I think my otos are mating...!

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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I'm not expecting anything to come of this yet, I know that they're incredibly hard to breed, and my set up isn't right for them yet, let alone to have any fry hatching. But I'm so encouraged that I've seen them doing the "mating call" before vanishing into the dense planting. Held my breath and got close to watch, and it was hard to see since the tank is dark and only a lamp on in the room. I'd noticed that one of the otos seemed to have a bigger belly than normal earlier today and got worried thinking there might be something wrong, but after seeing the mating call tonight, it has to be a female carrying eggs!

I watched this vid a while ago, just out of curiosity since I'd love to breed them some day. But they're still in hard water while I'm medicating the tank and I'm still a beginner, so I wasn't even thinking of trying to breed them yet.

What she calls "the mating call", I had just assumed was glass surfing and playing around. I think they do glass surf as well, but when it's just the two of them and it looks more like they're chasing each other, it looks a bit different. I hadn't thought about it too much since it didn't seem like the frantic, stressed out glass surfing of an unhappy fish, just seemed like one of their behaviours when they get active at night, more playful.

This time I spotted them circling as I was close to the tank, so stopped to watch and see what happened, and it was the mating call! Really hoped to catch the t pose, but they vanished into the dense plants at the back of the tank, impossible to spy on them.

Like I said, not expecting to get any fry from this, but I feel really encouraged that breeding might be possible in the future, since I've kept them alive and looking well for months even in the wrong water, and they're happy enough to have eggs and mate. :wub:

Because I've been medicating the tank and the antibacterial med crashed my cycle (so thankful for live plants sucking up the ammonia and keeping the levels lower); I've been doing lots of large water changes, so perhaps that triggered them to spawn. I just had to share and get any input from other oto keepers! Would love to hear any thoughts or advice.
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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After doing some more reading about breeding them (thank you @NCaquatics !) discovered that a breeding tank for them would ideally be a blackwater type set up, with a peat layer in the tank and degradable things to help make the water softer and more acidic, plus low light of course, and densely planted, with plants that will manage in that water and low light.

I'm still trying to get to grips with softening my water for their tank that I'm settling up. My tapwater is hard, gDH 15 or 253ppm, so have been planning to do a 50/50 mix with tapwater and RO or rainwater when available. I'm not a natural with maths or chemistry, so understanding how pH, kH and gH interact and can be altered by different variables is something I'm still struggling with, but want to learn so I can have the ideal set up and breeding tank for my otocinclus.

Now is the perfect time to do it, so I'd love to enlist some more help and advice from you awesome people, please! I have an empty 15-16 gallon tank waiting for them, and a bag of dark grey sand. Beyond "add as many plants as I can get, and let it establish a bit before moving otos over", I hadn't designed it much more than that. Moving them has been put on hold since a worm issue with guppies came up, so all tanks are in treatment until the second week of September, so I need to use this time to plan how to set up their tank properly! It's the perfect time to design it, and plan to add a peat layer (recommended by someone who has bred otos successfully) and learn how to make the conditions right and how to keep them stable. But... I know almost zero about blackwater tanks, beyond tannins, and that tannins are beneficial and do soften the water. I use almond leaves in my current tanks, but only one or two leaves at a time, so don't see much in the way of tannins. The otos do seem to love the almond leaves.


@essjay, @seangee @Byron @mbsqw1d sorry to tag you guys, but you've all been so helpful with these things before, and I trust and value your input! Any thoughts, advice or links to resources you'd trust would be so appreciated.

Do you know any good sources for a dunce to really learn how pH, kH and gH interact, and how to change them when wanted, or avoid changing them to keep things stable? Would a 50/50 mix of my hard tap water and RO or rain give me the right range for otocinclus? How about when using peat, driftwood, almond leaves and alder cones in the tank? How do you know the right amount to add, and how much they will soften water over time? Can you go too far with adding tannin producing/pH lowering things, when also doing large water changes with a hardwater mix and not plain RO?

Perhaps I need to put the breeding/blackwater tank idea on hold for now until I've learned more and perhaps have an RO system. I'm tempted to add the peat layer now since I'm waiting to set up a tank just for them anyway, and I want the tank to be as perfect for them as possible. Not because I want to breed them right away, but because if conditions are perfect for them to breed, then I also assume it's because the conditions are perfect for them to live in and thrive. I'd love to set it up right the first time, rather than do a basic tank with the tap/RO mix, only to gain knowledge and want to tear it down and rebuild within a year, unsettling the otos again, since they need an established tank, and it's a lot of work. But working with things like peat which I assume will release ammonia (breeder suggested a peat layer with a sand cap) and blackwater tanks feels like advanced fishkeeping to me, and I'm a newbie. My knowledge just isn't there yet. I don't want to accidentally do more harm than good. Halp please!
 

mbsqw1d

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Aw you deserve baby Otos, I know how much you love these little dudes. Will have a read up.

Do you know what your current KH is? When you get round to combining RO water to lower your GH, you will also end up lowering your KH at the same time. This makes it easier to lower your PH. The only issue being, you've got a lot of things to start balancing out at water change time. You can use rooibos tea to stain the water, and yeh, tannic acid from tea, peat, leaves etc will lower the PH. I just don't know how you'd approach it in combination with RO water mix. @seangee is definitely your man here
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Aaaww, thank you so much @mbsqw1d , you're an awesome friend! Will link you the info from the oto breeder too, since otos have caught your attention too, it was really interesting! You're a sweetie to look into more info for me, just don't go to too much trouble, I'll do research too rather than making you guys do all the work ;)

My tapwater KH is 10 dH of KH.

I tested both the rainwater and the tap last year using dip strips, so don't know how accurate they were. Plan to get the API GH and KH testing kit though. Last years results;

Rainwater
NO3 0-10
NO2 0
GH >4
KH 10
pH 6,8

Untreated tap
NO3 50 (haven't had nitrates that high from the tap since then though)
NO2 0
GH >21
KH 20 (water company claims 10 now)
pH 8

Results from a couple of weeks ago, same test strips

Tap water (no water conditioner added)
NO3 0
NO2 0
GH >21 or > 375
KH 20, or 357. Not sure whether to read the top or bottom number
pH 8,0

Rain water
NO3 0
NO2 0
GH either >3 or >4
KH 6
pH 6,8
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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a good blog to follow for blackwater setups is https://tanninaquatics.com/blogs/the-tint-1

(They got some cursing in some blogs, so be aware)

But covers many aspects of blackwater tanks, their looks, types of botanicals... etc.
Thank you so much! Opened in another tab now to devour it asap, I'll just make sure to cover my eyes if I see a swear ;)
 

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Good luck with your future fry, you may want to pick up a hard water testing pen and ph testing pen like I use. I still do the math but so far their readings have been right on. Once you have your water to the level you want it it is fairly easy to keep it there. I keep a written record of the amounts in each change.
 

ClownLurch

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Good luck with your future fry, you may want to pick up a hard water testing pen and ph testing pen like I use. I still do the math but so far their readings have been right on. Once you have your water to the level you want it it is fairly easy to keep it there. I keep a written record of the amounts in each change.
I bought one on your recommendation earlier in the week from eBay. Arrived this morning. Thanks.
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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That waters even harder than ours. Rainbowfish!
I would love a nice big planted rainbowfish tank one day, I think they're stunning! But at the moment, stuck with relatively small tanks, and I already have the otos, so need to make a soft water set up for them :) Even if I don't go all in on a blackwater tank yet and just soften my tank for these guys, then don't get any more otos until I'm more experienced/have an RO system. But rainbows are on my list for the time I can have a nice large tank :)
 

NCaquatics

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I would love a nice big planted rainbowfish tank one day, I think they're stunning! But at the moment, stuck with relatively small tanks, and I already have the otos, so need to make a soft water set up for them :) Even if I don't go all in on a blackwater tank yet and just soften my tank for these guys, then don't get any more otos until I'm more experienced/have an RO system. But rainbows are on my list for the time I can have a nice large tank :)
There are some good nano rainbows ;)
 

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