Common Otocinclus (Otocinclus vittatus)
The Common Otocinclus are an undemanding group that can tolerate a range of water conditions provided the water is kept clean and fresh. These Otos are a popular option for aquariums of all sizes due to their peaceful nature, interesting shoaling behaviours and algae-eating abilities, especially their ability to consume problematic diatomic brown algae. However, these fish can be somewhat skittish.
These Otos tend to stick together in groups, grazing on the same areas; therefore, it would be better to keep this species in groups of at least six. The bigger the group, the better; however, you must make sure the tank is large enough.
It would be beneficial if you densely plant the tank with large-leafed plants, smooth rocks and bogwood alongside a layer of rounded gravel as a substrate. This decor will provide hiding spots for your fish and offer surfaces on which algae can grow.
Unfortunately, this species's small size makes them an easy target; therefore, you should avoid larger or aggressive fish such as Cichlids and Oscars. Realistically you should keep these fish away from species with a fierce reputation or a mouth big enough to consume an Oto whole. Some popular choices of tankmates include medium-sized Barbs, Corydoras Catfish, Angelfish, Danios, Dwarf Gourami, Rasboras, Guppies, Tetras, Mollies and Zebra Loaches.
The Common Otocinclus has a simple cylindrical shape body that narrows towards the head and the caudal fin. These Otos have a firm mouth that they use to latch onto different surfaces. This fish displays a thick dark brownish-black horizontal line that runs down the lateral line from the nose to the caudal peduncle and a bold white line above that. Their fins are almost Transparent.
|Scientific Name||Otocinclus vittatus|
|Other Names||LDA023, Dwarf Sucker, Otocinclus Catfish|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Best kept as||Groups 6+|
|Lifespan||3 - 5 years|
|PH||5.5 - 7.5|
|GH||8 - 10|
|70 - 79℉|
21.1 - 26.1℃
The Common Otocinclus are widespread throughout South America. You can find them in the Orinoco, Parana, Paraguay, Xingu and Tocantins River Basins in the Amazon as well as Beni, Mamore Bolivia, the Rio Paraguay and Mato Grosso systems in Brazil, and also in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and Argentina.
These Otos inhabit slow-moving, well-oxygenated shallow streams and rivers where the pH is generally neutral. Below the water, you will find a soft, sandy substrate covered in pieces of debris such as rocks and wood. These habitats do have some vegetation, however not that much and have access to plenty of light as it penetrates through the shallow waters.
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What to feed the Common Otocinclus
The Common Otocinclus is primarily a herbivore which means they mainly live off algae. However, you still need to supplement this with other food. Dried food such as algae wafers or sinking pellets are ideal as they will not eat from the surface, and you should provide this every couple of days.
You can also feed your Otos on green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and zucchini. Occasionally they may eat meaty foods such as carnivore pellets, tubifex, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae; however, make sure you remove any uneaten pieces from the aquarium after 24 hours.
It's essential that you observe algae levels in the tank and use this to decide how much supplementary food you need to supply. Finally, please make sure that you do not overfeed your Otocinclus.
How to Breed the Common Otocinclus
Common Otocinclus are not the easiest fish to breed in captivity; however, you can do it. It all comes down to how finicky your fish are. The tank conditions will need to be perfect; this means pristine water, and you will also need to provide them with a nutritious diet.
Raising the water temperature by a few degrees will induce spawning, although you must not go above 79 degrees. In the wild, rising temperatures would be a natural hint to mate.
Once your fish is ready to breed, you will notice the males chasing the females around the tank. The females will then lay batches of eggs on surfaces around the tank, and the male will then fertilise them.
The eggs will hatch two to four days later, and they will initially feed on the algae and bacteria around the tank. After that, it won't take long until they can eat the same foods as the adults, but it is advised that you wait till the fry reach about 1cm before giving them meaty food.