Breeding Otocinclus: The Whole Process

FinsandWhiskers

Hey all! I recently joined after looking through a few threads on otocinclus breeding and finding the whole process to be incomplete with information. Breeding otocinclus is still an uncommon feat, and the more experience we have the better, so I thought I would share mine day by day in hopes of gathering more information for an entire video I will be making, and to help others in attempting this as well. I would love for there to be more otocinclus breeders, all things considered.

I've been an aquarist since I was a kid, but I have been raising otocinclus for only nearly 2 years. They quickly became my favorite fish in the world. A lot of people use them to get rid of algae, or as peaceful tank mates, but I fell in love with the species as a whole. I wanted more, and I wanted to know more. When I learned how they are caught in the wild, I knew I was going to try and try again to breed these fish. I used to keep them in a 10 gallon with a betta, so I didn't bother trying to breed them at the time. Well, nearing 2 months, I transferred them to a 25g planted tank. Great, breeding has already been on my mind for this tank... just not with Covid19 interference...

So as you guess, this was accidental. I only transferred the plants that looked like a jungle in the 10 gallon to the 25 so besides adding a few more nursery plants, it definitely has a lot of loose spaces, and I only had 6 otos when the plan was to add 15 for when it would be heavily planted, and then I would start the attempt to breed. Obviously, nature's plans came first. However since I have been thinking and researching this for a while, I quickly knew what to record, keep in mind, and go forward with. So let's start! Bear in mind, the fry are currently only 4 days old, so I will be updating you all from the present! We can go through this together.

Two weeks ago, I fed frozen daphnia to the 6 otocinclus–3 males, and 3 females. Some people say live food is the answer, and I did have that in mind, but it was because I needed to make room for frozen veggies since I'm stuck at home, and the daphnia didn't fit anymore. So I popped those in two of my tanks. The otos did chow down on the daphnia, but no mating calls were initiated. Fast forward to April 3rd, last Friday, I noticed two of the otos dancing up and down the sides of the glass. I pulled out my camera so fast, I didn't even think I knew what was actually happening, but my instincts did. Then they started the mating process. So here's everything I did the day before: A 40% water change in the morning. A bacteria bloom had occurred after I put in a large piece of new wood, and then also decided to put two algae wafers right before bed like a mad man so that the otos could have a chance with the endless snails. A calculated mistake...? I tossed in purigen, added an air stone, and did a 40% water change the morning I woke up to it because I was scared of anything happening. I usually only do a water change once a month, but considering this is only a one month cycled, running tank, things had to be different for a bit. A bacteria bloom is common for having this tank for just one month, it could have been a lingering factor and those events just played out the bloom. I have read many accidental spawnings after a medium-large water change, so I really do think that this is an important factor in breeding them. It isn't uncommon for tropical fish to need a fair wc to trigger spawning. I used water straight from the sink as chlorine and chloramines are not present in our tap water. It was cold for a fair amount of time, and then it got hot after racing to pour the water from plastic bottles into the tank while the other bottle filled up. Majority of the water was cold though, and this lines up with some experiences as well.

It's important to note that I do not run a heater in that tank. It's always running at 75f for most part, but when the sun hits harder during fall-winter with the blinds up for my land plants, it only ever reaches 78f at most. I use two sponge filters and a small wave maker for a natural current to mimic their natural environment a bit. I have turned off the wave maker since the fry. My pH is between 7.5-7.8, but tomorrow I will get the accurate reading for the video to come.

So here's the TLDR; timeline:
April 2nd - 40% water change
April 3rd - Otocinclus Mating & Spawning
April 4th - Noticed egg-looking spheres on wood but I think they turned out not to be the actual eggs, so they really did do a good job of hiding them from me
April 5th - 3 visible Otocinclus Fry
DSC04910.JPG
April 6th - 6 visible Otocinclus Fry
April 7th - 8 visible Otocinclus Fry
DSC04981.JPG
The tank:
DSC04786.JPG
All the living creatures in the 25g: Otocinclus, Ramshorn Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Bladder Snails, Nematodes, Copepods

Since the eggs I have started up a 3.7g solely for infusoria culture. The new wood had a lot of biofilm but now it is little because of the adult otos and snails. I am also trying to make green water in a jar, but any tips on that would be greatly appreciated, since this is a timely matter. As you can see in the recent photo, they have basically consumed their yolk sacs, and it is a crucial time for me to control their environment. I am sure microbes are already present in the tank but I don't know if it is sufficient. I also don't know if they can yet go for the worms like the adults. If they make it to the later stages, I have freeze dried brine shrimp, chlorella flakes, algae wafers, and veggies.

I will continue to update this (hopefully to the last stage), If you read this all, you're probably crazy about otos like me. Wish us all good luck!
 

itsEmma

Thank you so much for posting this fascinating info!

I have a group of otocinclis and would absolutely love them to breed. I have seen the up and down the glass and sort of 'paired' swimming in the tank but nothing has ever come of it (at least I've never seen eggs/fry) Mine are in a tank with Honey Gourami and Harlequin Rasboras so any fry could possibly have been eaten (?) ☹

Can i ask how big the fry were when you first spotted them?

The only person that I know on here that has successfully bred otos is the moderator Coradee (you might have read her posts on her experience) and she may well be able to offer some advice and tips.

I'm definitely watching with interest!

All the best,

Emma
 

MONSTER GOBY

Hey all! I recently joined after looking through a few threads on otocinclus breeding and finding the whole process to be incomplete with information. Breeding otocinclus is still an uncommon feat, and the more experience we have the better, so I thought I would share mine day by day in hopes of gathering more information for an entire video I will be making, and to help others in attempting this as well. I would love for there to be more otocinclus breeders, all things considered.

I've been an aquarist since I was a kid, but I have been raising otocinclus for only nearly 2 years. They quickly became my favorite fish in the world. A lot of people use them to get rid of algae, or as peaceful tank mates, but I fell in love with the species as a whole. I wanted more, and I wanted to know more. When I learned how they are caught in the wild, I knew I was going to try and try again to breed these fish. I used to keep them in a 10 gallon with a betta, so I didn't bother trying to breed them at the time. Well, nearing 2 months, I transferred them to a 25g planted tank. Great, breeding has already been on my mind for this tank... just not with Covid19 interference...

So as you guess, this was accidental. I only transferred the plants that looked like a jungle in the 10 gallon to the 25 so besides adding a few more nursery plants, it definitely has a lot of loose spaces, and I only had 6 otos when the plan was to add 15 for when it would be heavily planted, and then I would start the attempt to breed. Obviously, nature's plans came first. However since I have been thinking and researching this for a while, I quickly knew what to record, keep in mind, and go forward with. So let's start! Bear in mind, the fry are currently only 4 days old, so I will be updating you all from the present! We can go through this together.

Two weeks ago, I fed frozen daphnia to the 6 otocinclus–3 males, and 3 females. Some people say live food is the answer, and I did have that in mind, but it was because I needed to make room for frozen veggies since I'm stuck at home, and the daphnia didn't fit anymore. So I popped those in two of my tanks. The otos did chow down on the daphnia, but no mating calls were initiated. Fast forward to April 3rd, last Friday, I noticed two of the otos dancing up and down the sides of the glass. I pulled out my camera so fast, I didn't even think I knew what was actually happening, but my instincts did. Then they started the mating process. So here's everything I did the day before: A 40% water change in the morning. A bacteria bloom had occurred after I put in a large piece of new wood, and then also decided to put two algae wafers right before bed like a mad man so that the otos could have a chance with the endless snails. A calculated mistake...? I tossed in purigen, added an air stone, and did a 40% water change the morning I woke up to it because I was scared of anything happening. I usually only do a water change once a month, but considering this is only a one month cycled, running tank, things had to be different for a bit. A bacteria bloom is common for having this tank for just one month, it could have been a lingering factor and those events just played out the bloom. I have read many accidental spawnings after a medium-large water change, so I really do think that this is an important factor in breeding them. It isn't uncommon for tropical fish to need a fair wc to trigger spawning. I used water straight from the sink as chlorine and chloramines are not present in our tap water. It was cold for a fair amount of time, and then it got hot after racing to pour the water from plastic bottles into the tank while the other bottle filled up. Majority of the water was cold though, and this lines up with some experiences as well.

It's important to note that I do not run a heater in that tank. It's always running at 75f for most part, but when the sun hits harder during fall-winter with the blinds up for my land plants, it only ever reaches 78f at most. I use two sponge filters and a small wave maker for a natural current to mimic their natural environment a bit. I have turned off the wave maker since the fry. My pH is between 7.5-7.8, but tomorrow I will get the accurate reading for the video to come.

So here's the TLDR; timeline:
April 2nd - 40% water change
April 3rd - Otocinclus Mating & Spawning
April 4th - Noticed egg-looking spheres on wood but I think they turned out not to be the actual eggs, so they really did do a good job of hiding them from me
April 5th - 3 visible Otocinclus Fry
DSC04910.JPG
April 6th - 6 visible Otocinclus Fry
April 7th - 8 visible Otocinclus Fry
DSC04981.JPG
The tank:
DSC04786.JPG
All the living creatures in the 25g: Otocinclus, Ramshorn Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Bladder Snails, Nematodes, Copepods

Since the eggs I have started up a 3.7g solely for infusoria culture. The new wood had a lot of biofilm but now it is little because of the adult otos and snails. I am also trying to make green water in a jar, but any tips on that would be greatly appreciated, since this is a timely matter. As you can see in the recent photo, they have basically consumed their yolk sacs, and it is a crucial time for me to control their environment. I am sure microbes are already present in the tank but I don't know if it is sufficient. I also don't know if they can yet go for the worms like the adults. If they make it to the later stages, I have freeze dried brine shrimp, chlorella flakes, algae wafers, and veggies.

I will continue to update this (hopefully to the last stage), If you read this all, you're probably crazy about otos like me. Wish us all good luck!
Very nice.
 

FinsandWhiskers

Thank you so much for posting this fascinating info!

I have a group of otocinclis and would absolutely love them to breed. I have seen the up and down the glass and sort of 'paired' swimming in the tank but nothing has ever come of it (at least I've never seen eggs/fry) Mine are in a tank with Honey Gourami and Harlequin Rasboras so any fry could possibly have been eaten (?) ☹

Can i ask how big the fry were when you first spotted them?

The only person that I know on here that has successfully bred otos is the moderator Coradee (you might have read her posts on her experience) and she may well be able to offer some advice and tips.

I'm definitely watching with interest!

All the best,

Emma

Thanks for the response! The fry are definitely a strain on the eyes to look for. On the first day especially, they were about the size of a nematode worm, just only a little thicker. In my video to come, you will definitely see how tiny they look on the glass from afar!

Would love to hear from Coradee, we can never have too much information going around, and any additional help for the survival of these otos will be hugely appreciated!

Quick update: All 8 fry are still alive, and I'm beginning to see them move from the glass occasionally to the leaves of amazon swords and crypts.
 

FinsandWhiskers


IMG_8910.JPG

A little update on the progression!
 

itsEmma

They're brilliant!!
Do you think that they are eating biofilm? You said that you were making infusoria/green water but I wondered if you've seen them grazing on the glass or leaves now.
Emma
 

jake37

Do the frys eat algae or do you have to feed them some sort of 'fry' food ?

Thanks for the response! The fry are definitely a strain on the eyes to look for. On the first day especially, they were about the size of a nematode worm, just only a little thicker. In my video to come, you will definitely see how tiny they look on the glass from afar!

Would love to hear from Coradee, we can never have too much information going around, and any additional help for the survival of these otos will be hugely appreciated!

Quick update: All 8 fry are still alive, and I'm beginning to see them move from the glass occasionally to the leaves of amazon swords and crypts.
 

Coradee

Welcome to Fishlore.
Congrats on the spawn & fry, there are a few of us here that have been lucky & had Oto’s spawn
Mine have spawned a few times now with no help or intention from me I just leave them to it, apart from regular water changes & filter maintenance I do very little with my tanks.
They are in tanks with corys who spawn regularly so maybe they took the hint from them
I didn't do anything special for feeding the fry, they just followed the adults & were quick to find the zucchini & algae wafers.
 

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jake37

Wow easier than live bearer frys to raise. I have a bunch in a community tank but never seen any suggestion of wanting to spawn. For a while i had guppies (they eventually got moved to the guppy tank) but for 6 months afterwards i was still finding guppy frys that escaped the angels and loaches - i wonder if otto fry would be successful at such since they dont' require special food. My tank has very dense plants in several locations (it is 120).

I didn't do anything special for feeding the fry, they just followed the adults & were quick to find the zucchini & algae wafers.
I’ll have a look for my threads & pics later
 

FinsandWhiskers

They're brilliant!!
Do you think that they are eating biofilm? You said that you were making infusoria/green water but I wondered if you've seen them grazing on the glass or leaves now.
Emma
I do believe they are eating biofilm, and they are grazing glass, leaves, and the wood.

Wow easier than live bearer frys to raise. I have a bunch in a community tank but never seen any suggestion of wanting to spawn. For a while i had guppies (they eventually got moved to the guppy tank) but for 6 months afterwards i was still finding guppy frys that escaped the angels and loaches - i wonder if otto fry would be successful at such since they dont' require special food. My tank has very dense plants in several locations (it is 120).
I really wouldn't consider them easier than live bearers in the slightest. Oto fry are very small, and a lot of losses are because they cannot feed on things like zucchini or even copepods, daphnia, and brine shrimp until they grow more. Fry this small should feed on infusoria and microfauna such as rotifers. Otocinclus are not just algae eaters, and need more than supplemented veggies and algae wafers. They feed on the microfauna that hang out in the algae, plants, glass, and sometimes you can see those microfauna hanging around the water column.
 

FinsandWhiskers


Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 9.43.31 PM.png

An update photo! They are really starting to look like otocinclus now. Organs are also forming
 

SnookusFish

Any updates or changes?
 

FinsandWhiskers

Yes! The 8 otocinclus fry did not make it, unfortunately. I believe our biggest problem is figuring out a proper answer on what to feed the fry so they make it to adulthood. But I definitely have the formula to getting them to breed, as I planned for them to breed since it has been exactly one month, and now we have eggs again!

I made a video on the whole process of breeding, I hope I am allowed to share because it would be really great if more attempts were made so we can perfect what to feed these guys. For now I will focus less on microfauna and more on solid veggies/protein.
 

jake37

This is really interesting. I have 7 or 8 ottos in a community tank. I know i have a few females but never seen them mate; perhaps they do it at night and then someone else eats the eggs.
 

FinsandWhiskers

3 oto fry in sight! I also decided to make my own gel food recipe for them, so I will update on how feeding that goes. For now, they still have their yolk sacs.
 

jake37

This stuff is great. I kind of hope you put it into an article when you get to 50 points or have one of the mods help you now. I mean it is really useful information.
 

FinsandWhiskers

This stuff is great. I kind of hope you put it into an article when you get to 50 points or have one of the mods help you now. I mean it is really useful information.
Thank you! I would definitely like to spread this more.

I have not been updating because the growth is a slow process, but here they are, now 17 days old! 3 of the 4 seem to be my winners

IMG_9659.JPG

IMG_9658.JPG
 

FinsandWhiskers

1 month old progress!

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 7.49.14 PM.png
 

jake37

I'm curious if they would eat repashy soilent green given its gel nature.
 

FinsandWhiskers

I'm curious if they would eat repashy soilent green given its gel nature.
I've actually figured out what to feed, uploading the video now. I made my own gel food but they did not touch it during the crucial stages, the powder itself would work better

 

itsEmma

Hi!
It's so great to hear (and see) your little fry doing so well, he's really cute!

I just wanted to mention a couple of the powdered foods that I give my adult otos which the fry might like too.

Like you, I give the Repashy Soilent Green and Spirulina powder. I also use the Repashy Super Green and Bacter ae by Glassgarten (which makes a kind of biofilm and is mainly promoted as a shrimp food.) I just mix up a little bit of each with some tank water then shoot it around the tank so it lands on the leaves.

I agree with you, using the powders directly rather than as a gel is definitely the way to go with otos and I've recommended doing this on here a few times for people that can't get their otos to eat anything.

I'm still waiting on mine to get it together, but in the meantime, am really enjoying watching your progress!

All the best,

Emma
20200610_112747.jpg
 

mrsP

Facinating information, since I have 3 days old Oto fry in my tank. Totally surprise. And When I think back, timeline went something like... Thursday, 50% water change to large tank. Friday, rescaped small aquarium and transfered bush of java fern to rescaped small tank from large tank. Sunday morning, noticed first fry in small tank, nearly dropped my coffee cup on floor! Since then, more has emerged, counting to around 20 fry now. I also gave them some repashy soilet green powder, and added rose bush branch and 2 dry maple leaves to tank. Now today my tank is FULL of algae and microbes, (looks horrible...) and I'm doing daily water changes. I would say you are right about breeding conditions, I need to try to replicate it in couple of months.
 

FinsandWhiskers

Been a while since I updated, but the otocinclus fry is now 3 months old, going on 4 on September 11! He has full otocinclus colors now, and active as ever.
IMG_1412.JPG

IMG_1417.JPG
 

jake37

Was there just one or did you get a whole bucket full ?
 

FinsandWhiskers

Otocinclus fry hit a growth spurt! Is it even acceptable to call him a fry now?
F9820A2C-0B3C-4551-B555-E1790F7EA67F.jpeg
 

jake37

Do you just have one or were there a bunch in the spawn ?
 

FinsandWhiskers

He was 1 of 6 in the second spawn, but only he survived because I did not leave the lights on during the yolk sac stage which I realized made it easy for snails to accidentally snack them up in the dark. By that time, 3 remained, and I left the lights on until they were free swimming. I am led to believe I may have swiped 2 up when removing plants, a horrible mistake I shouldn’t have done until they weren’t so transparent. I did shake the plants but they truly just disappeared after that, so either they were weak or they were gone by my mistake. But this is an experience I had to learn on my own so I try not to beat myself up so much about it. I feel really proud and I can’t believe I’ve brought him up to nearly adult size.

Here he is next to a fully grown adult male!
6E0FB486-07DC-4A88-A26E-3AB65CA4AD6B.jpeg
E9787C3D-0704-410F-8ACD-9112C1345812.jpeg
 

JennCav

I do believe they are eating biofilm, and they are grazing glass, leaves, and the wood.


I really wouldn't consider them easier than live bearers in the slightest. Oto fry are very small, and a lot of losses are because they cannot feed on things like zucchini or even copepods, daphnia, and brine shrimp until they grow more. Fry this small should feed on infusoria and microfauna such as rotifers. Otocinclus are not just algae eaters, and need more than supplemented veggies and algae wafers. They feed on the microfauna that hang out in the algae, plants, glass, and sometimes you can see those microfauna hanging around the water column.
Hi! I came across a couple of your videos on YouTube about Oto breading when I was curious if mine might be pregnant, thank you so much for all your info/help.
I now have fry at different stages and eggs that are about to hatch(?) I try to provide food. Sprinkle solvent green, freeze dried bribe shrimp (which caused lots of detritus worms) I think they fry eat them.
And I left an algae tab in the water for the adults for a couple of days, I then noticed the tab looked like it was covered in a biofilm and the laid eggs there. I read info on web, was afraid they were bad eggs and took them out of tank. Should have I done that? Ive also read contradicting info about biofilm being good in tank.
Also, How do you provide food for all stages without getting a bloom of something? Also am dealing with algae bloom (green Water).
 

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JennCav

I was thinking the spot on my Otos was a concern, but as I’m seeing them close together it seems it’s in the same spot on both of them. Do you mind taking a look at this pic, is this something youve noticed on your otos too?
 

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