Breeding Otocinclus in Liquid Rocky Mountain
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:50 PM   #1
AdamTill
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Breeding Otocinclus in Liquid Rocky Mountain


I've been fascinated by otos for about a year now, and I've steadily narrowed my interests down to the point where I want to concentrate on them. As such, I recently decided to focus on setting up a tank specifically tailored to the happy (if slightly nervous) little critters.

Though I've had otos in community tanks quite successfully, I started out my species only efforts with a 10 gallon at work. I thought it would a good choice there, since feeding them daily wouldn't be required. Though the tank prospered, it was tough to keep the temperature below 78-80 this summer, which seemed too high for the otos. Likewise, a well meaning effort at pond snail control (a single Assasin snail) inevitably ended up being a pregnant female, and there were soon Assasin eggs laid liberally around the tank; I figured they'd make short work of any Oto eggs after hatching. As such, the 7 otos came home after three months, and the betta went to work to bask in new found isolation and freedom.



Right now, I have about 15 or so otos of various varieties in a soil substrate 20 gallon long at home. They're a mix of rescues from other tanks and others I've bought specifically to try to breed them, and they hang out with a school of 8 cardinal tetras. They get supplemental feelings of veggies, and seem generally happy.





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Though they seem to be relatively healthy, there are a few problems right now:

1) our water is HARD and ~8.3 pH. Though I haven't had any losses in months, I now know they aren't likely to breed or hatch eggs at this pH, and so I have an RO unit on the way to dilute our liquid mountain range. Once it's set up, I'll transition them over to a more neutral pH over the course of a few weeks, leaving a mix of tap water in place to promote plant growth.
2) they're with the cardinals. I'm sure cardinals would eat eggs or fry, and they like a slightly higher temp than the otos. Everybody's okay at 76 right now though.
3) I think they need a bit more water movement. There's an Aquaclear 50 in there right now, but about 60% of them are usually to be found in the sword plant under the filter. Likewise, they're much more active and display more schooling behavior right after a 25% water change, which I've started doing weekly rather than every 2. I never get anything on the ammonia or nitrite tests in this tank, and nitrates are very low (~5ppm), but the otos seem to like more frequent changes.

Video after water change:
http://youtu.be/9-rMCZ3eVeI

As such, I've decided on a moderate flow River manifold tank in a new 20 long, which I'll set up shortly and leave to mature for a few months. That will be their species only tank. If the manifold doesn't work out, I can keep them in the current one and just move the cardinals out.

The manifold design is my engineer's attempt at getting more diffuse flow than the classic setup here http://www.loaches.com/articles/rive...anifold-design. I had been percolating some far more complicated ideas around when I found that, and instead decided on just adapting the concept instead.

My design has essentially a spray bar attached to the inlet and outlet, and is designed for much lower flow than something like the loaches would need.







Talking to someone who had been in one of the areas that otos are collected in the wild, he suggested starting with about a 10 turnover per hour flow rate. A maxi jet 900 at 230 GPH seemed about right figuring on fitting losses, and had the advantage of being locally available. A prototype seemed to validate the concept as workable.

Prototype:
https://youtu.be/uf_V7uXarkQ

It will be a soil substrate tank like all my others with a mix of sand and gravel depending on what the flow attempt to carve away. I think I may try to create a little sheltered section in the middle with rocks or obstructions, in order to create a place to add food. Rock for algae, wood and plants that can handle a bit of current are in the plan. Going to play with flow once it's set up and the glue has set.

Some other ideas I plan to play with are to add anti vibration material (from my car stereo days) to the bottom of the tank, to try to isolate it from the floor and stand a bit. The otos seem more reactive to people walking by the they are to the sight of folks, since if you approach with soft steps they don't fly off the handle as much. They are catfish after all, so it makes sense for them to be sensitive to vibration.

So, that's the plan. Right now that glue is setting, and I have a tub of rocks out growing algae on them. I'll update this as I go.

One request if anyone knowledgeable has time...can you name these otos for me? These are the two varieties that seem most common:





I have my suspicions, but choosing species names seems a little "up for debate" at the moment.

I have a couple of very pale fellows who I though at first were sick, but a few months later (healthy and fat) I'm guessing are actually just another variety. Much more skittish than the others, but I'll try to photograph them as well if they'll ever stay still.

Also, if anyone has any plant suggestions, I'm all ears. I have a bunch of suggestions from other breeding threads, but any other ideas are more than welcome.

Thanks!
Adam
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Old 07-20-2015, 11:28 PM   #2
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So, the project has hit its first snag - that powerhead does NOT like any back pressure whatsoever. While the prototype had more total drilled outfall area than the diameter of the input pipe, the one I tested had slightly less. As soon as it was hooked up, it started cavitating like crazy. If I hooked up the inlet piping it was fine after the air was sucked out of the piping, but with any back pressure from the outlet spraybar I got quite a bit of noise from cavitation.

I wasn't wild about the resonance provided by mounting it to the tank bottom either. This is going in the family room, and it needs to be more-or-less silent. Some of it would be dampened by dirt, rocks and such on the tank bottom, but not enough would be my guess.

Going to go to plan B, which is closer to my original concept. I'll silicone some bulkheads into the tank on each end about an inch from the end, with removable plates with a series of holes drilled into them. I'll pressurize one from a fitting on top, and draw water from the other. I can keep the pump outside the tank that way, lose all the internal plumbing, dampen the heck out of the pump mount, and avoid the parasitic heat loss to the water to boot. I can even mount the pump over top of the tank in a hood, so any leaks don't end up on the floor (no room for a cabinet with a sump below).

Stay tuned I guess...back to the drawing board.
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Old 07-25-2015, 02:21 PM   #3
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I applaud you sir, I love what you are trying to do here. DIY and innovation are why I love this hobby. Keep us posted!
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Old 07-25-2015, 02:40 PM   #4
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Very interesting. I will be following this closely as I also am very fond of my little otos.
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Old 07-25-2015, 03:51 PM   #5
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Hi Adam, I am an Oto fan too and currently have a species tank set up - just CRS and Otos. Like you, I am certain that the batch of otos I bought is composed of two species. I cant guess at what they are but they seem similar to the two fish you posted. One has a "blob" right where the lateral stripe meets the tail the other species just has the line (no blob).

The later, Otocinclus sp "blobless" has only three fish, two males and a female. They are far more active than the other species and have now spawned twice, once on july 4th and again just recently, as I just noticed three new wrigglers. The first batch did not survive and I am trying to figure out how to feed the little guys. There is a detailed account of oto breeding success on Planet catfish search for the thread titled "Otocinclus breeding" by james 0816. He was successful and shares some good info. Good luck and I look forward to following your thread.
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Old 07-25-2015, 05:08 PM   #6
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Thanks folks! Been a fun little project so far, with enough challenges to keep it interesting. Time for a couple of updates.

First of all, I picked up an Aqueon Quietflow 800 to try to get around the cavitation issues from the Maxiflow. Seems to have done the trick, but this pump doesn't have any way to accept an inlet pipe due to its adjustable inlet gate:
http://www.aqueonproducts.com/produc...lity-pumps.htm

This is what I've come up with as the new inlet concept:


This is with the tank sitting on its end, bottom of the tank to the top of the screen.

The pump is soft mounted to a piece of plexi which in turn is siliconed to a block of foam. It will run water to the pipe connector you can see under the little L, which will lead through the bulkhead to the outflow spraybar on the other side of the tank.

The big bulkhead which is the width of the tank will be drilled above the level of the horizontal divider, and water will fill the top section. The heater will be in this walled off section, so the Otos don't suck on it and bake themselves (can happen with Otos, I'm told).

I'll fill the gap between the horizontal divider and the L with filter foam, place some biomax behind it, and have a built in inlet and tank filter! Then I can then eliminate the HOB filter.

The holes in the bulkhead will only be 1/16, but even if fry get through that, they won't get past the filter foam and can be retrieved when they're seen.

I hope this works!

On my in progress 20L, I've started transitioning them to a lower pH after receiving my little 3 stage RO unit. First 25% water change used 25% (ie 25% RO in the 5 gallon change) RO water, next will use 50% RO water, then I'll stick with 75% RO water going forward until the whole volume is 75% RO. The RO water is pH 6.4, and my tank water right now is 8.3, so I don't want to switch too quickly.

I also added a little Hydor 100 GPH pump into that tank, and it was a big hit. The otos and cardinals alike both spend a lot of time in the outflow current, so it was a great proof of concept.

Last edited by AdamTill; 07-25-2015 at 05:42 PM.. Reason: Grammar
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Old 07-25-2015, 05:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billb View Post
Hi Adam, I am an Oto fan too and currently have a species tank set up - just CRS and Otos. Like you, I am certain that the batch of otos I bought is composed of two species. I cant guess at what they are but they seem similar to the two fish you posted. One has a "blob" right where the lateral stripe meets the tail the other species just has the line (no blob).

The later, Otocinclus sp "blobless" has only three fish, two males and a female. They are far more active than the other species and have now spawned twice, once on july 4th and again just recently, as I just noticed three new wrigglers. The first batch did not survive and I am trying to figure out how to feed the little guys. There is a detailed account of oto breeding success on Planet catfish search for the thread titled "Otocinclus breeding" by james 0816. He was successful and shares some good info. Good luck and I look forward to following your thread.
Congrats on your spawns! I suspect that your blob ones will be vittatus/vestitus. No blob could be affinis if "sparkly", maybe mura. I have lots that have a blob with a little white dot in that blob which I think are huaorani. Pretty sure I also have vittatus and affinis.

I've read James' threads here and elsewhere many time over, and they were actually what inspired me to get going. I had a lot of my own suspicions confirmed when I found this thread: http://forums.tfhmagazine.com/viewto...p?f=83&t=13374
...along with a 2008 TFH article by the same fellow called "Oto Pilot". Might help with your fry? My biggest issue is getting the pH down. Gary commented that pH above 7.5 or so is basically a no go for fry.
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:03 AM   #8
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I was gifted with about 14 oto fry in a 10gal simple setup. I do know that they enjoyed laying eggs on the under side of leaves. I found quite a few sacks under my sunset hygro leaves. I was using an hob and a fugeray with eco complete. Tank wasn't overly planted at the time either. There were 5-6 adult otos a few nerites and a young Raphael Cat. Atleast 10 of them survived to adulthood. I really believe its the fact they thought they were alone in the tank more than anything. The Raphael Cat rarely wondered. Good luck with your endeavor!
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Old 07-26-2015, 08:03 AM   #9
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Pretty cool DIY ottocinclus catifsh breeding project you got going, Adam. Can't wait to see more progress. Keep up the good work, mate!
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:29 PM   #10
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Great looking DIY Adam! Very creative.
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Old 07-29-2015, 05:01 AM   #11
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More progress, if a little bit of a two step forward, one back variety.

Tada:


What this doesn't show is how I got everything lined up, bonded the divider in place, and then left it to cure. Coming back, I was somewhat horrified to find it WAY off centre (must have crept), so I madly tore the wall out before it was in place for good. Big mess, lots of smears to clean up, but should be easy enough to recover with a wool polishing bit in my trusty Dremel. Oh well, this is just a small proof of concept tank, so some messing about is to be expected.

After giving up on bonding the wall today, I cut and rough fit the piping. Should work a treat! Looking forward to getting that in place, then I can start making up some false bottoms and antislip fences to create a couple of river bottom features.

Few more gratuitous oto pictures as well. I came across some VERY large adults at a store, and they were ready to join the main tank a few days ago. I'm used to seeing 0.75-1" juviniles, but these were obviously adults. Should hopefully be closer to breeding age, though I'm told that's not very old in most otos.



Did another RO change, using %50 RO added water. So far, so good, though I haven't checked if it's altered the total pH yet.

No room at the inn:


They're becoming little piggies too:
http://youtu.be/xslW_3lByTk

It used to take a day before they would attack,,but now a zuc gets molested 15 mins after being added. Zucs get mowed from the outside in (skin first), cucumbers flesh only and a ring of rind is left over.

One thing I'll have to change is light levels. Plants grow well enough, but their favourite sword doesn't do too much. Lots of plant mulm to vacuum up every few days too, which I suspect isn't a good sign. Only using one 24w T5. Was getting green spot algae on the tank walls using two, and the otos are apparently too good to deal with that now lol

Pale little guy still recovering from heat stroke from the work tank, but shows the mulm that I vacuum up all the time. No more white sand ever, I tell you.



Parting shot of one of the big adults:
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Old 07-30-2015, 03:59 AM   #12
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This is an awesome project man, I can't wait to see the success! One thing that may help with the pH, is indian almond leaves if you can get a hold of some or maybe alder cones. Plus both give food and shelter to the fish and their fry
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Old 07-30-2015, 06:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishboy199413 View Post
This is an awesome project man, I can't wait to see the success! One thing that may help with the pH, is indian almond leaves if you can get a hold of some or maybe alder cones. Plus both give food and shelter to the fish and their fry
Thanks, and good thought. I'm going for a clearwater stream habitat rather than a blackwater one, however, so I'm going to just try the RO route for now. From what I've learned so far, that's a bit closer to where these otos come from.

Little more work tonight:


To explain a bit of what I'm going for in these shots, I want to create a few undulations in the terrain without getting deeper areas of substrate (to avoid anaerobic dirt pockets etc). On the slopes I'm going to build antislip silt fences out of the plastic grid material, and especially when the plant roots fill in a bit that should allow the substrate to stay more or less in place.

Not sure what to do with the floating middle piece right now. It was supposed to create an eddy that I could put food behind, but I'm not sure I like it. We will see.



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Old 07-31-2015, 02:56 AM   #14
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Oh I know but, if you just use a bit of leaves, it would not affect the water clarity. Alder cones work better and don't really affect the water clarity but in very large amounts
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:20 AM   #15
AdamTill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishboy199413 View Post
Oh I know but, if you just use a bit of leaves, it would not affect the water clarity. Alder cones work better and don't really affect the water clarity but in very large amounts
I'm certainly not adverse to trying if my methods don't work out. The internal filter chamber is prime real estate for adding filter materials, so it wouldn't even be difficult. Another person who's bred otos repeatedly also suggested peat moss, primarily as a means of lowering pH. My biggest issue with all of these is just consistency and maintenance...not sure how much it will affect things, and for how long. The buffering capacity of our unfiltered water is immense too, so without RO it would be an uphill battle.


Anyhoo, more progress.

Got a good start on the erosion fences, with most of the work done. I just want to add some perpendicular braces to the ones on the angle that aren't secured to the wall, then they should be done.









Also finished up the spray bar with final lengths, and did the internal bonding. I'm planning on leaving it removable at the vertical 90 degree in case it needs cleaning and/or replacing, and I bonded the under gravel pipe in place.

After the glue cues, I'll rough up, acetone, and then spray the spray bar with Plasti-Dip.

I'm also planning on spraying the outside of the tank below the level of the substrate. This tank will likely see sunlight, and it bugs me to see the algae growing below surface level. No idea if it's dangerous, but it's not pretty.


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