Otocinclus cocama

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Retired Staff
Apr 8, 2009
Name: Otocinclus cocama

Common Names: Zebra Otocinclus.

Location: South America: Lower Ucayali and Marañon Rivers, Peru.



An active, peaceful and harmless community fish that should be kept in a group: at least 5-6 specimen, but better is 10 fish or more. The tank should be densely planted with large-leafed plants, smooth rocks, bog wood, to provide hiding places as well as submerged surfaces on which algae can grow. The substrate should be a layer of fine, smooth gravel, to avoid damage to the mouth when its fouraging on the bottom. Unlike many other Otocinclus species, the Zebra Oto doesn't seem to like fast-flowing water that much.

Sexing and Breeding:

This little catfish is often kept as a tank "de-algaefier", because of its supposed appetite for any kind of algae. But unlike many of its close relatives, this species is believed to have more of a preference for meaty foods, although in the end it is an omnivorous fish. Once acclimatized, it will happily accept algae/spirulina tablets and vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce and preboiled spinach, as well as meaty foods such as carnivore pellets, tubifex and mosquito larvae.

Water parameters:
Temp 20-28 PH 5.5-7.5
An aquarium of 24" (60cm.) in length is sufficient to provide a small shoal of these active, playful catfish ample space to thrive. A densely planted tank is preferred, so the little fish can hide and feel secure, especially when they share their tank with larger or more active fish. To accommodate a sustained algae growth, bright lights or a sunny place for the fish tank is recommended.
Optimal conditions are soft, slightly acidic water, achievable by filtering over peat or by the use of Black Water Extract. But they will do well in harder, more alkaline water as well.

Max Size:
4cm. (1,75").

Bred by:

Additional Comments:

This species was first introduced in Europe in 2001, where it was initially labelled as Otocinclus sp. "Zebra". In 2004 it was scientifically described as Otocinclus cocama, but it still is quite a rare appearance, with a price tag to match (average price mid-2005 is around 15-20 euro's).

Like most other Otocinclus species, the first couple of weeks in captivity are critical, and many perish during this first period. Key is proper (ie. slow) acclimatisation, a stressfree environment and a good diet (since all specimen are wild-caught, many specimen arrive malnourished). Close observation during this initial phase is recommended.

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