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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Otocinlus are such a mystery to me, you see them at every fish store including Walmart and I have always avoided them. They usually just say "Algae Eater" without any further identification, Flying Fox, Chinese, Siamese, I never know. All I know is that if you are going to get Otocinlus do your best to get the Siamese version for their effectiveness.

Some require peers and are schoolers, some grow big, can anyone help me with this? I've always had small tanks too so the need for multiple Otocinlus for schooling purposes has been a turn off, certainly if they will grow large. My tanks are 5-15 gallons.

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These are all very different fish. Otocinclus are a small catfish with a sucker mouth. They only get 1.5-2" and are definitely a schooler. Otocinclus are peaceful and are great for community and nano set ups. They will eat algaes that are easy to scrape up like diatoms, but do not eat algaes like black beard, hair algae, etc. These are a great fish to keep your plant leaves cleaned up as well as just a cool little fish on their own. Do NOT buy these from a big box store. This fish is more sensitive than most, and you're more likely to get healthy fish from a good LFS (note there are bad LFS too, avoid those) than from a big box. Even a big box with good management will typically have trouble keeping these guys alive, and you're likely to have a high death toll.


Flying Fox and SAE's (Siamese Algae Eaters) are often confused, but their personalities are quite different. When they're young, Flying Foxes are okay in a slightly aggressive community tank, but when they get old, they get very territorial, and will kill each other. They also aren't very good algae eaters. SAE's are one of the few fish known to eat BBA, and are pretty peaceful. They are a schooler and they do get large - about 6 inches. Once they're adult, they get lazy and aren't very good algae eaters anymore.

Flying Fox


SAE


Chinese algae eaters are also sometimes confused or mislabelled as SAE's, though they look pretty different. These guys are actually a loach, and reportedly are pretty good algae eaters when young, but when they get old, they want more protein and may do things like try eat the body slime off their tank mates. In short, great while young, not so great as an algae eater as an adult.


Otocinlus are such a mystery to me, you see them at every fish store including Walmart and I have always avoided them. They usually just say "Algae Eater" without any further identification, Flying Fox, Chinese, Siamese, I never know. All I know is that if you are going to get Otocinlus do your best to get the Siamese version for their effectiveness.

Some require peers and are schoolers, some grow big, can anyone help me with this? I've always had small tanks too so the need for multiple Otocinlus for schooling purposes has been a turn off, certainly if they will grow large. My tanks are 5-15 gallons.

Thanks
 

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Otos will eat off the glass, but they won't be able to eat things like GSA. I think they don't have the ability to scrape that stuff off, but then most critters don't. They're pretty voracious little guys, and will eat things like diatoms and the like. They also do an amazing job of 'polishing' the plant leaves. Do keep an eye on them, though, to be certain they're getting enough food. If there's not enough algae for them, drop in some zucchini or something so they don't starve.

CAE get to be a similar size to SAE - just slightly smaller. I think CAE get to around 4.5-5.5 inches. Also, I wouldn't trust a CAE with the amanos - at least not at adult size. They'll probably think of them as tasty snacks.
 

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CAE gets to about the size of your index finger, too big for a 15 gal when grown out. They get really pretty colouration as they mature and are kept happy. Also kept best in groups to avoid them harassing other fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
According to my big box LFS their Otocinclus have not had any issues with die off or people loosing any. Would 6 be okay for a 15 gallon?

I was at "Walmart" for what it's worth buying toilet paper...when I figured I would go look at their algae eaters to show you why I was so confused. This is the tag I took a photo of it, tricky game they play huh? Thin faded line with what appears to be dots behind it, WTF? haha they edited a CAE and SAE together!
 

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That's a Chinese Algae Eater on that photo. It's pretty common for large stores to use a catch all name/SKU like that for several different species. It's also really smart that you asked/researched before you bought. So many people don't do that and end up with really inappropriate fish in their tanks.

I have 8 otos in my heavily planted 29gal (see pic below). For a 15, I'd probably do 3 to give them a group, but not overcrowd.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm a heavy believer in ethical fish keeping practices, if you are not OVER prepared for your fish independently then you're not ready at all in my opinion.

I say 6 figuring one will die on me, as long as they feel comfortable in a group of 3. I almost want to put 1 alone in my Betta tank but he will likely harass the crap out of it.
 

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Otos are def a schooler so need more than one to be happy. Maybe start with 3 and then build up from there if it seems right? Admittedly I tend to be over cautious where otos are concerned. Also you'll need to supplement their feeding, since there def won't be enough food for them.
 
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