Common Name: Oscar, Velvet Cichlid
Scientific Name: Astronotus Ocellatus
Size: up to 16"/40cm
Min. Tank Size: 60-75gallon minimum with a footprint of atleast 48"*18"
Origins: River systems of Peru and Brazil
Don't be fooled by that cute little 1" baby happily following your finger the length of the LFS aquarium, these fish grow large and grow fast. They also have a knack for eating unsuspecting tankmates that could fit in their mouths. Despite its popularity and common place in the petfish trade...these fish are by no means for everyone. They require a dedicated keeper who is willing to put up with their sometimes less than social behavior as well as the demands that come along with owning a large fish.
These fish come in several diffrent colors/patterns and fin types due to modern breeding....these include the olive, red, tiger, lutino, albino, and recently the lemon. These are available in the standard fin and a recent addition of the veil-tail. No matter color...all Oscars share the same general personality traits, they are all generally a food loving, happy to greet its owner, easily spooked large cichlid. Which at times can suddenly take on a temper and viciously defend its territory against anything that invades even its beloved owners hand.
The aquarium setup should be moderate to allow swimming room for this soon to be large fish. Do include some decor as Oscars when scared do like to be able to hide. Avoid sharp decor as when spooked the fish will dart threw the tank to get to its hiding place. Live plants should be added with caution, Oscars will sometimes take tank decorating upon themselves and re-arrange things as they see fit. When it comes to live plants its truely a trial and error sequence somtimes it works sometimes it doesnt.
Filtration is perhaps the most important aspect into keeping and Oscar, IME its best to use a Canister filter/Power filter combination. Circulating the tanks volume around 10X per hour. These are large fish which produce alot of wase and are often times messy eaters. Waterchanges should be done a minimum of 25% weekly to ensure a clean healthy aquairum system as oscars are prone to HITH disease which is brought on by poor water conditions and poor diet.
Feeding the Oscar is by no means difficult, they are rarely picky eaters and will voraciously eat anything that tips their water. A good high quality pelleted food should be the staple of the diet, its also safe to add chunks of raw shrimp and seafood as well as some lightly blanched fresh veggies to the diet. Frozen fish foods as well as Freeze dried foods also make for a good treat for the fish. Avoid feeding live feeder fish as these are poor in nutrition and have a potentially high risk for disease introduction into the aquarium. If you must feed live foods Crickets and Earthworms are much better options.
Oscars typically reach sexual maturity at around 8", obtaining a mated pair is best done by buying a group of young oscars and allowing them to grow up together and pick their own mates. Oscars have distinct personalities and just because one fish is male and the other female does not necessarily mean that they are compatible and thus will breed. Sexing these fish is not accurate by any means outside of venting these fish, there are several myths about shape of fins or girth of body and so on but these are definatly not always accurate. Generally speaking, male oscars will appear more long and slender compared to a similar sized female which will appear to be a more rounded fish.
In conclusion owning an Oscar is a very enjoyable experience. They are hardy and adaptive. Provide them with a good clean well filtered aquarium and a satisfactory diet and you will enjoy your Oscar for well over 15 years.
Last edited by MCHRKiller; 01-10-2009 at 08:52 PM.