Dwarf suckermouth - Otocinclus vittatus
Scientific name: Otocinclus vittatus
Common name: Dwarf suckermouth
Usual size in fish tanks: 3 - 4 cm (1.18 - 1.57 inch)
Recommended pH range for the species: 6 - 7.5
Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 16°N (71.43 - 285.71ppm)
0°C 32°F30°C 86°F
Recommended temperature: 21 - 26 °C (69.8 - 78.8°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 suckermouth - Otocinclus vittatus originates from South America, this species of the Otocinclus family are usually to be found in Brazil but other members can inhabit wider areas spread over Peru and Argentina as well.
The Dwarf suckermouth belongs to a family of a few species of catfish that are relatively small in size compared to more common catfish that can grow very large. Adult specimens will only grow to a maximum size of 2 inches but mostly they will be generally smaller. In the wild they will inhabit waterways that have vegetation but they can also inhabit open water where they will shoal looking for food on sunken debris that has developed a coating of algae. They are treated as tank cleaners with many fish keepers but sadly this can mean many are shorter lived as the algae available starts to run out and their diet is not supplemented with other food sources. It is crucial that they are not introduced to a new aquarium set up, the aquarium should be well established as they are classed as a delicate species demanding the highest water quality.
If cared for correctly the average lifespan for the Dwarf suckermouth is 3-5 years.
As mentioned above any member of the Otocinclus family should never be added to an immature tank set up. They require pristine water conditions that have stabilised water parameters and an initial source of algae to feed on. Planted tanks are ideal as they love to graze upon the plant leaves and are capable of dealing with all levels of lighting. A filtration system rated for the aquarium should be used and this must be backed up by regular water changes on a weekly basis of at least 10% of the water volume. They prefer cooler water so set the temperature range between 21 - 26 °C (69.8 - 78.8°F) making them ideal for aquariums that are set at room temperature in cooler climates.Although they do prefer slightly acidic water they can easily tolerate a pH range of between 6.0-8.0. Otocinclus vittatus are a very peaceful species so should only be housed with other peaceful species that can handle the same water parameters.
The Dwarf suckermouth is often added to the aquarium as part of a clean up crew as they will strip the algae from the aquarium but this should not be reliant upon as the whole of their diet. They will benefit from the addition of algae wafers and other green vegetables such as zucchini or blanched peas.
Mature males tend to be smaller than mature females and they will develop a slimmer body shape.
In the wild Otocinclus vittatus are prolific breeders and will breed in large groups. This can easily be replicated in the aquarium, for the breeding tank add plants that they can deposit their eggs upon and they will do the rest. The eggs are attached to the leaves of the plants and after a few days the fry will emerge. The parent fish do not eat the eggs so can be left in the aquarium and once free swimming the fry can be raised on Infusoria.