Care Guide for Oscar Fish – The South American “Water Dog”
Because of their unique personalities and beautiful colors, Oscar cichlids have become a popular pet fish. 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. Keep reading to learn how to best care for this incredible “wet pet” and see if it’s the right fish for you.
What are 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. They often grow quickly and can reach two-thirds their adult size in the first six to twelve months. Then, their development slows down for the remainder of their 10- to-20-year life span.
What are the different kinds of oscar fish? This cichlid comes with big, bubble eyes and an assortment of color variations. The most well-known type is the Tiger Oscar. It has bright, red-orange markings set against a dark background. You can also find long fins, red, yellow, black, white and albino.
How much do oscar cichlids cost? They are widely available and easy to breed at fish farms, so we usually see smaller oscars for $7-9 and bigger oscars for $15 or more.
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. Because they are large fish, they produce a lot waste and require adequate filtration. With our oscars, we have used sponge, internal, canister and hang-on-back filters. 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.
One of the most frequent questions we receive about their housing is “What size tank do we need for this number oscars?” Although some say a 55 gallon tank is sufficient, we believe that 75 gallons (280L) is better to allow them more swimming space. 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 be kept together? You can put several oscars into a large tank. However, they may become territorial or aggressive and you might have to remove them. 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 do oscars like in their tank? Decorations can be a challenge since oscars are very large, powerful fish that like to rearrange their environment and uproot plants. Aim for decorations with no sharp edges so that your oscar won’t be injured if he tries to move them. 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 Although they are large, they aren’t aggressive, except during spawning season. They can also be picked on by larger fish so make sure to choose your tank mates. They have been kept with peaceful, larger fish such as silver dollars, certain plecos and other small-sized South American Cichlids.
What does Oscar Cichlid eat?
Although they prefer protein, omnivores will eat any edible food they find. In the wild, they eat insects, crustaceans (worms), small fish, fruits and nuts that drop into the water. We like to feed quality fish foods like Xtreme Big Fella Pellets and Hikari Cichlid Excel medium pellets. Freeze-dried krill, crickets, and mealworms are also favorite snacks that they enjoy. You can also give live snails or earthworms to them if you have them.
Vita-Chem supplements can be added to their diet to ensure they have a variety of food options. This will help to prevent health problems such as “hole in the brain” disease. Oscars are very hungry and will eat anything they find. If they feel full, they should adjust their portions so they have a slightly round belly.
Large Cichlids may be susceptible to hole in the head disease. To keep them healthy, eat a varied diet that includes different types of food.
How to Breed Oscar Fish
Oscars are rarely intentionally bred because the females can lay thousands to hundreds of eggs. It is also difficult to find homes to so many large fish. Also, it is difficult to sex oscars because both males and females are nearly indistinguishable in appearance. 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. The holes are identical in size for males and females. A female’s has one hole larger than the other, which is the ovipositor, or the tube that lays eggs.
But even if they are able to identify a male or female, they might be picky about pairing 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 lays her eggs in a flat rock or other area at the bottom of the tank. Once the male fertilizes the eggs, they both aggressively guard their brood against would-be 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 have teamed up and will fiercely defend eggs during breeding periods.
Oscars can be a great fish to keep if you are willing to put in the effort. They will provide you with many years of enjoyment. You should be aware that larger fish can be difficult to rehome so ensure you are capable of providing for them for their entire life. For more information on smaller cichlids, check out our favorite species that you can keep in a 29-gallon aquarium.