Among the many species of fish, Oscar fish is considered to be one of the most intelligent and also moody fish.
As a fish keeper, you have to learn how to provide for it without making its living conditions unbearable. The Oscar fish is a native of South America and thrives in freshwater, the fish features some peculiar colors that enable it to contribute to the aesthetic value of your aquarium.
So what makes the Oscar fish stand out? Whenever you are introduced to a new environment, you will either be intrigued or scared and be tempted to seclude yourself until you can make heads or tails of the new environment. Well not for the Oscar fish, because once they are introduced to a new environment they will move with purpose and not look for hiding spots like most fish do.
Oscar Fish Care
Taking care of the Oscar fish is not an easy job and definitely not one for the new beginners, they do consume a lot of food which means that they also produce a lot of waste. Cleaning the aquarium, therefore, has to be frequent to prevent the water from being too toxic for the fish, water should also, be changed at least twice a week.
Though they are the hardy type of fish, Oscar fish can develop a horrific ailment known as hole in the head. The disease is characteristic of forming cavities in the head that produces white stringy excrements; the discharge is because of injury to the intestinal wall. The above condition is mostly because of lack of the proper nutrients in the fish’s food.
Feeding the Oscar Fish
The types of foods that the Oscar fish feeds on while in its natural habitat are quite different from what other fishes feed on. Therefore, while in captivity it would be best to provide for your fish with some of the delicacies that are available in the wild such as the mealworms, locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. The above foods are necessary for the fish because they provide the necessary vitamins.
However, these are not the only food that your Oscar will be feeding on and you can supplement the above with different kinds of seafood and the commercial pellets. A big percentage of the fish’s food should comprise of the cichlid pellets because they contain almost all the nutrients and vitamins required by the Oscar fish. And for a fully functional digestive system, you could feed your Oscar some shrimps and prawns.
In the wild, the Oscar would go after small insects, run after the small-sized fish and feed on the crustaceans, and since we want to provide the most natural of habitats while in captivity, you could feed your Oscar fish with live foods to encourage them to bring out their hunting prowess.
The recommended tank conditions for the Oscar aquarium would be 74-81 degrees Fahrenheit, with a PH of between 6 and 8. Oscar by nature loves to hunt so while in the tank it is not limited and will dig up everything that it suspects has food. So be ready for your fish tank to be roughed up and this includes the artificial plants.
Given the Oscars digging character, you should use a very soft substrate at the bottom of the tank, to prevent tearing of the fish’s flesh when hunting. Bogwoods and rocks, when placed around the tank, would be great for holding down the aquarium decorations and plants, and leave the mid-space for the fish to swim.
A water heater is a necessary addition to the fish tank to help in maintaining the ideal water temperature. You should also consider including an effective filter to the fish tank, to help clear the water given the fish’s high rate of waste removal.
Oscar Fish Tank mates
Oscar is a very aggressive fish and will wipe out all the small fish’s, snails and shrimps. So if you are thinking of pairing it with another fish, the company should be passive and large because if by any chance they can fit in the Oscar’s mouth don’t bother looking for them. Don’t put two feisty types of fish in the Oscar tank because none will want to give way thus fight and harm each other.
Some of the most compatible fish’s are from the cichlid family like the Firemouth Cichlid, the jaguar cichlid, the Severum Cichlids, and the convict cichlids. Also, invest in a spacious tank because the Oscars are very territorial, you could also keep them with their own, to minimize disputes
Oscar Fish Breeding
If you are thinking of breeding the Oscar fish, then prepare yourself for the hard task ahead. Oscars don’t just breed with any fish of the same species that you incorporate in the fish tank, they have to build a connection and become mating pairs before you see results. The only time you can expect juveniles from the Oscar is if they have found a suitable mate.
The Oscar fish breeds in the rainy season, so you also have to ensure that you create a rainy season environment in the aquarium. To achieve the latter you will sprinkle some water at the surface of the aquarium for a few minutes every day, lower the temperatures and change the water more frequently.
When the environment is right and the fish is ready to spawn it will give the male Oscar fish a signal by flaring their gills and use their fins to indicate to their preferred mate.
Preparation for egg-laying
So here is the most interesting part, the male Oscar highly values their juveniles and will help the female Oscar clean the rock surface that the eggs will be laid on. They will then stay guard until the eggs have hatched, the male will then protect the territory in which its family is staying from other fish’s, while the female fans the eggs to keep them from being smothered by the substrate.
For the best chances of survival, you could move the juveniles to a different tank that has a sponge filter, feed them frequently like 3 times in one day, so that they can grow quickly. Important to note is that a smaller tank will stunt the growth of the fish, you should, therefore, provide enough space.