Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Picklee 06-15-2007 03:20 PM

Oscar sick?
So... I have a 10 gallon aquarium with the below specs:

Temperature 80°F
pH ~ 6.0-6.1
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrates Unknown

I have three small angels, a pleco, and an Oscar. It's a planted aquarium with an amazon sword, some wysteria, and a piece of driftwood I bought to help keep the pH low.

I noticed yesterday (June 14th) that he was hiding or just sitting on the bottom side, near where my light is located, slowly breathing. He was aware of my presence since his eyes were moving. He used to eat very readily. I would be feeding him all the time and he always seemed hungry. To me, it sounds like some parasite. Ideas?

leifthebunny 06-15-2007 04:03 PM

6.0/1 is way too low for oscars, they prefer the 7-7.5 range. Plus, those fish will outgrow that tank fairly quickly.

How often have you been cleaning the tank? Oscars are pretty touchy for water quality and are also sensitive to chlorine/chloromines. How is the coloration of the fish?

Picklee 06-15-2007 04:09 PM

Well, he's been in there for over a month with no problems with the pH. Like I said, he used to have a really big appetite, and now he hasn't eaten in the past two days anything that I have given him.

I've been doing 20% water changes every week or so. The coloration of the fish is fine.

Julie's Julies 06-15-2007 04:13 PM

How big is your oscar? From my research, they can get 12+ inches and require TONS of room. A single oscar needs 40 gallons to himself due to his territorial disposition; a 55-gallon can hold a pair. He might need more room than the 10-gallon is giving him; I have also been told that they do best with only other similar-sized cichlids (even though Angels are part of the cichlid family). Just a thought. Hope he improves!

mHeinitz57 06-15-2007 05:08 PM

oh, an oscar will easily reach 15"+ and would be powerful enough to bust the glass on a 10 gallon tank with no problem. Even though he "fits" in there right now, you are stunting his growth as well as the growth of the angels. Your pleco will probably grow no matter what because they tend to do that but he will get about 19"...and your tank is 20"! Angels will grow to about 6-8" so you have about 58" of potential fish in your tank. If you want to give them any kind of humane environment at all, you need to upgrade soon. Oscars can also be very dirty animals so make sure you are checking your nitrites and nitrates as well as the other parameters. Another thing to consider is that angels can actually be more aggressive than oscars at times. Oscars are big and aggressive but are easy targets for smaller nippy fish. I learned that the hard way when I had tiger barbs terrorizing one of my oscars awhile back. Angels are actually in the south american cichlid family but there is a possibility that they have dominated the tank. When oscars feel scared they will usually go off into a corner and sometimes even lay flat. Anyways, time for a bigger tank :-)

Picklee 06-15-2007 09:10 PM

Heh, okay, people. I appreciate the comments, but they do not solve any of my problems. All my fish are happy no matter what you guys say. And besides, he will be moving to a larger home anyway. SO, again, any ideas about why his appetite has suddenly dropped, and why he sits at the bottom all of the time? The angels have not been picking on him. I know that from simply watching them for hours-on-end. In fact, he used to pick on them. The size of my tank, or the choice of my fish are not my immediate concerns.

mHeinitz57 06-15-2007 09:29 PM

well except that a fish does not need to pick on another fish to be a dominant fish. When we get oscars in the store occassionally we get a shipment that are smaller than average. When put with the larger oscars they just huddle in the corner. Even though the large ones are not picking on them, they still huddle in the corner. This also means that they do not freely search for food when the tank is being fed because the dominant fish get "first dibs". All I'm saying is that a school of 3 angels could pose a threat to an oscar even if he once nipped at them. (many fish actually nip as a defense when they feel threatened as well). Also, if this is the case than the oscar is enduring prolonged stress in the tank. Combination of stress and too small of an environment will cause some fish to become lethargic which means they are inactive and do not eat readily. Just because fish once got along perfectly does not mean that behavior can't change. Fish develop dominance over time and that dominance switches between groups of fish or individuals all the time. In my tank for instance, there are times where my angel dominates the tank and there are times where my gouramis dominate. With all due respect, we are not trying to "scold" you or anything be we are actually trying to solve your problem.
It could very well be that your problem IS the kind of fish you have in such a small environment and maybe that should be your immediate concern. You also have not told us your nitrite/nitrate parameters yet. Poisoning from either could result in lethargic behavior as well. Besides behaviors that you mentioned, do you notice any physical irregularities of the oscar? Look for breathing patterns, growths, discoloration, protruding scales, reddened gills, torn or rotted fins, etc. If he actually appears to be fine, my best guess is still that it is due to angel dominance in a small environment.

Picklee 06-15-2007 09:37 PM

Well, truthfully, this episode has developed, literally, overnight. He was very active, and eager to eat. He's larger than the three angels, and they never bothered him anyway. He doesn't have any irregularities now, except his very poor appetite, and resting at the bottom of the tank. He has slowed his breathing, I've noticed, but that is likely due to his inactivity.

mHeinitz57 06-15-2007 09:45 PM

many episodes occur overnight so i'm still holding on to my theory. If you don't want to accept it though, thats up to you. Other reason he may not eat could be due to constipation. Its actually not as uncommon as you think with oscars, especially when they suck down dry pellets that can potentially expand inside of them and cause a blockage. Use of Epsom salts in the water serve as a natural laxative that could help. If he will eat at all, try chopping up pea hearts and feeding them to him. Another mentioned that he stays towards the you notice any bouyancy problems when he does swim. Like does he swim upwards and then just sink irregularly?

Picklee 06-15-2007 09:53 PM

I thought it might be constipation as well. I noticed that he tried to poop earlier. He isn't fed anything larger than small plankton or blood worms, however. He hasn't any buoyancy difficulties at all. He is still fast at swimming and he can properly maintain his balance. You're probably right. I guess I'll have to move him to a larger tank. :( I just wanted to make sure that there might not be parasites, or some type of bacterial infection where I might have to quarantine him.

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