Thursday, June 26, 2008

Otocinclus - The tiny algae eater

Otocinclus are a favorite among planted tank enthusiasts. They are small in stature, never exceeding 2 inches, and do a great job and gently cleaning algae off of plant leaves and the aquarium glass. They are also fun to watch as they often swim together in groups, mid-water, unlike many other fish commonly used as algae control. There are 16 known species of Otocinclus, the most common being O. affinis.

These little algae eating gems are found in oxygen rich streams in South America, from northern Venezuela to northern Argentina. They are not normally found in the Amazon and Orinoco lowlands. The streams they are usually found in have a low pH and have a slow to moderate flow. They are often found near the banks, in large schools.

In the aquarium these fish can be a bit difficult to acclimatize, but once they are they seem to be pretty hardy and adaptable. They do best if kept in groups of 3 or more. They can be kept in both small and larger aquariums. They do an excellent job of eating most algae from decorations, plants and the glass. They do such a good job that they often need to be fed algae wafers to supplement their diet.

picture credit: elpono_njg