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Oscar Fish
(Astronotus ocellatus)


oscar fish, Astronotus ocellatus

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Oscars or Astronotus ocellatus is part of the family Cichlidae more commonly referred cichlids. Oscars are endemic to South America. They can be found in the Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, French Guiana, and the Amazon River basin. They are a member of the Cichlidae family more commonly refered to as cichlids. This family includes, angelfish, discus and African cichlids. Numerous numbers of new cichlids are discovered every year. So the actual number of species belonging to the cichlid family is unclear. Estimates vary from 1,300 to 3,000 different species world wide.


Oscars are among the largest species of the cichlid family. They will grow to an adult length of 12-16 inches and can weigh in excess of 3.5 lbs. Don’t consider buying one for your kid’s 10 gallon aquarium.

Selective breeding has produced a number of ornamental oscars bred specially for aquarists. Albino, leucistic, xanthistic and red marbled oscars are all a result of selective breeding. The variety with mainly red coloration is typically sold under the trade name, red oscar. The patterning of the red pigment differs from one individual to another. This is a highly marketable trait.

Oscars are intelligent fish. They are aware that another world exists outside of their aquatic environment. They come to realize who it is that keeps them fed. Oscars will often rise to the surface when their owners are in the room. If you put your hand in the tank they will most likely not shy away. They have even been known to enjoy being petted.

Oscars are primarily carnivorous. You can fed them tropical fish flakes when they are small. There are commercially available fish foods developed specifically for cichlids. As they grow, their dietary needs become more substantial. Do not keep them with smaller fish. They won’t be there in the morning. Oscars use a suction mechanism to capture their prey. They have been reported to lie on their sides mimicking death in order to induce their prey to draw closer. Mature oscars can be fed tubifex and bloodworms, insects, crustaceans, chopped meat and dried food.

Oscars are commonly kept in mono-species tanks. They require a water temperature around 79°F and a pH level around 7.2. Ocsars have a vitamin C deficiency and need to be supplemented. They will develop health problems if the are not. If you like plant life in your aquarium you will want to have floating plants if you intend to raise oscars. They will uproot plants from the aquarium substrate. If they are provided with proper living conditions they can live up to 10 years of age.

Oscar Breeding Habits

Oscars are strictly monogamous. They will mate with a single partner for life.  Spawning will cease if one of the pair perishes.  Another spawning partner will not be chosen.

Oscars, like most cichlids, will clean flat surface to deposit their eggs on wgen spawning. They are biparental substrate spawners. In laymen’s terms this means; Once the eggs are hatched they will burrow a shallow pit to keep the eggs in. Both parents will then stand guard over the eggs and the fry once they are hatched.

The fry will hatch about 36 hours after fertilization. Once the fry are swimming freely they will need to be fed. Oscar fry can be fed rotifers, newly hatched brine shrimp, powdered eggs, or finely crushed fish flakes.

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