ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Otocinclus Catfish

Updated on February 19, 2012

Often Misunderstood

Because Otos are catfish, people believe they can be tossed into their tanks like other catfish and they don't need to do anything special. This is wrong. Without proper research into tankmates, food and water conditions you have a very high chance of killing your otos in the first week of ownership.

Store Problems

The first challenge your oto faces is the fish store. When they arrive at the store they are already stressed and usually starving. Then they get dumped into a tank without the proper food. If more than half the shipment survives its first 24hours you are doing well. If you have any left after the first week, these are the ones you wish to purchase for your own tank.

Never buy otos the day they arrive at the fish store because of this high mortality rate. Wait a minimum of 4 days after they arrive at the store, a week is better. In that amount of time, most of the otos who wouldn't have survived to be moved a second time will have died off.

Choosing Healthy Otos

When picking out otos at the store to bring home, you have 6 things to look for.

Are they moving around the tank or hanging motionless for long periods of time? A healthy oto will be moving around often, it's mouth constantly moving over glass, plants, rocks, anything that is not another fish in the tank. If a net goes into the tank and the oto does not quickly move away, do not get that one. It may be a straggler from the initial die-offs.

Otos are very social fish, they love to be around other otos and if one swims off from the group to find a new food source, most of the group will follow until they are within inches of each other again. If the oto you are looking at is by itself, and seems to avoid the company of others, you do not want it as it may be sick or dying. They do best in schools of 3 or more, and the larger the school, the more fun you will have watching them dart around the tank at top speeds.

Otos almost always have their dorsal and caudal fins erect, even while eating and swimming. If you see one with either or both those fins clamped to its body, avoid it.

Healthy otos will have no red marks, or other surface injuries. Red gill covers, wounds, lesions, swelling, or anything that looks like the beginnings of sickness in other fish should be avoided. And if one has it, they may all have it so your best bet would be to skip that entire tank.

Healthy signs are round bellies without a caved-in look. They should have a slight bulge in the belly area (larger in females) to indicate happy and healthy fish. Since otos are constantly eating, this is another clue, if their bellies are caved-in looking and there is plenty of food in the tank for them, they may have parasites or worse.

And as always, even if you pick fish that look good in the store, quarantining them is still a good idea. They are particularly prone to ich and dropsy. They are also prone to handling damage because of their small size. Rough handling, and occasionally netting, can cause internal damage. The best way to catch these fish are with a plastic cup and use your other hand to herd them into it. This isn't easy as otos are Fast, but it is safer for the fish.

To help minimize the stress of bringing them home, bring a piece of sliced, skinned zucchini or cucumber with you and drop it in the bag with the fish before it gets closed. Then put the fish bag into a darker bag or container. Between the darkness and the food, the otos can relax more than without them.

Buying Online

If your local fish store doesn't carry otos, or is currently out, you can also buy them online. If you are very, very lucky, you might find them on eBay, but this is rare. You're best bet is to go to LiveAquaria.com they have hundreds of different fish and invertebrates, both freshwater and salt, and they ship nearly everywhere. I've bought from them before and have no complaints.

Male or Female?

Determining the gender of otos isn't as hard as you think. They only get to be 2inches long, with the females being slightly larger than the males. The easiest way to tell if you have a male or a female is body shape.

Is your oto slender (while still having a chubby belly) and more streamlined? It's probably a male. If on the other hand your oto is wider across the area behind the eye and in front of the dorsal fin, as well as being taller in this place, it is most likely a female. Another way to tell is from the underside instead of from above. If the belly is wider than the one of the oto next to it, it's most likely female.

Tank Environment

Otos are found in South America living in the Amazon river. So it isn't hard to create a tank environment that they will like. If you want them to truly thrive and be happiest however, you should keep them between 75F and 82F. PH between 5 and 7.8 (though if you want them to breed, keep it below 6.8), with soft acid water. They also love currents as this helps keep the oxygen-rich water they prefer. They also seem to like hanging out directly under the filter where the current is strongest for part of the day, when first introduced to your tank.

Be sure to include lots of hiding places, as otos are easily startled. The females especially I have found will dart away at the slightest hint of movement towards them. They also love live plants. While you can have them in a tank without plants, they will be much happier with them. And of course if you wish to breed them, you lose almost all chance of this happening unless you have plants.

As well, if you house otos in non-planted tanks, you will need to feed them suppliments more often as the tank will not have the algae growth needed to keep them healthy.

Foods

Algae is of course the primary food. But if you don't have enough of it in your tank, you can also feed them algae wafers, nori, boiled romaine lettuce, peas (fresh or frozen), zucchini, cucumber, or green beans. Not all otos will like the same foods of course, my current set wont touch the algae wafers but go crazy for zucchini.

If they seem to ignore the food when you first put it in, do not worry. Sometimes it takes up to 2 days for it to register to them as being food. If after 48 hours your otos still have not so much as nibbled on what you offered, remove it. You don't want it to go bad or moldy in your tank after all. It could either be that they have enough algae to eat (check their bellies, are they still chubby and not caved-in looking?) or they do not like the particular item you are offering.

Breeding

There are very few reported cases of otos breeding in the home aquarium. I don't believe it is because it is extremely difficult to do however, more like people either didn't do it on purpose, or just didn't bother documenting it.

Unlike most other fish, Otos need a densely planted tank, soft acidic water, mature algae growth, and clean clear water. They also do better in large groups. Lighting should be dim as they are nocturnal fish, and the should be twice as many males as females.

After they have gotten used to the tank and are swimming around and looking settled in, remove 20% of the water. Do not replace it for about a week. At the end of the week, add the water you removed back into the tank, but be sure it's a few degrees cooler than the current tank temperature. This should induce spawning behavior.

Your first signs should be a game of 'tag' between two males and a female. The males will chase the female around the tank, until eventually you see the pairing form a T.

Eggs are small and transparent jelly-like masses which will cling to whatever surface they were laid on. Most will be laid on plants, leaves and stems. Sometimes they are laid on the glass of the tank walls, but those ones don't always hatch, either they get eaten by other fish in the tank, or sometimes they grow mold from being exposed to the brighter light.

Hatching takes around 2 days, after which you can see the fry hanging on the glass and darting around much the way the adults do. Adult otos will not harm the fry, so there is no need to remove them once the eggs are laid. As long as you have a mature tank with plenty of algae, you do not have to worry about what the fry will eat, they'll have plenty of food for a while.

Fry

If you do nothing from the point the fry hatch, you will have a mortality rate of around 50%. To keep more of them alive, do 10% water changes daily with warm, treated, aged water and be sure there is enough algae for all the otos in your tank. If you aren't sure, it won't hurt to add in some raw or blanched veggies as a suppliment. Remember to remove anything not eaten within 2 days.

It is also better to have them in a breeding tank, or at least a tank with no other fish. Oto fry can be a tasty snack for anything that can catch them, and it isn't safe to have them in a community tank until they are at least an inch long.

Tankmates

You can keep Otos with a variety of other community fish, however anything that regards other fish as food (this includes Goldfish) are not a good idea as tankmates for otos. They are quick, but since they do not grow over 2inches long, many fish may decide they are tasty snacks.

I have kept mine with betta, snails, tetra, mollies, platies, guppies, yo-yo loaches, corydoras and so forth. Goldfish, cichlids, knife fish, and oscars are better off with other larger catfish. The easy rule of thumb is, if the fish is a carnivore or picks on other smaller fish, it's better off left out of your oto tank.

Thoughts?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      troykhooim 4 years ago

      I love otos, they make very good resident in my planted tank :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have 3 otos and I didn't know any info about for a year. My otos live with many different kinds of fish, I had gold fishes with them they died i thought they died because the circle of life but when I read these info, I felt rlly badðmy poor gold fishes diedð 

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      just bought some today to put in with my platty, found all this info very helpful! thanks

    • Caromite profile image

      Caromite 5 years ago

      Very good informations! I love otos and think about buying some for my aquarium. Your lense is very helpful!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love my otos! They help keep my tank clean and they are very entertaining to watch. I also just recently found a few oto fry in my tank, so I'm excited to care for them as well and watch them grow

    • profile image

      vdanker 5 years ago

      Otos are among my favorite. My little guys thrive on zucchini, but I have also tried carrot and lettuce, without much success. I used to blanch the zucchini, but now I just rinse it well and place it in the tank. It doesn't sink and stay in one place, so I put it in a little clip. I leave it for only a couple of days, but by that time most of it is gone anyway. They will clean out the center the peel in no time.

    • TheZinc LM profile image

      TheZinc LM 5 years ago

      These little guys are great!

      Some of the most hardworking cleaning fish out there..

    • profile image

      nealberk 6 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: Excellent dialog. Yes, Corys are totally different in feeding and attitude than otos. Both do great in small groups (nothing cuter than a school of six corys swimming around together. My otos don't school but they like the companionship of others. Think - otos on the glass, corys on the bottom. Otos algae, corys bottom feeding regular fish food.

    • profile image

      nealberk 6 years ago

      Very good lens. Having been in the aquarium hobby for over 40 years, I have fond memories of having otocinclus over the years. My current 55 mostly tetra tank with loads of algae has half a dozen otos in in right now. They are quite content right now going from one patch of algae to another.

      You are right, most of the ones in the stores are underfed since they are caught in mass in the amazon, shipped to the US and Europe and placed in sterile store tanks. Such a cruel fate for these little guys. I get them as soon as I see them - before they are even further weakened. In a good tank they can live for a couple of years.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love these little catfish! I have about 10 in my tank right now, and they are so much fun to watch.

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      Very interesting and well-presented lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for your comment about buying them the day they come in. I just saw some that arrived at Petsmart today; I didn't know what they were. They had markings like pygmy corys but were so skinny. The store person didn't even know they were in the tank. They came in with bronze corys and so they were going to be sold as corys. They probably won't be fed the correct food and as skinny as they were they probably won't last a week.

    • profile image

      r2fish 6 years ago

      This is a nice and indeed a very useful article...!!!

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Unfortunately, Cory cats do not eat algae. They will eat food off the bottom of the tank, as well as at the surface, but that's about it. All the ones I've had have eaten the algae wafers if they're hungry enough, but not the algae that grows in the tank. If their bellies are nice and round, they may have been fed enough at the store and are just getting used to your tank. If they don't have chubby looking bellies, or have flat bellies, they're starving and will likely not make it. In either case though, you'll need to find something else to control your algae problem.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: So yesterday i went to my petstore and they only had 2 otocinclus and one was dead....so i bought a coridora panda catfish...But i only bought 2...should i buy more or are they ok, and my tank has plenty algea but its been 24hrs and they haven't made the slightest difference the lady at the store said they would work immediately, so i gave athem the sinking algea pellets that the petsmart uses and they still haven't touched it...I am starting to get worried

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: ok thanks

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: so your suggesting to get 3 or more otos to go with my female betta in my 10 gallon tank

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: its a 10 gallon tank i think and its just the oto and the female betta...should i be fine buying it or should i forget it

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 6 years ago

      @anonymous: That depends. Otos need at least a 10-gallon tank at minimum, because they need to be kept in schools of 3 or more. They don't bother betta, and most betta have no issue with otos in their tanks. But if you're planning on putting an oto in a bowl or a 1-2 gallon tank with a betta, I would say it was a bad idea.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @PNWtravels: Are they good with bettas? I have one female betta and i really want an oto but i want to make sure they will get along first

    • profile image

      emileejaden 6 years ago

      Very useful article. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice article, I do however disagree on one point. I do buy my Oto's the day they get into the store.

      The new batches are usually starving. in the stores here (the Netherlands) they end up in very clean tanks. Waiting for the initial batch to be decimated isn't going to make the survivors less starved.

      I usually take a small tank I used for rearing fry or temporary location for other fish and let it go really green. I also keep it well planted with algae growing on the plants. Oto's love soft green and brown algae. When a shipment arrives I get them as soon as possible and put them in the "dirty" tank for at least three weeks. I also feed them blanched zuchini and cucumber. Then they can move to other tanks.. By that time they are well rounded and very well fed. I buy them in groups of seven minimum. They really start feeling happy with 15 or more..

      Never lost an oto this way. I feel that leaving them any longer in the store tank (often with no food or the wrong food) will make them only weaker.

      Just my two cents ;)

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I had aquariums for many years and always had a few otos. They were one of my favorites. Nicely done lens with great information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is a very good article. I have bred my otos a number of times successfully and love them so much, they are great little fish, it's just a shame that they have such an awful time being caught and shipped, they deserve better :(

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: If you're really good about checking your parameters and doing frequent water changes, you CAN exceed the rule. However you have to make sure you don't skimp or put off checking and changing the water. It's generally not something you should do if you're new to the hobby, but if you're one of those people who is good at keeping up with stuff, and you know that if you do this and you DON'T keep up with it, you'll probably end up losing fish, then I'd say go ahead and try it. If however you aren't sure, then leave things as they are. You'll find that if you decide you like fish keeping, you'll most likely end up with a bigger tank (or... 3 bigger tanks in my case!) and when that happens, you can get the oto some friends for the larger tank(s). It won't stress him/her out too much to be alone, you just won't see as much of the oto as if you had a school.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      hello,i have a ten gallon tank and being new to fish keeping i decided to keep the tank simple. i placed three neon tetras in the tank after a cycle to see if my tank is healthy enough yet for fish. they did fine so i purchased three more. with six neons in the tank i bought a oto not knowing anything about them, ( I've done a ton of reading on them and now wish i hadn't bought the little guy without knowing anything). I guess that all i want to know is should i buy two more and have a group of three ( and exceed the 1 inch per fish rule) or just have one or two? any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      cool and cute fish, and good job on the webpage!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      very interesting article!!!

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Otos do best in a school of no less than 3. So I'd say 3 for a 10-gallon. As far as the guppies that depends on if you're keeping only males, or are getting both genders. Guppies have live babies every 45 days, and even though they will eat their own young, some always survive to adulthood. Which will quickly overpopulate your tank. Even if you get only females, most will be pregnant and even with only 1 mating, they can have 2-3 batches of babies even if you take the males out of the tank. If you only keep males, you can put 4-5 in with the 3 otos and not over-crowd as long as you do the regular maintenance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very helpful article! I just have one question:

      I am going to get a 10 gallon tank with Guppies. I'd like to add in some Otos. How many of each should I get? Thank you soo much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hello,

      Have you ever had any of your Otos get stuck anywhere? I count mine everyday to make sure they are all accounted for and doing well. Today I could only find three. I finally found the missing Oto wedged in a crevice of the driftwood. I thought he was hiding there until lights out, but he never moved. I had to pry the driftwood open in that spot and push him loose with a straw! I thought he was dead, but he's not. His back is scraped raw and he isn't moving much. I hope he recovers!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: Hi there,

      Just a quick follow up. I now have 4 Otos and I adore them! What is it about these little catfish? They are so much fun to watch!

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @Slyzx1: It doesn't sound too bad on the crowding wise, otos stay right at about 2in and should get along with everything else you have. The rams may pick on them a bit when they're guarding their young, but the otos should learn pretty quickly to stay away from that end of the tank. And with that much cover/hiding places, they should have plenty of places to escape the rams. Not to mention once they mature, you'll probably have oto babies as well if you manage to get both genders.

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @Slyzx1: It doesn't sound too bad on the crowding wise, otos stay right at about 2in and should get along with everything else you have. The rams may pick on them a bit when they're guarding their young, but the otos should learn pretty quickly to stay away from that end of the tank. And with that much cover/hiding places, they should have plenty of places to escape the rams. Not to mention once they mature, you'll probably have oto babies as well if you manage to get both genders.

    • profile image

      Slyzx1 7 years ago

      I have a 26 gallon tank with 5 fish: an SAE, Cory Cat, Male Dwarf Gourami and two German Blue Ram Dwarf Cichlids (mated pair). I also have about 15 live plants of diff varieties along with driftwood, flat rocks, lg lava rocks and some nice hiding places. My large piece of driftwood is starting to turn green with algae. Although I don't mind the natural appearance, I worry about the algae "overtaking" the tank. I keep the light on about 13 hours a day (on a timer) to aid plant growth - which is working great. My blue rams have already mated twice and laid eggs, although they are still only have grown. The tank is quite peaceful as the Blue Rams are peaceful community fish...except when they lay eggs, then they get a little territorial in their half of the tank, but no real aggression as the other 3 fish keep to themselves. Although my SAE is always active and working tirelessly to eat algae, it isn't enough.

      My question: I am considering adding 3 Otto catfish (as they say at least 3 are best) to the tank to help with the algae, but have my concerns: Will that overcrowd my tank (8 seems like a lot of fish for my tank size). When the Blue Rams breed (as they continue to do every couple weeks), will the Ottos cause a problem? Or should I say will the Ottos be terrorized by the Blue Rams when they are in their "parenting mode".

      I prefer not to reduce my lighting time because of the live plants I have...I cannot move to a bigger tank...and my tank is currently nowhere near a window (sunlight). I do not want a pleco for various reasons, and I also prefer not to use any chemicals unless the problem becomes unmanageable (which it is not atm)

      What answers/suggestions do my fellow aquarists have.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have a ten gallon tank with five aponogeton plants and one water lily plant. I have eight neon tetras and two ram cichlids. I keep four otocinclus catfish also. The aquarium is mature, and the fish are all living happily. My otos love boiled celery stems.

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: First, I'm sorry you lost the otos. Since they are wild caught and not captive bred, they are a bit touchier about water conditions. As for your ammonia problem, that would be directly tied into how many fish are crammed into your tank. Since you are slightly over the limit of how many fish can comfortably live in a 10 gallon (until you know a lot more about your chosen fish, stick to the "1 gallon per inch of fish" rule for stocking. This only applies to fish under 6in but it's a start.), you need to do weekly water changes of 25%. So about 3 gallons a week, not 1 gallon twice in 10 days. You aren't taking out enough of the fish waste if you only do a gallon every week or so. When you do the water changes, use a gravel vac to clean the gravel of excess food and other detrius. Check the plants over and trim off any leaves that look like they are dying. All this contributes to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate ratings.

      I've found that you don't have to leave the water out for 24hours before using it, I usually let mine sit with the water conditioner, about an hour to be sure the metals have been drawn out and then add it back to the tank. But if you have the space to do it the full 24, then good for you! *grins*

      Not sure there's much you can do for the last oto. Do you have any idea how long they'd been in the store before you bought them? If they hadn't been there very long, it's quite possible that they died from the stress of being caught, shipped, dumped in a tank at the store, then caught again, taken to your house, and dumped in a crowded tank.

      That does sound like a great deal on the used tank. However, you will need to clean the tank out well with lots of hot water before you put your fish and other items into it. A lot of times disease runs through tanks in pet stores (I work in one, so it's nothing against the stores themselves!), too many fish in too small of a tank means stress on the fish and depending on what they may have had, it's better all around to scrub it down with hot water. Do NOT use bleach or soap. Both could kill your fish if you don't get every speck out. If you wish to use a cleaner, you can use white vinegar mixed with baking soda and a little water. Scrub all 4 walls and the bottom of the tank, then rinse it well with hot water. You can use this on the heater as well.

      Moving the gravel and water over from the old tank is a good idea, and will cut the cycling time by a bit. But it will still need a few weeks to grow the bacteria in enough quantity to keep the new tank healthy. It isn't going to be magically cycled by the transfer unfortunately. Oh, and you said you'd used bottled bacteria earlier. That can work depending on WHICH bacteria you've used and how fresh it is and all. Some kinds work better than others. The fastest way to cycle if you really can't wait, is to find someone who keeps cichlids and has a cycled tank. See if you can't get them to give you some of the gravel with all the stuff still in it. You'll need to keep it wet and dump it in your tank as soon as possible or the bacteria will die. But that will jump start the cycle fast.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: Hello again. I'm the poster from above and as you predicted, 3 of my 4 Otos are now dead.

      But I'm not sure why, I lost one shortly after the post from above and though that was expected, the other two were within the last 48 hours (the very last just 30 minutes ago). They're the only fish I've lost too,the beta and all the tetras are happy and healthy.

      The day after my original post I went to a local fish store and bought live bacteria that it said would allow you to put in fish without having to wait the 6-8 weeks you mentioned. I also bought a total-ammonia tester and have been checking my water 1-2 times a day. The first couple times I tested it read at 1.5 mg/l but since then it's been at .25 mg/l. I realize 0 is ideal, but still... I've also replace 2 gallons of water within the past 10 days (1 gallon on two different occasions). Each time I've treated the new water AND let it sit out for 24 hours.

      I just don't get why they would die now a week after I added bacteria, more plants, fresh water, and I also remove all the snails (a by-product of buying plants from petco) so that that they donât eat all the oto âfood.â

      Is there anything more I can do that will help me prevent the last catfish from dying?

      One other question about cycling a tank: an aquarium store in my area is relocating and as part of the process theyâre selling off all their old display tanks. It sounds like a deal at fifty dollars for a tank, heater, hood and light, so Iâve been thinking about snagging one. But more to the point, if I wanted to move my fish over from the ten gallon into a twenty gallon could I just move all the rocks plants and water over and call that good since most of the bacteria will be moved with it?

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm SO sorry for the delay on this, my internet has been a little scattered the last few days. Weekly water changes shouldn't stress your oto out too much, but you can tell by looking at its color both before the water change, and after. If it's paled down and the stripe is blending in with the rest of the fish, then you should hold off on the next water change for a little longer. About the Nitrate, sounds like you're doing everything right. The only other suggestion besides water changes, cleaning, and watching how much you feed, is the plants. Live plants are wonderful, I have them in all my tanks. But you have to be careful to remove the dead bits and pieces that are looking like they're dying. Leaving them in the tank will also raise the Nitrates. If you already are doing all of that, then I have no idea what the problem is...

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hello,

      Thank you for the very informative article about the Otocinclus Catfish!

      I found that my local aquarium shop had around 7 Otos and at the time they told

      me that they would be getting more that Friday. I followed your advise and decided to go back that Thursday and buy four, before the new shipment arrived. When I returned they only had one left. It is very chubby and active, so although I know that they like to be in groups, I purchased him anyway. I plan on adding more after the new shipment has been there a week. She seems happy so far and I hope being alone won't stress her out too much. Do you think I should hold off on water changes for while, so that she can acclimate herself? My tank has been set up for 2 months and I have tested for ammonia and nitrite levels before adding any new fish. Both are at 0. I have a 28 gallon tank. I have 6 glo-fish, 2 Dwarf Gourami, and now the Oto. The tank has many live plants. I would like to get 3 more Otos and stop there, as far as stocking my tank. I have been doing weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) 25% Water changes. My nitrAte levels have been steady at 20 mg/l. I'm trying to bring that level down, but I'm not having much luck. I also vacuum the gravel when I do the water changes. Any suggestions on how I can bring the nitrAte level down? I'm careful not to over feed the fish and I only rinse the filter cartridge in the tank water that I have just removed.

      I would appreciate any advise you can give me.

      Thank you.

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Sounds like you have two major problems here. First is, yes, your tank is overstocked. Doesn't matter if "it's like they're not even there". They ARE there, and that leads to the second problem. If you've only had the tank set up a few days, you did not cycle it. Cycling the tank takes 6-8 WEEKS. Basically you are growing the beneficial bacteria that will keep your tank healthy. Since you haven't got them yet, for the next 6-8 weeks your tank parameters (nitrates, nitrite, ammonia) are all going to fluctuate up (sometimes really really way up) and down as they grow and try to do the job they're supposed to. You should never get more than a few fish to start the cycle with as most of them are not going to make it through the spikes of the cycle. As for how to "liven them up", you won't. They're going to be very stressed out during the cycle, they don't have enough food (unless you're supplementing, there's no way enough algae has grown in a few days to feed them), they haven't had time to adjust to being in your tank yet. They may or may not make it the full cycle, you're going to have to keep a close eye on things, test the water daily and do water changes as needed to help keep all the levels down.

      As for the 2 1/2 gallon betta tank? That is absolutely too small to keep otos in.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I bought 4 otocinclus catfish this past weekend due in most part to how they were acting in the store. However now that I have them in the tank it's difficult to find them most of the time. What can I do? They are in a tank with 1 female betta, 8 bloodfin tetras, 4 small live plants, 2 plants whose roots hang into the water and a half-coconut shell with moss on top. The tank is heated and filtered but I'd only had it set up for a couple of days before I bought them. Its also only a ten gallon and while that may sound greatly over-stocked all the bloodfins just hang out in one of two corners except during feeding so for the most part it's like they're not even there. So, knowing all this how do I liven them up? They don't look sick based on this article. The otos also wont school with one another when I do finally succeed in my game of "Where Oto" they're often very spread out. So, knowing all this how do I liven them up?

      One last question: I have a male betta that I keep in a 2 1/2 gallon tank, can I put otos in there? I don't want the betta to be lonely or w/e but I also don't want him to think I've put him on a new diet.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: I agree, they are livley, more so in the evening. I've had two now for coming up to 3 weeks everythink ok so far, they have stripped the tank of algae, and though at first wouldn't touch the algae wafers, they are now interested. They are occasionally chased by my Betta "Bruce Lee", but seem much too quick to be overly bothered by his pestering. They came in really useful for the algae growing in areas my Malayan Shrimp "Claude" couldn't really reach. Thanks for a spotless tank.

      More on the way once the bacteria has leveled out.

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Floating upside down is not normal oto behavior. Does his underside look red or is it white? Red can mean anything from lack of oxygen in the water (either during shipping to the store, or in your tank) to some sort of parasite or other disease. Is the belly of your oto caved in or otherwise flat looking, or is it nicely rounded and chubby? If it's anything other than chubby, your oto may be starving to death. There is also the possibility of a water quality issue. Test your parameters, if all is normal, it -might- be something in the water you use. Be sure to put dechlorinator in with every water change. If all else fails, it could just have been sick when you bought it. They're wild caught, not bred by breeders so too much stress during catching, shipping, and then transferring to your tank can easily kill them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have an otto named Julius, I've had him a day. I put him in with my beta, who chased him around, but didn't bite or bump, so I didn't think much of it, as I observed carefully for several hours. I came back today and he was floating upside down. I thought he was dead, but every so often he will swim a bit. What is he doing? Is he injured?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is one of the best articles I've seen on Otos, thank you for writing it!

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @MrFeeshmasta: They are usually very lively. However when you keep less than 3, they tend to be skittish and hide a lot. If you want them to move around the tank and be happy, you need to keep them in groups of 3 or more.

    • profile image

      MrFeeshmasta 7 years ago

      I have 1 Oto named George he doesn't seem very lively. Are Otos lively?

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Most likely, yes. Mystery Snails would be a better choice for a tank that size, they'll only get to be 3in across. Apple Snails will get softball size or a bit larger. So when you figure in 2 snails that produce more waste than the otos will, plus 3 otos, you're looking at a lot of water changes and tank maintenance using a 5 gallon. If that doesn't bother you, and you are willing to do the extra water changes, then go for it. But you'll have to watch the water parameters. 10 gallons would be a better option if you have the room for it, and then you'd be able to get a few more otos as well. The larger the school the more likely you are to see them playing in the tank instead of hiding from you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I was thinking about getting 3 otocinclus's in a 5 gallon, with 2 apple snails and was wondering is that too small?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @SilvaraWilde: Yeah, the otos and the bettas are the only things in the tank (I don't do snails...have had too many problems with them making the algae WORSE!). I've only seen this one clutch that was on one of my plants. The bettas completely ignored the clutch (at least as far as I saw). I took it out when I cleaned the tank a couple of days ago and put it in its own little bowl (with original tank water) and put a CFL lamp on it, just in case (at the time, I didn't know what the gestation was or anything). So, the answer is probably that they were never fertilized in the first place. I was more concerned about it being the bacterial bloom than the algae bloom, to be honest. My tank went from being crystal-clear and clean to so cloudy that the decorations were almost not visible in about a day. These otos are the toughest little things I've ever seen! Anywho, I'll just keep an eye out next time and see what I can do about birthing some healthy oto babies! :-D

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 7 years ago

      @anonymous: There's a few possibilities here. 1 is they never got fertilized in the first place. I've had it happen once or twice with other species. Another is that it's not the same set. Bettas will eat just about anything, including baby fish and sometimes eggs. Depending on how many are there, try counting them or doing a guesstimate as well as check placings. Then the next day, see if there are the same number of eggs in approximately the same places. If not, they are being eaten and the otos are laying new clutches in those areas. Which would be why you haven't seen them hatch! If it's not that, I've heard of snail eggs being mistaken for oto eggs before. Especially nerite snails. Are the otos and betta the only things in your tank? I suppose it could also be -possible- that the otos spawning induced one of your female betta to as well, so they could be betta eggs. In which case you know they aren't fertile and can remove them. If none of the above apply, then I'm really not sure. But I haven't heard of algae blooms hurting eggs before, I know they don't bother the fish, just us!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have three otos--two females and a male--in a 45gal bowfront with nine female bettas as tankmates. I saw one of the females and the male doing the "game of tag" courtship thing last week, but didn't realize what it was (just thought "Awww! That's cute!"). Next thing I knew, I had eggs deposited on one of the fake plants. *Still* didn't know what they were, so I just left it there. It was about that time I had a horrible bacterial bloom and subsequent algae bloom. It's been over a week and the eggs still haven't hatched. I'm guessing the bacterial/algae bloom killed them?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      wow that's mad i bought 2 of these and one day i spotted a thing on the tank glass when i looked there was 3 extra ones ,i couldn't believe it lol there doing great and the female is fat again so more eggs here we come

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 8 years ago

      [in reply to josh] Yes that should be fine. Gourami get along with nearly everyone, and a 10-gallon is not too small for Otos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      are 3 good in a 10 gallon well planted tank and the beggest being a young dwarf flame gorumi plzz right back or tell me on youtube by looking up theaqueriumkip srry if i spelt wrong thank u

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to SilvaraWilde] Thanks for the advice. I swear they look like they are going to explode, it looks painful to me. I can't seen to locate the 3rd otto in the tank. No dead bodies either...I have been looking for days. I have not seem them getting busy...but they 2 fatter ones often lay head to head on the stem of one of the plants ....for a long time. I have ottos in another tank and was considering moving one over just to see what happens, but that would leave only 2 in that tank...decisions....my hubby says to leave them alone....

    • SilvaraWilde profile image
      Author

      SilvaraWilde 8 years ago

      [in reply to Renee] It can be hard to tell if they're full of eggs, or just eating well. The best way is if you can actually catch them doing the 'game of tag' mating behavior early in the morning. The female should lay eggs soon afterwords, and as long as you have enough hiding places and plants in the tank, at least a few of the fry should survive. If you're sure they've got eggs and haven't laid them yet, you can follow the steps outlined above in the Breeding section to try to force a breeding and then spawning. Other than that, there isn't much you can do but wait and see.

      I have yo-yo's in my oto tank and they've never bothered them, or any fry from my livebearers so that may not be an issue. Then again, my loaches are odd and refuse to eat anything but algae!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      It would seem that I have 1 male and 2 females in my 30 long (there is a yoyo, 8 longfin rosies, and a bunch of freshwater clams). The females (during the last week) have had expanding bellies and I was hoping they were full of eggs, but no fry yet. I know the yoyo will eat them...but how do I know for sure if they are egg ready? does this species get egg bound or lay infertile? I have not had successful breeding of the rosies in this tank yet either. (Seems I am only good at Applie Snails, dalmatian mollies and panda corys so far). Any advice?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      very nice lens, well done

      Visit From SquidRank Random Lens Viewer

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thank you for the info in this article. I will be much more selective when buying otos in the future, as I recently bought two and one does not seem to be adapting well. I haven't quite figured out the problem yet though, hence why I am researching online!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      goody goody gumballs

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      thanks for the really useful info. im just starting a new tank but will wait to get an otto in order to grow some algae. thanks again

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      I've learned so much about Otos from reading your lens. Would love to see some polaroid pictures of them. 5*****

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Awesome lens! My fishtank is not set up right now but I need to get it going again. I love watching the fish.

      Lizzy

    • GypsyPirate LM profile image

      GypsyPirate LM 9 years ago

      Hhhmm, I think with what I have read here, I may have better luck the next time I try to own one of these little guys. Thank you for the helpful information!

    • profile image

      WhippetTalk 9 years ago

      Awesome lens! I was planning on getting 2 otos for my 30 gallong tank. I'm still in the set up phase and have a fishless cycle to complete and some algae to grow before I can get them though. I'm going to add this lens to my link list. 5 stars for some really great information for us newbie fish people.

    • WebGazelle LM profile image

      WebGazelle LM 9 years ago

      Great lens! You should add it to my Aquatic Pets Group.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I could really use a few of these to go with my fancy guppies. I have 2 other huge tanks waiting for my son to catch me some bass and crappie this summer. Won't that be cool?

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      Otos sound like just what I need to get rid of some of the algae in my tank.

      Whitefoot the Wood Mouse wants to welcome you to A Walk in the Woods. As you walk along, please remember to add your lenses to the plexos and to visit all the other lenses in our group. If any of your woodsy lenses have been admitted to the Isle of Squid, please add them to the last plexo and then read and review the other Isle of Squid lenses in our group.

      Again, Welcome!

      Evelyn

    • Sarah LM profile image

      Sarah 9 years ago from Minnesota

      Great lens! I love my otos.

      Welcome to The Aquarium Group.