Oscar: (Astronotus Ocellatus)
The aquatic dog.

Size: 12-15 inches

Aquarium Size: 75-300 gallons

Oscars are popular and common cichlids. They are often sold as two inch babies, just begging to be fed or taken home. Very very fucking cute, yes. But oscars grow VERY large, VERY quickly, and make a huge mess! They can grow to be almost a foot in one year. Don’t buy an oscar unless you have a 75+ gallon tank. The poor thing will have hardly any room to turn around. It’s possible to keep them in a 55, but that’s really pushing it.

Also, Many people who are not prepared for an oscar but buy one anyway end up having all their community tank fish eaten or killed, and when they try to give it away to a public aquarium or something, chances are it won’t be taken.

On a brighter note, oscars make great pets if you have a good and proper home for them. They become very friendly, often taking food from their owners hands. All oscars have their own personalities, but I can assure you that all of them are great. But beware the adult oscars can inflict wounds on you! As they mature you can feed them larger pellets/sticks, krill, shrimp, earthworms, as well as crickets and pesky in-laws. Really, oscars will eat anything. And that includes any other fish that will fit into their giant mouths.

Oscars are very mild tempered for cichlids, especially for South American cichlids. Although two male oscars may fight incessantly, oscars usually do not bother other fish (unless they can eat them, in which case they will.) If oscars are kept with other  large and aggressive fish, such as Red Devils, Buttikoferi, or Flowerhorns, the oscars might be bullied. It would be a wise idea to have a large tank, and possible introduce the oscars first. This does not mean that oscars are pussies though. Some oscars can be real bullies, and will even randomly kill other fish.  But for the most part, they are nice big fellows.

Breeding: Oscars are not extremely hard nor easy to breed. The main obstacle is obtaining a pair. Oscars are virtually impossible to sex unless you decide to vent them. The best way to go at it is to buy a large number of young oscars, and wait for them to pair off naturally. Once you acquire a pair, it is suggested that you have a very large tank, perhaps 150 gallons or even more. The female will lay the eggs and the male will fertilize them. At this point, the oscars will kill anything in the tank that they can. It’s highly recommended that you leave them alone in the tank. It is up to you whether you want to raise the fry yourself, or let the parents do the work. Oscars are good parents, and will defend their young visciously, as well as tend to them. Anyway, you can start feeding them things like infusoria, paramecia, or vinegar eels. Once they grow up little bit, you can feed the Brine Shrimp nauplii. They will grow quickly, and the next stage will be feeding them crushed flakes and pellets, and Brine Shrimp and the such. Beware that oscars can lay many, many eggs during each mating.

Oscars will do fine with a neutral pH, and a temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. A little above or below is just fine.  It’s not rare to hear of an oscar that is well over 10 years old. So make sure to have a good home if you plan on buying an oscar, and it will provide you with years of fun!

Oh yes, the oscar morphs. In addition to tiger oscars, red oscars, and albino oscars, we have the long finned variety, which I think looks horrible. Here is a (leucistic) long finned oscar.



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14 Responses to “Oscar”

  1. mike Says:

    i have two oscars together in a 100 gallon tank ones a red and the others a black tiger will the different subspecies get along?

    also i have a plecostomus in the tank. i made sure to get one larger than the largest oscar…. will they bother it? ive only had the plecostomus in the tank for a few days and they seem to have avoided it. and as you stated in the plecostomus blog the oscars have been going after the algea wafers as theyre sinking to the bottom.

    the largest oscar is only 7(red) inches atm… the other is 5(tiger) inches. the red tends to push the other one around is this normal alpha male/femal behavior and wont escalate further or is it something else and what should i do? i know theyre very territorial, but i dont know if its a territory issue or if its a size issue.

    • Fishleaper Says:

      Hey mike, thanks for your question.
      As far as I know there aren’t any subspecies of oscar; there are merely color variations, and these will not make a difference in terms of caring for them(there is another species of oscar though, A. crassipinnis).

      With oscars, compatibility usually just comes down to luck. Some oscars love each other, others constantly fight-especially males. I can’t be completely certain without seeing your actual fish, but as long as the pushing isn’t excessive, and the subordinate oscar is healthy, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Just make sure both oscars are eating well and aren’t sustaining any wounds, such as torn fins. It’s possible that the aggression will increase as they mature, so keep an eye on them.
      The oscars will probably continue to leave the plecostomus alone, aside from eating its food, of course. You can try to feed the plecostomus some cucumber of blanched spinach, since the oscars probably will not be interested in those. You can also try to feed the pleco at night, and try to put its food in its hides so that the oscars can’t reach it. I wish you good luck on getting the food to the plecostomus; beware that it may not necessarily work out, however. Sometimes the other fish will just keep on stealing food from bottom dwellers, and the latter will just slowly starve. It is possible to keep oscars and plecos together, but it’s not easy and I usually recommend against it for the plecos sake. If you do manage to get it to work out, however, congratulations!

      • mike Says:

        all they do is grab it and run off with it they dont actually eat it. and the little one is healthy…. maybe a little to healthy… its starting to get a bit plump… lol the little one wont eat guppies is there anyway i can get it the nutrients it needs from the fish with it not eating them?

  2. Fishleaper Says:

    Yes, there are many better options as opposed to feeding live guppies-who don’t have much in the way of nutrients themselves. There are many cichlid sticks and pellets that are good for oscars, and you can also feed earthworms and meaty frozen or freeze-dried foods. Guppies can also transmit diseases or parasites to the oscars, so be careful about that.
    Just make sure your pleco is getting enough to eat, and he should be fine. Good luck.

    • mike Says:

      Hey its been 8 months since I asked about them. No problems the whole time until just recently. recently ive noticed that the black tiger has been hiding in a pot I have in the tank so I decided to look at it to see if maybe there was an injury and it was hiding to heal and I noticed that its eyes are foggy and from what I can tell its going blind. Any ideas of what can cause it? Also any cures?

      Also an update on the fish the reds 11.5 inches the black tigers 10.5 and the pleco is 14 inches long.

      • Fishleaper Says:

        Hey Mike, sorry about the late reply. First I recommend you do a large water change and check some things:
        Ammonia should be 0
        Nitrites should be 0
        Nitrates around 5ppm, no more

        It’s hard to determine what the cause is-it could be due to bad water quality or bacterial infection. There are medications that can help such as Maracyn-2 or melafix. Best of luck.

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