Color change in pleco?


New Member
Dec 28, 2023
Hello everybody! This is my pleco Swim shady. Truthfully, he was a gift to me from someone about a year ago who didn’t tell me anything about the upkeep nor did I do any research on my part . I recently had a terrible ammonia scare with him (gasping for air at surface & laying on side) where I started to do so much research on plecos. In the first picture, you can clearly see the ammonia poisoning wounds & the second pic where I was using an LED light majority of the time. Since then, I have not been using the LED light, and don’t plan to anymore since I’ve read they are black water fish. I also bought a water siphon for the gravel, driftwood for fiber, and ammonia remover to improve water quality. His coloration has changed drastically & I was wondering if this is a good sign? The wounds have not fully healed, it’s only been a few days since I applied the ammonia remover. IMG_1298.jpegIMG_6653.jpegIMG_1439.jpegIMG_1435.jpeg


New Member
Dec 29, 2023
United States
Hi ! I am by no stretch a fish pro but I might be able to offer some tips , it looks like you have a sailfin or gibbiceps pleco. I have a similar pleco and notice he changes color sometimes depending on if he is hiding , food or mood so it can be that. If he is swimming around and eating those will be your two best signs he is doing better.
The driftwood is a good move, they love it. I also would recommend getting a good water testing kit like API Freshwater Master Test Kit (petco has it) , the kit will let you monitor a lot of different water parameters. It has instructions for each test and should have some literature on how to raise / lower pH and manage ammonia
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Global Moderators
Staff member
Oct 15, 2010
Weimar, Germany

looks like Pterygoplichthys ambrosettii.
Alternatively, Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus, Pterygoplichthys pardalis or a hybrid of the species mentioned.

These are not exactly blackwater fish. They can occur in pretty much any water in their region. It is very likely that it is a commercially farmed fish, often from Southeast Asia.

The wounds are probably caused by the fish being poorly kept for a long period of time. Maybe because too little water was changed.
Amonia leads to poisoning, which can quickly become fatal. It's nothing long-winded.
"gasping for air at surface & laying on side" ... this can be a result of ammonia. But often it is also nitrite or lack of oxygen.

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