Can You Keep Otocinclus with Betta Fish?

Otocinclus Catfish, more commonly known as Otos, are very popular dwarf catfish among the fish kingdom. If you are wondering if you can put Otocinclus with Betta, the answer is YES. Bettas are rather complicated to keep for their nature and aggression they express but Otocinclus are not that easy, too. If you do not provide appropriate parameters, they do not have much chance of survival. 

The most important thing for the new owner is to find out as much as possible about both kinds before they decide to make them tank mates.

Water Conditions for Otocinclus and Bettas

Before you decide to house a Betta and an Otocinclus you need to understand what each kind needs and provide good living conditions for both fish. 

If you consider their natural habitat South America and the Amazon River it is obvious that they like a strong current and they adore sand covering tree roots. So, keep in mind to provide sand substrate in the tank you are forming. The size of a tank is also very important and even though they grow up to 1,75 inches which are about 4,4 centimeters it is advisable that the tank should not be smaller than 30 gallons. 

However, the most important part is the water and conditions which are similar to Bettas.  Otos need the level of ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm and nitrate level should be as low as possible, which goes for Bettas too. Otos do great in temperature between 72 and 82 degrees so it is easy to adjust the temperature at the ideal middle because bettas like the same. Otos prefer Ph of the water between 6,5 and 7,2 so keeping it a 7,0 will suit both fish. 

Otocinclus like to hide so you have to provide a lot of hiding places for them.

With all this being said, keep in mind the fact that Otos can be very sensitive to poor water conditions and it can drastically affect them if not provided.

Behavior – Can you put Otocinclus with Betta?

Since Bettas are not the friendliest fish, we need to learn about Otos temperament too before we house them together and know what to expect. 

The best thing is to keep them away so as not to bother each other. You can do that by carefully arranging the tank. Bettas should have their territory around the top with a lot of space and hiding places with plants and decorations around. On the other hand, for Otos, since they are bottom dwellers, you need to provide a sand substrate, a lot of hiding places and plants. That way they will occupy different parts of the tank and will avoid each other. 

Since Otos have a huge strong mouth and suck really hard you can notice them hanging on the decorations and plants. Another thing that is connected to their behavior is digging around the bottom and overturning decorations while sucking with their strong mouths in search of food.  You can also see them rest in weird places and it is a joy to watch them stuck against the front tank glass sucking it.

Can Otocinclus eat Betta food?

These two kinds eat different things and Otos cannot live on Bettas food and vice versa. 

When it comes to a diet, keep in mind that Bettas are meat eaters -carnivores, and they need a lot of proteins and they live on insects and worms in their natural habitat. A properly balanced diet is necessary for them to be healthy, happy and grow properly. The best kinds of food you can use are pellets and add treats like freeze-dried, live or frozen food. Feed twice a day in some situations once is allowed and won’t harm. The amount of food is one to two pellets per meal.

Otocinclus are herbivores and the main source of their food is algae. If there are not enough algae in your tank you can use sinking algae wafers as a supplement. The other thing you can feed your Otos is cucumber or zucchini but before you present them to the tank you need to blanch it. Since Bettas eat twice a day the thing with Otos is a bit different. If you serve vegetables do not leave it in the tank longer than 24 hours, take it out. If you supplement with algae wafers you should spread 4 wafers during the week and add small pieces of vegetables every day. 

Otocinclus Catfish eating cucumber

Be careful if you want to keep algae in your tank because they grow in the water with a high level of nitrates and both kinds are extremely sensitive to it and it can significantly harm or even kill them. 

You will keep both fish very happy if you provide your Betta with pellets, Daphnia or mosquitoes and Otocinclus with algae or algae supplements.

How to choose an Otocinclus?

Otocinclus Catfish

Choosing the right Otocinclus is a question of its own. What should you look for when you decide to choose one? Pick one that swims actively and happily and has a plump belly. Even this thing with the belly is a sign of illness with Bettas with Otos is quite the opposite. When it comes to color, pick one that has shades of olive, brown, white and black. Avoid grey coloring and fish that look damaged.

How many Otocinclus can I keep with my Betta?

In some cases, you can keep just one Otocinclus but it is not advisable. In the wild, they live in shoals of thousands.  Respecting the natural habitat you need at least six of them in the tank and more if the size of a tank allows it and a 20 gallons tank would be okay.  

Final thoughts

As we mentioned at the beginning, we will provide you with a lot of information about Bettas and Otocincus so that you know all that you need about these two species. Now is a good time to recap before you bring a decision on keeping them together. 

  • It is ideal to keep Otos in a shoal of six, more is preferable.
  • You can keep one Otocinclus in a 10 gallons tank but it is not recommendable
  • Provide a tank that is big enough, recommendable size is 30 gallons and more for a betta and a shoal of six Otos
  • Provide a lot of hiding places for both kinds carefully arranging the tank
  • Arrange the tank so it has a sand substrate and a driftwood
  • Provide a balanced diet so that both fish needs are fulfilled  
  • Make a schedule of feeding for both kinds
  • Otos are very sensitive you can easily harm them if you do not provide water parameters within the range
  • Provide algae, that way they will not bother a betta because they will be occupied foraging for algae
  • If there are not enough algae provide blanched vegetables (cucumber and zucchini) or algae wafers
  • Do not be alarmed if Otos disappear, they just like to hide and will show up after some time
  • Choose a healthy shoal of Otos without torn fins and gray and red color. Pick colorful ones with plump bellies that are active and look happy.  

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