Zebra otocinclus fish is a type of otocinclus catfish for aquariums. Otocinclus fishes require a water-conditioned tank with an aquatic environment. The otocinclus are mainly used for reducing algae from the aquariums. 

Otocinclus was not for beginners because sudden changes in the water parameter will affect the health condition and immunity system of the zebra otocinclus.

The distinctive black body with white stripes gives zebra otocinclus a unique appearance. In this article, you will learn more about zebra otocinclus, how to set up an aquarium for zebra otocinclus, and the important factors of otocinclus.

What is Zebra Otocinclus fish?

Zebra Otocinclus

Zebra otocinclus is a type of otocinclus fish from the family of Loricariidae which originated from Peru. Zebra Otocinclus are also known as Otocinclus Cocama and Tiger Oto. The zebra Otocinclus was described in 2004 from the tributary of the Rio Ucayali. These types of fishes are mostly found in Peru and Ucayali Rivers.


Zebra otocinclus has a similar body shape to common otocinclus but it has white strips on the body. The armored body with a sucker mouth will strip algae from the aquariums. They spend more time cleaning the live plant leaves and driftwood because they can eat small bacteria from live plants and driftwood.

The female is larger and rounder than the male zebra otocinclus. Finding the gender of zebra otocinclus is difficult. 


Otocinclus are smaller-size like 1 to 2 inches. Zebra otocinclus has a size of 1.5 to 2 inches in the adult stage.

Water parameters

The important part of otocinclus fish is water parameters. If there is changes in water parameter the Otocinclus fishes have stress and health problems which will affect the immunity system of Zebra otocinclus.

The Water parameters required for Zebra otocinclus fish.

Water Temperature: 21.0-25.0°C or 69.8-77°F 

pH Level: 6.0 – 7.5

Water Hardness: Soft to hard.


The average lifespan of Otocinclus fish is 3 to 5 years with proper care. But there are otocinclus fish that live more than 5 years. Many people are saying that otocinclus have a low lifespan like less than 1 year.

The otocinclus fish will die faster without proper care. They need a proper water-conditioned tank with peaceful tankmates and a protein food source for maintaining the immunity system and health.


The Temperament of Zebra Otocinclus is Peaceful. Basically, Otocinclus fishes are non-aggressive fishes but they may chase the same species for mating purposes.  Sometimes tankmates will attack them, So you need to keep them with peaceful fish.

Common Disease

These are the common diseases found in otocinclus. You need to monitor the changes in the otocinclus behavior because identifying disease is difficult but you can understand the changes in the behavior of otocinclus.

White Spot Disease

White spot disease is a common disease found in every fish. White spot disease is also known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich).  Ich can be affected due to poor quality water. The immunity system of the otocinclus has affected white spot disease due to poor quality water and you can see the changes in the behavior of fish.

If you find white spot disease in your fish, then you need to separate other fish to another tank otherwise it will affect all the fish in the aquarium. In zebra otocinclus, you can see small white dots on the body parts and they will multiply and cover the fish body.

You can treat White spot disease using a high-temperature method or salt method in the beginning stage. If the fish have so many white spots treat it with medication.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial Infections can be affected in two ways internally and externally. The fish body will be attacked with bacteria which affect scales, gills, and fins. The major problem was Fin and Tail rot In fishes. 

If you find missing scales, ragged fins, and patches on the skin of zebra otocinclus that indicate a bacterial infection in the fish. You can treat the fish separately in a tank with an anti-bacterial infection.


Dropsy is a disease-like infection. Zebra otocinclus have chances of fluid buildup in the cavity or tissue. This indicates the fish have major problems like bacterial infection, parasitic infection, and liver dysfunction.

Dropsy is a physical manifestation of kidney failure in fish, The body may become balloon-shaped due to water inside the tissues. The sign of water retention may be in the form of belly to a very swollen belly. 

The major reason for Dropsy is stress affection in the zebra otocinclus. You need to avoid sudden water parameter changes and remove the aggressive tankmates from the aquariums.


Zebra Otocinclus

Otocinclus is basically used for controlling or stabilizing the algae growth in aquariums. In the wild, the otocinclus will eat green or brown algae and leaves of the decade plants. Zebra otocinclus can eat all food sources from algae wafers to vegetables.

You need to feed quality algae wafers and sinking pellets for zebra otocinclus. These fishes love to eat blanched vegetables like zucchini and cucumber. High-quality foods are essential for the health growth of zebra otocinclus and you need to maintain the water quality without overfeeding.


The natural habitat of zebra otocinclus is slow movers, Restricted to small tributaries and shallow waters in the Amazon rain forest. The Otocinclus are native to South America and the Amazon River basin.


Zebra Otocinclus are Peaceful fishes that make excellent fish for community tanks because they are nonaggressive fish. But you need to introduce the zebra otocinclus into a peaceful community tank because other fishes may attack zebra otocinclus which leads to health problems and stress.

Zebra otocinclus was suitable for all fishes with low aggression temperament.  You can keep them with cory catfish, dwarf cichlids, goldfish, tetras, etc. Freshwater shrimps and snails are the best suitable tankmates for otocinclus fish.

Care guide

Some of the basic care guides for zebra otocinclus fish.

You need to monitor the water parameters every day and avoid sudden changes in the water because sudden changes in the water parameters will affect the health and immunity system of fish.

Change 35% of water every week and refill with fresh water. It was mainly used for improving the quality of water and removal of waste from the bottom of the tank using a vacuum pump.

Provide quality food to zebra otocinclus to improve the health and immunity system of otocinclus fish.

Provide live plants and Driftwood for zebra otocinclus because these items will reduce the stress because they can hide near the live plants or driftwood.


Breeding otocinclus was difficult for beginners because maintaining the water temperature and quality of water is an important factor in breeding otocinclus. There are a lot of procedures for breeding otocinclus and you need to keep a separate fish tank for otocinclus breeding and caring for the fry.

Basically, the otocinclus will lay eggs on the leaves of plants or on the decoration and they will not care about eggs and fry. So you need to breed them in a separate tank to keep the otocinclus eggs and fry safe.

How to set a tank for Zebra Otocinclus fish

Zebra Otocinclus

For setting a tank for Zebra Otocinclus fish, you need some equipment. Otocinclus requires an aquatic environment for healthy living.

Tank Requirement

The tank size should be more than 20 gallons because otocinclus are living in groups and they need more space. A congested tank will cause the fish stress and many health problems. 


Filter is an important part of aquariums for removing the physical and chemical wastes from the water. The filter will help to improve the quality of water while removing the debris from the aquariums.

For the zebra Otocinclus tank, You should set up a filter for cleaning the water and maintaining the quality. Here is the best canister filter for otocinclus fish.


The heater is important for the otocinclus tank for controlling the water temperature. The heaters are used for stabilizing the water temperature according to fish requirements. If the water temperature becomes low the heater will increase the temperature according to our settings.

We need to set a temperature and not place the heater near the aquarium filter because the heated water will be filtered and reduce the performance. So you need to keep the heater opposite side of the aquariums.

Air pump

You need to set an air pump in the otocinclus tank to increase the water flow. Air pump is used for gas exchange in the aquariums like water flow will release the carbon dioxide and encourage oxygen into the aquariums. The filter will create a small water flow, but you need to install an air pump in the aquariums.


You can set up an aquarium light for the otocinclus tank. The light will encourage the growth of live plants and improve the appearance of aquariums.

Live plants

Live plants are important for the otocinclus tank because the zebra otocinclus spends more time on the leaves of plants to eat small bacteria and algae. Live plants will convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Will otocinclus destroy live plants

Otocinclus will not destroy live plants, They clean the leaves of plants and eat small bacteria and algae on the leaves. Many people think that otocinclus will destroy plants. You can also feed them vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, etc

What do otocinclus eat rather than algae wafers?

Otocinclus will eat green algae and vegetables such as cucumber, Zucchini, etc. You need to blanch the vegetables before giving them and don’t feed vegetables every day. You can feed vegetables for otocinclus once or twice a week.

Where is zebra otocinclus found? 

Zebra otocinclus are native to South America and they are mostly found in the Amazon River basin. In the wild, they will eat algae and decade plants. Bumblebee otocinclus was also found in the Amazon River basin with a unique appearance.

What is the size of the largest zebra otocinclus

The maximum size of the Zebra otocinclus fish is 2 inches. It was the maximum size reported according to research.

Why otocinclus are dying faster

Otocinclus are dying faster due to sudden changes in the water parameters like an increase in water temperature or pH Levels. The average lifespan of otocinclus fish is 3 to 5 years but they can live more than 5 years with proper care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *