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FAQs on Oscar Genetic Disease 

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Oscar seems to get blind... no data, rdg.      12/29/14
My Oscar is blind :( need help
<May be... see WWM re Astronotus health, nutrition; blindness. Bob Fenner>

Deformed Oscar 12/27/07
I guess this is a genetic problem but would like to check. Bought two albinos Oscars about 6 years ago both began developing deformed mouths one died suddenly and it is still getting worse with the other. One eye is now pushed out and the gills and the mouth are twisted in on the other side. This appears to be worsening as he grows. We water change pretty regular the tank and filter are adequate. The degree of deformity gets worse over a slow period as if it is a growth defect not a disease the rest of him looks very good.
Any ideas if it could be something else?
<Hello David. It's very difficult to answer this categorically. Albino Oscars -- and indeed albino versions of any other species -- are less hardy than the wild-type of that fish. The inbreeding required to make the variety true breeding does this if nothing else. But that said, at least some of the sorts of things you describe can also have non-genetic triggers. Deformed mouths often follow fighting, which happens when two territorial cichlids are kept together. The jaws become dislocated. Sudden deaths are much more typical of poor water quality or poisoning than genetics. So do review the basic needs of this species: big (55 gallon+) tanks, at least 50% water changes per week, less than 20 mg/l nitrate, and so on. Many Oscar keepers make the mistake of feeding them live fish -- particularly goldfish -- and this is a very effective way to make Oscars sick. Oscars are omnivores and benefit from a varied diet to get all the fibre, vitamins and minerals they need. Do read this:
And the linked articles. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Deformed Oscar 12/27/07
Thanks for the reply.
<You're welcome.>
They didn't fight and the other died two or three years ago.
Water quality may be a problem I will try and get my parents to change this more regularly. My dad is pretty disciplined so will probably set aside some space for regular water changes.
<Hmm... not always the best plan to depend on someone else, however careful they may be. Best to keep animals you can care for adequately by yourself.>
Bizarrely the plants I have they don't eat and its a 100G+ so aquarium looks great but makes it difficult cleaning.
<100 gallons should house two non-breeding Oscars fine, especially if you don't have two males. Oscars generally don't eat live plants, but they often enjoy tinned peas, algae wafers, and so on. In the wild Oscars feed primarily on invertebrates as well as smaller fish. Things with shells, such as crayfish and insects, are particularly important parts of their diet. Oscars have specially strengthened jaws to deal with their shells.>
They are fed specific pellets and the odd bit of scrap.
<Do try and vary this a bit. A varied diet is as important to a fish as it is to a human. All sorts of raw seafood work well, as well (clean, unsprayed) things from the garden like earthworms, woodlice, houseflies and so on.>
Will see if the water quality can clear it up a bit.
<Always monitor water quality. Oscars are very sensitive to nitrate, something we tend to overlook in freshwater tanks. Hole-in-the-Head and the possibly related gut infection Hexamita are two diseases closely linked to nitrate and responsible for many untimely deaths among cichlids. Aim for a nitrate level no higher than 20 mg/l. Control the amount of food going into the tank (a meal per two days should be fine for adults) and then the frequency of water changes (50% weekly recommended).>
<Cheers, Neale>

VERY Sick Oscar
>First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this...but I will get right into it.  
>>Greetings, you're welcome (it's what we're here for), and we do appreciate brevity.  ;)
>I have 2 Oscars (one white tiger and one classic tiger).  I have had them for maybe 4 months and I have been very active in their environment.  They have been growing very quickly and were very healthy until recently.  Let me give you some background.  The classic tiger has always been the bigger of the two and now is maybe 6 inches head to tail.  This one is very strong and healthy.  The white tiger is maybe 4.5 - 5 inches in length and was always more active but is now very sick.
>>To be expected with the kind of breeding necessary to achieve amelanistic animals.
>I regularly do partial (15%) water changes and test my water very often.  All of my levels are perfect.  They are in a 55 gallon tank for right now, but I'll be getting a larger tank very soon.
At first they were only getting fed feeder fish and frozen bloodworms.
>>Nix the feeders, ASAP.  They're a fantastic way to introduce disease, and NOT at all nutritious, even if you gut-load.  Bloodworms are fine, but not as a staple.
>They were doing fine and growing very rapidly.  Now here is the problem.  The white tiger almost looks like it's falling apart.  It shows signs of fin rot but also has a loss of appetite and stays laying in the gravel until it wants to eat.  This has been going on for maybe 3 days.  Today it is swimming but only using one pectoral fin and looks very labored.  The other symptom....its skin almost looks like it's peeling like its loosing its scales.  Aside from this, the Oscar is not exhibiting any other symptoms (as far as erratic behavior, or physical marks).  Like I said, the environment is perfect the water is very stable and the other tiger is very healthy.  My local aquatics expert told me that it may be a nutritional problem and recommended cycle and mixing up their diet as far as greenery, brine, cichlid pellets etc...
and try to stay away from feeder fish.  I love these Oscars like part of the family and would hate to see the white tiger become fatal.  So if you can help me, it would be greatly appreciated.
>>Your local expert is correct.  In nature they would be eating a variety of foods that would rival our own (which is why, in the wild, they're *very* good eating).  This would include bugs, fruit, whatever other wild fish they can find, so on and so forth.  This is what I recommend; get a container, 30 gallons should be sufficient, and remove the white Oscar to it.  This is going to be your hospital tank.  You will need nothing more than a sponge filter and a heater.  If the fish still eats, feed him mealworms, bits of overripe fruit, the cichlid pellets (soak them in a good supplement, we use Selcon for salties), while keeping up with many large water changes.  (Large is on the order of 50% or better.)  He sounds as though he's succumbing to bacterial infection, so I want you to add sea/aquarium salt at the ratio of 1T/gallon.  This will do two things--it will relieve the difference in osmotic pressure, making certain life processes easier, and it will boost the effects of antibiotics.  I want you to start him on a regimen of Melafix (you can also use Maracyn--I or II, but you're going for a broad spectrum antibiotic here).  This is the reason for the large water changes, because any nitrifying bacteria in the sponge filter won't survive antibiotic treatments well.  Keep the container dimly lit, but not dark.  I do hope this gets to you in time, let me know what happens.  Marina

Oscar Eye Injury.
Just wondering if you could help me with my Oscar's eye problem.
<I will try>
I purchased a baby Oscar and once I got it home I noticed one eye was larger than the other. The eye looked perfectly normal colorwise, it was just bigger. I figured it was a mechanical injury since only the one eye was effected. I read up on mechanical eye injuries and salt was recommended.
<Yes... most folks use just "regular salt" (ice-cream, table, water-softener...), but Epsom (Magnesium Sulfate) is recommended>
So I started treatment with salt and MelaFix for good measure on Nov.28th. I upped the water changes, and fed a varied diet. The Oscar was showing no signs of any illness. Active and eating well. Other than vision loss in the affected eye.  
I stopped the salt treatment on Christmas eve. Since I was seeing no improvement at all. Although the eye was no worse it was no better. Upon closer examination, I noticed a 'lump' covering the lower part of the pupil. It's looks similar to a bruise, For lack of a better description. And it's odd shaped. I don't think it's an air bubble since it's dark coloured. But I guess it's possible since I don't really know what that would look like. Due to whatever this is, the Oscar is blind in that eye. But the eye is clear, still puffy. Like there is fluid behind the eye and also in the clear layer. Which the salt didn't help draw out.
But the 'lump' was not there at first. I checked the eye on a daily basis. Possibly a growth?
<I think you are right here. Not parasitic or infectious in origin... but genetic, developmental. Likely not operable, treatable. But also not too detrimental.>
I'm not sure how to treat, or if a treatment is necessary. I'm also curious if you know what this might be?
I'll leave you my water parameters just in case you need them..
Ammonia= 0
Nitrite= 0
Nitrate= 10ppm
PH= Between 7.0
The Oscar is currently about 3 inches in size.  
Any help or ideas would be great!
Thanks, Linda
<There are many cases of hobbyists keeping fish species with such abnormalities of the eyes. Perhaps this growth will spontaneously remit. Bob Fenner>

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