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. However, many people don’t realize they grow to the length of an American football and can live as long as a dog. 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 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. Although you might see juveniles at 2-3 inches (5-8cm) in a pet shop, adult animals can reach 10-12 inches (30-25cm) or more. In fact, they often rapidly grow and achieve two-thirds of their adult size within the first 6-12 months. Then, their development slows down for the remainder of their 10- to-20-year life span.
What kinds of oscar fish are there? These cichlids have big, blue eyes and come in a wide range of colors. The most common type is the tiger oscar with its bold, red-orange markings against a black background. There are also long fin, albino and red varieties.
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.
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 can survive in tropical temperatures of 74-80°F (23-27°C) and pH levels between 6-8. As a big fish, they create a lot of waste and need adequate filtration. We have used hang-on-back, canister, internal, and sponge filters with our oscars. It doesn’t matter what type of filter you use, as long as it can handle the bioload and isn’t too fast, it won’t cause damage, and it’s easy to clean.
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 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 this doesn’t work, you can remove 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.
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. 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 fish are compatible 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?
Although they prefer protein, omnivores will eat any edible food they find. In the wild, their diet includes insects, crustaceans, worms, small fish, fruits and nuts that fall into the water, and other vegetation. We like to feed quality fish foods like Xtreme Big Fella Pellets and Hikari Cichlid Excel medium pellets. Their favorite snacks include freeze-dried krill and crickets. Finally, you also give them live snails and earthworms if they are easy to obtain.
Make sure to provide a wide variety of foods and consider adding Vita-Chem supplements to provide all the essential vitamins and minerals they need to avoid health issues like “hole in the head” disease. 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 are susceptible to hole-in the-head disease. Keep them healthy by eating a variety of different foods and keeping their immune system strong.
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 are difficult to sex since both the males and the females are almost indistinguishable in appearance. Venting is a technique that involves placing the fish on its back, and then inspecting their reproductive areas. A male has two small holes of the same size, whereas a female has one smaller hole and one larger hole that is the ovipositor (i.e., breeding tube used to lay eggs).
But even if they are able to identify a male or female, they might be picky about pairing up. Some people purchase six juveniles and wait until they are old enough to form pairs. Then, they isolate the chosen pair and place them in their own tanks with no other fish. The female lays her eggs in a flat rock or other area at the bottom of the tank. After the male fertilizes eggs, the female and the male guard their brood aggressively against 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 paired up and will fiercely defend their 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. 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.