It’s normal for people to want to buy cleaner fish for community fish tanks. Otocinclus catfish happen to be among the most popular options for fish tanks that contain smaller fish.
Buying otos should be a fantastic experience overall. They’re peaceful fish that have a reputation for being great in community aquariums.
Are there different types of otocinclus catfish, though? Will some of them be larger than others?
Keep reading to learn about the different types of otocinclus catfish. This will help you to know what your choices are so you can buy the otos that suit you the best.
1 – Common Otocinclus Catfish
Common otocinclus catfish are the typical otos that you’ll find people sold at most pet stores. These fish are very easy to find at pet stores and aquarium stores.
They’re popular fish that are often sold as algae eaters for community tanks. These fish are fairly small and only grow to be between one and a half inches and two inches long.
Otos are rather peaceful and they make great tank mates for many types of fish. If you’re looking for a docile fish that will eat lots of algae, you’ll be pleased with common otos.
Common otos don’t look as interesting as some of the more exotic otos that you’ll learn about later, but they’re still rather neat. You can’t go wrong with them if you’re looking for peaceful fish.
2 – Giant Otocinclus Catfish
Giant otocinclus catfish are not nearly as commonly found in fish tanks. They are still sold and put in aquariums, but they’re a lot harder to find in stock at aquarium stores.
As you’d expect based on the name, these otos are much larger than usual. They call the Amazon River Basin their home and grow to be around double the size of common otos.
These fish can grow to be up to four inches long once they reach adulthood. Since they’re larger than common otos they will need larger fish tanks to accommodate them.
You should keep giant otos in a 30-gallon fish tank or something larger. You’ll enjoy caring for these fish if you choose to seek some out.
3 – Zebra Otocinclus Catfish
Zebra otocinclus catfish are visually striking and they’ll be good choices for most people. They look a lot flashier than the common otos you learned about earlier.
These fish have stripes that sort of make them look like zebras. Some find the pattern to look a bit more like tiger stripes, though.
This is why these fish are also sold as tiger otos. If you see tiger otos being sold at stores, know that they’re the same as zebra otos and it’s just another name for them.
Owning these otos will be good if you’re looking for pretty algae eaters for the tank. They look nice and they’re just as peaceful and easy to keep as common otos.
4 – Golden Otocinclus Catfish
Golden otocinclus catfish are virtually the same as the common otos you learned about earlier. Sometimes people mistake them for common otos because the differences aren’t that pronounced.
The big difference between the two types of otos involves coloration. Golden otos have brown stripes that look a bit golden.
Since the color of the stripes isn’t incredibly different, it’s easy to just mistake the fish for common otos. That doesn’t mean that golden otos aren’t neat, though.
You might wind up finding these fish being sold as common otos sometimes. Take a close look at the stripes to see if they might really be golden otos.
5 – Silver Otocinclus Catfish
Silver otos are another variety that can be commonly mistaken for common otos. They’re the same size as common otos and they don’t look any different in terms of body shape.
They simply have stripes that are silvery. These fish have brown stripes that look a bit silvery when you gaze at them.
It isn’t that huge of a difference, but it is something that can be noticed. Check out the fish and try to see if you can spot the difference when you see them being sold at the same pet store.
Some might not think that they’re different enough to be worthwhile, but others will really enjoy the silvery nature of the stripes. They’re good fish that can be great additions to your aquarium.
6 – Dwarf Otocinclus Catfish
Dwarf otocinclus can also be mistaken for common otos. Some places might even mistakenly sell dwarf otocinclus catfish as common otos.
There are differences between these two types of fish, though. Dwarf otos have caudal fins that are a good bit different from the fins on common otos.
A dwarf oto will have the brown stripe disappear by the time it reaches the fin. Also, you can see a blotch on the tail when looking at dwarf otos.
The differences aren’t so apparent that you will recognize them if you don’t know what to look for. Even so, it’s worth noting that dwarf otos are distinct from common otos.
Are Otocinclus Scaleless?
Otocinclus catfish are indeed scaleless. Instead of scales, these fish possess a sort of natural armor plating.
They have rows of plates that cover their bodies to protect them from harm. The plates are designed to keep them safe from predators.
In some ways, otos are more durable than other fish. In others, they’re more vulnerable.
The plates do a great job of keeping the fish from getting harmed by normal attacks from fish. They can absorb blows and keep the fish from getting damaged, but this doesn’t make otocinclus catfish invincible.
Sadly, otos are more susceptible to problems with chemicals, salts, and pesticides. They can easily enter deep into their bodies.
Also, otos are very susceptible to diseases such as ich. They can easily get sick and that’s why you need to look out for problems with tail rot, body slime, and other similar issues.
All Otos Are Shoaling Fish
Keep in mind that all otocinclus catfish are shoaling fish. In the wild, otocinclus catfish live in huge shoals.
They live with thousands of other otos and aren’t supposed to be kept by themselves. When you buy otos for a fish tank, it’s important to keep them in groups of six or more.
These fish can experience stress if they’re kept alone or in groups that are too small. You don’t want the fish to get sick due to being stressed so it’s imperative to buy enough of them.
Since most otos don’t grow to be larger than two inches long, they can be kept in 10-gallon fish tanks if you only want to buy six of them. It is said that keeping ten to fifteen otos in a 20-gallon fish tank or something larger would be a better choice, though.
Now you know that otocinclus catfish come in several different types. There aren’t too many differences between many of the types that are commonly sold at stores.
Even so, the differences are there and you now know what to look for. It can be hard to tell the difference between golden otos, silver otos, dwarf otos, and common otos.
Giant otos are quite a bit different because they’re so much bigger. These fish grow to be double the size of common otos.
All otos are peaceful fish that need to be kept in groups of six or more. You need to make sure that you buy enough of them for the tank if you want them to thrive under your care.
Use the information above to determine which types of otos you’d like to buy. No matter what you choose, it’ll surely be a good experience.
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.