View Full Version : Otoclinus Feeding Problem (and their bioload)

02-21-2011, 02:18 PM
I have an oto catfish (just one, but I'll get to that question later) that I bought not actually knowing what it was or what it needed, based soley on what the petstore said. He's an amazing creature, and I don't regret the purchase, but I'd like to really have him thrive.

Right now, he does alright eating algae in the aquarium. I had an algae bloom awhile ago, and he really helped clean that up. But it's basically cleaned up now. Anything remaining is not nerely enough for him to live off of.

So I feed him algae wafers. I also have panda cories. As soon as the wafer his the floor, the cories, as if they have radar, home on the wafer, and it's gone in a matter of minutes. Anything leftover, the snail and shrimp argue over.

So then I tried feeding it a piece of celery leaf. I put it under some rocks, and waited. The oto didn't even notice it. He just stayed there, like he wasn't even alive or anything. Instead... again... the cories tackle it and devour it, and the snail ends up ripping it to shreds so much I had to remove it before the oto was even awake.

Any time I put food in for him, the faster, awake animals get there first, and by the time the oto wakes up and notices the new food, it's just a pile of leftover mush with a snail laying on top of it, and some shrimp dragging the other bits off to their cave.

So how can I feed the little guy without anybody else in the aquarium noticing. I tried dividing the wafer into three pieces, and putting 2 in the front, and one right next to him. The cories attacked the two in the front... and the shrimp carried away the one right next to the oto.

He doesn't become active until 9pm and goes back to hiding at noonish. These times make it difficult to feed him while he's awake, and while the cories are asleep, since they wake up whenever I open the lid. Obviously, also, the shrimp are always pretty much active, and the snail wakes up imediatly when he senses new food, and he moves pretty fast for a snail and isn't afraid to push some cories out of the way.

Now part 2: The lonely oto
I now know oto catfish need a small group of 3 or so. I'm running a little close to a stocked aquarium, and I really would absolutely love a nerite snail and ADF.

Can I afford 2 more oto catfish, while still having the option of a nerite snail and/or an ADF? If it'll make the oto happy, I could probably give up on one (or both) of those other creatures.

Current stock
10 gal (fully cycled)

1x Female Betta
1x Mystery Snail
1x Otoclinclus Catfish (obviously)
2x Neon tetra (not gonna get a school of these, I haven't had any luck keeping them alive, other than these 2 that remain from 8 I got nerely a year ago.)
3x Panda Cory
6x Ghost Shrimp

and possibly
1x Nerite Snail
1x African Dwarf Frog

I imagine getting him buddies would make him more likely to go after the food, since he just seems so skittish and lazy right now. Most of the time I can't even find him because he's hiding or sleeping.

02-21-2011, 02:22 PM
Did you try feeding him when you turn the lights off for the night? Sometimes they shy fish come out to eat after the lights go off.
As you stand right now, you are over stocked without adding any more fish. Your options would be to rehome a fish or two, or maybe think about a bigger tank. The bigger the better....
How is your filtration and water parameters for this tank?

02-21-2011, 02:37 PM
I suggest you give away the neons if your not getting a bigger group
1 betta
4 ottos
The snails and shrimp
And I say get a home for the cories too

02-21-2011, 02:39 PM
The Neons have a smaller bioload than the rest of them, so they wouldnt be a problem keeping. The snails give off a bigger bio load than them...

02-21-2011, 02:54 PM
I was thinking about that for the tetras, since I don't even really like them. How would I go about finding a home for them? If I kept them, would they be okay just the two of them?

I don't want to give away my cories. They seperate the top activity of the betta and the bottom activity, and are just bubbles of energy.

I run a 20 gallon side hanging filter. Last I checked, yesterday, the parameters were 0 amonia/0 nitrite/20 nitrate.

Feeding him at night is the same situation. The cories end up finding the wafer and eating it before he can get to it. He doesn't try to push into the group, so he usually just sits close to it and tries to move in, only to be pushed away by shrimp and the snail later when the cories are done.

What has as bigger bioload, a Mystery Snail or a Nerite Snail? My Mystery snail is kind of old, so when he dies, would it not be much of a difference to get the nerite snail? Do snails have a big bioload, when the mystery dies, should I not get another snail?

Shrimp don't have much of a bioload, do they? I actually got so many because I was told they didn't have much of a bioload at all :x

I would love a 20 gallon, but I don't have a stand for it. The stand is what seems to cost the most money. I really imagine a colorful aquarium with lots of life and activity, and a 10 gallon... doesn't really do that. I've started getting better at keeping the water quality better, as I learn more about hobby.

I probably shouldn't have just bought the oto on impulse though. How bad is his life if he lives it alone (since it seems adding more otos would be over stocking)?

02-21-2011, 03:01 PM
Well, the mystery snail is bigger so that will put out much more bioload than the Nerite snail. I dont know if you noticed or not, but snails poop, A LOT! But the Nerite snails would have lower bio-load since they are smaller. But they still poop a lot...You can pick up a stand pretty cheap at walmart. Like 20 bucks or so...
Your filter may say rated for a 20 gallon tank, but it really is only going to do a good job for a lightly stocked 10 gallon tank, which is what you dont have... The Neons have very low bio load, so they would not be the fish for you to get rid of due to bio-load....
Your parameters may be ok, but you still need better filtration. The Oto will be fine until you get everything figured out...
You could up the water changes to every other day, about 50% and it should be ok until you can get a stand for that 20 gallon and a better filter...
Did you check out craigslist?

02-21-2011, 03:08 PM
I don't think I would be able to use craig's list. I know my parents wouldn't want me to, and since they're the ones driving, well.

Would I be able to rest a 20 gallon on a large cabinet? How wide are 20 gallons? I kind of have very little room where my ten gallon is right now to expand with width. I just imagine a 20 gallon being 2x as wide as a ten gallon, which I can't do at all. :P

Incidently, my 21st birthday was last week, so I have about 100 dollars just laying around, since I don't have anything better to spend the money on. How much would setting a 20 gallon up cost me? 100?
I already have the fish, the heater (it's rated 15-29 gallons), and the decorations. I would need to aquarium, the lid, the filter (a 50 gallon filter?) and more rocks (I can just re-use the 10 gallons rocks, right?)

What would I have to do to transfer the cycle from one aquarium to another?

Now you've gotten me all excited for a 20 gallon. Now see what's going to happen, I'm going to rent an apartment and keep 20 fish aquariums and it's going to be this forum's fault :P

If I get a 20 gallon, could I get an ADF, on top of 2 extra otos? Getting an ADF would help lighten the news to my mom, since she's wanted one of those since I started the hobby.

I have 2 weeks of spring break, so here we gooooooo

02-21-2011, 03:17 PM
You should be fine with 100 to start up everything, just transfer the filter media to your new filter if you can and use everything from your 10 gallon tank into your 20 gallon tank. You can find a cover and stand and filter for 100 or maybe a little more than that.
With the 20 gallon you can add the ADF and the Otos but nothing much more than that. With more bottom area you might be able to get more food into the Otos...

02-21-2011, 03:51 PM
I'd personally just throw in an extra two otos as you have it right now. I run a "10 gallon" Aqueon filter on my 10 with 5 danios, 5 otos, and a good dozen or so cherry shrimp, along with their babies, with no problems to speak of. Live plants definitely help, too. But, if you're doing your water changes regularly and running a "20" filter, I don't see a problem with adding two more otos to the stock.

I would try to figure out what to do with those neons, though. Either get more or send them back to the pet store or something. Most places will take your fish in for free if they appear to be healthy.

Oh yeah, and it depends what kind of 20 gallon you get, as far as the size goes. Your 10 gallon now is most likely a 20" long tank. A 20 high will be 24", while a 20 long will be 30". Being able to rest it on a cabinet, depends on the integrity of the cabinet. If you can stand/jump on it and move around without having to worry about toppling it over, it can more than likely hold a 20 gallon tank.

02-21-2011, 03:56 PM
I dont think its enough filtering for you or her. Adding more fish wouldnt help out anything at this point. But thats my opinion and some people can handle way overstocked tanks. Just with the 3 catfish you are fully stocked. Nevermind the other fish too.

02-21-2011, 04:21 PM
I'm officially getting a 20 gallon today. Writing an 8 page essay (due tonight) and setting up an aquarium in the same day, this is going to be adventure! Woah boy, I could be writing the essay right now, but I'm on this forum :D

The cabinet can hold my mom and dad sitting on it, which is roughly 500 lbs. I won't need a stand, so the big cost is now going to be in the lid and filter.

The Betta, Tetra and Cories are going in a fishbowl for the time being, and the Oto, Shrimp and Snail get a tubberware. They'll probably only be in there for a few hours, so I assume they'll be fine? I don't really have anything else to keep them in as I transfer them over.

How do I transfer the filter material? Do I just shove the sponge and biomax into the new filter or something? I'm going with a 50 gallon filter of the same brand.

I'm also transfering my gravel, and adding more. There won't be a problem there, right?

02-21-2011, 04:52 PM
I would take some of that 100.00 and buy a really good AC 50 for the tank. Its better to buy a cheap cover and spend money on good filtration. I would then remove the filter media off of the cartirdge and put it in the new filter to get that bacteria into the new filter. Hopefully there wont be any problems, just dont go overloading your tank with fish off the bat and just allow the new bacteria to grow in the new filter for a while. Maintain good water conditions with water changes and check the parameters.

02-21-2011, 06:53 PM
sounds like you have a great plan, i'm wondering with the feeding i don't know much about otos but will they eat other veggies? anything that can but hung in a veggie clip - that way u could put it in at night maybe the others will eat it but u could try diff veggies...& im sure having more than one oto will help the shyness too

with the tetras - i have danios - but still they all like groupss. I have 2 zebra danios left & 2 blue longfin danios - i find as long as they are in a pair they are ok, if there is only one tho they get really bored - i had 2 tetras a while ago & a few months after his buddy died he was really a sad & bored looking fish - i called around to diff pet stores & found one that had a whole bunch of the same type of tetra & returned him - i dont like returning fish but i knew he would be happier in a group
i'll do the same with the danios when i need to -since i dont really want to add more.
so if u dontwant to add more tetras u could always have pairs & see how they do.

02-21-2011, 06:59 PM
The cabinet can hold my mom and dad sitting on it, which is roughly 500 lbs. I won't need a stand, so the big cost is now going to be in the lid and filter.

they do cost a bundle, how handy are u & ur parents maybe making a stand could be a good DIY idea...im just thinking its great u have a stand that can hold ur parents weight - but how long did they sit on it?
im always curious how to figure out if a 'not sold in fish store' stand will hold long term - i dread the thought of my tank breaking or the stand not holding.

what kind of stand is it? (desk, tv, dresser) curious since i had to set up my 20gal on a pile of tiles on the floor bc i was too paranoid to keep it on my desk for a week lol

oh i just read you would be moving the gravel & everything to the new tank - its going to be really messy & the when u put the gravel in the new tank the water will look bad (i did this recently when i moved) but after a few hrs it'll start to settle - try to keep ur fish out for a while - stick a bubbler in the bucket with them(or wherever they will be)

02-21-2011, 08:54 PM
Alright, last few hours have been spent setting up my new 25 gallon aquarium

Ended up costing 150 dollars, but I got a ridiculous deal

On clearence: a stand, a lid, a light, 25 gal tank: 120$
Plus 30 dollars for a 50 gallon filter (it's a BEAST and absolutely silent with very little current. I saw my Betta swim right next to it and she wasn't even pulled in. It's got a nice protective shield to prevent fin damage.)

I wasn't sure what part of my old filter held bacteria, so I just shoved the biomax stuff and the sponge into the new filter. It even had a little slot for "old materials" to try and preserve "the natural cycle every aquarium goes through." It's also like some kind of sci-fi device from the future.

I'm using the 15 gallon heater for now. I am getting a 30 gallon heater this weekend, I just needed to work something out. My mom is "buying" my old aquarium from me, so she can keep ADFs. As part of the deal, she gets the old heater if she buys me a 30 gallon heater.

Almost lost a shrimp. Little buggers aparently jump...
Hit the floor from about 8 feet up, splat. Wasn't moving, and I thought it was a goner. I scooped it up using a spoon and the net, and he starts jumping again. Finally catch him and put him in the aquarium and he seems to be like nothing happened... saw him picking at an algae wafer, and other than a bent antenae, he's fine. The other 5 went in with no hassle.

The tetra are going BESERK. Like nuts. Darting all over the aquarium like crazy fishies. I'm not sure what I want to do with them. With the large amount of room... I may try tetras again, I have to think about it.

The cories don't seem to realize anything happened. They're acting normal. Probably getting 2 more of these.

The betta is just exploring. She goes all the way to the top, and all the way back down, and keeps doing that.

The oto went NUTS in the bowl. He almost jumped clean out of the bowl, so I had to cover it. Now he's gone (not dead)... I don't know where in the aquarium he is. He'll get 2 friends when I make sure the aquarium is cycled.

The snail was exploring the BOWL... He wouldn't go in his shell... I had to keep tapping his shell lightly to get him to stop sticking to the bowl's walls. He's a little too comfortable to being moved around.

Oh yea, and I could have gotten a 55 gallon aquarium with a lid and filter for 70 dollars. It was "returned: no heater" so they took 60% off! I opted not to... I wouldn't have even known what to do with a 55 gallon.

Also, there's all these little white specs floating around... is that dirt from my old filter material floating around or something? It's kind of disgusting, and I don't want this aquarium getting cloudy...

02-21-2011, 08:57 PM
Sounds like you had quite the day!!!! Glad it went so good and you got what you needed :)
For the snail, if you slide him back and forth a few times he will retreat into his shell and you can move him into the tank...
I wanna see some pictures!!!!!

02-21-2011, 09:09 PM
So, assuming I transfered to cycled materials properly, how long will it take for the aquarium to re-cycle?

02-21-2011, 09:11 PM
A week to ?.... You need to just keep a eye on your levels. It might not do through a cycle if you keep everything the same and moved everything into the new tank. The bacteria is in the gravel and filter. Just keep a eye on the levels and give it a week or so.

02-21-2011, 09:14 PM
The gravel was washed with undeclorinated water, sadly. Mom did that, there may be some left, but I doubt it :(

Everything else is the same. The filter has a piece of the old filter in it. Now that I think about it, I didn't really rinse the driftwood or plants.

At the request of my parents, I added a bacteria booster packet that came with the aquarium. That's not going to upset anything is it?

02-21-2011, 09:15 PM
Yeah, you probably will have a cycle again. Just watch your levels and do lots of water changes to keep everything down. It probably wont take a long time, but will take a little bit...

02-21-2011, 09:24 PM
You could try cooked squash, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, etc. to feed the oto. Put enough in that the corydoras can't eat it all before the otocinclus can get to it. Then remove the excess the next morning.

02-21-2011, 11:24 PM

No backdrop yet. I'm just going to get a black poster board. Why would I spend 10 dollars for a black aquarium background, when a piece of posterboard does exactly the same thing, and costs 1 dollar.

I've noticed with more room, my fish are "playing" with the environment more. Fish are actually USING the driftwood cave I put in there for them, when before they just ignored it...

Evidently, you can easily tell those plants are for 10 gallon aquariums :P

I'm going to get some 30 or 50 gal plants, and maybe 1 or 2 java ferns and dive into the wonderful world of aquatic gardening. I couldn't really do it before, since my lid didn't have a nice slot for me. I actually have a lid that has a opening big enough for my hand, so I can trim and stuff without removing the lid completely (which I can't easily do with this aquarium).

Because the lid is so difficult to remove, every water change in the future will have to be done with a siphon. That's not a big deal, but it will mean they take longer. Of course, having to remove double the water will also take longer

My mom (well I am actually) doing a fishless cycle on the old 10 gallon. She's got another piece of my filter in it, and she sprinkled some fish food into it. After it's done cycling, she's going to get 3 ADFs and that'll be all the animals that live in that aquarium. I couldn't possibly keep an ADF in my aquarium, he'd have to swim nerely 4 feet to get air.

Having such a huge amount of water with absolutely nothing it in isn't going to stress the fish out, thinking they're in open water, right? Is there anything I can do to "fill" that area in? I was thinking of maybe a giant upright piece of driftwood, which I would be able to tie some ferns to, but even so, I don't think that will even fill in all that negative space.

02-24-2011, 01:19 AM
Blanched Celery Leaves: Doesn't touch them, just swims next to it, and then goes back to hiding in the plastic plants. Snail ended up eating it. I removed the leftover
Algae Wafer (the Cories were ignoring it): Swam past it, nibbled it, swam back to plants, the cories eventually noticed it and devoured it.
Blanched Iceberg lettuce: Doesn't touch it, swam by it, and ignored it. Betta then decided to rip it to shreds for some reason. Snail ended up eating the shreds, until I finally removed it.

He's been sucking on every flat surface in the aquarium. But because there's nothing there (obviously, it's a new aquarium), he isn't eating. He seems to be refusing anything that isn't on the glass.

This weekend I'll look into a clip for the wall. Maybe if it's attached to the glass, he'll be more inclined to eat it.

I don't know... he seems to want to eat (he furiously moves all around the glass sucking on the wall) he just doesn't want to eat anything that's on the bottom of the aquarium.

Maybe tommorow I'll try sinking a piece of carrot into the plastic plants. Maybe he'll finally eat it if it's in the plants.

He's been the most active I've ever seen, since he got into the new larger aquarium. He used to stick to one surface all day, then at night, he'd dart around like a mad man. Today I noticed he was sucking up and down the wall (in daylight no less!), then swam casually around the aquarium, then rested a bit. Overall, he seems far healthier than before... but he refuses food from the bottom.

02-24-2011, 02:34 AM
sounds like he is doing better & is getting more adapt to his new home, even if hes still not sure about the food, when u get the clip try a slice of zucchini &/or spinach...these are two fav's of plecos
maybe try the same food for a couple days in a row to see if he gets used to the fact that its there & hopefully that its food