people recommend no salt- they have done fine with salt treatment. When in doubt start with basic dose and work your way up if you have to. @Odd Duck has a common pleco maybe more insight on salt and the species?


I’ve not treated my commons with salt but bristlenoses, clown pleco, gold nugget pleco, and otos all got low dose salt when I managed to introduce some Ich into the tank even after almost 60 days of quarantine of some geriatric CPD’s.  Nobody seemed bothered by it except some plants.  I would expect commons to be quite tolerant of salt since they prosper in some very hard water where they are introduced invasives in Texas and Florida.

I agree with everything @Coluhas said but might start at low dose with just a tablespoon per 10 gallons and work up from there over a few days, watching for any adverse symptoms just to be extra careful.  Certainly would not want to leave significant salt in the tank long term, but 10-14 days it shouldn’t be an issue at all, especially at low dose.  It wouldn’t bother me to have low dose for long term.  Higher dose only as long as needed.

I’m not sure what species you have there (there are hundreds), but it could be a common that’s very off color.  That kiddo needs a hiding place, preferably something shelf-like so you can still shine a flashlight in once daily to check on it and get at least a halfway decent look.  Half a flower pot on its side or something similar would probably be good.

Something tickles in the back of my brain that there’s an uncommon species smaller than a common that has markings a bit like that.  Those markings look very symmetrical for skin disease.  Almost any pleco will clamp fins when stressed.  You might try posting pics on one of the pleco Facebook pages but brace yourself for potential meanness in all its glory.  Facebook is full of spite and hate these days.  “Exotic Fish and Plecos” isn’t as hideous as some groups and you would have a somewhat decent chance of an ID but you’ll likely have to wade through a bunch of bad ID’s, too.  The group can at least give you some ideas, then you can search species.  If they give an actual scientific binomial it’s at least slightly more likely to be correct than the random guesses that some throw out there on that site.

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Thank you that’s very helpful. I found one of those coconut fiber hides that grow plants on the top… I forget what their called but they are the same shape as the Pleco hides aquarium coop sells. Hopefully he enjoys that. I switched him over to a cycled 20 gallon and moved the previous fish in a different tank. I feel bad for having him in a tank when there’s clearly a bacterial bloom. The only thing left is the gravel in the cycled tank is a bit rigid. It’s not as smooth or large as the original rocks in the pictures. Is it a possible he could ingest the gravel? It’s eco complete. 

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On 9/21/2022 at 9:20 PM, Hally M. said:

Thank you that’s very helpful. I found one of those coconut fiber hides that grow plants on the top… I forget what their called but they are the same shape as the Pleco hides aquarium coop sells. Hopefully he enjoys that. I switched him over to a cycled 20 gallon and moved the previous fish in a different tank. I feel bad for having him in a tank when there’s clearly a bacterial bloom. The only thing left is the gravel in the cycled tank is a bit rigid. It’s not as smooth or large as the original rocks in the pictures. Is it a possible he could ingest the gravel? It’s eco complete. 

Extremely unlikely he would ingest the substrate. I’ve not heard of a pleco doing that even when they were starving. 

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I have used salt a couple times on plecos when I got some wild caught ones when a local club did a fish buy import. I got several different types, ancistrus, hypancistrus, and have used up to two tablespoons to five gallons with no effects on the fish themselves. Good luck with treating him, and hopefully he gets better for you.

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Most pleco can tolerate salt. Some types of plecos are found in brackish water. While plecos don’t have scales. Most of the fish is covered in boney plates. There is some confusion on this because it is a general rule that scaleless freshwater fish do int tolerate salt well. Many fish like Otos and loaches doesn’t have scales and don’t tolerate salt all that well but do tend to be ok with low rates that are  therapeutic they would not do well in say a higher concentration in the tank or more intensive salt baths. Plecos being one of many exceptions to the scaleless issue. While there are to many types of plecos to go by each one yours should be fine with salt in the tank. He will if you can I would try to place some wood in the tank. While it can be argued that plecos can’t survive with out it most plecos even carnivorous varieties still like to chewy on wood as it aid in digestion. It will ok in the eco complete. My last breeders were in an eco-compete tank with no issues. I think salt question was answered already but I wanted to clear up a few things so others that have the same questions could benefit as well. 

 

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Thank you everyone I really appreciate it. Quick update. I have a loving home for him that he’s moving too in a few days who has a much larger tank for him and a heck of a lot more experience with plecos than I do. They have a more adequate set up than I do for him and hopefully he can finally be a happy fish 

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