The Redfin Dwarf Otto

Kevin Korotev

age 512 of the soft cover Baensch Aquarium Atlas vol. 2 describes Parotocinclus maculicauda. The hardcover version of the same atlas may read the same, but lists the fish as Parotocinclus amazonesis. This mistake is a good indication of the mis-information available. It may also explain why retailers don’t see it on “The List” very often. It was mere co-incidence that I was standing by as “Peruvian suckers” were hoisted from a wholesaler’s box at Gary’s “Pets ‘n” Things” in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Call it fate…destiny…great timing…luck. These “Peruvian suckers” were actually “Red Fin Dwarf Ottos” and I knew it. I took the bag from Gary’s hand and walked to the checkout. He knew what was up...and smiled.


Parotocinclus maculicauda

Parotocinclus maculicauda


P. maculicauda is another of the “algae eaters” that eat algae only when they have to. My 5 were given a varied diet of live baby brine, frozen bloodworms and simple flake. Grazers by design, I made sure they weren’t dashing for food at first sight; a sure sign of underfeeding. Suckermouths or “Lories” as the new nickname indicates, get that kind of treatment as a matter of course as bottom dwelling Loricarid.

Water values are secondary to water quality. It is not recommended to keep these fish at high temperatures, but if spawning is a sign of good health; these fish spawned in temperatures as high as 80 degrees. Once they began to spawn (at an age I’d guess to be a year or more) they did so regularly through minor pH and hardness swings. Neutral to slightly acid and soft seemed best. Spawns of from 11 to 18 eggs were found every 10 to 14 days in the exact same place: On the tank’s thermometer.



Fry day5 on Thermometer

Rarely have I had more than 3 fry from any one spawn survive a month. My best luck seems to come in rearing tanks loaded with algae. The fry also seem to do a little better if they can graze on a sponge filter coated with uneaten food. Still, the fry grow excruciatingly slow. Those that I submitted for BAP were well under an inch at between 45 and 60 days. It took two spawns to get the 5 required fish. I do not know if this is a typical example of fry mortality or some true bungling on my part...again’ there is little reference material.

The Parotocinclus maculicauda in my tank seem to have two distinctly different color patterns. One is like the photo in the Atlas. The other is...not so. I have sent pictures of both to “experts” and no one claims to know if this is sexual dimorphism, possible regional color differences or a simple living example of why TW claims, “Color means nothing”.


Parotocinclus maculicauda

If the atlases we use for reference aren’t always right and the experts don’t always know, then this article may be the most unscientific detail you’ll ever see written about Parotocinclus maculicauda; the Redfin Dwarf Otto.

Photo Credits: Kevin Korotev

Written August 2000 by Kevin Korotev for SPLASH, the official publication of the Milwaukee Aquarium Society, INC.



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