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How to Breed Otocinclus Catfish

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Written by Sheryl Wiesner   

oto cat

Otocinclus or oto cats are easy to breed in the home aquarium as long as you follow a few simple steps.

Oto cats breed readily in planted aquariums as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. Obtain a true pair or several Oto cats. Males are more streamlined than females with adult females showing rounded abdomens making them look like they swallowed a marble.

They are algae eaters so they should have a good algae buildup in the aquarium for them to feed on, live plants also give plenty of places for algae to grow and for them to nibble along the leaves. You can supplement their diet with algae tabs purchased from the local pet store.

They will breed on their own when ready and often times the keeper is only aware they have bred when they count fish and find more than they originally purchased. They breed on the underside of large leaves with the male pressing his body against hers and forming an arch against the underside of the leaf. They have not been reported to eat their own eggs or young and the males may guard the eggs for a day or two against other tank mates.

If you have them in a community tank you will want to remove them for breeding when you see the female is swollen with eggs. Once she lays you can return the pair to the community tank. They often breed about every 26-28 days once a compatible pair have formed. Tips & Warnings
  • If you obtain several oto cats and let them form their own pairs you will have better breeding success.
  • If you only have oto cats in the tank you will have a higher chance of survival in the young.
  • It is suggested to feed insufloria to the fry for the first few days to weeks.
  • You can grow your own insufloria by filling a gallon jar with dechlorinated water and then adding some lettuce leaves, put the lid on the jar loosely and leave in a well lit window or on the patio out of direct sunlight.
  • Sometimes a 50% water change will induce breeding
  • Never put water straight from the tap into your aquarium, even a small amount of chlorine or chloramine can be deadly to fish and harmful to the algae you are trying to encourage to grow.

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