Otocinclus Losing Color

Indygrl
  • #1
Hi,
I had a question about my otocinclus. I have a 10 gallon tank. I've had him for nearly 10 months and he always seemed happy. I feed him Algae wafers as he has eaten all the algae in the tank. A couple of months ago I got 2 more fish to replace a couple of fish so now I have two zebra danios, one Platy and one tetra as well as the otocinclus. A few days ago I noticed that my oto was looking pale. He was eating a bit but looked paler. Then today he looked even paler and he used to like sitting on a leaf under the filter but now seems to be mostly hiding behind a castle. He looks more light gray now instead of the darker gray with the thick stripe. Now his stripe looks thinner and spotty. He also looks thinner and doesn't have a rounded belly anymore.
I checked the water parameters today and they were as follows :
Ammonia 0
Nitrates 0
Nitrites 20
Ph 8.5( we have super hard and alkaline water but it's been pretty much that way for a long time and our water softener broke since a couple of months. He only turned pale a few days ago.
Hardness 300
Chlorine 0.5
This is the first time there is chlorine in the water even though I obviously use water conditioners during water changes. I changed the water out last Wednesday I think so it's been 6 days. I went to Petsmart and they recommended doing another water change and putting aquarium salt in the water and if that doesn't work to put an All in one fish medicine thing called Marineland All in one Remedy. I think he turned pale after my last water change 6 days ago so I'm wondering if the chlorine has anything to do with it as that's the only big difference in my water. I did a 25% water change tonight and added 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt. Is that too little salt? It said 2 tablespoons on the box but I was afraid it might be too much at one time so I only put in one. Would the aquarium salt be safe for all my tropical fish? Would it help at all? Should I just try putting the All in One even though I don't know why he is stressed out? I know there is probably no more algae left and he only eats a little bit of the algae wafer but surely that's not why he is stressed out is it or is it because there isn't any algae and he doesn't really like algae wafers all that much? Please help!!

Oops I meant Nitrates were 20 and Nitrites were 0. I changed the water after that and I'll check the parameters again tomorrow.

Should I add another tablespoon of aquarium salt?
 
goldface
  • #2
What is the salt supposed to do? My guess maybe that the new fish you added could have transferred something to your oto. Are the other fish seemingly okay? How long have he been accustomed to eating algae wafers or has it been very recent that you switched after the algae in the tank has been cleared out?

Another possibility is that it is just getting old. Fish lose color and appetite and then die.
 
Indygrl
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I didn't add any new fish. Same fish I've had for many months now. So I'm not sure what the issue is. I've had the oto for 10 months now. I don't know how old he was when I got him but I read that they live for 5 years so he should live for a few more years normally I'm assuming. They said the salt is supposed to help with its color and oxygen levels as it adds electrolytes.
I wish I knew why he's stressed out and losing weight and losing color so I could help him. He seemed fine till a few days ago.

He
I didn't add any new fish. Same fish I've had for many months now. So I'm not sure what the issue is. I've had the oto for 10 months now. I don't know how old he was when I got him but I read that they live for 5 years so he should live for a few more years normally I'm assuming. They said the salt is supposed to help with its color and oxygen levels as it adds electrolytes.
I wish I knew why he's stressed out and losing weight and losing color so I could help him. He seemed fine till a few days ago.
I've been supplementing with algae wafers for months so that's not new either
 
goldface
  • #4
The salt thing doesn't sound right to me and I wouldn't necessarily trust Petsmart employees either. Keep in mind that the salt added in doesn't evaporate, so to remove it you would have to do a water change. I'm not saying it's bad, just wary that you might overdo the salt. Perhaps CindiL can help?

May I ask what algae wafer you are using? Also, have you tried supplementing with veggies too?

The reason I ask is that, my oto gets really bloated/fat whenever I feed him an algae wafer, even when I break off a tiny piece. I don't think the fishmeal is very good for it for the long term. I give mine Omega One Veggie rounds, which is pretty good, but am planning on switching to NLS AlgaeMax, which is even better with the first 7-8 ingredients being algae/plant matter. So I try to only give him it to him once in a while, while mostly letting him graze on biofilm and algae, as well as zuchinni.
 
Philosoraptor
  • #5
Don't put salt in the water as it can hurt plants and scaleless fish (such as Otocinclus which have spiny plates). Your Otocinclus sounds pretty lonely; I would get him some friends as Otos are social creatures and have a very low bioload. You also don't want to have any chlorine in your water, so I would recommend API Tap Water Conditioner which removes both chlorine and chloramines, a quality that many dechlorinators don't process. One last thing: your hardness sounds through the roof for even a freshwater aquarium, so you could get some peat filtration or a water softener pillow.
 
Indygrl
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I already put a tablespoon of salt as the Petsmart lady told me to put 2 tablespoons after I did a 25% water change yesterday. Should I do another water change and remove it or will 1 tablespoon be ok. I didn't know any better and I was desperate. He still looks thin and pretty bad. The algae wafer brand is API. He eats a little of it but not much. He was nibbling on it this morning but he definitely didn't look fatter after that. He still looks pretty skinny and smaller than he did 2 weeks ago. I think I noticed he was losing weight before I noticed that his color was fading.

What is peat filteration? I've never heard of a water softener pillow. Do they sell those at Petsmart? I do put Aqueon water conditioner with my water changes. I have no idea why there was chlorine in the water. I'll check it again today after I get back home and see if it's gone.
About him being lonely he seemed fine and happy before when he had only two tank mates for months, then I added 2 other fish, around 3 months ago the Tetra and Platy so he used to hide more after that but he still looked fine and came out to eat etc. He only started looking thinner around 2 weeks ago and losing color since around 6 days.

Thanks
 
Philosoraptor
  • #7
A water softener pillow is a small bag that you place in your filter to replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium (calcium and magnesium contribute to general hardness). After a few days, you need to "recharge" the pillow by placing it in a saline solution containing API salt (so you can use the salt after all). I got mine from a local Petco, so they should carry them at Petsmart as well.

Chlorine is commonly used in municipal tap water as a way to effectively remove potentially dangerous microbes. Since chlorine is a gas, it can normally dissipate if tap water is allowed to sit for 24 hours; however, chlorine poses an immediate threat to the important micro-environment in your aquarium. On the other hand, some municipalities use chloramines, a chemical bond between chlorine and ammonia to treat tap water with the same purpose. Chloramines don't pose much of threat in their bonded state, but the bond only lasts a few weeks and then you are stuck with both chlorine and ammonia (a VERY bad mix). You can remove both chlorine and chloramines using API tap water conditioner which can be bought at Petsmart.

As for the Otocinclus himself, he is able to survive on his own, but this can cause much stress to an already sensitive fish. Since fish of different species generally don't openly socialize (at least not in a happy way), I would recommend that you buy another Otocinclus to keep him company. His loss of color indicates he is under a lot of stress (my Otocinclus do the same thing when they are stressed). Do keep in mind that many Otocinclus do not have a very long lifespan in captivity.
 
goldface
  • #8
Although otos are found in schools, I don't think getting another one will help. If he was already doing well the past 10 months, there has to be another reason. If the water has always been this hard, not sure I'd mess with it. But I do agree that otos don't live that long in captivity.
I suppose the tetra and platy leaves him alone? Does he have to compete for food with the other fish? I've never done this myself, but try getting some stones in a container with old tank water and lay it out in the sun to grow algae. Get enough to be able to rotate the rocks as he clears each one out. That way, you have a constant supply. I'm thinking it may need some real algae in its diet. Not 100% positive on that.
 
Indygrl
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
The tetra and platy do leave him alone. I saw him this morning nibbling on the API algae wafer. Once he's on the wafer the other fish don't seem to bother him. I'm not sure why there was chlorine in the water yesterday. I use Aqueon water conditioner with every water change. I'm going to check the water again today after I get home to see if it's gone after the 25% water change I made yesterday. I will ask about the water softener pillow at Petsmart. Should I try a different algae wafer as well? He's pretty skinny and looks smaller that he used to be. He used to be nice and fat but not anymore. Not to mention his color is washed out and he's a lot paler than he used to be. I wonder if it's the chlorine or he's sick. Should I try using the All in One Remedy medicine? It says to put in 2 tablets in the tank. I feel helpless. I'm going to try to blanch some zucchinI and put it in the tank as well tonight. I've never given him zucchinI before. I hope he starts eating better. Could he be stressed that the algae is all gone? I'll try to grow some as suggested but I'm assuming it takes time. I don't believe he is old as I've only had him for almost 10 months only. He was doing well till a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that he looked skinnier and then a few days ago I noticed that he was losing color and becoming pale.
 
goldface
  • #10
I'm not going to advise you on meds, because it's unfamiliar territory and also don't know what is actually wrong with your fish.
I'm not familiar with the API food brand, but if you really want, I suggest New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax if they have it, since their first 7-8 ingredients are algae, unlike many brands which has fishmeal as their first ingredient. I also recommned Omega One Veggie rounds, which is pretty good. The latter is probably easier to find and mine was available at my local Petco. In the meantime blanched zucchinnI doesn't hurt. Keep in mind, it can cloud your water and this is normal and won't harm the fish.

As far as I know, the majority of otos are wild caught, so unless you got him as a juvenile and he was noticeably small and grew throughout the months, I'd prepare to assume he might be getting old.
 
CindiL
  • #11
Hi, the one tablespoon of salt won't hurt anything, but I wouldn't add in anymore. And I wouldn't use any medicine at this point either as its not clear what he's even suffering from.

They do need to have a constant food source in their tank. I can't remember why now, but they will die without being able to feed at a constant level, unlike other fish. Just cut a piece of zucchini, pierce it with a fork a number of times and sink it (I usually use plant anchors to hold mine down).

They are a shoaling fish and need to be in groups of 5-6 so I would definitely get more of them if he perks up.

Do you have any pics of him?

Though your water is hard, he's already been in your tank for ten months so I don't think that's the problem. Add in extra water conditioner, I prefer Seachem Prime beacause if you have chloramines in your tap water, then when dechlorinated they will turn into chlorine and ammonia. The chlorine will be taken care of leaving you with toxic ammonia until the bio-filter can take care of it. Prime detoxifies up to 1.0 per dose of ammonia or nitrites in the water.
 
Indygrl
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Thanks CindyL. Seachem Prime is not available at my local Petstores. Neither is Algae Max or Omega 3 Veggie rounds, I can try to order it all online. I'll try to take pics of him tomorrow and send them but he hides most of the time and more so even now that I rarely see him. I will also try to feed him some zucchinI tomorrow and see if he will eat that.

The pet store guy told me to put the All in One Remedy in the water anyway as he said it won't hurt anything. But I'm hesitant as I don't know what's wrong with him. After the 25% water change yesterday the numbers looked better. There was no chlorine this time, 20 nitrates(same as yesterday), hard water was a little better and so was ph. I'm unsure what to do now apart from trying to feed him some zucchini.

Hers a pic of him when he came out briefly today. I didn't see him eating anything though. I'm going to try the zucchinI tonight. I'm assuming it should be blanched in the microwave with conditioned water? His algae wafer is on the left but I didn't see him eating it.
 

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CindiL
  • #13
I never blanch mine, just pierce it with a fork a bunch and they seem to do just fine with it.
 
Indygrl
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
I blanched the zucchinI and set it in a plant weight and tied it with a rubber band and set in in the tank last night but it is untouched. My oto Doesn't seem interested in it at all. He came out for a bit today and wandered around nibbling a bit here and there and is back in his hiding place behind the castle. I managed to get a pic of him today while he was out. He's still pale and smaller than he used to be. He used to be big and dark brown. He doesn't look like he has a disease though so either the chlorine that was there and/or lack of food? How long can I leave the zucchinI in there for? Do I keep putting fresh ones every couple of days in the hope of him eating it?
 

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CindiL
  • #15
Sounds like he is sick with something its just vague at this point what it might be. You don't see anything wrong with him? Fins? Scales? Anything on them?

My otos normally attack the zucchinI and just lay on it lol.

Yeah, I'd keep putting a new one in every day or two. I don't think it will pollute your water as long as you have a fresh one in there.
 

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