10 things you should know before buying Oscar fish


If you have been keeping fish for at least 5 minutes, you have probably seen or heard about Oscars. They are everywhere, and pretty much everyone loves them.

So, here are 10 things you should know about Oscar fish 


How fast do Oscar fish grow

Let's face it. There are tons of new fish keepers with less than the amount of patience needed, and they want that instant gratification. Oscars are perfect for these kinds of people because they grow so fast and they get big. They can make a massive statement in your aquarium. It doesn't happen instantly, but under the right conditions, these fish can grow like weeds. You can expect an Oscar to grow to 10 inches with in the first year and fully grown. They will get to 12 to 14 inches.

Some people claim that they can get even bigger but require excellent conditions. Meaning they have to have the right size tank, good clean water, and a proper diet.


The Oscar Popular & Mistreated

If you know nothing about aquariums and you just start doing research 5 minutes ago on how to keep an Oscar fish. You have probably already heard of Oscar fish. Oscars are extremely popular, they are everywhere, and there are millions of reasons why.

The reason Oscars are one of the staple fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They are so personable, and they have those big bulging eyes, which makes them look more stunning. It's no wonder so many people fall in love with them. A lot of fish keepers will tell you about the Oscars that they got when they got into this hobby and about how fast they grow. 

The problem with Oscars being so popular is that it makes them one of the most mistreated fish in the hobby. Before you go to buy your Oscar, do plenty of research on how to care for one of these monsters, do the right thing, take care of them, and their personality will shine. These fish are one of the closest pets that you'll find to a dog or a cat. You just have to live with one, and you will understand, within no time they will become a member of the family.


Oscars Big Personality

When you think about a fish in the aquarium, you don't think about them having a personality, but the fact is that they do have one, especially Oscars.

The Oscar fish has one of the biggest personalities of any other fish that you'll find in this hobby. When you have one for a while, they will start to recognize you as soon as you walk into the room. They get excited just like a cat or a dog, and it feels so good. You haven't experienced the bliss of fish keeping until you walk into the room, and your Oscar starts wagging its tail. It's next-level stuff.

They are also very moody. You can tell when they are sad. You can tell when they are happy. These fish have a lot of drama. To be realistic, they recognize you as a big blurry thing that gives them food a couple of times a day, but it's so cool. Get an Oscar, and you'll know what we are referring to.


Oscars are Master Decorators

As fish keepers, we look at our aquariums as a place to not only house pets but also to express ourselves and try to beautifully decorate these aquariums with things like plants, rocks, and driftwoods. This is awesome, but understand that your Oscars is goanna express themselves too.

They are going to show you very quickly that this is their tank, not yours. Oscars can be downright destructive too. Almost anything that you put in the tank can be a potential target for them. You can spend hours finding that perfect place for the skull with the bubbles coming out of it or maybe a beautiful plant. You walk away from the tanks for a few minutes, and when you come back, you find it floating at the top of the tank. In the end, your Oscar is goanna determine where this stuff in your tank goes, not you.

If you are planning on keeping an Oscar in a 75-Gallon tank, then I suggest that you keep any decorations to a minimum. Maybe do something like an excellent 3D background with one focal point of driftwood or something like that. You need to understand that the smaller the tank and the more decorations that you put in the tank, the more room you are taking away from them to be able to swim around and grow.

If you are considering keeping an Oscar put them in a 125-gallon tank or larger so that they have plenty of room, maybe stick to just one or two large decorations that are too heavy for them to pick up so that they can't throw them around the tank.


Different Types of Oscars

There are several different types of Oscar out there. They all pretty much have the same body shape and look the same except for their colors and their pattern, which will be the same except for the longfin variety. The most common are Tiger Oscar, and they are primarily a grayish black with red or orange blotches all over their body.

Then you have the Albino tiger, which is basically instead of the grayish-black color you'll have white and red. Then there are the Red Latinos, which have a more consistent reddish color to their body, and their head and fins will be that grayish black. The Latinos are the Albino version of the rack then you have the Oscar variants that are much harder to find.  But if you do, it is truly amazing, like your long fin version or lemon Oscar.

The Lemon Oscar is entirely yellow and as magnificent if you ever get to see them.


Oscar Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for your Oscar, there is one crucial thing that you need to keep in mind. If it can fit in Oscar's mouth, its goanna eats it. Most of the time, when you find Oscar in the pet store, they are only a couple of inches, and you might think that they may do fine with your smaller fish. BIG MISTAKE!

Oscar grows at an incredibly fast pace. It is likely to outgrow any of the other fish that are in your tank. As the Oscar gets bigger, it will start to look around at the other smaller fish, and they are going to say "someday." And eventually that someday will come, they will grow larger than the other fish in the tank and guess what happens. The other fish becomes Oscar's food.

Don't think that if you buy a couple of small fish and they grow up together that they are going to mean something to one another. In some cases, it might be correct, but most of the time it's not. It is recommended to keep Oscars the focal point of the tank, but if you absolutely must have some friends in there with them. Stock to other South and Central American Cichlids.

  • Red Devils
  • Jaguars
  • Jack Dempseys
  • Blood-red parrots
  • Arowanas

Most of the time, Oscars are not aggressive towards the other fishes in the tank. Unfortunately, it's usually the other way around. Oscars are 'gentle giants.'


Oscar Diet

Oscars have several misunderstood diet requirements. So, what they do need and what you shouldn't feed your oscar?

It's essential to have a varied diet for Oscar. The most important part is to have quality food, whether it is a cichlid pallet or some type of cichlid sticks. Something to understand about Oscars is that they are not piscivores i.e., the fish that feeds and hunts other fish to get its primary source of nutrition.

Oscars are opportunistic feeders. They will eat fish at times. But, their diet does not consist of a lot of fish in the wild. They eat a lot of insects, snails, invertebrates and they sometimes eat some vegetation. Most Oscar doesn't eat plants in captivity because they do not have access to quality cichlid food and shrimps.

With that varied diet along with your cichlid pellet or cichlid stick, it is recommended to feed them shrimp. It is okay to feed them a small amount of fish, so you could get some fresh fish or shrimps as well as frozen. 

Just know that it should not be their primary source of food. Live food for oscar is not recommended because it can cause issues or even injury your fish from chasing it or getting some kind of disease transmitted from feeder fish that you feed them.

  • Insect
  • Shrimp
  • Crustaceans
  • Pellet foods
  • Seafood from time to time

Tank Requirements for Oscars

Oscars grow very fast, so when it comes to setting up a tank for them, you do not want to go with anything smaller than a 75-gallon tank. But remember that bigger is always better. If you buy one of these fish as a baby, they are small, and you may be tempted to put them in a smaller tank until it starts to get bigger, that's fine but just remember these fish can grow up 8-10 inches during the year.

The perfect situation for an Oscar fish is going to be a 125-gallon tank. When you put them in that big tank you'll notice how happy they are and that the fish responds to you with those big bug eyes.

Oscars are an extremely hardy fish capable of handling a wide range of water parameters, but don't let that allow you to become lazy; you still need to do your job.

pH: 6-8

So, pretty much whatever you have coming out of the tap is going to be okay. Just remember consistency is the key rather than chasing the pH all over the place. Just keep it stable, and Oscars would be good.

Temperature: 78-80

Keep them warm and cozy. But they do fine in water even cooler or warmer than that. One of the biggest things with this fish is keeping the water clean. These fish are big eaters; therefore, they are also big poppers. So, you need to keep up with your aquarium maintenance. 

Just stay at the top of your maintenance, and they will be your best friend forever.


Common Diseases for Oscar Fish

Like every other fish in the aquarium hobby, Oscars are also vulnerable to disease, especially if you are not doing your job. If you are keeping the water too cold, introducing new fish that haven't been quarantined, and not keeping up with maintenance, these are all things that can increase the likelihood of them coming down with everyday things like parasites.

This is another one you'll hear almost every time you.

When talking about Oscar, it's common to hear about a hole in their head. While this is very common with Oscars, it is. Fortunately, it can be successfully treated. The bottom line is if you do your job, you shouldn't run in any of these problems.

Keep up with your maintenance, be very cautious of where you buy your tankmates from, and provide a quality varied diet, not feeder fish, and you would not face any of these problems.


Are Oscars Good for Beginners?

Above, we have talked about a bunch of stuff that might help you decide if they are a good fish for you or not. They are fun and easy to keep, but does that make them a great beginner fish?

Well, yes and no.

They are a good beginner fish because they'll usually be able to pull through a lot of the mistakes that the new fish keeper will make. But unfortunately, most new fish keepers break the number one rule when it comes to Oscars, and that is TANK SIZE. Most of the new fish tank keepers aren't going to set up a 75 or 125-gallon tank. They are almost always going to start with 20 or 29-gallon tanks, and it could be a while until they can upgrade to something more substantial. 

This means that the new fish keeper set up a 20-gallon tank, and then they put an oscar in there and end up being in there for years. Putting an Oscar in a 20-gallon tank would be similar to placing a rottweiler in a crate designed for chihuahuas. It's just not right if you are not prepared to upgrade to a larger tank within a few months, then just don't go for an Oscar. 

Oscars being one of the most mistreated fish in the hobby, almost 100%  of the cases of Oscar being mistreated, it's because in a tank that is way too small for them.

So, yeah, they are suitable for a beginner, but only for the beginner who knows they are going to be in this for a long haul, and you know that long time the are going to do what they need to do for these fish.

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