Taking a Closer Look at Oscars
One of the most popular aquarium fish species is the Oscar. Brilliantly colored and quite smart, there’s a lot you didn’t know about these tough fish.
Some of the most common aquarium fish are called Oscars. Scientifically named Astronotus ocellatus, these fish are a cichlid, and are a more aggressive and territorial fish not best suited to a community tank. The interesting and unusual fact about Oscars is that even though they may be a tough fish, this fish comes in a variety of beautiful color and fin types.
Oscar Colors and Types
You may have seen the run-of-the-mill brown variety, and if it is a well-cared for fish, it will have beautiful markings on its sides. The brown or black oscar is called a tiger oscar. There is also a red oscar that is quite striking. They also are available in an albino color, which appears as a mostly white fish with pinkish colored eyes. Some refer to white oscars with orange or red markings as albino, but these are a separate strain called a Lutino Oscar.
As for fin types, the typical oscar has short fins and resembles most of the other cichlids in its family, but there is also a long-finned version that is gorgeous. The long-finned oscars encompass a tough guy personality with a pinch of a more delicate and graceful fish, like a betta.
Oscars are large cichlids, and grow to lengths of about 12 to 14 inches and need a 100 gallon tank to be comfortable. They are intelligent fish, and can be taught to do tricks for food, and have been known to form a relationship with their keepers. Some people can even pet their Oscars, and they like it!
The Oscar is an easy fish to care for, assuming it has a tank of the right size. They eat just about anything, but that doesn’t mean that they should. Oscars enjoy crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects you can find outside. They also love live fish as food, just use caution on where you get the feeder fish because disease can and will be spread if they are not healthy. If you breed other fish, your oscar will happily help you eliminate the culls. They also will eat commercial fish food, in any shape or form. Feed a varied diet for optimum health, and your oscar will grow and thrive quickly.
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Breeding oscars is not a simple process, though it can be done. Oscars show no differences between males and females that can be seen prior to breeding, so getting a pair can prove to be difficult. Sexual maturity varies in these fish, and they can be picky about choosing a mate. That means that even if a keeper is lucky enough to have a male and female, they may not choose to spawn with each other. Oscars are egg layers, so if your fish do decide to spawn that is what to look for. They can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, and survival is up to the environment.
For someone looking for a large fish to occupy a larger aquarium, an Oscar may be a great choice. They are fun to watch, beautiful to look at, and are intelligent. If treated well, they will give their keepers 10 to 13 years of life to amuse them.
Summer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.