03-30-2011, 04:49 PM
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1077 summarized the problems. Otos are wild caught, and like many catfish do not appreciate handling. They are very close to Corydoras in this respect, also their need for breathing air.
Otos get handled very roughly during capture. They have no food from that moment until they end up in the store tank, which can be weeks. So they arrive practically starved. They do not accept prepared foods at first, or at least the majority will not; if algae is not present in the store tank, they will be even weaker. Then you bring them home. If algae is not present in the tank--and this means common green or brown (diatoms) algae, as they will not eat any other--they usually starve to death. Once they eat algae and regain their strength, they do learn to feed from sinking foods. My five in my 115g tank come down with all the corys every day at feeding time.
Unless your water parameters are comparable to the stream they came from, this is another very major problem. A highly weakened, nearly-starved, fish now has to adjust its blood pH to something foreign to it. Plus the equally-critical issue of hardness for a very soft water fish. Many can't and die from this.
The fact that any live at all is a testament to their will to survive.
Otos are shoaling fish, and a single fish will have stress. Depending upon many other things and the individual fish, this may or may not cause health problems. They should always be acquired as a group of 3, although two is better than one. In a group they are again much more likely to make it.
As for the disappearance: once a fish dies, it will usually be quickly eaten by other fish in the tank. Catfish usually manage to get it first, being nocturnal and poking around into every nook and cranny. But any fish in the tank will, if it comes upon a dead fish, often make use of the food.