Leaf eating in Otocinclus

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Shane
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Leaf eating in Otocinclus

Post by Shane »

I added some oak leaf litter to my Oto tank a few weeks ago. I noticed that the oak leaves in their tank were "disintigrating" far faster than the oak leaves in other tanks, but did not think too much of it. Then today I grabbed some oak leaves from an empty ten gallon and added them to the Oto set up. The Otos fell on them like they were fresh spinach leaves.
These leaves were all boiled before they were added to the tanks, maybe that softens them enough to allow the Otos to eat them? I have to assume leaves would be very low in nutritional value, but then again so is wood and plenty of loricariids make a meal of it.
In the dry season Otos are always found in huge numbers in and around thick leaf litter. I wonder if the leaves do not act as an emergency/alternative food source for them?
Anyone aware of any Oto gut content studies?
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Re: Leaf eating in Otocinclus

Post by racoll »

I guess it's the microorganisms on the leaves, that the Otocinclus are interested in.
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Re: Leaf eating in Otocinclus

Post by Shane »

That was my original thought as well, but it does not explain the leaves disappearing, nor what looks very much like lots of "leaf poop." Maybe eating the leaf is a by-product of browsing for microorganisms?
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Re: Leaf eating in Otocinclus

Post by racoll »

They most likely ingest the lot, and extract the goodness in the gut, rather like how Panaque operate.
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Re: Leaf eating in Otocinclus

Post by coelacanth »

It'll also provide a lot of bulk for the intestines. Ancistrus and Sturisoma also appreciate leaves. We had good success with Sturisoma fry by using green broadleaf twigs, blanching them in hot water and then putting them into the rearing tank. Sometimes I think it's just surface area for browsing that they need as much as anything else, by scattering other foods over the leaves we think that the young had enhanced diets just while feeding on the leaf surfaces. They certainly quickly reduced the leaves to just the veins though.

There should be a particular verb for that characteristic feeding action of loricariids, but I can't think of one that doesn't also sound vulgar.
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