Good Oscar fish care starts with learning as much as you can about the special requirements of this beautiful and much sought-after tropical freshwater fish.
The Oscar fish, sometimes referred to as the Velvet Cichlid, Red Oscar or Tiger Oscar, is a tropical freshwater fish that originated in South America. Their coloration varies according to their mood, but most have orange or red patches on a dark green, brown or black background.
They grow very large, up to 14 inches long. Don’t be fooled by their small size in the pet store tank. This means that you’ll need a large aquarium to house them – at least a 55 gallon aquarium for a single fish and at least a 90 gallon aquarium for a pair.
When setting up the aquarium, try to buy gravel that is cichlid safe. And put enough gravel on the bottom of the tank to hold down any decorations. Real plants will be uprooted and eaten, so fake plants are recommended.
An undergravel filter system is not recommended, as they like to chew on everything in their tank. It’s also recommended that you keep an eye on your heater. They just might start chewing on it too. If so, you should buy a heater guard or find a barrier to put around it.
Oscars like to have plenty of hiding places, so you can provide driftwood, rocks, flowerpots or other structures to accomplish this.
As with all aquariums, set up your aquarium and let it age before introducing your Oscar to it. The nitrogen cycle needs time to complete, and this process takes anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. You can speed up this process by adding filter media, water and/or gravel from an already established tank to your new setup. If you don’t have another aquarium, you can add a little bit of flake food each day to your aquarium and this will begin the nitrogen cycle. Buy a testing kit from your local pet store so you’ll know when the cycle is completed.
Oscars will eat just about anything and it’s good to give them variety in their diet. You should feed them a base of quality cichlid pellets. And supplement this with regular feedings of freeze-dried worms, peas, lettuce, and brine shrimp. Some people even feed their cichlids hot dogs and hamburger meat.
Because Oscars are so big, they create a lot of waste. So you’ll need plenty of filtration to clean your large Oscar aquarium. At least two high-powered filters are absolutely essential. When filtering Oscar tanks, there’s no such thing as overkill. If you have a 90 gallon tank, then you want filters that will combine to filter more than a 90 gallon tank.
Oscars are fairly hardy fish that can live 10 years. They’ll do well in a temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and tolerate a wide range of pH and water hardness levels.