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Otocinclus cocama  Reis, R.E, 2004

his Loracariid, in my personal opinion, rivals the most revered member of this Family, the "Zebra Plec", Hypancistrus zebra. This is also a "Zebra" with the common name of the "Zebra Oto". It is only since the year 2000 that this species was offered to the trade. Before being described by Roberto E. Reis in 2004 it went under the name of Otocinclus “zebra”. The holotype was collected in the Yanayacu (approx. 04°55’S, 073°43’W), tributary to the caño of the cocha Supay in Jenaro Herrera, Provincia Requena, Departamento Loreto, Peru; Jan 2004,

Otocinclus cocama

This Otocinclus is of course very distinctive and as such can be identified from all other members of this genus by the vertically elongated blotches spanning from the dorsal midline to the ventral border of flanks, and by a complete lateral line. There seems to be a wide diversity of markings on individual species but they all seem to have the same distinctive blotch shape on the caudal peduncle and the "W" shape band in the caudal fin.

The Otocinclus genus on its own has 15 recognised species and a few others that have still to be described and was revised in 1997 by Schaefer with 13 species as valid. A gap of 55 years had occurred between the description of O. macrospilus Eigenmann & Allen, 1942 and Schaefer’s (1997) revision of Otocinclus, where five new species were described. After 1997, four additional species have already been found. O. tapirape Britto & Moreira, 2002, O. mimulus Axenrot & Kullander, 2003, this months subject, Otocinclus cocama Roberto E. Reis, 2004, and another yet undescribed species from Peru and Colombia.

Otocinclus cocama


Keeping Otocinclus cocama in the aquarium is not too much of a problem but they do seem to be a bit more sensitive to the captive environment than other members of this genus. You should provide them however, as is with most Otocinclus, a planted tank, as they are found in the wild amongst abundant vegetation. Provide them with vegetable based foods or they will start to damage plants in the aquarium. Substrate can be of small rounded gravel or sand. I personally prefer the latter as their feces (and it can be a lot with a vegetarian diet) sits atop this medium and can be hoovered off when carrying out your regular water changes.

Acknowledgment: Roberto E. Reis for permission to reference his paper.

Dorsal spines (total): 2 - 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 7 - 7; Anal spines: 1; Anal soft rays: 5; Vertebrae: 28. Can be distinguished from all its congeners by the following: unique, distinct color pattern consisting of vertically elongated blotches spanning from the dorsal midline to the ventral border of flanks; complete lateral line, without the gap plates (midbody plates without lateral line perforations) present in other Otocinclus. Can also be differentiated by having a high number of teeth (30-45 in premaxilla and 23-36 in dentary). Differs from Otocinclus huaorani, Otocinclus mura and Otocinclus bororo by having a small metapterygoid channel and one W-shaped mark in the caudal fin

Ground colour of head and dorsum bluish white to slightly creamy yellowish. Dorsum of head and snout between nares black. Lateral portions of snout and postorbital region of head also black, leaving narrow, V-shaped white band beginning at snout tip, passing through nares and above orbits, and progressing laterally through compound pterotic (the cranium). Ventral margin of snout darkened but head otherwise white or pale yellowish ventrally. Color pattern of dorsum of body and flanks formed by four black or dark gray, saddle-shaped blotches; one at origin of dorsal fin, second behind dorsal-fin base, third between dorsal and caudal fins, and fourth at base of caudal fin. Caudal fin with W-shaped vertical band in distal half, but leaving narrow hyaline band at margin. Base of two central caudal-fin rays usually black, as prolongation of last caudal peduncle black blotch.

Peaceful, a good community fish alongside small upper swimming inhabitants.

Not reported.

Sexual differences
Males are usually smaller than females and have a conical urogenital papilla behind the anal tube, which is not present in females. Also, males possess a skinflap on the dorsal surface of the unbranched pelvic-fin ray, which is absent in females. Finally, males have a small contact organ formed by an odontode swirl at ventral margin of the caudal peduncle, near the caudal fin base.

Algae and vegetable based foods such as cucumber and courgette ( zucchini). Will also accept tablet food and frozen bloodworm and vegetable based flake food.

Glossary of Terms
Medial: Middle or inner.
Holotype: The specimen on which the description of a new species is based.

Otocinclus: Oto = ear; cinclus = a latticework, (an allusion to the holes in the head in the region of the ear).
cocoma: Named after the Cocama-Cocamilla Indians of the lower Ucayali and Marañon rivers.

Reis, Roberto E., 2004. Otocinclus cocama, a new uniquely colored loricariid catfish from Peru (Teleostei: Siluriformes), with comments on the impact of taxonomic revisions to the discovery of new taxa. Neotropical Ichthyology, 2(3):109-115.

Photo Credits

Allan James @ ScotCat
Factsheet 137

Common Name:
Zebra Oto 
 Peru Peru : Lower Ucayali and Marañon Rivers. Type locality: quebrada Yanayacu (approx. 04º55'S, 073º43'W), tributary to the caño of the cocha Supay in Jenaro Herrera, Provincia Requena, Departamento Loreto, Peru.
4.0cm. (1¾ins)
21-25°c (69-77°f.)   
6.0 -7.5.
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                                                                                                 Factsheet 137 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top