When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Otocinclus Catfish- The Easiest Cleaner Fish You Can Raise

Should you’ve ever thought of raising an algae eater, you’ll have thought of the Otocinclus catfish. These creatures are a number of the best algae eaters round, and they’re one of the vital frequent catfish species you possibly can increase. These attractive items are straightforward to look after and are a preferred selection for rookies.

However not so quick! Earlier than you begin choosing out names in your Otocinclus, you higher be sure to are ready to lift one efficiently in your freshwater aquarium. There’s fish are fashionable for a purpose – they’re tremendous straightforward to look after. Nonetheless, these are some fundamentals that it’s essential know earlier than you resolve to deliver an Otocinclus residence to your fish tank right now.

Able to get began? Right here’s all the pieces it’s essential know.

Otocinclus Background

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus refers to a genus of freshwater catfish. Belonging to the household generally known as Loricariidae, the identify Otocinclus really refers to about 19 completely different species of fish. They arrive in every kind of sizes, colours, shapes, and patterns, and are also known as dwarf suckers and even merely as Otos.

These fish are all native to the continent of South America. They are usually discovered most frequently within the rivers of Venezuela and North Argentina. They aren’t discovered within the Amazon River, which is weird for tropical fish which can be native to South America.

Otocinclus catfish are usually discovered within the shallow rivers and small streams of South America. They like waters which can be slow-moving in order that they will connect himself to the river backside or the rocks as they search hungrily for algae.

The waters to which these fish are native are usually well-oxygenated. Due to this fact, the pH is normally impartial. The substrate is usually comfortable and sandy and comprises loads of particles like driftwood, rocks, and vegetation. That being mentioned, there aren’t normally a ton of vegetation on this fish’s native habitat – it is because the Otocinclus prefers to have entry to plenty of gentle

These fish are fashionable aquarium species not just for the best way they give the impression of being, however as a result of they’re employee fish – they may simply take away a lot of the algae in your tank subsequently should you discover that the algae in your tank is getting out of hand, you would possibly need to think about buying an Otocinclus. Not solely will they eat up a lot of the algae, however they’re additionally an ideal fish species for rookies. They don’t take a number of time to lift and they’re additionally enjoyable to observe.

As backside dwellers, you shouldn’t wrestle to search out this popular algae-eating species in stores. They’re present in most aquarium and pet shops, and you may usually buy one for only a few {dollars}. The worth tends to differ relying on the age, dimension, and species of the fish.

Otocinclus Look And Habits


Otocinclus catfish are nice species for tiny ten-gallon aquariums as a result of they’re very small – even the most important adults hardly ever exceed 2 inches. These smallest species of Otocinclus solely grows to round an inch in size, whereas the most important reaches solely 2.2 inches lengthy.

These fish are merely constructed, missing a number of glitz and glamor. They’ve our bodies which can be small and cylindrical. These slim towards the caudal fin and heads. They’ve sturdy mouths that they use to latch on to the algae-covered surfaces in your tank.

These fish are completely different than many different sorts of catfish as a result of they’ve inflexible rows of sturdy armor plating. This armor plating protects the Otos from aggressive, predatory fish and harsh substrates.

Otos can breathe air to some extent. They’ve a novel duct that’s located between their abdomen and esophagus that permit them to breathe in small quantities of air.

You’ll be able to inform women and men of this catfish aside, however this may be considerably tough to do. Females are barely bigger and extra broad, which you might be able to see higher when you find yourself trying down at your fish from the highest of the tank. Nonetheless, there aren’t many variations in addition to that.

There are a number of sorts of Oto catfish, and we’ll define the foremost variations among the many prime species right here.

The Frequent Otocinclus, or otocinclus vittatus, is discovered mostly in South America. It has the widest distribution and is a speckled brown shade. Its stomach is white and it has a brown stripe operating from its head to its caudal fin. Its different fins are virtually clear.

The Golden Oto, then again, regardless of trying rather a lot like eh Frequent Otocinclus has brown colours which can be nearer in shade to gold. The Zebra Otocinclus, or Otocinclus Cocama, seems – as you would possibly count on – rather a lot like a zebra. It has black and white stripes that run vertically throughout its physique. It has horizontal stripes alongside the pinnacle. Curiously, the stripes of some people don’t run as straight, so this fish is usually nicknamed the Tiger Oto, too.


The Dwarf Oto is one other frequent species. To be truthful, it seems rather a lot just like the Frequent Otocinclus. It may be differentiated as a result of it has a caudal fin with a novel design. The lateral stripe turns into paler simply earlier than it reaches the caudal fin. The tail, too, is completely different, possessing a big batch of shade.

Lastly, Silver Otos, or Otocinclus vestitus, seems very similar to different species of Otocinclus. In actual fact, it has the identical lateral stripe. Nonetheless, its brown colours are rather a lot nearer to silver, as you would possibly count on, by the identify of this fish.

In case you have an Oto, chances are you’ll notice that you just hardly ever see it! These peaceable, tiny fish attempt to keep effectively out of the best way, and are extremely skittish and shy. In case you have bigger fish in your tank, you have to to regulate them as a result of they generally tend to go after the smaller Oto catfish.

In actual fact, the one time you’ll probably see your Oto is ween it’s darting throughout the fish tank in concern! These fish can transfer fairly shortly, and should you’re making an attempt, for no matter purpose, to catch one in a internet, you’re probably going to have a tough time doing it.

As a substitute, these fish want to spend most of their days hanging out on the backside of the tank. They can even chill on the surfaces of the vegetation, partitions, and decorations in your tank. They’ll spend their time in voracious pursuit of algae, and if there’s no algae the place they at present are, they’ll fortunately transfer on to the following out there floor.

These fish aren’t education fish, however they have an inclination to stay collectively, preferring to graze in the identical normal neighborhood because the others. They’re fairly attention-grabbing to observe, as you possibly can usually get an attention-grabbing have a look at how they use their mouths to grip the facet of the tank.

Otocinclus Tank Necessities


Establishing your Oto’s tank ought to be comparatively straightforward. Since many fashionable aquarium fish are native to South America, these fish would require comparable situations and can get alongside effectively in most sorts of tanks.

Otos are bottom-dwelling fish, so it’s necessary that you just spend a number of time contemplating how the underside of your tank is designed. Be sure you use a sandy substrate or one that’s in any other case fine-grained. A rough-grained substrate will scratch the physique of your fish and result in critical diseases. Whereas these fish are a bit extra resilient to bodily harm than different sorts of catfish, you do nonetheless want to concentrate to the kind of substrate that you’re utilizing.

It’s a good suggestion to fill your tank with loads of decorations. The most suitable choice is to make use of rocks as caves, as these can be utilized by your Otos as shelter when they’re burdened or being threatened by different fish within the financial institution. You may also use reside vegetation, like Staurogyne repens, which is able to present extra shelter.

Vegetation are a great addition to an Oto tank for one more purpose, too. They supply extra surfaces and oxygen to facilitate the expansion of algae in your tank. Your Oto received’t eat your reside vegetation, both – he’ll follow it and take away the algae that has grown on the plant together with his highly effective mouth.

Though your Oto will eat a considerable amount of algae in your tank, you shouldn’t put all of the work on him. You continue to want to wash your tank on occasion to make it possible for ammonia and nitrite ranges are low. These ought to be at 0 ppm always. Conduct a water change each week or different week, which is able to assist take away toxins and hold your tank a more healthy place to be.

The temperature of your tank ought to stay secure and constant between 72 and 79 levels Fahrenheit. The pH ought to be as near impartial as you will get – ideally between 6.8 and seven.5. It is best to attempt to use comfortable water, ideally water than has a ranking that isn’t larger than 15 dH.

You don’t want any particular necessities in terms of filtration and oxygenation. You’ll be able to set up a small filter and an ordinary air pump to enhance oxidation, however the latter is unquestionably not obligatory. You may also set up normal aquarium lights, which is able to present your Oto with the precise quantity of sunshine he wants to remain wholesome.

Otocinclus are small fish thrive in small tanks. You should utilize a ten gallon tank for as much as six Otocinclus. Should you add greater than that, you’ll want to add a number of gallons per fish. The broader the tank, the higher – this can present your fish with extra floor space on which to search out algae.

What Do Otocinclus Eat?


Otocinclus catfish are herbivores – this makes it a bit harder to search out acceptable meals for them. Whereas they usually eat algae within the wild – and also will want to eat this in your tank – you would possibly want so as to add another meals, too. Naturally occurring algae within the tank can run out shortly you probably have a big group of Otos.

You should purchase algae wafers from the shop. These will be added each couple of days and can disappear in only a few hours. You may also feed your Oto fish meals from round the home. Some good choices embody finely diced inexperienced greens, like spinach, lettuce, or zucchini. You’ll be able to lower off a small piece and drop it into the tank a number of instances per week.

Monitor your Otocinclus fastidiously. Should you discover that meals stays within the tank 24 hours after feeding, be sure to take away it. It will scale back the quantity of waste that builds up in your tank. If you wish to be actually artistic, you would possibly even strive feeding your Oto some selfmade DIY fish meals!

Keep away from overfeeding your Otocinclus, as this could trigger well being issues. Additionally, you will need to regulate the algae ranges in your tank.

Otocinclus Tank Mates



Otos are peaceable species and received’t trigger issues for any of your different fish. There are literally thousands of tank mates so that you can select from, however you do have to understand that though these fish are usually not troublemakers themselves, they will turn into prey for aggressive or massive fish.

Keep away from maintaining your Oto fish with cichlids, who will simply search out and kill your Otocinclus catfish. Any fish which have mouths sufficiently big to eat an entire Otocinclus ought to be prevented.

That being mentioned, you continue to have plenty of choices. You would possibly need to think about species similar to Danios, Corydoras Catfish, Dwarf Gourami, Mollies, Zebra Loaches, Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Cherry Barbs, Angelfish, or Guppies. Invertebrates are additionally a great choice- shrimp and snails have distinctive behaviors and appearances, and also you don’t have to fret about them harassing your Oto fish – or vice versa.

Keep in mind, you possibly can all the time hold Otocinclus catfish in teams of their very own variety, too. In actual fact, it’s best to attempt to hold these social fish in teams of 4 to assist them hold themselves entertained.

Frequent Otocinclus Illnesses


If you’ll be able to preserve a wholesome tank atmosphere, you’ll probably be capable of increase a wholesome Otocinclus. Nonetheless, they are often fragile in some circumstances, so try to be vigilant for indicators of illness. Be sure you quarantine any new additions to the tank, and watch them fastidiously for the primary few weeks. They will generally be weak to motion and may die after you introduce them to the brand new tank.

Algae is a typical drawback within the Oto tank. Many individuals assume that if they’ve Oto catfish, they will not have to ever clear their tank. This isn’t true. Be sure you clear the tank frequently and regulate the parameters of the water. Be careful for ranges of ammonia, pH, temperature, nitrates, and nitrates that aren’t proper.

It is possible for you to to note most indicators of sickness in your fish instantly. The most typical illness to have an effect on freshwaterfish is ich. Also referred to as white spot illness, this illness causes an elevated charge of respiration, lack of urge for food, and full inactivity.

Different indicators of potential illness in your tank embody a scarcity of vitality, shade modifications, wounds, and apparent blemishes. Basic discoloration may also be an indication of issues.

Whereas an unclean tank is the most typical wrongdoer behind typical fish illness, you might also have a fish inhabitants that turns into unwell due to what you’re feeding it. In case you are not feeding your fish one thing that’s present in its pure eating regimen, cease feeding that meals instantly. Equally, switching up the eating regimen throughout at time of sickness will be sufficient to encourage the fish to really feel higher. That being mentioned, should you change your fish’s eating regimen too abruptly, it may well trigger stress that influences illness.

As all the time, should you discover {that a} fish has fallen unwell, it’s best to quarantine it and isolate it away from the opposite fish. This is not going to solely assist the sick fish to get better extra shortly, however it would additionally shield the remainder of your fish from any hazard.

Breeding And Life Spans Of Otocinclus

As a fishkeeper, there’s not a lot that it’s essential do to elongate the lifespan of your Otocinclus catfish. You simply have to just be sure you present them with the situations we detailed above. When given the right dwelling situations, these fish can reside for 3 to 5 years in captivity.

Oto catfish are additionally remarkably straightforward to breed in captivity. Although not as straightforward to breed as different species of fish, in case you are fortunate sufficient to get the proper mixture of breeders in your tank, that is one thing that may simply be carried out.

You will want to verify situations are optimum. Your tank ought to be clear and your Otocinclus fish ought to be fed a assorted, nutritious eating regimen. You’ll be able to increase the temperature barely to encourage spawning, however you shouldn’t go too far about 79 levels. Rising temperatures within the wild normally point out that it’s time to mate.

When your fish are able to mate, you’ll discover the males pursuing females, chasing them across the tank. As soon as the females and males are each prepared, the male will fertilize the eggs of the feminine. She is going to lay these ins mall bunches on surfaces inside the tank.

In only a few days, your fry can be swimming about. They normally will feed on the micro organism and algae which can be already within the tank – you don’t have to feed them any particular form of meals. It doesn’t take lengthy till the younger fry can eat the identical meals as their mother and father and different adults within the tank.

Is An Otocinclus For You?

Should you wrestle to maintain your fish tank free from algae and you have already got a small freshwater tank with another fish, the Otocinclus is a superb addition. It’s a peaceable neighborhood fish that will get alongside effectively with virtually some other sort of fish and it’s arduous to make a mistake that can critically mess up your prospects when you find yourself elevating this pleasant species.

If you find yourself buying some Otocinclus catfish, you may be rewarded with a brand new clear tank and a social group of fish – simply keep in mind to feed them some algae wafers from time to time, and also you’ll be good to go!

Leave a Comment