have sponge around the intake (if they are
low enough to the substrate), and any place
where a curious Otocinclus might venture
should be covered up. Generally, Otocinclus
are not known for their jumping ability.
They are, however, known to rocket to the
surface to gulp air (similar to Corydoras
behavior). Also, they are known to feed
upside down from the water’s surface.
Low light is their preferred environment,
around one watt per gallon. I’ve even had
some excellent results in tanks that are
below this ratio—I guess it all has to do
with algal growth. I keep some otos in
my high-light tanks as well with similar
(but not spectacular) results. If you have a
high-light tank, something floating on top
to diffuse the light will let you see your
Otocinclus more often.
To Plant or Not to Plant?
This biggest question of anyone
purchasing Otocinclus is whether or not
they should keep them in a planted tank.
The good news is that you can keep them
in a non-planted tank, but the bad news is
that you can pretty much throw any chance
of them breeding out of the window in such
a setup. The key factor for all tanks that
will eventually house Otocinclus is proper
algae growth. For a non-planted tank,
I would wait at least six months before
introducing your Otocinclus, compared to
the three months you should wait with a
Non-planted tanks offer fewer
challenges, but they require a bit more
attention to the needs of Otocinclus.
Supplemental feedings should be more
frequent in a non-planted tank—you can
use nori, boiled romaine lettuce, canned
or frozen peas, or green beans.
Since I’m a planted-tank nut, I always
have my Otocinclus in my planted tanks,
where they are happy enough to reproduce
for me. This is what keeps these guys the
happiest. But not everyone is a planted-tank person. With a little more care, an
unplanted tank is fine for otos. In the end,
they are great little janitors, no matter what
type of tank they are in.
Although it’s a bit tricky, it is possible to
get otos to produce fry. Once the Otocinclus
start producing eggs, you’ll have a good
supply of home-bred fish for a long time
Unlike most fish that we breed, Otocinclus
require tanks that are densely planted (think
jungle), soft acidic water, a mature growth
of soft algae, and crystal-clear water.
I usually use a 20-gallon or larger to
breed them in, since you need to have