two oscar fish astronotus ocellatus closeup shot biotope hi res photo

Oscar fish are extensively preferred varieties of freshwater cichlid. They are recognized to be interactive contrasted to numerous various other fish and also are generally described as the “pets” of the fish tank pastime. They are available in a selection of patterns and colors, most of which are genuinely stunning.

This overview covers what you require to understand about Oscar cichlid treatment, feeding, reproducing, and extra. These fish make amazing animals, so allow’s start!

About Oscar Cichlids

istockphoto 1151627675 612x612 1
istockphoto 1151627675 612×612 1


Oscar Cichlids are usually offered an extremely bum rap as a highly hostile fish. This isn’t constantly the instance; Oscars generally wish to consume fish that are smaller sized than them. This ends up being trouble when they’re housed with tiny types such as guppies, mollies, and so on.

The Dog Solution

Because Oscar cichlids obtain rather large, they can consume most various other typically readily available freshwater fish. If offered adequate area, typically 125 to 150 gallons, 2 Oscars will generally hit it off.

Each Oscar fish has a distinct individuality, extra so than numerous various other freshwater tropical fish. They are interactive, as well as if you do maintain 2, you will certainly have the ability to see simply just how much individuality each fish has. It’s incredible to see the distinctions and also communications in between 2 fish of the same varieties!

Natural Habitat

Oscar fish stems from South America, and much more particularly the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. They generally hang around in slow-moving relocating locations of the river that often tend to remain cozy. Oscars do not endure cold water, making temperature level one of the most vital points to watch out for when maintaining these varieties.


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.

Oscar Tank Setup Overview

While Oscars call for big storage tanks, they are incredibly durable fish and are simple to take care of. Many container companions need to be prevented, yet Oscar’s individuality can conveniently load the void.

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Storage Tank Size: Many resources advise a 55-gallon container for Oscars, yet this does not provide sufficient area to reverse. A 75-gallon can benefit adolescent Oscars, yet it is still a little bit of a tight squeeze. A 150-gallon or 125-gallon would certainly be excellent for these fish and also is big sufficient to house 2 of them.

Water Flow: Oscars originate from slow-moving relocating rivers. However, they are not fussy when it pertains to moving prices. They will undoubtedly be significant in reduced, modest, and high circulation prices and can frequently be seen playing in the outcome circulation.

Aquarium Water Parameters

The Oscar Cichlid originates from a softer, reduced pH location of the Amazon River. However, these sturdy fish are very versatile. Even though they can endure in a lot of water, they choose softer, a lot more acidic water.

Fundamental standards for Oscar water criteria.

pH: 6.0-8.0.

Temperature level: 77-80 ° F. Alkalinity: 8 ° -15 ° dGH. When maintaining Oscars, security is more vital than suitable specifications. If your solidity is slightly off, the fish should adapt to your water instead of the specifications altering regularly.

Modifications to water temperature, hardness, and ph create stress and anxiety to your fish, which can reduce its lifespan.

Oscars, like all fish, are sensitive to ammonia and also nitrite, and also nitrates. Ammonia, as well as nitrates, are exceptionally hazardous and also ought to not exist in the storage tank in all. Make sure to correctly cycle your fish tank before including an Oscar Cichlid or any other fish.

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

Given that Oscars are significant waste manufacturers, many proprietors alter their water one or two times weekly. Failing to keep nitrates listed below 40ppm decreases Oscar’s body immune system and also usually causes Hole-In-the-Head Disease, or HITH.

It is essential to check your water. The API freshwater master examination package is one of the most detailed examination set on the marketplace and the most inexpensive per examination.

Oscar Fish Feeding

Every fish ought to be fed several kinds of food each week. Oscars are largely meat-eating, so their diet regimen ought to be meat-based. They require a staple business pellet because these supply needed minerals and also vitamins.

Hikari Cichlid Gold is an excellent staple pellet for Oscars, as well as various other meat-eating cichlids. They can likewise be fed beef heart, earthworms, evening spiders, big krill, icy saltwater shrimp, as well as freeze-dried crickets, mealworms, bloodworms, and grasshoppers.

Several of these foods, such as bloodworms and beef heart, are exceptionally fatty and must also be fed 1-2 times a week. Online food such as feeder fish is additionally appropriate. However, they prevent feeder fish, as they have excessive Vitamin A, which can harm the Oscars.

Overfeeding your fish can lead to bloating problems and excess ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, so it is important not to overfeed your fish. Feed your fish only what they can eat in 15-30 seconds one to two times a day unless you feed live food that must be hunted down.


Oscar cichlids do not school, but if provided with a large enough tank, they will coexist peacefully with others of their species.

Types of Oscar Fish

There are three main types of Oscar fish, but only one is commonly kept. This widely held species has over twenty different color morphs, and no one can resist all these colors!

Common Oscar

They come in a massive variety of color morphs, including the Tiger Oscar, Albino Tiger Oscar, Albino Oscar, Red Oscar, Albino Red Oscar, Golden Oscar, Super Red Oscar, and Lemon Oscar. There is also a Blueberry Oscar, but these are a product of dyed fish, resulting in a mortality rate of over 90%, and the color will 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 extremely rare in the aquarium trade and are often mistaken for their more famous cousin. Even though little is known about this species, they thrive under the same conditions as the typical Oscar.

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

Bumble Bee Oscar

This is another rare Oscar species, though not as rare as the Fat Oscar. These Oscars are gorgeous, black with yellow stripes, hence their bumblebee name.

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

Oscar Tank Mates

When choosing Oscar fish tank mates, keep in mind that they will eat any fish smaller than them when fully grown. Due to their aggressive nature, tank mates should be added to the tank before or when the Oscar is.

When it comes to mixing fish, there is no fast and hard rule. Some fish-keepers will have success keeping two fish together, while others will not. Observe the interactions and separate the fish if you see any aggression if you plan on adding anything to your Oscar tank.

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: Any fish with a maximum size below 10″ will become a snack as your Oscar grows.

Invertebrates: Shrimp, snails, and crayfish will be eaten by your Oscar. Some Oscar keepers breed the self-cloning crayfish to add variety to their pet’s diet, and others feed excess livebearer fry.

Oscar Fish Tank Setup Guide

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


This allows your Oscar enough room to swim around and turn and enables the option to add tank mates in the future. I’ve seen a lot of sources claiming that a 55-gallon tank is suitable for a full-grown Oscar– please do not listen to this!

Filtration: For the large tank size that Oscars require, canister filters are the best option. These will keep large tanks crystal clear and keep up with the massive amount of waste produced by Oscar Cichlids.

Heater: A heater is essential to keeping Oscars because cold temperatures, even room temperature, can be a death sentence. I use a Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm and love it!

Lighting: This is a personal choice since Oscars do not have much of a preference for light. Additionally, cichlids, in general, love to uproot and tear apart plants, so lighting is not needed for plants, as they often do not survive.

Choosing a Substrate

Oscars are such ferocious eaters that they will sometimes root around in the substrate looking for uneaten food that has fallen to the bottom. Pieces can sometimes become swallowed and impacted in their intestines if you’re using a gravel substrate.

It can pose a massive risk to your Oscar’s well-being if this happens enough. For this reason, I recommend using some sand substrate that can pass through their digestive track easier and doesn’t pose the same risks as gravel.

If you plan to use the same, be aware that eaten sand can sometimes cause their feces to become stringy and white, often confused with internal parasites.

Aside from sand, some people use plain tile as a substrate, which is easy to clean around.

Your last option (and my favorite) is a bare bottom tank. Essential bottom tanks are straightforward to clean, which is a big plus for messy fish like Oscars, but it is not the most aesthetic option.

Adding Live Plants

Live Oscars and plants do not mix, as Oscars love to destroy them. When surrounded by these fish, it is nearly impossible to get plants to thrive. Alas, if only we could combine the stunning Oscar and beautiful planted tanks!

Rocks and aquarium driftwood can still be hardscapes, though Oscars may move smaller rocks and light driftwood around.

Oscars are extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so it is essential to cycling your aquarium before introducing any fish. Even though you must wait to add fish, there is no need to wait to add the hardscape. This is your time to set up the aquarium precisely to your liking before adding fish.

This essential cycling time not only allows you to set up your perfect hardscape but also allows you to research everything you need to know about your planned pet. Additionally, it will enable other types of bacteria and biofilm to establish, which leads to an overall healthier tank.

istockphoto 1266755436 612x612 1
istockphoto 1266755436 612×612 1

Oscar Fish Breeding

After keeping Oscars and experiencing their personalities, some owners want to take their love for Oscars to the next level by breeding them. Some owners who keep a pair of Oscars may come home and find that they own a perfect breeding pair.

The Breeding Setup

Breeding Oscars can be a daunting task, although they are beginner fish. Because of the materials and tanks needed, startup costs can be high.

Oscars can have up to 3,000 fries in one spawn, which will require hundreds of dollars worth of tanks, heaters, filters, air pumps, manual labor, and other equipment.

Once a pair bonds, there isn’t much that will stop them from spawning. This is not meant to discourage anyone from breeding these magnificent fish. It is only a warning.

Strategy # 1 Dedicated Breeding Tank: Setting up a tank aside from the “main” or “display” tank is the first option. These need to be purchased either way since a large adult female Oscar can lay 3,000 eggs, and multiple grow-out tanks will be necessary.

Strategy # 2 Dedicated Fry Tank: Since Oscars are commonly kept in male/female pairs in the main tank, it may be most straightforward for most to add in a flat breeding surface, condition them, raise the temperature, and wait. Once the fry is grown enough to be moved to a fry tank, it can be siphoned out, the most common practice. This is also the circumstance for accidental breeding, which occurs when someone purchases two Oscars as companions, and they form a bonded breeding pair.

The second option is the most commonly chosen for Oscars since they generally don’t have tank mates that will stress the pair or damage the eggs. Additionally, it is less stressful for the parents since they are not being moved from tank to tank.

Setting up a Fry Tank

Fry tanks, especially for waste producers like Oscars, are typically bare bottom for ease of cleaning. They need a heater to keep the water between 77 and 80 degrees and a sponge filter to keep the tank cycled.

The sponge filter is the safest filter for fry, as other filters, such as hang-on-back and canister filters, can suck fry into the filter and grind them up in the impeller or coarse sponge. Sponge filters also keep food particles that the fish miss within reach, so you will probably observe several fries pecking at the sponge filter 24/7.

Fry will die if there is any ammonia or nitrite present, and they are more susceptible to nitrate poisoning than the adults, so the nitrates should never go over 10ppm in the fry tank. Aside from this, the parameters of the adult tank and fry tank should be identical.

The size of the grow-out tank will vary depending size of the spawn, which can be between 50-3000 fry. Tanks between 20 and 150 gallons are often used, though some standby tanks are needed as the fry grows.

Oscar fry tends to grow at different rates. As a result, smaller fry might need to be kept in a separate tank to avoid becoming a snack for the larger fry.

This is another bonus to keeping all of your tanks with identical parameters; no acclimation is needed for the fry, making moving them one hundred times easier!

Determining Gender

The only way to determine the gender of your Oscars is the breeding tubes, which only appear right before and during spawning. The females have a stubby breeding tube that is flat at the end and very wide. The males have a thin breeding tube that is pointed at the end.

Sexing Oscars are very similar to sexing angelfish, which more people have experience with. Since the tubes are only seen during the spawning process, it will be nearly impossible to go to a store and purchase one male and one female Oscar, especially if they are juveniles.

Buying a proven breeding pair is often cheaper than trying to produce a team yourself. Oscars take at least 14 months to reach sexual maturity, but some young Oscars will refuse to breed for the first three or four years of their lives.

When considering the amount of food and time you would have to put into raising multiple juveniles, the proven pair is often the less expensive option.

Conditioning Your Fish

The typical conditioning period for fish is 1-2 weeks. Best results are achieved using live food such as feeder fish (guppies, rosy red minnows, and other livebearers provide the most nutrition), earthworms, shrimp, snails, and frozen food grade shrimp and fish.

The male and female should be separated during this period, fed 3-5 times daily, then introduced to one another in the breeding tank. It is possible to keep the parents together during this period without separation. The female should be fed more heavily than the male to promote proper egg development.

Inducing Spawning

The temperature should be raised between 82- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit to trigger spawning behavior. The parents will need some flat surfaces to lay eggs on, and flat tiles or slate slabs are often used. Their colors will intensify, and their breeding tubes will drop right before they spawn.

Caring for the Eggs

Both parents will vigorously guard the eggs against potential predators, and unfortunately, that includes you. Avoid checking on them too regularly, as they may feel threatened and eat the eggs/fry. The female will fan the eggs to prevent fungus growth and remove the unfertilized eggs by eating them.

Fry Care

Around 4 to 7 days after laying the eggs, the adult Oscars will build a pit in the substrate and move the fry there. It takes about ten or more days after being laid for the fry to become free-swimming truly.

At this stage, the fry can be removed by siphoning them into a bucket and transporting them to a different tank with the same water parameters.

At this point, the fry can be fed baby brine shrimp, which are cheap and easy to hatch. They can be provided these alone for the first 1-2 weeks, but other food should still be added.

Blackworms and white worms are an excellent addition between weeks 1 and 3, depending on how fast the fry grows. After the third week, the fry should accept ground-up flake food and powdered fry food.

Large fry will eat smaller fry, so moving the larger fry to a larger grow-out tank is crucial. Before you get worried about a never-ending amount of tanks, Oscar fry can be sold at a small size, as small as 1″.

Is an Oscar the Right Fish For Me?

Oscars aren’t for everyone– they’re big, aggressive, and tend to dirty up a tank quicker than just about any other freshwater fish out there. Many big-box pet stores sell baby Oscars that are just 2 to 3 inches without educating customers on how the fish will grow. Oscar fish sell great because they’re entertaining, interactive, beautiful, and affordable.

Make sure you know what you are getting into if you’re a brand new fish-keeper and you’re just coming home from the pet store with your Oscar! It would be best if you were prepared to upgrade your tank as your fish grows (potentially up to 125-150 gallons) and keep them for 10 to 12 years. If this sounds like too much to handle, you can bring your fish back and swap it for something a bit more practical.

That being said, I don’t want to make it seem like Oscars are impossible to keep. They’re pretty easy as long as you don’t mind keeping a massive aquarium. They’re one of the most rewarding fish to keep and form bonds with their owners, unlike any other freshwater fish on the market.

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