- Scientific Name: Otocinclus vestitus
- Family: Loricariidae
- Size: 1½ to 2 inches
- Temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- Alkalinity: Undemanding
- Origin: Southeastern Brazil, Peru
This is a shy, schooling species that should be kept in groups of six or more, in an aquarium with similar peaceful species. It does not do well when housed with more active species, such as cichlids.
Because it inhabits swiftly flowing streams in nature, it should be housed in aquariums with sufficient aeration and good filtration. The tank should be densely planted and moderately decorated with rocks and driftwood, with a soft substrate.
The otto cat is strongly herbivorous, feeding mostly on algae in nature. In the aquarium it will graze the algal film from the stones, leaves and aquarium glass. However, do not depend on algae in the aquarium as the main food source. The otto cat will need to be fed a wide variety of vegetable-based foods, such as any of the commonly available popular frozen vegetable diets, algae wafers and algae tablets. Supplement its diet with fresh, parboiled vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, zucchini and peas. Make sure to offer it an additional feeding once the lights are out for the night.
Although it is possible to differentiate between the sexes, to ensure spawning success it is best to purchase a group and let them pair up. Condition the pair on small feedings of a high-protein diet consisting of small live foods, several times per day.
Spawning is preceded by a long courtship ritual consisting of chasing bouts interrupted by cleaning of potential spawning sites. Like corys, once courtship is finished, a pair of otto cats lock together in the “T” position — the female with her head nudged into the side of the male near his vent, the male clasping her barbels to his sides with his pectoral spines. The eggs are then fertilized. The otto cat lays its eggs individually on plants, tank sides and other flat substrates.
The eggs hatch in three days. The fry should be fed very small foods, such as crustacean larvae, finely powdered egg yolk or very small microworms.
The otto cat prefers to hang vertically from plant leaves or the glass of the aquarium by its sucker mouth during the day and becomes active in the evening.