Many types of plecos are very pretty overall. Some are outright gorgeous fish that you’re going to love having in your aquarium.
If the plecos appear to be covered in a white fungus, that’s not something that you should ignore. It’s not normal for them to look like this.
You probably don’t know why this happened. Figuring out what’s going on will be important when you want to keep the fish safe.
Below, you’ll learn more about plecos and issues with a white fungus. It’ll give you a better idea of what’s going on.
What is this Fungus?
When you notice that one of your plecos has a white fungus on its body, you’re going to be worried. What exactly is this fungus, though?
This type of fungal growth is actually fairly common for plecos. That doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.
The fungus should appear to be either white or gray. There will be various fungal growths on the pleco’s body.
When examining the growths, you’ll see that they have a cotton-like appearance. This is caused by types of water molds known as oomycetes.
Typically, this fungal infection will occur as a secondary infection when a fish has another skin issue. It’s likely that the fish was injured in some way and that allowed the fungus to infiltrate the body.
A simple scrape might be enough for the fish to get infected by these fungi. Scrapes give the fungi breeding locations, and it can be a real problem for the fish.
How Does this Fungus Appear in the Fish Tank?
Now you’re probably wondering where the fungus came from in the first place. Under normal circumstances, your fish shouldn’t become infected by any types of fungi.
However, a fungus can grow when you don’t take care of the tank very well. It’s likely that your fish tank isn’t as clean as it should be.
To keep your fish safe, it’s necessary to monitor the condition of the water. You need to keep the water parameters in the right range.
Plecos like to have the water fairly warm. Most plecos thrive in water temperatures between 71 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, but the exact range will differ depending on the type of plecos that you own.
If the water temperature is far too cool, it’ll make it easier for fungi to grow in the tank. It’s also bad when the water gets too dirty.
Fish poop is going to make the water dirty. It’ll also raise ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels in the tank.
Elevated ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are very dangerous for plecos. They need to be kept in fish tanks with high oxygen levels, and allowing the nitrate levels to get out of hand will harm your fish.
The dirty water will make it easy for fungi to grow, and that presents a different danger to your fish. The fungus will multiply and become a big problem that can get all of your fish sick.
How Can You Treat this Issue?
Treating a fungal infection is going to require medication. This is a problem that can spread fast, and all of the fish in the aquarium could become sick before you know it.
It’ll be possible to treat the fish using antibiotic or anti-fungal medications. You can get specific medications recommended to you by talking to an exotic veterinarian.
If you’d rather not spend the cash to speak to a specialist, it’ll be possible to ask for help at a fish store that sells medicine. You might find a knowledgeable employee there that will point you in the right direction.
Typically, treatment of fungal infections will involve quarantining sick fish, giving them medication, and trying to feed them high-quality foods. Over time, the fish should start to get better.
You’ll notice that the infection will clear up as the medication starts working. It might take some time for the infection to go away completely, though.
Use the medication as recommended on the package. If you want more specific advice about what medication to choose or what you should be doing, you’ll want to consult an exotic veterinarian at your earliest convenience.
How to Prevent this Issue in the Future
Preventing this issue from becoming a problem in the future is about taking better care of your fish tank. If your fish becomes infected, it’s likely that your tank is very dirty.
Some people buy plecos because they’re supposed to be low-maintenance and hardy fish. They are good options for beginners when you choose the right type of pleco fish.
Even hardy fish need you to maintain the fish tank, though. It’s important to test the tank to ensure that the water parameters are in the right range.
Check the recommended water parameters based on the type of pleco that you purchased. Do regular tests and make changes as necessary to keep the pH balance where it needs to be.
Aside from this, you’re also going to need to clean the tank. Set time aside to clean the tank regularly to prevent it from getting too dirty.
Regular water changes are another facet of keeping a fish tank clean. Ideally, you should be doing water changes every single week.
It’s best to change out fifteen percent of the water every week. This should keep the water from getting too dirty due to too much fish poop.
If you’re having trouble keeping the tank clean, it’ll be prudent to ensure that the fish tank isn’t overcrowded. Overcrowded fish tanks can be tough to keep clean due to the presence of far too much fish poop.
Plus, fish will get stressed when they’re forced to live in cramped fish tanks. Only put as many fish as you can comfortably fit in the tank.
You might need to check to see exactly how much space each fish requires. Make sure your tank is large enough for the fish that you own.
When you’re doing a good job keeping the fish tank clean, it’s unlikely that your fish will get infected by fungi. Continue being careful in the future and things will be fine.
Having a better idea of what causes plecos to get a white fungus on their bodies will help you. You now know that this is a fairly common issue that plecos deal with.
Thankfully, problems like this only occur when the fish tank is dirty or the water parameters are wrong. Fungi can grow when the water temperature is lower than it should be.
If you endeavor to clean the tank regularly, it’s unlikely that you’ll have problems with fungal infections in the tank. Should this happen to your plecos, you’ll be able to treat the fish and get them better.
Of course, the fish could die if you leave things alone. The fish could get sicker and sicker until they perish.
Thankfully, treatment isn’t going to be that tough to figure out. You’ll need to give the fish anti-fungal or antibiotic medications and feed them well.
The infection should clear up over time and the fish will return to normal. Be more careful moving forward and you shouldn’t have to deal with this again.
Let your friends know what you learned if they’ve encountered fungal problems with their plecos. It should help them to take the right actions to save the fish.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.