How Long Can Otocinclus Go Without Food?

Lauren Kiekbusch

Otocinclus are a very peaceful and unproblematic genus of catfish. It may interest you that this kind of freshwater fish likes to keep its environment very clean and may not require much attention.

This has made them one of the perfect fishes to have in your aquarium. However, just like saltwater fishes, some people worry about how long otocinclus can go without being fed especially in times when they will be absent from home for a while.

Quick answer: Otocinclus can last for about 3-7 days without food. More amazingly, otocinclus catfish are herbivorous scavengers; you can leave some plants with algae growing on them to sustain your fish for as long as you’ll be away. This way you have ensured that your pet fish is well-fed even without you being around.

The calm and gentle demeanor of otocinclus is one of the many reasons to love them and unlike other freshwater fishes, their level of aggressiveness is relatively very low. Otocinclus are very fragile water animals and one important thing that can keep them alive is steadily feeding them.

As much as they can last for days without food doesn’t mean leaving them to starve affect them or worse kill them. To ensure the safety and well-being of an otocinclus catfish you should endeavor to arrange its feeding before embarking on your trip.

In this article, we will be discussing some safety care tips for this amazing water life as well as highlighting the signs of a starving otocinclus catfish and what to do.


Best Meals For Otocinclus

Feeding otocinclus may differ greatly from how other fishes are fed. Some people think that feeding otos are challenging but that is not the case. No doubt, some otos would give you a few issues at first but they would surely adjust.

To successfully feed an otocinclus you must figure out the foods that they appreciate and enjoy. There are several foods that otocinclus will eat for nutrition and sustenance and they are;

  • Algae Wafers
  • Spinach
  • Catfish Pellets
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Zucchini (Courgette)
  • Rutabaga
  • Peas
  • Cucumber

However, otos are popularly known as algae eaters, this is why their most preferred and favorite meal is soft green algae.

Soft Green Algae

This is the main meal for oto catfish, as they often scavenge for this particular meal by growing on plants, aquarium glass, aquarium decorations, and substrate. Almost like they are trying to keep the tank clean but in truth, they are merely just filling their stomachs.

Aquariums without otos may have to use chemicals to get rid of growing algae, however, this termination method may be harmful to the aqua life and this is why it is advisable to use otocinclus for cleaning out the tank, it is a win-win situation.

Signs That An Otocinclus Is Starving

It is common for otocinclus to refuse to eat in a new home or environment. The method of shipment for otocinclus catfish is usually very cruel. After being captured they are kept clustered together in a confined space with minimal food.

Many a time, 50% of the captured otocinclus do not make it to the pet store.

The lucky ones that are still alive might not be so lucky as there is a high chance that they are still starving and unhealthy. When you are ready to have an aquarium with otocinclus in it, the following are major red flags;

  1. No form of activity in the fish tank, and will only move when disturbed or poked.
  2. Moves very slowly and sluggishly.
  3. Have a hollow and sunken stomach.
  4. Lies at the bottom of the tank most of the time.
  5. Looks unhealthy and sick.

How To Help A Starving Otocinclus

Usually, a starving otocinclus will appear sick and dying, and this can cause some people to panic especially in instances when they have no idea of what to do. Starving is a very common issue for oto catfish that haven’t quite adjusted to their new home.

They prefer to shy away and hide under rocks, and most times they might eat some food without your notice.

The cause of refusing to eat for otocinclus is not usually a result of being new to a place but also what kind of food is being offered. To help solve the problem of starvation in otos, here is what you can do help;

  1. Offer otocinclus its best food (soft green algae) which is usually hard to refuse.
  2. Feed regularly at least twice a day till you are sure it is well nourished.
  3. Try other varieties of food that can act as treats and supplements such as cucumber, boiled/frozen peas, zucchini, and so on.

Precautionary Tips For Otocinclus

Otocinclus are very calm, easy-going fishes, although they are very beginner-friendly, it is pretty easy to get it wrong and complicate things with them.

The following tips are very useful when you have an otocinclus (or more) under your care;

  1. Set up a tank days before purchasing the fish. This will give room for algae to grow in the tank, just in case your fish will refuse to eat algae wafers.
  2. Get your fish from a trusted and reputable pet store.
  3. Ensure to make enough inquiries about the fish before purchasing it, if possible buy tank-bred otocinclus as they are usually in better health conditions.
  4. The water parameter must be accurate.
  5. Test the ammonia and nitrous acidity in the water every month.
  6. Make sure the aquarium companion paired with an oto cat is not an aggressive kind as it can be deadly and unfavorable for it.
  7. Feed regularly and also ensure to not overfeed as it can lead to constipation.
  8. Hire a fish sitter or purchase an automatic fish feeder if you will be away from home for a long. It is not advisable to leave your fish without food for too long.

In Closing

Every pet fish even otocinclus requires a level of love, care, and attention. Even though otocinclus can survive for a few days without food it is not a great idea to leave them on a hunger strike.

One way to easily navigate this is by making necessary arrangements that would help keep your fish alive while you are away.

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