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Have you tried a gel food like Repashy Soilent Green? I've had great success feeding that to aufwuchs grazers like otocinclus when I don't have enough algae.

I'm curious: Do you watch the wafers to make sure that the loaches don't eat them? Or do you just not see the fish dart to the wafers immediately upon feeding time?
 

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Yeah snails can be a pain. Alum's a good friend, but I'm not sure if shrimp do well with alum or not.

Grazing fish are just that, grazers. Unless they're starving or know where the food's going to be at a certain time, they aren't going to flock to the food immediately. I have 8 otos in a 20L now, and with that density, there's always a few near the Repashy when I drop it in, and once they've found it, they've found it. But remember that they don't just stay at a food source until they're full like other fish do. They graze, which means they meander around the tank.
 
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