Many people like buying otocinclus catfish for their aquariums. They’re good fish to own because of how peaceful they are.
It’s also nice how they can help to keep your fish tank clean. They’re common fish to buy when you’re looking for algae eaters in a community aquarium.
Buying otos should be a good experience, but if you’re not familiar with them you might be wondering how long they live. Do these fish live for many years or are they relatively short-lived?
Read on to learn about the average lifespan of otocinclus catfish. This will help you to know what to expect when buying these fun little bottom-feeders for your tank.
How Long Do Otocincluses Live?
Otocinclus catfish can live for quite a few years so long as you take care of them well. However, it’s worth noting that these fish often die when being introduced to new tanks.
Sadly, it’s easy for these fish to die in the early days of caring for them. They’re a bit fragile when they’re getting used to a new environment.
This appears to be true no matter what type of otocinclus catfish you’re caring for. So it’s imperative to do your best to look after the fish in the first month.
To keep these fish alive early on, you need to focus on monitoring the water parameters and limiting sources of stress. It’s also important to give them an environment where they will feel comfortable.
Below, you’ll learn a bit about a few distinct types of otos and how long they’re supposed to live. These fish can live for many years in a tank, but you have to care for them well to make them last that long.
Common Otocinclus Catfish
The common otocinclus catfish is the type of fish that you’ll see being sold in many pet stores and aquarium stores. These are great algae-eating fish that can work well in community fish tanks.
These fish are fairly small and only grow to be between one and a half and two inches long. You can keep these fish in ten-gallon aquariums so long as you’re only keeping six of them.
A common oto should live between five and seven years in a fish tank. If you’re able to care for the fish optimally, it’ll thrive for a long time in your aquarium.
Often, these fish die sooner than this because of mistakes that people make. They’re not the easiest fish to care for if you’re a beginner, but they’re not the hardest fish to care for either.
Otos can die if you expose them to a lot of stress when they’re first introduced to the tank. So you need to be careful and baby them a bit when they’re new.
Giant Otocinclus Catfish
Giant otocinclus catfish are quite a bit different than common otos. The huge difference is that they’re much larger overall.
This is a type of oto catfish that is native to the Amazon River Basin. It grows to be around four inches long once it reaches maturity.
Since it’s a bit bigger you’ll have to keep it in a larger fish tank. It’s recommended to keep giant otos in 30-gallon fish tanks.
These fish should live for around five years in a fish tank. This is assuming that you’re doing a great job taking care of them.
Giant otos aren’t as common as other types of otos. You can still find them being sold online and they make great algae-eating fish.
You need to keep these fish in groups of six or more just like the common otos. So be sure that you have enough room in the tank for them.
How to Make Otocinclus Catfish Live Longer
Now that you know how long otos live, you likely want to know how to make them live for as long as possible. For the most part, helping otos live longer is all about focusing on the quality of the care.
Focus on Water Quality
The water quality will play a huge role in keeping otos alive for as long as possible. These fish are very susceptible to problems with ammonia poisoning.
If you don’t do regular water changes it can be very dangerous for the otos. It’s recommended to change out 30% of the water weekly to keep things safe for the fish.
This might seem counterproductive to some since you want the fish tank to have algae in it. Just be sure to expose the fish tank to natural sunlight to encourage algae growth.
Keeping the water parameters in the right range will be easy if you focus on tank maintenance. Be sure to test the water regularly and be ready to make changes as necessary.
Feed the Fish Properly
The otos aren’t going to live for long if they don’t have enough to eat. Otos love eating algae as well as biofilm in the tank.
It’s good to focus on getting algae to grow in the tank. Exposing the tank to natural sunlight can help with this, but so can using aquarium lighting.
Keeping the aquarium lights on for longer each day can encourage algae growth. It’s also wise to consider installing extra aquarium lights.
Otos won’t be able to subsist on algae alone. You need to offer the fish supplementary foods several times per week.
These fish should be fed things such as algae wafers and blanched veggies. They love eating zucchini, lettuce, spinach, and carrots.
If you don’t give the fish food, it’s likely that they won’t have enough to eat. The fish need to eat well so they can stay healthy and live for as long as possible.
Watch Out for Stress
Stress in the fish tank can easily cut down on the amount of time that the otos will live. You need to focus on limiting stress issues as much as you can.
Make sure that otos have more than enough room in the tank. Overcrowded tanks are not good for your fish and it’ll also make it tougher to keep the water clean.
You also need to choose tank mates carefully for otos. Otos are so peaceful that they can get bullied by fish that are a bit too aggressive.
Only put otos in community aquariums with fish that they’re compatible with. Otherwise, your otos could get bullied to death.
Be sure to keep your otos in large enough groups, too. It’s never wise to put otos in a fish tank when there are fewer than six of them.
So long as you’re aware of how problematic stress can be, it’ll be simple to keep the fish safe. Make good choices and your fish will thrive under your care.
Otos should be able to live for five years or longer in a fish tank. They might die much faster than this if you don’t care for them well, though.
To keep the otos safe, it’s imperative to focus on the basics. Keep the water quality high and be sure to avoid stressing the fish.
Give your otos enough to eat and make sure that they’re kept in groups of six or more. If you do this, it should be possible to enjoy keeping this fish in your tank for many years.
Otos are incredible fish that you’ll love having in your community aquarium. They’ll eat algae and they’ll be fun to watch.
Don’t hesitate to buy these fish if you find them interesting. They’re well worth the investment.
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.