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20G Low-Tech, 10G Iwagumi, 7G Betta Biotope, 4G Snail/Daphnia Tank
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I'm back in the hobby after a bit of a hiatus and want some advice on my newly planted 20 Long. I used AquaAdvisor to get a sense of what I can fit in the tank, though I know that their suggestions are hit or miss. For reference, I am running an Aquaclear 50, heated to 75F, with lots of plants. I don't mind doing regular water changes.

I would like to stock:
12-18 Celestial Pearl Danio
6 Kuhli Loaches
6 Amano Shrimp

And if they would fit happily:
6 Oto Catfish

Thanks for the advice!
- PSL
 

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This is what my mentor, a master catfish keeper/ breeder has told me to tell people about oto- they need circulation to survive, they need an area of moderate flow, an area of stagnation and ample plant growth to thrive. I adhere to these rules and have made personal observations that strongly support this. They have acted like canaries in a coal mine for my filters malfunctioning. That being said- there are plenty of others that have completely different experiences, I don't know why. I just know that when I keep them the way I was told to I have never experienced the sensitivity and losses I hear about from people in the hobby. When I don't "keep them properly" they slowly die.

Other than my warning about otos your stocking list sounds really nice!!
 

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Yeah, otos are a bit sensitive, but I think you could get it to work by specially tailoring your tank to their needs. If you don't want to risk it consider getting some nerite snails or some hillstream loaches (they would appreciate a high-flow area) to keep the aquarium glass clean. Sounds like an interesting tank though, and good fish for the size. One warning about the kuhli loaches; makes sure you have lots of hiding spots whether it is by dense foliage, or a soft and fin substrate they can burrow in. Just be aware the kuhli loaches' burrowing can aggravate root-feeders like Amazon Swords.
 

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So I sort of agree with y'all newbies but...at the same time not really.

1) Food/Surface Area: Otos do well when they have a lot of surface area to graze on. That could be in the form of driftwood tangles, large plant leaves (think Echinodorus), or leaf litter/botanicals. Alternatively, you have to actively feed your otos if you choose to go without this surface area. Why? Aufwuchs. Otos are grazers, and they're going to graze all day. If they've got round stomachs when they latch onto the glass, you know you're doing something right. If you don't have the aforementioned surface area, supplementing with a gel diet like Repashy Soilent Green will work wonders. The more surface area you provide, the more places for aufwuchs to grow, the more food there is for the otos to eat.

2) Oxygenation: So yes, but also no. I run all of my tanks on sponge filters nowadays with massive filtration, so there's certainly a lot of oxygenation going on in my tanks. I don't think you need to go full on riverine biotope with these fellas. But making sure there's ample oxygen in the water is beneficial for the fish. Otos also do the "dart to the surface" behavior that many corys do, which to me implies that they also possess the ability to process atmospheric oxygen from air in their swim bladders.

The Big Oto Debate aside...

I like your idea of having a lot of CPDs. I adore large schools of tiny fish, but my current setup only allows for 4 mini schools (otos and pygmy corys currently, 2 more species to follow). I would go with 12 for now, and see what happens. And if you think your tank needs more fish, you're 99% assured you have at least one male and one female in that batch so you can try your hand out at fish breeding.

I've personally found that fish school better when there are 8 or more of them. That's not a problem for the CPDs, but if you really want a bunch of wiggly kuhlis wiggling everywhere, consider getting 2 more of them. The same with the Oto Cats.

I don't really count Amanos in stocklists, or any shrimp. They have a fairly minimal bioload.
 

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The stocking looks decent. I've mostly been successful with otto. I have about 20 across two tanks - they have been stable for over a year - they were mostly purchased in groups of 3 to 6 at a time - one group completely died (vaguely i remember it being 4) but beyond that only one other death - all the others lived. I've only had one out of band death (the ones that died other than that one died with in a few days of purchase). The one thing I require when purchasing otto is that the shop have them for over a week to help avoid infant mortality. I tell you a group of otto can be a lot of fun - if you can get 12 or more go for it. Another fish that is a lot of fun in a large group are 12 to 20 pygmy cory.
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I have some weird out-liers in my otto - one loves to suck in flake by swimming upside down when i feed the guppies - 2 of them love to eat zuc i put in for the pleco (which oddly the pleco totally ignore in this tank - i have 4 tanks and in 3 of them the pleco jumps on the zuc in under a minute but in this 4th tank they totally ignore it but the otto will replace them).
 

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So I sort of agree with y'all newbies but...at the same time not really.

1) Food/Surface Area: Otos do well when they have a lot of surface area to graze on. That could be in the form of driftwood tangles, large plant leaves (think Echinodorus), or leaf litter/botanicals. Alternatively, you have to actively feed your otos if you choose to go without this surface area. Why? Aufwuchs. Otos are grazers, and they're going to graze all day. If they've got round stomachs when they latch onto the glass, you know you're doing something right. If you don't have the aforementioned surface area, supplementing with a gel diet like Repashy Soilent Green will work wonders. The more surface area you provide, the more places for aufwuchs to grow, the more food there is for the otos to eat.

2) Oxygenation: So yes, but also no. I run all of my tanks on sponge filters nowadays with massive filtration, so there's certainly a lot of oxygenation going on in my tanks. I don't think you need to go full on riverine biotope with these fellas. But making sure there's ample oxygen in the water is beneficial for the fish. Otos also do the "dart to the surface" behavior that many corys do, which to me implies that they also possess the ability to process atmospheric oxygen from air in their swim bladders.

The Big Oto Debate aside...

I like your idea of having a lot of CPDs. I adore large schools of tiny fish, but my current setup only allows for 4 mini schools (otos and pygmy corys currently, 2 more species to follow). I would go with 12 for now, and see what happens. And if you think your tank needs more fish, you're 99% assured you have at least one male and one female in that batch so you can try your hand out at fish breeding.

I've personally found that fish school better when there are 8 or more of them. That's not a problem for the CPDs, but if you really want a bunch of wiggly kuhlis wiggling everywhere, consider getting 2 more of them. The same with the Oto Cats.

I don't really count Amanos in stocklists, or any shrimp. They have a fairly minimal bioload.
If it makes you feel better to pick on people just remember- you were a "newbie" once too... Most likely when some of us were already in business. A lot has changed in the industry in the past 30+ years and it takes some time to catch up with tech- that doesn't mean we don't have experience in keeping the livestock alive because that has stayed relatively the same. "Newbies" don't feel any shame in being a "newbie". Even the most seasoned on this forum started the same way as you. Please ask questions, please stay interested!! Don't let name calling make you shy away.
 

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If it makes you feel better to pick on people just remember- you were a "newbie" once too... Most likely when some of us were already in business. A lot has changed in the industry in the past 30+ years and it takes some time to catch up with tech- that doesn't mean we don't have experience in keeping the livestock alive because that has stayed relatively the same. "Newbies" don't feel any shame in being a "newbie". Even the most seasoned on this forum started the same way as you. Please ask questions, please stay interested!! Don't let name calling make you shy away.
Hmm, well it wasn’t meant to pick on y’all, but I guess you could read it that way. I did say that I agreed with you somewhat, but not 100%. Unsure how that gets translated to picking on you.
 
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