View Full Version : Help me make a Oscar Dream Home

10-27-2007, 09:44 PM
So even though there are already 7 tanks in the house (it's like planet earth - more water in the house than land hehehe) I have always dreamt of keeping an Oscar... I could go and hunt the internet high and low and read some books but I thought I would ask Oscar owners :22:

What is a good size tank? Is the height of the tank an issue?
I presume an Oscar will need an overfiltered tank?
What living conditions do they thrive in? Temp? what kind of food?
All my plants are major plant tanks so this will be something new - what decoration do Oscar's appreciate?
Should you keep them alone or do they prefer a mate? (couple)

I am not so much interested in keeping any other fish with them other than maybe a Pleco for algae

Looking forward to the answers and to start with the planning


10-27-2007, 10:01 PM
55 gallon tank is minimum for just 1. 75 is good for 1 or 2. temp should be around 75-80 degrees. Usually there should be no plants althought some wont tear them up depends on the oscars personality. And if you plan on keeping more than 2 it has to be 4 or more because if you got 3 the 3rd one could possibly be beat up by the other 2. Filtration is most important. A Canister or 2 good HOB's should be good Or both. if you want a pleco then you're probably going to need a bigger tank because they get over 2 ft. but 1 is minimum for 55 gallons for an oscar. I just got my oscar today with some danios and he seems happy. So if you wanted just perhaps 1 with some dither fish a 55 would be fine. 75 being the best option.

10-27-2007, 10:05 PM
Correct me if I am wrong but is your Oscar not going to eat your Danio's once he get's a bit bigger? I thought they ate any other smaller fish and if they didn't they can make their lives pretty miserable...

Wow I am amazed at only 55 gallon for one - that is easily sorted - do they prefer being paired or solo?

Decoration - I take it seeing plants are out they like a rocks? So if I make a nice scape with lot's of rocks they would enjoy that?

What substrate do they prefer? Sand or Gravel... most cichlids prefer sand but I don't know about the Oscar....

10-27-2007, 10:11 PM
Well for now, while he's just 2 1/2'' or so it will liven up the tank until he gets bigger. And yes they will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. There is a lot of people saying 75 is better for 1, due to them getting over a foot long. You could try to pair them but if its 2 males (which you wont ever really know by just looking) they will fight, this is just by what i read. But for me, i think 55 gallons for 1 fish is plenty.

Edit: Also, do lots of water changes. They are very dirty fish, as in they are pigs when they eat lol.

10-27-2007, 10:11 PM
The Oscar experts suggest getting 1 Oscar or a school of 6 for best results. A school of 6 is too big for most people, so 1 Oscar is a better bet.

These fish really need room to move - so I'd go at least 75-90g, even for one.

Over filtration is important and so are frequent water changes.

A strong lid is imperative.

I'd also suggest some toys...ping-pong balls are popular.

10-28-2007, 02:13 AM
75 minimum for one or two sone they can hit 15-18". A 55 is too narrow front to back for them.

Overfiltration is key. You are looking for 2-3x the filtration needed according to what the filters claim they can handle. An air pump is good too. I use Fluvals and they have always done really well for me. For HOBs I would go with AquaClears.

I keep the temp at about 82F. They seem to do better at that temp, higher metabolism also means immune system running better.

Sand can be a problem since if a big oscar starts moving they can really stir things up. They can also pick up mouthfuls and spit it into the filter intake. So small gravel that is well-vacuumed is ideal.

Decor should be kept to a minimum to prevent low flow areas that will trap debris. For my jaguar cichlid I had gravel and a 6" PVC pipe T-connector.

Stealth heaters are the best option. Not only do they look better but they are precise. The key is that they are made of shatter-proof thermal plastic. When big oscars decide they want to slam the heater against the glass, the Stealth one won't break.

The ideal diet is New Life Spectrum. The best results will be achieved when it is the only thing fed.

10-28-2007, 02:56 AM
You have to be careful with the decor. As said before oscars will tear up live plants (or dig them up) so the fake plants with the weighted bottoms seems to work well. Avoid really sharp objects within the tank. My own oscar can be quite clumsy when going after food and will sometimes scrape himself on the only hard object in his tank!! A fake log that the pleco likes to hang out in...

I like to give my fish variety so for the oscar I give him Hikari Gold and Hikari Cichlid Staple, he also gets live crickets that have been gut loaded with fresh veggies, small hunks of kiwi fruit (for the vitamin C), algae tablets, hunks of raw shrimp, squid and once in a great while, small pieces of clam. On occasion I give him live ghost shrimp too (that's when he tends to get himself scraped up).

IMO a 55g is big enough for one oscar. Not all oscars will get to be 15" especially in captivity, and I've never seen or heard of one reaching 18"! If you want a pleco, then 75g would do for the two of them. Of course, if you can get a bigger tank then do so! :ezpi_wink1:

10-28-2007, 05:28 PM
2many, exactly. 55 gallons for one is plenty. And fishguy, 2 penguin 350's is also good enough for an oscar tank. 700 gallons per hour is more than enough for 1 oscar. they say 500gph is reccomended for 1 oscar.

10-28-2007, 05:51 PM
I would say 75 minimum for one. They get quite large, and the more space they have to grow and thrive, the happier they will be. It is your responsiblity as a fishkeeper to provide the BEST possible living conditions for the fish that you choose to buy. If you cannot provide these conditions, its probobly time to rethink your stocking.

10-28-2007, 10:51 PM
55 is good until they hot about 10", then you need to start looking into a bigger tank.

Biowheels are the best form of biological filtration, but the cartridges for the Penguins and Emperors include carbon, which you don't want to use with oscars. They are not re-usable (may be able to rinse and re-use once or twice, but they aren't re-usable like most canister media). And they are also not that good at mechanical filtration. Penguins and Emperors could work, but aren't the best option. It is not just about gph, there are certain needs a fish demands form its filtration.

One issue is that many or even most oscars don't get past the 12" mark. However, most aren't housed in big enough tanks, so you can't be sure that the ones that never get beyond the 8-10" mark wouldn't have if they were in a larger tank.

This thread asked specifically about the dream home for an oscar. A 55 is arguably not even good enough, so it definitely shoudln't be recommended as their dream home. Their dream home is the biggest tank you can afford that is at least 75 gallons, lots of filtration, lots of water changes, and the best diet available.

10-28-2007, 11:03 PM
I have to disagree with you Fishguy, in the 9+ years I've been keeping fish I have always been an avid reader. On the net and in books and magazines. Only once in those 9 years have I ever seen an oscar reach 15" and that was over at oscarfish.com. I have never heard, seen or read about one bigger than that. The average size seems to be right around the 10" - 12" mark. I have read numerous forums/threads with people keeping a single oscar in 75g's and up and they haven't gotten any bigger than ones in a 55g.

If an oscar could dream, or if it could comprehend abstract thought, I bet it would choose to be free rather than stuck in some tank no matter what the size!

IMO a 55g is fine for a single oscar, no tankmates, but as with any oscar tank you must keep up with the water changes....

Just my 2 :c3:

10-28-2007, 11:03 PM
Thank you so much guys/gals for all your helpful information xxxx

I am going to the aqua store tomorrow - I think I will have a tank made for the oscar to exact measurements and thicker than 'usual' glass and a special lid that can be locked ... I reckon that I will go for a 90 Gallon tank - from what I have read here that should be enough for one.

Foodwise I like to give live or frozen live food rather than flake - amazing that they eats kiwi's !!! LOL I breed shrimp so they could be offered I hope as I am often swamped with them...

Being a big guy/gal how much do you guys feed them daily?

How are Oscars with wood? I was thinking to put in a rock backing wall and then decorating with mangrove wood roots to give a natural feel with lot's of floating plants with long roots ...

10-29-2007, 12:21 AM
Feeding changes as they get older. When young you feed more often (really small ones get four feedings a day). When they are full grown you may only be feeding once or twice a week.

I have heard a number of stories of oscars well over a foot (18", 24", etc.) but never really saw proof of any. I checked fishbase.org and they are listed at 18"/ My cousin had one given to his work that was no joke 20". He didn't get a pic, but he knows what he is talking about and is not one to overestimate a fish's size. Even if he did, I know it was not by more than 2" or so. I don't have a pic, I am not expecting anyone to believe it, but he is probably the only person I would believe without seeing proof. I have heard many other similar stories. I believe some reach these sizes. I also believe that since so many are in relatively small tanks that is also having an effect on how many show up at these sizes.

Again, this is their dream tank, not minimum tank.

Can you go in a different shape at about 90 gallons? A 90 is just a 4" taller 75. A longer tank rather than taller is better. I had a 5' 100 gallon, but I don't think they make those anymore.

10-29-2007, 12:30 AM
if you're getting over 90 get a jaguar cichlid. they get big and they are really neat looking. but also pretty aggressive.

10-29-2007, 12:57 AM
I had a jaguar cichlid, he was in the 75. He was about 15". They are nice, but not as colorful as an oscar and too aggressice. As in, rather than follor you and interact like an oscar, he just wanted to bite me if he saw me in the room (scratched the glass trying to get to me). The only issue is they can get even bigger than oscars. With oscars you could have two, maybe other things depending on tank size, water change schedule, etc. With jaguars you would be lucky if a pair that grew up together tolerated eachother.

10-29-2007, 01:06 AM
I think most oscars as adults are quite ugly. But some are very nice.

10-29-2007, 01:09 AM
Yes, but it seems the uglies come from unideal tanks and care. So if done right they should end up really nice looking.

10-29-2007, 01:19 AM
Fishguy, some great posts with fantastic information here! :c12:

10-29-2007, 01:22 AM
I can give the exact specs of a tank when having it made so the length/height etc. is all my choice...

Have my heart set on an oscar so I am not really thinking of any other type cichlid ;)

Going to have a hunt arround now to see some oscar tanks and see how they are decorated

Thanks again x

10-29-2007, 01:41 AM
welcome to the oscar club! if you're looking for treats for your oscar try earthworms/nightcrawlers it's easy to keep a culture of them for cheap and easy for the fish to digest but i've read that they may be fatty so don't overfeed. as for the big oscar (20") think it could have been wild caught? i've heard of some sizable ones down in florida. as for the tank debate i've always heard 55g for one but thought a breeder in that size would be nice

10-29-2007, 02:02 AM
I would go for something about 5' long, 18" high, and 18" wide. That is 84 gallons. If you could go bigger you can make it a little wider, and if you have even more in the budget I would then go longer.

10-29-2007, 02:36 AM
For me, a 6' 100g tank is the ideal, thats 72"x18"x18". I personally wouldn't keep an O in a tank less than 6'. You can do much less but you're talking ideal.

For filtration I'd get something like a Fluval 405 canister, and an Aquaclear AC110 HOB

Temp around 26 degrees celcius, ph around neutral (though stability is more important than the actual number)

For, food, find a good quality pellet, such as Hikari gold or Bio gold+, omega one or NLS, and feed that 80% of the time, the rest being treats such as fruit and veggies, frozen food, crickets etc

Decorations are really up to you, just make sure he has plenty of open room for swimming

10-29-2007, 02:47 AM
1 oscar in a 55 gallon is plenty. 75 being more ideal. I dont see a need for 1 fish(being an oscar) in anything bigger than a 90.

10-29-2007, 03:42 AM
1 oscar only in a tank above 150g could be a problem since the fish gets skittish from being in a big empty place with no other life, and it gets scared.

to me, a 55g with a oscar can be done fine, but 75g is best

10-29-2007, 03:51 AM
1 oscar only in a tank above 150g could be a problem

You're confusing me now, have i missed a post?

10-29-2007, 04:01 AM
lol, now im confused!

10-29-2007, 11:04 AM
Thank you all again so much x

Just back from the aquarium builder and we have settled on a :
5' long x 23" width x 19" height

Using 14mm glass

So it is going to be 119 Gallon - a lot more than what I was planning on hehehehe

This is going to be the backing wall in the aqua:

It is going to take 3 weeks for the aqua to be delivered to until then I will be reading up on as much info as possible

10-29-2007, 02:12 PM
I would go with a Fluval FX5 as your filtration. I would also use a nice big air pump with ceramic air stones (Rena makes some nice ones). You definitely have room for more than one, I think two would be a good match for that tank. If you wanted you could buy about 6 and let them pair off. That way you could have a breeding pair. Otherwise I would add 2 and let them grow up together in there.

How does that background go in? We had one at one place I worked at that just sat in the back, it created a dead area behind it that could be a problem in an oscar tank.

I like to keep decor simple in messy tanks to limit the possibility of trapping debris (which can lead to nitrate problems) to a minimum. My jaguar cichlid's tank just had gravel and a big PVC pipe T-connector.

10-29-2007, 03:14 PM
Filteration is going to be two large Eheim filter external canisters so it is going to be 'very' overfiltered.... substrate I am going to go with Filtersand so they can have a good dig around.

The backing wall (have them in all my tanks) I fix to the glass with silicone glue via a silicone gun - rinse the tank out and voila you have a backing wall well and firmly in place with no room for fish to get behind it

As the background has a lot of structure the interior I am just going to go for some very large stones (smoothed) and maybe a tree stump root (mangrove or mopani)

Cannot make up my mind on getting 1 or 2 at the moment....

10-29-2007, 03:17 PM
very nice background i love it....i would go with 2 so that that you do not have 1 lonley one in there and also....2 would look cooler.

good luck.

10-29-2007, 03:31 PM
I would go with two as well, a little more intersting, not as boring for the fish (especially if it is a pair), and less likely to sulk in the corner.

Sand may be an issue. Mine are fine on it so far, but they may decide to dig more as they get bigger, the last thing you need is a burned out canister filter because your oscar spits sand in the intake.

Which Eheims?
Any tankmates? (pleco, silver dollars, convicts, anything?)

10-29-2007, 05:24 PM
The intake should not be too big a problem with sand - I am going to build and hide them in the backing wall...but thanks for pointing that out x

Filters are 1 x Eheim Professional III 2080 & a Eheim Professionel 2026 so more than enough I reckon plus I can clean one and leave the other without any spiking.

Stil not sure on getting two - if I get two is it handy to have some dither fish so they are not so concentrated on each other?

10-29-2007, 05:37 PM
If they grow up together they should be fine. Most problems with two are when one grew up or ended up by itself, gets big, then you try and add a new guy. Obviously the original one is not too happy about the new guy forcing his way into his territory, so that is when you are more likely to get problems.

Getting about 6 and letting them pair off is I think the best idea. This way you get a pair and should be able to get rid of the extras without too much of an issue. Another thing is many don't show their colors that well when young, so a not too great looking 2" oscar could end up being the best in the group.