Care Guide for Oscar Fish – The South American “Water Dog”

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 is Oscar Fish?

Astronotus ocellatus can often be found in South America in countries that have slow-moving waters and trees roots or rock. 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 kinds of oscar fish are there? These cichlids have big, blue eyes and come in a wide range of colors. The most well-known type is the Tiger Oscar. It has bright, red-orange markings set against a dark background. Other varieties include albino, red, lemon, black and white, and long fin.

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 can survive in tropical temperatures of 74-80°F (23-27°C) and pH levels between 6-8. They are a large fish and produce a lot of waste so they need to be properly filtered. 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.

We get asked the most common question about their housing: “What size tank do you need to house this many oscars?” Some people believe a 55-gallon tank should be sufficient for one oscar. However, 75 gallons (280 liters) is better for them as they have more space to swim 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.

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 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. Their diet includes small fish, insects, crustaceans and worms. They also eat fruits, nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are thrown into the water. We love to feed them quality fish foods such as Hikari Cichlid excel medium pellets, and Xtreme Big Fella pellets. Their favorite snacks include freeze-dried krill 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. Plus, oscars are very eager eaters that love to beg for food, even if they are already full, so adjust their portion size so they have a slightly rounded belly that is not too concave or swollen.

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

Most people do not intentionally breed oscars because females can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs and it’s very hard to find homes for so many 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).

Even if you can identify the male and female, it is possible for them to be picky and unwilling to form a pair. 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 on a flat rock or a cleared-out area on 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.