Zebra dwarf sucker Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

Zebra Dwarf suckers are a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are peaceful, hardy, and easy to care for.

This species does best in a group, so we recommend getting at least 5 of them. They are also a great addition to a community tank because they get along with most other fish.

One thing to note is that they can be a little shy at first, but they will eventually come out and be more active once they feel comfortable in their environment.

Species overview

Zebra dwarf suckers (scientific name: Otocinclus vittatus) are a type of freshwater aquarium catfish that is native to South America. They are commonly found in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.

Zebra dwarf suckers prefer slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This is something that is common to many species of aquarium catfish.

One of the most notable things about zebra dwarf suckers is their size. They are one of the smallest species of freshwater aquarium catfish, which makes them a popular choice for nano aquariums.

These fish are also known for being quite peaceful and are compatible with a wide variety of tank mates.


Zebra dwarf sucker

Zebra Dwarf suckers are black and white freshwater fish that get their name from the stripes that cover their body. These stripes are longitudinal and go from the tip of their snout all the way to the base of their tail.

The base color of these fish is white with black stripes of varying thickness. Some fish have stripes that are very thin while others have stripes that are quite thick.

This coloring is not just for show, it actually serves as camouflage for these fish. The stripes help them blend in with the plants and substrate in their natural habitat.

Zebra Dwarf suckers have a very small mouth that is located at the very front of their face. This is a suction mouth that they use to feed on small insects, crustaceans, and larvae.

They have a very small and slender body that is oval in shape. Their dorsal and anal fins are both short and thin. Their caudal fin is forked and slightly taller than their other fins.

Zebra Dwarf suckers are a peaceful community fish that do best in groups. They are not aggressive and get along well with other fish that have a similar temperament.


Zebras have a lifespan of 2-3 years in captivity. In the wild, their lifespan is probably shorter due to predation and other factors.


Zebra dwarf suckers only grow to be about 2-3 inches long.


Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for a zebra suckerfish is 10 gallons.

While these fish are not overly active, they do need a little bit of space to swim and explore.

A 10 gallon tank is the minimum we would recommend but if you have the space for a 20 gallon tank that would be ideal.

Water Parameters

Zebra Dwarf Suckers are a pretty easy going fish when it comes to water parameters. They’re found in slow moving streams and rivers with a variety of different substrates.

While they are adaptable, it’s best to stick as close to their natural habitat as possible. That means slightly acidic water that’s on the cooler side.

Here are a few water parameters to help get you started.

  • Water temperature: 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Water hardness: 5 to 10 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Zebra dwarf suckers are relatively small fish, so you don’t need a huge tank for them. A 20-gallon tank is probably the smallest you should go, but a 30-gallon or larger would be ideal.

As for the inside of their tank, these fish are not too picky. They don’t need any specific plants or decorations, but we recommend including some to help make their habitat more visually appealing.

One decoration we recommend is a piece of driftwood. This will provide them with a place to hide and feel more secure. It can also help to create a more natural look in their tank.

You can also add some plants to their tank. java moss and water wisteria are both good options. These plants will help to filter the water and provide some hiding places for your fish.

The substrate in their tank can be anything you like. Gravel is always a good choice, but sand or even bare bottom tanks are fine as well.

Common Diseases

Zebra Dwarf Suckers are quite a hardy fish, and don’t seem to be affected by many diseases. However, there are a few things you should watch out for.

The most common illness these fish experience is hole-in-the-head disease. This is caused by poor water quality and can be treated by fixing the water conditions and removing activated carbon from the tank.

Another thing to watch out for is ich. This is a very common parasitic infection that can be treated with a variety of methods (including raising the tank’s temperature or using a special ich medication).

The last disease on our list is gill flukes. This is a parasitic infection that affects the gills of your fish. It’s not as common as ich, but can still be fairly serious.

The best way to prevent these diseases is to simply maintain the water quality in your tank. A clean and stable environment is always the best way to keep your fish healthy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

Zebra dwarf suckers are peaceful bottom-dwellers that get along with just about any other fish species. They are not aggressive and will not bother other fish in the tank. The only time you might see them become aggressive is if they feel threatened or are not getting enough food.

These fish are relatively shy and prefer to stay hidden among plants or other objects in the tank. They will come out to eat when they are hungry, but they will quickly go back to their hiding spots.

Zebra dwarf suckers are not known to be good jumpers, but they can sometimes end up outside of the tank if the water level gets too low. This is why it’s important to have a lid on your tank.

Overall, these are peaceful and easy-going fish that make a great addition to any community tank.

Tank Mates

Zebra dwarf suckerfish are one of the few aquarium fish that can be kept in a community tank. They’re relatively peaceful and get along well with other fish.

These fish are also compatible in terms of water conditions. They come from slow-moving rivers in South America and can adapt to a range of different water parameters.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing zebra dwarf suckerfish tank mates.

First, these fish get big. They can reach up to 6 inches in length, so they need plenty of space.

Secondly, they’re not the best swimmers. They prefer to stick to the bottom of the tank, so make sure you add tank mates that occupy different parts of the water column.

Finally, avoid fish that are too small. Zebra dwarf suckerfish have a hearty appetite and might see smaller fish as food.

With that in mind, here are some compatible tank mates for zebra dwarf suckerfish:


Zebra dwarf suckers are livebearers, meaning that they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. This makes them fairly easy to breed in captivity.

To start, you’ll need to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 10 gallons in size. Then, fill it with water that’s around 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add plenty of hiding places and live plants. The plants are important because they give the fry something to eat. Java moss is a good option.

When ready, add two females for every male. Remember that males are usually smaller than females.

Within a few weeks, you should see the females getting larger. That means they’re carrying fry.

When the fry are born, they’ll be able to feed on the algae and other plant life in the tank. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp or crushed-up flake food.

As they grow, you can move them to a larger tank. Once they reach adulthood, you can add them to your main aquarium.


Zebra Dwarf Suckers are one of our all-time favorite freshwater fish. They’re absolutely gorgeous, and they’re very easy to take care of.

We highly recommend them to anyone looking for a new addition to their tank. Just be sure to do your research before you buy them so that you know what you’re getting into!