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The ethics of Otocinclus

Corbie

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22 Oct 2021
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38
Location
Aberdeenshire
I received a batch of fish from Abyss Aquatics last week, and as usual all in good form and healthy looking, including a few Otocinclus vittatus (affinis). All have since settled in well except for two of the Otocinclus which I found dead yesterday. I only ever see one of this species at a time, there are too many hiding places. So I hope the others are alive and well. Reading through the forum and other sites it seems this fish has a reputation for being a bit fragile, although once settled in a tank they seem to be reasonably hardy. A bit of research shows it is not too easy, but not impossible, to breed, and that most shop stock is of wild-caught fish. The way that many catchers / dealers / importers treat this fish and its near relatives seems to be questionable at best, and it might explain why many people find them dying soon after introduction to their tanks.
While I acknowledge that supporting the small family businesses collecting blackwater fish in the Rio Negro, who might otherwise be destroying the forest to make a living, is a good thing (especially when considering the seasonal boom / bust population dynamics of many of the fish), should we as responsible fishkeepers be supporting the cyanide collection of large numbers of Otocinclus which are then not fed for weeks, and a large proportion of which apparently die soon after sale?
I suppose the follow on question is, are there any people out there selling ethically collected (or bred) Otocinclus?
 

PARAGUAY

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13 Nov 2013
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Lancashire
Theres a còuple of questions here. I wouldnt like to support cyanide used in this way but problem is how do we know when we purchase a fish. Secondly I am new to Ottos . When inquired in the shop and purchased they were not in the shop tanks but in holding tanks. Reason l was told they dont do well nor sell well in the shop tanks. They are doing alright for me but my tank was established and well planted and no aggressive fish. They done a brilliant job continually on glass or plant leaves and after what I read supplement the diet with baby spinach leaves every few days. Is your tank planted and compatible fish .
 

Onoma1

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12 Aug 2018
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521
Location
West Yorkshire
I put some brief notes on Otocinclus together in this thread. My contribution reflects most of the peer reviewed published material. What is, however, illuminating is that the members of the forum had far more practical information (based on experience and observation) than the experts.
 

PARAGUAY

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Lancashire
@Corbie. Ah your tank seen it previously ideal for ottos from a plant perspective and would explain them not being in view. It does look as though they have not travelled well if wild caught
 

Corbie

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Thread starter
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22 Oct 2021
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Aberdeenshire
I wonder how widespread this is. For those that have bought Otocinclus in the last couple of years, what proportion survived the first week?
 

idris

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3 Jan 2011
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810
Location
Herts
I've always found Ottos to be quite robust. On one occasion I had a tank of 30+ fish die in a matter of days, and the tank then sat derelict for maybe a year, but several Ottos (and Amanos) survived.
And in 10yrs I've never known them to be remotely shy.
 

Onoma1

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12 Aug 2018
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West Yorkshire
I had the same experience I thought they had perished.

Although the research suggests they are diurnal mine are definitely nocturnal. They hide during the day, however, if I shine a torch in the tank at night they are out and about. This might be something you want to try?

If there is a lot of competition for aufwuchs you may want to conditions them up a bit using something a bit more substantial than cucumber. My wild caught Otos seem to take to Repashy Soilent Green quite readily.

I have also changed my feeding regime to reflect this (perhaps it reinforces it) and add a chunk of Soilent Green at lights out (otherwise the corrys and shrimp scoff the lot).
 

idris

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3 Jan 2011
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... My wild caught Otos seem to take to Repashy Soilent Green quite readily...
What twisted sci-fi freak named that product? 🥺
(@Corbie Apologies for the OT comment.)
 

hypnogogia

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6 Apr 2017
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Oxfordshire
I wonder how widespread this is. For those that have bought Otocinclus in the last couple of years, what proportion survived the first week?
I bought 4 about 4 years ago and all still with me, and have even survived a whole tub of food being tipped into the tank by my youngster after which 90% of my stock perished. So my experience is that they’re pretty robust.
 

Wolf6

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18 Dec 2014
Messages
955
Location
Netherlands
I wonder how widespread this is. For those that have bought Otocinclus in the last couple of years, what proportion survived the first week?
I've not had them die in the first week, but sometimes out of a group of 5 or 6 one will die a few months in for no apparent reason. And the rest will live on for in some cases many years. I feed them on the side with courgette, and they enjoy shrimp lollies as well. They are the first of fish to get antsy when co2 is too high, but ive found them pretty robust in general :)
 

Nickm71

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Joined
12 Oct 2021
Messages
9
Location
Surrey
Mark's Aquatics has an interesting video on breeding Otocinclus here. It seems that you can breed them, however, it's not easy!
I’ve got baby ottos all over my tank, I didn’t encourage breeding, just found little eggs at first and then the babies, they are tiny and new batches throw out smaller and smaller fry it seems
 

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Corbie

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22 Oct 2021
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I’ve got baby ottos all over my tank, I didn’t encourage breeding, just found little eggs at first and then the babies, they are tiny and new batches throw out smaller and smaller fry it seems
@Nickm71 That's very interesting! What are your water parameters? Lots of water changes? Congrats on getting the conditions right.
Hmm it seems maybe they aren't as fragile as I thought. I haven't lost a new fish in years and then last week lost 2 new ones (not lost as in hiding- I found the bodies).
 

Nickm71

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12 Oct 2021
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Surrey
I have the ottos in the tank with my L046 pleco, 82c and TDS is around 220, I bought the adults as a group of 8 and was shocked months later to see tiny little babies in there, my pleco are juvies so knew it wasn't them, I’m now swamped with little otto everywhere 😂😂
 

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Nickm71

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12 Oct 2021
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Sorry forgot to add that do a weekly water change for the plecs and also a decent current in the tank which results in the odd baby otto fly by as caught in the current 😂😂
 

Nickm71

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12 Oct 2021
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Thanks, it was a complete accident as didn’t intend to breed them and in the past in other tanks I’ve had them die on me so really pleased to see the amount of baby otto in this tank, just gotta crack the L046 now 😂
 
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