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[APD] Lost an oto, not sure why.

I'm asking this in a plant group since many of you keep oto's , probably more per tank than general aquarists do. A post in another group was unfruitful.

My first fish died in a 1 month old 75 long community, planted tank - an Otocinclus affinis, the bigger Peruvian variety. They had been in about 3 weeks and I have about 1" fish / gal which had been doing okay at first. Other fish are 7 2-3" young discus, 3 SAE's, 5 clown loaches, 3 amano shrimp, 3 adult broken line tetra- Hemmigramus ulreyi, 6 very young panda corys and a 6" Botia longiventralis.

I checked the water chemistry with my Nutrafin/Hagen dropper kits and don't see anything too bad (to my newbie eyes after much reading):
p H 7.00
kH 7.8
gH 10.08
NO2 0.3 ppm ? (Hagen kit really doesn't work on N)
NO3 5-10 ppm?
NH3 0
Fe chelated 0.1 ppm? Maybe 0.0
PO4 4 ppm
temp 76.1= 24.5 C

I took my water sample over to Albany Aquarium (perhaps the best LFS in SF Bay Area) about 1 week ago and they measured NO2 = 5 ppm and NO3 = 0 ppm on a different kit when I was showing 0.8 on the Hagen kit. It is purple, which is not really the expected Hagen color. I've since read online the Hagen's No2 & NO3 kits are very poor. After that I added some Aquatech ProBiotic Cleaner Plus to the filter intake. Which store owner said this was the only bacteria product he thought was really alive, since it comes from Yosemite to him every few months or so. He suggested that to avoid a NO2 spike building. It had been 9 days since I added it.

The only dosing I am doing now is 8 ml of TMG daily. My substrate is 1/2 Profile Aquatic Plant Soil, 1/2 Turface Proleague (kicked up a notch with Diamond Black Humic acids and pyrosol) with about 7 lbs of worm castings which explains why my N and P are high. The worm castings raise the hardness from 5.6 to 7.8 dkH in 5 days of leaching due to egg shells in them, I am trying to minimize what I dose. Plants pearl like crazy (4 w/g compact fluorescents) and are not turning yellow on tips anymore now that I kicked up the TMG and the Alternanthera reineckii is the proper purple color and others I can't id are rust/ red color. I have been doing 50% water changes each 5 days, I found it on morning of 5th day.

The one thing I think maybe happened was that it starved? I noticed that none of the other 4 otos had fat bellies. I stopped adding New Life spectrum wafers about 4-5 days before it died, since I added young discus and with the frozen blood worms and live brine shrimp I was concerned about over feeding. They otos previously been eating the wafers and scanning of the plants for algae which are present. The tank is pretty clean overall, there are algae growing on the walls of the tank and now I am getting long wavy brown hair like algae, but maybe the algae are not what the otos needed to thrive.

Of the other 4 otos, 2 now have fat bellies and 2 do not after adding 2 wafers in yesterday.

Any ideas?

Michael O. Skidmore Alameda CA
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