Otocinclus Catfish Care Guide

Otocinclus Catfishes

Otocinclus Catfish are small freshwater fish belonging to the Loricaidee family.

There are eighteen different Otocinclus species that have been recognized so far.

Some of these species are:

  • Otocinclus arnoldi
  • Otocinclus batmani
  • Otocinclus ocoma (Zebra Oto)
  • Otocinclus xakriaba

These fish are also known as Otto, Dwarf Sucking Catfish, Oto Cat and Midget Sucker Fish.

Standard body length of Otocinclus catfish is just over an inch and the lifespan is 3 to 5 years.

Their original habitat is freshwater sources in South America.

These species are herbivores whose diet is based on algae and other microorganisms.

In the nature, they usually live in schools, therefore, in the aquarium environment, they may move together in a school while searching for food.

They hang out on plants and in the subsurface materials.

The welfare of the fish in the aquarium depends on the amount of algae, hiding places, and clean water with high levels of oxygen and low levels of nitrate.

These species are shy and friendly, which makes them suitable for a tropical freshwater aquarium.

Feeding Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus species primarily consume algae.

They eat soft green algae commonly grown inside the tank walls, on decorations, and on plants.

These species also like to eat brown diatom algae.

Therefore, the tank should be enriched with this algae.

That’s why Otocinclus Catfish are a good way to solve any algae problem in your aquarium.

If there is a lack of algae in the tank, feed supplements (algae wafers) should be purchased.

Otocinclus catfish also eat cooked vegetables such as spinach and zucchini.

Initially, Otocinclus may not prefer to eat the vegetables so you should leave the vegetable for 12 hours in the tank in which your oto may accept the food.

Otocinclus Catfish

High Quality Food

The high-quality fish feed should be rich with proteins, minerals, vitamins and lipids.

Essential amino acids, phospholipids, and fatty acids are necessary for optimum fish growth and larva development.

These nutrients are required for the development of the nervous, immune, and reproduction systems.

They will strengthen the immune system of the fish and minimize the prevalence of the diseases.

The well-balanced fish diet should include all these nutrients.

Even though amino acids are fundamental in the diet, excessive protein supplements can cause poisoning.

The fish will excrete the amino acid in the form of ammonia, which increases nitrogen levels in water.

Excessive levels of ammonia are toxic for fish; therefore, consider renewing the water as much as possible.

Nutritionally Well-Balanced Food

Nutritionally well-balanced commercial feeds should be purchased for the fish’s diet.

Reliable feed products contain a declaration of ingredients and nutritional values.

You should confirm if the product is appropriate and safe for freshwater fish by checking the label of the food package.

High-quality products can prevent fish from diseases and increase the quality of life.

Recommended Well-Balanced Fish Food for Otocinclus:

Breeding Otocinclus Catfish

A group of Otocinclus catfish with different sexes should be purchased for spawning.

Once the couple pairs up, a long courtship period starts.

The male and female form a T-position, which leads to egg fertilization.

General Aquarium Care

Your aquarium temperature should be between 70-78° Fahrenheit (21-26°C) with a water hardness of 6° to 15° dH and a pH of 6.0 – 7.5.

Tank size should be a minimum of 20 gallons.

The water must be clean and should not contain ammonia or nitrites.

An aquarium nitrogen cycle and partial water replacement is important for the welfare of the fish.

The tank surface can be planted with pygmy chain sword, which is prone to algae growth on its leaves.

These plants can be useful for Otocinclus catfish feeding.

Otocinclus Catfish Tank Mates

In the aquarium, Otocinclus get along with Dwarf Puffer fish, Cory Catfish as well as snails and shrimp.

Otocinclus catfish are not suitable for the same tank as Goldfish and Cichlids.

It is also recommendable not to keep Oscars and Striped Convicts together with Otocinclus catfish either as these can harm, kill, and eat Ottos in a short time.

Oto Catfish

Disease and Prevention

General symptoms can give an idea about the fish’s health; careful observation is necessary to understand the health condition of the fish.

Heavy breathing, reduced appetite, and inactivity (for normally active fish) indicate that the fish is not doing well.

Common diseases for freshwater fish are fungal infection and parasitic infection.

Intensive aquarium care will help to keep fish from diseases.

Temperature changes, water quality, and ammonium and nitrite levels should be regularly checked.

It is important to separate and quarantine sick fish in another tank to avoid the disease from contaminating others.

In case of abnormal symptoms or behaviors, you should consult with a veterinarian.

Share Your Experience

That’s all I have for Otocinclus catfish care.

I might not be the most experience guy in this hobby so I would love to hear your experience with this fish.

Do comment below!

3 thoughts on “Otocinclus Catfish Care Guide”

  1. Otocinclus, I purchased 6 recently, 3 at a time. Put them in my established tank and also put agar wafers in. All of them have died!. I only have small tetra fish in my tank so they are not eating them. I do 60 minute acclimation when I bring them home. My Nitrates are only 5 to 10 ppm. They look good for 4 or 5 days then die. Frustrating cause I really like that fish!

  2. Very hard fish to keep the Oct cat nitrates really need to be at 0 at all times, which I found impossible to do with planted aquarium as the Ferts for my plants had nitrate in the bottle . So I could never get my lower than 10 ppm, so I just went out and brought Siamese algae eater instead .

  3. Hi, My otocinclus (I have 2) have bred!! I thought what I vacuumed out what I thought were infertile goldfish eggs. I use old water from tank cleaning to add nutrients for my aquatic plant clippings I’m growing in another container look in when I saw something move and behold itty bitty oto. What do I do they are in separate place but do I just let it feed on algae when can I move back in Help me


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