Catfish of the Month Right Arrow December 1996 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded December 01, 1996



LDA023, Common Otocinclus, Dwarf Sucker, Ohrgitterharnischwels (Germany), Oto, Stribet Dværgsugemalle (Denmark) - Otocinclus vittatus   Regan, 1904

This fish is too often overlooked. I must admit to being one of these "overlookers" for some time. The Dwarf Sucker or "Oto" isn't a spectacular looking fish, but if kept correctly, more than makes up for this cosmetic shortcoming in an abundance of character.

My involvement in keeping Otocinclus at home in the last few years began when I saw a large tank full of these fish. They were very active, swimming around and generally having a ball. Previously I had only seen for sale two or three docile individuals in a single tank. Like Clown Loaches (Botia macracanthus), these fish really come into their own when settled and kept in numbers. Unlike the loaches they don't possess an eye-catching colouration and this can lead to them being sadly over looked by the aquatic shopper.

I started with half a dozen of these fish which, admittedly, was decreased by the loss of three in fairly short order. Not to be discouraged this was increased to a group of 10 fish. Removing the Sailfin Pleco (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps) that was "blamed" for depriving the smaller Loricariids of their food also helped. The group flourished and kept the local flora (A clump of Amazon Sword Plants) free of unsightly hair and brown algae. The fish quite often swam in trios or more in mid-water (Corydoras style). They excel at algae housekeeping and as such are heartily recommended by Takashi Amano in his visually stunning "Nature Aquarium World".

There are other species of Otocinclus and the similar Paraotocinclus available from time to time; these are very similar in terms of care and maintenance. A few words of warning about Otocinclus, make sure you filter intake pipes are not capable of sucking the Dwarf Sucker! Furthermore although I do not think they were being aggressive, but I had to remove Otocinclus from a Discus (Symphosodon sp.) tank because they were attaching themselves on the Cichlids. This behaviour may also be a problem to Angelfish (Pterophyllum sp.), or other slow-moving high-bodied fish.

Otocinclus vittatus


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Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameOtocinclus vittatus  Regan, 1904
Common NamesLDA023, Common Otocinclus
Dwarf Sucker, Ohrgitterharnischwels (Germany), Oto, Stribet Dværgsugemalle (Denmark)
Type LocalityDescalvados, Rio Paraguay system, Mato Grosso, Brazil.
Pronunciationauto SINK luss - vit TAT us
EtymologyGreek, ous, oto = ear + Latin, cinclus = latticework; in allusion to the holes of the head in the ears. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 32mm or 1.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationVery similar indeed to O. mariae.
SexingFemales are larger and broader especially when viewed from above.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionTropical South America
Amazon (click on these areas to find other species found there)
La Plata, Paraná (click on these areas to find other species found there)
La Plata, Paraná, Paraguay (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Orinoco (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Xingu (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Lower Amazon, Tocantins (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH5.5 - 7.5
Temperature21.0-26.0°C or 69.8-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingInitially algae, add a shoal to an ''algaefied'' tank and then supplement diet with sinking tablets and the usual cucumbers / lettuce or courgette (zucchini).
FurnitureLarge leafed plants and vertical flat rock surfaces (especially slate). Not essential, but likes bogwood and a large rounded substrate. Live plants seem essential to the long term survival of this fish.
CompatibilityPeaceful.
Suggested TankmatesKeep in groups (preferably at least six) with any small to mid-sized community fish.
BreedingSee Shane's World Article
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesTrans. Zool. Soc. Lond.v. 17 (pt 3, no. 1) - pp267 - Pl. 15 (fig. 3)
Registered Keepers(1) synoguy (k: 4), (2) Kostas (k: 10), (3) kcmt01, (4) f3mg (k: 8), (5) Tulio, (6) Travis_Conklin, (7) traumatic, (8) jenny, (9) henkhugo, (10) nettaigyo, (11) apistomaster (k: 10), who also notes: "Kept frquently over the years.", (12) certan, (13) chris 1 (k: 4), (14) Jools, (15) loafingloach (k: 3), who also notes: "needs more friends, shoals are good, but with a heap of baby bristlenose eating up all the algae, its hard to support more.", (16) spot86t (k: 2), (17) Kjlossman, (18) Deb (k: 3), who also notes: "I have kept this species continuously since 1999. Currently have 3, 3.5 yo. Oldest lived 4.5 years.", (19) Shralp, (20) Revol (k: 3), (21) Bengt F, (22) yogi69 (k: 5), (23) dracoz, (24) Terrorblade90 (k: 2), who also notes: "A very little and energic catfish; he can change his colour It' s very sensitive. There is a morph of this fish: when this more-colourated form is just captured, he show a yellow-paint front theth in tank disappear very quickly", (25) Bigpig (k: 6), (26) Archinuke, (27) jbmm (k: 3), (28) invaderwithkey (k: 2), (29) tomh, (30) wheel1 (k: 5), (31) dsmfishgal (k: 4), (32) FuglyDragon (k: 8), (33) bslindgren (k: 5), who also notes: "I got these by mistake with a shipment of sae's. They have done very well, and seem very industrious in feeding on algae. A rather low-key fish that is a nice addition to the community tank. The last one disappeared in the summer of 2010", (34) glenny, (35) zLoui, (36) catxx (k: 3), who also notes: "originally a trio", (37) LUISGOREY, (38) CoryLoachFreak, (39) Breus (k: 9), (40) Scubaguy (k: 4), (41) Complexity (k: 8), who also notes: "Half of the 8 survived long term. I lost 3 of them when they got caught in a CO2 ladder. They would go into the channels, but couldn't go backwards to get back out. They sometimes shoal with my dwarf chain loaches.", (42) Allie72 (k: 3), (43) kfreedman, (44) DutchFry (k: 5), (45) Lyssa (k: 2), (46) briggadane (k: 11), (47) ashik (p: 2, k: 9), who also notes: "Bred in 15g tank. Filtered with Eheim 2215, aquaclear 30 powerhead, eco-complete substrate, some slate and caves, a large clump of java fern. Tank specs: 15 g (24" x 12"). Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate = 0, GH ~120, KH ~80, 81F, 12h light a day, full ", (48) EdieBird, (49) miravns (k: 2), (50) Fishaliciousfish (k: 12), (51) addictinganimal, (52) AU Chief, (53) LowCat (k: 6), (54) kellygirl (k: 3), (55) Mandrake (k: 2), (56) Lique, (57) kubastanik (p: 2), (58) ASCauley (k: 2), (59) nvcichlids (k: 12), (60) Yofman (k: 3), (61) inkyjenn (k: 4), who also notes: "these guys were being starved at a lfs. all had hollowed out bellies. after 48 hours in the quarantine tank every last scrap of algae was gone. they went readily to prepared foods and now are a fat happy bunch in my 55. ", (62) koter73, (63) Dipsausje (k: 10), (64) evesonevo (k: 3), (65) nikelodeon79, (66) paul b 76 (k: 4), (67) s2man, (68) xander (k: 2), (69) GABear, (70) jquijano, (71) deviating, (72) Blonde1, (73) otoguppylover (k: 3), who also notes: "i have several types of otos i dont know how many i have of each. dam petsmart inventory", (74) I_Xeno (k: 6), (75) pbyrley, (76) willis30, (77) fantonac, (78) DiHo (k: 8), (79) h2opleco, (80) Bristlenose 94, (81) corymkl, (82) fischkringli (k: 2), (83) KTLM (k: 2), (84) acidise, (85) Hitch, (86) francistrus, (87) OddOscar (k: 10), who also notes: "I got these fish on my birthday.", (88) naturalart (k: 5), (89) ayrtoninst (k: 14), (90) L number Banana (k: 2), who also notes: "8 unknowns are babies of one of the oto species but markings are like vittatus body and mariae tail, no white bar. Noticed the new ones Dec 7, 2009 Update winter 2012: Only 2 left like these ones - the otos with the square markings seem to have taken over.", (91) whiteymoza, (92) Frank the L (k: 5), (93) Nx7 (k: 2), (94) somename, (95) James0816 (p: 2, k: 54), who also notes: "Last spawn: ~ 24-Apr-2010 - Egg Count Unknown. First spawn: 09-Apr-2009 Eggs Found: 16-Mar-2010 - 57 Eggs Found: 18-Mar-2010 - 59 Eggs Found: 27-Mar-2010 - 40 Eggs Found: 31-Mar-2010 - 23 Eggs Found: 01-Apr-2010 - 82 Eggs Found: 07-Apr-2010 - 26 Last spawn: 07-Apr-2010 - 26 Eggs found", "Juvenille Tank - over 50 occupants -Spawn discoverd on 26-Apr-2010 ", (96) cosmicwonderer1, (97) joemc, (98) Barracuda518 (k: 3), (99) Timberwolf (k: 5), (100) sterlingtjones (k: 14), (101) Dalek Tzet (k: 4), (102) Kestrix, (103) rhibear (k: 5), (104) Gertbl (k: 7), (105) tijani, (106) LeeRoy (k: 10), who also notes: "These were listed as Otocinlus (Macrotocinclus ) Affinia but from looking a photos on here and the web I believe that they are vittatus.", (107) RickE, (108) ginagv (k: 2), (109) littlebristlenose (p: 5, k: 11), (110) vibaldi (k: 3), (111) Feanaro (k: 3), (112) MarcW (k: 3), (113) mike h, (114) brianmc, (115) jamieg192 (k: 3), (116) stefjane, (117) Sotty (k: 3), (118) Black_flys (k: 4), (119) snowball (k: 8), (120) biotope69 (k: 4), (121) marangmic (p: 2, k: 10), (122) rmc (k: 6), (123) MHS, (124) jp11biod, (125) backstreetgambler, (126) krb (k: 4), (127) theonetruepath (k: 3), (128) Skägget, (129) Bruton, (130) Bastyns, (131) gforcefx, (132) hoblob, (133) jmw (k: 10), (134) Chris5787, (135) HERVE, (136) metalface2 (k: 4), (137) Logqan, (138) donpetty (k: 6), who also notes: "Petsmart has these guys for $1.00 each Great deal...", (139) TerriM (k: 5), (140) kiwiinoz, (141) len.weideman (k: 8), (142) Laelori, (143) Devonviolet (k: 3), who also notes: "Small tank containing only 3 otos and crystal red and black shrimp. RO water remineralised with salty bee minerals. Ph 6.5. Temp 20 degrees c. Ammonia 0, nitrite 0 nitrate 10. Typical tds 124-130. 1st eggs - gone the next day :-(.", (144) technogeek, (145) puresp (k: 6), (146) guardianfyre, (147) thereverendturtle, (148) merit, (149) magicmarymac (k: 6), who also notes: "In with a Betta, three ghost shrimp, and one Mystery snail", (150) cinnamonsticks (k: 5), (151) mjh712 (k: 4), (152) Jass, (153) Narwhal72, (154) BallAquatics (k: 6), who also notes: "These were small run down fish as is often the case when they first come in. They have grown steadly by feeding Repashy "Soilent Green". First fry found 04/16/2013.", (155) dkshadowwolf (p: 2, k: 8), (156) flatfish (k: 6), (157) lilu (p: 2, k: 3), (158) ranmasan (k: 3), who also notes: "I see where they get the nickname "Little Monkeys" :)", (159) Valb68, (160) DKcincy, (161) huds21, (162) lightseeker5000 (k: 4), (163) camtang, (164) Albert (k: 7), (165) xShovelnose (k: 2), who also notes: "Good fish...", (166) shad0wfish13 (k: 2), (167) parrot1974 (k: 4), (168) Jumpmaster (p: 2), (169) bekateen (k: 3), (170) jamesyboy, (171) booitsme3109, (172) Knestis, (173) CowBoYReX, (174) GreenSynoMan (k: 5), (175) dpm1, (176) Tamcon83, (177) justinkaseman, (178) telsonboy (k: 3), who also notes: "When in a 55-gal planted aquarium, temperatures dropped to 55F for over a week. Survived wonderfully!", (179) FerocactusLatispinus, who also notes: "R.I.P. Otto. Was quite a speedy, happy little fellow. Loved exploring and eating off acres of driftwood. Grew quickly off a diet of algae, blanched veggies, and driftwood!", (180) TriLamb13, (181) indeliKate, (182) jakkals, (183) Catfishlady (k: 6), (184) barbax (k: 10), who also notes: "They love repashy and omega one veggie pellets. They also get blanched greens from time to time.", (185) Gerald CapeTown, (186) slayer5590 (k: 2), who also notes: "Bought 8 more on 3/23/2016", (187) flatdog (k: 2), (188) Avasion, (189) joclru (k: 5), (190) Waldsee, (191) catfishchaos, who also notes: "Great algae eater", (192) Gallywags (k: 10), (193) Yo-han, (194) kiwidu21, (195) shrimpkeeper222, (196) OregonOutdoorsChris (p: 4, k: 23), who also notes: "Misidentified, are actually most likely macrospilus. Mine are constantly eating tubifex worms, and just fed Fluval Bug Bites for the first time the other day and they went nuts for it. Could otos need more protein in their diet than we normal think?", "Misidentified, are actually most likely macrospilus.", (197) diesel (k: 6), (198) MatsJ (k: 9), (199) jadetristan (k: 10), (200) kvnbyl (p: 2), (201) MarlonnekeW (k: 6), (202) mikeisrad, (203) Electrocat, (204) Weirder_weird, (205) jodilynn (k: 3), who also notes: "In a heavily planted 5 gallon with a small school of Harlequins and a dunno earred Betta. Mixture of plastic plants, live Anacharis, Marimo and Java moss, and good algae growth. Cholla and driftwood for munching and hiding on. Quite shy, rarely see all three.", (206) Chilo_glanis (k: 6), (207) CrazyCatLady (k: 2).

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Breeding Reports(1) Valb68 (b: 48), (2) jmw (b: 35), (3) Gertbl (b: 28).
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Last Update2017 Sep 25 02:43 (species record created: 1996 Dec 01 11:22)

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