Care level: suit beginner/ intermediate fish keeper with large tank.
Origin: Oscars are originally from South America, in its natural environment it lives in waters that are shallow and slow moving, it likes to hide under fallen logs and submersed junk.
Lifespan: 10-13+ years (Oscars are a long term companion)
Size: 30cm (12â€) or more. Oscars can grow at about 3cm a month.
Temperature: 23-28oC (73-82oF)
Disease: When Oscars are kept in poor water conditions they are very susceptible to diseases, the more common of these are:
HITH: HITH is short for Hole In The Head disease This is when the Oscars get large cave like holes in there head, HITH starts out as small erosions in and around the sensory pits eventually, noticeable pits develop. The best way to treat HITH is with good water quality and a dose of medications like Primafix.
ICH: ICH is a small parasite that feeds on the inside of the fish until it grows out of the fish and attaches itself to the outside of the fish and forms a white cacoon for itself. This will appear as Small white spots resembling sand. Fish scratch against rocks and gravel and in advanced stages fish become lethargic and redness or bloody streaks will appear. To treat ICH it is recommended to increase the heat in your tank by 1 degree every 6 hours until it reaches about 32o and than leave at that temperature for two weeks after the ICH has disappeared, you must also have good water quality.
Oscars make great pets as they are very quick at learning and have great personalities. They will remember where you feed them from and go back to that area when they are hungry. Oscars have a huge personality they show this in many ways like if they are feeling uneasy they will go and â€œsulkâ€ by hiding away. They are also very inquisitive and will go through everything in the tank, most likely resulting in uprooting and moving of objects.
Oscars require a large space to live in as they are a big and dirty fish. One Oscar requires a minimum of 240 litres (55 Gallons). Oscars like some decor in their tank to play around with but be warned they will move it around and possibly damage it. Sharp decorations should be avoided as Oscars can easily damage there scales and fins. A medium bright light suits an Oscar tank as if the light is too bright it can increase aggression. If Oscars are kept in a tank to small for them it will cause stunting. Stunting is very common in Oscars and will eventually cause death, there is no way to reverse stunting so it must be prevented by making sure your Oscar is housed correctly .
Oscars can be kept with other fish, as long as they are bigger than the mouth of the Oscar or they will end up as a snack. A lot of people put dither fish in there tank to liven it up a bit more, some good dither fish for Oscars would be:
Silver dollars, Tiger Barbs or Giant Danios. Dither fish not only make the tank more active but will also eat any left over scraps. The keeping of tank mates can vary and will depend on whether or not you have an aggressive Oscar, some will be friendly but others will be downright aggressive and canâ€™t have companions.
Oscars require a varied diet consisting mainly of a good quality cichlid food (which can be easily bought from your local LFS),They also like prawns, earthworms, bloodworm, shrimp, bugs and brine shrimp, but again it all depends on the fish, just experiment and see what it likes. You can feed your Oscar live food (like goldfish and guppies) but they MUST be quarantined and disease free, so you do not spread disease and harm your fish. Live fish should be feed a maximum of once a fortnight.
Oscars are fairly easy fish to breed all you need to do is leave them alone to mate, the only difficulty in getting Oscars to breed is trying to get a pair as they are very hard to sex. There is no sure fire way to visually sex them. Another problem with trying to breed Oscars is you will need a very large aquarium 700+ litres. Oscars will generally lay between 1000-2000 eggs on a flat rock, with the parents then looking after them.
By Samuel Nolthenius