Proper quarantine?

Discussion in 'Otocinclus' started by McPeeps, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. McPeepsNew MemberMember


    I just got an oto yesterday to lurk within my 5 gallon and occupy the half of the tank my female betta never uses.
    I've had the tank a little more than 2 months. I've never been able to test it, as the only way I can afford tests right now is online (still looking for one).
    However, I have a couple plants to help in case there is anything, and I also bought stress zyme just to be safe, and to help maintain good parameters.

    I decided to quarantine the oto so I can make sure he's not sick (I heard a lot of people say you should), but all I have is a 1 gallon bowl. Mind you it's properly rigged, with a filter that aerates and a heater that was in my 5 gallon until yesterday when I bought a new one.

    I very slowly acclimated the oto for about 3 hours, putting in very small amounts until it was pretty full, then emptying the bag about half way, then doing the same thing till it's almost full again, and then scooping him in the bowl, eliminating the icky fish store water from getting in the bowl.

    For the fish bowl I used water from my old tank as well as cutting some of my foam filter that I had in with the carbon filter insert, and putting it in the small filter in the bowl. As well as the appropriate amount of stress zyme.

    I also have a large plastic plant in the bowl that is slimy, and the heater has a thick coat of diatom algae still. And I froze some fresh spinach leaves and thawed and added one.

    So anyway, I didn't really expect any problems since I'm guessing pets unlimited sells premium captivity bred otos, considering they charge $12 each. So I wanna make sure it's not me.

    Could the sheer size of the bowl make him depressed? He sits on top of the filter, sometimes with a body part exposed to the surface and doesn't seem to cling to things as much as I feel he should be. He also doesn't react to my presence unless I move things too much, and then he squirms around. He's not plump but he doesn't appear to have a caved in belly either. He was clung to the spinach for quite a while but I'm not even sure he was eating it, and just on it cause I put it right next to him. Just now I had to pull the filter up more towards the surface so it could pull in more oxygen, and he didn't even move while his whole body was partially out of the water, I had to push him back in. Now he's just resting limply between two plant leaves (not even attached to them). Physically he doesn't look sick, he just flops and flails everywhere till he finds a place that he can sit without any current (which I thought they loved).
    Should I risk putting him in the tank already? I was hoping to wait till I got in my order of plants (3 marimo balls, 2 anubias eyes, and some java moss), to complete the plant life I already have (one thriving bacopa australis, duckweed, and some plant that was mislabeled and now I don't know what it is)
    I wanted this because I wanted to rearrange things so my betta wouldn't feel so intruded upon, and also to assure that the water parameters will be as pristine as possible.

    Other details: I do about 2 gallon water changes every week or less, my betta fish is extremely active, happy, and healthy. I intend to do 50% water changes in the bowl every other day. Fishbowl temp is 25C.
    Here are my local tap water parameters if they mean anything:

    Ammonia- <.05
    Nitrate- .07
    Hardness- 19.5
    PH- 7.4
    Alkalinity- 13.3

    Hope this is enough info for you.
    Thanks for your help.
  2. clickWell Known MemberMember

    First of all welcome to the forums. Not sure where to start since I have a some good news and some bad news for you. I'll start with the good one.

    If you do not have the budget to purchase a test kit, there is a solution that you might not be aware of. Most of the pet stores that carry fish will test your tank water for free if you ask them to (eg Big Als, Petsmart, PJ's Pets etc)

    Unfortunately the minimum requirement for an otto cat is 20g tank. Your fish will not be happy in a 5 gallon. They also like to be kept in small schools and not by themselves.:(

    1 gallong quarantine tank is way too small and your fish will get stressed by the lack of swiming space. It might even get sick. Usually people have 10g Q tank or at the least a 5g. A proper quarantine is up to 4 weeks, so having your fish confined to 1 gallon for so long is not a good idea.

    You said you only had the 5g for about 2 months. Since you do not have a test kit, how do you know if it's cycled? Just wanted to clarify this since adding new fish to a cycling tank only makes it harder both for you and the fish since you have to keep up with the water changes.

    Hope this helps. Please don't bne affraid to ask for further info. We've all been where you are, at the begining of such a wonderful hobby with tons of questions.
  3. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    Well, I realized I should have waited if anything, but the thing is, is that it's here now, and if you think the quarantine tank will make him sick, or die, then should I put it in the big tank.
    Is it worth waiting a week or should I do it now?
    Is the behavior I stated not ordinary? Or do they act that way in the day time?
    I'm just trying to make decisions to best deal with the situation.
    And I'm not 100% sure my tank is cycled, obviously, but I've done everything possible to speed up the process, and I keep it pristine looking. And my betta is happier than she's ever been. Plus I heard it only takes 10 days to cycle a tank with plants, and it's been over 10 days since I first got plants, so if it wasn't cycled before, I'm pretty sure it would be now, if not is. Plus most of the other plants I ordered are known nitrite eaters, so that'll help keep it steady.
    Also, I just thought it was 20 gallons just for schools, I was going to get 2 of them if the one didn't seem happy. I figured with a (more or less) heavily planted tank even one or two would be happy.

    Thank you for your kind reply though.
    I'll try and remember to take a water sample in the next time I go
  4. bubblefishValued MemberMember

    Most otos are wild caught. In my experience, they do not do well alone and especially in a small tank. Can you return it or bring it to another lfs?
  5. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    I will be getting a 10 gallon when I move out (hopefully in the next 6 months), my desk is made of glass, and I would not put anything more than 5 gallons on it. And even if I could return it, I wouldn't want to, as I think that would not be a very good choice on the fishes behalf. If it's already stressed out now, I don't think putting it in a bag, and driving it all the way to the pet store where they might just throw it back in the tank (with not much food). And what if they don't take it back? it's all the way back home to the bowl..
    My tank is very well maintained, and as far as I'm concerned, very healthy. It has plenty of vegetation, and a lot more on the way. I think it will be a fine home until I move out, I probably should have waited but I got ahead of myself. I could get him a friend at least if you don't think that would be too cruel.
    But if it'd make him happier, I think it'd be fine until I get the bigger thank.

    I think I'll just put it in the tank today, even if it might be sick, my betta is very healthy, and if something were to happen, I'm sure she'll be fine, and I can take measures against it. I at least want to see how he does.
  6. clickWell Known MemberMember

    I understand your position and I know is not an easy decision to make but at the end of the day it is still your decision. If your saying the otto is lethargic in the 1G than I too, would tend to put it in a bigger tank with the betta and hope for the best.

    If you want to make sure a store will accept fish back you can give them a call and ask them. From my experience they will not always return the money but at least you know there's a chance for that fish to get proper conditions in someone else's tank. You're right, bagging a fish and taking it to the store, then back home should they not accept it, doesn't make much sense.

    Keeping schooling fish in schools is recomended for the fish to thrive. Your otto might not be as active and you will not be able to enjoy its true personality by keeping it by himself. It could become shy and hide alot.

    Also, there is no written rule any tank will cycle in a give time frame. Each tank is differet and the duration of the cycle is dependent on too many variables to make such a rule. It takes time for the bacteria to grow, sometimes it can take longer than you can imagine. I know there is a member here on the forums who had the tank in cycling for 4 months or so.

    Whatever you decide to do, please keep us posted as we're here to help.

    Good luck!
  7. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    Well I put the oto in the big tank, and it's more active. It hasn't been hiding at all..
    But of course, just like I feared, my betta is getting aggressive over her territory sometimes. I mean, she doesn't hunt him down or anything, it's just when he gets in her face, which he's swam right into. He doesn't seem very coordinated, and slips a lot when clinging to things.
    Is that normal at all?

    Also, If I take a water sample to the pet store, and it turns out my tank is actually cycled and healthy, should I get him a companion? I have plenty to supplement their diet with, but of course I'd wait till I got the new plants to get another.

    When I get the new plants I intend to do some redecorating, to create a new atmosphere that hopefully should eliminate the territorial aggression.

    But of course, if it turns out my tank isn't actually cycled, then I'll take him back.

    I'll try and get the sample out tomorrow.
    Thanks for the help.
  8. David CWell Known MemberMember

    Oto's are not known as active fish. I have many of them and they tend to spend most of their time in one or two spots eating algae or hiding, sometimes I can go days without even seeing them. You need to make sure there is sufficient algae for them. They can easily starve on you, this is the believed reason for their high death rates in home aquariums.

  9. clickWell Known MemberMember

    How about you post some pics of your babies when you have a chance? We love pics around here:giggle:
  10. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    Well right now I feel pretty foolish because I kept trying to find their normal behavior patterns and it was all right in the care sheet page. :-\ :;soldier
    I feel a lot better knowing his behavior is normal.

    I was actually just about to post some pics, I was worried he might be a little pale : (
    What do you think?

  11. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    Oh, and this is Peeps, the big jerk:


  12. David CWell Known MemberMember

    He looks good. They are usually pale when you first get them. If he makes it the first two weeks, you will have a healthy oto on your hands.

  13. McPeepsNew MemberMember

    Hmmm, well that's good to know. I'll try my very best to keep any stress from coming his way till I know he can handle it.

    Luckily Peeps has been accepting his presence more and more, and doesn't seem to care much anymore. She'll just give him a little nudge, and if he doesn't move she'll just swim away.

    Here's another picture of him resting in the duckweed lol:


    He just swims up to the surface till he sticks to them : P

    Also I named him Alfonzo

    PS. Peeps has claimed dominion over Alfonzo's carrot...
    Just as I finally got him to land on it too.. :rolleyes:

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010