Otocinclus was a catfish for stabilizing the growth of algae and they are mainly known as algae eaters. Otocinclus breeding was not easier like other fishes and for successful breeding the otocinclus you need to set up a dedicated breeding tank with water-conditioned and aquatic live plants.

The successful ratio of the otocinclus breeding depends upon various factors such as water parameters, water quality, breeding tank size, breeding pairs, and their diet or breeding condition.

You need to observe the breeding pair before selecting because they need to be healthy and need proper care for reducing stress.  Sudden changes in the water parameter will affect the health and immunity system of the otocinclus. In this detailed guide, you’ll learn about otocinclus breeding and how to care for the otocinclus fry.

Do otocinclus breed easily?

Otocinclus breeding was hard when compared with other fishes because the success ratio depends upon various factors such as water parameters, breeding pairs, tank size, water condition, and diet.

You need to choose healthy breeding pairs for breeding and they need to be conditioned for breeding. So you need to set up a dedicated breeding with water and diet conditions.  For breeding pairs feed only high protein food because the healthy fish will produce healthy fry and their lifespan will not be affected.

For successful breeding, you need to provide a suitable environment for them. It includes a 25-gallon tank with live plants and stabilizes the water temperature to 26 degrees Celsius and proper water pH level and hardness.

If there are changes in the water parameter and water condition the otocinclus fish will not breed to lay eggs. You can read our detailed guide about otocinclus.

What are the basic requirements needed for otocinclus breeding

Otocinclus Breeding

For successful breeding of otocinclus, you need to provide the right environment for them and it involves water temperature, tank size, filtration, plants, etc.

Water parameters

Water parameters are important for otocinclus because sudden changes in the water parameters will lead to many health-related problems and the otocinclus may become stressed. For successful breeding otocinclus, you need to maintain the water parameters

Water temperature between : 70-79°F (21-26°C)

pH Level: 6.0–7.5

Nitrate levels between 0-20ppm (parts per million) 

Water hardness: no greater than 15dH

Tank size

Otocinclus Breeding

For breeding otocinclus you need to set up a 20-gallon tank separately for breeding otocinclus and accommodate otocinclus fry. After laying the eggs you can separate the breeding pair into a small tank to provide protein food to gain immunity. So you need to set up a small tank for caring for the breeding pairs.


You need to set up a small filtration in the breeding tank for cleaning the water. It was important to maintain the water quality and water parameters in the breeding. Filtration will remove the physical and chemical substances from the water and provide fresh and clean water after filtration.


Live plants are important for breeding because the otocinclus need place for laying eggs and the best suitable place for plant leaves and decorations such as stones, driftwood, etc. Aquarium live plants exchange gas in the water while exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen. It was beneficial for otocinclus fry because they can eat small bacteria on the plants and live plants will protect them.


Driftwood is not important as live plants but most of the otocinclus stay on the driftwood and there will be a chance for egg laying on the driftwood.


The heater was important for the breeding tank for controlling or stabilizing the water temperature. The otocinclus need a good water condition tank for breeding and sudden changes in the water parameter will affect the health and immunity system of the otocinclus fish.

Air Pump

Air pumps are used to generate oxygen content in the tank while converting carbon dioxide. You need to maintain the oxygen level in the aquarium to increase the lifespan of the otocinclus. If the oxygen content decreases then otocinclus will struggle to breathe and stay more time at the top of the tank. 

How to setup a breeding tank for otocinclus fish

Otocinclus breeding tank setup was easier with follow equipment and tank. You need to keep a 20-gallon aquarium tank breeding otocinclus. The dedicated aquarium was set up for breeding otocinclus and caring for the otocinclus fry.

In the 20-gallon aquarium, you need to install the filter, air pump, heater, and live plants for otocinclus breeding. For successful breeding, it was important to maintain the water parameters and water quality.

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit 20 Gallons


  • INCLUDES WATER FILTER: Decorative ReptoFilter instantly creates a beautiful waterfall while keeping water clean with 3-stage filtration.
  • HEATING: Dome lamps are incorporated into the screen top for warmth and prime basking.

How to condition otocinclus for breeding

Otocinclus Breeding

You need to condition the breeding pairs in the breeding tank for one or two weeks before breeding. That means you need to separate the otocinclus breeding pair into a different tank and condition them for breeding. 

Otocinclus breeding takes time and it was a long procedure so you need to do all the things without any mistakes. You need to provide suitable space for comfortable breeding and provide them with nutrient-rich food and high-protein diets.

Do otocinclus eat brown algae? 

Otocinclus will eat brown algae because they are mainly used for controlling the algae spreading in the tank. But many people are not feeding them nutrients and protein food because people think that otocinclus only eat algae. I have been feeding them all types of otocinclus food

Protein 31.6%

Fiber 6.5%

Fat 2.2%

Do otocinclus eat daphnia?

Daphnia is a good source of food for otocinclus and it contains protein and fiber for supporting digestion. I have been feeding daphnia for otocinclus for breeding. It contains 45% of protein and 6% of fats and 15,6% carbohydrate.

The research found that daphnia was the best food source for the otocinclus diet in the breeding. So you can feed them daphnia for otocinclus and don’t overfeed because the water quality will be poor due to uneaten food substances. 

How to breed otocinclus fish

After all these procedures, you can breed them. You can add both male and female breeding pairs in the breeding tank and monitor the behavior otocinclus. You can see the male otocinclus fish chasing the female and catching up and coupling in T shape position. You can also monitor female otocinclus laying eggs. 

What is the mating behavior of otocinclus fish?

The mating behavior of otocinclus is the male fish chasing the female one and coupling T shaped position. You can keep a cave or hiding place for breeding otocinclus and live plants are important for the breeding tank.

How to choose a breeding pair of otocinclus fish?

You need to choose a healthy pair for breeding and need to watch them before breeding. The female is slightly large and rounder than the male. Closer watch the fish’s body parts and their behavior before breeding because some fish have stress or low immunity.

So you need to select a healthy breeding pair and monitor their behavior in different tanks for one or two weeks before breeding.

How to care for eggs of otocinclus fish

The otocinclus will not care for their egg after laying. You need to care for the otocinclus eggs and fry in the breeding tank and separate the female and male breeding pair from the tank after laying eggs.

The otocinclus will lay 4 to 6 groups of eggs like 40 to 55 eggs at a time. You can see the eggs near the stones or leaves of the live plants. The eggs will hatch in 2 to 3 days with proper water parameters and water quality.

After hatching, the otocinclus fry will eat egg pouches and small bacteria on the live plants. They stay more time near the live plants and after a few days, you can feed baby shrimps to otocinclus fry.

Where do Otocinclus lay eggs?

The otocinclus will lay the eggs on the stones or leaves of the live plants. It was important for the otocinclus breeding tank to keep the water parameters and water quality also the live plants.

What is the lifespan of otocinclus fish?

The lifespan of otocinclus is typically around 3 to 5 years. If you provide them with a good aquatic environment and water conditioned tank then their lifespan can be increased. Sudden changes in the water parameter will affect the health and immunity system of the otocinclus and they may become stressed. 

What are the challenges of Breeding Otocinclus?

The challenges faced by breeding the otocinclus were the health condition of breeding pairs and their behavior. Selection of healthy breeding pair and monitoring them in different tanks was a difficult task.

 Another challenge is caring for the otocinclus eggs and fry. The otocinclus fish will not care about the eggs or fry. So it was our duty to care for them well. Then water parameter controlling was a little difficult because sudden changes can affect the breeding procedures.

Is otocinclus hard to breed

According to my opinion, It was hard to breed the otocinclus fish, But if you become an expert in breeding otocinclus then it could be easier. All you need to care about is otocinclus eggs and fry after breeding because the chance of otocinclus dying was high compared with other fishes.

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