Re: Farlowella, Otocinclus etc. as algae eaters

Dear All,

I suppose I ought to make a reply to the notes from those who use these
genera with success...!

Yep, no doubt they can work. And perhaps most people on this list have well
maintained tanks and years of experience. But the point is that these fish
don't work nearly so well in a community tank of the sort the majority of
fishkeepers have.

Otocinclus and Farlowella are both delicate fish. They need fairly soft
water. And they are predominantly green algae eaters. Dealing with the
silica test of diatoms to digest them is more costly. And more importantly,
for Otocinclus to work, you need a shoal. One e-mailer said that he used
ten with great effect. But a single or pair of Otocinclus - what most
community fishkeepers are likely to buy - would have no impact.

Farlowella rarely live for more than a few months in the UK. Possibly the
shorter distance from the Amazon to the USA may stress them less, and so
they are hardier. Whatever, they are one of those fish I don't like to
recommend (like marine butterflyfish). The mortality 'en route' and in the
dealer's tanks is way to high. And most sold die within a few weeks, the
fish either starving or failing to adjust to community life.

Otocinclus are not popular here because of their habit of taking mucous
from the sides of large fish, especially discus and other cichlids. This is
not frequent, but *does* consistently get reported. Although usually said
to be because the fish are starving, it may be a natural behaviour. Green
algae is mineral and protein poor. All loricariids need invertebrates in
the diet. I feed bloodworm, whitebait and krill; but protein rich algae and
catfish pellets do fine as well.

Possibly a good alternative is Hypoptoma, a loricariid that reaches a
little under ten centimetres. It looks like a giant Otocinclus. But I have
no idea about its mortality during collection and import.

Common plec species are farmed and 'wild population' friendly.

The various 'labeo' type fish from South East Asia are a mix of farmed and
wild-caught species. Almost nothing is known about their wild populations,
but their mortality seems to be much less than for Loricariidae. They also
adjust far better to typical tank environments (but the fact breeding is
virtually unheard of suggests we have yet to deliver optimal conditions).

Without getting 'preachy' part of my work is in assessing biodiversity and
teaching environmental issues. And this starts from Ground-Zero...i.e, it
is up to us, who can influence the types and quantities of imports from the
wild places of the Earth, to act accordingly.

All the best,



From  Neale Monks' Macintosh PowerBook, at...

Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD
Internet: N.Monks at nhm_ac.uk, Telephone: 0171-938-9007