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Why Is My Pleco’s Skin Peeling?

Why Is My Pleco’s Skin Peeling?

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It can be very disheartening when things go wrong with your plecos. These fish are so great to own and you want them to thrive under your care.

When the skin appears to peel right off of the plecos it’s going to be concerning if you don’t know what’s going on. Is pleco skin peeling a serious problem that you’ll want to address?

What does it mean when plecos have this issue? Is there something that you can do to help the fish look healthy again?

Keep reading to learn more about this topic. It should help you to figure out what’s going on so you won’t have to worry any longer.

Do Plecos Shed?

Plecos will shed their slime coats as they keep growing. When this happens, people often mistakenly think that they’re shedding their skin.

You can stop worrying because plecos don’t shed. What you’re noticing is simply the fish shedding its slime coat.

The protective slime on the plecos must be shed as the fish continue to grow. This is something that happens to many types of catfish as well as armored fish.

There’s pretty much no chance that what you’re seeing is actually the pleco shedding its skin. If you were to see skin peeling off of the fish, it’d be an indication of a serious medical condition.

What Type of Sickness Could Cause This to Occur?

Pleco Upside Down

What if you’re worried that the fish is really shedding skin or losing its scales? Is there a type of sickness that can cause this to occur?

It’s unclear what type of disease would cause this to happen. If this were to happen it’d definitely indicate the fish has a serious skin infection of some sort.

The fish might also experience bloating when it has this type of infection. Under normal conditions, scales will repair themselves when they get damaged.

They shouldn’t start falling out unless something is amiss. The best thing to do will be to seek the advice of a veterinarian.

An exotic vet can examine the fish and diagnose it if it’s experiencing an obscure medical condition that most enthusiasts aren’t aware of. There isn’t much information out there about plecos shedding skin or losing scales.

You Could Be Noticing Debris Coming Off of the Fish

Pleco Near Bottom of Tank

Consider whether what you’re seeing coming off of the fish is actually skin. It might not be skin or mucus that is coming off of the fish.

Some pleco owners have noted that they’ve seen debris coming off of the fish in sheets. These fish are bottom-feeders that scrounge around for food.

They might get dirty and a significant amount of dirt or food debris might be stuck to the fish. Occasionally, you might see this debris coming off of the fish in sheets.

It could look as if the fish is shedding its skin, but that’s not the case. Algae, dirt, food particles, and other types of debris could be what you’re looking at.

Are Plecos Scaleless?

Plecos are considered to be scaleless fish, but they have armor that people often refer to as scales. What these fish possess are bony plates that are often called armor clad scales.

The only spots where these plates aren’t present is on the head and belly of the fish. The bony plates do a very good job of protecting the fish from harm.

There are many types of catfish that are considered to be scaleless fish. Some of these fish technically have tiny scales on their body, but they’re still considered to be scaleless.

Since plecos are designated as scaleless fish, they’ll be able to be treated with certain types of medications. They’ll also need to avoid some common treatments since those won’t be good for them.

How Can You Keep Plecos Healthy?

Pleco in Community Tank

Keeping plecos healthy is as simple as meeting their basic care needs. You likely don’t need to worry about the peeling issue since you’re likely noticing the mucus layer being shed.

However, it’s still good to understand how to protect plecos. This can help you to prevent them from getting sick.

Monitor the condition of the aquarium closely. Be sure to test the water on a regular basis to keep the water parameters in check.

Understand that plecos need to be kept in aquariums with high oxygen levels. Don’t allow the oxygen levels to get too low.

You can keep the oxygen levels where they need to be by purchasing a powerful filter. It’ll also help to keep the fish tank very clean.

It’s best to do regular tank maintenance to eliminate waste. Clean the fish tank on a consistent basis and the fish will do better under your care.

Also, you need to be sure to do water changes each week. Changing fifteen percent of the water every week keeps the water from getting too dirty.

If you’re a proactive fish owner, it’ll be easier to keep the plecos from getting sick. Don’t put too many fish in the tank and be sure that your plecos are kept in aquariums that give them more than enough room.

Final Thoughts

You likely don’t need to worry about your plecos shedding skin. Typically, when fish owners think plecos are shedding their skin they’re actually noticing them losing a mucus layer.

As plecos grow, they will need to shed the mucus on their bodies. It’s a normal occurrence that might make it look like the fish are shedding skin or scales.

Another option is that the fish might be having debris come off of their body in sheets. It could be dirt or algae that is coming off of the body of the pleco.

If the fish truly is shedding its skin, that’s not normal. Plecos don’t shed skin under normal circumstances.

Should this happen, it’d be a sign of a major illness or infection. You’d want to consult an exotic veterinarian right away to get help.

Since this isn’t a common problem, not a lot is known about it. The lack of information means that it’s a very rare issue.

A vet might be able to shed more light on the situation. It’s unclear whether a fish can get better if this happens.