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Oto Catfish Quarantine


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Apologies in advance for a story:

On 8/1 I went to my LFS and purchased 3 Oto Cats for my heavily planted shrimp tank. I got them home and placed them in a 5 gal quarantine  tank (with a cycled sponge filter I keep in one of my other thanks at all times, heater set to 76, tank parameters: ammonia and nitrates 0, nitrates <5, ph 7.2) When I got them home 1 was skinnier than the rest and lethargic. That one wouldnt eat, while the other 2 happily munched away on lettuce and zucchini- no surprise 2 days(8/3) later I woke to find my skinny fish had passed away. I know Oto Cats are often underfed/ underweight after shipment and treatment in fish stores, so I didn't really think much of it and went back to the store for a replacement. 


They gave me a new fish however the tank the original (now 2) fish came from is in quarantine so my new fish came from a different tank. The employee told me that they have "protozoa" and I should treat my fish with nox-ich for 3 days. 


All 3 are happily eating and schooling in my quarantine tank. I treated yesterday when the 3rd fish arrived home with a dose of ich-x, and paracleanse (since they are primarily wild caught my mind went to parasites, and I assumed I'd be doing daily water changes due to ich-x so I postponed adding maracyn).

The only symptoms I could say they have would be that they (all 3) lightly clamp their fins/ lay them down when at rest though I think from my research this may just be how they "rest"? They wriggle around all over their lettuce leaf that I suppose could be flashing but it looks more like they are trying to find the perfect spot on the leaf to start muching. I'm not very familiar with their behavior to be certain of either, but I have no doubt they were exposed to something. 

My questions are-

1. Anyone with Oto Cat experience that knows if at rest they retract their fins like this?

2. Should I treat with each med individually as if they are "sick" (treat with ich-x daily with 30% water changes x5ish days, then complete 1 week maracyn, and somewhere in there dose with paracleanse again) OR since they are showing few to no symptoms should I just add maracyn and let them quarantine with the trio x1 week. 


3. Any advice on the whole "not feeding " in quarantine for these little guys? Seems like they don't tolerate it for long and usually not feeding for 3-4 days in quarantine is standard. 


Thanks for any help! I'd love to see all 3 of these guys happy and healthy in my tank.

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Hi @Kbait. I can't speak to the med trio myself as you may see with others answers that will come we all might have different philosophies on quarantine periods. But if you choose the med trio route, always do it. I, myself only treat when there are signs/symptoms of illness. However you would like to treat your new fish in quarantine- go for it and stick with it. 

What I can speak to some is Otos. My first set of 6, 5 of them died within a week- no real signs or symptoms. My best guess was the starvation bit most talk about that they have a really hard time recovering from (because they were eating- my tank was cleared of diatoms and they ate other food I gave them- there are some that say by the time they are past starvation it is hard for them to make it- those say there are good bacteria in their stomachs that once dead cannot repopulate- I can't speak to that either). I treated my second for Ich because once they got out of the bag it was totally obvious (no idea why it couldn't be seen at the store other than the tank they were in was planted). So I successfully treated them with ParaGuard. I did partial water changes every day (there were 7 of them in a 3 gallon tank it was about a half gallon water change), then I would redose. I DID NOT stop feeding mine. All 7 of them made it through (and later bred in my tank). With Otos, personally with their reputation for being underfed when we get them, I wouldn't stop feeding them- that's me.  

So, having observed 60 of them (my babies) over the last four or so months in my grow out tank, yes, they do sit/rest with fins down and at their sides. When they're on the glass, make sure their gills/gill area are not red (ammonia burn at the least)and their little bellies are like pearls from the sea.

Very good luck to all of them, they are a joy to have. 

Edited by xXInkedPhoenixX
to clarify
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@xXInkedPhoenixX thank you so much for your info! This makes me wonder if the pet store is treating with meds when in fact the problem was nutrition. It's great to hear that you don't stop feeding yours- I will continue to do so with less worry. You're 60 babies sound like such a healthy school they must be so happy with you.

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You are welcome. Honestly with new fish it can be either/and (needs for meds/nutrition). For example Ich seems to rear its ugly head when the fish are most stressed- which is maybe why my 2nd batch had it- stress from shipping, possibly hunger maybe other fish in that tank had it- who knows. They do say every tank has it- just doesn't show up as long as your fish are happy and healthy. 

I think continuing to feed this particular fish is a good choice. I raised all mine on Hikari Algae wafers but it's fun to try veggies too (mine so far only like English cucumbers, go figure). All the little ones will be sold to the LFS store and some will be dispersed in my other tanks. I'm just waiting on the smaller ones to catch up in size as that was the LFS's requirment. They are one of my most favorite fish so I hope they'll pull through so they can be one of yours. 🙂 

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