Otocinclus catfish are a lot of fun to own. They’re interesting fish to look at and they’re helpful fish to keep in your tank.
They’re known as cleaners because of how well they clean plants. These fish will even clean the glass a bit for you.
You might want to get some more otos for your tank sometime soon. What if you want to breed these fish instead of buying more, though?
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about breeding the fish in a fish tank. After you’re finished reading, you can decide if you’d like to pursue breeding the fish.
Otocinclus Laying Eggs
Otocinclus catfish are egg-laying fish. Female otos usually lay their eggs in small clusters of three to six.
However, they have more eggs than this. So they continue to lay eggs until they’ve finished with all of them.
Their eggs are adhesive so they can be stuck to surfaces such as rocks. You’ll find that the eggs can vary in how they look.
What Do Otocinclus Eggs Look Like?
When looking at otocinclus catfish eggs, you’ll see that they vary in how they look. The eggs can be quite transparent sometimes.
They might also be closer to a cream color. It isn’t unusual for otos to produce eggs that have a yellow or sort of green coloration either.
The eggs themselves will be very small. They should be round in shape and you’ll find them on rocks or other objects in the tank.
How Many Eggs Do Otocinclus Have?
The exact number of eggs that a female otocinclus catfish has will vary. However, the average number is fifty.
Typically, a female oto will produce fifty eggs each time it breeds. It will lay the eggs in small groups of three to six.
The eggs are adhesive and they can be stuck to surfaces such as rocks. The male oto must fertilize the eggs so they can become viable.
How Long Do Otocinclus Carry Eggs?
Females don’t carry their eggs for long. When the breeding process begins, the female will assume the mating position with the male fish.
It’ll then release its eggs and hold onto them using its ventral fins. The female fish will then swim toward the substrate and look for spots to lay the eggs.
The eggs are laid in small batches of three to six. It’s common for the eggs to be stuck to live plants as well as rocks.
Where Do Otocinclus Lay Eggs?
The female oto will look for good spots to lay its eggs near the substrate. Commonly, the eggs will be stuck to the sides of plants.
You’ll find eggs being stuck to the leaves of various plants in the tank. Sometimes the fish will choose to lay their eggs on nearby rocks.
Either way, the eggs will be laid in various spots throughout the tank. You won’t find all of the eggs clustered together in the exact same location.
The female oto should lay close to fifty eggs before all is said and done. You might not even notice where all the eggs are located unless you take the time to look carefully.
How Long Do Otocinclus Eggs Take to Hatch?
Otocinclus eggs take three to four days to hatch after they’ve been fertilized. Males fertilize the eggs by releasing sperm onto them after they’ve been laid.
So long as the fertilization process went properly, the eggs will hatch within three or four days. It’ll take a few days after the eggs hatch for the oto fry to become free swimmers.
Do Otocinclus Catfish Care for Their Eggs?
No, otos are fish that just lay their eggs and then leave them alone. They don’t do anything special to protect the eggs.
Once the eggs have been laid, the otos will go back to their usual routine without worrying about the eggs. They don’t have a reputation for being attentive parent fish.
When Do Otocinclus Catfish Reach Sexual Maturity?
Otos that are too young won’t be able to breed. It takes otocinclus catfish a while to reach sexual maturity.
Some fish will reach sexual maturity in six to nine months. Others will not reach sexual maturity until they are one year old.
Some say that these fish are mature once they reach one inch long. Others say that they need to grow a bit bigger than that.
Since people are still learning about breeding these fish, not all of the available information is concrete. Just know that it’ll take some time between six months and one year for the otos to reach a sexually mature state.
Differences Between Male and Female Otocinclus Catfish
Before you can breed these fish, you need to make sure that you have both male and female otos in your tank. There’s a good chance that you have at least one male and one female, but you might not be able to tell the fish apart.
The male and female fish look very similar. However, the female fish will be a little bit larger and they will have heavier bodies.
By comparison, males are slimmer and slightly smaller. This is the best way to tell a male apart from a female at a glance.
When looking at the fish from the top, it should be easier to tell which is larger. Use this method to ensure that you buy both males and females from the aquarium store.
Otocinclus Breeding Behavior
Breeding behavior in otocinclus fish will be easy to recognize. When a female is ready to breed you will see it swimming along the rocks in the tank.
It’ll swim up and down the rocks and the male fish will be in close pursuit. Sometimes the fish will swim along the sides of the aquarium as well.
The male will continue to chase the female for some time. Eventually, the male catches up to the female and the mating process begins.
You’ll see the fish enter a T-shaped position that signifies that they are mating. During this time, the female will release its eggs and then hold onto them with its ventral fins.
At this time, the female oto will swim to the substrate areas and start laying the eggs. The male follows behind while the female chooses where to lay the eggs.
Typically, the eggs will be stuck to plants or nearby rocks. The male fertilizes the eggs as they’re laid to make them viable.
Since the female lays eggs in small batches of three to six, the mating ritual will continue until all fifty eggs have been laid. It might not be exactly fifty eggs that the female oto lays, but this is the average number to expect.
How Often Do Otocinclus Breed?
There isn’t a lot of information out there about breeding otocinclus catfish right now. Sadly, these fish aren’t commonly bred in captivity.
People don’t even know how often these fish breed at this point in time. It’s something that is being observed and studied.
In a few years, there might be better information about what to expect. As for now, there’s only anecdotal information to go on.
Some enthusiasts believe that otos breed seasonally. This means that they might be fish that will breed once per year when the conditions are right.
Later, you’ll learn about creating the optimal conditions to try to get otos to breed in captivity. Just know that this is an uncommon thing to achieve in an aquarium.
Can You Breed Otocinclus?
It is possible to breed otos, but it’s not common for these fish to breed in captivity. They have been bred in tanks before, but it’s not the simplest process.
If you want to breed these fish, it’s best to approach things very specifically. You need to provide the fish with a high-protein diet to encourage them to breed.
It’s also necessary to make the water warm enough. Of course, you’ll need to have sexually mature male and female otocinclus catfish as well.
If you have what you need, it’s possible to get these fish to breed in captivity. Just don’t expect that it will be simple since these fish are known to avoid breeding in fish tanks.
Most people who have success breeding otos are experienced. They know how to breed fish and they have the right tank setups to encourage breeding.
Are Otocinclus Easy to Breed?
No, otocinclus catfish are not easy to breed at all. It’s uncommon for them to breed in captivity, but it might happen if the conditions are right.
If you want to breed these fish, it’s best that you approach this situation with the right expectations. Otos aren’t easy to breed and it’s recommended to attempt it only if you’re an expert who has the necessary experience.
Novices who aren’t used to breeding fish might not get the best results. Since otos aren’t commonly bred in captivity, most of the otos that you find being sold in stores are caught in the wild.
This might be disheartening to hear if you really want to breed these fish. Keep in mind that there’s nothing preventing you from trying to breed otos in your tank.
Below, you’ll get the information that you need about breeding otos. This should help you to give it the best attempt that you can.
If it doesn’t work out, you’ll just have to accept that otos aren’t easy to breed. Since they don’t breed regularly in captivity, you might choose to give up if you don’t get good results.
How to Breed Otocinclus
Getting these fish to breed will not be simple. There are things that you can do to encourage the fish to breed, though.
One thing to focus on is the quality of the water. These fish will not breed unless the water quality is pristine.
Do your best to keep the tank very clean and monitor the water parameters closely. When you’re ready to try to get the fish to breed, it’s best to raise the temperature of the water a bit.
It’s said that a water temperature of 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for breeding these fish. Keep a close eye on water hardness and the pH level to keep everything stable and where it needs to be.
To get the fish to breed, it’s recommended to feed them a high-protein diet. This involves feeding them algae rounds, daphnia, and brine shrimp.
From here, the information that experts have starts to vary a bit. Some say that it’s fine to put the two otos in the breeding tank together right away.
Others say that it’s better to separate the breeding fish in different tanks or compartments for one or two weeks first. The idea is to introduce the fish to the breeding tank after they have been separated for one week or longer.
There isn’t any true evidence to say that this has an impact. It’s simply based on anecdotal evidence from people who have bred otos in their fish tanks in the past.
Once the two fish are in the breeding tank together, they might begin the mating ritual. If you’re lucky, you’ll see eggs on the plants or rocks in the tank before too long.
Raising Otocinclus Fry
It can be tough to get otocinclus fry to survive in the tank sometimes. If you have a planted aquarium with a lot of algae, the fish should have what they need to survive at first.
Try to feed them very tiny pieces of zucchini. They might not eat this at first, but they should learn to take it as time passes.
Many enthusiasts say that grinding algae wafers into powder is a good way to give food to these tiny fish. It can be frustrating trying to feed these fish and keep them healthy.
There’s a good chance that not all of the fry will survive. Some of them will if you try your best and give them enough opportunities to eat.
Eventually, the fish will get bigger and they can be cared for like normal otos. Do your best to get to that point and you can count yourself lucky to have successfully bred otos in your tank.
Breeding otos in captivity is rather difficult. It’s not something that’s recommended for beginners to try.
Even so, it’s something that can be done with the right approach. Set up the breeding tank using the recommended methods above.
If you try your best, you just might have success breeding
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.