Oscar Fish: How To Care For These Impressive Freshwater Fish

oscar fish

Oscar fish require special care in order to flourish and show off their true characteristics. Once you understand what they need, caring for these fish becomes second nature.

Nurturing an Oscar fish is really quite simple when you understand the basics regarding their needs. The care for Oscar fish involves gaining an understanding of the following:

  • Oscar fish facts
  • Types of Oscar fish
  • Oscar fish price
  • Oscar fish food
  • Oscar fish size
  • Oscar fish behavior
  • Best tank size for Oscar fish
  • Setting up the aquarium
  • Ideal settings for an Oscar fish tank
  • Oscar tank mates

Oscar Fish Facts

Oscars are impressive fish that are amazing to watch as they swim gracefully through the tank. They are also very smart and many owners have found that they can actually pat them and become friends.

They are available in different colors so you can choose one that you find the most appealing.

These fish have complex characters and are extremely interesting. They are known, however, for being aggressive so it’s important to find the proper tank mates for them.

The native habitats of Oscar fish are located in Peru, Ecuador, French Guiana and Ecuador in South America. They can be found in different parts of the world as well, such as in China and the United States, but these places aren’t their native habitats. They were simply introduced in these areas. 

The Oscar fish is a species of cichlid, which is a part of the Cichlidae family. These amazing fish are widely available in the majority of aquarium stores and can live a long, long life. Some Oscars have lived for 20 years as long as they were properly cared for.

Types of Oscar Fish

The Tiger Oscar is the variety of fish that you’ll most commonly see in an aquarium store. Their bodies are long and oval with their fins forming a fan near the back. Both females and males look alike so it can be difficult to tell them apart without a close examination. 

They come in a range of colors with many boasting bright orange and black splotches. There are also other Oscar colors that have been created through the breeding process.

There are Oscar fish available that are mostly yellow or red in color and they are known as lemon or red Oscars. The fins on these varieties are usually either white or black. 

You may also run into albino Oscar fish that has an amazing, bold white color that covers most of their bodies. Most also have a red/orange intertwined lattice that is often found near the end of the body. If you like bold, bright colors, an albino Oscar may be just what you’re looking for.

As well, in general, albino Oscars are often less aggressive than their colorful counterparts.

Oscar Fish Price

In most areas, you can find an Oscar fish that will cost approximately $10. In terms of pricing, however, the cost can range anywhere from $8 up to $100 or more, depending on the size.

If you are looking for a small-sized Oscar that you can enjoy nurturing throughout the years as you watch it grow, you’ll be paying about $10. A larger sized Oscar can be much, much more expensive. 

Oscar Fish Food

In the wild, Oscar fish are predatory and eat a wide range of smaller organisms that may include:

  • Crustaceans
  • Insect larvae
  • Insects
  • Small fish
  • Plant debris
  • Catfish
  • Fallen fruit pieces

They are omnivores and devour their prey by using their mouths as suction to pull them in. They do this by expanding their mouths rapidly and it’s very exciting to watch them feed. 

You have options when it comes to feeding your Oscar, which may include:

  • Pellet or flake foods
  • Blood worms
  • Daphnia
  • Brine shrimp
  • Green vegetables
  • Plants

The easiest and safest option is to feed your Oscar the flaked or pellet food available either online or in a local fish store. They have been made to offer all the proper nutrition required for Oscar fish and there are even some types of fish food that have been specifically developed for cichlids.

The best you can provide to your special fish is a mix of food types. This will provide the nutrients your fish needs to maintain optimum health.

The best scenario would be to provide it with fish pellets or flakes as the primary source of nutrition and other foods listed above to supply additional nutrients and to provide variety.

Oscar Feeding Schedule

You should feed your Oscar 2 times per day. Make sure that you only provide as much food as can be eaten in a single feed. It will only take a couple of minutes for the food to disappear. 

When feeding them keep an eye out for any aggressive behavior. Oscar fish often get very excited about their food and their natural instincts tend to kick in to protect their food. 

Natural Selection of Food

Some Oscar enthusiasts decide to feed their fish a natural selection of food that would be commonly found in the wild. While this can be extremely rewarding for the fish and is actually an affordable option if it is done without a lot of research the fish may end up lacking nutrition. 

It is nice to think that we would be giving the Oscar exactly what it would find in a natural environment, but unless you are dedicated to doing it right, this shouldn’t be attempted – except by dedicated enthusiasts.

You will have to put some time and effort into learning about the different types of nutrients in each food choice to make sure that you are feeding your fish a well-balanced diet.

Live Fish Feeding

One of the things that you should avoid when you have an Oscar is live fish feeding. There is a lot of potential for the passing of diseases from live feeder fish to your precious Oscar fish.

The potential for disease transmission is especially high if you feed it goldfish, which is the common type of feeder fish available in many aquarium stores.

Goldfish are bred by fish farmers in huge numbers. The same holds true for minnows. If you can get your hands on small fish from a trusted breeder, however, you may feed your Oscars these feeder fish in limited amounts.

Just keep in mind that a sole diet of these fish would not provide everything you need for a balanced Oscar diet.

Oscar Fish Feeding Tips

Now that you know what you should be feeding your fish and how often, there are a few general guidelines that you should also know. Oscars are notorious for being gluttons and will consume as much as they possibly can at every feeding.

They can appear to be ravenous and you may be thinking that you aren’t feeding them enough when you provide them with even a generous amount of food.

Moderation is the key when it comes time to feed them. If there is more than one Oscar in your tank they may compete against one another for the food, and against other tank mates. Keep an eye on the feeding frenzy first to make sure that all of the fish in your tank are getting enough.

Oscar Fish Size

Most Oscar varieties that are being raised in captivity grow up to be quite large with some measuring up to 12 inches in length. There have also been a few reports of longer lengths.

You can expect your Oscar to grow 1 inch per month until it is fully grown. In the wild, Oscar fish can grow to a length of 18 inches or even longer and at maturity can weigh more than 3 pounds.

Oscar Fish Behavior

Oscar fish are amazing! They are huge fish with a ton of personality and they are smart. Not only are they very interesting to watch but you may even end up with a friendly Oscar that allows you to interact with him and rub his sides.

Many people that have an Oscar say that they are by far the best fish species you can own. 

The Oscar fish is known to be one of the most intelligent fish species that can live in an aquarium. Its behavior and personality set it apart from other fish species. Once you get to know your Oscar you’ll notice that it has unique traits and some of them can only be described as “human-like”.

The Oscar has its own mind and you’ll see this as it swims with what seems to be a definite intention. Its movements are designed with purpose and you won’t see an Oscar fish swimming or dashing around aimlessly through the tank.

An Affectionate Fish

This species can recognize its owner just as a dog would. For this reason, it has earned the nicknames of “water dog” or “river dog”. You can dip your hand into the water and wait for the Oscar to swim to it.

Make sure that you put your hand in and not just a finger. The fish may mistake your finger for a worm!

Lower your entire hand into the tank slowly by folding it into a fist first. Carefully open your hand and be careful not to move it too much. Be patient and wait for the Oscar to approach. It may not happen at first but over time you may be able to feed it with your own hands and give it a pet.

Before putting your hands in the aquarium, however, give them a good rinse to make sure that they do not have any soap residue left on them. Also, once your fish accepts your hand, don’t touch it too often since it can damage its protective membrane, which can lead to an infection.

Do Oscar Fish Bite?

While Oscar fish do have teeth and can bite, the teeth aren’t sharp. If you do feel a nibble on your hand when trying to pet it you may feel a slight scraping. You don’t have to be worried about receiving a painful bite when you place your hand in the tank. 

Oscar fish has a set of teeth near the back of the mouth, which aren’t sharp, and a second set of teeth way back in the throat. They chew on their prey using the sharper teeth located in the throat. 

Rearranging the Aquarium

You may notice your Oscar trying to re-decorate and re-arrange the tank by shifting things around. It may scoop up some sand from the bottom and then relocate it elsewhere. Anything movable in the aquarium may be re-situated in an effort to restyle the interior!

Mood Swings

Oscar fish are definitely prone to mood swings and you may notice it sulking when something is done it doesn’t like. Even changing the water or the temperature of the water can upset the fish.

While it’s normal for an Oscar to sulk, it only lasts an hour or two before the fish gets back into a playful spirit.

Best Tank Size for Oscar Fish

Since the fish can grow to be large in size, you’ll need to get a big tank. If you house your Oscar fish in a tank that is too small, it will not be happy or healthy. This species requires a large home right from the start.

It’s recommended that the tank be at least 55 gallons but 75 gallons would be a better starting point.

Providing your fish with a smaller tank can cause a number of different problems including the following:

  1. Can stunt its growth
  2. Can shorten its lifespan
  3. Can cause deformities

Oscars can get very stressed when housed in a small environment. They are also more prone to get a disease such as Hole in the Head. Make sure that you get a large enough tank in order to see your Oscar fish flourish for many years.

Setting up the Aquarium

It’s important to set up your aquarium so that it replicates the natural conditions that the fish would experience in the wild. Oscars are not used to extreme alkalinity or acidity since they come from freshwaters that have a neutral pH in South America.

Rocks and other debris would be found at the bottom of these rivers with some sort of vegetation on top.

In order to re-create this original habitat, line the base of the tank with a soft substrate such as sand. You may find that your Oscars end up digging in the substrate so make sure that it is fine so that they don’t get scratched.

Place rocks around the tank and a few decorative plants on top such as hornwort.

If you’re going to have other fish species sharing the tank with your Oscars, it would be a good idea to purchase some caves to add to the tank. This will give the other fish a hiding spot where they can retreat if an Oscar has an aggressive moment.

Ideal Settings for an Oscar Fish Tank

The optimum environment for your Oscar fish tank would be as follows:

  • 6 to 8 pH
  • 74°F to 81°F
  • 5 to 20 KH

Once you have completed the setup and everything looks good, it’s time to bring your fish home. Once your Oscar fish have arrived, be sure to keep the tank lid shut at all times except when it’s time to feed them.

Oscars love to jump and it’s easy for them to take a leap over the top of the tank when you’re not looking.

Oscar Tank Mates

Oscar fish are not the friendliest fish but they are used to having other fish around. When they are placed in a tank though, tensions can arise due to the limited amount of space. If at all possible, consider getting a tank that is dedicated only to Oscars. This would be ideal.

If it isn’t feasible and you want a tank that can act as a fish community, it’s important to look for passive fish. These passive fish should be quite large in size and have the ability to defend themselves. Due to an Oscar’s natural aggressive behavior, you don’t want the other fish to constantly live in fear.

Some examples of compatible fish for Oscars include:

Cichlids are perfect as tank mates since they can withstand the aggressive Oscar behavior more than many other fish.

Will an Oscar Fish Fit in Well with Your Aquarium?

If you already have an existing tank set up, it’s best not to add an Oscar to it. This fish species needs specific tank requirements and fish mates that have been carefully planned. This is one fish that can be considered to be a centerpiece with everything else being designed around it.

Although it is a lot of work at the beginning to get everything set up properly, it’s definitely worth the effort. You’ll be able to enjoy an intelligent, affectionate fish that looks beautiful with its bright colors.

Once you have everything in place, there should be no major problems moving forward. Diseases in Oscars are not common and you’ll quickly find that your Oscar has become a prize possession that is very dear to your heart.

John Kilmerstone

I love keeping pet fish and receive a lot of joy and peace from watching these colorful creatures. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of pet fish. Discover how to care for and look after pet fish and amplify your satisfaction.

Recent Posts