Otocinclus vittatus – Breeding and rearing

The 4 cm Otocinclus vittatus, Otocinclus, originating from Brazil, is an undemanding small fish, that can be held in a society-tank or shrimp-tank. Breeding is more difficult.

Necessary conditions for breeding

Ohrgitter Harnischwels
Rainer Schmitt, 2004, Otocinclus macrospilus 2, CC BY-SA 3.0

Ear lattice catfish like to stay in the company of other fish. They need clean water with a high oxygen content and algae. If the oxygen content of the water is too low, the ear lattice catfish swim to the water surface and take up the oxygen from the air. The water temperature should be between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius, the PH value should be 5 – 7.5. An aquarium size of at least 70 litres is ideal. Since the Otocinclus vittatus are very sensitive to nitrite, they should be placed in a tank already stocked with fish.

In the wild the catfish immediately notice the fluctuations in air pressure and temperature during the rainy season and start to reproduce. To reconstruct these conditions in an aquarium is extremely difficult. A change of water to softer, slightly cooler water mimics the conditions of the rainy season. The willingness to spawn eggs can also be increased by increasing the food supply. Usually eggs are laid by soft fish that have already been caught in a pregnant state. The fish rarely reproduce in the aquarium.

The best conditions for breeding can be found in an aquarium with a substrate of sand or fine gravel. If you want to place Otocinclus vittatus for breeding in a separate tank, they must not be caught with a landing net. In the sensitive mouth area of the fish there are small barbs which could be injured by the landing net. These injuries are almost always fatal.

Conditions for breeding

  • Aquarium size at least 70 litres
  • Temperature 23 – 27 degrees Celsius
  • PH- value 6 – 7,5
  • Water hardness 15 dH
  • Algae
  • high oxygen content
  • at least 5 fish

The courtship behavior

One male and up to four females are needed for breeding. During the mating season, increased swimming movements are observed in the swarm. The Otocinclus vittatus swim more in pairs. After two to three days the mating, which takes about two minutes, takes place. During mating the fish take a T-position.

Spawning behaviour

During mating, the eggs laid by the female are fertilized. The female fish then attaches the eggs to plant leaves, stones or the walls of the aquarium.

Brood care and feeding

A brood care does not take place. The larvae hatch within 48 hours. After a few days, the young fish are already swimming freely in the water. With a strong planting, stone formations and roots, the young fish are offered sufficient hiding places.

Breeding of the young fish

On the first day after hatching, the young fish feed on the remains of the yolk sac. As soon as this is used up, fine dust food and algae must be fed. Vegetable feeding with algae is very important for both the adult and the young fish. Without algae as food, the fish become ill, starve and die.

Feed for the offspring

  • fine dust lining
  • Algae

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