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Dwarf otocinclus - Otocinclus affinis

Dwarf otocinclus - Otocinclus affinis

Scientific name: Otocinclus affinis

Common name: Dwarf otocinclus

Family: Loricariidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 4 - 5 cm (1.57 - 1.97 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 5.5 - 7.5

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 18°N (71.43 - 321.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 20 - 28 °C (68 - 82.4°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


The Dwarf otocinclus originates from the Amazonian waterways where they love to inhabit highly vegetated areas and re most commonly found in Peru and Brazil.

Short description

These are not the easiest of fish to keep long term as they are extremely delicate and definitely not for novice fish keepers. They need to be acclimatised very slowly to mature tanks and if not given the correct conditions can deteriorate healthwise very quickly. Adult specimens will only reach a body length of up to 1.5-2 inches and juveniles are extremely small, it is at this stage that they are commonly found in the aquatic stores. Their body colouration can also seem a bit drab compared to many species of fish but it is their cuteness which attracts them to many keepers as well as their reputation as tank cleaners consuming most of the algae present.


If cared for correctly, the average lifespan for the Dwarf otocinclus is expected to be between 4-5 years.

General care

Often the otocinclus are purchased purely as tank cleaners, this should not be the case as the algae will diminish and it could lead to these fish being deprived of food if not given a balanced diet. They are extremely delicate and should never be added to a newly set up aquarium, the tank should be well mature and have been running for several months before adding these fish. The Dwarf otocinclus should be acclimatised very slowly to the aquarium water as they do not like sudden changes in water parameters. They will live quite happily in smaller aquariums but if this is the case make sure the aquarium is never overstocked. Keep them in small groups to make them feel secure, individual specimens may hide away a lot. They will accept a wide temperature range, this can vary from 20-28°C (68-82°F) and the pH should range from 5.5-7.5. Plants and decoration should be added to the aquarium and they do require high water quality so make sure the filtration system is adequate and back this up with weekly water changes of at least 10 %. They are a very peaceful species and need to be housed housed with species of a similar nature, many of the tetra species, rasboras or corydoras are ideal.


The Dwarf otocinclus are classed as herbivorous so will require a high vegetable diet. As well as allowing them to graze on the algae present in the aquarium they should also be offered spirulina, algae wafers or even chopped cucumber or blanched peas are ideal. Due to the quickness that a vegetable diet can decay make sure that any uneaten food is removed after an hour to keep the water quality high.


Mature females tend to be larger than mature males and will have a stockier body shape.


The Dwarf otocinclus are not the easiest species to breed and certainly not the best selection for keepers new to fish breeding. They have been bred in the aquarium but the criteria for getting them to spawn is a bit hit and miss. Cool water changes seems to encourage spawning but this has yet to be proven as a trigger but some breeders do claim it helps. It is known that will deposit the eggs on the leaves of plants or even the glass of the aquarium. The parent fish will show no parental care and should be removed after spawning has been completed. The eggs should hatch within 24 hours and once free swimming the fry can be fed on newly hatched brine shrimp, or even crushed spirulina flake.

Thanks to halkor who has allowed us to use his picture.

Dwarf otocinclus picture

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