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Re: Otto or CAE???

> Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 10:15:00 +0800
> From: "Joo Tan" <zoologist at mailcity_com>
> Subject: Otto or CAE???
> Hello folks!
> First of all, I would like to thank all the people here that had help me in identifying my ottos.  Till now,I really like to believe that what I got are ottos but I'm still not sure whether they are CAE or ottos.
> Most of the information is about identifying SAE apart from the false SAE.  But how about CAE and ottos?  I can't find a real picture of CAE.  All I found are handdrawn pictures.  And it does looks like an otto.

No, they look very little alike. The *Otocinclus* species (particularly
dwarfs like *affinis* typically have a wider head and very smooth markings,
while the Asiatic Scale Sucker (aka CAE) usually has a broken line down the
side that is often much like the alternate squares of a checkerboard. The
ASS has a more slender head, no wider than the body. Its shape is much more
like the SAE or Flying Fox, perhaps even more slender until mature. The nose
of the Oto is wide and blunt (seen from above), more like a bullhead catfish
without the whiskers. Its body shape is a bit more like its relative the
plecostomus, and not as slender and dart like. The head is the widest part.
The ASS color tends more to brown and yellow while Otos are more toward
black and white.

A picture of the fish you do not want can be found by searching by the Latin
name *Gyrionocheilus aymonieri*, for writers of most good Atlases know it's
not Chinese and doesn't eat much algae. They may call it the Indian Algae
Eater or Sucking Loach. See p 448 of V1 of the English Baensch Atlas, for

> I've asked a few FS and all of them said they are known as algae-eater.  Well I guess mine are most likely CAE.  I hope someone can clear this up for me.

LFS that tell you ASS eat algae are either ignorant or lying. The latter
just smile when you come back to replace the mysteriously dead fish in your
tank. They know that the fish that sleep at night will all die early and
that means more business if you do not catch on.

Very young ASS look like they eat algae because they graze across the green
on the glass and rocks sucking out infusoria that grow there. Careful
observation will show that the algae is still there after they pass, and
that they consume almost none of it in their search for microbugs.

As they age, they develop a taste for body slime and scales, and suck it off
the side of sleeping fish at night. As nocturnal feeders, it's hard to catch
them in the act.

Vegetarian fish, as a general rule do *not* have sucking-type mouths. Those
evolve to hang onto rocks in fast-flowing water. While some, like a few
Plekos and Otos do eat algae, most do not. Good algae eaters have very sharp
teeth for cutting tough strands, and include the Pupfishes and many
new-world livebearers. Anatomists can quickly identify vegetarian fish by
their extra long gut, needed to digest the plant matter. Fish with very
short guts, like Corys, are incapable of digesting any vegetable matter they
consume and it is quickly passed on through.

I haven't dissected any ASS, but would be willing to bet they have the short
gut that is characteristic of carnivores. Might make an interesting Science
Fair project (or several).


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot com

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