Otocinclus Paralysis? Help me! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-03-2012, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Otocinclus Paralysis? Help me!

1. Size of tank? 20 Gallons

2. Water parameters Will provide later, don't have the numbers on me at the moment and do not have an accurate testing kit either.
a. Ammonia?
b. Nitrite?
c. Nitrate?
d. pH, KH and GH? pH = ~7.0
e. Test kit?

3. Temperature? Kept between 77 and 83 usually

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? FW

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? 7 months

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?

Black Ghost Knife: Juvenile, under five inches, was the first fish I added to the aquarium in May
Fancy Guppy: 1 adult male, was born in my tank months ago
Ghost Shrimp: 5, have had them for a month or two
Golden Mystery Snail: 1, (male?) have had him for about a month
Otocinclus (oto cat): 1, purchased on 11/29

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)?
I do not have another tank to use for quarantine. I simply acclimated them very slowly to my water and then placed them in my tank (minus the pet store water, yuck!)

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? Yes, many live plants
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Smooth, small gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? A few shells, a big rock with holes through it for the ghost knife to hide out in.

9. a. Filtration? Has an under-gravel filtration system (original) and just installed on the 29th is a power filter (with carbon, physical and biological filtration compartments) rated for 20-30 gallons. Very high water flow and oxygenation
b. Heater? A heater (just the kind that's a tube you stick in) rated for 20 gallons

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? Relatively bright lights (simulates sunlight w/ UVA and all) kept on about 12 hours a day (hectic schedule)
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? No direct sunlight

11. a. Water change schedule? once per week
b. Volume of water changed? probably 25%
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? treated tap water
d. Water conditioner used? aquasafe plus
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? once a week

12. Foods? amino one shrimp pellets and/or blood worms for ghost knife. Tropical fish flakes for the guppy. Algae disks for shrimp, snail and (hopefully) oto cat
How often are they fed? Black ghost knife is fed once or twice a day, guppy once a day, algae disks every now and again

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? seemingly paralyzed, but swims panickedly at times
b. Appearance of poop? normal
c. Appearance of gills? normal, rapid breathing

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? no
b. What meds were used?


I'll be honest. I bought the oto cat because I had seen him in the fish store looking like he was going to die for several days in a row. He was laying upside down and was extremely thin. So, being the dumb person I am, I bought a guppy breeder/isolation thing, stuck it in my tank, and put the oto in the breeder (after slowly acclimating him to my water, of course).

He has been slowly improving (I think) but is still very sick. He basically acts paralyzed most of the time, laying sideways or on his back and twitching slightly. If you use your hand to create a current, he'll kind of just drift around, not making any effort to save himself. He breathes pretty heavily, almost gasping. I have been providing algae wafers as well as some weighted down algea-covered leaves from my aquarium plants. I assume he has been eating as he looks much less thin and has been pooping but I have not seen him eat nor have I seen him attach to the sides or to anything like they usually do.

Sometimes he CAN swim, and he'll swim aroud extremely quickly and panickedly, but when he's acting paralyzed, you can take him out of the water and he won't do anything to save himself.

I'd like to let him loose into my tank to give him a chance, but I tried and he just sank to the bottom on his back, and I know that that would be too tempting for my ghost knife to harass him.

What could this possibly be? I know I shouldn't have bought a sick fish, I just felt bad for him. Any suggestions? I really want the little guy to live.
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-03-2012, 11:51 AM
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Just providing the limited info I have on the subject. Apparently, Otos have a less than average survival rate unless tank conditions are pretty much ideal. As I understand, they are all wild caught. That being said, and I appreciate your good intentions, you have a real uphill battle ahead of you. If he's eating, that's a good sign. Make sure he's getting mostly vegetable / algae based food. Almost sounds like swim bladder disease, but I don't think that would apply to an Oto. Hopefully, our experts will contribute here.

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InvisibleRain (12-03-2012)
post #3 of 7 Old 12-03-2012, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply!
I have read in my research that they are sensitive. He looked pretty much starved when he was at the pet store. I, too, hope for some expert knowledge in this troubling time (for my little oto)
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-03-2012, 04:14 PM
I can say that Otos like a strong current in the tank. It may be that it helps them breath. I'd remove him from the guppy breeding pen (or whatever it is).
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-04-2012, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Stormfish View Post
I can say that Otos like a strong current in the tank. It may be that it helps them breath. I'd remove him from the guppy breeding pen (or whatever it is).
I let him out last night- he survived and is laying upside down inside a small glass vase in the tank. I'll just keep my fingers crossed
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-04-2012, 02:09 PM
Well I suddenly really, really feel your pain. Just discovered the healthy — albeit too thin — Oto I brought home yesterday to school with my other two died. No idea why. It was swimming, munching on an algae wafer, and generally just being an Oto a few hours ago. :/
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-04-2012, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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That's stinky. I'm sorry. Mine is so abnormal... He's still alive now... Dumped him out of the vase and he's just laying on his back. He's less thin but the movement thing is so strange
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can't move , dying , oto cat , otocinclus , paralyzed

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