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Maximum size : 4 cm

Common Otocinclus - Otocinclus vittatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Common Otocinclus (Otocinclus vittatus) is a remarkably low-maintenance species that can thrive in a broad range of water conditions, provided the water quality is meticulously maintained. These peaceful fish are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts of all levels, owing to their interesting shoaling behaviours, exceptional algae-eating abilities, and calm demeanour, especially when tackling stubborn diatomic brown algae. However, due to their skittish nature, they require a peaceful and secure environment. These charming creatures prefer to stick together in groups and feed on the same area, so keeping them in groups of at least six is advisable. Of course, the larger the group, the better, but the aquarium must be large enough to accommodate them comfortably. Densely planting the tank with large-leafed plants, smooth rocks, and bogwood, along with a layer of rounded gravel substrate, provides an optimal environment for your fish to thrive. Unfortunately, this setup offers plenty of hiding spots for your Otocinclus and promotes algae growth on the tank's surfaces. These petite fish are vulnerable to larger or more aggressive species like Cichlids and Oscars. Therefore, it is wise to steer clear of species with a reputation for ferocity or a mouth big enough to swallow an Oto whole. Some popular tank mates for the Common Otocinclus include medium-sized Barbs, Corydoras Catfish, Angelfish, Danios, Dwarf Gourami, Rasboras, Guppies, Tetras, Mollies, and Zebra Loaches. The Common Otocinclus boasts a distinct cylindrical shape, narrowing towards the head and the caudal fin. Their firm mouths are utilized to latch onto various surfaces, while their fins are almost transparent. The thick, dark brownish-black horizontal line that runs down the lateral line from the nose to the caudal peduncle and the bold white line above it make this fish a captivating addition to any aquarium.

Common Otocinclus Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It is comparatively uncomplicated to discern the sexual dimorphism of the Common Oto. Specifically, females tend to exhibit greater size and breadth than their male counterparts, particularly when observed from an aerial perspective.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameOtocinclus vittatus
Year Described1904
Other NamesLDA023, Dwarf Sucker, Otocinclus Catfish
OriginsArgentina Colombia Peru Venezuela Brazil
Max Size4 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan3 - 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH8 - 10
70 - 79
21.1 - 26.1

Natural habitat

The Common Otocinclus, a charming little fish with a wide distribution range, is prevalent throughout South America. You can find them gracing the waters of various river basins, including Orinoco, Parana, Paraguay, Xingu, and Tocantins in the Amazon, as well as Beni, Mamore Bolivia, Rio Paraguay and Mato Grosso systems in Brazil, and even in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, and Argentina. These delightful creatures thrive in slow-moving, well-oxygenated shallow streams and rivers, which typically boast a neutral pH. Underneath the water's surface, you'll discover a soft, sandy substrate adorned with debris like rocks and wood. Though these habitats have some vegetation, it's not overwhelming, allowing ample light to penetrate the shallow waters, creating a perfect aquatic haven for these fascinating little fish.
 Xingu River - Brazil
Brazil Flag
 Orinoco - Venezuela
Venezuela Flag
 Paraguay River - Brazil
Brazil Flag
 Tocantins River - Brazil
Brazil Flag

How to breed the Common Otocinclus

Breeding Common Otocinclus in captivity can prove to be a challenging task, albeit not impossible. Optimal tank conditions, including pristine water and a nutritious diet, are paramount to the success of breeding efforts. An increase in water temperature of a few degrees, up to a maximum of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, can prompt spawning, mirroring natural temperature fluctuations in their native habitat. Once the breeding pair is ready, the male will pursue the female, depositing batches of eggs on various surfaces in the tank, followed by fertilization. Hatching typically occurs two to four days post-fertilization, and the fry will initially rely on algae and bacteria for nourishment. Once they reach approximately 1cm in size, introducing meaty foods is recommended.

Diet & feeding

The Common Otocinclus, primarily classified as herbivorous, predominantly subsists on a diet consisting of algae. However, it's imperative to supplement their dietary intake with other sources of sustenance. Dried food varieties like algae wafers or sinking pellets are ideal since Otocinclus does not typically feed from the surface. This supplementary feeding should be provided every couple of days. In addition to algae-based foods, you can also incorporate green vegetables, including spinach, lettuce, and zucchini, into their diet. While carnivore pellets, tubifex, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae may occasionally appeal to their palate, any uneaten pieces must be removed from the aquarium within 24 hours. Monitoring the algae levels within the tank is crucial in determining the quantity of supplementary food to provide. Above all, it's imperative to exercise restraint when feeding the Common Otocinclus and avoid overfeeding them.

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