The Oscar fish or astronotus ocellatus is a species of fish from the South American cichlid family known under numerous common names including tiger oscar, oscar, velvet cichlid or marble cichlid. In South America, where the species lives, A. ocellatus are generally sold as a food fish in the local markets. The species is also a very popular aquarium fish.
Small tiger oscar

The Oscar is a fish with remarkable personality. Very intelligent, the fish can be taught to enjoy being petted or roll over for food. Sometimes they act sensitive and prideful or moody, spoiled, and demanding.

This popular fish has been held in very high esteem and has been in demand for numerous years. Oscars are striking fish, quickly grow large - reaching up to a foot in length, and definitely command a lot of attention. Though not usually depicted as beautiful they are quite attentive and personable. Oscars have a rounded appearance and their innate coloration is a red, green, and black. There is usually a red ringed black spot on the tail, referred to as an 'eye spot' and sometimes red spots on the dorsal fin. The Oscar coloration in combination with very small scales gives the Oscar a velvety look. In earlier times they were sometimes referred to as the 'Velvet Cichlid'.

Wild captured Oscars are still very popular and widely available but because Oscars are easily bred, there are many varied color forms available on the market. The most attractive and popular breed of these is the Red Oscar, which has a solid red body and fewer blotchings than the wild fish caught. Other popular tank bred varieties of Oscars include the Tiger Oscar which is very similar in look to the wild form but with more red coloring; the rarer Albino Oscar is a more recent variety of the fish as is the Speckled Red Oscar, showcasing black fins; lastly there are lutinos and long finned varieties of Oscars.

The only disease they are vulnerable to is HLLE, Head and Lateral Line Erosion, which is commonly referred to as "hole-in-the-head" disease. It appears as pits or cavities on the head and face. It is commonly reported this may be a nutritional deficiency of one or more of the following vitamins: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, phosphorous and calcium.

Background

* Kingdom: Animalia
* Phylum: Actiniform
* Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
* Order: Perciformes
* Family: Cichlidae

Care and feeding:

Because the Oscar is carnivorous it prefers a variety of meaty foods. Oscars will eat all types of drive, live, and frozen foods. The fish gets large so it should be fed a very high quality pelleted food and large chun type foods such as sliced up beef heart and earthworms. The Oscar particularly enjoys fish and worms and it is a very hearty eater. Live guppies and then ultimately goldfish will also suffice as the Oscar gets bigger.

Though you can start younger oscars in a smaller aquarium, they grow quickly and will soon need a large home. A 30 gallon aquarium with very good maintaince and filtration is okay, but a 50 gallon aquarium or larger is better. They will need frequent water changes. Oscars do splash water in their enthusiam for eating, so it is good to have the aquarium covered.

These are curious fish that love to play, they will have definite ideas about the interior arrangement and will move things around. Rocks securely placed on the bottom work well while plants will be uprooted. Some suggestions are to put plants in pots with the roots covered with rocks, use plastic plants and securely anchor them on the bottom with silicone cement, or floating plants can work well. Because they like to explore, you can occasionally offer them a 'toy' such as a plastic ornament. Get several and rotate a new one in every so often.

Distribution:

Oscars are found in South America; the Amazon, Parana, Rio Paraguay, and Rio Negro.

Size - Weight:

These fish get up to inches 12" (33 cm). They grow very rapidly and will quickly outgrow a small aquarium.

Social Behaviors:

They are not a community fish. Though they are not belligerent to tankmates, they are predatory. If you start your aquarium with an assortment of fish, eventually you will have only one type of fish left, the Oscar. They will generally burrow and they will dig up plants.

Sexual Differences:

They are difficult to sex. The easiest method is to obtain six to eight juveniles and let them pair off on their own as they reach sexual maturity.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:

These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Acceptable Water Conditions:

Hardness: 10° dGH
Ph: 7.2
Temp: 72-77° F 22-25° C

Breeding/Reproduction:

Oscars are egg layers and open spawners. They forms pairs and will attach their eggs to rocks or the glass. They are excellent parents and both will tend the young, even chewing up food for the fry to eat.

Availability:

The Oscar is readily available, either as a wild caught fish or in tank bred color varieties.

43 Comments

6 years 24 weeks ago, 12:17 AM

bhone20

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I have two 9" oscars.one is an albino,and the other is a common tiger.they love to tear up the tanks ornaments and plants.seemingly for their own amusment.

----hEnDo----
5 years 41 weeks ago, 7:59 PM

escoestacy

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I never new u could get tank ornament for oscars where do u find the tank ornaments at! I have one albino fish that is 9 inches or so long!

5 years 36 weeks ago, 2:13 PM

a-shamrock4u

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Oscars make due with just about anything. Make sure it is small enough for them to beat up but not so small that they can eat it. Fake plants floating on top is a favorite because they drag them all over the place.

Untill next time.....Buck
6 years 18 hours ago, 2:11 PM

SUZY

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I visited my daughter last night and and she introduced me to "IZZY," the new pet in her family. This Red Oscar is approx. 6" long, and beautiful I might add. However, it has a LARGE hole in its right gill (fin). Research on this site diagnosed the problem... now I sure would like to talk to others who have had experience with this problem.... HELP!!

5 years 41 weeks ago, 8:27 PM

ilovemyminirexCoco

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So i have like 5 big fish stuff in tank. Get 'em at a pet store or something.

5 years 40 weeks ago, 8:46 PM

a-shamrock4u

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Daddy had an oscar and he would pout when not fed when he wanted. You have got to love cichlids and their related species.

Untill next time.....Buck
5 years 36 weeks ago, 7:33 AM

Osca-Baby

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I got my Osca about a year ago. He seems to be very distant towards me and my husband. Over the past couple of months he/she started clearing an area of gravel at the bottom of the aquarium right to the glass. Not to mention "Osca-baby" has been playing with 2 big marbles I put in tank. "Osca-Baby" loves to hide in the floating plants and lay up against the air bubble wand. Sometimes we find him/her laying at bottom side ways. We go into a panick thinking the worst but then we get the "fooled ya again" look. I am thinking about feeding him/her some live feeder fish this week. Is this a good idea? I have heard mixed info. Currently I feed Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets and Omega One Freeze Dried Shrimp. Loves the shrimp but so-so on pellet food.
Does anyone have an Osca that acts and eats like mine?

Sandy

5 years 36 weeks ago, 2:08 PM

a-shamrock4u

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Miss Sandy, You have a very normal Oscar! As far as live food goes, don't do it unless you raise them yourself. Feeder fish are half starved and may have nasties which could harm or even kill your friend. Having said that my mommy does buy meal worms for her fish every once in a while. They are in good shape, unlike minows or rosie red goldfish. But they are very high in fat so a little goes a very long way!

Untill next time.....Buck
5 years 36 weeks ago, 5:45 AM

Osca-Baby

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Concerning meal worms - where can I get them? Are they frozen, live or freeze dried? I live in RI - When it gets warmer, are earth worms OK to feed him?
I am looking at getting "Oscar Baby" a bigger tank this spring. Would it be a good idea to get another Oscar buddie for "Oscar Baby"? The answer to this question will tell me how big of a tank I should get for 1 oscar or 2 oscars. I just don't want "Oscar Baby" to get bored or lonely. I give him plenty of attention, but he is kind of shy when we come up to his tank. is this normal? I am hoping someday I can get him to eat out of my hand or let me pet him.

Sandy

5 years 36 weeks ago, 2:56 PM

a-shamrock4u

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You can buy meal worms at the pet stores. They are live food. You can also feed crickets and earth worms. I have found that my cichlids don't like the freeze dried foods much but frozen foods are eaten with gusto! Try to stay away from marine foods. Oscars or any fresh water fish have a hard time with the salt. Shrimp are ok if they are freshwater.

As far as tank size goes for one oscar 55g is the very smallest tank but 75g would be better. If you want a second Oscar, double it. Now the nice thing about Oscars is they don't have to have a second Oscar to be happy.

Now Oscars are very friendly by nature so I have a few things that may help you bond with yours. First off is tank placement. If the tank is in an area where there is heavy traffic than fish tend to be timid. All the fast movement does not help. If the tank is in a quiet corner than the fish will calm down. When you approach do so slowly. Second is bloodworms! Fish go nuts over them. I like the frozen kind the best. Just hold a frozen cube in the tank and oscar will quickly learn that good things come from your hand.

Hope this helps. And give it a little time.

Untill next time.....Buck
5 years 30 weeks ago, 3:41 AM

MsAmanda

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Thank you for setting my mind at ease. I have been so worried over our one oscar we have had him for about a month. Beautiful fish loves to swim in front of us and beg for food excessively. We love it! Of course I felt bad for him because he was alone and I was pushing on getting another one. But it sounds like you know what goes on with these fellas and when I heard the news I was elated.
I know who to come to if I have a question.

Take care

5 years 30 weeks ago, 1:38 PM

a-shamrock4u

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Thanks! This is the hard part because your oscar already knows you and begs but don't overfeed. The worst thing you can do is overfeed because fish live longer and are more healthy if they are a little hungry.

Don't forget to do your water changes!

Untill next time.....Buck
5 years 36 weeks ago, 3:15 PM

UNC heels1022

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I have an albino tiger oscar and I feed him blood worms,brine shrimp, and regular flakes. I have only had him for 2 weeks. Is that a good diet.

5 years 30 weeks ago, 1:30 PM

a-shamrock4u

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Guess I need to check over here more often! It is a good diet but reserve the brine shrimp as treats every once in a while. Fresh water fish have a hard time processing the extra salt. You can also give him floating foods like Hikari's cichlid gold. Stay away from live foods like rosie goldfish and guppies because they are half starved and can cary disease. If you must feed live food, set up a small tank and breed them yourself. You will then know that the guppies are healthy and fat. Insects are also a good food. worms and crickets are easy to get from your local pet store.

Enjoy your oscar.

Untill next time.....Buck
4 years 9 weeks ago, 7:17 PM

Gillespie16

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absoulutly oscar fish love different variteties of food from that diet he will grown very large and colorful.

Gillespie
5 years 26 weeks ago, 7:59 PM

cadeypeddle

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Hey, just wondering, I know that people do keep an oscar with a pair of convict cichlids. Just wondering what your thoughts on this are?

5 years 22 weeks ago, 12:06 AM

inamberclad

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as soon as the oscar is big enough the convicts will be bullied and proberly eaten

5 years 26 weeks ago, 7:27 PM

anmadrid2003

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Pretty cool, my tiger oscar lets me put my hand in there and pet him, of course not during feeding time. My water gets dirty pretty quick, What kind of filters do you recommend for a 50 gallon?

5 years 22 weeks ago, 12:13 AM

inamberclad

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i use a good external filter and undergravel filter pumped by a power head this helps to break down there crap quicker and keeps your water nice and clean

5 years 22 weeks ago, 11:59 PM

inamberclad

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oscars are amazing fish iv had mine for nearly 6 years now hes 12" in size and has a great personality he will eat from my hand and likes his dorsal fin stroked. i recommend alot of interaction with your oscar as they will get to know you, they also like toys mine likes to play with a plastic ball and a small rubber duck, i dont know about anyone else but he also changes colour depending on his mood has anyone else noticed this?? as for feeding he injoys pellet food, earth worms, snails and i breed guppies and platys for him. please let me know if you've managed to teach your oscar tricks iv only gotten as far as swimming backwards and lying on his side by following my finger but getting him intrested is a bit tricky

5 years 6 weeks ago, 7:32 PM

joedrifta

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I have about 4 different oscars at the moment . They are my pride and joy . I have a red that is 3 inches long , a common that is 4 inches , an albino ruby red that is about 8 inches long and a tiger that is about 14 inches long . I have 4 tanks to suit that suit them well and a little pond of feeder comets . At night I like to hang out in the patio with the lights off and run only my tank lights . I noticed that my oscars have different personalities . My tiger likes to bask close to the surface with the tank light on and he turns pure black , fills himself up with water to look bigger while flexing his fins to show his power or something . He is actually is the lone survivor from my first batch of fish. He killed about 5 other fishes claiming my 75 gallon to himself . I also have a 15 - 16 inch algae eater in the tank with him that he can't kill but he trys to on a daily basis . I've raised alot of other fishes besides oscars like koi's and arrowana's and other chiclid's of sort but grew to love my oscars more .

4 years 51 weeks ago, 4:19 PM

vinny

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i think my oscar is starting to get hole in the head. how do i stop it or heal it? can anyone help i love my fish

4 years 9 weeks ago, 7:16 PM

Gillespie16

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Oscar fish always get that its a common medical problem i would recommend going to the nearest pet store and buy the medicine they sell.

Gillespie
4 years 42 weeks ago, 6:46 AM

sammydooda95

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any suggestions on how to train them? i just got mine, its very young and about 2 or three inches long, i would really like some help on the subject. also i have a 10 gallon tank how long do you think that will last, how fast do they grow? oh and its a tiger oscar.
please help;)

4 years 34 weeks ago, 5:01 PM

sean88

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i just put the food near the water so they could see it and soon they will jump out of the water and sometimes when mojo who is my oscar comes up to the top of the tank and i will pat his head but its but mainly its all about time and patsions hope tht helps my oscar mojo who is 12inchs long and he lives in a 55gallon tank and he is 8years old and it took less than 12 mounths to get fully grown and he can lift bogwood up 2 get his food

4 years 41 weeks ago, 2:32 PM

BooCB250

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I just bought 2 albino oscars last night. After putting them in the tank, however, they seem very unhappy. :( They're just lying on the bottom of the tank looking around. Is this normal? The water temp is 72-74F, which I read is an OK temp (between 70-80F). I don't have many decorations yet, but plan on getting some. From what I've read, I plan on getting a couple floating plants, some glass marbles. Any other suggestions? Do they need a heavy current? I want to buy one of those round bubble disks. These are my first oscars, and i want to make sure they're happy. Also, re: feeding. The guy at the petstore said give them cichlid food, and maybe once a month or so give them a treat of fish. I'll go the frozen food route after reading info on this website, but is this a good feeding habit? Thank you for your help!

4 years 38 weeks ago, 5:33 PM

oscarbill

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I have a 55 gallon tank with 3 oscars 1 jack dempsey and 3 cichlids is that too many fish for a 55 gallon tank?I also read that I need to change the water,how often do I need to do that?I have 2 60 gallon filters on my 1 55 gallon tank so do I ever really need to change the water?

4 years 34 weeks ago, 4:49 PM

sean88

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no u should'nt have that many fish in that size tank and yes you should do a water change every 2 weeks i have a 55gallon tank and i have 1 tiger oscar called mojo who is 12 inchs and he is with a albino common pleco which is 15inch and a 6inch spotted dora (talking cat) and they live happy and it isnt cramped

4 years 38 weeks ago, 5:39 PM

oscarbill

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I have 1 albino oscar and 1 tiger oscar for 2 months I recently got a oscar that looks like a tiger oscar but its black and silver rather than black and red,hes half the size of my other 2 oscars but he beats up on them all the time why is this and what kind of oscar is he?

4 years 25 weeks ago, 2:12 AM

Sbradd72

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I just bought a Red Oscar today and had no idea what i was getting into when i bought this cool looking fish at my local pet store. I need help!! i heard that the possiblitys are endless with this fish i just dont know where to start and i fear i may do something to kill my new friend.

-Bradley
4 years 9 weeks ago, 7:14 PM

Gillespie16

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They are similar to all the other fish and basic principals apply dont worry about hurting him they are tuff and hardy fish just make sure the lid of the tank is always closed because they tend to jump alot also because they are so big i recommend feeding them different amounts of food and they are carnivorous so feed them things like bloodworm as a treat.

Gillespie
4 years 9 weeks ago, 7:10 PM

Gillespie16

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This is by far one of the most interesting fish i have owned they are beautiful they become very big and each have different traits about themselves.

Gillespie
4 years 2 weeks ago, 12:45 AM

BD

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I'm thinking about buying a tiger oscar, and I was wondering:

1: Can they be housed with other, more peaceful fish? I was planning on keeping my oscar in the same tank as a couple of clown loaches, which are similar in size. Would that be OK?

2: What kinds of food do Tiger Oscars, in general, prefer?

3: I'm aware that they can dig up plants. Should I even bother planting anything, or should I just skip to the part where they're floating at the top of my tank?

Much appreciation if you can answer these questions!

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