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Panda Garra vs. Otocinclus (Which Algae Eater to Choose)

Panda Garra vs. Otocinclus (Which Algae Eater to Choose)
This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When looking for an algae eater for your community fish tank, there are many options that you can choose from. People often pick Siamese Algae Eaters (SAEs), but you might get bored of putting those fish in your community tanks every single time.

What if you want to find small algae eaters that will work well in relatively small community tanks? There are a few great options to consider.

Panda garras are very popular fish that can work out well. Otocinclus catfish are also great algae eaters that can be a lot of fun to care for.

Which of these fish will be the better option? Continue reading to learn about both panda garras and otocinclus catfish so you can decide for yourself.

Panda Garras

Panda garras are good fish that you might be interested in owning. These fish are excellent algae eaters, but you likely want to know more about them than that.

One of the best reasons to consider buying panda garras is that they’re easy to care for. These fish are good choices for beginners because they’re not tough to keep alive.

When compared to otos, it’s easier to care for panda garras. While otos can be a bit fragile in certain ways, panda garras are much more durable fish.

Each panda garra will grow to be around three and a half inches long at maturity. You’re supposed to keep them in tanks that are at least 20 gallons or larger.

These fish like to be in groups, but they don’t have to be in groups. It’s common for these fish to be kept in groups of four or more, but it’s fine to buy just one or two for the tank if that’s what you want to do.

When keeping panda garras in groups, they might fight with each other a bit. This isn’t serious and it’s just the fish establishing a pecking order in the group.

They’re fairly peaceful fish overall that will make good community tank members. You should also know that panda garras are omnivores.

It’s true that these fish eat a lot of algae, but they need to be fed other types of food as well. It’s common for people to feed these fish algae wafers, sinking fish pellets, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and even chopped prawns.

When you care for these fish well, they can live for many years in your fish tank. They’re known to live for five or six years in home aquariums with proper care.

These fish thrive in temperatures that range from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH balance of the tank should be kept between 6.0 and 7.5 and the water hardness should be between 2 and 12 dKH.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus catfish are quite a bit smaller than the panda garras mentioned above. These fish only grow to be between one and a half and two inches long.

They’re very peaceful fish that would rather hide than fight. So you need to be careful when picking tank mates for them.

Otos can get bullied by aggressive fish, but they’re fantastic community fish. You’ll love that they’re active fish that love eating algae in the tank.

One problem with otocinclus catfish is that they sometimes die when being introduced to new tanks. It’s common for these fish to get stressed easily in the early days of entering a tank.

So you have to baby them and monitor the water parameters closely in the first month. It’s important to ensure that these fish have everything that they need to acclimate to the tank properly.

You have to keep otos in groups of six or more. These are shoaling fish that are used to living in huge groups in the wild, but they do fine in small groups of six in fish tanks.

Since they’re not overly big fish, you can keep otos in 10-gallon fish tanks. When keeping them in community tanks, it’s best to go with something larger so the tank won’t be overcrowded with other fish.

Otocinclus catfish will mostly eat algae and biofilm in the tank, but they need to be fed supplementary foods as well. You can feed them algae wafers and blanched veggies such as zucchini.

If you do a good job caring for your otos, they’ll live between five and seven years in your fish tank. These fish can be a joy to own and should be a lot of fun over the years once you get used to caring for them.

Otos do best when you keep them in water temperatures that range from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH balance should stay between 6.8 and 7.5 and the water hardness should be between 3 and 16 dKH.

Which Is Better?

Determining which of these fish will be the better option is tough. It really comes down to your expectations and what you want out of an algae-eating fish.

For some, it’ll be better to choose panda garras. If you’re worried about the otos dying on you, it might be easier to go with panda garras.

Panda garras are less delicate and it’s simpler to keep them alive. They don’t go through the same problems as otos when getting used to a new tank.

Also, you can keep panda garras in smaller numbers than the otos. Otos must be kept in groups of six or more, but you can keep just a few panda garras in the tank if you want to.

Otos are smaller fish, though, and can be kept in smaller aquariums. Also, they’re a bit more peaceful than panda garras.

Panda garras are still peaceful fish, but they’re known to fight with each other. This isn’t an issue that you have to deal with when keeping otos in your tank.

Otocinclus catfish and panda garras both love to eat algae. You still need to feed both fish supplementary foods, though.

It’s best to just go with whatever fish you think is the most appealing. Since otos are smaller than panda garras, they might be more practical for some community fish tanks that contain small fish.

Take your time to consider both types of algae-eating fish. You should arrive at your decision after weighing the pros and cons of each choice.