Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

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Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

I recently purchased 6 Otocinclus cocama for a heavily planted 29 gallon. They are considered the main fish (other residents are a school of purple rasboras). My intention from the beginning was to eventually breed them. Today I was able to see spawning behavior twice. I consider myself lucky here as I wasn't expecting any of this for months, if ever.

The female is not hugely fat or gravid that I could see, so I don't know if any eggs were placed (I couldn't find any). But then again it's a planted jungle so difficult to search for them.

The first event was in a stand of bacopa caroliniana so they don't need huge leaves I guess. The second was under a crypt. Both were upside down under a leaf. I will be giving all facts and details in a few days but for now here is a short youtube video of the second of the two spawning events I witnessed. I was too slow and in total shock to capture the first one in time.

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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by characinkid »

Congratulations, they look like really great fish and obviously very happy. To capture the event on video is also impressive.

Hope that you get eggs (and fry) soon!
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by apistomaster »

Congratulations and my compliments for capturing their spawning behavior in such detail.
I hope you have success with obtaining fry.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

Keep us updated, looks positive so far.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Hello everyone,

So today I found eggs!!! While searching for more eggs I saw a single spawning behavior event from a smaller female than the previous video, but I don't know who laid the eggs. I'm hoping to get video of actual egg laying at some point... that would be cool.

Here are the observations so far:
  • 7 days ago I fed Repashy, probably too much at once, and added 1/4 scoop of Bacter AE to the tank
  • I believe this had two effects: I began to have trouble with rising ammonia levels (0.50), and ended up with what looked like a diatom algae bloom in the tank.
  • For the last two weeks I gave a blanched zucchini slice on a large skewer for 36 hours, then removed it and waited another 24 hours before the next one.
  • 3 days ago I did 2 large water changes (50%) on the same day, to combat the ammonia levels. Temperature matched the tank 75 F.
  • starting 3 days ago I left the lights on longer than usual (up to 10+ hours) to help the plants process more ammonia. There was a lot more pearling in the tank as a result.
  • 1 day ago I noticed some active/frisky behavior but no actual spawning positions. Female was going under a leaf upside down and cleaning it vigorously. Others were staying close to each other and moving more.
  • Today I noticed eggs on leaves. I was able to get 7 of them. They were placed 2 at a time, and found ON TOP of the leaves except for 1 egg. This position seems different than other accounts I've read about.
  • The leaves were Cryptocoryne, Ludwigia, and Bacopa. They were in all different flow levels of the tank, also bottom and middle water column.
The parameters today:
  • pH = 6.8
  • GH&KH = 3 deg
  • Ammonia = 0 ppm
  • Nitrite = near 0 ppm
  • Nitrate = 5 ppm
I have a hang on back breeder box. I'm going to try to get pictures of every stage (assuming they hatch!). After yoke sac depleted I'm planning to feed repashy powder, scrape glass and put some biofilm from main tank in there, and put some older leaves from the main tank in.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

That's good so far mate,I will be even more impressed if you manage to raise lots of fry ,a small green water tank with driftwood and lots of biofilm was something I was going to try had I got to that stage, keep it going. ^:)^
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

Do you know the male to female ratio ,and I remember an old oto breeding video on youtube who was using bacopa as a spawning plant !
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Yes just having a brand new breeder box without a biofilm already might be a problem. Hopefully they take to the Bacter AE and repashy powders I will give them. I think there are 3 males and 3 females in this group. None of the females were visibly heavy with eggs so I'm basing it mostly on body shape and behavior.

All I've heard about so far is they like large broad leaves like swords and crypts, so them using the bacopa and ludwigia was very surprising to me! I'm glad it grows well in my tank.

Although there was more spawning behavior yesterday I only found 1 new egg. An egg got fungus so I still have 7 viable eggs right now. Hopefully they hatch today or tomorrow.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by bekateen »

Congratulations! That's wonderful. Good luck with the eggs and fry.

Cheers, Eric
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Well it appears all the eggs had fungus after 2 days so either I didn't get to the first fungused egg early enough or screwed something else up. I ordered some methylene blue, is that what Loricariidae owners use for eggs? :( I'll have to read up more on egg care.

I found 3 unfertilized eggs this morning, and more activity of chasing around so I'm sure there will be successful spawns again in the future. I think I got lucky with this set of Zebra Otos. I'll report back when I at least get to the wriggler stage.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Well it looks like there was some dumb luck involved here. I was able to see 2 wigglers on the glass today in the main tank, and moved them to the breeder box. Unfortunately I don't know if they were from the first spawn or not but maybe. I have been looking through the bacopa carefully several times a day and noticed them later today so I think they just hatched.

Two isn't a lot but I'll take it and hopefully my dumb luck continues!

I plan to feed some repashy soilent green powder mixed in cup of water for their first foods. Fingers crossed.

I've included some pictures of the eggs from first batch and the wigglers found.

New egg - small white blob on the side
cocama_egg_0hours.JPG
24 hours - the white stripe wrapping around it is the body
cocama_egg_24 hours.JPG
Wigglers
cocama_wiggler1.JPG
cocama_wiggler2.JPG
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by bekateen »

Awesome! Congratulations. When you get a few, usually the parents will spawn again. More chances to do better.

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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

So far I have found a total of 5 fry. They seem to eventually move up toward the surface. In the breeder tank they are almost all up near the surface now. Should be interesting trying to get them to feed. I took some nice closeup video of the fry from underneath and on the side. I would say they are about 6-7mm now. Enjoy!
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Here is another video. I estimate they are about 7 days old. They are 1cm long now and the zebra coloration is starting to come through. You can see in the first clip it eating what appears to be diatom algae(?). They are eating and pooping normally so this is a good sign!!

I put two trimmings of bacopa (old growth which were crusty w/ algae near bottom of tank) and they seem to like to be on it or hang under the leaves. I have been mixing repashy soilent green to make a green soup. Using a dosing syringe I apply the mix to the sides of the breeder tank where they are feeding, hoping that some of the particulates will cling to the biofilm. I have been doing this twice a day and at the end of the day I siphon up the bottom. They are almost always on the sides or hanging on the bacopa and I've only seen one at the bottom of the tank.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

Be careful with bacter Ae and Rapashy I had a nitrate spike in my shrimp tank I think was caused by the bacter,and Otos might have digestive problems with to much Rapashy, after losing some of my Otos recently i feel these two foods might of played a role,I would only feed the adult ones this food once or twice a week,as for the fry if that's the only option until they get bigger than fine but monitor nitrates
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Mmm yes I have a similar theory where I had ammonia problems and I think it was from Bacter + too much Repashy. Big water changes to lower that were done and may have triggered the spawning. Haven't had a problem since.

Fry still seem to be eating well and pooping. I have a few stems of bacopa that were "dirty" with algae at one time that they like to hang on. I'm hoping some of the particles stick to the plants as well.

Is there a product that would be good for suckermouth fry ? I was wondering about health food stores "spirulina powder". I will probably be setting up a 10 gal "grow out" tank which might double as a fry-raising tank if I can get enough algae and biofilm on it. So maybe this won't be a problem much longer for future batches.

ALL the fry I am growing so far, I rescued from the main 29 gallon tank where they hatched on their own.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

That's good to hear your fry are eating and growing well, there's other alternatives to Bacter Ae which are preferred by the professional Caradina shrimp breeders ,a guy on YouTube shrimpmania explains how bacter ae takes alot of oxygen out of the water and he uses an Asian bacteria which does not do that,I'll find out the brand and let you know
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

I saw spawning behavior yesterday and found 8 eggs in the tank. I think I confirmed I have 3 males and 3 females as I saw the larger pair spawning too. This was two days after a large 50% water change. Also the weather cooled and tank temp went down naturally from 78 degrees to 75 degrees.

I wish I had the 10 gallon grow-out tank set up already for them! I might leave the eggs in the main tank and see how many can grow up. That sounds sacrilegious, I know. I'm just not prepared and don't really want to mix in more tiny fry into the breeder. :( I should have started the 10 gallon immediately when I saw the very first eggs.

I think I already saw the Shrimp Mania video with his homemade bacteria powder, it was interesting. I might try pure spirulina powder from a health food store. Of course having a 10 gallon tank with all that biofilm will trump all that in the very beginning I think.

My fry in the breeder are two weeks old and still doing well. Is it possible I'm out of the fragile stage of raising fry? I'm sure I can still screw things up. They have developed silver belly skin / muscle (not sure what it is) so I can't really see their innards anymore. I'll post video or pics soon.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Here is a video of a couple of them at 2 weeks growth. Not the greatest quality... it is getting harder to get a good video at this size with the camera I'm using.

They recently developed this "silver skin" on their bellies (is it muscle?) so I can't see the innards any longer. But you can see the muscle movements of digestion which I thought was interesting.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Well the spirulina powder was a bust. The brand I got is a super fine powder that just clouds the water it's not even big enough to sink. I'll stick to Repashy for now. I've also started introducing small piece of Xtreme Scrapers wafer and I think a couple of them have taken interest so far....
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

At three weeks old now and still going strong by the looks of it ,I'd imagine the tank has a decent amount of algae by now also ,how are the adults doing, any more spawning?
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by apistomaster »

papgar wrote: 21 Sep 2023, 02:40 Well the spirulina powder was a bust. The brand I got is a super fine powder that just clouds the water it's not even big enough to sink. I'll stick to Repashy for now. I've also started introducing small piece of Xtreme Scrapers wafer and I think a couple of them have taken interest so far....
I wonder if seaweed sheet fish food would be a useful?
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

The adults have been spawning maybe once a week since I started reporting it. They might be taking turns and not all spawning at once I can't tell the two younger ones apart so I don't know who is doing what. One of the weeks there were several unfertilized eggs and not much else. But then a batch of fertilized eggs happened last week.

I think the biofilm and daily feeding/dusting of Repashy powder, along with having a few stems of Bacopa, were enough to get them through the fry stage and grow up to a few weeks old. I'll keep trying other foods to test out. I didn't have good luck with seaweed sheets several years ago with adult common Otos but I can try it again for sure.

I'm attaching a picture of the tank right before I do some pruning, just to show what a jungle it is. Pretty much stuffed with plants and very little aquascaping in mind. Surprisingly the otos have not done much with the Hygro corymbosa & difformis, but have mostly been active on the crypts and the bacopa / ludwigia.

I'm also attaching a picture of the Fluval breeder box I used. This is just after cleaning & feeding... usually the bottom has a lot of poop on it after a day. The light is rarely on it so it only gets ambient light from room mostly. I have 3 sprigs of bacopa there with tin fishing weights to hold down one end so they don't just float. I think this breeder box works really well! It basically replaces the water several times an hour from the main tank.
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29 gallon main tank with Zebra otos and lots of plants
29 gallon main tank with Zebra otos and lots of plants
Fluval hang on back breeder box
Fluval hang on back breeder box
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

The 10 gallon grow out is not ready yet for fish but I decided to let the 10 juveniles out into the main tank. They were becoming very skittish in the breeder so I think it was stressing them out somewhat. They should be too big to be eaten by purple rasboras now and they will enjoy the space and tons of plants available. I'm not sure when I will put them into the 10 gallon but it will have to be at some point. I can't have 16 adult zebra otos in a 29 gallon tank so we'll see.

I took a few eggs I found yesterday along with 4 small fry and put them in the breeder box to begin a new set of babies. Here is a pic of a 3 week old next to an adult.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by bekateen »

This is really cool. I hope they do well in the new tank. I'm always stressed about moving fry from one place to another if I haven't done it before. Then when it works, I'm shocked.

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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

So far the 10 juveniles are doing well in the main 29 gallon. They are probably a little over a month old and the largest is 3/4 inch. Growth seems to have slowed to me but maybe I'm just getting impatient. It's also frustrating only seeing 5 or so juveniles at a time since they hide so well. But all that I've seen so far are fat and pooping so they are getting the food they need. Some have even gone on the zucchini.

Spawning behavior continues weekly but I've only seen a few eggs. Every egg I handle gets fungus so from now on I'm letting them hatch in the main tank and I'll just rescue the fry when they are found. At least... until I figure out how to hatch eggs properly.
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Taratron »

This is a fascinating read! Very cool, and congrats!
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by bekateen »

Agreed! Well done!
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by papgar »

Just a quick update... the juveniles are continuing to grow slowly but whenever I see them they have big bellies and pooping. So I think they are finding food, and see them on the zucchini veg regularly. I'm only counting 5 at a time but then again, they are experts at hiding. Length is still 3/4 inch or slightly larger, but not 1 inch yet. This is head to tail not the "standard length" measurements that seem official here. :-p

Attached a picture of a 6 week old. An observation I would like to point out is the tail stripe coloration of the juveniles. A defining mark of Otocinclus cocama is having a single zig-zag vertical bar down the tail, as opposed to two bars which most other Otocinclus species have. The juveniles currently have two vertical bars and I wonder how long it will take for these to merge into a single bar? They aren't very pointy either so I'm expecting the fins have more growing to do.
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Otocinclus cocama 6 weeks
Otocinclus cocama 6 weeks
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Re: Zebra otocinclus spawning behavior

Post by Deca »

There growing well ,your the pied piper of Otocinclus 👏
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