Tiger Otocinclus (Otocinclus cocama) Fish Species Profile & Care Guide

The Tiger Otocinclus is one of the smallest Catfish in the Loricariidae family and is a voracious algae eater. The Tiger Oto is a peaceful, attractive, sociable and useful addition to any freshwater aquarium.

It would be best to house these Catfish in an aquarium with good water movement, good filtration and moderate aeration. These fish thrive in a densely planted community aquarium with driftwood or rocks to provide them with plenty of hiding places from other fish species. Adding dried leaf litter will also be beneficial as the fish can graze on them as they decompose.

Even though Tiger Otos are peaceful and get along with other species, they are not recommended for the community aquarium due to their small size and timid nature. Ideally, it would be best to keep them in a species-only tank in small groups of at least eight individuals or with other small non-aggressive fish or freshwater shrimp.

The Tiger Otos body has a simple cylindrical shape which narrows towards the head and caudal fin. They possess a suckermouth, an armoured body, distinguishing them from all other genus members by its brown and white vertical stripe-like blotches, its complete lateral lie, as well as the W mark on their caudal fin.

The Tiger Oto has the most amount of teeth of any species of Otocinclus.

Scientific NameOtocinclus cocama
Other NamesZebra Oto, Tiger Oto, Zebra Otocinclus
OriginsSouth America
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan5 - 8 years
Maximum Sizeup to 5 cm
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature70 - 79 ℉ (21.1 - 26.1 ℃)
PH6.5 - 7.5
GH4 - 10
TDS36 - 179

Origins of the Tiger Otocinclus

Tiger Otos are found in the Ucayali River and possibly in the Maranon River in Peru in South America. These fish inhabit slow-flowing, medium-sized creeks and ponds with clear water and tend to occur in large numbers, often amongst marginal vegetation in the upper part of the water column, near the surface.

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Tiger Otocinclus


When introduced to an aquarium, you should have an adequate supply of common green algae or brown algae present or a good biofilm on leaves, plants leaves and other surfaces such as in an established aquarium; otherwise, the fish may well starve.

Once acclimated, Tiger Otos will feed on sinking foods such as algae wafers, kelp tablets, sinking pellets and spirulina wafers.

It would also be useful for your fish if you occasionally gave them blanched vegetables such as spinach, cucumber and zucchini.

These fish will eat other foods, but you must not feed them a diet lacking in vegetable matter.

Sexing the Tiger Otocinclus

Sexing these fish can be challenging, but in general, the females are more fuller-bodied and more extensive than the males. In contrast,

males possess a conical urogenital papilla behind the anus as well as a flap on the dorsal surface of the unbranched pectoral fin which is absent in females.

Breeding the Tiger Otocinclus

Breeding the Tiger Oto has been achieved, but unfortunately, there is not much information available on producing them. Presumably, the fry is very tiny and require extensive amounts of algae and other greenstuffs.

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Date Added: 2/4/2021 - Updated: 2/5/2021 12:04:56 AM