Information about the Otocinclus Catfish

Commonly known as algae eaters, otocinclus catfish are bottom dwellers. Go through this article for some information about these fish.
PetPonder Staff
Catfish can be easily identified with their looks. They are among the most diverse group of freshwater fish, and are seen in almost all parts of the world. There are more than 3000 species of catfish, and they vary in size and other features. The name catfish is derived from their barbels that resemble the whiskers of a cat. Many of the smaller catfish species are commonly found in freshwater fish tanks, and otocinclus catfish is one among them.
Otocinclus Catfish Facts
So, otocinclus catfish are kept in aquariums. They are bottom dwellers, that feed on algae. They also serve the purpose of scavenging, as they feed on the leftover fish food in the tank. Due to their size, gentle nature, and scavenging properties, these catfish are preferred for aquariums. It is also said that these fish are not messy and are easy to take care of.
Otocinclus catfish are also not aggressive, making it fit for tanks with most of the other fish types. It is better to avoid keeping catfish with cichlids. However, it is also said that compared to other catfish types, otocinclus catfish is found to be more suitable for cichlid tanks.
Otocinclus catfish belongs to the genus Otocinclus in the catfish family Loricariidae. Most of the catfish types that are seen in aquariums (like plecos) belong to this family. Like other members of the family, otocinclus too have rows of bony plates on their bodies. Another notable feature of these fish is the ventrally located suckermouth, that enables them to feed on algae and other leftovers. The ventral side of the body is flat and the dorsal side is curved.
Their body length may range between 2.5 to 5.5 centimeters. The smallest among the different otocinclus species is Otocinclus tapirape, and the longest is Otocinclus flexilis. The body color may also vary with the species. The commonly found species of this aquarium catfish is Otocinclus affinis, which has a dull gray body color with long brown stripes, that run from the head to the tail, on both sides. Even their tail fins are striped.
How to Raise Otocinclus Catfish
Otocinclus catfish requires minimal maintenance. However, this fish has certain basic requirements that have to be met with, for their healthy growth.
  • They must be kept in fish tanks with a minimum size of 20 to 30 gallons. The water must be kept clean with a preferable temperature range of 70 to 78 °F.
  • The ideal pH of water is between 6 to 7.5, and hardness can be around 6° to 15° dH. As these fish like company, get them in pairs, or a group of three to five.
  • This catfish is very much suitable for heavily planted aquariums. They must be provided with enough plants, logs, and rocks, as hiding places.
  • Bettas, guppies, mollies, swordtails, tetras, barbs, gouramis, loaches, discus, and angelfish, are said to be ideal tank mates for this catfish.
  • Feed them with vegetable-based food, if there are less plants and algae in your tank.
  • Breeding is not uncommon in heavily planted tanks. They lay eggs on plants, rocks, etc. The lifespan of this fish is between 3 to 5 years.

In short, otocinclus catfish can be a useful addition to your fish tank, if it is a heavily planted one, with no bottom dweller.
Guppy Fish
planted fish tank
Otocinclus in planted aquarium
Animal Body Part
algae eater aquarium fish