Care Guide for Oscar Fish – The South American “Water Dog”
Oscar cichlids are one of the most popular fish sold at pet stores because of their beautiful colors and unique personality. 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 also 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. They can live as long a dog as they live, and their lifespan is as long 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 can be found all across South America. They are most often found in areas with slow-moving water and shelters such as rock or tree roots. 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 often rapidly grow and achieve two-thirds of their adult size within the first 6-12 months. Then development slows for the rest of their 10- to 20-year lifespan.
What are the different kinds of oscar fish? This cichlid comes with big, bubble eyes and an assortment of color variations. The most common type is the tiger oscar with its bold, red-orange markings against a black background. You can also find long fins, red, yellow, black, white and albino.
What is the cost of oscar-cichlids? Oscar cichlids are readily available and easy to raise at fish farms. We usually see smaller oscars priced between $7-9 and larger oscars around $15.
The albino Oscar is adorable as a puppy in the pet store, but it could one day reach the height of a hotdog.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Oscars
Oscars are extremely hardy and can survive in tropical climates between 74-80degF (23-25degC) with pH levels of 6-8. They are a large fish and produce a lot of waste so they need to be properly filtered. We have used hang-on-back, canister, internal, and sponge filters with our oscars. As long as the current is not too high, the filter can handle the bioload, and the filter can be easily cleaned, the type of filter does not really matter.
The most frequently asked question we get about their housing is “What size tank do I need for this number of oscars?” While some people say that a 55-gallon tank is the minimum for one oscar, we personally believe 75 gallons (280 L) is better so that they have more swimming space 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 in one tank? However, some oscars may be more territorial than others or become aggressive. 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 was eventually forced to move into another tank.
Oscars love decorations in their tanks. They are powerful, large fish that like to rearrange the environment and root plants. Aim for decorations with no sharp edges so that your oscar won’t be injured if he tries to move them. You should also avoid adding too many decorations to your oscar’s swimming space and impede their movement.
Use simple decorations with rounded edges that won’t take up too much of the oscar’s swimming space.
What kind of fish can live with Oscar Cichlids? They aren’t aggressive despite their size, but they can be picked up by larger fish. We have had success keeping them with larger, more peaceful South American cichlids like certain plecos, silver dollars, and certain plecos.
What do Oscar Cichlids eat?
These omnivores tend to prefer proteins, but they will opportunistically consume anything edible they can find. In the wild, they eat insects, crustaceans (worms), small fish, fruits and nuts that drop into the water. We love to feed them quality fish foods such as Hikari Cichlid excel medium pellets, and Xtreme Big Fella pellets. They also enjoy frozen-dried crickets, mealworms, and freeze-dried krill. 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 be prone to hole-in-the-head disease, so keep their immune system healthy by feeding a varied diet with different kinds of foods.
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 has two holes the same size as a female, while a female has one bigger hole and one smaller hole that is the “ovipositor”, which is the breeding tube that produces eggs.
However, even if you identify a male and female, they may be picky and not willing to pair up. Therefore, some people buy a group of six juveniles, wait till they’re old enough to form pairs, and then isolate a chosen pair in their own tank with no other fish. The female will lay her eggs on a flat rock, or on a clear-out bottom area. The male fertilizes the eggs and they guard their brood vigorously from any predators. 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 are paired and will defend their eggs during breeding seasons.
If you’re willing to make the commitment, oscars are wonderful fish to keep and will give you many years of enjoyment. It is possible to rehome larger fish, but it can be difficult. Make sure you are able and able to care for them throughout their lives. For more information on smaller cichlids, check out our favorite species that you can keep in a 29-gallon aquarium.