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Re: How to Breed Otocinculus Affinis
>Do otocinclus affinis breed in the aquarium? I like to have more of these
>lovable algae eaters but they are not easily available in my part of the
>world. I presently have some in a community tank. What
>would it's requirement be? Water, temp, ph, environment, water depth special
I have a pair of Otocinclus affinis that breed regularly, but I don't
really know what the secret is...yet. I haven't been able to find the best
food for the fry either, so I've been unable to grow out any. Recently, I
redid the tank I keep them in and now my plants are having deficiency
problems, so my Oto experiments have been put on hold temporarily. Here's
what I know and have observed so far:
Tank: 20 gallon "High"; heavily planted
Water (current): GH: 6; KH: 4; pH: 6.5-6.8 (DIY CO2 injected) Temp:
24.5'C; Depth: 12-13" surface to substrate
They have also spawned in an alkalinity of 5 dKH. pH has been as high as
7.3 and as low as 6.4. I use tap water.
I do large water changes (40%-75%) once a week and it seems to encourage
spawning behavior. The change water is always 4-6 degrees cooler than the
tank water. Oto's like good water movement -- mine play in the output of
the filter all the time and, besides eating, this seems to be their
favorite activity. I feed them vitamin enriched flake food (OSI) about
once every 2-3 days and they love it. I also have wood in the tank which
they graze on frequently.
When the female becomes gravid and her ovipositor becomes "inflated",
spawning is around the corner. The "courtship" consists of the pair
chasing each other around and doing a prolific amount of wiggling on the
glass. The pair form a "T" during the actual fertilization -- male on top,
bending over the female. This is done with the female attached to the
glass in the usual fashion.
The female has always deposited her eggs on the tops of Bacopa caroliniana
leaves in moderate water current. Interestingly, most of the eggs are
deposited on the same plant (stem), and only when she runs out of suitable
leaves does the female move to another plant. She also seems to spend a
lot of time selecting the best location for her eggs in the tank. She
drops 1-3 eggs per leaf. I have removed all of the Bacopa from this tank
since the last known spawning, so it will be interesting to see where eggs
are deposited in the future.
The biggest spawning that I know of produced 15 eggs and 14 subsequent fry
(one egg was unfertilized and was either eaten or knocked off before I
could remove it). It takes about 48 hours for the eggs to hatch at
24.5'C. The fry remain attached to the leaves for awhile after hatching
and then are usually found on the glass or on Bacopa leaves in the vicinity
of their hatching site. I not been able to keep a fry alive past 5 days
after hatching. There's just not enough of the right kind of algae in this
tank to sustain them. I have some ideas for feeding strategies and hope to
try them out soon.
It'd probably be better to try breeding Otocinclus communally (like
Corydoras) to increase the number of eggs and potential fry, but I'd keep
the Otos in a tank by themselves so nosy neighbors aren't spoiling the mood
;-). Oto's seem to be quite territorial despite their small size and I
suspect this fact may be one of the secrets in spawning them along with
water quality and diet. The Oto's I keep in community tanks have not
spawned nor have they exhibited spawning behavior to my knowledge despite
similar tank conditions. The pair that do spawn live alone with the
exception of shrimp.
A couple of interesting things I've noticed:  The Amano shrimp that
also inhabit the tank don't seem to take notice of the eggs or fry although
these same shrimp eat snails (and everything else they can get their
pincers on), and  the Oto's seem to guard the eggs -- when I get close
to them or a shrimp wanders near to the "nest", they get really agitated
and aggressive. They keep station close to the eggs and always seem to be
nearby the fry after they hatch. Perhaps this activity explains why the
shrimp ignore the eggs, but it all may just be coincidence too.
Phwew! Sorry I got so long winded. If there's anything else you want to
know, feel free to contact me off list.