Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus) are a freshwater cichlid from South America and are also known as Peacock Cichlid, Walnut Cichlid or Velvet Cichlid. Oscars are a relatively large fish that grow up to sixteen inches long and can live for up to eight to twelve years if proper care is given.
General tips on Oscar Fish Care
-After setting up the aquarium, it is best to wait a couple weeks to make sure everything is in order.
-Add only one or two fish at a time. Biological filters need time to accommodate new inhabitants and changes in the water.
-Before adding an Oscar fish to a community, keep it quarantined in a separate tank for a few weeks to make sure it is healthy. A diseased fish could contaminate an entire population.
-Oscar fish prefer hiding places. To keep them relaxed and happy, provide them with plenty of decorations and plants. Oscars prefer about half or more of the tank to be covered, so keep lots of hiding places for him.
-Oscars prefer to live alone. If you must, choose other Oscars as companions with even temperaments. A passive Oscar is quickly bullied while an aggressive Oscar will attack other fish.
-Do not neglect regular partial water changes.
-Air pumps and air stones are necessary to oxygenate the water and release harmful chemicals by agitating the surface of the water.
-Oscar fish and many cichlids do not like bright lighting. Use low intensity fluorescent bulbs in your hood or a fluorescent fixture - a 10,000K rating will provide the best viewing - or actinic lighting to avoid stressing them. Make sure to turn them off at night or supply a lunar light.
-To avoid electrical shock, make a "drip loop" on all your cords. Hang a small weight in the middle of the cord so water will not travel down the cord and into the outlet.
-Choose gravel that is free of dye and will not be swallowed. Cichlid gravels are your best bet.
Oscar Fish Disease
If you don’t clean your tank regularly, you may find Grayish cottony patches on skin or gills - This is probably a fungus caused by large amounts of decaying matter (fish waste and food) in the tank. Sometimes the cause of a disease also causes another, the Oscar Fish Disease is sometimes found with fish that have rotting fins. Likely caused by bacteria, this is another disease that happens due to poor water quality. Isolate any fish that show this problem to keep it from spreading to your other fish. Treat the tank with medicine formulated specifically for this problem.
If your fish have cloudy skin or you see them scraping themselves along the bottom, it’s quite possible they have flukes – a parasite that attacks the skin and gills. This disease can be hard to control, so you must treat the tank at the first sign of outbreak.
Are your fish gasping for air? Add an air stone to the tank which will allow oxygen to enter the water through the air bubbles it makes.
When you use a medicine to clear your tank of Oscar Fish Disease, make sure you follow the directions on the label. As you can see, most of these diseases are caused by poor water quality so periodic water changes are your best bet to make sure your fish stay healthy.