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Old 03-25-2013, 11:14 PM   #11 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Victoria, Australia
I've had otocinclus before and between three of them, they managed to completely clean out a 30 gallon tank that was full algae in about a week. I eventually had to sell them on to someone with a larger set-up as I could not provide enough food for them and they failed to transition over to things like wafers and zucchini.

Otocinclus are also shoaling fish and naturally live in large numbers in the wild. I think it is cruel to go against the nature of these fish even if otos seem to do fine by themselves. They are also quite an energetic fish and mine used to enjoy swimming into the filter current or zipping from one end of the tank to the other. I can't imagine that any 5 gallon tank can provide enough suitable swimming space for a particularly active group.

Of course you could put 6 otocinclus into a 5 gallon tank, but really what is the point of that? We as fish keepers should be looking at providing the best possible home for our fish, not trying to cram as many fish as we can into the smallest tank possible. I can think of few schooling/shoaling fish that would be recommended on here as suitable for living in a 5 gallon tank, particularly if there was also a betta already inhabiting it.
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:04 PM   #12 
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Kingston, Ontario
I agree 100% with LBF.
A fish can't put it's tail between it's legs like a dog can, many people say their fish are "happy" in substandard conditions because you can't read fish very easily. . . Also, a fish will adapt over time to bad conditions, but that doesn't mean it is right. People can adapt to malnutrition and somehow survive, but that doesn't mean that they should be kept that way because they've already adapted to it. I've seen people claim every shoaling fish imaginable is fine on it's own. . . That's why it is important to look at the natural behavior of the fish as an example, and if in the wild this fish makes a free choice (instinctual, whatever you want to call it) to live in groups with its own kind, then it should be allowed to do so in our tanks.

As hobbyists our goals are to raise the bar, keeping aiming for better. 20 years ago, 3 tetra would have been an acceptable shoal size. These days, most will recommend no less than 6 of a shoaling species, and more is always better.

I've never kept these fish, but LBF says they are active so I will go by that. . . Choosing fish for your tank isn't an exact science, more about how you feel about crowding a fish up. None of the fish I keep in my smaller tanks are active, they are either slow swimmers or move in very short dashes at best. Fish that like to live the fast life deserve more space, in my opinion.

That said, there are a few shoaling fish that could live reasonably well in a 5 gallon or so tank, though none that I would risk with a betta.

The reason these fish are famous for dying off, is that in the wild many of them are fished using cyanide, which causes fish to all rush to the surface gasping and makes them easy to scoop up. This damages the fish internally, where it may take a while before you notice. As far as I'm aware this practice is becoming less common, and otos may be bred on fish farms now, so incidents seem to be decreasing.
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