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FAQs on Oscars 3

Related Articles: Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Disease/Health, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Hello I am new to the site I have a few concerns about my tiger Oscar. I     7/25/15
bought him 2 weeks ago he/she is a juvenal
<I presume you mean a juvenile rather than he's called Juvenal after the Latin poet?>
I also got a jack Dempsey with my Oscar they were in a tank together.
<Poor choice. How big is this tank? Some hundreds of gallons?
Otherwise this won't work. Both species are territorial, and the JD is, for its size, quite a powerful fish and can/will damage a young Oscar without any
problems at all.>
When I got them home all was good, after 2 days my Oscar acted aggressive then stopped and the jack Dempsey started getting very aggressive. He would attach my Oscar when he ate or even swam near the Dempsey.
<Separate them.>
I thought maybe it would pass but after a day or so it got worse the Dempsey like stalked my Oscar would bite him.
<Separate them.>
I got ride of the Dempsey and now its just my Oscar, it is alone now but his fins have splits in them and he lays around sometimes on his side.
<Separate them.>
I got some Melafix to help him heal his fins a spot on his side.
<Melafix is not reliable or even particularly useful. You need to (a) separate them, and (b) medicate the Oscar as per Finrot. It should recover and grow its fins back if you act promptly.>
I'm worried about him he doesn't follow my hand any more like he did he hides when I try to feed him and will only come out when it is dark to swim around or eat. Is he still scared and will the treatment hurt him? I'm new at this fish stuff.
<It would seem so. To be blunt, Oscars are demanding fish for experienced, and to some extent rich, fishkeepers. They need a lot of space, at least 90 US gallons and honestly more like 150 US gallons if you don't want to be
constantly changing the water and/or dealing with health problems (Hexamita and HITH are two classic problems for the Oscar kept in a "small" tank).
JDs aren't especially difficult to keep, being relatively small, 7-8 inches maybe, but they are nasty fish for their size, and usually kept alongside other equally waspish cichlids or else alone. An Oscar is, by nature,
territorial but peaceful, and usually kept either alone or with jumbo community fish that aren't cichlids -- Plecs, Silver Dollars, Fire Eels, and so on. They aren't particularly aggressive except when breeding, and lack the psychotic streak characteristic of many Central American cichlids.
Finally, note that Oscars are soft water fish from South America, and don't want the same water chemistry as Central Americans like JDs that need hard, alkaline water chemistry. In short: separate them.>
<Hope this clears things up for you. Cheers, Neale.>
re:      7/26/15

Thank you I did however get rid of the JD and my Oscar is doing better thanks again
<Glad to help. Do be sure and read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/oscars.htm
Better to avoid rather than cure further problems with these difficult,
demanding cichlids if you can. Cheers, Neale.>

"Tigga the Oscar"   12/31/11
Hi, how are you.
<Uh, fine. You?>

Scales are missing on Red Tiger Oscars 2/1/2010
<Hello Denise,>
My son and daughter each have a small Red Tiger Oscar.
<Bad choices as pets for children. These are very difficult fish to keep properly.>
The Oscars are kept in separate 5 gallon tanks with filters.
<Insane. Make that 55 gallons for each tank, and we're talking.
Five gallons is barely enough for a Betta, let alone an Oscar. Did you tell the pet store you were doing this? If they told you that was fine, then they're idiots. If it was your idea, and somehow you though they'd be fine for a while, then, well...>
They are fed 2 small gold fish feeders every other day and flakes on the other days.
<Did you read ANYTHING about Oscars before purchase? If you did, you'd known feeder Goldfish are a VERY BAD food item for Oscars. Not only are they a major source of parasites, they're also loaded with fat and thiaminase.
We have done the water changes and de-chlorinated the water. Lately we have been noticing that each of the Oscars seem to have white spots, but more like the scales are missing, not like Ick. I thought they may be scraping themselves on the gravel but we never see them do that and it is getting worse. Any ideas?
<Yes. You're killing these fish. Whether deliberately or through sheer ignorance, you've stuck two perfectly nice animals in enclosures they cannot possibly be maintained in, and then fed them the worst possible diet. So these lovely, intelligent animals are being poisoned to death.>
Denise F
<Denise, I really, really do not like yelling at people. And when people write back that their feelings are hurt because I've yelled at them, that's sad. I volunteer here precisely because I like fish and I like people. But
when I get messages like this, it's hard for me to return a measured, let alone kind, response. Not one aquarium book ever written would ever suggest keeping Oscars this way, so my only conclusion has to be you read nothing
at all before buying these animals. Given you haven't said anything about water quality, I have to assume you didn't cycle the tank for 6 weeks before adding the fish. So essentially everything that you could do wrong, you have done wrong. It's not the fish's fault, it's not the retailer's fault, and it's certainly not my fault; it's your fault. Time to read what I've sent you to, think about what you've done, and react accordingly.
These fish aren't going to survive these tanks, let alone get better.
Either return them or euthanise them.
If you want to keep them, you're going to need a 55 gallon tank for each one, or a 75-100 gallon tank for the two of them. Don't delude yourself into getting a 20 gallon tank now, and then saying you're going to upgrade in a couple months. These fish grow EXTREMELY fast when kept properly, and will need that 55 gallon tank within 6-9 months of hatching. So get real, focus on what needs to be done, and move on. Feel free to write back and
yell at me for being rude if that makes you feed better. But my concern here is for your fish, and the bad example it's setting your kids. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: scales are missing on Red Tiger Oscars, hlth., nutr.  -- 02/02/10
Hello Neale:
<Hello Denise,>
My apologies for my ignorance. I did tell the pet store exactly my plans and purchased the Oscars at the same place. The same place I buy the feeders. Obviously they were either only concerned with the sale or they had less knowledge than I did.
<Well, you do have to treat advice from store clerks with caution. Some specialist retailers are staffed by outstanding fishkeepers, and I've learned a lot by listening to them. But all too often the generic pet stores employ staff who know little to nothing about fish. In general, take the advice, but double check against a book or a web site you can really trust.>
Many years ago, I too had an Oscar for many years, fed him feeder fish and never had a problem.
<It's like the old maxim, "playing Russian Roulette once and surviving doesn't make it safe". Work on predatory fish has demonstrated without any ambiguity that diets high in thiaminase lead to ill health and premature mortality. Do read Marco Lichtenberger's piece here at WWM on this topic.
The incidence of parasite infections following the use of cheaply produced feeder fish is very high. Furthermore, goldfish and minnows are rich in both fat and thiaminase, and Bob Fenner believes, after autopsies of numerous fish, that these feeder fish are the #1 cause of premature death of Lionfish. The #1 cause! These feeders are killing more Lionfish than bad water quality! Thankfully, feeder fish simply aren't sold in the UK, so this isn't an issue here. The hobby has moved on, and aquarists switched to safer, cheaper, and less expensive foods. But for whatever reason, the US market has changed yet.>
Never did the pet store say anything about having a 55 gallon tank, nor did they tell me about feeder fish being bad for them to eat.
<Not impressed by them, I have to say.>
Once we started noticing the problem. We immediately began the water changes every 3 days between 25 - 30%. We are now feeding them frozen, thawed shrimp and peas.
<Again, do go back and read about thiaminase. Shrimp contains a lot of thiaminase, and over time, over-use will lead to vitamin B1 deficiency. I'm sure you already know about how the Royal Navy was plagued with the problem
of scurvy back in the 18th century. The sailors were getting lots of calories, but for some reason would get sick within a few months of leaving harbour. The problem was that their diet, while adequate in other ways, lacked vitamin C. Over time this meant they became sick. Only with the introduction of citrus fruits into the sailors' rations did things improve (from whence comes the nickname for the British around the former Empire, "Limeys"). It's precisely the same thing here: shrimp, mussels, clams, squid and other thiaminase-rich fish and seafood may contain lots of calories and protein, but they also contain thiaminase, and over time, you're creating problems by using them. Restrict thiaminase-rich foods to once or twice per week. The rest of the week should be made up of foods
that lack thiaminase. These include good quality pellets (e.g., Hikari Cichlid Gold), earthworms, snails, fresh or frozen cockles, fresh or frozen tilapia fillet, and of course plant foods like cooked peas. Indeed, a perfectly adequate diet could be based around just good quality pellets plus the cooked peas to ensure adequate fibre.>
I have done a lot of reading over the past few days and the Oscars seem to be improving dramatically.
In addition we are currently looking into a 55 gal tank.
<That's fine for one Oscar; two will eventually fight in that space, unless by some miracle you have two females, or else a pair that get along from the word go.>
I thank you and appreciate your advice no matter how loud you were yelling.
<Glad to have helped. Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars' memory, referral to archived information...  12/11/09
Good morning,
I was wondering if Oscars really do remember their owner.
<In my experience, most fish learn to recognize the person who feeds them daily, and so they respond excitedly when the "food source" walks into the room or near the tank! Oscars definitely have personalities all their own.>
The reason I ask this is because I think I might buy one very soon.
<They are wonderful pets if you're willing to take on the responsibility of such a large, messy fish. I'll never forget when I realized that at least half of the pellets they eat is going straight through their gills and right down to the bottom of the tank! How they get so large when they only eat half of their food, I don't know!>
In the fact that I do, could you possibly give me info on this species??
<Luckily, there are pages and pages of information archived on WWM about Oscars. Try starting here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/oscars.htm and also perusing those linked files above the title of the article. Some things to really give attention to with Oscars are tank size (I would not attempt to keep an
Oscar in anything less than a 75 gallon tank), filtration needs (turnover needs to be ten times the volume of the tank per hour), and feeding appropriately. A condition Oscars are prone to is called Hole-In-The-Head (HITH, for short). It's important to educate yourself about this condition so that you can do your best to prevent its occurrence. Here is that link:
thank you
<You're welcome, and feel free to write back with any questions you may have after you've had a chance to read what's posted on WWM about these fun fish!

Re: Oscars' memory, referral to archived information... Now, the search for smaller Oscar-like fish 12/12/09
Hello Crew,
<Hi. Melinda here with you again.>
I was wondering if you would know of any fun fish that has an Oscar personality and could live in a ten to twenty gallon tank??
<Well, as I said in my previous e-mail, pretty much all fish learn to know who's going to feed them. Any of my fish, from my one-inch tetras to my big catfish, know I'm the food source, and come to see me when I walk up to
the tank. Simply provide the right conditions and you'll find owning any fish to be a really enjoyable experience. As for suggestions... A fish which has a big personality in a small package is a Betta. Mine is always active and comes to greet me when I walk up to the tank. He even nips my fingers if I'm in there cleaning the tank or adjusting anything inside it!
He's really a little monster. So, if you were going with a 10 gallon, that would be a great option. In a 20 gallon tall tank, you could get an Angelfish, which, like the Oscar, is a Cichlid that's relatively easy to care for, and has a lot of personality. They beg for food, similar to an Oscar. There are plenty of other fish you could put in either of those
tank sizes, and like I said earlier, the fish are going to really put on a show for you if you keep them in the right conditions. Try looking here at some stocking options for the tank sizes you've got available:
Thank you very much for your help,
<You're welcome!>
<Melinda, who wishes she could just be an Iguana in the sun all day long.
Ahhhhh! Relaxing!>

New Oscar, gen.    9/9/09
I just purchased a new Oscar last week Friday.
<Hope you did some reading first! These are very demanding fish, and while cute when small, the adults are over 12 inches/30 cm long and need tanks not less than 55 gallons in size. This assumes regular water changes and excellent filtration.>
I set my tank up a week and a half before I purchased the Oscar.
<How did you mature the filter? An empty tank run for 10 days isn't maturing unless you're adding a source of ammonia. An easy approach is to add a portion of food every day or two, just as if there was a fish in
there. As the food rots, it produces ammonia, and that gets the filter cycling. Using your test kit you'll find nitrite levels go up after about a week of this, and then 2-3 weeks later drop down to zero again. That's when you can add a fish. If you just had the tank sitting there, empty, then none of this was happening. Running the water through the filter does not, by itself, do anything other than get the filter media wet.>
He/She eats, but, it stays at the bottom of the tank and sometimes on its side like its dead. I've read different articles here, and even check my water (which is fine).
<Have you got an ammonia and/or nitrite test kit? You MUST have zero levels of both. You also need to check the water chemistry; for Oscars, a pH between 6 and 8 is fine, and the hardness should be anything between fairly soft through to moderately hard, 5-20 degrees dH being about right.>
Is this a normal activity for them when the are new.
<Depends. It's very common for fish added to non-cycled aquaria to behave weirdly, and a week or so later, they get sick, and then after that, they die. But all cichlids are sensitive to their environment, so things like a big flowerpot on its side for a cave, or some floating plants for shade, will help.>
He/She is about 2 - 3 inches long, is eating, and has a very active bowel LOL! Just concerned about its activities. Should I go and get it a playmate??
<No. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Tiger Oscar food. No data, reading; SOP resp.  8/26/2009
Hello, i have recently purchased a tiger Oscar about 6 inches in length.
It seems scared for the first few days and eventually went up for food but when it actually eats something, it spits it out. I am feeding it Hikari pellets and it goes up for the food but doesn't swallow. Does it not like
the food? please help
<...Need data to make a first order approximation... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Astronotus, no real data   8/10/09
Me and my boyfriend have a albino tiger Oscar he is bout two inches long in a 29 gallon tank. he is still a baby.
<This isn't viable. An adult Oscar will need, at minimum, a 55 gallon tank, and I'd argue something like 75 gallons if you want to avoid doing water changes every five minutes. Seriously, Oscars are extremely messy pets, and many, many specimens die from being kept in too-small an aquarium. Do read here:
i bought him from a pet store about two weeks ago. in the store he was by his self and the only one in there. which is kind of weird becuz they usually have a couple of them in a tank. but i brought him home and realized he was staying very close to the bottom.
<Stressed. A happy Oscar is lively and will swim towards the front of the tank every time it sees you.>
the same day i bought him i bought some other fish too. they seem to be fine but when i feed him he don't seem to eat. his eyes are bright red so its kind of hard to see if he has cloud eye but the other fish seem to be fine so i don't think it is anything with my tank.
<I think there are many things wrong with your tank. You haven't mentioned anything about water chemistry, water quality, or temperature. You haven't said what you're feeding him. For example, the stupidest thing people do with Oscars is feed them Goldfish. I hope you aren't doing that. Feeder fish introduce diseases as well as being high in fats and thiaminase that cause long-term health problems. So, feed -- sparingly -- on a diet based primarily on quality pellets (Hikari Cichlid Gold for example) and some
unshelled invertebrates (krill, shrimp, snails, crayfish) plus occasional cooked peas.>
when i feed them the other fish go to the top to eat and he seems to follow. but he follows them around im guessing becuz there bright? and he can some what see them? but he don't touch the food. he runs into the rocks and the filter even sometimes. I don't know if he has a fungus or if he was born that way. I hope you can help me. thanks Emily.
<Emily, spend some time reading about these fish. They're fun pets, but far from easy to keep. A big tank, a very powerful filtration system, large weekly water changes -- all these things are essential. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Oscar pic 12/27/07 Here's a picture of my so-much-loved Red Oscar named "Inky". Neale has patiently answered many questions about him, I thought he might like to see the Oscar he helped "raise". I got him last summer when he was 2", he's 7" now. I wish I could take him out of the water and hug him, I adore this fish. He loves his 6' tank all to himself. His aquarium is along the main living room wall so he gets attention from everyone, he probably wishes we'd leave him alone (nah....). I wish a picture could show his comical personality, his intelligence and how much I love him. He's a big part of this family, we've missed many movies on TV because watching Inky is far more entertaining. Thank you for this website, I continue to learn more each day from it. Mitzi <Hello Mitzi. That's a magnificent fish, and a real advertisement for the hobby. Beautiful colours. Oscars love attention, as you probably know, and I'm sure he really appreciates all the time you spend with him. I think Oscars are among the smartest fish on Earth, perhaps THE smartest. There are lots o stories of them being trained to play games with ping-pong balls and the like. Happy holidays to you both! Neale.>

Re: Red Oscar pic 12/27/07 This has got to be one of the most *rewarding 'live pet' hobbies there is. <I agree. And in many cases, you get to see the complete spectrum of animal behaviours as fish interact with one another, mate, breed, raise offspring, fight over territories, communicate threats, and so on.> You research, use common sense, feed properly, change something as simple as WATER and you get the immediate good results of healthy, active, growing & attentive fish. Compared to dogs & livestock, it's so low maintenance with such high rewards. I wish more people could know that. <Ah, but so many people experience the problems of starting out... overstocking, under-filtration, immature biological filter media, incompatible species, and so on. End result, they imagine fishkeeping is difficult.> And I wish more people could become more attached to their fish as they do their other pets so they would know what I'm talking about. When I moved this Oscar to his 6' tank from his previous tank he didn't miss a beat. The new tank was completely unfamiliar but instead of being stressed he swam immediately to the front glass where my hand was and leaned against the glass by my hand and looked around. To me that was proof that he honestly does "know" me and "trust" me. In unfamiliar surroundings he came straight to where he knew the security was. If that's not a "true pet", I don't know what is. <Absolutely!> <take care, Neale.>

Keeping Oscars   - 4/7/07 Hey there. I was just wondering about the conditions of my Oscars. I have five 2-3 inch Oscars in a 56 gallon tank. I know, its bad. I have two tigers and three albinos. I had 6 Oscars to begin with, but I lost that one to a bad condition of fin rot. I didn't know if it was my fault, or if it was just there when I bought him. My tigers keep growing and one of my albinos remain the same size, except one. And that one is a little smaller then my  biggest tiger, and he has gashes on his head, and I was wondering if  that was fighting or was hole-in-the-head? I do put in about 30-40  feeders every two weeks about. I know that's really bad too,  but I am only fourteen, so my parents insist on buying feeders  for them. What is the best food for them, and do you have any recommendations  for me? Thanks =] < You already know you have many problems with this tank. At fourteen you are old enough to understand what is needed and hopefully will follow my recommendations for the sake of the animals. Lets start with water changes. You need to be changing at least 30% of the water weekly. While changing the water you should gravel vac half the tank to remove the mulm that has accumulated there. Clean the filters every other week. The filter should be pumping at least 200 GPH. Feeder fish introduce diseases and have very little nutritional value. Try feeding high quality pellet food instead. For a treat give them washed earthworms, mealworms, kingworms and crickets. They are healthy, do not introduce diseases and kind of fun to watch the Oscars eat them. Conventional fish foods like flake and frozen are also very good for them. As conditions improve you Oscars should be growing strong and healthy. The gashes on the head of the Oscars may start to heal up. If not try to feed them medicated foods with Metronidazole in it.-Chuck>

Very Spoiled Oscar Questions, nod to Sab,   6/13/06 Hi!  I hope there isn't a limit to the number of emails a person can send? <Heeee! I wish there were a number to those I answer!> I think this is my 4th.  Thank you for all the great information and advice you have on your site (even the "bad" news kind).  Also, please forward my thanks to Sabrina. <Ah, will do> She answered an email about my female Betta Splendens last month.  Sadly, she died, but at least her last days were in water that was only dechlorinated, with a little API aquarium salt added.  I'm sure it was easier for her, if dying can be considered easy, than being in the 'toxic soup'  of medications I'd been subjecting her to.  I just wish I'd emailed sooner!    My email today, is in regard to my husband's Tiger Oscar, Vinny (Astronotus ocellatus).  We've had him about a month to six weeks.  He was about 2 inches when we got him, and I'd estimate him to be 3 & 1/2 to 4 inches now.  He is in a fully cycled 30 gallon tank.  Now, I know this is the part where you start getting annoyed, followed by cursing under your breath, possibly yelling at my email, perhaps making rude gestures, and finally in utter frustration, banging the keyboard against your head, but please bare with me..... <Heeeeeee! Larger tank please>     The tank was cycled, and then inhabited by, 3 Dwarf Gourami, 12 Corydoras Catfish (mixed), and a school of 18 Harlequin Rasboras prior to Vinny's occupancy.  I had nightmares about the 'cute baby Oscar' eating my beloved Corys <You are/were right to be concerned here> when my husband told me he wanted an Oscar, so I made the deal that we'd up grade the community to larger digs, and then he could have an Oscar.  The tank had/has a Rena Filstar Xp2 (300/gph) and a Penguin 350 dual BioWheel (350/gph) for filtration.  When we moved the 'community' we left the filtration, just took the fish and their decorations, plants, etc.  The Xp2 is running with 4 foam filters (2 - 20 ppi, 2 - 30 ppi) on the bottom, and a micro-filtration pad on the top.  The center is all bio-media, consisting of a mix of Filstar's Bio-chem Stars, Fluval's bio-cylinders, and Aqua Clear's Bio-max stones.  The 350 has one Aquatic Gardens replacement filter (the kind with the mechanical pad around the carbon - looks like three stacked pillows  and a blue bio-sponge all inside a frame).  In addition, there is a net bag with Seachem's Biostones, the wheel from a now defunct Penguin 150 (it was fully mature, and I didn't want to lose the colony on it), and 2 Fluval 1 Plus foam sponges (had them, don't have the unit anymore, so figured why not).  The water flows freely to both sides, so the media compartment is full, but not stuffed (no overflow, good, steady and even, return water from both sides).  I also have a Whisper 60 air pump (with backflow valve) hooked up to/running  a 4 inch airstone bar, a 3 inch airstone circle, and a simple sponge filter (for 25 gallons - "maturing" it for use, when needed, in a sick/quarantine/fry type applications). <Good>   The tank has two 75 watt heaters (one on each end).  For decoration Vinny has two 10 inch (diameter) fake water lilies floating on the surface (he likes to sit/float/hover under them).  He has about 1/3 of the bottom covered with around 1/2 to 3/4 inch of  gravel and smooth 'river' rocks, the rest (mostly under the log) is bare.  The gravel and stones cover the two air stones, which form a nice bubble-wall across the end of one side of the tank.  He plays in the bubbles daily.  Lastly, he has a large fake log.  It's a very large log!  It takes up about 1/2 of the bottom of the tank from side to side, about 1/4 to 1/3 the height, and 2/3 of the bottom from front to back.  It's open on both ends and has a hole in one side toward the center.  He'd had a small flat top cave the first couple weeks, but was already outgrowing it.  I guess my husband figured the new log would last him a lot longer!  He gets a 50% water change weekly. <I'd restrict this to about a quarter per week/time> I use Tetra's Aqua Safe OR Kordon's Nova Aqua Plus + OR Seachem's Prime, to condition the new water, which is matched to the tank water's temperature.   I also use a dose of  Hagen's Cycle, API's Stresszyme, Mardel's A.C.T., OR Seachem's Stability with each water change.  The filters are serviced bi-monthly, alternating weeks (i.e.:  week 1 the 350, week 2 the Xp2, week 3 the 350, an so on).   <Good practice> I rinse the pads/foam in discard water only.  I replace the Xp2's pads alternately every other month (1 30ppi and 1 20ppi is new and the other 2 are mature at any given time).  The micro pad I change every two weeks, since it doesn't rinse well.  I usually leave the bio-medium alone, or do a light swishing in discard water (while it's in the basket).  I don't normally replace it, should I be?   <No... should last for years... with the occasional rinse...> I replace the 350's filter (mechanical/chemical) part every two weeks, but just rinse the bio-sponge.  The rest (150's BioWheel, Fluval Sponges, etc) I usually leave alone, other than to rinse them at least monthly (again swishing in the discard bucket).  In between water changes we also have an Eheim battery operated hand vacuum than I use to help contain the mess Vinny makes (which is also why he doesn't have full gravel, so I can see when he has build up)  He gets fasted for one 24 hour period weekly.   We feed him Hikari's Cichlid Staple mini pellets, Hikari's Cichlid Gold mini pellets, HBH's Super Soft Pellets with Krill, Tetra's Baby Shrimp (Sun dried Gammarus), Hikari's Freeze-dried Ocean Plankton, and Tetra's Food sticks (the smaller ones).  I make sure he gets three of the Cichlid pellets twice a day (6 total between the Gold and Staple), along with one mouthful of the Plankton after the pellets, each of the two feedings.  My husband usually gives him the HBH soft pellets and/or the baby shrimp "snacks" two or three times a day.  I try to limit the "snacks" to one or two pellets and one or two of the baby shrimp, but I'm going on trust that he's not sneaking Vinny extra.  Since Vinny can move around the tank, and hasn't quadrupled in girth, I'm assuming he's not being overfed?  Should he be getting more?  I imagine he could bolt down a lot more in 2 or 3 minutes time.  He usually only gets the food sticks (2) at the meal before his water change.  He's very piggy with them, and has been know to 'spew' chunks all around him so he has room for the second one.  Then he goes around and picks up the chunks after he's finished the second one.  Out of necessity, we've been getting more accurate on guessing whether he's had time to finish the first one, or not.   He has two 'toys' in his tank.  A golf ball size whiffle ball (hollow with lots of holes) that he pushes around, chases when it's in the filter current, or pushes into the glass to get attention (my husband unwittingly reinforced that habit).  He also has a plastic plant.  It has a small (non-toxic) weight wrapped around it's base, to keep it on the bottom of the tank.  He lays next to it, and moves it a little, but seems to like the ball better.  I use 5 in 1 stick tests (Mardel or Jungle) 3 to 5 times a week, and do liquid tests twice weekly.  I test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH.  The stick does GH and kH as well.  I do the liquid GH and kH tests once every 4 to 6 weeks.  His tank tests are:  Ammonia:  0, Nitrites:  0, Nitrates: 20-30ppm (usually 20), kH:  11, and pH is 8.0 by stick and liquid test and 7.8 per the electric gadget my husband got (not sure I trust it).  His temp. is stable at 77/78 degrees (have a thermometer on each end).  I also have a Seachem ammonia alert badge in the tank as a backup.  So, if you're still with me, my questions are:  1.  Is it possible to keep him in the 30 gallon, meet AND still exceed his needs, or are we doomed to failure?    <Will need to be moved to larger quarters in time... You might use the limit of 20ppm of nitrate as a guide as to when...> 2.  Do all Oscars try to damage/eat/rearrange the equipment in their tank?   <Oh yes...> He's shown no interest in the heaters, thermometers, ammo. badge, filter intakes, etc.  Is it wishful thinking that he won't start tearing the tank up?   <Likely so> I'm not counting the gravel, he can move it to his heart's content.  I look at it like the 'tank is for him, not for me' line of thought.  If I wanted a 'garden' I'd dig one in the back yard.... wanted a pretty picture, I'd hang it on the wall, sort of thing.  I'm mainly concerned about him hurting himself...... Vinny vs. Electricity...... doesn't seem like it would have a great outcome.  3.  Can a fish get burned on a submersible heater? <Yes... more possibility of breakage, electricity troubles here though... When this fish is larger, in its bigger quarters, there are ways you can remote or surround the heater/s to avoid such> I've seen things about putting a piece of pvc pipe over the heater?  Would an in-line heater in the canister's return line be a better way to go? <Yes... as stated, will want to do with move to a bigger tank... when Vinny is larger...> 4.  What other kinds of 'toys' are safe/suitable for an Oscar? <Most anything plastic...> The plant was a no brainer, as it was aquarium safe.  The whiffle ball was harder, but since it wasn't colored, was too big to swallow, too small to scare him, and light enough not to break/crack the glass, we let him have it, after I'd thoroughly rinsed it in hot water.  However, finding other items hasn't been working out.  My husband wanted to look at dog and cat toys or baby toys, but I talked him out of it, since most are colored.  I convinced him the dyes in the plastic could be toxic when mixed with Vinny's water.... baby safe isn't fish safe.... so to speak.  Was I wrong? <Mmm, "baby safe" is likely okay, chemically inert>   5.  Can you estimate/guesstimate how long he'd be better than 'okay' in the 30 gallon? <Six months perhaps> For instance, if he only gets to 10 inches, would he be okay to stay in it? <Mmm, no... will likely want to move when 4-6 inches...> 6.  I have an extra filter, a Fluval 3 Plus internal filter (185/gph), should I hook that up in his tank as well? <Could> Is there anything else that I can do to keep him in the 30 gallon longer/permanently? <Mmm, if absolutely necessary, an experiment... could continuously to almost continuously change water... to reduce metabolites and their ill effects>   A larger tank is not an option right now.  When it was safe to do so, we added new members to the new 55 gallon 'community'  tank, so they can't go back into the 30 gallon.  We have 6 more Harlequin Rasboras (total school of 24) plus the 12 Corys, and 9 mixed Platys.  The three Dwarf Gouramis were moved to a 20 long, along with the male Platys (THAT is another long story).  We don't have room for another 55 gallon (or the money for that matter).  Returning Vinny is not an option, my husband is completely attached to him.  Any tips, pointers, suggestions, etc would be most appreciated.  Thank you!!     <I strongly suspect that you two are "evolving" your hobby into more advanced groups of fishes... will either "find room" or move the Oscar to the 55... Can saltwater, reef systems be very far ahead? We'll see. Bob Fenner>

Very Spoiled Oscar Questions, nod to Sab, and a nod back - 06/14/2006 Hi!  I hope there isn't a limit to the number of emails a person can send? <Heeee! I wish there were a number to those I answer!> I think this is my 4th.  Thank you for all the great information and advice you have on your site (even the "bad" news kind).  Also, please forward my thanks to Sabrina. <Ah, will do> <<I'm glad to have helped, or at least glad fo having tried to help.>> She answered an email about my female Betta Splendens last month.  Sadly, she died, <<I'm so sorry to hear this, Heidi.>> but at least her last days were in water that was only dechlorinated, with a little API aquarium salt added.  I'm sure it was easier for her, if dying can be considered easy, than being in the 'toxic soup'  of medications I'd been subjecting her to.   <<I'm sure you made her as comfortable as possible.>> I just wish I'd emailed sooner! <<No worries....  We do what we can.  You did the best you knew to do.  I'm glad you wrote to us at all, and gave us and yourself a chance to learn together.  Wishing you and all the lives in your care well,  -Sabrina>>

Totally blind Oscar  - 2/15/2006 Hi there am Robyn, i <I> have a 4 ft tank with a pacu, <Too small for this fish ultimately> koi and snakehead in it, about a week ago i got a call from my mum who works in an aquarium shop, she said she had a blind Oscar in quarantine, he was given to them about a week previous,  they had managed to hand feed him cockle and a little bloodworm, i took him home and put him in my tank, i have managed to get him feeding cichlid floaters if i can get them gathered on the top at one side and i feed him these by hand, also cockle and prawns, thing is this eye thing has obviously developed and not been a birth defect so i was wondering if you had any idea what it is? <?> it is like the pupil of the eye is totally orange around the pupil is black, there is no white cloud and as my mum knows her stuff i can say he definately  has no communicable diseases i.e ich, slime and velvet etc,  he definately cannot see a thing! Any ideas? <Genetic/developmental of some sort...> and if so is there any way of treating it? <Not as far as I'm aware> He seems happy in my tank the pacu and koi look after him (my pacu is the most docile friendly thing) and i am managing with hand feeding but if i could cure him i would prefer. oh he is about 4 inches and is black with a few orange bits, i know black is a bad colour but i have been told this is just because he is young and he will colour up. Thanks for any help. <Likely to stay blind/this way. Not catching as you say. Bob Fenner> Oscars and "Feeders" - 08/17/2005 I have 2 large Oscars (one red and one tiger) in a 55 gallon tank with no other fish except a Plecostomus. <Too small for these animals....> I recently did a full water change/tank cleaning and gave them some feeders (I only do this every couple of months). <The full water change is rarely a good approach - on your tank, I would recommend weekly water changes of about 30%, or more/more frequently, depending upon your nitrate levels and how quickly they build up.  Err, and NEVER feed your fish unquarantined live "feeder" fish!!  This is almost a 100% guarantee that you will introduce parasites, bacteria, or other disease to your animals.> Now my red has developed a bulge on his left side (there is a slight protrusion on the right but not as prominent) and he is mouthing like he is having a hard time breathing. <A number of possibilities....  if he is not defecating, I would suspect he may be constipated.  I would add Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the water at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons.> He is also not eating his usual pellets which he is usually very excited to get. The tiger is showing none of these symptoms. I have had these two for almost six years, since they were babies, and have never seen anything like this. I did a lot of reading and searching for fish with these symptoms and from everything that you have said (in answer to others questions) this could be an internal infection?? The people at the fish store don't seem to informed about Oscars and their behavior and told me that he is possibly is having a hard time digesting the feeders?? That just doesn't seem right? <Mm, possibly right, to an extent....  Feeder goldfish are a horrible nutrition for an Oscar (or most other fish, for that fact).  I would not be surprised if the Oscar has a gut blockage from this sort of a meal.  Be pleased if that's the only problem from it....  and be on the lookout for parasitic infestation, bacterial illness....> Please help. Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks,  -Trouble in Jersey <Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm  and the links, in blue, at the top of that page, for more information.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> My Oscar needs Help!! Hi, <Hello there> I was searching on the internet and found your site....I hope you can help me!!?? <Will try> I have an Oscar, along with 2 other Cichlids.  Recently, the Oscar has been bullied by the larger of the 2 other Cichlids...I believe they are Texas Cichlids (?)  I have attached photos of my Oscar's injuries.  He has missing scales from scraping the stones...those do seem to heal rather quickly...but I am mostly concerned about the red pimple-like bump on his lip (he's had for over a month) and the large superficial gash above his right eye, which I believe he got by jumping up and hitting the tank lid....he likes to jump and has even jumped form the tank before!!!  I am in the process of getting a larger tank to help with the territory issue which may be causing the aggression, however, should I be concerned about his wounds???  And if so, what can I do???  I do change the water about 30% every 1 to 2 weeks along with the gravel...I would appreciate any advice you can give!!!  I am really worried about his health and recovery. Thanks so much!!! <You need to separate the Oscar ASAP... the aggression is the root cause of the problem/s here... treating the injuries for it is futile. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm the above linked files re Oscar Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Disease. Bob Fenner>

Albino Oscar Hey guys I don't know if you have answered this or not but I have had an albino Oscar for about 4 months and he is 4 to inches long. I want to buy a new one but I know they don't sell them that big. If I was to buy one would the bigger one kill the smaller one or would they get along?  I want to know before I go buy another one.   <Carl, there is a real good chance that the smaller one would be killed.  In the future, please capitalize your "i's" as it requires more time preparing the return.  These have to be edited before being placed in the FAQ's.  James (Salty Dog)>

Oscar Ok another quick question if I was to buy another one, what size would it have to be so I would not have to worry bout one being killed. <I would get one close to the same size and make sure you don't have two males.  James (Salty Dog)>

Oscar-apalooza! How do to tell between male and female?  <Carl, please, no abbreviations etc.  The male has a longer dorsal fin, more pointed on the end.  Your dealer would/should know this info also.  James (Salty Dog)> Ok another quick question if I was to buy another one, what size would it have to be so I would not have to worry bout one being killed. <I would get one close to the same size and make sure you don't have two males.  James (Salty Dog)>

Bertha (red Oscar) hi everyone I adopted an Oscar a few days ago. since she has been home, she has been acting very sporadic. bertha will swim from the top of the tank to the bottom with her mouth open, as if she was going to eat a fish.. jiggling back and forth also. I have also noticed she likes to try to bite both of my filters as if she is trying to move them down or somewhere else). same thing with a silicone hose I have with a air rock at the end of it, she likes to bite it and try to move it is this normal behavior for bertha or is something up with her that I just don't see??,,she looks healthy, is eating a lot, and has no signs (at least I think) of any bacterial virus. water is fine( I did a 3/4 tank change today, and it seems that all is well.  is it just bertha being bertha (her personality)  or should I be scared?? < Welcome to the wacky world of Oscars and other large neotropical cichlids. The behavior is actually quite normal. Bertha is actually rearranging her territory to her liking.-Chuck> thanks for your help mike and bertha (the red Oscar) ps.,, love your web site!

Lazy Oscar/High Nitrates Hello, I just purchased a 1" Tiger Oscar - by recently, I mean yesterday. When I got home, he seemed ill before I even got him out of the bag. He was just resting on the bottom of the bag on his side. When I moved the bag, he would swim around a bit, but then just settle back to the bottom again. Since the store was already closed by then, I let him loose into the tank to see how he fared. He swam about for a minute or two, but then settled down to the bottom again. Every once in a while for the rest of the night, I would take a look over, and he would be in a different spot - but never saw him swimming around. After I turned out the light for the night, I noticed he began swimming around quite a bit. Now this morning, I noticed that as soon as I turned on the light and went to feed him, he stopped swimming and rested down to the bottom again. Whenever I looked over today, he seemed to be on his side on the bottom. But now, from across the room, I see him swimming around rather energetically. But as I just walked over to the tank, he swam to the corner and rested on the bottom. However, there are no visual symptoms of any illnesses, that I can see. The only water condition that I am adjusting is the nitrates - any suggestions as to how to lower that? The only thing I've found so far is to do water changes, but that hasn't been successful in any of my tanks so far. So, basically, what I'm asking is do you think he could be lazy, or just nervous around me and his new surroundings? Or could there be something actually wrong with him? Thanks, Brian <Hi Brian, Don here. I think he may have been in the bag a little too long. That, combined with the stress of a new home. Don't feed him for a day or two. He won't eat anyway. Let him get good and hungry. Do a few extra water changes. He should recover and start to hunt around the tank in a few days. Don't feed until then. If there are other fish in the tank, they'll be fine. Watch for aggression though. Hope this is a big tank. As to the nitrate question. Nitrate is the end result of the ammonia cycle. It will always raise in a well established aquarium. In a cichlid tank there is nothing you can do except large and frequent water changes. With smaller fish plants would help. Make sure you use a gravel vac when removing water. The fish waste and uneaten food will add to the nitrates faster than your Oscar! Move rocks, driftwood and clean up under them. Then limit the number of fish per tank and feed lightly. Adjust your water change schedule to keep nitrates under 20ppm. If you're doing more than two a week, you have too many fish. Unless your source water has nitrate <US Federal Standard is under 5ppm for drinking water> the only way it enters your tank is in the fish's food. Eaten or not it ends up as nitrate and MUST be removed with water changes. Getting the waste out before it decays is very important to nitrate control>

Angry Oscar     Hi you guys.  First wanted to compliment you all on a terrific site.   Your information has been critical to my success.  I currently have a 60 gallon somewhat community tank, two eight month old albino Oscars, three clown loaches, and two Synodontis cats) and a 55 gallon tall for my marine fishes,( one zebra and one snowflake, one bursa trigger, and a stars and stripes puffer; all juvenile) I will get them they're 180 next summer.  ALL fish seem to be thriving and I wanted to thank you all.     O.k. Now that I got that out of the way, here's my question.  My uncle has an overstocked 29 gal with an Oscar, two Pacus, two clown loaches, a tinfoil barb and Plecostomus.  The other day he told me his fish shattered the glass heater while it was plugged in.  (I figure it had to of been plugged in for at least a couple hours before he noticed it.) He unplugged it, cleaned out the glass and bought a new heater.  Since it happened he said the Oscar has gone from good to bad.  He hides all the time and doesn't hardly eat.  He also bumps the new heater and stares at it a lot.  I was just wondering what you make of this behavior, and what to expect. < Cichlids in general are territorial. As the Oscar chases the fish around it probably smashed the glass heater. Cichlids are not dumb and are quite capable of learning. I think you Oscar had a pretty bad experience with the heater and is not ready to go through the same experience again. Hopefully the new heater is unbreakable. Over time the Oscar will be back to his old self. Rearrange the tank and help take his mind off the heater. A new bigger tank probably wouldn't hurt either.-Chuck>         Thanks again,     Mike   Parasites on Oscar-help needed I recently- as in a week ago- purchased a huge Oscar.  say, the size of a good panfish. anyways, he had some spots on him in the pet store; they looked like scars, since he/she was kept in a ten gallon aquarium, I assumed it was from hitting the glass. I was SO wrong!!! today (the 18th) a friend was looking at her and said "are these parasites?"  sure enough, she has little parasites.  they look like water fleas of some sort.  clear, many legged, tails.  almost microscopic. They stay next to their particular 'hole' in her skin, and don't scrape off.  Its scary, but I did try to scrape one off of her with my fingers (and a big glove... she's a little testy). I have a saltwater tank, and did try a very short saltwater dip.  I don't know if that will hurt her long term, so it was either too short to do anything, or I didn't have high enough salinity.   So, can you think of anything?  the other fish in the tank is a violet goby (I know, supposed to be brackish) couple goldfish (feeders and one big one) and guppies.  THEY WERE ON HER  when I got her, I just didn't see them.  I'm looking for name and treatment of these suckers. < You probably have fish lice. Clean the filters and do a 30% water change. Treat with fluke tabs or parasite clear. Follow the directions on the package regardless of which one you choose.-Chuck> TIA!!! New baby Tiger Oscar acting strangely, and odd back coloring Hello there, I just bought a baby (1.5 inch) Tiger Oscar yesterday night, and *almost* all seemed well in the pet store and at home until this morning, when I was first able to get a really good look at it in the daylight, and I noticed a few things I'm now concerned about. Anyway, problem one: the little critter sometimes swims slightly lop-sided, with no side preference, but seems to be perfectly fine most of the time (this was the only odd thing I noticed in the pet store; the clerk said that it was because the store's filter was too strong for these tiny things, but mine now does it even when s/he's far from the filter) Is this something to be worried about, or am I just paranoid? Problem 2: the coloring on it's back is a different color than the rest of its body, like someone put a sheet of opaque brown plastic over it (sorry if my analogies don't make much sense, I just can't get a picture right now). The color that should be orange is nearly the same color as what should be black. Is this a disease, or how babies are supposed to look, or my paranoia? Problem 3: the fish is swimming to the surface sometimes, and either glaring at the bubbles from my filter, or otherwise just seeming to stare upwards for a while and maybe swim with its head pointed diagonally up. I'm just worried about this for some reason. Last problem: it seems to like to swim downwards through the bubbles my air stones produce. Is it having trouble breathing, or does it actually like to do that just for fun? As you can see, I'm completely new to this species (although it is already in a 30 gallon tank, with a 55 gallon in storage) and don't know much about its behavior. < None of the behaviors you describe sound normal. Make sure that the water is around 80 degrees F. The Oscar should be dark grey with a silver grey mottled pattern. It should act like a little puppy dog and follow you around begging to be fed. They should be this way in the store before you buy them. Try feeding him some live food and get him fattened up. If he does not come around in a day or two then he is probably ill and needs to be treated. With so many things wrong with your little Oscar it is hard to begin. Keep the water clean and your fish well fed a watch him closely for signs of a disease. Or you could isolate him and try treating with Nitrofuranace and see if it has any affect.-Chuck> Thanks for your help, and also for bearing with me.

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