Thank you for your wisdom and advice! For the second paragraph are you talking about the Oto's still or shrimp?
I don't keep shrimp, so I'm talking otos. Adding a bit of bleached zucchini can help you really reduce losses. I've lost two out of the last couple dozen I've purchased....one was sick and I knew it wouldn't last the day (didn't), and another got his head stuck in a pump intake I was sure they couldn't get to (added foam after).
To put how much they eat into perspective, I added this to my oto tank this evening:
Despite also having two zucchini slices in the tank, the 24 otos stripped it bare in about 2 hours.
So when folks bring home starving otos from the store (as most are), it's not surprising to hear that most die off within a few days or weeks. There isn't as much algae in most people's entire tanks as is on that one rock (I grow them separately).
So people get a bit of algae, get a few otos, and most say the tank is clean the next day. Few people bother to feed the otos directly, so what are they supposed to do?
Lovely fish, highly recommended, but consider feeding them directly rather than making them scavenge.
I don't think I am getting any swords. I am buying HC from one person on here and a big list (like 20 species) of other plants from someone else on here!
Not all swords are created equal, some will stay small. I'd pick up an e copy of 101 best aquarium plants. It's one of my favourite go-to resources, and having it on my iPad has let me sidestep quite a bit of questionable lfs advice.