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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 13

Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications, Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,

Related FAQs: Oscar Disease 1, Oscar Disease 2, Oscar Disease 3, Oscar Disease 4, Oscar Disease 5, Oscar Disease 6, Oscar Disease 7, Oscar Disease 8, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 10, Oscar Disease 11, Oscar Disease 12, Oscar Disease 14, Oscar Disease 15, Oscar Disease 16,
FAQs on Oscar Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Genetic, Treatments, & Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease 2, Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction,


My Oscar..   hlth. issue.... env.         1/11/16
<Hi there>
I'm in need of immediate fish assistance..
My Oscar is hardly holding on.
He's in a 50gal tank. He grew up in it with a few other non-bitey fish. I was getting ready to move him to his own tank, but I cleaned the 50gal and moved a few of the decor around first. I filled the tank and added a few drops to keep levels good.
<Drops of what? What levels?>

I went to get his tank ready and found a fat crack in the side of it. I was going to go to the store today and get a new one..
The bubbler was busted so I replaced it. Cleaned the filter, but it's tricky so I'm having issues turning it on. Its off for now but later today it will be running.
My Oscar, Bitey-snappy, was pale, and at the bottom of the tank last night.
I looked up everything I could to see what I could do to fix him. All I found was, he's probably being temperamental.
<? Is this a joke?>

Fast forward to about ten min.s ago. He's upside down in a decor plant, pale, and hardly breathing. Please, tell me how to fix him, and quick, if you can. I don't want Bitey to die, he's my buddy :(
<Do you have another system that you could move this fish to? Some friend, or friendly fish store that will take him temporarily? I suspect that wherever this fish is currently is trouble. Bob Fenner>
I'm sorry he's not an Oscar.       1/11/16

He's a cichlid. I keep messing the two up.
<... Oscars are cichlids. B>

My Oscar; health, NNS, no rdg.        10/13/15
Hello there
Sorry to bother you i have a tiger Oscar he his the family pet he his approximately 35cm long in a 400 litre tank with a Plec we've had him for many year he usually either happy, grumpy, hungry, funny but for the last 3-4 days he's stopped at the bottom of his tank ( not laying on his side) but upright and quite unstable ( wobbly when he does try to move) he will not come to top for food it like he dare not move so he ain't <?> eaten for few days his appearance is ok ect <etc?> no spots, grey in colour, holes although when you go near tank his darfin <What?> becomes upright like he's annoyed but dare not move. Please help the ph is fine the temperature is spot on, we do water 30% water change every week, maximum oxygen. He looks fine but afraid to move because he so wobbly?? Any ideas or advise would be great please has we would be devastated if we lost him.
Many thanks
<... likely environmental. I'd be checking, changing water and READING: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/oscardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: My Oscar       10/13/15

Thank you so much for getting back in touch with me so fast.
We did our 30 water change yesterday and ph is showing 7/ 8 and temperature is 27.9 his food, environment just nothing has changed apart from Oscar in all the year we have had him.
<Keep an eye on this fish; and more water pre-conditioned for more change outs. BobF>
re: My Oscar..... guessing games; using WWM      10/14/15
I have tested the water again but
<STOP. DATA please.... what nonsense. Have you read where you were directed? Don't write: READ.
now my Oscar is laying on his side gasping for breath and his right eye is bulging out, i don't think he is going to make it till morning but thank you for being there.

Oscar; hlth... env.         6/30/15
I have a Red Oscar in a 125 gallon tank that has been running for several months. There are other cichlids in the tank and a Pleco. Total of 6 fish. I have a Filstar XL filter that I think can handle up to a 300 gallon tank. My pH is about 7.2 and I do regular 15-25 gallon changes with a gravel vac.
<Every week? I would>
The Oscar looks and acts normal. <ly> He’s(she’s) very active and always wants food. I have to fake him out when feeding live food, mostly worms, so he doesn’t eat all of it. Here’s what I’ve noticed. When he moves very fast, spooked or getting food, brown chunks almost like big wet mushed cichlid pellets come off him.
At first I had no idea where these were coming from but then I became more convinced that they came from the Oscar. It doesn’t seem to always happen so maybe it’s a normal thing?
<Not normal....>
I haven’t seen anything online reporting any similar issues which is why I’m a bit concerned. Thanks for any information on this.
Dave W.
<Something strange going on here... I do think you need much more filtration and circulation than the Filstar provides. I'd look into a large hang-on power filter, and possibly a couple of in-tank pumps or powerheads. Bob Fenner>
Oscar /Neale         6/30/15

I have a Red Oscar in a 125 gallon tank that has been running for several months. There are other cichlids in the tank and a Pleco. Total of 6 fish. I have a Filstar XL filter that I think can handle up to a 300 gallon tank. My pH is about 7.2 and I do regular 15-25 gallon changes with a gravel vac. The Oscar looks and acts normal. He’s(she’s) very active and always wants food. I have to fake him out when feeding live food, mostly worms, so he doesn’t eat all of it. Here’s what I’ve noticed. When he moves very fast, spooked or getting food, brown chunks almost like big wet mushed cichlid pellets come off him. At first I had no idea where these were coming from but then I became more convinced that they came from the Oscar. It doesn’t seem to always happen so maybe it’s a normal thing? I haven’t seen anything online reporting any similar issues which is why I’m a bit concerned. Thanks for any information on this.
Dave W.
<Probably faeces; as with humans, to some degree physical activity helps to move things along the colon. It's also true that rapid swimming creates currents that can cause faeces on the substrate to lift back up into the water. Observe your fish, and provided there aren't obvious chunks of Oscar missing, he's probably fine. One last thing: the Filstar XP-XL has a water turnover rate of 450 US gal/hour. For Oscars, you want a water turnover rate of at least 6 and preferably 8 times the volume of the tank per hour. Since your tank measures 125 US gallons, 6 x 125 = 750, so your present filter is not providing optimal water quality. Remember that water quality isn't just removing ammonia and nitrite, but also removing physical solid wastes (such as faeces) and ensuring adequate water turnover (and thereby oxygenating all levels of the tank). Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Can I save my tiger Oscar; env.       6/23/15
Hello. So I have a seriously neglected Oscar. I have had him for 6 years.
His tank has gone thru all types of changes and he always seemed healthy. 3 weeks ago he stopped eating and had problems swimming upright.
<When, where in doubt: Water changes!>

Now he stays at the bottom of the tank, still has not eaten, is in a curled position, and his breathing is slower and deeper. When I realized all of this, I took immediate action but I am unsure of weather or not I can bring him back. I put a heater in there, do water changes weekly. He has a few small holes by his eyes which I assume is hith. I ordered some antibiotics, will that help?
<See WWM re Hole in the Head/HLLE... antibiotics not a good idea>
How can I get him back to normal. He is 8 years old and in a 55 gallon tank by himself.
<Water quality tests show what? What have you been feeding this animal? Any chance of outside poisoning, decor issues?
Bob Fenner>
re: Can I save my tiger Oscar      6/23/15

I do not or have ever checked the water. Never knew how. He just kind of got dumped on me and I got no instructions. Until he got sick I didn't even know he needed a heater
. I also tried MelaFix
<... of no use whatsoever>
for the time said on the bottle. I removed all of the decor in his tank. Just him and the heater.
I've been feeding him tetra JumboMin sticks.
<.... needs to have more nutrition than these>
Nothing else. He still gets
excited to see us walk in the room, so I don't think he has given up yet.
I can try to get a pic
re: Can I save my tiger Oscar      6/23/15

The antibiotic that I ordered is METRONIDAZOLE.
<.... this is not an antibiotic. Let me stop here and again, encourage you to READ.... on WWM... re the care of this animal. BobF>
Also I have a couple pics.
The first one is him from the bottom so you can see the curl. The second is how he looks the majority of the time. Today I took out his last decoration and behind it and under it was what I would describe as smudge. That is why the tank is dirty looking now. Will that go away with small water changes or should I do a complete water change?

Re: Can I save my tiger Oscar      6/23/15
Ugh... OK. I have been reading on WWM.. It just seems that the causes and treatment seems to be up in the air.
<No Nickie... the root causes here are poor environment and lack of nutrition>

I'm going to buy the water test kit,
continue doing water changes... Is there anything else that could possibly help? And also is it a good idea or not to give the METRONIDAZOLE??
<Please... READ before writing. Do you see the search tool... on every page? B>
Re: Can I save my tiger Oscar /Neale      6/23/15

Great.. Couple last questions..... First of all what are the correct water readings?
<For Oscars: at least 55 gallons, and recommended 75+ gallons of water with zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and nitrate that is as low as practical (ideally less than 20 mg/l, and certainly well below 50 mg/l). Water chemistry is as you'd expect for an Amazonian cichlid: ideally soft, slightly acidic to neutral but farmed varieties are reasonably tolerant of hard water. Essentially 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5 is the ideal, but up to 20 degrees dH, pH 8 will be tolerated by farmed Oscars without problems.>
And since he is not eating, will the right water help get him back to eating?
<Yes. Cichlids stop eating when sick or stressed. They will eat again when happy.>
I have even tried to put it in his mouth but he spits it back out???
<Do not force feed your fish. More harm than good. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Can I save my tiger Oscar... starting too far back...      6/23/15
My ammonia levels are .5
<Deadly toxic>

how can I get them down
<? Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NH3TrbFixF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

A sick Oscar       3/28/15
Dear crew, I have a sick albino Oscar, it has had a red bubble hanging out of its anus,
<Mmm; perhaps a prolapsed colon. Use the search tool on WWM to review>
for the last two months, it hasn't had any bowel movements, and in the last two weeks, has gone off it's food, looks miserable in the face, is there anything I can do? if not, what is the most humane way to end it's suffering?
<See WWM as stated; try the Epsom salt administration... gone over there.
Also; review the water quality, environmental needs of Astronotus... archived.
Bob Fenner>

Oscar blind?      1/27/15
Hey guys. I have 4 Oscars. 2 white 2 black. One white jumped out about 4 weeks ago and died. Now his proven mate seems to have been quiet and out of their "nest" so to speak. She is disoriented, her eyes are speckled with this white fleck almost.
<I see this in your excellent pix>
Inside the eye itself. Now I notice a blood spot and both eyes are getting this tinged whitish appearance. She looks up A LOT. Hasn't eaten in a few days that I can tell. Anything I can do for her?
<Mmm; need information; mainly on your water quality tests and what you're feeding; maintenance routine. Have you read on WWM re Oscar blindness?>
She's nose bumping everything here pics....
Right. Plus her head is covered in small scratches now also. From rubbing the slate bridge in her 300 gallon tank. ??? Help.
<Data please. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscar blind?      1/28/15
No I haven't read that. I will find it and do so.
<Do so. B>

I have hard alkaline water. Could be brackish with a tiny bit of work.
About 7.8 ph, I believe about 20 ppm general hardness. I would have to dig out my last test data. It's hard. But they lay and care for eggs. I do weekly changes. Drift wood and slate bridges. They eat a mix of pellets.
Hikari mostly. Sometimes the no name brand and as a treat my koi floating pellets ( they love those, once I ran out of food thanks to my stupid cat and had to improvise). I remove about 70 percent of the water biweekly or 50 weekly. It's just them the tank. Everything is routine as it's all on timers. They rough house during egg laying and that's how the one got
pushed/jumped up and out. I have six different filters. Eheim canisters mostly and two hang on the back for extra surface movement. The tank has been set up for 6 years.
Re: Oscar blind?      1/28/15

I read the articles and still don't feel like I completely understand the issue. It appears that most of the eye issues these fish have are water quality problems. It's certainly not appearing to have the clinical signs of pop eye. I'm not sure what my next step should be. Thank you anyway. The articles were at least interesting to read.
<Bob's right that damage to both eyes at the same time is almost always a water quality issue. (Damage to a single eye is sometimes physical damage such as fighting or jumping into the aquarium hood.) So, your best approach is to use Epsom salt (not aquarium/table salt) in the water to reduce any swelling (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) and then to review water quality. Be critical. Even if you think the tank is "just fine" clearly something's wrong. Stocking density, aquarium size, oxygenation, water circulation, frequency of water changes (this is a real killer for cichlids generally) as well as the usual nitrite, ammonia and nitrate levels. Beyond this, there really aren't any medications as such for swelling or damage to the eye. If conditions improve, the eye will get better if it can. It's really as simple as that. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Oscar blind?       2/7/15
How long would you feel is long enough healing time?
<If the fish is active and feeding, blindness is no reason to euthanise it.
Freshwater fish commonly inhabit dark, silty habitats where vision is minimal. Consequently eyesight isn't necessarily their main sense. They have a "distance touch" sense called the lateral line system that works a bit like radar, building up an alternative image of their world that operates in parallel with their eyesight (or, in the case of many nocturnal and all deep sea and cave dwelling fish, instead of eyesight).>
Like when do I make the euthanasia call? She eats but just cause she feels the worms as she blindly swims around.
<Quite so. She's adapting. She'll be using her lateral line, taste and smell sense to locate food. She can still hear things as well as detect vibrations, so will be aware of your movements around the tank.>
She knows the tank so she doesn't hit things all that often but scratches her head.
<Do remove sharp or fine objects from the tank as these will be risky. But a blind fish can be maintained perfectly well in an empty tank, perhaps with a single large, smooth ornament (such as flower pot) to use as shelter.>
Water quality is good but I added ebson salts and some beneficial bacteria to be sure and overturned ALL of the gravel, rocks, plants and did a half and half change. Maybe I have been changing too much water too often.
Usually do 75% every other week. Sometimes weekly if needed during summer.
How long should I give her. It's sort of inhumane for her to be struggling to just eat a few worms each day.
<If she's feeding and doesn't otherwise show signs of distress, just leave her be. If she's losing weight quickly, then that's a whole other issue. Do make life easier for her. Feeding strips of fish fillet and seafood on the end of tongs, wiggling them a bit to catch her attention (her lateral line will detect and localise the vibrations in the water). Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids... WAY over-crowded beh.         1/7/15
Hello, My name is Alicia and would like to ask a few questions and hoping you have the answers and want to Thank You in advance.
<Greetings, Alicia >
I have about 10 Chiclids in my 55 Gallon tank, I love them all dearly. I have a big Oscar he is about 10 to 12 inches long and looks healthy, this morning when i turned on the tank light he was down at the bottom and eyes looked closed and I thought he was dead I freaked out I've had him for about 8 months, I don't know if it is normal for him to have been like that I have never seen the Oscar do that before??
<It is not normal and usually means something is wrong with the tank. First check the heater is working. Then check the filter pump. Now grab a nitrite (with an "i", not nitrate with an "a") test kit. Check the water quality.
If nitrite is not zero, then something is wrong. My guess is that your tank is overstocked. As the fish grow, they produce more waste. An adult Oscar can overload a 55-gal tank without any trouble, so 75 gallons is the recommended minimum for Oscars these days. You have a bunch of other fish as well, which almost certainly means water quality isn't good.>
And the other question is I have what I believe is a Jewel i don't know if it is male or female but it stays in the cave nonstop it only comes out once in a great while to eat and very quickly runs back to the cave i don't understand why
<Variety of reasons for this. Sometimes cichlids hide because they're scared, sometimes because they're guarding something, and sometimes because the environment is "wrong" somehow (water quality or pH are possibilities).>
and when the Convict gets near the opening of the cave they both open their mouths and looks like they lock mouths together
<Likely aggression.>
do you know why please im very confused about it i was told they are mating or lighting for dominance???And my last question is do they prefer sand or gravel, because I have 2 African Cichlids and I believe the rest are South American I have a huge Albino from and 2 Algae eaters one is huge and other is a lot smaller jus to give you a idea of whats in the tank, <You have FAR TOO many fish for this aquarium. Time to start "pruning" your collection. An Oscar and a Plec on their own easily fill out 75 gallons; add a Jewel, a couple Convicts and whatever else you have by way of Mbuna, and you've got a collection that needs to be kept in a 150-200 gallon aquarium. Sit back, think which fish you really want, and keep those properly; rehome the others.>
Thank You soo much for your time and knowledge for getting back to me, I think your site is Amazing and have shared it on Facebook and other sites with fiends!!!
Thank You Alicia
<Most welcome! Neale.>

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>

Spotty tiger Oscar and other problems    9/27/14
Hi there my husband has 3 freshwater tropical aquariums, one of them has an albino Oscar, a tiger Oscar, a Kissing Gourami, a Firemouth cichlid, a Nicaraguan, and two Plecos. The albino Oscar has lost some scales on a large area on both side looking almost like flesh wounds and the tiger Oscar has a few small/large white greyish spots on one side.
<Do look at the behaviour/s of the Plec and the Kissing Gourami. Plecs are sometimes seen to attach onto Oscars and other large fish, rasping away at the mucous. Similarly, Kissing Gouramis very occasionally do this too. In both cases the problem seems to be triggered by hunger. Plecs have huge appetites and need a lot of food, particularly "filling" greens (such as lettuce, courgette and sweet potato) pretty much on offer every day of the week. Without these foods, they feel hungry even if they're getting some pellets or wafers, kind of like how people feel hungry even if they've actually eaten quite a lot of protein and fat (e.g., meat) but very little fibre (i.e., fresh fruit and vegetables). So, review what your Plecs are being offered. Perhaps move them away from the Oscars for a few weeks, medicate as per Finrot, optimise water quality (zero ammonia and nitrite, minimal nitrate) and see what happens. Kissing Gouramis are a species prone to starvation in aquaria. They're filter feeders in the wild, and need very large quantities of food to do well. That's one reason they're often tricky to keep, and even those that do survive have a concave profile to their bodies that shows they're underweight. A decent portion of finely powdered Spirulina flake offered 3-4 times a day will help a lot, alongside the odd algae wafer, frozen brine shrimp, live daphnia, etc.>
And in the second, he has a few Plecos, and some other communal fish, of which the biggest Pleco has a few grey patches but the third all fish seem fine, please could u help me with this as I really have no clue, well to be honest I have a couple but I'm not am expert so not really sure many thanks sheen
<If the Plec has some problems with its body as well, I would suspect water quality. Review and act accordingly. To recap, any tank with an Oscar or a Plec (or both!) needs to be big, minimum 55 gallons for one, 75 gallons for both, and equipped with a large filter. By large, I mean choose a filter from your favourite range that's for the aquarium the next size up; so if you have a 75 gallon tank, choose a filter rated for tanks 100 gallons or more. Make sense? Do also read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar Jumped Out of Tank      7/21/14
Hi, I have a 125 gallon tank with two Oscars that have lived together for over three years. This morning I found the larger of the two on the carpet and motionless.
When I went to pick him up he moved so I put him back in the tank.
He was dry so I am concerned for infection because his slime dried up. He lost several scales and has a laceration on his side from the glass top that he broke through. I have standard glass tops on the aquarium and he broke one of them when he jumped out. At this time (5 hours later) he is breathing in the tank but not moving. What can I do to ensure he lives?
<Gently "walk" this fish around... head first... mouth open... to aerate the gills... Until you see the fish doing this itself>
I have had him since he was small and would hate to lose him.
Thank you,
Neil Large
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar Jumped Out of Tank      7/22/14

Thank you! He is doing a lot better now.
<Great news!>
I'm just going to have to wait and see and maybe do a large water change tomorrow.
- Neil
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Oscar with potential Popeye and cyst ?? (Bob, anything to add? Melafix usage!!!) <Mmm, nothing more. B>    3/23/14
Hello there. I have 2 lemon Oscars that I have had since last September 2013. They belong to my grandchildren but reside at my home in a 150 gallon tank. Recently I noticed that the left eye on the female Oscar was beginning to protrude so I have been monitoring it. Today I could definitely see that it was protruding much more and that a bump, similar to a zit on a human had formed on the upper top of the eye lid. I quickly called the aquarium shop where I had purchased these 2 from and they had me bring in water and video/photo of fish. Before I could leave the house (approx 1 hour) I noticed the "zit" was becoming huge and very white. I went to the aquarium shop and they recommended the Epsom salt treatment at 1 TBS per 5 gallons of water along with Melafix for 7 days. As per their instructions, I dosed the tank with the Epsom salt and MelaFix and am supposed to watch her for the next 7 days for improvement. I noticed when I returned from the aquarium
<Indeed. Epsom Salt can be quite useful in these situations at 1-3 teaspoons per gallon. But Melafix is of questionable value. It's a preventative to some degree, a bit like using witch hazel to clean a cut on a person, but it's not terribly effective at all once symptoms become manifest. Some folks have good results, some find it doesn't help at all, and some report it messes things up even worse than before. So in this instance I'd be using a genuine anti-Finrot medication to deal with what are probably secondary infections of the eye, likely bacterial.>
shop and before I dosed the tank that the "zit" had ruptured as it was almost gone but had a small flap of loose skin covering that area. BTW my water tested pristine by their tests and mine (PH 7.2, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate).
<If water quality is genuinely this good and has been for the last few months, then physical damage, e.g., from fighting or bumping into the glass, is probable. Suckermouth Cats, while often kept with Oscars, can either damage them directly (hungrily scraping at the mucous on the Oscar's flank) or alarm the Oscar at night causing it to swim into rocks or glass, so I'm not a fan of mixing them.>
I do turn the lights off at night and I am wondering if perhaps this eye problem could be due to injury from to lack of light in the tank at night.
<Fish want/need nighttime darkness, but do take the usual precautions.
Switch the tank lights off before the room lights, make sure there are no jagged rocks in the tank, and perhaps add some floating plants to inhibit jumping and encourage a more peaceful environment under their shade. If you want, you can install a low wattage red or moonlight blue light for use at night, just make sure it's dim enough the Oscars can rest.>
I have always turned the lights off on all my fish tanks at night. I was told they need to sleep also, but perhaps is this old information as I am old myself and have fish for over 50 years (never Oscars though)? Since these fish are my grandkids and extremely important to them (and me also), is there something else I should/could do during the 7 day wait i.e.: Metronidazole treatment, moonlight on at night in their tank etc.
<See above re: treatment. A good antibiotic would be well worth using.>
The current tank temperature is 78 degrees and I only feed frozen brine, krill, and freshwater variety pack foods in addition to Hikari Cichlid Gold floating pellets and fresh raw shrimp. They are not interested in frozen peas or fruits.
<Shame, but do try starving for a week or two, then offering peas, or perhaps offering live earthworms, crayfish or snails (from somewhere clean and safe) as these contain lots of fibre (and their massive jaws evolved specifically for crushing shells and -- eek! -- catfish armour). Oscars are distinctly omnivorous in the wild, and can be prone to constipation in aquaria. Have a read here:
In the wild, over 25% of their gut contents turned out to be plant materials of one sort or another (leaves, seeds, etc.). There's also lab work that demonstrates Vitamin C is a crucial part of their diet, and doubtless many problems with Oscars, such as Hole-in-the-Head and Head-and-Lateral-Line diseases are as much related to lack of Vitamin C as they are to anything else. Soft fruits are probably your best starting point: bananas, mangoes, squished grapes, etc. If all else fails you can get vitamin supplements used in marine fishkeeping and use these perfectly safely on freshwater fish. I think marine fishkeepers have a better understanding of how variable and rich the diet is of their fishes than many freshwater fishkeepers, who assume flake is perfectly adequate. While good brands can be, such as Hikari, vitamin content of these declines after the package is opened, likely within a few weeks, and no pellet or flake food offers enough fibre.>
Please let me know what you would do if these fish were in your care. Thank you very much for your help and expertise. Anne
<Hope this helps, Neale.> 

Oscar questions. Longevity/beh., hlth. concern     1/16/14
I am hoping you can help me with my Oscar.. He is a red tiger Oscar that I have had for about 10 years now. He was purchased as a baby and has done well over the years with minor battles of hole in the head back when I used to feed him live feeder fish.
<Disease city>

 He got to were he wouldn't eat them anymore about 3 years ago and now eats brine shrimp and Hikari cichlid gold med size pellets. He has been in a 200 gallon tank since I purchased him with the same tank mates for years. I have added new fish over the past two years as tank mates died out. Here is what I have noticed over the past few months. These are in the order I noticed them to the best of my recollection:
Started laying at bottom on left side (sometimes he was so still I had to poke him to make sure he was alive)
<What are the other fishes here? My concern is that the Oscar may be getting bullied>

Spends 99% of time on bottom of tank just laying down
Started loosing orange coloring...now has very little orange color left
Appetite has diminished..only eats about every 3 days and even then spits a lot of bit back out
About a week ago I noticed when he swallows he starts what looks to be like choking/gagging type movements and his head and mouth splash about while in the swallowing stage (this happens even with small pellets)
Noticed yesterday that he is developing small white holes on bottom side of his mouth under lower jaw..normally with hole in the head he always got em on the top of head?
Also he started spending a lot of time laying by the water heater (I checked and temp is at 78)
I have two large filters with the charcoal ( I use the white/black mixed charcoal) on back and the filter media in front (media also has charcoal in it) I have done 3 water changes over past month and added additional live bacteria.  Change filters every other week and charcoal once a month...
Any ideas on what maybe wrong with him other then old age?
<As stated... parasites from the years of feeders, bullying>
I appreciate any help you can give me as he has been a pet for a long time and although I know he is getting old I would like to try my best to keep him around as long as possible..the kids really get a kick out of hand feeding him.. Also, what is the normal life span on a tiger Oscar?
<Can live 15-20 years; though ten years is a good span>
Thanks again
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar questions    1/16/14

Thank you for responding so quickly..
The other fish are:
2 Bala sharks (still small about 2.5/3" long)
1 blue Gourami(about 4" long)
2 silver dollars (about 3" long)
1 catfish (baby maybe 2" long"
2 Cory cats
<Mmm, are these still here? I ask in the concern that the Oscar might have swallowed one/both>

1 freshwater puffer (1.5 very small)
Oscar is huge probably 10/12" long..
All the other fish are tiny compared to him and I've never seen them going around him..they all take off to the other side of tank when Oscar does get up and gets moving...I also had forgot about this but a few months back I noticed I had a large amount of water lice (think that's what they are called)
<... see WWM re... and the compound you used to treat. Some are very toxic>
 I treated the tank and did water changes as per instructions and haven't noticed any since then but could that be causing him issues?
<... and review the exhaustive collection we have on WWM re Astronotus health period. BobF>
Re: Oscar questions    1/17/14

Yes the puffer is still in there  <<RMF asked re Corydoras...>>
<What sort of "freshwater" pufferfish? Most of the ones sold in aquaria (often by retailers who insist they're freshwater puffers) are brackish water species. In the US trade, really only two truly freshwater puffers sold commonly, the Dwarf Puffer (which Oscars will eat) and the South American Puffer (a sociable species best kept in groups, but a fin-nipper).
The standard Green Spotted Puffers and Figure-8 Puffers are brackish water fish.>
and I know it can be fatal if eaten and the only reason I tried it was because Oscar has not tried to eat any fish bait or otherwise on like 2
<Does happen that Oscars become "tame" but they are predators... in the wild feeding mainly on crabs, crayfish, and small fish such as characins and Corydoras.>
Even when add new fish that are small he doesn't bother them.
<Lucky, but I wouldn't bank on it lasting.>
One other thing, I have been battling green algae ever since I stopped using the Plecos and went to Cory cats...will algae affect him at all?
<Not as such; but poor water quality is often indicated by algal blooms, especially nitrate levels above 20 mg/l. Such nitrate levels are toxic to Oscars in the long run, being linked to Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head Disease. Do a nitrate test immediately, and if the nitrate is above 20 mg/l, that's a good sign there's a problem; if the nitrate is above 40 mg/l, it's SERIOUSLY BAD for Oscars.>
Doesn't seem to bother the other fish and I haven't had a death in my tank in probably over a year now  
<Oscars and other cichlids are much more sensitive to nitrate and low oxygen levels than the majority of other tropical fish. Understand that, look at your tank, and act accordingly. Most vague problems with cichlids come down to environment. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar questions    1/17/14
It's the dwarf and I've had him for about 4 months.
<I see. Dwarf Puffers really aren't big enough to live with Oscars, and in any event, are moderately delicate fish. They don't need much to do well, but they do need a 5-10 gallon aquarium with quite clean water, minimal nitrate levels. Puffers are paradoxical in some ways: quite hardy in terms of adaptability, but long term, easily stressed by not-quite-right conditions.>
I'll test the nitrate (hadn't tried that yet) I did check ammonia levels
about a month ago and it was good but I'll check again..
<Indeed. Often with cichlids people get the ammonia and nitrite problems tackled early on, keeping both at zero, thanks to good filtration. But nitrate is a MUCH tougher nut to crack; you need an approach that involves regular water changes, minimising the food put into the tank, and not overstocking.>
Anything you would recommend for algae treatment?
<There are no quick fixes. Short term, nothing beats a decent scraping sort of sponge (I use one of the sort used to clean pots and pans, obviously a new one!). After that, you can try Nerite snails in many tanks, but Oscars may well eat them, so buy a couple and see what happens before investing in the one per 5 gallons you probably need. Adding floating plants (Indian Fern especially) can have a huge benefit in cutting out light and using up nitrates. But realistically, in Oscar tanks, manual removal of algae is pretty much standard to some degree, especially if the tank lacks floating plants.>
I used some stuff per store sold me (can't remember the name) and it helped a bit but not much.
<Basically "potions" can/will kill the algae, but won't stop a fresh batch coming back, so they're little more than a quick fix for a week or two.>
I don't wanna use Plecos because they get to big and to me they make a big mess of the tank
<Indeed. My thoughts here:
Do see elsewhere on the WWM site by following the links at the top. Cheers,
Re: Oscar questions        1/18/14

Just read your link and think a big part of my problem is that my tank is directly in front of a window and I leave lights on pretty much 24/7...
The lighting issue would explain why I never had algae issues prior to moving into this house a year ago...my tank at old house was not near a window and so it was not getting the sunlight and I had a timer on my lights to turn off at night...I will have to put a dark curtain up on window and get a new timer and see if that helps...will also try your other suggestions and I have a 30 gallon tank I can set up for my puffer because I only got one to see how he did and now want more but I'll separate em from the big guys.
<A wise approach. Keeping Dwarf Puffers in group can work well and isn't hard to do; just remember -- lots of lava rock and plants so they can't see
each other all the time!>
Thanks again for all your help
<Welcome, Neale.>

Oscar fish; hlth., sys.    1/6/14
I got an Oscar fish from Wal-Mart about 6 months ago. He is now about 6-7 inches and seems very happy. He's in a 75 gallon tank with a convict cichlid, 2 large Bala sharks, 3 albino Cory cats, and a golden algae eater.
I have a Fluval filter that cycles 200 gallons per hour
<Mmm, do need more than this for filtration, circulation, aeration... Like at least three times>
 and do frequent water checks. The Ph stays around 8 and the nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia are all at 0.
<... I really doubt that [NO3] is zip. I'd use another test kit to check nitrate concentration here>

 The temperature stays about 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit. He has never been fed feeder fish as i have read many articles saying not to.
<Ah yes; good>
He gets fed Hikari cichlid pellets and he sometimes eats the flakes I put in for the other fish. Recently I've noticed that the edges of his tail fins and top fins are clear in color. I've looked up a lot about this and some say its normal because of their growth and some say its fin rot.
<Good observation; and this is normal>
He seems perfectly happy and acts no different than he normally has. The fins only look slightly frayed on his tail and side fins. I thought maybe the convict cichlid may be picking on him but I don't think that seems likely as they have always gotten along great and I never see them nip at each other. He's been in this tank for about a month now and he doesn't seem stressed. Do you think this is fin rot or something else? What should I do?
<Add more (additional) filtration/circ./aer... perhaps a large hang on power filter or two. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar fish     1/6/14

Thank you for your help. I told you the wrong filter though. My bad. Its a Fluval 405 that's supposed to filter 340 gallons an hour.
<Ah, better; though I would still add more (redundant) water movement et al. here>
I plan on getting another filter in the future for when he gets bigger.
I was also wondering if you could tell me when they're supposed to sexually mature.
<Yes; have spawned Astronotus... usually about a year. Quite a bit re archived on WWM>
 I've read a lot about this and can't seem to find a consistant answer. I've read everything from 6 months to 18 months.
<Good range. BobF>

Clear slime    12/27/13
I have on Oscar that is about 7 or 8 inches in length and I noticed that he has a clear slime like film only on the top of his head. Looks like peeling skin. I give him the once over every morning when the lights go on and didn't see anything in till now. I haven't done a water change in about 2 weeks. He is swimming fine and eating. Please help.
<Hello Eddy. Fish crank out extra slime when their skin is irritated. It's a first line of defence, if you will. The causes of irritation could be water quality (check nitrite and nitrate for sure, to see if biological filtration and water changes are adequate, respectively) or else parasites like Velvet, Whitespot or Costia. So if nitrite is zero (implying adequate biological filtration) and nitrate is below 20 mg/l (implying adequate water changes/aquarium size for cichlids generally) then you might want to review the possibility that parasites have got into the tank (via new livestock or most notoriously, via feeder fish, which I hope you don't use, but mentioning it anyway). Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars from Wal-Mart     11/30/13
Today I went into Wal-Mart for stress coat to find myself walking out w 6 tiger Oscars and tears down my cheeks! ! That was the saddest conditions I've ever seen!  5-10-15 or more dead fish in each holding tank!
<Unfortunately by buying them, the Wal-Mart company will see sales, and order some more. Though it's painful to watch, the best approach here is to not buy the fish, and when you get home, write to your local/city government, specifically, to the department that issues licenses for selling pet animals. Assuming your part of the world is similar to mine, egregious disregard for animal welfare carries not just fines but also the potential to lose that license to sell per animals.>
They had been dead for wk or more by the way they looked!  The Oscar tank had 1 dead and 1 suffering barley breathing! ! The only tank w no dead fish was the angel fish?  Weird?
<Not really; Angels are small fish that are easily kept in "average" conditions. Oscars are substantially more demanding in terms of filtration, swimming space and diet.>
Anyways I went mad and when the manager came over, I let them have it and I grabbed a test kit off the shelf and tested the water. The phone was off the chart basically all areas were bad.
<Good for you. This is the sort of thing people should do more often!>
So I had them bag me up the 6 Oscars and I bought them.
<He should have given them to you for free, given what happens next. But anyway, this is where things get complicated. For one thing, how will you house them? Six Oscars will need 200 gallons or more.>
I got them home and slowly introduces them to my tank. Prob is that my tank has been high in nitrites and I've been doin water changes 2x;s a day and it's Barley helping.
<I can imagine. Daily water changes is definitely helpful. Don't feed them either. Biggest possible tank. Short term -- look online for your local tropical fish club. There are many of them, particularly in big cities.
Some have online forums, others Facebook pages. Explain what you're trying to do. They may be able to help. Failing that, if there's a *good* aquarium shop in your area, again, give them a call or visit in person, and see if they can help out. Oscars are valuable fish, so if they're reared back to good health, you should at least cover your costs.>
What can I do to help the Oscars cuz a few of them are not doin well.
<I bet.>
They are breathing slow not fast.
<That's a good sign, to some degree, provided they're not "gasping" at the top (which would usually mean poor water quality).>
And they show hole in the head and fuzzy looking air bubbles on there mouths and eyes. They act like they are gonna eat then stop. Few are doin each thing. Will a salt dip or Methylene blue dip.
<Neither. Here and now, I'd do nothing more than treat as per Finrot using something relatively non-toxic such as Maracyn, but given you're doing daily water changes, medicines will need to be used carefully, at least a few hours before each water changes. Do remove carbon from the filter if used. Do add additional filters if possible (a big canister would be ideal).>
Plz help
thank you. LaTisha
<Good luck, Neale.>
Oscars from Wal-Mart     11/30/13

Today I went into Wal-Mart for stress coat to find myself walking out w 6 tiger Oscars and tears down my cheeks! ! That was the saddest conditions I've ever seen!  5-10-15 or more dead fish in each holding tank!  They had been dead for wk or more by the way they looked!  The Oscar tank had 1 dead and 1 suffering barley breathing! ! The only tank w no dead fish was the angel fish?  Weird?  Anyways I went mad and when the manager came over, I let them have it and I grabbed a test kit off the shelf and tested the water. The phone was off the chart basically all areas were bad. So I had them bag me up the 6 Oscars and I bought them. I got them home and slowly introduces them to my tank. Prob is that my tank has been high in nitrites and I've been doin water changes 2x;s a day and it's Barley helping.  What can I do to help the Oscars cuz a few of them are not doin well. They are breathing slow not fast.  And they show hole in the head and fuzzy lookin air bubbles on there mouths and eyes. They act like they are gonna eat then stop. Few are doin each thing. Will a salt dip or Methylene blue dip.  Plz help
thank you. LaTisha Groves-Kleider
<<Have already replied to this, LaTisha... check your spam folder perhaps?
Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: re: Oscasrs from Wal-Mart   11/2/13

Thnk u for ur response!  I'm doin the water changes but can't seem to get my alkalinity and nitrites down.
<Why do you want to change the alkalinity? Leave it alone. Unless your tap water is very hard there's no reason to fiddle with it. Steady water chemistry is the aim. As for nitrite, you'll never get that to zero (where it must be, long term) if the filter isn't big enough (or mature enough) for the number/size fish being kept.>
I'm removing about 5gl every few hrs so I hope that helps. When I tested there tank at Wal-Mart, during my tyrant due to there living conditions, it was off the charts. So I am   concerned my tank is shocking them in someway.
<Likely so. But there's no magic bullets here. The Oscars will pump out ammonia at a more or less steady rate, no matter what. If one adult Oscar needs the equivalent of, say, an Eheim 2217 filter to remove all the ammonia it produces per hour, then two Oscars will need two such filters, three Oscars three such filters, and so on. If you have more Oscars than filter capacity (e.g., three Oscars but only two Eheim 2217 filters) then you'll always have some ammonia "left over" and over time that ammonia builds up and up, like a debt that can't ever be paid off. Nitrite works in just the same way, though the filters generate the nitrite themselves, and if you don't have enough filtration, then some of the nitrite is left over, building up and up. There are only two real solutions (assuming your filters are properly set up and mature). One is to remove some of the fish, the other is to add more filtration. By analogy with a debt that can't be paid off, you can either spend less (= keep fewer fish) or earn more (= add more filters). Make sense? In all honest, my recommendation here is you try, urgently, to rehome these Oscars as soon as you can. A few days of poor conditions might not kill them, but weeks, months will.>
thank you. LaTisha
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Sick Oscar... beaten?      2/22/13
Had an ammonia spike which lead to lost of slime coat & cloudy eyes.
Eyes have cleared up almost all the way. The first day and a half he laid on one-side. Now he is upright but remains on bottom of tank. Have been doing water changes, the salt trick and also added prime to tank water.
When I looked at him the other day it appears his flesh popped through his skin. Is there any treatment for this or should I euthanize (if so how)
<Something has beaten this fish... What else is in the tank? What re the system itself, size, mechanicals, water test parameters... READ on WWM re what we're looking for information wise... then write back. Bob Fenner>

Oscars Dropping dead! - 12/18/2012
I hope this gets to the right desk,
<It's on my desk tonight - Sabrina with you this chilly evening.>
and hope this letter finds all in great standings or better.
I am floored with the events of the last few days. My boyfriend and myself have an aquarium that we set up earlier last summer. We got 4 young Oscars (two albino, two regular tigers) and put them into the 50gallon tank -
<This is too small by far to house four adult Oscars.  Young Oscars grow up, not slowly either, and are very "messy" fish - i.e., consume a lot of food and produce a lot of waste, thereby fouling the water quality impressively.  I would not house more than one adult in a 50 gallon tank, and even that might eventually be just too much work for my lazy self to keep up with the waste production.>
They where about 3 inches each. Today the remaining two are a good 6-7 inches,
<This is about the largest I would be inclined to keep in a 50g; if it is possible for you to consider a larger tank, please do so.  Otherwise, be prepared to consider more/stronger filtration and more frequent water changes.  Weekly wouldn't be overkill.>
but two have recently died.
<How unfortunate; my sympathies.  Hopefully we can help you turn things around for the remaining two....>
I know your going to want to know the water stuff,
however, I don't have a kit yet (I know, bad fish owner),
<You said it, not me.  Get test kits as soon as you reasonably can for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH.  These are not just "nice to have", but "urgent".  Since we can't physically see or sense (beyond making guesses based upon scent, color, clarity, etc., which is entirely unreliable and inaccurate) these properties of the water, the only way we can really know what is the status of the environment is by using a reliable test kit. 
These measures aren't just for having fun playing with science at home (even though it is fun anyway), they're crucially important because the water is what the fish are living in full time.  They're not moving around in the air, like you and me, or mice, or cats, or dogs, they're immersed full time in a medium in which you and I don't live.  Control that environment, and you control the health of the animals.>
but these guys have been thriving so nicely in this tank until now!
<The exceedingly precarious balance of too much fish in too small a space finally tipped.  It was inevitable, without constant checking of water quality and large frequent water changes.  Get those test kits....  and change water.  A lot of water.  Like, yesterday.>
Night before last we looked in the tank and noticed that one of the tiger Oscar's scales had seemed to liquefy, some where still hanging on but they where not hard scales - I am having trouble explaining what they look like, but liquefied is my best description - And where hanging off waving in the water like tirn flesh with no hardness or shape like a scale should have.
The flesh between the fins just sort of evaporated on the pectoral fins.
Death came very quick after that.
<Your descriptions are very clear, and almost certainly symptoms of poor water quality.  Perhaps very, very poor water quality.>
We have 2 left, scared to death they will die of this disease.
<They will, if you do not correct this environment as soon as possible. 
Minutes matter right now.  If you can do a water change the moment you get this email, do so.  If you can properly match for temperature and pH and use a good quality Chloramine remover (Jungle brand ACE, Seachem's Prime, or really any other commercially available product that removes Chlorine and neutralizes Chloramine), then I would seriously consider changing 50% of the water or more.  Even if you can't match for pH (since you lack a kit), I would probably still do it.>
We use distilled water because the local water has TONS of chlorine and other chemicals (you can smell it in the water).
<Yikes!  Do not use distilled water!  There is no buffering capacity in distilled water at all, and as soon as waste and dissolved organic "stuff" builds up, carbonic acid builds too, and the distilled water with no buffering capacity drops in pH rapidly - a "pH crash".  This alone can kill fish, very very rapidly, and also with the symptoms you describe.  You would be better off to do a major water change - right now if possible - with tap water treated with the Chloramine remover mentioned above.  If this is what has happened (and I would bet a fair amount of money on it), then you're not going to be able to match for pH, and frankly, what the fish are going through right now is probably worse than the shock of bringing the pH back up with a large water change.  To be safe, perhaps you could try a 25% water change, see how they fare for a couple of hours, and then do another, perhaps larger, water change.>
Is there any hints or tips you could pass along to save the remaining Oscars?
<As above.  And act quickly.  Even minutes are important right now.>
Or have you heard of this before?
<Oh yes.  And seen it.  Environmental disease - reaction, sudden or otherwise, to adverse water quality or other problem(s) in the environment - is probably the "number one" killer in pet fish.  And what makes this most unfortunate is that, once we're all properly educated about it, how easy it is to simply test water, observe water quality, and maintain with simple water changes....>
Thank you for your time
<And thank you for your interest in fixing this problem.  I do hope you are able to do so in time.  My best wishes to you and your remaining Oscars, 
Oscars Dropping dead! - II - 12/19/2012

You responded so quickly I truly do appreciate it!
<Glad to be of service, Sara!>
I have ordered a test kit that covers all the things listed as of last night.
The other 2 Oscars appear as frisky as ever right now.
<Then let's keep our fingers crossed that we're not too late.>
I am going to do the water changes as suggested getting rid of the distilled, but is it safe to use tap water, conditioned of course?
<Conditioned, yes.  It is possible, of course, that you're in an area with water that's just too "bad", but most places in the U.S. (assuming that's where you are) are "okay" enough to say so.  Oscars are very, very tolerant of a very wide range of pH and hardness, and as long as the water is treated for chlorine and chloramine, chances are it'll be okay.>
Or should I use that filtered/artesian stuff?
<You could use filtered water, spring water, etc., just NOT distilled water.  And be aware that some/many "filtered" waters may need some additional buffering capacity added - something like Kent's "R/O Right" product, or other similar options.  You can also use half tapwater and half filtered/R/O water, which will give you perhaps the best results.  Oh, and as far as "spring" water is concerned....  One of the best road trips I ever had took me through the Owens valley in California, and south toward the Mojave desert.  Somewhere in that saltpan-riddled territory was the headquarters and bottling facilities of one of the major spring water producers.  They're just starting with what I'd call some of the worst water in the nation, and filtering it to what I'd call passably drinkable. 
Filtering your tapwater or purchasing water cheaply at a water filtering facility in your general area (or even from one of those dispenser-type machines outside of supermarkets) is as good.>
I will have my guy go out and get whatever needed for it to be started soon as we know what to do over it. I do have to let you know we are very rural, so zipping out to buy something fish-specific isn't exactly easy (closest Petco is oh, 126 miles off down a snowy highway).
<Ah, I do sincerely understand.  I used to live in Bonner's Ferry, ID, nearest Petco was that far I'm sure - though there was a little mom'n'pop spot outside of Sandpoint, ID, and they got all my business.  Good folks, and only maybe 40 miles away.  I do miss living up there.>
We don't want to lose these fish (I am particularly fond of the last living albino we call "runt" - almost solid white still, no orange, but his fin tips and edges are black). Again, thank you for the quick response!
<My very best wishes to you and your Oscars, Sara.>
Oscars Dropping dead! - III - 12/21/2012

Howdy my new bestest Oscar buddy (Lol, don't worry, not some freak, just always appreciate help)...
<No worries.  I'm freaky enough for the both of us anyway!>
I started conditioning a good bit of water last night (tap water) so it has plenty of time to be just right.
<It should (hopefully) not require much time....  That said, water districts are not created equally.  My own tapwater has a pH in the summer of 9.5-ish, but after neutralizing Chloramine and aerating overnight, the pH plummets to around 6.0!  I'm sure you begin to understand how important those test kits are.  I'm glad they're on their way.>
We plan on doing the change out slow, about 10 gallons at a time with what I have for safely holding water.
<Do be observing those animals closely.  I fear that you're up against time, and moving too slowly might not be in the interest of their health....  You'll just have to find a balance between moving quickly enough to reverse whatever problems are in their environment (Ammonia, Nitrite, perhaps a drastically low pH, maybe other completely different factors) and watching to see if they are adversely affected by the crappy tapwater.>
Yes, I am in a rural area where water is just "off." it IS drinkable, but the chemical content is high here because of our supply's issue with what we call "shrimp." Bugs basically.
<That's.... neat.  Creepy.>
I looked up different colors, I think "Runt" is one of those lutinos?  I found 2 tiny orange spots by his/her tail, but other then that the only colors are the black on the fins (which goes to clear further out on the dorsal fin, with a bit of orange growing along the edge). Rainbow fins!
<Sounds pretty!  Lutino Oscars typically have normal eye color (as opposed to the blazing red of an Albino Oscar's eyes), but can sport even vivid red coloration like the Albinos often have.  The black edge to the fins is not uncommon in Lutino Oscars, as well.>
Thanks! And I'll let you know what happens!
<Sounds good.  Take care,  -Sabrina>

Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12
<Hi Lane, Rick here>
I have asked you questions before about my platys and your advice worked wonders, so maybe you can help me with this. My family just bought a 5 inch tiger Oscar from the pet store and we have had him for about a month. He has never had a problem before and is always active and hungry.  However, for the past 5 days he has not eaten and has been acting very lethargic. He is swimming at the very top of the tank and barely moving.
<Hmm. What's the water temperature? Even though Oscars like the water warm, they still need dissolved oxygen. Do you have sufficient surface agitation?>
I have pellets and feeder fish in there for him and I have tried to feed him on multiple occasions but he just goes to hide.
<Feeder fish aren't the best idea unless you are breeding them yourself.
Can easily import pathogens or parasites. Even then, feeders should be used sparingly. Better to feed pellets and a variety of frozen foods. Oscars aren't very picky eaters.>
On Sunday we performed a large water change of about 60% because the water had become dirty with brown algae which we determined to be new tank syndrome.
<Algae might be a symptom of overfeeding.  Also, watch the relative temperatures of the tank water and the replacement water during water changes.  Thermal shock can produce symptoms as long as days after the water change.>
Our hardness in the tank is a little high but other than that the levels are fine
<quantify? You blamed algae new tank syndrome but other levels are fine. If you have no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, that seems to contradict your conclusion.>
, even though the tank is continuously filling up with brown algae. How can I clean the tank and heal my Oscar?
<Difficult to make conclusions without the actual data from your water tests. Does the fish exhibit any physical symptoms or only behavioral symptoms?  Any pitting of the head area indicating possible Hole-in-the-head disease??>
Oh and we had another Oscar, but she just wasn't eating since we got her and died about a couple weeks after we got her.
<Could be any number of reasons.>
The tank is 75 gallons and minus the 2 rosy red minnows swimming around that he hasn't eaten he is the only fish. I can't figure out what is wrong with him and I need a solution fast!
<75 is sufficient size for a single Oscar. You'd need over 100 gallons for a pair.  Keep in mind these are extremely messy fish. Watch him eat, you will see food coming out through the gills as the fish tries to swallow. 
Oscars require larger and more frequent water changes than most fish.>
-Lane Vaughn
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12

The temperature ranges from 26.9 to 27.2 degrees Celsius.
<In range.>
His behavior used to be slightly aggressive and he was a total pig, jumping out of the water for food, always coming up to the  tank to eat, etc. Now all he does is sit at the top and barely move.
<Original behavior typical. What puzzles me is that the fish stays near the surface rather than on the bottom. That might point to some sort of poisoning, nitrite perhaps since your value is not zero? Are the minnows behaving abnormally, too?>
And this is only the second time I have given him feeder fish, but he loved them the first time.
<Always risky.>
 He gets plenty of pellet food everyday (not too much, we don't overfeed) and he usually eats all of it the second it gets in the tank, but he hasn't touched it lately. 
<Be sure to remove uneaten food.>
The actual test results were:
Nitrite- .5

Total hardness- 75
Total alkalinity- 40
pH- 6.8
<Nitrite should be zero. The tank may still be completing its cycle.. Here in Phoenix, people keep Oscars in water much harder than yours, so I doubt that is your root cause. A few questions then: Has the pH been changing or is it stable? Is the pH of the water put into the tank significantly different from 6.8? Are there any other physical changes or clues you can
observe on the fish, such as a change in the color and/or texture, gasping at the surface, abnormally fast gill movement?  So far the clues still point to nitrite poisoning or possibly insufficient dissolved oxygen, but there is always a chance that some stress activated a latent illness or the feeders brought something in. - Rick>
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12
And also the water temperature of the new water is fine (27) and he has no indications of hole in the head.
<Good. In-line with the other values - Rick.>
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12

<Hi Lane>
Okay so I just did another water test and the levels are the same except the nitrite levels are 0 and the pH is a little bit acidic. Between 6.2 and 6.8, leaning more toward 6.8. I will do another test tomorrow to see if anything changes, but what should I do if the pH isn't stable?
<Consolidating the two emails>
I also just did another sink water test and the levels are the same as they are in the tank except the sink water is a little less acidic than the tank water. Not completely neutral, but definitely less acidic
<6.2 and 6.8 are very different pH values when you consider this is a logarithmic scale, so each integer value is a factor of 10.  If you are using test strips, I recommend a liquid kit as more accurate. My kit has three color-values indicated between 6.2 and 6.8.  Stable pH is very important for any fish. Fluctuating pH can cause serious problems, especially if changes occur quickly.  Soft water is notorious for causing pH drift in the acidic direction, which is consistent with what you appear to be experiencing.  The solution to stable pH with soft water is to use a buffer. Unfortunately, I have the opposite situation with extremely hard water, so I don't really have a lot of experience with buffering tanks and can't advise on the what and how much question. However, here are several sections of the WetWebMedia website with a wealth of information on pH and water chemistry.
You might also check in with a reliable local fish store to ask them what they advise their customers to use. It should be relatively consistent locally. But, if it turns out the total alkalinity already in your tank is sufficient, then pH is a red herring and we need to look elsewhere. -
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12

I'm sorry to keep bugging you about this but I have been looking up symptoms for pH shock and they seem to be similar to how he is acting but the sites I looked at all had varying symptoms so I was wondering if you would tell me the symptoms of pH shock and how to cure it
<No problem. We've all experienced trying to save animals. You probably get multiple symptoms in your searches because different animals behave and react in different ways, some more sensitive than others. You haven't mentioned if there are any symptoms aside from the lethargy. Anyway, the key here is to get that pH stable to minimize the chances of any latent illness exacerbating the problem.  I still have a sense there might be something else going on, but getting the pH stable will be a good start.
By the way, a quick look-up in one of my books suggests maintaining a buffer of 4 degrees carbonate hardness. -Rick>
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/23/12
Okay so I did another pH strip test and it came out the same. I'm going to get some liquid test strips today
<Good. You can be much more confident in your results. API makes a very good freshwater test kit. They cost a bit more but will last you a long time.>
, but I finally got a good look at him, he was laying on the ground which isn't unusual behavior for him in the early morning,
<Oscars can be lazy at times.>
 and I was able to confirm what I thought I had been seeing. His eyes are cloudy. I don't know what this means or if this will help with the diagnosis. Later today I'm going to the pet store where I bought him to see if they can tell me anything, but other than that the only numbers that are off is the pH is a little bit acidic and the water has a low alkalinity
<That symptom helps. Many of the causes I've seen listed for cloudy eyes, such as cataracts in a young fish, or rare eye flukes, are unlikely in this situation. I didn't find much related to this in a quick WWM search, and most of what I did find was related to marine fish. However, I did find an article on FishChannel.com reinforcing that cloudy eyes can be associated
with low pH. You should read it.
I think this reinforces our pH hypothesis. - Rick>
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/24/12

I went and got liquid test strips <<?>> today, and they gave me the same results.
However, the man I talked to at the fish store said he could have picked up a fungus from the fish that died. That wouldn't surprise me because it started up after she died and she was in there for three days because she died in an ornament and we couldn't find her.
<I see.>
I did a little research and it seems correct, so I have started treating him with Pimafix to cure it.
<I had a feeling something more than just pH shock was going on. I recall that Bob Fenner isn't excited about the herbal treatments. I'm a bit less skeptical about naturopathic methods, but be ready to switch to something more potent if it doesn't work. I'd still track the pH regularly before and after water changes until you understand how it behaves for you.  Good luck and let us know how it goes. - Rick>
Re: Sick tiger Oscar - 8/24/12  9/1/12

He definitely had a fungal infection. He has been getting back to his normal behavior and he is eating more each day. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!! I am very grateful for everything!
<That is terrific news!
- Rick>

my baby Oscar swimming crazy       8/19/12
My Oscar is swimming funny. I have a 55 gallon tank. I have a Jack Dempsey and a small Oscar, well the Jack Dempsey beat the little Guy up, by eating tail and side fins.
<Completely predictable. Don't keep them in the same aquarium. Since Oscars need a 75-gallon aquarium, minimum, you may as well buy the new tank. Did you do any research? Didn't you read about how Oscars are large, territorial towards their own kind, but basically peaceful? That Oscars prefer soft, slightly acidic water? Compare this to Jack Dempseys, which are hostile, bad-tempered fish that need hard, alkaline water. No-one who's done research would keep them together. They're fundamentally incompatible fish.>
I put the Oscar in a smaller 10 gallon hospital tank he was doing fine but now he gets stuck to the side of the filter and swims in circles and flips.
<Doesn't have any fins, so swimming isn't easy. Plus, 10 gallons is insanely small for even a baby Oscar. Hospital tank needs to be at least 20 gallons for this species. What's water quality like? How did you mature the filter in this aquarium before adding the fish? Any nitrite or ammonia in the water in this tank will make a bad situation even worse.>
I got him Melafix
<Waste of time, money.>

gave him fresh peas and little chunks of earth worms, but he won't eat.
<If cichlids don't want foods, it means they are very, very stressed and sick. Medicate as per Finrot using a good quality medication (Maracyn 1 and 2, used together, works well).>
Please help I feel sorry for the little Guy.
<I bet. Do read above, then here:
Follow the links to do with health and systems. Your problems here are entirely of your own making; that means they're easily fixed if you change
how you keep your pet fish.>
Thanks much Cassie
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Dying Oscar    5/31/12
I have two Oscars that we bought about six months ago. We have them in a 55 gallon tank with plans to move them to a larger tank as they grow.
A few days ago we had some work done to the floor in our living room and they got pretty upset. they lost their color, wouldn't eat, laid on the bottom of the tank.
<Not to worry; more psychological than anything>
 We also noticed they had white spots that my husband says were Ich?
<Doubtful... just body mucus coalescing into dots>
 He treated the tank
<Mmm... can be quite toxic, dangerous>
 and has been doing water changes, about 25 to 50 % alternatively almost daily.
<And this... no more than 25-30% changes, lest you disrupt biological filtration>
 He does the water testing but says the levels of nitrates and ammonia and such are fine.
<Ah, good>
 We got new filters, added a bubble rock for extra oxygen, and have been only feeding them if they seem interested. Red, the one Oscar is interested, but only occasionally and still spend most of his time at the bottom of the tank, although he is looking much better and gets up when we come into the room. Oscar, the other fish, is now floating at the top of the tank, his fins are all torn up, and he is upside down. He rarely tries to swim, just kind of floats there. We had two Plecos in with them but one died and the other is looking very sick.
<Yikes! What medication/s are you using, active ingredients? See WWM re>
 He barely moves at all unless it is to go to the top of the water for a second then right back down. The Ich seems to be gone but the fish seems to be getting worse. They don't fight. Oscar and Red seem to get along very well. They used to get excited whenever we entered the room, wagging their tails and darting around the tank. We have grown very attached to these fish and it is breaking my heart to watch him so sick. Is there anything I can do? Thanks for the help!
<The treatment and too-large water changes should cease. Freshwater Ich is easily defeated via simple temperature increase... Bob Fenner>
Re Dying Oscar    5/31/12

Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, Oscar went to fish heaven while we were sleeping. The Pleco and Red seem fine, just a little depressed which is understandable considering all they have been through. I talked to my husband (he is the one who does all the tank maintenance and cleaning) and apparently he thought it was Ich because of poor water quality?
<Mmm, again, unlikely. Freshwater Ich doesn't "hang around" typically; "waiting" for opportune, resistant-diminished hosts... In other words, unless you added a vector like live food/s, new fishes, it shouldn't be present>
He got some bad advice from the pet store and was not doing the weekly water changes and cleaning because they said he was cleaning too often.
<Can be>
 He used the Ick Guard, but only once he says and was relying on water changes and aquarium salt to help clear it up. The active ingredients are Victoria green and Nitromersol.
<These are very safe... actually, too much so. This combination is of little to no use.
Please read here:
and the linked files above>
After he used that is when Oscar went belly up.
<Mmm, a coincidence... much more likely there was a pulse of ammonia, nitrite, and/or loss of DO that killed your Oscar, Pleco>
The Pleco is back to hanging out in his log and on the wall of the tank.
Red is still laying at the bottom but comes up to say hi when we come near the tank and when my daughter offers him food. Could all of this have been due to not cleaning
<Is highly likely environmental; no way to tell at this point>
We have lost all of the fish in our other tank (about 15 tiger barbs)
<Unusual... these are very tough/hardy animals... Am wondering if you have an issue w/ "indoor pollution"; perhaps an oily et al. film that is coating over your tank/s surfaces... Please read here re:

 and now Oscar. I want to get this problem under control before anyone else dies and before we get new fish for the second tank.
<Understood; and agreed. BobF>

Oscar fish... distressed in uncycled system 1/11/12
My fish is going crazy when i get close to the tank. He haven't eaten in 8 days. The levels or fine we put him in a 55 gal 8 days ago.
<... this system isn't cycled. The chemistry here is the likely cause of this fish's troubles, troubled behavior>
He cut himself going crazy on side of face. I don't know what to do please help me.
Thank you.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwbiofltfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar resurrection! 1/21/12
Hey thanks for the help my Oscar is back to healthy in fact i hadn't seen it so active in a while :-)
<Glad you had such success! Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar swimming off balance. 1/8/12
I have a 8 yr old Oscar in a 55 gallon I have 3 filters. He has always been healthy. I do water changes every week and rinse filters. Water temp is 78-80 water conditions are A0 Nitrates .20 to 40 and Nitrites 0. Oscar staying at top of the tank.
<I see this... trouble. What other life is in this system, what re the set-up, history?>
When he tries to swim to the bottom he pops back up to the top he seems off balance. He stays at the top for feeding. I fed him peas yesterday and today.
Should I keep up with the peas only?
<Let's see...>
Im setting up a larger tank. Last week he hit the top of the tank cover scraped the top of his body. It turned white. He also has specks on his fins. I noticed in the pic today around his mouth is white also. It didn't look white in the tank looking with a flashlight. I did a water change and added a bit of aquarium salt on Thursday. Today Saturday (1-7 2012) he has been swimming off balance and staying at top. He is hungry but only will eat at the top he wont swim or go to the bottom he stays at the side of the tank. I've read to add Epsom salt should I do a water change since aquarium salt is in the tank?
<... Something is very wrong here...>
Should I treat him for the scrape on top? I attached some pics of the top of his body him at the side of the tank and his head.
Thanks for any help you can give me
<My best guesses based on what you've presented: Either this fish has been, is being brutalized by a tankmate, or there's (danger!) an electrical leak from something in water contact in this tank! DO take care in checking this, lest you be badly shocked. I'd unplug the heater, allow it to cool, and remove it to check for breakage. Similarly, the filter/s, pump/s, and lighting. Are all these plugged in to/through a GFI? Please read here re:
Are you familiar w/ basic tests for electrical leaks? Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscar swimming off balance. 1/8/12
Thank you for the reply so soon. This picture was this morning he seems a bit better.
<Ah, yes... but... why was this fish jumping, damaging itself?>
He is looking at me and not in the corner. No they are not plugged into a GFI. But I tested each filter (3) 2 lights, 1 heater and an air pump into a GFI. All was fine.
Wouldn't I feel a shock since I change water every 5 days?
<Not necessarily. You (through your shoes) might well be insulated>
Ammonia-0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates between .20-40
<Keep this under 20 ppm. See WWM re FW NO3>
PH 6.8 - 7.0.
<And no lower than 7...>
I have well water with a filtering system. I checked all the water from the faucet also. (fine) I add stress coat with water changes. I alternate feeding them Hikari gold and regular pellets, frozen bloodworms, frozen shrimp, frozen veggies, krill and dry shrimp/krill. No feeders.
He lives alone in a 55 gallon He was in a 75 gallon with another Oscar as babies but when they got older they fought so I got the 55 gallon and moved him.
<Also good... Might you have a pet out of the tank... a cat or dog that is antagonizing this fish?>
He really has grown and is ready for a larger tank. Im setting up a new tank for him. His tank now has Aqua Clear 110 and a Aqua Clear 70 and a Marineland 200 bio wheel filters.
<Good to have such redundancy>
He beats himself up, sometimes attacks the plants the rocks anything in the tank and the intake tube,
<Common Oscar beh.>
I put the heater on the side of the tank so he wouldn't get at it. He seems to leave it alone.
<Best to enclose such heaters in a perforated tube of PVC or such>
This is why his tank is empty. If I walk by the tank in the dark he gets startled easily and splashes around. So I try to let him see me before I walk by or turn the lights on in the room.
NYear weekend he hit the top of the tank cover and really scraped the top of his body. I think he has outgrown this tank. Not much room for him to turn. Anyway I still have the problem until I can move him. As I said I gave him peas for 2 days and yesterday I added some Epsom salt This morning (Sunday) he was better, swimming more normal<ly> and looking for food. I did another water change this morning. Should I treat the white area with medicine?
<I would not. Too much potential downsides from treatments>

Im going to the fish store tomorrow. I don't want to loose such a beautiful boy he is part of the family.
Thanks again
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Oscar swimming off balance.

Im also looking into getting a GFI
Re: Oscar swimming off balance.

Are you familiar w/ basic tests for electrical leaks? Bob Fenner>
Sorry just noticed this. Im not sure if this is right but I have a GFI in my bathroom so I used an extension cord and plugged all the units from the tank into it one by one.
Re: Oscar swimming off balance.

No cats or dogs.
<Mmm, another swing and a miss>
I do water changes bare foot...I hate shoes....Tonight he is facing down and seems like gas is coming out
....No treatment for the injury on top of his body that is all white?
<Nothing more, no>

just water changes every 4 or so days until he is healed? Im guessing he jumped up and hit the cover because he needs a larger tank. I cant eat or sleep when they seem sick. Ok thank you
<Look for that larger tank... B>
Re: Oscar swimming off balance. 1/9/12

My Oscar was better yesterday (Saturday) after the peas and Epsom salt.
Last night (Sunday) he was leaning head down for awhile looked like gas coming out of him (bubbles)
He is back staying in the corner on top and is again swimming off balance Any clue on what this is
and what can I treat him with. possible constipation or bladder problem>?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/OscarDisF12.htm
and the linked FAQs files above>

Re: Oscar swimming off balance. 1/17/12
Update my Oscar is still not able to swim down floats up and he stays in one spot on top. Sometimes his body goes into an L shape while he eats.
He still swims off balance and swims backwards now. I treated him with Metronidazole 2 treatment as it says on the directions, he is the same today but he is still eating. What would be best food to feed?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarfdgfaqs.htm
Should I do another treatment?
<I wouldn't. See WWM re Metronidazole... too hard on the kidneys, kills from repeated exposure>
He does have specs of white on his fins they usually come and go though.
Am 0 Nitrates .10 Nitrites 0. after treatment.
<Keep reading. BobF, who is writing a piece (article) on Astronotus ocellatus hlth., splitting up the accumulated Oscar Health FAQs as we key>
Re: Oscar swimming off balance. 1/18/12

so the answer is don't do anything? >>>
<... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm
and the linked files above. B>
Re: Oscar swimming off balance. 1/18/12

Any idea of what is causing the swimming problem? could it be connected to his back injury(scrapping) from hitting the tank cover ?
I've been doing frequent water changes, feeding peas using Epsom salt.

Astronotus; diet, health 1/8/12
Hey there I'm new to this but I have an Oscar almost 3 years old
<You're new to fishkeeping and only just got this 3-year-old Oscar? Or you've kept this Oscar for 3 years but feel like you're a new fishkeeper?>
he has been swimming upside down for two days I've read that a lot of goldfish is bad
<Yes. Why are you feeding your Oscar goldfish? That's the single best way to ensure your Oscar gets diseased. There are no books on Oscars that recommend goldfish, and no experienced fishkeepers writing in magazines or websites. So I have to ask, where did you get the idea to use goldfish from? Sometimes people keep predatory fish because they want to see one fish kill and eat another fish. You can find videos on YouTube of teenage boys (with social inadequacies, I have to assume) videoing this sort of thing, usually with rock music in the background. Depresses the heck out of me. Please don't follow their lead. Oscars need a mixed diet, largely based on good quality pellets such as Hikari Cichlid Gold, with some fresh or frozen foods such as tilapia fillet, cockles, prawns and mussels used now and again. If your fish can't balance itself, it may be constipated, in which case Epsom salt together with a diet of JUST cooked peas will help (no, he won't eat the peas at once, but when hungry, after a few days, he will).
But if the problem is more serious, as it could easily be, then we'll need more information on this Oscar's world. How big is the tank? What is the water quality like? How often do you do water changes? Apart from goldfish, what food do you use and how often?>
so I think that might be the problem he also has a bump coming out his left
<His left'¦? Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health 1/8/12
The tank is 48g I change the water ones a week he shares it with 3 jack Dempsey I've had him for 3 years
<Too small, as I'm sure you realise. Oscars alone need at least 75 gallons (though often mentioned, 55 gallon tanks quickly become filthy and nitrate levels are very difficult to control in tanks that small). Add a bunch more cichlids like the ones you have, and you need a tank 100 gallons or larger.
How much water do you change? I hope at least 25%. How big is the filter? I hope at least offering a turnover rate not less than 8 times the volume of the tank, i.e., 48 x 8 = 384 gallons/hour. Nitrate levels must be 20 mg/l or less; ammonia and nitrite must be 0. This fish is almost certainly being stressed, harmed, killed by the environment you've provided. Without improving his world, medication won't be much/any use. Nitrate poisoning, constipation, Thiaminase, Hexamita, secondary bacterial infections -- all
these are possible explanations for the symptoms you're observing. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health
Water temperature is 80 degrees I usually feed him Hikari pellets water change is 25% weekly
<Given how small your tank is, I expect you will need to do more water changes than this to keep nitrate levels low enough. In any event, the rest of my comments stand. This fish has been stressed by the environment you've provided. Read through my messages and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health 1/8/12
Thank you very much
<Glad to help. Neale.>

Astronotus; health 12/22/11
Hi, I have two Oscars and my smaller 3 inch Oscar is turning pale. They are both black, but the smaller one is turning a pale olive green at the top of his/her body... Is this normal, what can I do, I'm extremely worried about my fishes life!
<Need some information here, Nicky. How big is the aquarium? Have you measured water quality recently? Let's recap. Oscars need big tanks and extremely heavy-duty filtration. For two specimens you'd need at least 75 gallons, even for babies, and the filter should provide a turnover rate of at least 8 and preferably 10 times the volume of the tank per hour. For two Oscars, I'd be using two Eheim 2217 canister filters or similar. Almost all problems with Oscar health come down to poor environmental conditions -- not enough aquarium space, not enough filtration. Cheers, Neale.>
<<Neale, WWM referral? B>>
Re: Astronotus; health 12/25/11

I noticed my temperature was off and that made him go back to normal color... but now the big one keeps swimming on his side. basically these to fish belonged to my friend who could no longer care for them. He housed them in a ten gallon tank and passed them to me. I can't afford a bigger tank at this moment, and the Oscars are very small.
<Hello again Nicky. There's really not much else I can say here. I appreciate you're doing your best to help these fish, and that you're stuck with the aquarium you have for the short term. But Oscars aren't "social" fish and won't get along without plenty of space. Males are aggressive towards one another *and* towards unreceptive females, and mouth-to-mouth and mouth-to-flank interactions are common examples of aggression. In terms of water quality, you need to keep nitrite and ammonia at zero, and nitrate below 20 mg/l, so heavy filtration and likely water changes more than once a week will both be part of the maintenance regime. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Astronotus; health, and comp. f' 1/5/12

Okay one last question it's, my big Oscar has almost killed my smaller Oscar. My smaller Oscar's scales are ripped all the way off. Leaving white dermis. He can't eat anymore because he can't swim to catch food. His fins have been ripped between the connective areas. He is on his side and can only breath. So i put him in a fish carrier. There is a heater as well in there. He has been in there for the past week and a half. My main question is, is there a way to supplement his diet, since he can't eat. Vitamin drops???! I put Melafix for the fins.
<Melafix is not helping here; you need a proper antibiotic or antibacterial, e.g., eSHa 2000 or Maracyn. Vitamins are irrelevant. This fish needs a hospital tank (at least 30 gallons for an Oscar) with a heater
and filter where it can recover for a few weeks. Long term, each Oscar needs at least 55 gallons, preferably 75 gallons. As I've said before, Oscars are not social and yes, the bigger one will want to kill the smaller one. Putting the fish in a "fish carrier" (whatever that is) won't help. If you can't do any of what's required, euthanasia may be the only option.
Possibly, a pet store could take one or both fish from you, or you could make an appeal on a fish club forum or at a city aquarium club. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Oscar wont eat medicine 11/20/11
Dear WWM,
<Hello to you both.>
We have a 2 year old red Oscar and a 1.5 year old tiger Oscar with a Pleco in the same 55g tank.
<Your tank is much too small for all these fish together. It's barely adequate for even one of them kept alone. Consider 75 gallons the absolute minimum for two Oscars together, and 100 gallons the minimum if you want the catfish too.>
About 2-3 months ago the red male Oscar developed hole in the head,
<Almost certainly down to the size of the tank. The thing with cichlids is that they're acutely sensitive to non-zero nitrate levels, and in small tanks, it's difficult to keep nitrate below a safe value of 20 mg/l. The bigger the tank, the more water to dilute the nitrate, so the better the health of the fish. Other factors very likely come into play, including fresh greens in the diet (wild Oscars consume fresh greens as the gut contents of their prey as well as consuming some plant material directly, and in aquaria it's critical to respect that). Low oxygen concentration in an overstocked tank is a third factor likely behind HITH disease.>
and we tried the general cure from Pet-Smart... it did nothing.
<Indeed not.>
He was eating well up until about 7 days ago. We have been trying to feed him this medicated fish food from Jungle, that worked the last time he had hole in the head (which cured him last time), but this time he just won't eat it. He won't eat much, actually'¦ He seems severely lethargic and only has come out to swim (from his house) once in a great while, or when attacked by the other Oscar. We tried the Melafix with aloe,
and that seemed to perk him up a little, but did nothing else. We tested the tank water, and the ammonia is fine; but the nitrates are not good.
<See above. Cichlids must have nitrate levels below 20 mg/l, and ideally as close to 0 as possible. Can't do that? Don't keep cichlids. I've seen cichlids develop HITH time and time again in overstocked tanks, and almost every time I see cichlids with HITH, it's the same problem: overstocking, lack of water changes, high nitrates, monotonous diet. Throw the use of feeder fish into the mix, and things become even worse.>
The water is soft, the ph, nitrites and everything else is fine on the test.... What do we do?
<Buy a bigger aquarium.>
Is there any chance we can save our Red Oscar?
<Yes; treatment requires Metronidazole, also known as Flagyl, as directed by the manufacturer or your vet. Success rate is pretty good if treated promptly:
Naturally, environmental conditions need to be fixed, too.>
Chrissy and Chris
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Oscar, same as almost all... no reading or data of use 10/20/11
Yesterday I added another pump to my 40 gallon tank everything was fine at first. Then today I noticed my Oscar was swimming up in the new pumps bubbles He seemed to be enjoying himself. The other fish in the tank a black catfish and a algae eater would swim around him. About dinner time my daughter noticed Oscar had started swimming upside down. It was very sudden. I transferred him to a 2 gallon hospital tank
<? Two gallons?>
gave him a pea and some medicine for parasites.
<What for?>
But I don't see any bloated area on him, but his belly has a yellow color to it and his eyes are cloudy. Can my Oscar be saved?
<This volume is too small for these fishes... very likely water quality IS the issue here. Change a good deal of water out, vacuum the gravel... READ here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mysterious Oscar Killer 9/19/11
Hi wwm crew,
This is my first time writing to you guys and surprisingly (to me), it is about some fish we have a good deal of experience with, our Oscars. My parents bought a 75 gal tank 3 weeks ago and in their rush they fully stocked it with 4 Oscars, 5 guoramis (spelling?), 2 upside down cats, 2 silver dollars, and 2 tin foils. The smallest Oscar (our albino tiger) suddenly began hiding about 4 or 5 days into our ownership and died a week after bringing them home. We assumed (knowing how territorial these fish are as well as their general bossy attitude) that one of the three much larger Oscars stressed the poor guy to death. Then, a few days later our red Oscar ( the second largest) began hiding under our big wooden root structure (large piece of wood bought at PetSmart). When I went to check on the tank (one of many trips to my parents house) I was taking inventory of all the fish and got a good view of Red. He had Ick. I gently guided him to the side of the tank with the net to get a better look and take pics. He was very calm and came out with no trouble. He allowed me to take the pictures and went back to hiding. I immediately informed my parents and insisted on treatments and a quarantine tank(which I told them to get a week before lol). The next day we bought a ten gal glass, a filter, air bubble bar, tree to give shelter, herbal meds for fungi and bacteria, and rocks. The meds were suggested to us by the fish department lady. We set up the quarantine tank, siphoned off about 7 gals of water from the main tank and added two gals of treated tap, let it run and discovered a major leak in the ten gal and had to dump the water. We got a replacement tank the same night and got it set up and again siphoned 7 gal tank water to two gal tap. We refilled the main tank with treated tap. He seemed to be doing better in the ten gal though he would not eat. Both tank have been cycling through meds since the night of their purchase per instruction. Yesterday red died. We are down to two Oscars though every other type of fish has remained relatively unaffected. About the same day we put red in the ten gal, our largest Oscar, an albino, began sulking and hiding but still eating. He has no sign of Ick, fins in excellent condition but a small scrape on his side. He is no longer eating. The tin foils had a small amount of Ick that has almost fully cleared up. No other fish in the tank has shown signs of Ick. All but Oscars showing normal behavior and appetite. Please note that while I am working on water condition it still needs some work. Ph is good but nitrates are still high. I have a vacuuming and 30 gal water change planned for this evening. I want to add suckerfish but do not know if it is safe yet in my tank. Please help me! I have lost two Oscars n do not want to loose any more. I am sorry this email is so long but I am trying to give you all the info I can. Please help me to understand what this Oscar killer is. Is it bioload? Or an illness? Thanks so much for your advice and wonderful site. Be sure to look for my emails around Christmas related to a reef tank that is being given to my son as a Christmas gift.
<Greetings. It does seem your aquarium is massively overstocked. One Oscar in a 75 gallon tank is a squeeze; four of them is insane! Even if they're only young, let's say anything above 12 cm/5 inches, this tank will be overstocked. Throw in big fish like the Tinfoil Barbs and you've got a recipe for disaster. Adding a Plec catfish would be lunacy, and simply isn't on the cards at all. Not only does this aquarium need to have most of its residents removed, the Plec/Oscar combination is an unreliable one, with the common Pterygoplichthys species especially being known "mucous grazers" that damage the flanks of Oscars when they try to scrape off the mucous. But let's not worry about that now, because you aren't adding any more fish to this tank! Let's focus on why your fish are dying. The thing with cichlids is that non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite are especially dangerous, and even nitrate, which for most fish isn't too serious, starts sickening them at levels as low as 20 mg/l. On top of this, overstocked tanks have low levels of oxygen, and this is another cichlids won't tolerate for long. Basically you have an aquarium that isn't nearly big enough for the fish you're keeping; 200 gallons would be the sort of size for the fish you have, though whether four Oscars will tolerate one another once they start pairing off is a whole other discussion. Do read what these fish need, write up a shopping list, and make the necessary changes.
Otherwise return all but one Oscar, and if you want a companion for it, choose a robust species that won't graze its flanks, for example Synodontis euptera or Panaque nigrolineatus.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mysterious Oscar Killer 9/22/11

Thank you so much Neale,
<Glad to help.>
Your insight helped to confirm ALL of my worst fears. After reading your email, I immediately looked up every fish my parents bought. I spoke with them about the information I gained and asked a few questions about the individual fish they bought and the live fish store they were bought from.
I was very disturbed to hear that the clerk at one fish store (no names but the tins, dollars, 2 Oscars, the cats and the gouramis were purchased here) recommended that my parents put more fish but also recommended they put in the tins, dollars and cats (while they are decent suggestions, not all together and not in a 75 gal tank.)
<I agree. All lovely fish, some of the best in fact, but your family have enough for a swimming pool!>
All about the Benjamins. We have been discussing solutions and here is what we have decided.
1. Return/trade in the tins,
<Could be wise. These fish are among the worst when it comes to housing because they're both active and big, so they need more space than an inactive fish of similar size. They're also social, which exacerbates things.>
2. Get a new tank for dollars, cats, and gouramis (I would like your suggestion on size here. I'm thinking maybe 50 or 60 here. And am also considering trading/returning the dollars.)
<Have seen 75, 100 gallon tanks with a combination of Gouramis and Australian Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemanni for example) and these work extremely well together. Throw in some live or fake plants for greenery, and you have a winning aquarium that works well across a broad water chemistry range.>
3. Get 1 new Oscar (we lost our albino). Now my question here is can I add some hermits and snails since they r armored animals?
<Crabs are a major part of the diet of Oscars, as are snails to a lesser
degree. Look at those jaws -- they're massive! In the wild Oscars crunch on all sorts of shelled and armoured beasts, even small catfish like Corydoras!>
What about suckers?
<As I said, some Plecs can damage Oscars. Take a look at the photos close to the top of this page:
Both Bob Fenner and myself believe that this is a classic example of Plec damage. While this isn't common behaviour, it does happen. I'd choose the Suckermouth catfish extremely carefully. The best bets are the more-or-less herbivorous sorts like Panaque nigrolineatus rather than omnivores such as Pterygoplichthys species. Alternatively, there are some excellent Synodontis species like Synodontis euptera that will be just as good at eating any leftover food without being dangerous to your Oscar. Do remember, in an Oscar aquarium no catfish will prevent algae problems. Such a tank will have so much nitrate and phosphate, and likely few/no fast-growing plants, so that physical removal is really the only way forward. Floating plants might work well though.>
The Oscars will be all that's left in the 75 gal. Thank you again for your insight. Unfortunately, I was unable to prevent this incident but with your help I am in the position to fix it and prevent future instances of ignorance. Again, thank you guys for all you do. I look forward to your advice as I travel down the road of saltwater tanks in the near future, something I plan to take very slowly.
<Saltwater is fun in many ways, and thanks to advances in filtration and live rock, much easier than many suppose. Bob Fenner's 'Conscientious Aquarist' book really is an excellent step-by-step cookbook guide, and you'll find it well worth borrowing or buying. Cheers, Neale.>

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