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 otos or snails?

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RylandVT
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PostSubject: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:40 pm

Which does better in planted tanks for algae-otos or snails (I've seen mystery and nerite in the stores so far)? I'm trying to decide between the two for my 40gallon community. The tank has been running for 8 months but I'm just now starting to see brown algae as I'm converting to plants/increasing the light. I have been just removing it by hand but I would like an in-tank helper.
Thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:42 pm

You will be better off by far with Otocinclus. They will eat all the brown films, and then start on the green and greenish-brown films until they are all gone. In a mature tank, the films will always be forming so your Otos will not run out of food. In a new tank, there are no films so you need to wait until the films form before getting any Otos - otherwise they will not do well and will soon die.

Good news for you - it sounds like some of these films have formed in your 40. Very Happy You won't necessarily see all these films, but you can feel them. They form on all the surfaces - glass, plants, rocks, wood, and other objects both real and fake. One Oto per five gallons is a good rule in a planted tank, so I'd say start with two and work up to about eight.

Where were you thinking of getting the Otos from?

Freshwater shrimps are a good idea too but that's another subject.

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RylandVT
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:59 pm

I've only seen otos at Petsmart but I haven't made to the other side of town to check out anything over there. I know they are sensitive fish and was planning on waiting a week after their shipment before getting any but do you have a suggestion on where to get them?
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:28 pm

Well, one of the places I get mine is from the Pet Smart near me in Short Pump. I've gotten three different species of Oto from them. Of course, they think it's all the same species.

PetSmart Otos do well and I have no problems with them. Otos are "sensitive" as you say because they are mostly wild caught and need to go into an established set-up, like I described.

A couple of things to look for when you are buying Otos is for them not to be too skinny. View them when they are up against the glass - you should be able to see their little round abdomens. This shows they have been eating since being captured, which is a good sign. Waiting a week is a good idea. I used to wait three weeks for the Pet Club and Perfect Pets ones. *lol*

It may not sound like what you usually hear, but I rarely lose an Oto except to old age. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:31 pm

I know I'm late to the party but I definitely second Deb's recommendation.

IME, snails create as much waste as they "clean up" and they're not that efficient at algae clearing. If you like snails, though, get some snails, since they're cool and fun to watch!

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:42 pm

I third both Liz and Debs recommendations, Ottos are the way to go, although i have never had one last more than 6 months. I am actually going to take Debs advice above and got to petsmart this week and look for some with little round bellies. I did not know that thy were wild caught.

Thanks Deb! and RylandVT for starting the thread.
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RylandVT
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:50 pm

the petsmart by me (brandermill) had a good group of otos that lasted for awhile (I just go to stare at their fish-hopefully I'm not the only one who does this!). But I waited too long and now they are gone. Their new shipment was supposed to be today. thanks for the helpful replies!
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:54 pm

Okay..... I hate making sacrifices.

I say get them BOTH!...

A snail or two and a couple of Oto's in a 40 that's 8 months aged with live plants and lights - you should be fine.

My Oto's came from Petsmart as well where I found them on sale for .99 cents each(!) and they are just super.

Really great advice already shared.




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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:24 pm

Quote :
I say get them BOTH!...
cheers Awesome Idea!
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:09 am

ok, you've convinced me, I'll get both! Mainly a little group of otos but 1 snail in there because the shells just look so cool.
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:36 pm

Snails are very cool but I never use them for algae control for the reasons Liz gave. A few freshwater snails is a good thing, IMO.

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:40 am

I'm thinking of starting another tank soon and leaning toward SA's this time. I have been following the posts on Oto's and you all had me liking a little guy that I had no idea what they were. Looks like I will get some also when I get started and acclimated. Here's a nice piece of info I dug up on them.
http://www.otocinclus.com/newoto.html

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:18 am

good article-thanks for the info
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:38 pm

the answer to that question depends on some things, like what kind of algae do you have, what kind of tank do you have, and what is the goal of what you are doing. in my tank, i have 4 otos, 2 types of shrimp (ghost and crystal blue) and 3 types of snails (japanese pond snail, mystery snail, and some other smaller, more conical snail), plus my current setup has gone through nearly every type of algae thus far and ive never medicated and only rarely do hand removal. mostly i just let it go away on its own. so im hoping my experinces may be of some assistance.

almost everything prefers soft algaes to hard algaes and everything prefers "slime" or "crust" algaes to filamentous algaes and things will eat the algaes in your tank in that order. the filamentous algaes can form big bunches, which smaller fish are afraid of becoming entangled in, but the snails have no fear of.

i know there is a lot of peeps that talk about some snails eating plants, so i want to say this. ive got around 30 different species of plants in my tank and not once have i ever seen a snail eat a healthy leaf, nor have i seen a snail eat healthy roots of any of the houseplants that are suspended in the tank. they will eat the leaves once they start to decay and get soft though. i imagine they may eat healthy leaves if they are starved too, but its their last resort. they will eat every type of algae ive seen, so long as there is not a more preferable type of algae around. cyanobacteria is not a real algae, and nothing will eat it, not even a snail. i like the snails in my tank because i like seeing things other than fish in there. snails are the most effecient algae eaters ive ever seen. whereas fish might take the time to rest, play, etc, the snails have nothing else to do with their lives but constantly graze on algae.a really cool thing about all the snails ive seen is that they are good canaries. if the water quality gets out of shape, they will all go to the top of the waterline, and often their early indication can save lives in your tank. the downsides to snails is that they are slow and boring to watch (i like when they go to the top of the tank and free fall tho), and to some ppl, even kinda nasty looking. and because they are so slow, almost anything you put in your tank that wants to eat your snails can catch and eat your snails, so you would have to avoid things like loaches, puffers, crabs, lobsters, and crayfish. you also have to be careful of some species because they breed like crazy. i started in april with 4 japanese pond snails, now i have thousands. most of the species that do this will be labeled pest species and you can get them in your tank without even trying sometimes. another downfall to both snails and shrimps is that most medications for the tank will kill them. also, snails have funny metabolisms and the warmer the tank is, the faster their metabolism, and the shorter their lifespans.

otos are very popular, but im certain that it has more to do with the fact that they are cute and petite rather than their efficiency at cleaning algae. they do spend a lot of time eating it, but they are only 2" long and they cant do but so much. their biggest advantage i see to the oto is that it is a docile, smaller alternative to a pleco and all the other smaller alternatives to plecos, like SAEs and flying foxes, have awful reputations. they will readily eat all slime algaes. they will eat crust algaes if nothing else is on the menu, but their little jaws have a hard time with it, and if thats all they are feeding on, they dont seem to be able to scrape enough off in a day with their weak jaws to keep their bellies nice and full. ive never seen them eat filamentous algae. like most fish, they try not to go near it for fear of entanglement. even the livebearers eat more of that kind of algae than the otos. when you buy them in most stores, their tanks are too clean and they can develop the habit of sucking on another fishs slime coating, but in my experience, that habit goes away within 24hrs of introducing them to an environment with plenty food. of all the fish in my current tank, the otos have the highest mortality rate within the first 48hrs of introduction. id say buy about twice as many as what you want. but the ones that survived that initial 48-72hrs have been some of the healthiest fish in my aquarium.

so, if your primary goal is getting rid of algae, with no asthetic purpose, a snail is miles better than anything ive ever seen. i suggest the mystery snails. unlike other snails, they lay their eggs in a highly visible clutch above the water line, and the eggs are easily removed. an adult mystery snail can eat 5 times as much algae in a day as an adult oto, maybe more. and they come in a couple of colors (the white is actually an albino). they are also very easy to find.

i hope this helped, but if it didnt and you are curious, you can always just buy both and see which one you like best Smile

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:54 pm

The only good snail is an assassin snail. hehehe

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:49 pm

hahahahahaha! oh yeah i forgot to mention watch out for assassin snails. they eat other snails. ive never kept them myself, but people say they are very good for controlling pest snails. they eat algae too, but probably not as much (as they are omnivores, not herbivores. and they are much smaller than most snails). thanks for remembering that donald! (love the apisto)

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:26 pm

Success with Otocinclus depends on the conditions provided for them. Provide the right conditions, and they will do well.

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:45 pm

i suppose everyones experiences will be a bit different. thats one of the things i love so much about this hobby Smile

you are correct. i am not providing the correct conditions for my otos. but i kept my answer relative, because if you are going by the book, im not keeping anything in the tank in the right conditions. but everything keeps living and breeding. i didnt mean to infer that they had a 'high' mortality rate, just that they are not as hardy as any other fish in my tank if you are only calculating the first 48hrs, and there are numerous posts in numerous forums to corroborate this (one guy who had tanks that were similar to mine said that he could never get more than 1 oto to live in any of the tanks.). and being as the comparison was to snails, i was stating that the snails are certainly more hardy. i wouldve never thought of trying to introduce an oto to my tank while it was cycling, but the snails have been in there since the day i added water.

i know theres a lot of people out there that adore otos, and they are good fish that add attractiveness alongside of fundamentality without producing a large bioload for your tank. i have only kept otos in 1 other tank for about 2 years, which was not a science project, but a more normal aquarium setup, and i enjoyed them very much. thats all the experience i have with them, but i tried to stick to really easy observations when making my comparison, as to not get too debateable. im not downing otos by any means. im just saying that, after keeping snails, pound for pound ive never seen anything work on algae as efficiently as they do

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:53 am

Most of us agree that snails are cool but on the whole we think that otos are the way to go in Ryland's case. Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:31 am

I did get 1 oto on Saturday. He was the last one left so I'll have to wait to complete my little group. He is an active little thing, non-stop eating! thanks for the input everyone.
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:54 pm

I am hoping to find some really nice tank raised oto's at the catfish convention this weekend, hopefully there will be some diffrent types of oto's to chose from.
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:45 am

Ryland, another source for you might be our member here, james0816. He has been breeding and selling selected Otocinclus for a while now and usually has some for sale. He is in the Spottsylvania area and will ship.

Lean, if you can please take some pics of the convention to post here, that would be great! If I could go on any day it would be Saturday and I wish I could, just to hear Hans-Georg Evers speak. The guy is brilliant and has such a delightful love of the catfish hobby, it's infectious. The three best speakers are on Saturday - Ian Fuller, Hans-Georg, and of course Heiko Bleher! He personally helped Liz on-line with a batch of wild caught Leopoldi angelfish. Remarkable character.

Are your plans to go on Sunday for the auction only?

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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:00 am

Quote :
Are your plans to go on Sunday for the auction only?

Me and the family will be attending friday night and Sunday for the auction, I would like to see the speakers on saturday but at 45 bucks per person and having a infant it just isnt feasable at this time, besides i can use the extra cash on livestock and plants.

I have already made arrangments for some,

Hygrophila corymbosa 'Angustifolia' 10 stems
Nesaea triflora 10 stems
Rotala sp. 'Bangladesh' 10 stems
Hygrophila polysperma 'Sunset.' (free with the purchase of the three above)

Cant wait to get some new plants.
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PostSubject: Re: otos or snails?   Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:45 pm

@Leanback wrote:
Quote :
If I could go, I would be looking for some C. habrosus.

Do you like suprises?

Yes I do, especially when it comes to fish lol.

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