How to keep new pleco fed in an algae-less tank?


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Jul 22, 2022
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I have a tall 55-gallon tank that's been spotless since I got it, with the help of a Chinese algae eater (named Nuts). There's not enough algae that grows to feed him properly, but my tank is full of cone snails that live in the sand and he snacks on those too, which is fine by me. I never actually put those snails there, they just showed up. I've been watching for over a month and there always seems to be new baby snails burrowed in the substrate. A few weeks ago I noticed he was losing color and acting lethargic, so I added bloodworms to his diet a few times a week. He's back to his normal self now. I also give algae wafers, but I haven't found any in the pet store that didn't have suspicious ingredients, like grains and other non-aquatic foods, so I try to limit them to 1-3 times a week. I rarely do algae wafers and bloodworms on the same day.
A few days ago, I rescued a common pleco that has stunted growth and put him in my tank, and I noticed he's also beginning to lose color in random patches on his body. I'll post a picture tomorrow when there's sunlight. He's a dark brown with subtle speckling, but medium patches of lighter brown are showing up on his back. It doesn't look bacterial or fungal, and my water parameters are where they should be. It's possible this is normal coloration, I couldn't find anything that matched when I looked it up, but because another algae eater in this tank lost color from malnutrition, I can only assume it's because he's not getting the food he needs. I put bloodworms in the tank tonight, but I've come here for advice. I'd love to try to grow more algae in my tank, but I already have the lights (a little LED bar that lights up the whole room at night) on for 10-12 hours a day. My tank is near a window, so when the sun is at the right place in the sky, I'll also angle my blinds to allow sunlight to stream into the tank. I do this weekly, on average. My filter is running at a lower flow than it's set to, so I can only explain the flow by saying neutrally buoyant food stays suspended for a while, but will find its way to the filter intake in a few minutes if it doesn't sink. Should I leave the lights on for longer? Should I let sunlight into the tank as often as possible? Is there anything else I can do to encourage algae growth? And what should I be feeding my pleco to ensure he's healthy? Any other advice is welcomed.
Hi, by no means an expert, and I'm sure someone who actually is will help soon, but I'm in the process of buying my first bristlenose. And so have been spending far too long researching what to feed the little fella. I've read all about the various algae crisps available, but also they love vegetables. One poster said to cut zucchinis into rounds, freeze them, and feed one round a week. Also spinach, peas and cucumber. Blanch them to soften. I know my shrimps will all come out for boiled broccoli, much more so than for any of the other prepared food that is suppose to make them come running. So to speak!! And plecos also need driftwood in their tank. Good luck!
The Chinese algae eater is a weird fish. It tends to stop eating algae as it ages, and has been known to latch onto plecos and tear at their tasty body slime. There is a possibility the discoloured patches are from the supposed algae eater. Watch that closely, and hope it isn't so. You don't need algae, but you do need zucchini coins (frozen, than thawed) and algae wafers.

It's a good time of year to buy the veggies, cut them into thin coins and freeze a year's supply very cheaply.
I agree with Gary. If this were me, I would find a new home for the Chinese Algae Easter ASAP. Give it to the store, or another hobbyist. I would be even more convinced this fish is attacking your pleco. The CAE is very territorial, and now that an invader has entered its space it is not going to accept it. Unfortunately in the aquarium, unlike in nature, fish under attack have no where to flee. You will lose the pleco possibly very soon.

You have another pending problem. A common pleco grows large, very large, up to 18 inches. And it is a huge waste factory, significantly affecting the water. Even a 55g is very small quarters for this fish.

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