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Otos: Watch your nitrates. Early death is NOT normal!
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Joined: 27 Nov 2004
Location: Northern Germany

PostPosted: 2005.05.08(Sun)9:18    Post subject: Otos: Watch your nitrates. Early death is NOT normal! Reply with quote

I keep seeing "Otos tend to die in the beginning" in these forums. Well, I have never lost an oto and please let me tell you what they need:

I read somewhere that they need low nitrates. That, in my experience, is very true, at least in the beginning. (They get hardier after that).

So before buying otos, do large water changes. Get them under 10; the lower the better.

Remember, otos and cories and other like-fish spend a lot of time at the bottom. So, you might say, your test kit says your ammonia is 0 and nitrite is 0 and nitrate is low? But I tell you, at the bottom, there is constant regeneration of ammonia, nitrite (and nitrate in the end). If ammonia/nitrite really is 0, then what is your bacteria eating? I'll tell you, ammonia and nitrite! Wink And where there's conversion taking place, there is dense nitrate as well.

So can we all learn from this - no, otos aren't likely to die in the beginning just because they're sensitive. They die because of things that can be easily prevented. Same with cories. My original three otos are all grown-up now, doing fine, and my two new otos are still going strong (just got them four days ago). So let's please stop telling people, that otos just tend to die in the beginning for some mysterious reason. Get those nitrates DOWN, and siphon what you can as well as you can before you introduce new otos even if ammonia and nitrite are 0, where they should be.

I hope someone benefits from this! I didn't want to lecture, but I felt someone had to say this.

Happy Oto-Owning! Very Happy

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Joined: 05 Dec 2004
Location: new york, ny

PostPosted: 2005.05.08(Sun)12:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that you should definitely watch your nitrates when adding otos, or any fish that hails from the same waters (or any fish for that matter). The environment they come from is pretty much devoid of nitrogenous waste.

I disagree with the notion though, that this is the only reason otos are instable when they are first put in a tank. To my understanding, most otos in the hobby are wild caught because they aren't the easiest fish to breed and typically don't have the large clutches either. So, that taken into account, there are a lot more factors other than nitrates that account for their sensitivity. The average fish imported from South America goes through at least a week of 'transit time' (gatherer, to distibutor, to store- then on to your tank).

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Joined: 27 Nov 2004
Location: Northern Germany

PostPosted: 2005.05.08(Sun)14:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

After my post I considered that I have probably mis-spoke; I would say it's a combination of both. They're probably sensitive, moreso than a hardy zebra loach for example, but also, what I want to stress is that their early frequent demise is quite likely something that can be controlled rather easily.

Yea, they're caught in the wild--and so are zebra loaches and SAEs and many other "hardy" fish--so oto sensitivity comes into play. They're a little small and delicate species, but remember, they are coming from a clean natural environment to a filthy one, comparatively speaking.

But it's not only because they're sensitive, and one does not have to just accept that some otos will die and that this is to be expected. Just clean the tank and get those toxins down (nitrate is the most measureable one). That's what they need, in the beginning.

Even still, I wouldn't let the nitrate creep up too much. A lot of people think 25ppm nitrate is fine, but otos might not be able to handle it. People want to get away with the least amount of water changes; some want to change water once a month and we pat them on the back for it but ... I can't even imagine that. I see the gunk go into the siphon every 5-9 days (depending on how much I gave them treats and such) and it's no wonder people can't keep otos if they don't have a cleaner tank. The cleaner the better, and the better for a species like otos who are exposed to filth in a greater degree.

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Joined: 26 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.05.08(Sun)16:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a great section on that offers some explanations for why otos are so sensitive and gives advice on how to handle these wonderful fish.
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