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SAE's wasting away...

Since there are so many SAE owners on this list I thought that I would ask this
question here...  I used to have six SAE's, three in my 35 gal hex (couple of
plants) and three in my 55 gal (heavily planted).  Well, about six months ago,
I noticed that the SAE's in the planted tank were growing *much* faster than
those in the hex.  Then, maybe three months ago I noticed that the SAE's in the
hex tank were actually looking pretty bad... thin and "boney" especially in the
"face"...  they actually appeared to be shrinking.  They seemed to be eating
and they seemed OK otherwise and they were keeping teh red algea under control. 
Then about one month ago one died and last night another died and the third one
looks like he's about to go, barely eats barely swims...  These guys were all
about 1 1/2 years old.  the SAE's in the heavily planted tank are HUGE, fat,
porky, almost obese!  (but they still are a blast to watch and they eat that
red algea!)  I do 30-40 % water changes every two to three weeks, have a UGF
run off a power head and a Whisper hang on back type filter with carbon...  Teh
other fish are six big congo tetras (three are six years old), 10 cardinal
tetras, two kuhli loaches, 10 zebra danios.  Also recently, my clown pleco and
one kuhli has dissappeared (died and been eaten).  But everyone else looks OK.

What is going on here?  the SAE's acted like an animal with 'worms', they'd eat
and eat but still looked skinny...  Any ideas??

Many thanks,