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June 24, 2011

Welcome back to another week here at The Wet Spot.

I couldn’t help but notice a little brown algae forming in your tank. Well, do we have a few fish to help you out with that diatom problem! Even though there is nothing wrong with a little bit of algae, as it usually is a sign of good tank health, many of us find it unsightly. So let’s get some little workers in there to take care of it!

The family Loricariidae contains one of the most unique little fish that the world of nature can offer. Otocinclus, commonly called “Otos”, were first described by Edward Drinker Cope in 1871, and have been available in the trade for many years. According to planetcatfish.com, there are 12 described and 3 un-described species that are known to science. Out of these, there are only a handful that are regularly available to the hobby, with the most common being Otocinclus arnoldi and  O. affinis. This week we are offering three different family members that are rarely seen among hobbyists!

Otocinclus affinis

Otos have adapted an amazing ability that separates them from the rest of the Loricariidae family—they can breathe oxygen from the surface! This is done by having a duct formed between the esophagus and the stomach, making them an air breathing fish! Otos are generally found in moderate to slow moving waters near the river banks. Due to their small mouths, they feed on softer foods such as diatom algae, as their mouths are not strong enough to chew harder foods like green algae. Unlike their cousins, Otos do not build nests and guard their eggs, but rather lay adhesive eggs onto plants and let nature take its course by leaving them on their own. These fish live in shoals or schools and should be kept as such.

This week we are proud to offer Otocinclus cocoma “Zebra/Tiger Oto”. This fish has thick black and grey lines that run horizontally down the body. The face has the same lines, which run laterally along the body. The Zebra Oto is a little more sensitive compared to its cousin, and seems to require a lot more food to be kept in good health. Well filtered water that is changed regularly is also highly recommended. These are available in limited quantity and will go fast!

Otocinclus cocama

A relative species, Nannoptopoma sp. “Orange Zebra Oto”, has a similar shape and size and is therefore given the common name of “oto”. The body is a rustic orange color that has darker bands contrasting against lighter ones. The snout is elongated and appears to come to a point. The eyes are a beautiful red color that blends well into the face. Care should be the same for the above mentioned species. With just a handful in stock, they won’t last long.

Nannoptopoma sp. "Orange Zebra Otocinclus"

Lastly, but certainly not the least, Parotocinclus sp. “Peru Bumble Bee Oto” is the smallest of our dream list—reaching just an inch. What this fish lacks in size it more than makes up for in appearance. Like its two cousins, the body has dark bars that are contrasted by light ones. There are little green and red dots that cover the body of the fish, mostly seen in the head. The pectoral fins are brownish-red and are absolutely beautiful. These would make a great addition to your nano aquarium!

Parotocinclus sp. "Peru Bumble Bee Oto"

That concludes this week’s notes. As mentioned last week I will be on vacation starting July 2nd and will not return until Monday July 11th. I ask that you all try and get in your orders early next week, as we will not be shipping fish the week of my absence. There will be much catching up to do upon my return, so I thank you for your patience as I respond to everyone’s emails. Like always, be sure to check out the products link to view this week’s list! Hopefully this helps with your algae problem!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager