Otocinclus Cocama - A Zebra's Journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Otocinclus Cocama - A Zebra's Journal

This is another journal for some of my Otocinclus friends; Otocinclus Cocama (a.k.a The Zebra Oto). Here I will attempt to document as much as possible about these little guys and my attempts to breed them in captivity. Granted, it's no easy task and I'm hoping that I will be able to leverage some of my success with Otocinclus Vittatus in this project.

HISTORY:
I'll give a brief history of the workings of this project. I have been breeding O. Vittatus for just shy of two years now. I have always been fascinated by these little guys and have kept them in every tank I have had.

The more I studied and researched, the more I wanted this project to be successfull to be able to offer captive raised Otos to the general public. As many of you know, they aren't treated very well from capture to our tanks. They are caught in the 1000s and usually shipped in bad conditions just to wind up at the LFS half starved to death. This leads to a very low survivability rate. Many unfortunately don't even survive the export.

Once the Vittatus started breeding, I wanted to expand it out to see if I could breed some of the other less commonly available species.
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post #2 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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The Zebra is one of the most fascinating species by markings and character. I really wanted to attempt this but the pricing was just too much to fit the bill. Finally, one day, I just decided to go for it and made my first purchase of (5). Here they are after arrival:


These wee ones where purchased just under a year ago. Still too young to properly sex at the time. They were acclimated very slowly to their new home. Colored up nicely just after 24hr mark in the tank which was a pleasant surprise. A few short days later, I lost one. However, the suspected reason would surprise you. I suspected aggression had a hand in it as I found two puncture wounds in the deceased one. Very much matching that of a fin. I found a similar mark on another Oto which lead me to that conclusion. I have had no further issues since.

Here is a group photo at two weeks in the tank munching on some home prepared specialty food.


As time went on, I eventually was able to determine that my little group consisted of all males. Was a little bummed. Again due to pricing and availability, I was just going to have to wait my time as to when to get another group in.
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post #3 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Throughout this past winter, I made the commitment to get another group come spring and revive this project. Not too long ago, I contacted a fellow PT member here, Loachutus (a.k.a Todd Hooper), in regards to some floating plants. After several conversations and mentioning about the Vittatus, I told him that I was also attempting the Cocama's and that I had to get another group in due to only having males.

What happened next was a big surprise. He told me that he had purchased some a while back and even lost a few. There were a couple nice females in his tank. He then offered to donate the two lovely ladies to my project! Really was shocked. Needless to say and really what could I say, I had to accept this kind offer. We just had to work through the logisitics of shipping and weather. There was no rush. Mother Nature eventually provided a window of opportunity and they began their journey to Virginia two days ago. They arrived yesterday just fine and acclimated to the tank nice and slowly.

Here's a couple shots of the ladies during acclimation:
Lady1:



Lady2:


I'll get better shots once they are all settled in.
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post #4 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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We now invite you to join us on this hopefully fantastic journey. There will be ups and downs (preferrably way more ups) and hopefully the successful end result of a spawn or two. I will be posting updates to the tank such as water parms, flora, fauna, etc.

And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask away.

Thank you and enjoy!
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post #5 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 02:24 PM
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Wonderful project! You'll be doing a great thing for the aquarium hobby, and the genus Otocinclus if you can get them to breed reliably in captivity.

I'd love to have Otos in my tank, but my experience has been so bad in the past that I feel irresponsible buying more.

It just makes me sick thinking of the countless millions of these guys that die in shipping, and after that even in well run aquaria because of the suffering they've been put through.

I read some speculation once that Otocinclus species have such a high mortality rate in aquaria because their intestinal fauna die out during the capture and shipping process. Have you ever heard that?
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post #6 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 02:44 PM
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Good luck James. If anybody is equipped to do this it's you! If you succeed. I will be one of your first customers!


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post #7 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 02:46 PM
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Indeed good luck, looking forward to watching your progress.
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post #8 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Powchekny View Post
I read some speculation once that Otocinclus species have such a high mortality rate in aquaria because their intestinal fauna die out during the capture and shipping process. Have you ever heard that?
For the most part, this is true. Once the bacteria die off completely, it's pretty much end game for the little guy. However, if you catch it in time, you can reverse the effects.
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post #9 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuffgong View Post
Good luck James. If anybody is equipped to do this it's you! If you succeed. I will be one of your first customers!
Thanks kindly to all.

Mr. Hooper is #1 on list though. If it weren't for his contribution, I wouldn't be able to get going on it.
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post #10 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 03:18 PM
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wow this is going to be great. Good luck James. I hope you have good luck breeding these guys. Then once i move to Virginia in the fall i can maybe buy some up from you.
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post #11 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
The more I studied and researched, the more I wanted this project to be successfull to be able to offer captive raised Otos to the general public. As many of you know, they aren't treated very well from capture to our tanks. They are caught in the 1000s and usually shipped in bad conditions just to wind up at the LFS half starved to death. This leads to a very low survivability rate. Many unfortunately don't even survive the export.
And that's why you have them sir. Lookin forward to updates!! Those are some handsome males, BTW.

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post #12 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 03:47 PM
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Can I be third on this list?

Glad to see somebody is actually doing something! I feel sorry now that petco is carrying them. Who knows how high the death rate spiked (after transport) when they started carrying them.


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post #13 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 04:12 PM
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Those are really cool little fish.

And this sounds like an interesting project.
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post #14 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 04:53 PM
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Looking forward to this journal! I re-read your O. vittatus journal, are the zebra's sharing the same tank? Can you give some detail on your feeding routines?

Thanks!
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post #15 of 97 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by billb View Post
are the zebra's sharing the same tank? Can you give some detail on your feeding routines?
I probably should have kept the Vittatus journal here as well.

The Zebra's have thier own tank. While they can reside with each other, for the purpose of this project, I house them all seperate.

I won't have the feeding routine established in their tank for about another week. This gives the newbies time to settle in and adjust. During this period, I will keep an abundance of foods available to them so they can learn what to expect and such. Sounds a bit trivial but it has been working wonders in all the other tanks.

I will tell you that the main staples are Ken's Veggie Flakes and Sticks, blanched zucchini, seaweed and Snailo (It's there for the shrimp but I see them hit it every now and then). In addition, I'll be resuming the prepared powdered food that you see in the group pic. It's a combination of algae and veggie powders that is held together with Agar. A member on another forum came up with this and has done quite well. Even the shrimp go crazy over it.
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