The littlest ones seem to like the company of others otos, too- they break off in 3's, while the larger (still not big!) ones strike out on their own.
@Infinite Glory, there are some super little fish & critters you can have! Amano & Red cherry shrimp are amazing to watch! They keep plants tidy, clean up detritus and have basically no bioload. I have 30 cherry shrimp in a 5 gallon stuffed w/ plants. Right now they are small; if they grow large enough to not be lunch for a betta, I'll toss some in the betta tanks.
A fat oto is a happy oto. Unlike bettas, they can't eat too much. Usually, it seems that the life threatening bloat is one that is higher up on the belly. And they start acting differently, stop hanging out with the other otos in the tank and don't move very much. I lost one to that- at the end it was resting with its head out of the water. Poor little thing. Females can also be bloated when they are gravid.
I use a solo cup and my other hand to shoo them inside when I need to catch them. I find it easier with these fast little guys, and I'm always afraid their odontodes will get caught in any type net.
They're not like plecos- they don't really need wood. It just has a nice indented surface that tends to hold lots of yummy algae. But any pitted surface will do nicely.
Xalted1, if you're worried about running out of algae, try Repashy's Super Green. My otos love it. In fact, they're getting spoiled now- they turn their noses up at the zucchini. Or, you could put a piece of wood or pitted rocks outside in some old tank water and grow more algae for them.
I started out with 2 otos, and then got two more. The behavior change was amazing after I added the last two- they are so much more active and just seem happier. I would never recommend anything less than four- at least 6 is even better.
Nicci- ADORABLE pic!!!
I had my 1st death this morning :0( s/he looked perfectly fine, and all were swimming normally when I turned the lights out last night. I bougth 12 b/c I assumed a few would not acclimate properly, but all have lived out the past 4 days but this one.
The problem is they pass so quickly w/o symptoms! The one that died w/ bloat must have bloated up in the few hours b/f s/he died; I would have noticed.
I agree with them being happy w/ lots of company. Even if one is on a plant, it's usually not too far from his buddies on the driftwood!
I put a few small algae wafers in the tank b/f lights out. this AM they were untouched; just turned to mush on the tank floor. Now, 24 hrs later, the wafers are gone. Of course, the girls could have eaten them. Jeez, I wish I had an infared camera on them during the night, and a "fish cam" on during the day.
I was thinking about growing my own algae. I also got some green algae sheets. Pet Solutions Aquatics has a "grazing block" that sounds ideal- greedy bettas can't steal it (not that they wouldn't try!) and it wouldn't muck up the tank like the wafers.
I will try the Repashy's Super Green. I want my little guys to be healthy. Funny, they aren't going anywhere near the intake netting, which is all gunked up. Being river fish, I didn't think the suction would bother them. Maybe they can't chew on the net. I could use the net to colonize more algae on some smooth stones.
I'm sorry about your loss. Even though it's accepted as a given that some otos will pass in the first month, it's still sad, especially if you take fish losses personally like I do. At least he/she got to spend its last days in a nice tank, and not that bare cell at the the store.
They don't usually respond to treatment very well, either. I tried with mine, but they're so sensitive, especially during that first month. By the time you notice something's wrong, it's usually too late.
I've been wanting to try the algae sheets, or nori which I've heard is basically the same, just cheaper. You'll have to let me know how it works out. Be careful about the algae wafers you feed them. Most contain fish/seafood protein, and otos just aren't meant to digest that type of protein. It can cause problems with their digestive tract. I know a lot of people feed them stuff like the Hikari wafers, but IMO it isn't healthy for them. The only commercial food I've found so far that is appropriate for otos (ie, 100% vegetarian) is the Super Green and Nutrafin Max Spirulina tablets, which I haven't tried.
My otos have hung out on the filter intake before. It doesn't seem to bother them. Yours are probably just finding plenty to eat elsewhere. When I notice a buildup of diatoms on the upper leaves of my plants (where my otos don't go), I shake the diatoms off so they fall lower. You could try that.
I never actually see my otos eat the food I give them, either. They hang out right next to it, but don't seem to actually touch it. Then, I look a few hours later and it's gone.
Yuck- I bought a box of Omega One "Super Veggie Green Seaweed" & a clip. It turned into gross mush that the otos don't seem to give a hoot about! Now I have to clean up a mess- they don't seem to be eating it.
They do seem to be paying a little attention to the algae wafers: I'm using the Hikari 100% veggie sinking wafers. I ordered the Rashapy algae gel blocks & TetraNature Algae grazing blocks. ($75 of oto food: this guarantees they'll die.)
Now, my worry is that, since bettas are carnivores, and the Synodontis are "more carnivorous" (I use bottom-feeder sinking pellets for plecos) that the otos will get into the carnivour's food & it will kill them!
To clarify, Hikari makes several sinking wafers. (I'm reading the "Pet Solutions: Aquatic" catalog, but a lot of these products are in Petco.) They have vegetarian algae wafers, and the sinking wafers for cory/pleco types. I have both kinds b/c I have both kind of fish, but I've been feeding my Synodontis the small sinking pellets b/c the fish are small & it's easier to "dose" a small amount of food.
The Synodontis I have are basically fry-- 1/2 the size of the bettas, and are buried under the driftwood at the back of the tank. I use a drinking straw & long tweezers to "shoot" the sinking pellets to the back of the tank just b/f I turn the lights out. They get eaten. I wish the Syndontis were more outgoing- they are beautiful fish; just not good w/ bettas. I'm going to wait until they (hopefully) get to about 2+", then maybe sell them.