Care Level: Moderate
Live Plant Safe: Yes
General Description: The Otocinclus Catfish, also known as the Common Otocinclus, Oto or Dwarf Algae Eater, is native to rivers in South America, predominately in northern Argentina and Venezuela. There are many species of Otocinclus that make their way into the aquarium trade, but Otocinclus vittatus is the most frequently encountered. It is speckled brown with a white belly, has translucent fins and a dark stripe that runs the length of its body. A popular fish for nano aquariums, Otocinclus are extremely peaceful and reach an adult size of approximately 2″ making them a great alternative to larger species of algae eaters. Though small, they are mighty when it comes to controlling nuisance algae growth! While Otocinclus are relatively easy to care for once established, they do best when above average water parameters are maintained. Otocinclus are very social, preferring to be kept in groups of 4 or more individuals. There are little differences between male and female Otocinclus.
Diet Requirements: In the wild Otocinclus are herbivores. A diet made up of various high quality vegetable based flake foods, sinking pellet foods and algae wafers (occasional) are ideal. Offering blanched pieces of zucchini and cucumber, or raw romaine lettuce, would be an excellent treat for these algae eaters. Variety is the spice of life in order to maintain color, immune function and longevity of your fish. Otocinclus may scavenge on some protein based foods.
Care Requirements: An established minimum 10 gallon aquarium is ideal for a small group of Otocinclus. A bigger group (5+ individuals) will require a larger aquarium in order to ensure there is enough natural algae growth to support them. Otocinclus are intolerable of nitrite or ammonia spikes. Weekly water changes are encouraged to keep water parameters up to standard for Otocinclus (Nitrates < 30 ppm). Given their natural habitat of living in slow moving waters, Otocinclus do not like excessively turbulent water. The aquarium should be aquascaped with rocks and driftwood for coverage and places to hide, in addition to generous vegetation (artificial or live). Otocinclus require a sandy to fine substrate; too coarse of a substrate could cause injury. While Otocinclus are herbivores, they will not harm or eat your live plants. You may notice Otocinclus on your plants, but rest assured they are only cleaning algae off of them. Given their size and temperament, Otocinclus rarely conflict with other fish but can be easily bullied by more semi-aggressive species. Choose tank mates accordingly, and ensure that the Otocinclus will not be eaten. Recommended water conditions, 76-80° F, KH 4-10, pH 6.5-7.5.
Purchase Size: 3/4″ to 1-1/2″
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.