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 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 often be found in South America in countries that have slow-moving waters and trees roots or rock. You may find juveniles as small as 2-3 inches (8-8 cm) in a pet store, but adults can grow to 10-12 inches (25-30cm) or greater. They can grow rapidly and often reach two-thirds of their adult sizes within six-12 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 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.
Although this albino oscar may look adorable as a youngster in the pet shop, it can eventually grow to be as long as 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. 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 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. Eventually, the third oscar had to be moved into another tank.
Oscars love decorations in their tanks. They are powerful, large fish that like to rearrange the environment and root plants. 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 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 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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.