Month: July 2020

My Problems with Plecos…Part I

Time for fish that I have had very little luck with-Plecos. First off there are just so many that I never know what I’m really buying. The pet stores do not help when they have three or four tanks housing three or four different species yet label them all “Pleco.” I like to research the fish I buy before making a purchase, but even if I grab a book off the rack at the fish shop and flip through the pages in front of the tanks, I still cannot say with certainty if the Pleco I’m reading about is the same one I’m watching. Luckily, some generalities may be drawn.


If the label outside the tank just reads “Pleco,” what you’re looking at is more than likely going to achieve gargantuan sizes of a foot at minimum and even up to two feet if you happen to have a Snow King Pleco. The plain Pleco is what you want to buy if you have a fifty or sixty-gallon tank housing a couple of large cichlids. Basically, your new Pleco will be fine if he’s bound to be a tankmate for any of the fish we’ve previously discussed here. Generally, you should not combine Plecos with members of their own species unless you do so at the time of purchase. They will be territorial towards each other otherwise.

If you have a tank of tetras or other tiny fish, you’ll want a Clown Pleco or a Bristle Nose Pleco. These guys don’t grow much beyond four or five inches. They’re just as efficient as the big boys are, on their own scale of course. If you find these little guys too hard on your eyes, there are still more options.

For medium cichlids, there is the one member of the Pleco family which I can truthfully claim success with, the Whiptail Cat. This fish is actually from the genus Rineloricaria, but it looks like a streamlined Pleco. They’re not very active, tend to stick to their favorite spot at the bottom of the tank, and don’t cause much trouble.

If little fish are your game (and my apologies, I will get to the little guys eventually!) then you want to go with a batch of otocinclus. These fish are so tiny they almost look like tadpoles with their bulbous heads and slim bodies. If you have a nice 30-gallon show tank with fifteen to twenty neons or cardinals, a cool dozen Otocinclus will keep things clean for you…and they don’t eat plants.

Dog Grooming Books

Dog grooming books can be an excellent resource for beginning, advanced, and professional groomers. Whether you want to brush up on your skills or learn how to groom an entirely new breed, dog grooming books can be the key to your success. They are an excellent resource, and can be kept with your other supplies if you are running a mobile grooming service.


What to Look for in Dog Grooming Books

High quality dog grooming books are definitely worth investing in, but what makes a book worth your money? Looking for large, sharp color pictures along with clear, explicit instructions is your best bet for finding the right dog grooming book. You want to find a book that you can grow with–one that will be simple to follow as you first begin, but that also provides advanced instruction and tips.

Also, look for a book that contains a wide range of topics. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a book that only talks about a few types of breeds or only covers clipping techniques. Try to find a book that covers general health issues, offers handling advice, or even business tips.

You may want to buy specific books on some of the different breeds as your business grows. Perhaps you may decide to specialize in a specific type or age of dog, and will want to have the knowledge to cater to that specific clientele. But for beginners, find a dog grooming book that covers a diverse array of topics in a clear, to the point manner.

Evaluating Your Local Pet Store

Your local pet shop can be of great help to a beginner in the hobby or it can be a great setback depending on how the store is run! As with everything, there are good and bad stores, and I’m going to try to give you the information in the following article so you can determine this by yourself.


First and foremost I have found in my 40 years in the hobby, that its not always the cleanest store that is the best. You cannot judge a store on that alone. My thoughts on a good store is that when you walk in, there are no dead animals lying around, the fish are all up and swimming plus no dead fish in tanks. The birds should all look active and there should be no birds that are sick or lacking feathers in the cages.

The sales staff should allow you about 5 minutes to look around the store and then ask if you need any help or if you have any questions on anything. There should be nobody trying to pressure you into buying anything! This last one is a very important thought. High-pressure sales people have a tendency to force you to buy fish that are diseased or do not take the time to ask you what you have in your tank at home. They will also make false statements about equipment requirement and compatibility of fish. Many new comers to the hobby tend to fall for this tactic! Beware!

Buying incompatible fish or diseased fish can wipe out your entire fish population in your tank. Many stores do not have a guarantee on livestock so you lose your investment.

Dirty tanks are always a clue in saying “watch out” if you buy fish from these tanks. This may be a clue to lack of cleaning or medicine has been used or a chemical imbalance or poor filtration. Take the time to observe the behavior of the fish and the condition of the tank. Your first indication should be listless fish or bizarre behavior.

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t buy something unless you need it. Yes, at one time I was a sales person that did the above, not good! I’m also a firm believer to visit a local family-owned pet shop because 95% of the time you will find more experienced staff and people that are truly trying to help you. In the big super stores, it is really rare that you will find staff that are actually trained in all fields. I’ve gone to some of these super stores to buy a certain fish and have had their staff try to sell me a male when I wanted a female (and knew the difference). If you say, “that’s a male”, they actually fight with you and try to make you out as the fool. The super store mostly will never order something in for you, where as the small local pet shop will be most happy to bring in anything on a special order. Mostly I have found that by visiting hundreds of pet stores, the little guy is the one that will go out of his way to help you. If you go to a super store, your choice of what you want is very limited to what they have in stock at the time.

Fish Diseases: Treatments

While several diseases were mentioned last time, there are also many causes of death in fish that have nothing to do with bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Overcrowding is the cause for Carbon Dioxide Poisoning, and that can be prevented by making sure that the aquarium contains only 2 inches (without fins) of fish, per gallon. Fish will remain at the surface of the water before they die.


Live plants that have died and are decomposing will sully the water and cause fish to die. It is good to make a habit of observing your tank, and paying close attention to everything that is inhabiting the tank. When plants begin to decay the air around the tank , or room tank is in, may begin to smell acrid.

Bug sprays, scented sprays, perfume, ect. have killed millions of fish. Never spray these products in the room that contains the aquarium. Objects in the tank that have been washed with soap and water can also kill your fish if they are not rinsed out properly before being replaced. Hands should always be washed after using poisons, and it should be made a practice to wash hands even if you haven’t handled such products.

Listed below are a few drugs, and other treatments that can be used for the diseases, bacteria, and fungi that were mentioned in the last article. Most of these chemicals, drugs, or dyes are easy to acquire at your local pet shop or super center. Some might even be found in your own home.

Always remember to read labels before purchasing items. Some products say they will cure a disease, but may not have the proper ingredients to do so. Also, compare prices as this can get very costly.

While most of these come in bottles with droppers and easy to follow instructions, I have included the old time stock solution recipes, and these are the few.

Acriflavin: Make stock solution of 1 grain to 8 ounces of water. Add 1 tablespoon to 5 gallons of water. Water change is not needed unless fish begin to swim only at the surface. Treats Saprolegnia, Velvet

Copper Sponge: Place non-medicated copper sponge in aquarium. If the fish begin to receive too much copper, they will keep to the surface of the water. Remove the sponge, and perform a partial water change. Add 12 pennies per gallon of water to treat Velvet.

Formalin: 8 drops per quart of water

Dog Hip Dysplasia

Owners of large breed dogs often worry about dog hip dysplasia, a painful disease that can rob a dog and her owner of much of the pleasure of being companions. Hip dysplasia is caused by one or more of several factors, including a genetic pre-disposition to the disease as well as environmental influences such as cold and dampness. Ultimately, dysplasia can result in painful arthritis at the site.


If You Suspect Dysplasia

If you notice that your dog is moving differently, favoring one rear leg, or even running like a bunny, moving both legs at the same time, it’s important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. While your pet may be good at compensating for the dysplasia by moving in an awkward manner, he may be causing severe spinal problems in the process. Never medicate your pet without a vet’s advice.

Once your vet has made a diagnosis, he or she will discuss treatment options with you. As noted above, there are several ways a pet can get dysplasia, and there are also several different types of the disease. Treatments can include everything from dietary or environment changes to medication or surgery. Pain management is a major factor in your pet’s quality of life, so be sure to discuss your concerns with your vet.


Food Supplements for Dog Hip Dysplasia

There are some healthy dog food products that have been developed for older dogs. These may include some of the same ingredients that humans are using to treat arthritis such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These elements may inhibit cartilage degeneration while helping with joint hydration. While these products cannot substitute for your vet’s treatments, they may help to limit your pet’s discomfort, and your vet will be happy to discuss them as an option for your pet.