Dwarf Oto Cat (Otocinclus sp.)
Otocinclus sp. are the smaller but very beneficial and hard-working catfishes. They can be kept with other peaceful fish or invertebrates very well. Oto cats are one of the best algae-eating fishes that can be kept in aquariums. They mostly consume soft green algae over the surfaces. The maximum size for this fish is around 5 cm and this makes it favorable to keep in especially planted tanks and with small fish or shrimps. This fish has many relatives which also have a very similar phenotype and attitude. Most common relatives in live fish markets or pet shops are otocinclus affinis, o. vittatus, o. macrospilus with Otocinclus Huaorani.
In nature, they live in medium current springs, well planted and sandy bottoms with tree leaves and driftwoods that are rich in soft algae source and have clean waters.
pH: 5,5 – 8,0
Hardness: 6-15 dGH
They are best in tanks with acidic or slightly alkaline water. Filtration and water quality should be good. Ammonia and nitrite zero, and nitrate almost zero.
Otocinclus species are love to feed on soft algae. They feed on algae growing on rocks, glasses, and driftwoods. In case there is no sufficient algae growth, they need additional feeding. Algae wafers, boiled vegetables like zucchini, and other vegetable fish foods are suitable for feeding them.
Tank breeding and raising of these species are not easy and most of the reported broods are accidentally or not sustainable. Raising the fry is also another factor limiting the captive breeding of these species. Breeding behaviors are very similar to corydoras species. They are also having the behavior before breeding such as moving up and down in the glass and cleaning the surface for breeding. And they are spawning in T position like corydoras species.
Females lay one or two eggs in each attempt and then attach the sticky eggs to the mosses, under the large leaves of plants, or sometimes to driftwoods. One female can lay eggs up to 20-40. Eggs will hatch depending on the temperature within 3-5 days. Fry will feed on micro-organisms in the first few weeks and then start to feed on algae. In a community tank, it is not easy to hatch and raise the fry so it is suggested to prepare a breeding tank with at least 6-10 otocats to increase the possibility of successful breeding.