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