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otos and algae
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Jason H
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Joined: 01 Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY USA

PostPosted: 2009.03.25(Wed)22:35    Post subject: otos and algae Reply with quote

I have a question about which types of algae otos can eat.

I added 6 otos to a relatively heavily planted 55 gallon tank about 4 weeks ago. After I added these otos they became the fattest otos I had ever seen. I lost one oto after it got stuck in powerhead. I fixed that problem by blocking those holes with filter media. Aside from that, the otos always seemed to be relishing the algae growing on plants and they buldging tummies. Given that it appeared that they happy, healthy and well fed, I have not provided them with supplimental food in addition to the algae that grows in my tank.

Today, the otos seem restless, constantly moving around the tank. This is a major behavioral difference than I've seen so far with these otos. Until today, I would see them munching away on algae growing on plants or resting.

I am wondering if they have eaten all the algae available to them. I think that I've read that otos are only able to eat particular types of algae. And only in its young or early stages of growth. I still see some green spot algae in the tank. Can the otos eat this algae, or, if otos can only eat algae in its early stages of growth, can they eat algae if it has developed to the point that I can see it?
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Joined: 11 May 2006
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: 2009.03.26(Thu)12:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Otocinclus are biofilm grazers, and this sort of film is found in a mature heavily planted tank without too much searching. The sort of films they eat will grow on glass, wood, leaves of plants, and surfaces of equipment in the tank. Some may call it algae, and in some respects it must be, but it is safer to understand it in terms of a film.

In a new tank, Otocinclus are well-known for eating the film known as "brown algae" which is another name for diatoms. Diatomaceous films are their "favorite" thing to eat and just a few of them can clear a tank of it over the weekend.

Films are rich in biomatter. They are essentially microscopic forms of plant and animal life, with a first layer of protein followed by the remaining components of a complete diet.

At first, there is a lot of activity as your team of otos clears the tank of the obvious visible films. New films are growing all the time in a healthy planted tank, so a supplemental food about once a week is all that's needed.

Fresh vegetables are good for Otocinclus. Scrub the skin of a zucchini (to get off pesticides) and blanch a slice for 2 minutes - just long enough to get it to sink. Other veggies are welcome, too, just experiment to see what they like. Peeled green peas, cut up sweet potatoes, and spinach are highly nutritious. Romaine lettuce is okay. They love apple slices.
Buy a food-safe clip at a kitchen store to get fresh fruits to sink to the bottom.

Give them a good quality wafer once a week. One wafer for 5 Otos is plenty.
Hikari wafers for algae eaters are high quality and specially prepared to cover all the needs of these little fish. Omega One Veggie Rounds are ideal. There are other brands, too, but read the labels. Make sure all the proteins, plant complements, carbohydrates, and vitamins are included. This is the prepared version of what they would graze in the wild.

Great care must be taken to keep fresh, meaty foods away from your Otocinclus. I lost two to a fresh salmon-eating frenzy. The salmon was meant for the corys but they didn't eat it fast enough, and the otos ended up eating more than they should have. They died suddenly, a few hours later, and floated to the top, bloated. This is a concern in the aquarium. Unless you have a lot of fast swimmers and quick eaters, the otos may get to foods they shouldn't have.

There will always be a lot of activity at first, and then they settle down in their favorite area of current. Make sure you have a nice current going in your tank, because they will eventually die without it. (I once learned this the hard way.) Make them comfortable. Set up a nice piece of wood for them to cling to, in a quiet area that's shady with plants, near the outflow of your filter. They will keep up with new films/algae growth, and eat leftover sinking food if they can find it.

Any change in behavior can most likely be attributed to some change in the tank. Otos do not like changes, and I kid you not. Changing too much water at a time can result in an oto showing up dead hours later.

Did you make any major changes the day before they started acting strange? Water change? New fish? Moving objects around?

They do not eat green spot algae. Unless you find it unsightly, I would not worry about the green spot. It is often a sign of a healthy, rich tank. A razor blade will take it off. What I used to do is scrape off some and leave some in a nice pattern at the top near the water line, where the plants were thick. They may graze the first layer of film on the green spot algae.
Very Happy
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Jason H
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Joined: 01 Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY USA

PostPosted: 2009.03.27(Fri)16:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for such a thorough, thoughtful reply!!!!

The tanks has plenty of water movement, wood and plants. I can't think of any changes in the tank prior to their change in behavior. They've calmed down in the past couple of days and I will start supplimenting their diet with veggies and an Omega One Veggie Round weekly.
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Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Location: Texas, USA

PostPosted: 2009.05.13(Wed)11:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is interesting because I have two tanks, one that I have sucessfully kept otos in and the other that I have not been able to keep them in. Both tanks are mature, but one is planted and the other is "fake planted". (both also contain cories and docile tetras) The otos in the planted tank are doing well and have been in there for almost 2 years now. The fake planted tank has plenty of what I call brown algae, but the otos don't live very long even though I still see algae. I have not supplemented the diet of the otos in the planted tank, should I have supplemented the ones in the fake planted tank to make up for lack of biofilm diversity?
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Joined: 15 Jul 2010

PostPosted: 2010.07.17(Sat)3:00    Post subject: Thanks for your explanation Reply with quote

I have 2 otos in a 20 gallon planted tank - we just stocked it over the past 2-3 weeks. so far so good! my question about the oto's veggies and wafers is: how long can you leave uneaten parts of each laying in the tank? I don't want to damage the water quality but I want to make sure the otos have enough to eat. there's not much algae for them to eat; they hang out mostly on the plants.

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Joined: 22 Dec 2006
Location: Wheaton IL

PostPosted: 2010.07.17(Sat)5:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just monitor how much they are able to consume in a period of about 1-2 days. You can always break an algae wafer of cut a smaller slice of veggies. I can't see either one really damaging your water quality too bad. Just make sure not to overfeed them.
Trying to spawn Barbs and Clowns
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Joined: 23 May 2010
Location: Alaska

PostPosted: 2010.07.18(Sun)14:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

Million dollar question- how do I keep my tiger barbs fromeating all my Otos food? Every time I sink a wafer in the barbs find it first. I have even done the last few while my barbs were on the other sideof the tank eating, and they found it as soon as their other food was gone Sad Will the trick some people have posted for plecos of hiding a wafer inside a slice of zuchini work for otos also?
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Joined: 24 Jul 2010
Location: New Jersey, USA

PostPosted: 2011.02.09(Wed)22:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

melissaann wrote:
The otos in the planted tank are doing well and have been in there for almost 2 years now. The fake planted tank has plenty of what I call brown algae, but the otos don't live very long even though I still see algae.

That's very interesting because I have had the same problem with otos in my fathers 55g that has only fake plants. They never seem to last very long! The water parameters are always monitored, there's a nice current in the tank, maintenance is meticulous, and I supplement their diet, but they just don't last! I'm thinking of trying a BN pleco instead. The tank is actually my fathers, but I maintain it. He has a red tail shark thats about 3 inches long in there (despite my protest).. anyone know if that would be an issue as far as compatibility with a BN?
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