Otocinclus algae eater is.... gone?!

mshanson3121

Since our snail died we decided to try an Oto. Got two. First one died the first night, found him belly up the next morning. And now this morning our second one is completely gone... vanished. We have 2 platys, a Dalmation molly and 4 neon tetras... I'm guessing one of them ate the oto? But which one? We were told that the oto would be fine with the other fish we have.
 

Dovah

Otocinclus catfish are notoriously sensitive. They probably died and then were eaten.

Did you get them from a "big box" pet store?
 

mshanson3121

Yes, we did. It's all we have available. Our ammonia levels are good but Nitrates gave gone up (80) since we had to get the new pump/filter. He seemed healthy as could be last night.
 

Dovah

They're usually starving before they even get to the store, then they starve there, all while having to go through multiple acclimations in quick succession. I'd check their bellies before you buy any. If their tummies are sunken in it's best to leave them be.

Obviously, getting those nitrates down would be advantageous. How did you acclimate?
 

tokiodreamy

I've read up on how sensitive otos are. This is because when they're caught in the wild and shipped to us, they're starved and the bacteria they need in their stomach to eat dies off causing them to not be able to eat. I heard that if you can get them to live past a month, then you'll be good. But most die soon. Its sad. Try to find a breader instead.
 

BamBamSorg

I had some good luck with those fish. I got 3 and only 1 died. They like a group of them at least of 6 and al of the water parameters need to be very good. They love plants and love diatoms (aka brown Algae). If you have a lot of algae in the tank don't feed them the wafers but if there's barely to nothing for algae go ahead and feed them but when you get them acclimated from a LFS you want to feed them a wafer so they have at least a bit of fuel. Good luck with your otos!!!
 

PetLover418

It might not be gone. My ottos are notorious hiders. They hide in all my decorations and like the spongebob house the best. Your otto might just be hiding.

Your nitrates should not be 80. They should be below 20. You should do a 25% water change.
 

BamBamSorg

Id say a good 40 nitrates means you should do a water change. Make that water change to a 40% since its so high. Yes I had a oto hide for a couple days then it comes out and starts eating algae again then hides then comes out. But with your case if you checked everything then it could be in the weirdest place like in a crevice or something.
 

Peacefantasy

I agree. Hes probably hiding because he is all alone
And...if your nitrAtes are 80, a 50% water change will bring it down to 40..
I would do a 50% water change now and wait at least an hour and do another. Two 50% wcs should bring you to about 20.
Then you may want to do another tomorrow.
Deff keep up with water changes. They are very important
 

BamBamSorg

That might be a bit much I would only do a 50% water change if it was over 100. Id say every 10% brings down at least 10 nitrates. I don't know but that is what I say. Yes Peacefantasy the poor little otos is probably lonely. That reminds me that I need to get at least 4 more I have 2 and they are bros. Swim together and everything. They chase each other then after a good game of tag they hang out on my amazon sword plant then nible on algae. Its adorable
 

Dovah

50% PWC should bring nitrates down by half, it's just math. Never heard of 10 nitrates per 10%.
 

BamBamSorg

eh who knows ive just done that and it seems to work. Do what ever is best I guess
 

sunshine2012

Yes, we did. It's all we have available. Our ammonia levels are good but Nitrates gave gone up (80) since we had to get the new pump/filter. He seemed healthy as could be last night.

I agree with Dovah about their bellies, but I haven't had any problems with mine. I usually put and algae wafer in my tank for them and my catfish Cory and snails to help with that
 

BamBamSorg

Usually you just want to feed them a wafer every week or so or else they will just rely on the wafers and not go after algae.
 

Dovah

I feed mine zucchinI every day, regardless of the presence of algae. They still eat the algae, they just have the zucchinI there if they want it.
 

martidoll

I still have the two I got from my local LFS (not a big box) and I love them. they breed them there so they are local and they have nice round tummies there!

I want more but have to upgrade my tank first. The two I have are eating cucumber today (they have a wafer or two a week as well). They have cleaned the algae up so well they need to be supplemented with regular food. They do hide very well but if I bring a wafer or zucchinI or cucumber out I wait about a minute and there they are!

Hopefully you can find a good supplier for Otos and get some more once you get your tank water right> I do love them they are busy busy creatures!! Fun to watch.

I did the drip acclimation method with them with a bit of tank water every so many minutes for a while and never had any issues with them going in the tank!

Good luck!!
 

BamBamSorg

Man I wish I had a store like that. I want to go to our nearest Fish store so bad but...its like 3 hours away :'(
 

WinterSoldier.

Okay so I have a pair of otos, both were happy and content and were little pigs, eating everything in sight. I got my water tested, it was literally immaculate. I went to ALDI and got a cucumber and fed it to the fish mashed up. The platys ate it quickly as did the otos. That evening I noticed on, Castor acting strange. Pullox seemed to be doing fine and he still is but Castor was acting crazy! This morning I see no sign of him!!! I have 6 shrimp in my tank and I guess its possible that they ate him but it just doesn't seem really realistic. I have had other fish die and they had only eaten a small amount before I removed it.

Pullox is fine, but what I don't understand is what happened to Castor? All of the other fish are doing very well, lively and eating well.

My tank is a 20 gallon walstad planted heavily aquarium. See pictures below

Castor was doing something strange the night before, see pictures below

Thanks for any advice and opinions
 

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Seasoldier

Hi, can't really tell much from the pics, is that the otto sort of nose dived into the substrate in the middle of the pic? If it is it's probably in trouble as they tend to be active little fish swimming back & forth from glass to plants to rocks / wood etc. My guess is it has unfortunately died & the shrimp have munched on it & what's left is stuck under something & not visible, sorry.
 

Jellibeen

If your tank is heavily planted, he could easily be hiding somewhere.
 

Seasoldier

If your tank is heavily planted, he could easily be hiding somewhere.
That's the thing tho, ottos don't usually hide unless there's something wrong with them, if they're happy they're very active little fish.
 

WinterSoldier.

I searched for him all morning. I even poked around with a net. His counter part seems to be happy and active so I wonder what happened to him

Hi, can't really tell much from the pics, is that the otto sort of nose dived into the substrate in the middle of the pic? If it is it's probably in trouble as they tend to be active little fish swimming back & forth from glass to plants to rocks / wood etc. My guess is it has unfortunately died & the shrimp have munched on it & what's left is stuck under something & not visible, sorry.

He tried to bury himself into the dirt, not sure what that was all about :'(
 

Seasoldier

I searched for him all morning. I even poked around with a net. His counter part seems to be happy and active so I wonder what happened to him
He tried to bury himself into the dirt, not sure what that was all about :'(

That's very uncharacteristic for an otto, they usually feed on the surface of things like the glass & plant leaves etc. It tends to make me believe what I said above, the poor little critter has died & you just can't see what's left if anything :-(
 

WinterSoldier.

That's very uncharacteristic for an otto, they usually feed on the surface of things like the glass & plant leaves etc. It tends to make me believe what I said above, the poor little critter has died & you just can't see what's left if anything :-(

Darn. Poor little guy I guess I should go get another to keep Pullox company. But I wonder what caused it.
 

goldface

I agree, seeing the pictures I can tell that's definitely not normal. Mine will feed on the substrate for leftover food that has fallen, but yours looks unnatural, off. Maybe it'll show up again. Hopefully.
 

fishferfun

How long have you had them? Could he just be adjusting to a new environment? I have heard that, and in my experience, they're a fairly sensitive breed.
 

Seasoldier

Darn. Poor little guy I guess I should go get another to keep Pullox company. But I wonder what caused it.

Ottos are known to be quite delicate, I've lost a few in my time for no discernible cause, they are sociable schooling fish so prefer to be kept in bigger numbers than 2, at least 6 & preferably more. Looking at the pic of your tank it doesn't look to have much algae growing for natural food for the ottos to graze on do you supplement their diet with algae wafers etc.?
 

Rainy day

Having had kept various oto species for a long time I can tell you they're incredibly sensitive ad die off without warning, just a tiny bit of stress and they'll succumb. All you can do is keep them well fed, in large numbers and meet their basic requirements.

Also, I trust you when you say your waters immaculate but could you share the exact results?
 

WinterSoldier.

How long have you had them? Could he just be adjusting to a new environment? I have heard that, and in my experience, they're a fairly sensitive breed.

I have had them since august

Ottos are known to be quite delicate, I've lost a few in my time for no discernible cause, they are sociable schooling fish so prefer to be kept in bigger numbers than 2, at least 6 & preferably more. Looking at the pic of your tank it doesn't look to have much algae growing for natural food for the ottos to graze on do you supplement their diet with algae wafers etc.?

I give them cucumber and peas sometimes, there was more algae growth but I guess they ate it all. There is some algae for them to eat tho

Ammonia 0.0
Nitrate .20
Nitrite 0.0
Total Hardness 150
Chlorine 0.0
Alkalinity Moderate
pH neutral

Again, my other oto is doing just fine. It was just the one, all of the other fish appear to be happy and content
 

DarkOne

I have otos in 3 tanks in groups of 3, 4 and 5. The group of 3 in a 20 gallon long are rarely seen and the oldest group I have. I sometimes think they died but when doing major work in the tank, they'll pop up. The group of 4 in my 40b are the newest and I usually see 2-3 at one time. I bought 6 and 1 died in QT and another died shortly after the move. I had 6 in my shrimp tank but 1 died so there's 5 but I see them rarely as well. They all occasionally pop their heads out of hiding to remind me I have otos. Out of the 12 I theoretically have, I can definitively say I have at least 6.
 

WinterSoldier.

Okay so BAD news, Pullox seems to be doing the same thing, kind of a frantic swimming around, I am not sure what caused it, I have a feeling he is on the way out as well, My water isn't bad, I'll get it tested tomorrow, the only thing I did was add a new plant, but I rinsed it very well, none of the other fish seem to be effected, just the otos. This is breaking my heart, my otos were my favorite fish.
 

Seasoldier

Oh man that's bad news, sounds like the one you have left is completely stressed, they don't like to be solitary & probably messing with the tank by adding stuff wasn't a great idea. Only thing I can suggest is to get some more oto buddies for it to make it feel more secure & then let the tank settle down before adding anything else, keeping the lights off for a while might help as well.
 

WinterSoldier.

Will do Seasoldier, turned off the lights and will hope for the best, added more cucumber thinking maybe hes hungry, the shrimp are having a field day.

So you think it was the plant I added?
 

Seasoldier

Will do Seasoldier, turned off the lights and will hope for the best, added more cucumber thinking maybe hes hungry, the shrimp are having a field day.

So you think it was the plant I added?

No, not the plant in itself, but having something new in the tank to adjust to when the little guy was likely already stressed by being on its own. Fingers crossed for you & Pullox.
 

WinterSoldier.

Well what happened is I added the plant, Castor started acting nuts, Castor disappeared, 36 hours passed, Pullox started acting strange. I don't think I can get him a new buddy, my fish store is out of otos, and they don't get shipments in till Thursday or Friday,
 

Seasoldier

Well what happened is I added the plant, Castor started acting nuts, Castor disappeared, 36 hours passed, Pullox started acting strange. I don't think I can get him a new buddy, my fish store is out of otos, and they don't get shipments in till Thursday or Friday,

OK, otos can be finnicky little things & from experience I know they can go belly up at the least little upset so I think you've just been really unlucky, hope your last one makes it.
 

WinterSoldier.

Me too, starting to plan what I will do with all the room I now have, from the one dying. I might go with snails to clean the algae instead of otos, wish I cld do a crying emojI lol
 

Jeffsglo

So sorry, could you maybe take the plant you added back out? Just thinking that might be the prob?
 

WinterSoldier.

Jeffsglo I think taking the plant out would cause more harm than good at this point
 

Jeffsglo

Jeffsglo I think taking the plant out would cause more harm than good at this point

ok, I was just thinking there might be something on the plant that is causing the problem.
 

Authmal

If there was something on the plant being problematic, it's already in the water. Water changes are a good thing. So is the ability to test your own water. I would hate to rely on someone else who may get distracted and test the wrong water, especially with a strip that loses accuracy as it gets exposed to air. Freshwater Master Test Kit is about ~$22 on Amazon, and tests for the major issues: pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. I think a GH and KH kit is ~$7, but I've never bought one, so I'm going by hearsay on that. Definitely get at least 6 otos. With them, more is definitely better.
 

WinterSoldier.

Good news, Pullox seems to have recovered from what ever was bothering him, I am going to get him a new buddy on thursday or friday
 

Aquatilibus

Authmal is right.....the more the merrier with Otto's. You shouldn't beat yourself up over losing these fish, in my 40 plus years of fish keeping, I have lost more Otto's than any other fish. Sometimes they will hide for days or weeks on end only to appear again as if nothing had happened. The usual rule is that if you get past the first 3 months with them then usually they will be OK. Inexplicably this fish seems to commit hari-karI for no reason at all, maybe its the traumatic way in which they are caught in the wild...but whatever causes their demise, in my experience they usually act erratically a few days before they die. If you can afford it I would recommend getting 3 more buddies for Pullox rather than just one....they will all be less stressed in a group but I hate to say this, the odds will be highly stacked for this to happen again.
 

WinterSoldier.

Aquatilibus I did notice him swimming frantically around, crazy, and eventually doing a nose dive into the substrate. He might have actually have "committed" hari-kari. I got him from petsmart so I highly doubt he was caught in the wild.

If I can get rid of my 3 platy juveniles, my glo fish, and my danio then I will get more otos, since they won't be a huge load the the bioload
 

BRDrew

Well. I'm a bit late to the party but I have some experience that may help. I kept ottos for a long time and even though I consider myself somewhat new to the hobby (I've only been really serious about it and about the research for 2 years) my first otto was in my care nearly 20 years ago when I was about 5 and I had many ever since.

Since I'm in Brazil my experience may differ from yours, I believe all otos I had were wildcaught
First things first the most common cause of death for otos is overstress. I usually say that you buy them already dead from the fish store. They may take a couple weeks to actually die but there is nothing you can do about it.

Second thing is that otos are a genus of fish with many species and paratocinclus are a closely related and very similar looking genus. Paratocinclus really like burring themselfs and I have observed that same behaviour with some species of otos and it is usually not harmful. However if your substrate is thick or covered by a carpet it will be hard for them to bury and they could get hurt (I lost one of mine that tryed burrying into coarse gravel).

Third. Sometimes they do act a little crazy, maybe because something startled them. I had one jump out of tank when I past running in front of it and I managed to get him alive from the floor on my way back after a fall from about 6ft and he is still going. I would just let them do their thing, have their crazy freakout and recover, no hand in the tank, no out of schedule water changes (unless there actually is something wrong with the water), I believe that's the best way of dealing with it

As everyone already suggested the more the merrier as in the wild they live by the 1000s.
 

Aquatilibus

Aquatilibus I did notice him swimming frantically around, crazy, and eventually doing a nose dive into the substrate. He might have actually have "committed" hari-kari. I got him from petsmart so I highly doubt he was caught in the wild.
I hate to burst your bubble WinterSoldier but It is difficult to breed Oto's in captivity, the ones that are will demand a much higher price. So only wild caught Otocinclus are available to hobbyists via shops like Petsmart. Because Oto's are vegetarians they have very little to eat in the bare tanks they are kept in, so combined with the long transit times from South America and the enormous stress they are put under whilst being caught and bagged by the thousand, they will always be in very poor shape when you buy them. Getting 3 of these little fish instead of 1 will not put any noticeable bioload on your 20 gallon tank and you really should be prepared for at least 50% fatalities when adding new Otto's .
 

WinterSoldier.

Okay... will do I just figured that they would be hard to get in the wild, so maybe I won't do otos since I don't like wild caught fish
 

Aquatilibus

Sounds like the ethically correct thing to do, although logic dictates that the only way we will collectively put a halt to this indiscriminate catching of Oto's is to try and breed them ourselves....which is how Angelfish made it....here's a YT vid of Oto's being caught in the wild...
 

BRDrew

Sounds like the ethically correct thing to do, although logic dictates that the only way we will collectively put a halt to this indiscriminate catching of Oto's is to try and breed them ourselves....which is how Angelfish made it....here's a YT vid of Oto's being caught in the wild...

That would be the ehically correct thing to do indeed. I myself avoid otos and my LFS only sells them every once in a while thanks mostly to people in our town avoiding otos. I usualy pick up the ones that are left behind in the LFS after a couple of weeks so they at least have a propper home.

On the other hand they are really hard to breed. I got one to spawn but the eggs didnt make it.
 

WinterSoldier.

They may be difficult to breed but if we don't start breeding them in tanks there may not be any otos at all. THAT would be terrible, they are so cute. And great for algae clean up as well and fun to watch. I will however for the sake of Pullox get him some buddies since they won't do much for the bioload and I will add cucumber every three days.

The reason I don't buy wild caught fish if I can avoid it is I believe that if we catch thousands of them at a time eventually they won't be any left. I try to avoid wild caught fish and tend to stay with simple easy to keep generational-tank-bred fish like guppies mollies, and platys. I do have some neons, but I am pretty sure they are tank bred

I think its also kind of crummy all the pain and suffering they have to go through just to get stuck in a tank without proper conditions. NO I avoid wild caught fish
 

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