two oscar fish astronotus ocellatus closeup shot biotope hi res photo

The Oscar fish are one of the most popular types of freshwater cichlids. They are frequently referred to as the “pets” of the fish tank hobby because they are known to be interactive in comparison to many other fish. They come in a variety of designs and hues, the majority of which are actually beautiful.

This overview includes all the information you need to know about caring for, feeding, and caring for Oscar cichlids in general. So let’s get started with these wonderful fish as animals!

About Oscar Cichlids

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Oscar cichlids typically receive a very bad rap for being aggressive fish. Although that isn’t always the case, Oscars typically prefer to eat fish that are smaller than themselves. When they are housed alongside little animals like guppies, mollies, and the like, this causes problems.

Oscar cichlids grow to be rather huge, thus they can eat the majority of other commonly found freshwater fish. Two Oscars will often get along if given enough space, which is typically 125 to 150 gallons.

More so than many other freshwater tropical fish, each Oscar fish has a unique personality. They are engaging, and if you keep two of them, you can observe the degree of personality that each fish possesses. It’s fascinating to observe the differences and interactions between two fish of the same species!

Natural Habitat

The Amazon and Orinoco rivers in South America, namely, are where oscar fish originates. They typically linger in areas of the river that are slowly moving and frequently remain calm. Temperature is one of the most important factors to watch out for when preserving these types because Oscars do not tolerate cold water.


Oscar fish generally live between 10-12 years, yet there are records of private fish measuring up to 20 years. Make sure you can keep them for a long time if you’re planning on getting an Oscar.


Oscar fish generally expand to 10 ″ to 14 ″ in bondage. In the wild, they can also develop bigger, at some point as much as 18 ″ (although this is uncommon).

Oscar Fish Care

Below are some vital points you need to discover before trying to maintain Oscars.

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Oscar Tank Setup Overview

Although Oscars require large storage tanks, they are tough fish that require little maintenance. Many container partners must be avoided, but Oscar’s uniqueness can easily fill the vacuum.

Storage Tank Size: A 55-gallon container is recommended by several sources for Oscars, however this does not give enough room to turn around. Adolescent Oscars can benefit from a 75-gallon, although it is still a little bit of a pinch. These fish would do well in a 150-gallon or 125-gallon tank, which is big enough to hold two of them.

Water Flow: Rivers that are moving slowly are where Oscars come from. When it comes to moving costs, they are not picky. They will surely play a key role in circulation rates that are low, moderate, and high and are regularly spotted participating in the result distribution.

Aquarium Water Parameters

The Amazon River’s Oscar Cichlid is native to a softer, lower pH area. But these hardy fish are incredibly adaptable. Despite the fact that they can survive in a variety of waters, they prefer softer, more acidic water.

Fundamental standards for Oscar water criteria.

pH: 6.0-8.0.

Temperature level: 77-80 ° F. 8° to 15° dGH of alkalinity. Security is more important than adequate standards when preserving the Oscars. The fish should adjust to your water rather than the specifications changing frequently if your solidity is little off.

Your fish will become stressed and anxious as a result of changes in the water’s temperature, hardness, and ph, which may shorten its life.

Like all fish, oscars are susceptible to nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia. Because they are so dangerous, ammonia and nitrates shouldn’t exist in the storage tank at all. Before adding an Oscar Cichlid or any other fish, make sure your aquarium has been cycled properly.

Nitrates tend to be even more of a trouble for Oscar’s caretakers. They develop in the fish tank with time.

Given that Oscars produce a lot of waste, many owners change their water once or twice a week. Hole-In-the-Head Disease, also known as HITH, and a decreased body immune system are both consequences of failing to keep nitrate levels below 40 ppm in Oscar.

Make sure to check your water. The API freshwater master examination bundle is one of the most comprehensive and affordable examination sets available.

Oscar Fish Feeding

Each week, different types of food should be supplied to each fish. Oscars should consume mostly meat as it is what they are known for. They need a fundamental business pellet since they provide the minerals and vitamins they require.

A great staple pellet for Oscars and other meat-eating cichlids is Hikari Cichlid Gold. Along with beef heart, huge krill, icy saltwater shrimp, evening spiders, earthworms, mealworms, and grasshoppers, they can also be fed freeze-dried crickets, mealworms, bloodworms, and grasshoppers.

Several of these meals, such bloodworms and beef heart, must be served once or twice a week and are quite fatty. Additional appropriate food includes feeder fish purchased online. Feeder fish are avoided, though, as their high vitamin A content could jeopardize the Oscars.

It’s crucial to remember not to overfeed your fish because doing so might result in bloating issues and too much ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the water. Unless you give live food that must be sought for, feed your fish only as much as they can consume in 15 to 30 seconds once or twice a day.


Although Oscar cichlids do not form schools, if given a sufficiently large tank, they will live in harmony with other members of their species.

Types of Oscar Fish

There are three primary varieties of Oscar fish, but only one is typically kept. This commonly held species has over twenty various color variants, and no one can resist all these colors!

Common Oscar

The Tiger Oscar, Albino Tiger Oscar, Albino Oscar, Red Oscar, Albino Red Oscar, Golden Oscar, Super Red Oscar, and Lemon Oscar are just a few of the many color morphs they come in. A Blueberry Oscar is also available, but it is made from fish that has been dyed, which has a death rate of over 90% and causes the color to fade after a year.

  • Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus.
  • Size: 10-16″.
  • pH: 6.0-7.5.
  • Temperature: 77-80 ° F.

Fat Oscar.

These Oscars are very uncommon in the aquarium trade and frequently confused with their more well-known cousin. They flourish in the same environments as the typical Oscar despite the fact that little is known about this species.

  • Scientific Name: Astronotus crassipinnis.
  • Size: 10 ″.
  • pH: 6.0-8.0.
  • Temperature: 77-80F.

Bumble Bee Oscar

Although not as rare as the Fat Oscar, this is still a rare species of Oscar. These Oscars are stunning; they are black with yellow streaks, therefore the name “bumblebee.”

  • Scientific Name: Astronotus orbicularis.
  • Size: 10-16 ″.
  • pH: 6.0-7.5.
  • Temperature: 77-80 ° F.

Oscar Tank Mates

Keep in mind that Oscar fish will eventually consume any fish that are smaller than them when selecting tank mates. Tankmates should be added to the tank either before or after the Oscar because of their aggressive behavior.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to mixing seafood. Some fish keepers will be able to keep two fish together successfully, while others won’t. If you intend to add anything to your Oscar tank, keep an eye on the interactions and separate the fish if you notice any hostility.

Suitable Tank Mates

  • Other Oscars.
  • Sailfin Pleco.
  • Common Pleco.
  • Green Terror Cichlid.
  • Jack Dempsey Cichlid.
  • Other large Cichlids.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Here are a few species you should not keep with your Oscar.

Small Fish: As your Oscar gets bigger, any fish with a maximum size of less than 10″ will be a snack.

Invertebrates: Your Oscar will eat crayfish, snails, and shrimp. To give variety to their pet’s food, some Oscar caretakers raise the self-cloning crayfish, while others feed extra livebearer fry.

Oscar Fish Tank Setup Guide

This section is for you if you’re looking to set up an Oscar-only tank!


This opens up the possibility of later adding tank mates and gives your Oscar enough space to swim around and turn. Please disregard claims made by numerous sources that a 55-gallon tank is adequate for a fully grown Oscar.

Filtration: Oscars require enormous tanks, therefore canister filters are the best choice. These will maintain huge tanks in pristine condition and handle the enormous amount of waste produced by Oscar Cichlids.

Heater: A heater is necessary to keep Oscars alive because even room temperature can be fatally chilly. I adore my Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm.

Lighting: Since the Oscars don’t really favor light, this is a personal preference. Additionally, since cichlids in general enjoy tearing plants apart, illumination is not necessary for plants because they frequently do not survive.

Choosing a Substrate

Due to their ravenous appetites, Oscars occasionally rummage through the substrate in search of food that has dropped to the bottom and not yet been consumed. If you’re utilizing a gravel substrate, pieces can become ingested and impinge in their intestines.

If this occurs frequently enough, your Oscar’s health could be seriously jeopardized. Since sand may travel through their digestive system more easily and doesn’t have the same hazards as gravel, I advise using some of it as a substrate.

If you intend to utilize the same, be aware that occasionally eating sand can make their feces become stringy and white, which is frequently mistaken for internal parasites.

Some individuals use plain tile as a substrate instead of sand since it is simple to clean around.

A bare bottom tank is your best option (and mine). Although basic bottom tanks are not the most aesthetically pleasing option, they are simple to clean, which is a significant bonus for filthy fish like Oscars.

Adding Live Plants

Plants shouldn’t be mixed with live Oscars because they enjoy destroying them. It is nearly tough to get plants to thrive while these fish are around. But alas, if only we could pair the gorgeous Oscar with lovely planted tanks!

Oscars may move lighter driftwood and smaller rocks around, but rocks and aquarium rocks can still be considered hardscapes.

Oscars are particularly susceptible to ammonia and nitrite, therefore cycling your aquarium is vital before adding any fish. The hardscape can be added immediately, but you must wait before adding fish. Before adding fish, now is the moment to precisely configure the aquarium to your preferences.

You may set up your ideal hardscape during this crucial cycling time, and you can also learn everything there is to know about your intended pet. Additionally, it will let different kinds of bacteria and biofilm grow, leading to a healthier tank overall.

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Oscar Fish Breeding

Some owners desire to increase their affection for Oscars by breeding them after keeping Oscars and getting to know their characters. Some Oscar owners may discover that they have the ideal breeding pair when they get home.

The Breeding Setup

Oscars are a novice fish, but breeding them can be a difficult process. The materials and tanks required can result in hefty beginning costs.

In one spawn, Oscars can produce up to 3,000 fries, which will cost hundreds of dollars in tanks, heaters, filters, air pumps, labor, and other supplies.

There isn’t anything that can stop a pair from bonding and spawning once that happens. Nobody should use this as a warning against breeding these lovely fish. It is merely a caution.

Strategy # 1 Dedicated Breeding Tank: The first choice is to set up a tank separate from the “main” or “show” tank. A large adult female Oscar can lay 3,000 eggs, thus numerous grow-out tanks will be required. Regardless, these must be acquired.

Strategy # 2 Dedicated Fry Tank: Since Oscars are frequently housed in male-and-female pairs in the main tank, it could be easiest for most people to add a flat breeding surface, prepare the Oscars, boost the temperature, and wait. The most frequent method is to siphon off the fry after it is big enough to be moved to a fry tank. When two Oscars are bought as companions and end up bonding as a breeding couple, this is also the situation where accidental breeding happens.

The second choice is typically made for Oscars because they typically don’t have tank mates that will stress the couple out or harm the eggs. Additionally, because the parents are not transferred from tank to tank, it is less traumatic for them.

Setting up a Fry Tank

For convenience of cleaning, fry tanks—especially for waste producers like Oscars—typically have exposed bottoms. Both a heater and a sponge filter are required to maintain the water temperature between 77 and 80 degrees.

The safest filter for fry is the sponge filter because other filters, such hang-on-back and canister filters, can draw fry into the filter and crush them in the coarse sponge or impeller. You will probably see numerous fries constantly picking at the sponge filter since sponge filters also keep food particles that fish miss within reach.

Since fry are more vulnerable to nitrate poisoning than adults and will perish if ammonia or nitrite are present, the nitrate concentration in the fry tank should never exceed 10 ppm. Apart from this, the adult tank’s and the fry tank’s specifications should be the same.

The grow-out tank’s size will vary based on the size of the spawn, which can range from 50 to 3000 fry. While some standby tanks are required as the fry grow, tanks between 20 and 150 gallons are frequently employed.

Oscar fry typically develop at various rates. To prevent becoming a snack for the larger fry, smaller fry may need to be housed in a different tank.

Another benefit of maintaining identical conditions in all of your tanks is that the fry don’t need to acclimate, which makes transporting them much simpler.

Determining Gender

The breeding tubes, which only appear before and during spawning, are the only way to identify the gender of your Oscars. The breeding tube of the females is short, quite wide, and flat at the end. The males have a pointy end to their narrow breeding tube.

Oscar sexing is extremely similar to angelfish sexing, which is a more common practice. It will be really difficult to go to a store and buy one male and one female Oscar because the tubes are only visible during the spawning process, especially if they are young.

A proven breeding pair can be purchased for less money than trying to build a team from scratch. Although Oscars don’t attain sexual maturity for at least 14 months, some young Oscars will hold out against mating for the first three or four years of their existence.

The proved pair is frequently less expensive when compared to raising several juveniles because of the additional food and time requirements.

Conditioning Your Fish

Fish require a conditioning period of 1-2 weeks. The best results can be obtained by feeding animals live food, such as feeder fish (guppies, rosy red minnows, and other livebearers provide the greatest nutrition), earthworms, shrimp, snails, and fish and shrimp of the highest quality for frozen food.

During this time, the male and female should be kept apart, fed 3-5 times each day, and then reunited in the breeding tank. The parents can remain together throughout this time without being split up. To encourage healthy egg development, the female should receive more food than the male.

Inducing Spawning

To encourage spawning behavior, the temperature should be increased to between 82 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Flat tiles or slate slabs are frequently employed as the flat surfaces on which the parents will lay their eggs. Right before they spawn, their colors will become more vibrant and their breeding tubes will disappear.

Caring for the Eggs

Unfortunately, you are one of the potential predators that both parents will fiercely protect the eggs from. You shouldn’t check on them too often because if they feel threatened, they might devour the eggs or fry. The female will devour the unfertilized eggs and fan the eggs to keep fungus from growing on them.

Fry Care

The adult Oscars will dig a pit in the substrate around 4 to 7 days after depositing the eggs and move the fry there. The fry don’t fully become free-swimming for about ten or more days after being laid.

The fry can be removed at this point by siphoning them into a bucket and moving them to another tank with the same water conditions.

Baby brine shrimp, which are inexpensive and simple to hatch, can now be fed to the fry. For the first one to two weeks, you can give them just these, but you should still give them other food as well.

Depending on how quickly the fry grow, blackworms and whiteworms are a great addition between weeks one and three. The fry should accept ground-up flake food and powdered fry food after the third week.

Moving larger fish to a larger grow-out tank is essential because larger fry will devour smaller fry. Before you start worrying about an endless supply of tanks, you should know that Oscar fry may be purchased in sizes as tiny as 1.

Is an Oscar the Right Fish For Me?

Oscars aren’t for everyone because they’re huge, active, and have a tendency to get a tank dirty more quickly than almost any other freshwater fish. Without explaining to clients how the fish will develop, several big-box pet stores offer newborn Oscars that are only 2 to 3 inches long. Oscar fish are popular because they are fun to play with, attractive, and reasonably priced.

If you’re a brand-new fish keeper and you just brought your Oscar home from the pet store, be sure you know what you’re getting into! The ideal situation would be for you to be ready to upgrade your tank as your fish develop (perhaps up to 125-150 gallons) and retain them for 10–12 years. You can bring your fish back and exchange it for something a little more useful if this sounds like too much for you to manage.

Having said that, I don’t want to give the impression that winning an Oscar is unattainable. As long as you don’t mind maintaining a huge aquarium, they are rather simple. Unlike any other freshwater fish on the market, they are one of the most enjoyable fish to keep and develop relationships with their owners.

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