Macrotocinclus flexilis


Macrotocinclus flexilis
Peppered Otocinclus
花椒精灵
An easy species of Otocinclus to identify although two colour forms exist. One with a more pronouced darker and lighter "peppering" and one with a more regular pattern. This variance aside, the colouration is the same as the common peppered Cory, Corydoras paleatus. Coloration of individual otos vary with mood. Normal coloration is beige with spots, but this species (in presumed breeding mode) turn darker, and may become almost black.
Less reliant on plants than other Otocinclus species, nevertheless, tall leaved plants like Vallisneria provide habitat and shade for these species that also appreciate vertical wood surfaces but generally move around the aquarium without preference. Gravel or sand may be used.
A highly social, diurnal and hardy species. Slightly aggressive (more akin to slightly larger loricariids); they defend food albiet half-heartedly, and dominate Corydoras at feeding time but not to the other species detriment. 

Also when kept with Corydoras paleatus, the Corys appear fooled by the oto mimics, and often follow them around, gulp air at the same time the otos do, and even male corys display to otos. The otos on the other hand seem aware which fish are conspecifics, as they're noticeably more aggressive towards the corys than to each other. Perhaps the bright white opercular diverticulum serves as a recognition signal for the otos? They have a curious behaviour that they nibble at each other and corys at the base of the dorsal fin, something which is apparently very unpleasant for the receiving fish - it looks like aggressive/dominance behaviour.
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