Care Guide for Oscar Fish – The South American “Water Dog”
Oscar cichlids, a beautiful variety of fish that are popular in pet shops, are renowned for their unique personality and stunning colors. These “water puppies”, also known as water dogs, are smart enough to recognize their owners and will walk up to you at the front of the aquarium to say hello. They can be trained to eat from your hand. Also, they can get moody and sulk at the bottom of the aquarium because you altered their environment by doing a water change or moving the decorations. People don’t realize how long they live and that they can grow as large as an American football. Learn how to take care of this “wet pet” to determine if it’s right for you.
What is Oscar Fish?
Astronotus ocellatus is found in countries all over South America, mostly in slow-moving waters that have tree roots, rock, or other shelter for them to hang around. While you may see juveniles in the pet store at around 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) long, adults usually reach 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) or more. In fact, they can quickly grow and reach two-thirds the adult size in as little as six to 12 months. The rest of their 10-to-20-year lives will see a slowing in development.
What are the different kinds of oscar fish? This cichlid comes with big, bubble eyes and an assortment of color variations. The most popular type is the tiger-oscar, which has bold, orange markings on a black background. There are many other varieties, including albino, red and lemon, black and yellow, long fin and black and white.
How expensive are oscar cechlids? Oscar cichlids can be bought for as little as $7-9, and larger ones for $15 and up.
This albino oscar is very cute as a juvenile in the pet store but can one day grow to the length of a foot-long hotdog.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Oscars
Oscars are extremely resilient and can survive in tropical temperature ranges of 74 to 80 degrees F (23 to27 degC) at pH levels 6-8. Oscars are large fish that produce lots of waste. They require proper filtration. We have used hang-on-back, canister, internal, and sponge filters with our oscars. It doesn’t really matter which type of filter you choose, so long as the current speed is not too slow, the filter is able handle the bioload, are easy to clean, and that the filter can be washed easily.
Our most popular question regarding their housing is, “What size tank do they need?”. Some say that a 55-gallon tank will suffice for one oscar. But we think 75 gallons (280L), is better because they have more room to turn around. For two oscars, look for an aquarium that is 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 m) in length and holds at least 90-100 gallons (350 L).
How many oscars can you keep together? If you have the space, you can try to put multiple oscars in a monster tank, but you may run into issues where some of them are very territorial or more aggressive than expected. If the situation doesn’t work out, then be prepared to remove some of the fish. Three oscars were previously kept in a 125-gallon fish aquarium. However, two of them eventually formed a group and bullied the third. The third oscar eventually had to be moved into a different tank.
What are oscars fond of in their tank? Oscars are large and powerful fish that love to rearrange their environment, uproot plants, and reorganize their surroundings. Make sure decorations are not sharp so your oscar doesn’t get hurt if they are moved. Don’t put too many decorations on your oscars as they can be impeded from moving and take up valuable swimming area.
Use simple decorations with rounded edges that won’t take up too much of the oscar’s swimming space.
What fish are compatible with oscar Cichlids Despite their large size though, they are not overly aggressive (except during spawning seasons) and can be picked on by other big fish, so choose their tank mates carefully. We have succeeded in keeping them with calmer, larger South American cichlids such as certain plecos, silverdollars, and certain plecos.
What do Oscar Cichlids eat?
They are omnivores and prefer proteins but will eat anything that is edible. Their diet includes small fish, insects, crustaceans and worms. They also eat fruits, nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are thrown into the water. We feed Hikari Cichlid Excel medium pellets as well as Xtreme Big Fella and Hikari Cichlid Pellets. You can also give them freeze-dried mealworms and crickets. If they’re easy to find, you can also give them live earthworms and snails.
Vita-Chem supplementation may be an option to help avoid “holes in the heads” diseases. Oscars love to eat and are eager to eat. To ensure that they have a round stomach, adjust the portion sizes so that they are not too swollen or concave.
Large Cichlids can develop hole-in-the head disease. Therefore, it is important to provide a variety diet and different foods for their immunity.
How to Breed Oscar Fish
Oscars are not bred intentionally by most people because they can produce hundreds of thousands of eggs per year and it is difficult to find homes for large fish. Oscars can be difficult to sexually sex because the appearances of both males as well as females is almost identical. When the oscars are around 1-1.5 years old, you can try to identify their sex via a technique called venting, which involves flipping the fish on its back and examining the reproductive area. A male fish has two small holes that are the same size. A female has one smaller hole, and one larger one, which is called the ovipositor. This is the place where the eggs are laid.
Even if you can identify the male and female, it is possible for them to be picky and unwilling to form a pair. People buy six juveniles, wait for them to become mature enough to form couples, then choose a pair and keep the rest in their own tanks. The female places her eggs on a smooth rock or in a well-lit area at the bottom. Both the male and female guard their eggs against any predators once they have fertilized them. Once the fry are hatched, transfer them to a smaller grow-out aquarium and give them tiny foods like baby brine shrimp. You should not leave them in the same aquarium as the parents. They may become pregnant on their own children once they have started swimming freely.
These red Oscars have teamed up and will fiercely defend eggs during breeding periods.
If you’re willing to make the commitment, oscars are wonderful fish to keep and will give you many years of enjoyment. Be aware that larger fish can be more difficult to rehome. You need to be able to take care of them for the entirety of their lives. For more information on smaller cichlids, check out our favorite species that you can keep in a 29-gallon aquarium.