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Old 10-30-2005, 11:08 PM   #1
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Where to buy my Otocinclus?

For those of you not familiar with the Otocinclus catfish, it is one of the smaller catfish species, reaching an adult size of only a couple inches. They are herbivores with a taste for the slime that grows on the sides of your tank. They are especially good at removing the brown algae typical in new tanks, not so good at the harder algae that needs to be scraped off with a razor blade more typical in older tanks.

The Otocinclus has some disadvantages when acclimating to a new aquarium.

A) Mostly gathered from the wild rather than captive bred, they start out with parasites.
B) Given it's picky diet, and shy nature, it can not find it's native diet, or compete for the provided food in the typical mixed species store display; so they are often starving when you get them.
C) Being so shy, they may hide when introduced to a community tank and not start feeding right away.

I think I have settled on an acclimation procedure of keeping them in QT, with an algae culture and supplemental veggies, until they fatten up, before introducing them to the community, but I have not decided where to purchase them.

A) I could get them from my LFS, which is pretty good, but only has a 48 hour survival guarantee, and doesn't often have many of them in stock at a time. (They like company of their own kind, and I have a 75 gallon tank for them to spread out in.)

B) I could get them from liveaquaria, who tells me they pretreat the otos for parasites, and give them a good herbivore diet. I can also bypass the starving in the pet store stage, and order a whole school at once direct from the wharehouse.

Downside of liveaquaria is that I'll spend over $50 on fish, minimum order amount (thinking of getting freshwater clams and shrimp to meet my minimum order), and shipping cost, where as I'll only spend a couple dollars a fish at my LFS.

Any opinons?

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Old 10-30-2005, 11:12 PM   #2
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well, Freshwater clams are hard to tell when they're dead, and pollute the tank horribly when they die. What kind of shrimp are you thinking of?
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Old 10-31-2005, 12:32 AM   #3
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Well, I wanted amano shrimp, but they're not in stock very often, I've kept ghost shrimp sucessfully in the past. They were very good at keeping my hair grass clean.

The clams do seem to be a gamble. I have no desire for any other fish though, I have been given quite a motly crew to start this tank with. The clams were appealing because I had to slightly modify my filterless design to clarify the water. (Now have small air-powered sponge filter in the corner. It cleared up the sediment/nutrients in the water column.) The site had a bunch of crawfish, but that sounds like a really bad mix with Otocats, or half my current occupants for that matter.

Maybe I just need to find someone local to split the minimum order/shipping with. There's no way I'm getting 26 Otocats to fufill my minium order, and I don't really want anything else that they carry regularly.
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Old 10-31-2005, 05:56 AM   #4
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Here's what I would do....

If your lfs has them in stock, prepay for the number of otos you want. Don't actually take them home for 3 weeks. Explain what you're doing and why to the lfs. As long as they don't mix a shipment of new arrivals, you can be reasonably sure that any otos that survive for this long at the store will also survive when you bring them home.

My lfs will put a sticker on the tank that says "Sold, 8 otos, BrianNY". This prevents other employees from selling the fish I've paid for.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:14 AM   #5
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I've always gotten otos from petsmart (with their 14 day gaurantee) and only lost two. The last one I got from there has now been in the tank for over a month, and is very well fed.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:28 AM   #6
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I like Brian's idea a lot. I have had my LFS do that for me, too, and the ones that make it to that point are usually remarkably hardy. That will be your least expensive route, for sure. They may want to charge you a small premium for feeding and maintaining the fish until you actually take them, but it is worth it with these fish.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:28 AM   #7
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I haven't seen them in petsmart. Petco occasionally has them, and Pet World as well.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:44 AM   #8
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I picked my up at wal-mart. Kinda happy I did when I did because I didnt see them since, everytime I go to walmart I check out the fish and they never there but they were the day when I got em. They are really cool fish and I say just pick them up, I think I paid 149 for them....but its wal-mart so I went to the self check out and scanned one ticket and took all four of my fish home ...... I would just say go with you LFS even with the 48hrs chances are they going to live longer then that before they die.
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Old 10-31-2005, 12:26 PM   #9
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I suppose I am doing everything right to reduce the mortality rate, I could just take the gamble. I just need to grow up my algae culture a bit more. (Plenty in in MT, trying to ramp up algae in QT.)

For the amount I'd pay in shipping from liveaquaria, I could purchace a whole nother school. I don't like watching them suffer though, I'd rather have them healthy from the beginning.

Last time I tried Otocats, I did not know as much about them, and had a less stable enviroment. I'm hoping this time I will do much better.
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Old 11-06-2005, 01:38 PM   #10
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Arg. Definatly going to the LFS. Live aquaria finally got Amanos in stock, only to run out of Otos. I'm going to check out if my LFS will do a special order for me. If thier regular supplier has them, they'd probably be willing to do it.
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Old 11-06-2005, 02:33 PM   #11
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In my opinion, otos from liveaquaria probably have a better chance of getting into a good home than the ones from the LFS and you should scoop up the ones from the LFS and give them a wonderful home. Similar to getting a puppy from an expensive breeder or the shelter. Nothing like taking an unhealthy, underweight creature and giving it a perfect, spoiled life
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