Otocinclus catfish are great additions to your fish tank. You might buy them for the express purpose of keeping the fish tank clean.
They’re known to eat algae, and indeed, this is an important part of their diet. It can be bad for these fish to run out of algae in the tank.
Below, you’ll learn about what you need to do to keep algae growing. This isn’t that hard, but you do need to understand how to approach things the right way.
Expose the Tank to Natural Sunlight
One of the best ways that you can encourage algae growth is to expose the tank to natural sunlight. Sunlight is going to help algae grow in the tank.
Place the tank somewhere near a sunny window. The sunlight will hit the water, and it’ll help the algae to grow naturally.
That’s really all that there is to it. This is an excellent way to ensure that algae grow in the tank.
When you’re not keeping otos in a fish tank, you’ll often shy away from keeping aquariums too close to windows. Sunlight can heat the tank, and that might cause issues for some fish.
You do need to keep the temperature regulated and check the water parameters. Natural sunlight is helpful for growing algae, but you still need to keep the environment appropriate for the otos to thrive.
Use Aquarium Lights
Aquarium lights can also help algae to grow. You should consider installing more lights than usual if you want to promote algae growth for the otos.
Having more lights will make it more likely that algae will grow as fast as possible. It’s also wise to keep the lights on a little longer than you normally would.
Of course, you shouldn’t do anything that will bother any of the fish in the tank. Since otos are often kept as community tank fish, you need to consider the needs of their tank mates.
So you can’t just leave the lights on way longer than you normally would if it will bother certain fish. Even so, aquarium lights are very good for helping you to grow algae in the tank.
Make Sure the Tank Has Slow-Flowing Water
Slow-flowing water is best when you’re trying to promote algae growth in the tank. When the water flow is high, it’s going to inhibit algae growth.
Otocinclus catfish live in slow-moving water in the wild. They prefer slow-moving water and will do best if you give them an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible.
Luckily, this is also going to be good for getting algae to grow in the tank. You should use a filter that will help with oxygenation without adding too much water movement.
Some water flow is necessary, so you can’t reduce the water flow too much. Just do your best to keep it slow so that the algae will grow properly.
Fish Waste Helps
Fish waste helps to encourage algae growth. So keeping otocinclus catfish in a community tank will help with algae growth automatically.
This is one of the reasons why people buy otos in the first place. They’re often purchased to try to keep algae under control in community aquariums.
Put the otos in fish tanks with fish that they are compatible with. Since otos are peaceful fish, they’re compatible with many other fish that are around the same size.
You can keep them in fish tanks with rasboras, dwarf gouramis, neon tetras, and cory catfish. There are plenty of other options to consider as well if none of those fish interest you.
Note that you still have to clean the tank and do water changes. Keeping the fish safe is important, and you need to keep the ammonia levels in the tank from rising.
Growing Algae on Rocks
Another idea is to try to grow algae on rocks. You can do this outside of the tank and then put the algae rocks in the tank for your otos.
Put some rocks in a small container with some of the fish tank’s water in it. Now place the container in the window where it will receive full sunlight.
Eventually, you should see that algae will begin growing on the rocks. It’ll take some time, but this is a method that people like to use.
You should be able to grow algae this way for your otos. It might not be necessary to do this if you’re already following the advice above, but it could help if you feel the need to find other ways to grow algae for your fish.
Supplement the Diet of the Fish
Supplementing the diet of the fish is necessary. Your otos are going to eat algae in the tank, and they’ll also feed on biofilm.
This doesn’t mean that you never have to feed the fish. It’s necessary to supplement the diet by giving the otos algae wafers and other types of food.
You should feed your otos at least twice per week to ensure that they’re getting enough food. They love eating algae wafers, but it’s also good to give them blanched veggies.
They’re known to enjoy eating many types of veggies. People commonly feed otos spinach, lettuce, carrots, and more.
You should have a much better understanding of how to grow algae for otos now. Growing algae in the tank is not hard at all.
Just expose the fish tank to sunlight, and algae are going to grow in the water naturally. You can also use aquarium lights to help algae grow.
Community fish tanks make it easy for algae to grow due to the abundance of fish poop. You do still need to clean the fish tank, but algae are going to grow under normal conditions.
Your otos should have plenty to eat if you use the advice above. Remember to supplement their diet using algae wafers and blanched vegetables as necessary.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.