freshwater fish

Otocinclus Catfish: Care, Food, Size & Algae Eating and more


The otocinclus fish has a fusiform body, flattened on the ventral part. The suction mouth is located in a lower position; the eyes have a lateral vision; the reinforcing spine is in its fins with the exception of adipose and caudal. A specimen that can live a long time when in captivity. It is characterized by being a fish with peace of mind when living with other species, keeping in mind not mixing it with large fish as they can be its predators.

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Various, most have a brown stripe down their body
Lifespan:3-5 years
Size:1-2 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater- sandy substrate with caves
Compatibility:Peaceful community aquariums

General habitat

It is important to know that otocinclus fish inhabit waters with low currents and a large amount of vegetation. Being a very peculiar fish with a small size, it lives in the lower part of the waters and cannot be dragged. In order for it to live comfortably, it must have a temperature no higher than 26ºC and thus be able to have a life of five to six years in the aquarium.

Being a very peaceful and sociable fish,  no more than five specimens of the same species can be included. Bearing in mind that if you don’t have enough algae, they can die from having a deficiency of nutrients in their diet.

Generalities of the otocinclus fish

The otocinclus fish is observed located on the walls of the fish tanks, characterized by having properties that clean the aquarium of the presence of algae, being its main food. The head is slightly flattened that ends in the mouth. Standing out that the female has a larger and rounder body, this in comparison with the males. Observing a life expectancy between six to ten years, depending on the conditions in which it is.

If they are sure they can be seen in the fish tank, but having temporary stress, they will not leave the group to pair.

Perfect with the other specimens, which he often ignores. Plus it feels a bit inti.

Aquariums for fish otocinclus

The aquarium for the autumn fish to live must always have clean water so that they can grow in a natural environment. You can add various algae that are floating so that they have a choice of floating areas. In the same way, it is important that they have several places to hide from the presence of other fish in their environment.

Fish tanks for otocinclus fish

The autumn is a seaweed eater, and the fish tank needs to have a great choice of planted seaweed. Being a specimen that is sociable with other species, although they cannot coexist with the Loricariidae family, being larger than it; It can only be placed between five ounces in a tank that has a volume of 100 litres.

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The water must have a temperature not lower than 23ºC and higher than 26ºC for them to live healthily. The water should have a pH between 5.5 to 7.5. They must also have a soil that is very nutritious, covered with river sand so that the chin is not damaged. Likewise, it is advisable to install a wooden root so that the cellulose that is included can be supplied.

In general, this fish needs a series of vegetables in its diet, so that they grow properly. Being careful, since missing food can seriously affect your health, being much more sensitive to diseases.

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Aquarium elements

Filter: an important element to be able to retain and degrade the waste that has been produced by the fish, such as dead particles. Being ideal so that there are no toxicity levels in the water.

Lighting: essential for otocinclus fish, since they need a very bright environment during the day.

Heater: an element that must be submerged in water, so that a temperature can be set between 23ºC and 26ºC. That way, they will have suitable habitat and thus have a much longer life.

Types of otocinclus fish

Two types of otocinclus fish are known, being practically the same because they behave in the same way; their morphology is similar, as well as the needs they have within the aquarium. Understanding that although they have different names, the characteristics are similar, finding the main difference in the biotope in which they inhabit, that is, the country they come from.

Types of otocinclus fish

  • Dwarf otocinclus fish.
  • Golden otocinclus fish.

Caring for your species

For the two types of oto fish, as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, they have similar characteristics, so it is not worth describing them separately. This is because, given their similarities, it is normal that their species can be confused. Within them, it is found that both can measure a maximum of 5 cm long when in captivity.

They can live in a calm and healthy way, it is important that they have good lighting and a surface that can allow them adequate growth. They should have algae in the tank, but it should not be in excess, because they will eat it during the day. Being characterized by having a calm temperament and can even get along with other fish that live on the bottom.

They require a large amount of oxygen available without exceeding the 26ºC temperature inside the tank. It is also essential that they can have the presence of a filter so that the water has a constant movement. Being fish that are herbivores and clean the algae that are in their environment, achieving that they can clean important areas—leaving aside the concern of being able to have fingerlings since they do not eat them when they are in the plants.

Characterized by being able to provide great joy in the lower middle area of ​​the aquarium, since they swim throughout the day to eat algae inside. Although they are a bit slow, when you can see them you can see that they are specimens available in various colours, they have unique characteristics as a beginner in the care of fish.

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otocinclus fish hatchlings

The otocinclus fish is a species that is characterized by being very peaceful and with special care at the time of being able to wish them to reproduce successfully. This is because they have only managed to reproduce in captivity in large ponds because they are the ones that optimally resemble their habitat. Likewise, it is ideal that if you want to have more specimens, you can know that the females have a larger and more robust size, otherwise in relation to the males.

Reproduction of the otocinclus fish

You must have a series of already consistent algae within the aquarium with several specimens, keeping in mind to be able to adjust the amount of temperature to 26ºC so that they can be felt in their habitat. If the reproduction of the otocinclus fish is achieved, it will be observed that the male will go after the female for a time, until he can accept it.

It is important that courtship and mating can be controlled, because the moment they have succeeded in mating, the eggs are placed inside the plants or on the aquarium walls, leaving them forgotten and without worrying about their care. During the three days in a row, the eggs hatch, so special care must be taken so as not to let them die over the days.

Tips for breeding

At the moment that the young of the otocinclus fish have already been born, they must be administered a series of infusions that they can absorb, then as the days pass it is important that they be given a special food for them. Watching that the other specimens let them eat and thus grow healthily. Then they can be administered nauplii of brine shrimp, spinach that is cooked and crushed.

After about two weeks after birth, they can be given food like the parents. If properly cared for while in captivity, they can have a life expectancy of five to six years of life and will have several healthy specimens.

otocinclus fish feeding

The otocinclus fish are characterized by being vegetarian, although they sometimes eat almost everything that is offered to them. It is important that they be able to know the options that can be provided and thus be able to provide them with the food they need for a healthy life. In the same way, it should be borne in mind that if you have other fish in the tank, you should ensure that they can eat and thus be nourished.

What does the otocinclus fish eat?

Among the options that are to be able to feed the autumn, the brown and green algae are mentioned inside the fish tank, or that are provided during their diet. In the same way, vegetarian foods are cooked, such as zucchini, spinach, cucumbers, peas, lettuce, and a series of other options.

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It is ideal to be able to give it the importance it needs by having cleaning functions, this by understanding that a special diet must be adapted so that it does not have diseases. That is a fish that needs more care than other fish that are inside the aquarium.

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How to feed them?

If natural algae are found in the fish tank where the otocinclus fish are found, they will be able to obtain a diet rich in nutrients that they need for a healthy life. If that is not the case, it is important that it can be supplied by vegetable flakes sold in aquariums so that the absence of seaweed can be supplied. Likewise, the food should be varied by cooking pieces of vegetables that have the properties they need to have an improved life.

Mealtimes should be established according to the time you have, taking into account that they should eat two times during the day. If there are more specimens in the tank, one option is that the flakes can be administered during the night hours so that they do not run out of food; this being a species that is found swimming at night in the lower part of the aquarium.

Caring for the otocinclus fish

The otocinclus fish has a normal habitat in areas with abundant aquatic vegetation, within rivers that have a very slow and fast current—counting on an elongated shape and a flat stomach that measures approximately 4 cm. So if you want to keep it in a fish tank, it is important that it be given the necessary care and thus be able to keep it for a long time.

Basic care

  • Temperature: a fish that supports the temperature within the range of 21ºC to 26ºC, living comfortably and safely.
  • Water pH: Water should have a pH within the range of 5.5 to 7.5.
  • DGH water: the hardness for the fish to live otocinclus must be from 3ºd to 14ºd.
  • Nitrates: this type of fish does not tolerate a level greater than 10mg / l.
  • Food: they should be fed a diet of brown and green algae, vegetables that are cooked, among other processed food options that are adapted to their needs.

How to care for otocinclus fish

In order to take care of the otocinclus fish, it is important that you have a tank that has a quantity of 40 litres so that you can have the comfort you want at all times. In addition, care must be taken with the filtration it has, because being small they can be absorbed. These types of fish are very peaceful and shy, which adapt to groups of a minimum of 5 specimens, although it is not necessary.

In the same way, if you want to have different species of otos inside the aquarium, it is essential that you have algae included within the crystals because they can starve to have vegetables, algae and proteins as their main food. Likewise, a log must be included so that it can absorb the cellulose from the water.

A type of fish that does not need special care so that they can live a long time inside the tank, however, it is important that the appropriate guidelines are taken so that they can have a pleasant environment during their stay.

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