Do I have the right algae in my tank for Otocinclus? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-19-2010, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Do I have the right algae in my tank for Otocinclus?

I want to add 5 Otos to my tank. Right now my Swords have a coating of what looks like cinnamon on most of the leaves, some more heavy then others. Is that the right type of algae to introduce Otos to my tank with?

I read in the profile that they don't eat prepared foods until they've had algae to get them used to the tank. Any help would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-19-2010, 12:43 PM
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Sounds like it may be diatoms (brown algae) which can appear cinnamon coloured. Is this a relatively new tank, within 3 months? Diatoms is frequent in new tanks, and otos will readily eat all of it.

Ensure you have sinking foods like algae/spirulina/kelp tablets, disks, pellets, or wafers. One or two at the daily feeding; they will learn to eat these, although they may concentrate solely on algae if it is there.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-19-2010, 01:02 PM
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That is pretty much the kind of algae that I had when I added mine. They say you shouldn't put them in a tank that is not established. How long has your tank been set up? If it is a couple months you are probably fine. I was paranoid at first so I added a bit of extra light too make sure I had some algae growth. How many you add will of course depend on tank size.
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-19-2010, 02:30 PM
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I might also add how big is your tank? And of course the age of it? I have had 2 otos in my main 36g tank since the 2nd month its been started up and have yet to see them eat any prepared food although I haven't tried giving them any since the first week I got them, I realized a tank of my size with as few as I have has more then enough for them to eat. Now if you are going to put 5 otos in a 10 gallon tank it will probably be extremely important to get them going on prepared foods. If you do indeed have just a 10 gallon like what your aquarium profile says you might shoot more towards 2-3 otos in that tank other wise the supplemental food source of algae might not be enough for 5 otos unless you can get them going on a prepared food quickly.

But then again 5 might be a good number to buy understanding the mortality rate on otos from the fish store is rather high. Me for example, the first 3 I bought all pretty much survived the transition (although 1 later died of who knows what), but my last batch I just bought about 2 weeks ago out of 3 I only have 1 survivor.

So keep those things in mind and make the decision thats best for you.
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post #5 of 5 Old 09-20-2010, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the info. The diatom (brown algae) info was exactly what I was looking for - much appreciated as always Byron.

Currently I have a 10g tank that's been established for almost three months and almost all of my plants as well as a large part of my gravel is covered in what looks to be brown algae. In most profiles for Otos it says they do better in larger groups, so that's why I decided on 5. Though I hadn't even thought of the mortality rate. Guess I'm an aquatic optimist. Or, y'know - someone with little enough experience to remoain one anyway.

I'm planning on adding at least 5-7 more plants this week and getting them established and then adding the Otos because apparently they favor densely planted tanks - and that many plants will help immensely in handling the bio-load.

I wanted to wait until I had algae already in the tank to help them transition - then I had planned on growing algae on rocks and switching them in and out of the tank as a source of food - along with attempting to get them established on prepared foods. That way if the prepared foods didn't take, I would still be able to feed them.

So I get my plants at the latest this coming Saturday - spend a significant amount of time separating and planting them and then give them at least a week or two to establish roots before I introduce the Otos so they don't uproot the new plants by eating the algae off the gravel.

This may not be a problem but i have clumsy hands and aquatic planting is difficult for me so I'd rather be on the safe side. Plus I want to establish the best possible environment for the Otos to survive.
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