Feb - May:
Details April 23 2016. WE HAVE FRY. REPEAT. WE HAVE FRY.
Did a big water infill in the sump, and this evening we have two sizes of eggs! Details on last post for Feb 28, 2016
Edit: We've come a long way! Here's a preview of where things are sitting right now with the 90:
Back to the beginning...
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.
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:
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 River-Tank Manifold Design ? Loaches Online
. 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.
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.