Has anyone actually seen ottos school? Even stay together? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Question Has anyone actually seen ottos school? Even stay together?

You often read and hear people saying that otocinclus cats need to be kept in groups of 12 or more. I'm not really disputing that, but I have to question conventional wisdom here. It certainly isn't my experience that they school or really interact at all. I can go to any random tank with them and there will be a few on various leaves, panes of glass, or a rando swimming through the water column but I don't think in a dozen years of keeping this species I've seen any behavior that would explain why they are classified as schooling fish that require to be in groups.



Is there really anything inhumane about putting for example, 3 in a 10 gallon? I think they'd be in as close of proximity as any of the 25ish I have in a 125 gallon.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 08:44 PM
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Mine will group tightly when stressed, introduced into a new tank or during a water change/pruning, and maintain the tight group for a day or so afterwards until they settle back in and it's back to being independent with the occasional group play, following.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 09:22 PM
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I have 3 in a 15 long and they are seldom together . They are happy and healthy so I gues they don't know about the schooling rule...lol

My wife says if I get one more aquarium she is going to leave me . I sure am going to miss her fried chicken .
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I'm glad it's not just mine. Makes me wonder who first comes up with our rules of thumb and how they get so entrenched. Perhaps they school in nature where predators abound, or collectors tend to find groups of them. But these decided upon numbers for stocking recommendations are interesting to me. I often see neons suggested in groups of 6 or more, and I don't feel like 6 is anywhere close to ideal for those. Of course, my numbers would be as arbitrary as anyone else's.

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 09:54 PM
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In the mornings I will find mine zipping up and down the glass walls together in my 60 gallon. Something about the morning brings them together in this tank. During the day will disperse, come together in pairs, separate, repeat...

In my 30 they tend to stay next to the air- stone and go up and down in the bubble-stream together. Then disperse here and there and come back to the bubbler. They get into the base of the air-bubbler and let the current take them up to the water line and then go back down again. Its comical.

I had a group of 20 in my 180 gallon when I first set it up and they would go up and down the tank sides together. They certainly will congregate together if given a chance, but a "schooling or shoaling" fish doesn't really adequately describe their behavior in the aquarium. But, this behavior is probably much different in their native waters.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:02 PM
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I don't know if it's considered schooling, but they definitely suck glass together.



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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:15 PM
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I've come to a "casual observation" that schooling fish will school if the size of the school meets some fishy minded criteria..
If below that threshold they are content w/ being loaners..there is no safety in say 4 in number but there is in 10...

Of course people also come up w/ some odd things ..like I was once told you can't have even #'s for some schooling fish..
like 9 was ok but not 8...
didn't know fish could count..

Second criteria is "open-ness" of the environment..If overgrown no need to school much..
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:20 PM
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This gives you a good idea of difference between natural habitat and the aquarium:


180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:40 PM
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Mine kinda group together in the tanks where I have a decent amount of them - say more than 20 - and usually only late in the evening or early in the morning. It's hit or miss otherwise.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:40 PM
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Wow. Look at that green water. Gonna save this link for the next poster who talks tall about "emulating nature" in our tanks.


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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:43 PM
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Neat video , thanks Discusluv . I wish all collectors would do it that way . I have read that they don't survive well for us here is because they use cyanide to stun them in the wild to collect . Between that and the trip and all the handling by the time we get them they are starved and stressed to the max .
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Wow. Look at that green water. Gonna save this link for the next poster who talks tall about "emulating nature" in our tanks.
LOL! No kidding- an Oto's paradise.

As far as congregating together in nature- one scoop of the net pretty much demonstrates that that is the case.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 10:53 PM
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HAHA!

Well... fortunately, in this hobby, it's easy to make a mess of green water for Otos to thrive!

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Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Wow. Look at that green water. Gonna save this link for the next poster who talks tall about "emulating nature" in our tanks.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 11:05 PM
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A lot of social fish don't hang out tightly in tanks without scary predators. If I look at my tank now my shoal of embers is as spread out as my otos. The otos will often swim together early mornings, or late evenings. There are days they spend a lot of time going up and down together - often with my habrosus corys in tow. They definitely give me the impression they notice there are fish of the same species and interact with them deliberately unlike some single fish that only cross paths accidentally. For a proper shoal I think you'd need a bit tank and a lot of them.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
In the mornings I will find mine zipping up and down the glass walls together in my 60 gallon. Something about the morning brings them together in this tank. During the day will disperse, come together in pairs, separate, repeat...
Mine do the same thing--usually mornings & evenings. I've got 4, and 3 will hang out and/or play together. The 4th always seems to be odd man out. The rest of the time they're off doing their own thing.

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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
In the mornings I will find mine zipping up and down the glass walls together in my 60 gallon. Something about the morning brings them together in this tank. During the day will disperse, come together in pairs, separate, repeat...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
I don't know if it's considered schooling, but they definitely suck glass together.

Mine do this also--again usually just the 3, with the 4th not joining in the reindeer games....

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
In the mornings I will find mine zipping up and down the glass walls together in my 60 gallon. Something about the morning brings them together in this tank. During the day will disperse, come together in pairs, separate, repeat...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
I don't know if it's considered schooling, but they definitely suck glass together.

Mine do this also-usually just the 3, with the 4th not playing those reindeer games....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Wow. Look at that green water. Gonna save this link for the next poster who talks tall about "emulating nature" in our tanks.
Mine LOVED my green water explosion. They were much happier about it than I was........
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