I've had my oto for 4 or 5 months now because I was developing an algae issue. My tank sat for a month over winter break with an automatic fish feeder for the tetras and tons of algae for my oto. I got back to find some new slimey skin like covering on my artificial drfitwood, it choked the algae so I removed it because the slime kept coming back.
My oto's food source took another hit recently when I got a bunch of snails courtesy of new plants from Petsmart. There's no algae left for him to eat at all. I've been putting cucumber and zucchini in occasionally but only the snails eat it (which makes it easy to remove them) I've tried algae wafers but he never touches them on the bottom and they just fall apart and turn to smelly mush on the gravel.
My oto seems to be a mid-level kinda fish. He avoids touching the gravel like the plague and never gets closer than an inch or two to the surface. He usually hangs out on the glass, heater or leaves. So how do I get him to eat algae wafers or vegetables? It's going to be a while till I get rid of these damn snails. I'm afraid he'll starve. He's begun to lose some color and spends 90% of his time sitting still.
You sound like you have a pretty established tank which means even though you can't see it there is probably algae all over the tank, and with enough surface area (plants are great for this) you should have enough food in the tank for your lone oto giving the tank is large enough. And thats even with the snails, you can keep adding the algae wafers and veggies hoping one day he will realize its food but I think if you have anything 20g or over in tank size with lots of surface area for the minute algae to grow on your lone oto will survive. Although if you look in our profiles section you will notice that otos prefer to be with a few friends.
I had 3 otos in my 36g tank for a while (until I killed them with medication) and gave up on trying to feed them anything as it was well planted and I figured they were finding enough food.
Otocinclus are rather sensitive fish. In my experience, they tend to find food when they are hungry, and if the algae is depleted they quickly learn to eat sinking foods. Lethargy may be due to water issues and lonesomeness as zof said.
The water issue is obvious, from the "slime" which is cyanobacteria, the snails increasing, and the neglect. I understand situations arise for each of us, but a fish tank cannot be ignored for a month without trouble. A very large tank biologically stable can go for several weeks without food, but water quality is going to diminish quickly unless the fish stocking is very, very light.
Otos will only eat common green algae and diatoms (brown algae). They won't touch the many other types, or cyanobacteria which is strictly speaking not an algae but a bacteria (the green slime). This is due to organics (maintenance again, and overfeeding) in the presence of light. Getting the tank back in shape should clear this up. But the oto may be gone, depending upon what toll all this has taken.
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