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FAQs on Oscars 1

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

Related FAQs: Oscars 2, Oscars 3, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Disease/Health, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Oscar disease? Potential electrocution My Oscar is fairly good size, he has been swimming frantically across the tank slamming into the sides and everything else in the tank. When he is not doing that he floats almost as if he is dead. I have him in a 55 gal tank. he has a yellow coloring along his belly and gills. There is also marks on his face from slamming into the rocks on the bottom and turning in circles. He acts as if he is going crazy.. < Carefully unplug all electrical devices going to this tank, NOW! Heater, and pumps and  lights, Everything! After a few minutes and everything has cooled down I would inspect all the wires and devices for damage such as frayed wires, cracked housings and or leaks around seals. An electrical short such as in a heater that may have been cracked may be adding current to the tank every time it tries to turn on. This would account for the Oscar wildly dashing around every time the heater is turned on and acting half dead when the heater goes off. If you find any damage do not try and repair it. Instead head down to your local store and get a new and hopefully high quality heater for your tank. I would not try and skimp on price here. The are some models currently on the market that are  very durable. As you Oscar chases feeders around the tank he may have inadvertently cracked or damaged it. This can be a very dangerous situation so I would not put my hands in the water until everything is checked out. If everything checks out OK then check the water temperature and make sure it is around 80 degrees. Give your Oscar a large piece of PVC pipe that he can hide in it like a cave. This should help him settle down and give him some refuge from a tank that may be in a high traffic area and stressing him from all the outside activities. Check for infections on the open wounds and watch the fish closely. Do a 30 percent water change and check on the filters to make sure they are operating at full capacity. When you add new treated water to your tank, try and find a water conditioner with some wound control medication included.  -Chuck>

Oscar trouble - Gwen's Response My Oscar is fairly good size, he has been swimming frantically across the tank slamming into the sides and everything else in the tank. When he is not doing that he floats almost as if he is dead. I have him in a 55 gal tank. He has a yellow coloring along his belly and gills. There is also marks on his face from slamming into the rocks on the bottom and turning in circles. He acts as if he is going crazy.. >>Hello. Sorry to hear about your fish. We need to ask you some questions to help us help you. How many inches long is your Oscar? Are there any other fish in with him? Can you please give us some water test results. what are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Please be precise. This is important. Also, how often to you do partial water changes? What exactly do you feed him, and how often do you vacuum the gravel?  -Gwen

Tiger Oscars We have 2 tiger Oscars that have grown very large. They are in a 20 gallon tank that is way too small. We are going to get a 100 gallon tank within the next week. One of our fish has what I believe to be "hole in head disease or HLLE". < Your Oscars are in too small a tank and the fitter cannot keep up with the excess waste. The hole in the head is caused from poor water quality and poor diet. The new tank will definitely help.> I came to this conclusion from your website, which is wonderful. <Thanks> The other fish had it, but it seems to be healing. Our biggest one has 2 of the wounds. I sent 2 pictures for you to see. I want to know what I should do when I get the bigger aquarium in the next few days. <Make sure you get a filter that will move at least 300 gallons of water an hour, has a wet dry component to it and is easy to maintain. It will be expensive but worth it in the long run. Take some of the gravel out of the 20 gallon and add it to the 100 gallon after it is set up. There are beneficial bacteria in the gravel that will be needed in the big tank. Use a good water conditioner when adding water. Get some test kits that check for ammonia , nitrite and nitrate. After your tank is established then the nitrate kit will be needed to help determine when you will have to do water changes.> What should I get to treat them. < Do not treat at this time. As conditions improve you should see an improvement in the fish but you may have to be patient.> I feed them only the dried pellets. This is all they have ever had. I feed them twice a day. They are eating fine. <Buying in bulk makes sense but can have its drawbacks. Fish food tends to lose its vitamin and mineral content quickly after it is opened and exposed to the air. After a container is opened it should be kept in the freezer. A smaller amount can be kept out in an airtight container and replenished after a week or so.> Can you please just give me a rundown on medication and what I should have for my aquarium. < More fish are probably killed from improper use of medications then by the diseases they are trying to cure. Keep the 20 gallon as a quarantine tank or a sick tank. Do all you medicating in there if possible. Don't buy any medications until they are needed. Some of them have a short shelf life and degrade quickly and become ineffective over time. Keep up on your water changes and check the filter often. Never feed you Oscars live feeder goldfish. The goldfish are treated poorly and carry numerous diseases that can be added to the tank when feeding them. Try washed earthworms instead as a treat. Not too often or they may become imprinted on them and refuse to eat anything else. Try not too over feed either. I know it is tempting because these fish end up being pro beggars. -Chuck>    I know this is asking a lot. When we first got the fish we did not realize how big they would get. However, they are family and we don't want to get rid of them,  we want to do what is necessary for their health and happiness. Thank you for any information you can assist me with. Kim Gullett

Oscar Dear WWM Crew, I have written in the past regarding an "upside down" Oscar, who is still alive, but seemingly not well.  I strongly believe that he has permanent swim bladder damage b/c he does not float and has been on his side at the bottom of the tank for some time now.   < The swim bladder in cichlids is an open system in which the fish can change the size depending on depth and conditions. Deep water rift lake cichlids take a few days do decompress like divers from deeper waters. The valve that controls this can become infected and close permanently. It appears your Oscar is in this category.> In addition, there is a permanent small distended area around his rectal area, which can vary slightly in size. < It appears there is or was a definite internal infection with your Oscar>  I clean the tank one a week (30 gal.) and use Epsom salt each time because it seems to help keep the distention at bay.  I have not tried any other treatments. < The damage is already done and he will probably not get any better> He still eats very well and can swim, although only with major effort and tires so quickly that I often end up pushing the food toward him to help.  It is very upsetting to see him in this state and I worry that he his suffering.  I've considered Euthanizing and you have suggested that freezing is the most humane, but I don't see how since he will be removed from the tank he has resided in for several years and placed in a dark place that get progressively colder.  Perhaps, I'm thinking too much (my husband complaint).  Any suggestions? < Your fish will probably not get any better. If you want to try to save him you can get some medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Feed it to him for a couple of days, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel to get rid of the built up waste. Raise the water temperature to 82 degrees. Repeat the medicated food in a week. It probably will not work since your Oscar is a few years old and only live a couple of years in the wild. An Oscar that is "several years old" probably has his best years behind him. To euthanize you fish I would take some water out of the aquarium and place it in a small bucket with just enough water to cover the top of him. Place a few Alka-Seltzer's?) tablets in the bucket. The kind you get at the drug store for headaches. The tablets will foam when they hit the water and put out Co2 gas. This will put him to sleep. He will still be breathing but will be unconscious. Then put him in a plastic fish bag with some of the water from the bucket and place him in the freezer. The cold will slowly kill him and you can then dispose of him. -Chuck> RE: Oscar Chuck, Thanks so much for your reply.  I do want to clarify that I have in the past tried to medicate. This condition has been an issue for almost a year now and the last time I was in contact with your awesome crew, he seemed to show promise after the initial Epsom salt treatment, he was even floating on his own. However, not too long after he took a sudden turn for the worse and has never recovered! He is over five years old at this point.  Anyway, thanks for your advice. Would you agree that he would be better off in the Seltzer-seltzer bath at this point? < That is probably best for both you and the fish. A new fish active in your tank would also be much more entertaining and make things much easier to take care of. Hopefully another cichlid since they are a personal favorite of mine. Good luck -Chuck> Thanks much. Best, Kim

Oscar doing Headstand. >I have two Oscars in a 55 gallon tank.  Spooky is about 8 inches and Sleepy Jean is about 12. I changed the about 1/3 of the water two days ago, and Spooky has been pretty much standing on his head ever since.   >>Hi Terri. How often do you normally do water changes? What are your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings? >He is very bloated.  I'm not an expert in regards to PH balance and all that, unfortunately.  I did put ammonia clear tank buddies tablets in there, and added Nutrafin waste control to the tank after the change.  I know I need a bigger tank.   >>You should really concentrate on water changes and proper filter maintenance, instead of adding chemicals. A nitrate test kit will help you determine how often to change your water, and without testing it for you, I can probably safely say you should be doing at least 50% of the volume TWICE a week. Yes, your tank is far too small for these fish. They are being poisoned by their own waste. >He may have eaten too much.  I don't feed them feeders, just frozen bloodworms and Wardley Cichlid floating pellets. Yesterday morning I dropped in 10 Maracyn-Two tablets. >>Again, test your water to be sure. If you are adding medications, you will also need to test for ammonia and nitrite readings as well, since antibiotics will kill your biofiltration. >I'm sure that I've overfed them recently, because there is food at the bottom.   >>By the way, how often do you vacuum the gravel? >Last night I added 5 tablespoons of Epsom Salt after reading over your e-mails.   My questions are - do I continue with the Maracyn-two? How often on the Epsom Salt, what would be best to feed them at this time, what is the best temperature for the tank, should I separate Sleepy Jean, although I don't know where I would put her.  She is really concerned and hovering but not biting him. She seems to be well. He's not eating anything.  (I have a 30 gallon tank with a 5 inch goldfish and some Plecos and striped Rafael's which she would definitely kill.)     Any suggestions and prayers would be greatly appreciated. >>Do not move them. Do they show any signs of HITH? Please respond with your test readings :) >Thank you for being there... Terri >>You are welcome. -Gwen  

Pairing Oscars Hello; I love your site as it has been very helpful to me in the past. <Thank you, I'm glad we could be of service.> I just bought two Oscars and I was trying to figure out if they had paired or not and if I needed to be prepared for them to spawn. <Oscar breeding can be quite a rewarding as well as demanding hobby.> They constantly follow one another around the tank and share the feeder fish I have given to them. They seem to be the best of friends. <These are not typically signs that instantly tell you it's a breeding pair, I have known fish that never bred to do similar actions.> They are only about 2-3 inches at this point so I am wondering if these two have paired with one another? <That is far to small to tell if they are paired or not,  When they get around 6-8 inches you will be able to tell if they are paired.  If not be careful some Oscars if not given enough room can become aggressive to one another.  If they continue to spend time with each other as they mature, then chances are good that you do have a male/female pair of Oscars.> Thanks for all of the help Eli, Pittsburgh, PA <There are loads of resources online to help with caring for Oscars, please look at our cichlid section on WetWebMedia.Com.  Good Luck.-Magnus.>

I have two Oscars '¦ <Hi there, Just want to start off this email with the note that Oscars get very large, and you will need a large tank to handle both of these fish when they get older.  They become aggressive and territorial, not to mention extremely messy.  So, please make sure that you have a large enough tank to allow each room.   I suggest a single Oscar should be kept in a minimum of a 55 gallon tank.  Two Oscars, if they are a mated pair can do well in a 90 gallon breeder tank (larger footprint).  If these pair aren't mated then +100 gallon tank is needed.> The other day I came home to find the smaller of the 2 (4 inches) with all of its scales off and in two spots its flesh was exposed'¦ <Your Oscars are fighting.  The larger more dominant one is attacking the smaller one because it's invading it's "territory".  This is a sign that you probably have to small of a tank.  It's missing scales because the larger one is attacking and ripping them off.  This is not good because that means that the fish will have damaged fins and skin and will run the risk of infections.> Now two days later it has this fluffy white substance coming out of the 2 wounds '¦I'm hoping its not a fungus but I have a feeling it is. <Yes it's fungus.  In fact True Fungus which is described as Whitish tufts of cotton-like material on the fin, tail, and body at sites of injury.> Please let me know what's the best way to take care of this <separate the fish so that the little Oscar is not being attacked and scales ripped off is the first thing you should do.  Set up a medicine tank to handle the fish, and you might want to set up a large one for it to be his permanent home.  Once it's in a separate tank I suggest you start medicating him immediately body fungus is dangerous, and can spread quite easily on a stressed and sick fish.  Treat with MarOxy (a medicine produced by the Mardel company). Use Maracyn-Two or Maracyn or Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections.> and also if there is any food that may be more appealing to him (not to interested in eating since the whole thing happened) <That is to be expected, he is being attacked by a dominant fish, his natural reaction is to back down, hide and allow the larger fish to eat.  There are many different foods for your Oscar, they aren't picky at all.  Not sure what you are feeding, but Hikari makes some rather nice Oscar pellets that most Oscars go crazy for.  If not, then you might want to try feeding you Oscar a couple of Crickets (yes the little bugs you get at the store)  Oscars diets in the wild are over 60% bugs.  Just float them on the surface and the Oscar might be intrigued by the bug to perk him up and then he will start eating again.> Thanks so much!!! Dena <Hope that helps. Good luck with the fish, and look around online there are some great forums totally dealing with Oscars.  -Magnus>

"Oscar in brackish...?!?"  (10/28/03) <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> Hi, I'm trying to figure out what I might have in my tank.  I have a brackish tank, it is kept at about 78-80 degrees.  the specific gravity is 1.005, the pH is 7.2-7.4.  nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia are all zero, and I do a weekly 25% water change.   <So far so good...> About three weeks ago our African cichlid (sorry the exact type was never known) showed signs of fin rot. <Wait. This was in the brackish tank? African cichlids are *not* brackish fish. Also, 7.2-7.4 is far too low a pH for them.> I treated the tank with Maracyn, by the third day the cichlid was moving around again, and the forth even showed signs of re-growth. On the morning of the fifth I found him dead.  I continued the treatment until finished. Then did a large water change (half).  I waited a little over a week and then got an red Oscar from a reputable fish store.  Within about 3-4 hours in my tank the Oscar showed signs of fin rot and body fungus and was dead in under 12 hours. During this whole period I tested the tank frequently and never found a reading off.   <Oscars are even less of a brackish fish than African cichlids. They're from South America, where the water is salt-free and on the acidic side of things. I am not surprised you lost the Oscar -- it suffered from osmotic shock in being moved from freshwater to brackish water, and possibly pH shock as well.> The other three fish we have including a bumble bee Oscar show no signs of anything and were perfectly fine throughout the whole ordeal. (also a Columbian shark and a figure 8 puffer)   <Hmmm. The bumblebee Oscar will do better in a freshwater tank, too. But do not move him directly from a brackish system to a freshwater system -- that transition should be done slowly. The other two fish should remain in a brackish system.> I trust my fish store and the rest of the Oscars there are all fine. <Yes, as they are in a freshwater system.> What could possibly effect only these fish and happen so fast?   <Osmotic shock and pH shock.> I would really like to get another fish, probably an Oscar or cichlid but I'm scared there's still something in my tank.  Thanks -Dan <Get another tank before you get another fish -- then move your existing Oscar to the tank, slowly drop the spg. down to 1.0000, and then consider getting another Oscar. Oscars, African cichlids, and brackish fish come from very different water chemistries and should not be kept in the same tank. --Ananda>

Oscar problems I was reading the articles listed. I am having a problem with one of my tigers.  First I have them in a 55 gallon tank they are both only about 6 inches each, they were bought at the same time and have been together.   <Okay> Recently we had gotten some bad spring water which caused an algae growth.  I have been doing tank changes of at least 50% every other day and it is pretty much under control.  But now one of my guys is laying around and his sides look as though the other has been pecking at it.  I do not know if I have males or females or one of each.  I did go to my local pet store to see if they new anything that I could do.  They had the usual round of questions did I test the water if they are eating etc.  Water is at normal levels <Normal being what?  What are your readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH?  You mentioned spring water - what are you using for these large water changes?> and no they are not eating for at least 3 days now.   <*Neither* of them are eating?  I would have suspected aggression above all things, but this does throw in a twist.  Most likely this is an environmental issue - with the massive water changes especially; what is your current pH, and has it changed at all since before the water changes?  Bottled spring water may very well not always have the same pH, other parameters.  Is there any reason you don't use (dechlorinated) tapwater?> Any information you can offer greatly appreciated.  Karen <I do hope we can be of service, and help you figure out what's going on....  -Sabrina>

Oscar problems - II The normal levels are according to my test kits.  Off hand I could not tell you the actual numbers I can tell you they were all 1 level low during the algae growth time period but now that there is a faint green tone yet the levels have come back up.  (not sure that this helps any) <Well, I'm not quite understanding what you mean, I'm afraid; it does sound, from what I can figure, that you've had some issues with water parameters fluctuating.  If possible, do please re-test your water, check for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, jot down the values, and let us know; I'm leaning towards something here being out of whack.> Yes I only use the spring water.  For these last string of water changes I bought new jugs with seals and all.  Normally I go to the local store with the system out front that you fill your own for .25 per gallon. <Seals 'n' all or from the spigot - the water may still differ significantly on certain things (pH especially, also mineral content).  The fact that you got a 'bad' batch that led to an algae bloom (high phosphate levels), in and of itself confirms that the spring water (well, from the spigot, basically just reverse osmosis water) is definitely fluctuating in quality.  If the pH in the water that you've recently changed is different from what the fish are used to, it will definitely cause serious problems - and I think that's what you're dealing with, though without test results (and knowing what it's supposed to be, normally), can not say for certain.> This morning I got the healthier one to eat some brine shrimp pellets but the other is still not eating.  As far as the tap water I don't use it anymore due to having lost a whole tank of fish because our levels were too far off.  that was over 1 1/2 years ago and I have never had any problems till now.   <Well, depending upon what you're starting out with (tap water, what parameters there; dechlorinator, etc.), it really, really might be a better idea to switch back to tap water (slowly, of course) once you've gotten everything settled.  Reason being, at least you know what you have to work with, and know where you need to go with it - spring/drinking/bottled water is always a mystery, and may lack things the fish need, etc.> Now to add to everything.... I did move the other into a (I know this is not the best but..) 10 gallon tank, this is my feeder tank and it had no problems with the water.  This is the ill one.  It is now at least swimming around still not eating but swimming at least.   <This makes me feel even more strongly that there's some environmental issue in the main tank - most likely pH.> I am looking to move it back within next 24 hours don't like having it in such a small tank. <I would not - not yet.  Let him heal up first, start eating again.  A six-inch Oscar can sit in a 10 gallon hospital tank for a few days without problems - provided water quality is watched closely.  Be certain that water you use for water changes in this temporary tank is of the same pH as the water that's currently in there - this is crucial right now; a roller coaster with pH levels is one sure way to make fish sick(er).> I have been told to put Epsom salt in the water of the 55 to help heal the scales.  Is that good for it??   <Might help, yes> See I am also trying to figure out why Archie would have pecked at it so bad.  they did this when I first got them Archie would put bites in the head and actually I had figured that was a territorial thing but as time went on and Archie got bigger then Jughead (the ill one) he got nicer.  if the comets were to big Archie took bites out of it and "shared" <Likely they will never be utterly peaceful with one another - ultimately, you may have some serious aggression, unless they are male/female and decide they like each other.> But if you look at Jughead sides you would be able to understand a little more.  He is slimy and all but it looks like he had rubbed up against something and sheared the scales off which is why I am so worried its not consistent with the bites from when they were younger. <Again, sounds like issues with water parameters, perhaps> On your site I was reading the other posts and there was a person with a similar problem but there were not replies to her question.  she was thinking hers could have been pregnant?   <?? hmm, that's very odd....  wonder what happened.... I can't seem to find that particular FAQ> I am hoping this is not what this is since I have basically messed things up worse by moving the one out of tank but could that be a possibility here??? <This definitely is not pregnancy, from what I can figure so far - and I feel that you've done good by moving the sick(er) fish out, especially since you're seeing improvement, that's always a good sign.> these guys are my babies I play games with them even I don't want any thing to happen to them and if I loose Jughead I really cant replace him because of Archie's size he would just end up eating the new ones......   <I do understand your connection with your fish.  Please check your water, also test the bottled water, and the water that you usually get from the store so we can compare and find out what's gone wrong; while you're at it, you might go ahead and test your tapwater, too, just for future reference.  Perhaps we can figure out if pH is the issue, or rule that out and move on.> Thank you for all your help so far <Glad to be of service.  -Sabrina>

Oscar Problems - III OK Now unfortunately I had moved Jughead back into the 55 after treating with salt water.  Archie immediately went after it.  put net in and that kept  Archie at bay as I sent my husband to the store for a divider.   <I'm sorry to hear that, though not surprised.  Oscars generally do not play well together, in many circumstances.  Your guys are still small, but if they're feeling cramped in that 55 (which, if not now, they will sooner or later), that'll definitely make them aggressive toward one another.> Unfortunately  they gave him an empty box with some of the pieces to one.   <Oi.  Anything that can go wrong....> put Archie in the other tank both are doing good now, swimming and such though Jughead still  not eating.  tested my waters tank water is in the normal range on all (as far as my test kit NH3/NH4 was 0, NO2 was between the levels of .03 and .08 and "normal" is about .08, <A nitrite reading this high is not 'normal' or safe at all - this is *toxic* - nitrite should absolutely be zero.  I assume the tank is cycling again after the massive water changes, cleaning, etc; you'll probably have to change water to keep nitrite levels manageable while the cycle completes (do not clean gravel or filter during this time; the biological filtration needs a chance to reestablish).  What about ammonia?  nitrate?> and my ph is at about 6.5 to 7 and that is about "normal"   <Between 6.5 and 7.0 is a pretty large difference; could cause pH shock, etc.  What did you keep the pH at before the massive cleaning?  We'll call that 'normal' - if the pH in the bottled water is different, that is not normal.  If the pH in the bottled water is different from the pH in the source water you usually use (the water dispenser at the store, right?), that's also not normal.  The only way you can safely know what's in the bottled water or coming from the spigot, is to test the water.  The reason you got an algae problem from the 'bad' batch of water from the store was likely from a filter that was past its prime, leaving the water with high phosphate levels (which fed the algae).  The point that I'm trying to make here is that with store-bought water, you're playing liquid Russian roulette, unless you test the water before using it, so you know what you've got to work with.  At the very least, test the water you use for pH - if it's not the *same* as the water in the tank, then it is cause for concern, when changing water - especially in large quantities.> my tap water after I tested per your suggestion has a ph of 8 to 8.5 and right there is where I stopped.  I don't trust this tap water at all.   <I'm rather curious what test kits you're using - between 6.5 and 7.0, and between 8.0 and 8.5 is *extremely* vague - a 0.5 difference might mean life or death to very sensitive fish (fortunately, Oscars aren't terribly sensitive, but this significant a change will still harm them).  Also, I'm very concerned about the nitrite test, as well - between .03 and .08 is also very vague; and again, any nitrite above zero is toxic.  Anyhow, a high pH out of the tap is fixable - mine is horribly high in the summer (for instance, it is now *down* to 8.9, coming into fall), but it is still quite manageable with peat and bogwood to bring the pH down naturally.  'Course, there are plenty of other factors at play with tap water, and I do agree that some is *not* desirable to use - just please, if you're going to use store-bought water, at least test the pH before using, so you have half an idea what you're putting into the tank.> Unfortunately now I am getting really discouraged!   <Nah, don't let that happen!  You can get this squared away, one way or another.> I am either being told to invest another 300 on an other tank, <In the long run, if not quite soon, the two Oscars will be essentially incompatible in a 55 gallon tank, so I understand where this statement is coming from.> stop feeding the feeder fish to them, <Ooh.  Didn't realize you were using feeders....  I very much, wholeheartedly agree that you should wean them off these!  Feeder fish can (and do) bring in disease to fish being fed - if the feeder has something nasty, the fish that eats it runs quite a risk of catching it.> let nature take its course, and not too worry because I have enough other animals why should I worry over one.   <Hey, I'm with ya all the way, here - *every* animal under our care deserves equal treatment, care, respect....> I will admit I do have a lot of animals between me and my family but I don't want to loose any (other then feeders)  and I have had these fish toooooo long not to worry.   <Agreed, one hundred percent.> The water is not the issue here.   <Perhaps not *the* issue, but certainly *an* issue.> the only thing that this could be anymore is territorial or they are attempting to mate and not to go against your judgment (you do know more of this subject then me) but once Jughead heals I will have to put them back in the tank together.   <This is not going to work out, at least in the long run.  Trying to keep them together if they're fighting is going to result in illness or death.  Even if it is an attempt at breeding (which I *highly* doubt), it shouldn't be attempted in the small confines of a 55g....> Unfortunately I have consulted a number of people on this problem and I'm afraid you are getting the butt-end of it all.  I am just overly upset when I am told to not worry because I have enough animals already.  Sorry that gets me!!!!   <No sorry about it - I totally agree.> I don't buy my feeders from the stores anymore I breed on my own.  except for the feeder fish and that's because they do eat a lot.  and now I am being told to either let the feeder fish sit for 2 weeks or not buy from a pet store.  I am not understanding this I let the feeder sit about 2-3 days because most die off in that time.   <Umm, I'm confused.  Are you buying feeder fish from the store, or are you breeding your own feeder fish?  Breeding your own is safe; you know if the fish are sick, etc.  Purchasing feeders is a major gamble - you say they're dying off in two or three days, so obviously there's something wrong with them - you don't want your Oscars eating diseased food, right?> I don't add new until the old is gone and it is hard to get food Archie and Jughead will eat in between.  they both do not eat floating things.  so flakes are out, I bought them cichlid pellets they wont eat them cause the float and when they were little I could get granules that sank they ate those.  they are now toooooo big for those.  the brine shrimp is the only thing I can feed them that they will eat that's not alive. and then its hard.  they have to catch it so it takes me 20 minutes to feed them!   <There are lots of food options.  Please look into frozen foods - I'd most strongly suggest Ocean Nutrition's frozen "Formula One", which is marketed for saltwater fish, but is excellent fare for freshwater dudes, as well - you might have to mush it up a bit to get it to sink, but eventually the Oscar's catch on and love it.  Frozen bloodworms, bits of frozen shrimp or prawn (the people-food kind), lots and lots of options beyond live feeder fish.  Hey, even earthworms.> Now I seem to be ranting I apologize about this I just hate that people can sell these fish and then not know anything about them <Agreed> and the one person I trust (small family owned store) she is tooo busy complaining cause I breed rodents for food to take the time to help. <Yum, rodents!  The scaly pals have got to eat, too....> I think I am done ranting----How long should I expect if this if a mating issue for this to last?   <I very seriously doubt this is courtship.  The female shouldn't be *that* badly beaten up.> Or should I just let Jughead heal and let nature take its course? <Not what I'd do....  But then, you're about to hate what I'd do....  Your best bet is to find one Oscar a new home (either a new tank, or with someone else).  The territoriality will only get worse, and the loser will, well, lose.  *If* you try to reintroduce Jughead, first change around all the decorations, make it look totally different to Archie.  This *might* buy you some time.  Certainly do not try to reintroduce Jughead until he/she has completely healed.  Please do read through this link:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm .  Lots of good info, there; and please do browse through the freshwater articles for more info on water, treating, etc.  Hope everything works out for you.  -Sabrina> Karen

Swollen Oscar Hello all, I was here a few days ago asking for help getting an ID on "Thing". Well, my friend did her best to scrub the life out of thing, so we will have to wait and see if he pops back up so I can get a photo. Until then, I have another friend (no computer) with an ill Oscar who is over 12 inches long. The Oscar is believed to be female and has been swelling since Labor day.  My friend assumed she was gravid and prepared for eggs. But nothing has been laid. The Oscar prolapses her cloaca (sometimes she extends it a lot, sometimes just a bit) and then nothing. No eggs. Her body is swollen. It looks like she is carrying  half of a small orange on each side of her body. One side is a bit bigger than the other. Her scales are stretched and you can see the skin between them---- but they are not sticking out like a fish with dropsy. I managed to touch her side and it is firm to the touch.  The swelling rides low on her sides and is does not look like a case of sudden obesity.  She also has no other abnormalities or injuries.  She eats well, swims normally, and lives peaceably with her "mate" of similar size and a huge Pleco.     All three of these fish were moved into a 75 gallon from a 30 gallon a few months ago. My friend inherited them from her brother who had kept them in the 30 for years.  The 75 is filtered by two Emperor 280's and the fish are fed Hikari cichlid pellets and have never really been fed gold fish.  I don't know what her water parameters are at the moment (no test kit handy), but she does monthly water changes.     Any suggestions as to what would be causing the prolapse and swelling? Thanks, <Sounds to me like too much dry food for a glutinous fish over too long of a time period, chances are she is blocked up.  I would start by adding Epsom salt to the water, 1 tablespoon per five gallons and then a half dose again 3 days later.  You will also want to perform some large water changes to ensure good water quality.  Start varying the fishes diet with some thawed frozen foods as well.  Best of Luck,  Gage.  See here for more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarfaqs.htm >

Oscar Color Changing Good Morning, <Hey Rusty.> Just happened on your site, enjoy the info very much! <Excellent, be sure to check out this article http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm > I have a question. I have a single Oscar, 55 gallon tank, and is about 6 inches long now. This is a wonderful pet, and is very personable.  He (or she) was purchased at a PetSmart, and not sure what type of Oscar, was sold as a Red and he is sort of a grayish color with orange markings on his flanks. <Probably a Red Oscar, could be a Tiger Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus either way.>  He seems to be very happy and healthy.  Over the last month he has begun to display the oddest thing I have ever seen, and was wondering if this is common in Oscars as he is the first one I have ever owned? Occasionally, he will flash colors, and I do mean flash.  His orange coloration will light up and literally "glow"  I've never seen anything like this, almost like he swallowed a light bulb!  CRAZY LOOKIN!  I cant seem to identify anything in particular he is doing when this occurs, is sporadic, and when I approach him the colors will rather quickly fade back to his normal coloration.  Is this normal Oscar behavior? <It is normal, and very cool.  Oscars change their colors depending upon their mood, scared, happy, defensive, don't be surprised if he gets really excited when he sees you, he will recognize you as the guy with the food.  Enjoy your Oscars moodiness, and do consider a larger tank in the future.  If you are not already, pick up some color enhancing food to really get him glowing.  Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Rusty

Oscar Won't Eat 10/14/03 He's about 8inches and in a 55 Gallon tank with a 6 to 7 inch Plecostomus (a Snow King Pleco or  Hypostomus plecostomus [it looks like both I got it at a local Wal-Mart]),  2.5 inch and a 3 inch electric blue African Cichlids, and a 3 inch Opaline Gourami. <Most aquarists agree that a 55 US gallon tank is the absolute minimum tank size to house an adult Oscar. This is because a smaller tank simply does not have enough water in it to dilute the waste produced by the Oscar. It is also because a smaller tank simply does not have enough room for the Oscar to swim. A standard 55 gal tank is about 4 feet long and one foot wide. Since an average Oscar grows to about 12 inches a 55 gal barely provides room to turn, and provides a straight line swimming distance of about 4 body lengths, which is not much.  Never mind a common Pleco, which can grow twice as large as an Oscar.> I'm not sure on the tank chemistry as I've never had reason to check it so haven't bothered to get any tests. <As I believe you tank is overstocked with 2 very messy fish (Oscars & Plecos are poop machines) I am almost sure you will find your water parameters are way off.  Without hefty (50-80%) & often (weekly-biweekly) water changes, I don't see how they can't be.> It is filtered with a BioWheel filter and an undergravel filter which gets vacuumed weekly. I feed Medium Cichlid pellets and tropical fish granules. <I suggest a larger variety of foods.  Large pieces of krill & pieces of fish or smelt from your grocery store fish dept. can be offered.> Every thing in the tank is eating but the Oscar. The Oscar hasn't eaten for about 2 or 3 days now. <I still think your ammonia/nitrates/nitrites may be off.  This could cause your fish not to eat.> The only thing I've noticed different lately is the Plecostomus started eating the cichlid pellets about a week ago. Previously only the Oscar was eating them. I've put in extra since the Plecostomus started eating them too. <What was the Pleco eating before?> I hope you can help. <Have your water tested, or better yet, get your own test kit.  You can buy a Master Test Kit for around $10 at www.bigalsonline.com.  Either way, have your LFS test it tomorrow.  As long as these fish are in that small of a tank, you are going to keep a close eye on the water parameters.> I'm rather attached to him. <I totally understand.  Get him a bigger tank.  Pufferpunk>

My Oscar won't eat..... I had bought my fish under the impression that an inch of fish for every gallon of water was the general rule of thumb to go by. <That rule is only for small, thin fish like guppies, Neons, etc.  Imagine 10 1" Neons, or 5 2" guppies in a 10g tank.  Sounds ok?  Now imagine a 10" Oscar in that same 10g tank.  Kind of crowded for that fish.  Got it?> The Pleco was eating algae before. <Now he'll be eating algae wafers, right?> Ok, Thanks for your Help. <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Cramped Oscars <Hello! Ryan with you> I have a 30 gallon freshwater fish tank I have 3 Oscars and 2 Cichlids fish in there. I have fallen in love with a Albino Oscar and would like to know How many more fish I can fit in the tank. Currently my fish get along fine. My tank has been up for 2 months. <1 Oscar will be cramped in your 30 gallon setup when fully grown.  You've fallen in love with an animal that's going to require more space, certainly if you'd like to keep more than one.  Four Oscars would require 125+ gallons for adequate room for movement.  Good luck! Ryan>

Plec for an Oscar tank Dear wealth of knowledge, I have a 75g freshwater tank which is currently empty.  I am thinking about purchasing either 2 red Oscars or 1 red Oscar and 1 tiger Oscar.  My question for you guys is what my options for a "clean-up" Pleco are, keeping in mind tank size. <I assume by "clean-up" you want something to eat algae, right?  This in mind, I'd suggest the royal Plecostomus, Panaque nigrolineatus http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/loricari/panaque/151_f.htm .  This is a pretty good grazing plec, and should do a number on algae; will likely need to be supplemented with greens (like blanched zucchini, for one).  It'll also require driftwood, without a doubt.  And might be a bad choice for a Plexiglas tank, as they have teeth that'll wreak havoc on plexi, leaving scratches.> I also wanted to know a little about freshwater (red tail) barracudas.  I have found it a little difficult to find info on them.  I am wondering about tank size, compatibility, and how prone it is to disease.  Thanks a lot!  Zack <Do you happen to have a Latin name for this guy?  Right now, I'm inclined to think you mean "Acestrorhynchus falcatus".  Try looking this up on fishbase.org, and do a google search on this name to see what info you can get.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Infected Oscar <Hello, Ryan helping you today> Hey, I've had my Oscar for about a year now.  And today for the first time I noticed he has a bug or some kind of parasite living on it's tale.  He also, seems more agitated than usual.  Maybe you would know anything about this, and will this harm the Oscar.  Is there any products available or should I try to remove the bug myself.  I wouldn't want to loose him, I've invested enough $.   <Stef, it's going to be difficult to give you advice without more detail.  There are many parasitic and infectious diseases that can affect your freshwater fish.  You can read up on them here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm After reading, if you haven't come up with any ideas as to what it may be, take a digital photo and send it our way!  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks, Stef

Epsom salt treatment 9/2/03 Good morning. Another follow-up on our Oscar. Since my first email below, we gratefully took your awesome advice (as it turns out) and treated Oscar with the Epsom salt twice along with a water change. The good news is that he's had a couple successful (and quite healthy) bowel movements and the swelling on his belly is more or less gone. <excellent and as hoped/expected> Naturally, we are thrilled. The only problem now is that he is now laying on the bottom of tank. <very common with even healthy Oscars at times... in time will improve> That is, he's not upside down, but flat on his side (his poor eyeball!). <heehee... truly not uncommon at all> However, with what seems like a ton of effort he will swim to the top of the tank to get food (no more hand feeding with wooden skewers), but as soon as he gives up trying he sinks.   <stress or damage to swim bladder... may heal in time.> Any thoughts on this?  Can they lose their ability to swim if either the swim bladder was affected for too long or haven't been swimming? If so, will he ever swim again or will he be doomed to the bottom of the tank for the rest of his life?   Thanks in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.   <we cannot say for certain... but Oscars are amazingly resilient. I think it is more likely he will recover in time. Wishing you the best, Anthony>

Upside Down Oscar - Round 2! Dear Anthony/Crew, Kim here again searching for more advice for my poor upside down Oscar.  : (   <Hmmm... not a good sign> As you will recall, my Oscar was upside down for several weeks over the summer due to a distention of the rectal area. In early September, at your wise counsel, I stopped all meds and started Epsom salt treatments (6 tablespoons for 30 gallons), which I repeated in 3 days and have continued once a week with water changes.  For a long while, he was swelling free, but laying at the bottom of the tank.  Then he began to hold himself upright and swimming normally for short periods of time.   <'tis the case for most... slow and steady progress if the imbalance/blockage was minor> However, in the last two weeks the area has become distended on a daily basis, but only for short sporadic periods of time. When he made the effort to swim, such as at feeding time, it would almost instantly deflate. Unfortunately, this has changed in the last two days. The distention has returned and is constant. He has been upside down now for two days, floating at the top of the tank. The good news (I guess) is that he is still eager as ever to eat the brine shrimp and beef heart each night. Nonetheless the bloated area has grown larger in the last 24 hours, and he can not swim normally at all.  Help!  Perhaps, I am not feeding him enough (usually 3 brine shrimp gumdrops and two thumbnail size chunks of beef heart once a day at night.  The last two or three water changes (w/Epsom), I slightly cleaned the gravel.  Could I have disrupted the beneficial bacteria that I understand resides in the gravel?  The Epsom salt and food has been a constant, nothing else has changed except that I started cleaning the gravel.  Your thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated.  Sincerely, Kim Olson <no worries on the gravel cleaning... it is quite necessary. I fear at this point that the problem with your Oscar is more serious. That still does not mean incurable. Internal parasites may have perforated organ/tissue walls internally and injured the swim bladder. There may be a persistent infection too. Using medicated pelleted foods (bacterial and parasitic) may help here. Else I wonder if there isn't a congenital defect that has developed or some irreparable damage. Alas, time will tell. Do try the medicated food sticks/pellets. Hoping for the best :) Anthony>

- RE: Oscar Problems - Thanks for the advice. I tried the Epsom salt (One tablespoon per five gallons the first day, and then half the dose the second) and it didn't work. Some days his bubble is smaller, but the next it's back to it's large size. He has been making a little progress b/c he's swimming now, but he hasn't eaten in about 3-4 weeks. Any other suggestions? It looks so painful! Thanks. -Mia <This will take several weeks to heal up. Two days with Epsom salts isn't going to do much/enough. Please continue the treatment and be patient. Cheers, J -- >

- RE: Bloated Oscar - So how should I continue treatment? <Just give this time to heal - your previous email you stated that you tried the salts for two days and nothing happened. My reply was really just meant to encourage you to wait a little while longer... this problem will not heal in two days, will take much longer than this.> How much for how many consecutive days, and how often should I change the water? <Should probably be changing 5% a week, and just replenish the salts at that time.> Thanks for your help. -Mia <Cheers, J -- >

- Bloated Oscar, Follow-up - Our Oscar is doing much better! Thanks so much! We thought that he was a goner. <Ahh, excellent. We so seldom hear back or find out how things went. I'm very happy your Oscar is on the mend. Cheers, J -- >

Super Sensitive Oscar Every time me or my wife makes changes to the tank, whether it's cleaning algae off the sides, or even at times just entering the room, our Oscar will go to the bottom of the tank and lie on its side until we leave the room. When we leave, it will start swimming around again. We have also witnessed this by just turning on the aquarium light; after about 10mins with the light on, it will begin swimming again. Why is it doing this? <I have seen this in Oscars that have been living with abusive tank mates, it takes them a little while to regain their courage.  For being so big and aggressive they can be really sensitive, he is probably just getting scared.  Tell him to take a man pill and start acting like an Oscar is supposed to.  Just kidding, but seriously regular tank maintenance, pristine water quality, and a high quality varied diet, will ensure his physical health is taken care of. The aggressive behaviour should come back in time.  Try hanging out with him for a while, don't make any sudden movements. You could try associating yourself with his favorite food, sooner or later he will be jumping out of the water to greet you.  There is a good article on Oscars here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm Best Regards, Gage>

- Oscar Problems - Sorry, I may have sent this e-mail already, but I wasn't sure if my mailbox was set up correctly... I have an Oscar that has been sick for about 2 weeks now. I think that I have the same problem as Lisa's e-mail that was posted, "Bloated Oscar cichlid - Epsom salt 7/13/03" The conversation goes... "The roundness is huge and has dropped even lower and now there is a clear bubble looking (about 1 1/2") protruding around the anal area.   <hmmm... prolapsed rectum?> It appears to be from outer tissue, not internal.  I am clueless!!!   <I cannot explain it if external... although I wonder if it isn't internal after all>" By looking at the attached photos, do you think that my fish has the same disease? (All other symptoms are similar to what she had posted) I cannot find anything else on the internet. <Well, it's not really a disease but a condition brought on by the foods you have been feeding, and yes it does appear to be the same thing. Do try the Epsom salts and if possible isolate the fish so no one else can pick at it.> Thanks! -Mia <Cheers, J -- >

Upside Down Oscar - 8/22/03 Hi.  This is a last ditch effort to save our 5 year old Oscar fish.  Approximately 6-8 weeks ago, the Oscar developed a distended belly on one side and was floating on the surface. Taking advice from fishyfarmacy.com, we treated him with Metronidazole for 10 days for Hexamita  <ughhh... this is an all too common mis-applied remedy. I have no idea why folks still recommend this. Hexamita has been shown to be almost non-existent in captive stocks for well over a decade>  and then assuming that swim bladder was a secondary condition, started a course of erythromycin, <unbelievable... erythromycin is a gram-positive antibiotic, and less than 20% of all pathogenic fish bacteria are gram positive. Furthermore, this drug is so outdated (numerous resistant strains) that it boggles the mind why it would be recommended as a first course of treatment>  which we are now on the second consecutive course.  We do a 1/3 water change every other day at least and the conditions are good with the exception of very slight level of ammonia, which I am having trouble getting rid of.   <I am so sorry my friend... IMO, you have been given staggeringly poor advice> The Oscar resides in a 30-gallon tank with one feeder fish from the last batch (yes, I know no more feeder fish) <correcto> who is quite large and healthy now. In the last two to three weeks, we were encourage because the distention of his side subsided, but he is now has smaller still distended area around it's rectum, approximately the size of a golf ball, which is causing him to remain upside down.  We were also told by a couple of sources to try giving him frozen peas and/ or earth worms.  He seemed to like the peas and was still active while we were feeding those.  However, three days ago we gave him an earthworm and now he has sunk to the bottom of the tank, is still upside down (his face is resting on the stones) and is not very responsive.  Should we give up hope and euthanize?   <not at all... these fish are incredibly hardy and salvageable. The extended duration of the symptoms  and the remission of the size of the lump (likely ruling out cysts/growth) suggests to me that is may not be pathogenic at all. Dose the tank with one rounded tablespoon of Epsom Salt (from your pharmacy) per five gallons of tank water. Dissolve this in a bit of aquarium water first then add. Repeat three days later. If this improves your fish (and it may cure it), then the problem way not likely pathogenic> If so, what is the best way?   <freezing in a bucket of water if you must... very gentle for this cold-blooded creature> I've read a lot about the Epsom salt, should we set up a hospital tank and treat him in that or simple do in the 30 gallon tank?  Can you help?    <ahhh... :) Yes, you can dose the main tank. Do let us know if it works. Else we may try a broad-spectrum antibiotic cocktail (perhaps Jungle brand "Fungus Eliminator" [ignore the cheesy name]). Anthony>

Upside Down Oscar - Follow-up - 8/23/03 Hello to all the crew.  This is a follow-up on a question that Anthony was kind and patient enough to reply to which I would like to first say thank you so much for your advice.   <always welcome> It is now late Saturday evening and I have been so desperate to help our poor upside down Oscar that I have eagerly been checking for a reply and of course, you do not disappoint!     <Whew!> I am writing now from my home email address (as opposed to work) and have just a couple more questions, if you don't mind.  Sorry if this sounds dumb, but should I be changing the water in the next three to six days (assuming a second dose is necessary?) <not a dumb question at all... and yes, water changes will be very helpful regardless of the cause of the Oscar's ailment. If pathogenic, it will reduce their numbers by dilution. If this is constipation or blockage (aided by the Epsom salt) it will have a likewise laxative effect. Just be sure to closely match water temps... same if possible, slightly warmer if you must... but never colder with new water> Also, should I continue to feed him the frozen peas daily or fast him for a bit? <neither... offer frozen meaty foods instead (plankton, krill, Mysis shrimp) or live earthworms if he'll eat them. Avoid all dense matter (pellets) and fibrous (veggies)> I seriously hate to euthanize, the thought it simply makes me cry as I have become quite attached, especially in the last few weeks, but I am very concerned about his quality of life.  A permanent upside down state on land (I can only imagine) would be terribly uncomfortable... should I assume it's not the same for our Oscar? <correct... I'm certain he prefers to live anyway you look at it. As long as his appetite is good... carry on and have patience. I really think the Epsom salt will help BTW> Anyway, thank you again.  I have read so many of your FAQ replies and they are all so informative, but also incredibly compassionate and friendly.  Hats off to all of you!  Kim : ) <thanks kindly, my dear. Best of luck. Anthony>   

RE: Upside Down Oscar 9/9/03 Anthony, Sorry to bug you again, but I did have a couple of questions with regarding to our now sideways Oscar. <no worries> As I mentioned previously, he lies in the bottom of the tank until it's time to eat, then he swims like a champ. His appetite is excellent and he is quite an enthusiastic eater (beef heart and brine shrimp). <all good and as expected. Many will do this for weeks before recovering fully> First, should I continue with the Epsom salt treatment every three days or just do regular water changes at this point. <mostly regular water changes... but some Epsom salt in the water does not hurt at all. Keep a half dose in if you like> Secondly, is it safe to give him cichlid flakes or sticks for a little variety? <definitely flakes... easy on the pellets for a while> Lastly, there is a sole surviving feeder fish in the tank with Oscar who has become quite large, and while I do not see the goldfish bullying our Oscar, he has absolutely no fear is often vying for all the attention. Should we remove goldie from Oscar's tank in favor of a separate goldie bowl? <I'd leave it in for interest/distraction to the Oscar> How do we get so attached to these water bound creatures!?! Thanks (once again) in advance for your help.  Kindest Regards to you all, Kim Olson :) <so true :) Have faith and patience... there is a good chance of full recovery, however slow. Best regards, Anthony>     

RE: Upside Down 9/10/03 Dear Anthony, <cheers, Kim> First! I love you guys, you're so awesome! Thank you! <always welcome :) > Now I can move ahead with confidence. Ironically, after I sent this email to you Oscar had very brief recurrence of the swelling in the rectal area.  It occurred almost simultaneously with a water change w/the Epsom salt treatment, but happily was gone the next day, so your advice were well timed. Take care. Kindest regards, Kim : )   <ahh, yes. Despite their hardiness, afflictions of the swim bladder are sensitive and precarious. As mentioned before, it may take some weeks to heal... even months in some cases. As long as your Oscars diet is strong, there is much to be hopeful for. I truly suspect that this one will make a full recovery. Best regards, Anthony>

Oscar Coloring and Activity When I was younger I had many Oscars and recently I bought a albino tiger Oscar.  This Oscar brings me much joy just being in the same room.  When I bought it the fish had, and still has, a black outline around its fins and tail.  It doesn't look to be harming it but I was wondering if this is normal?  I noticed most their other albinos were this way too.  Also I think my Oscar may be unhappy/sick, or just not like me.  It just chills on the bottom of the tank in the far corner anytime the light is on and I am around,  but if I turn the light off sometimes it will come out of hiding and swim around the tank.  Any suggestions?  Many Thanks,  Larry <Hi Larry, the black edge on the fins is very common in the coloring of Albino Oscars, no worries there.  The inactivity may or may not be a problem, I'm sure you are aware that Oscars are messy, so frequent water changes are important to maintain water quality.  Poor water quality can lead to lethargy.  The lights may make him uncomfortable, he will probably get used to it, but it could take a while.  Some floating plants like water sprite, or duckweed are good for filtering the light, and sucking up excess nutrients in the water.  Just give him time and good water, and he should be acting like an Oscar in no time.  Best Regards, Gage>

Fertilizing Oscar Eggs - 8/15/03 Can Methylene blue be used to fertilize Oscar eggs. <Hmmm... I'm wondering if you mean to ask if it will prevent fungus from developing on the eggs? If so, yes. I'm assuming you already have a female that laid the eggs, and a male that fertilized them... and now wish to improve the chances for a successful hatch. Anthony>

Fuzzy Eggs My red tiger Oscar has laid eggs, 2days later the eggs turned into a white  cotton-like substance  this is the first time they have laid eggs and I don't know what to expect .I am a first time Oscar owner I have had them for a year now.  please help Mr. Curious <The white cotton-like substance, or fuzzy stuff, is most likely a fungus from the infertile eggs, or dirty water, they are rather messy fish.  I would use a small siphon tube to suck out the bad eggs and the fungus.  If you were to remove the good eggs to a separate tank some Methylene blue could be added to the water to help prevent the fungus.  Best of Luck, Gage>

Oscar Eggs Thanks gage,  but it has spread over all the eggs. (unable to save any) <bummer> I don't know ! maybe I have 2 females <it's possible> and then again maybe not. as I'm typing I looked over at the tank and they have begun to lip lock all over again and change in color a bit with their mouths open. <sounds like flirting to me.> HOPEFULLY NEXT TIME  MR. CURIOUS <I might consider a second tank to move the eggs to. -Gage>

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

Bloated Oscar cichlid - Epsom salt 7/13/03 Hello crew, <Howdy Lisa> This is a distress letter like so many that I read.  However, I didn't see anything quite like my albino Oscar's problem. I raised a pair from fry to 12".  They are 6 years old.  Suddenly in May, one of them just started fading away.  Stopped eating, lethargic, and I treated for everything.  No response.  The other Oscar was fine.  I lost him (I think male).  I never really knew.  They were always moving gravel, shimmying at each other, and butting heads.  What I once thought was two males, may have been F/M.  Anyways, I was heart-broken, but I still had one left.  Now, over that past three weeks, my remaining Oscar's abdomen started swelling.  Seemed fine just started getting round.  The roundness is huge and has dropped even lower and now there is a clear bubble looking (about 1 1/2") protruding around the anal area.   <hmmm... prolapsed rectum?> It appears to be from outer tissue, not internal.  I am clueless!!!   <I cannot explain it if external... although I wonder if it isn't internal after all> I have never seen anything like this in my 20 years of keeping fish. I have read about constipation, but nothing has changed in the diet.   <nothing has to change... large greedy fish on a mostly dry diet, or even a single feeding of dry pellets in which they are overfed or glut quickly can cause blockage. Rather common with large fishes like Oscars and goldfish. Its the reason in part for adding Epsom salt to their foods (the mfg does this). Have you tried adding Epsom salt to the water? Use 1 tablespoon per five gallons and then a half dose again 3 days later. Often reduces bloated bellies and eyes> Could it be that I have a female and she is egg-bound. <highly unlikely> Tumor perhaps, but it developed too fast I think and there is no blood or redness, no puss. <cysts too... many possibilities. Still... I suspect an internal parasite from live foods (perforated internal organs and causes fluid buildup), or simple blockage> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.   <definitely add the Epsom salt... and do some large water changes (stimulating and improves water quality> Should I pull my fish out and gently depress to see what is actually in there?   <under no circumstance should you do this> SHE/HE IS NOT EATING AND HER COLOR IS FADING A BIT.  I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER SHE CAN SURVIVE. HELP!!!!   History:  Pellet food w/occasional live feeders.   <unless you QT the live feeders... do resist this bad/risky habit. Too often they simply bring in disease> Weekly water changes religiously.  78F Temp.  55 gal tank. Had one bout of ich a couple of years ago.  Otherwise, no troubles. Thank you, Lisa   <excellent elsewise... best of luck! Anthony>

Fuzzy Eggs My red tiger Oscar has laid eggs, 2days later the eggs turned into a white cotton-like substance.  This is the first time they have laid eggs and I don't know what to expect .I am a first time Oscar owner I have had them for a year now.  please help Mr. Curious <The white cotton-like substance, or fuzzy stuff, is most likely a fungus from the infertile eggs, or dirty water, they are rather messy fish.  I would use a small siphon tube to suck out the bad eggs and the fungus.  If you were to remove the good eggs to a separate tank some Methylene blue could be added to the water to help prevent the fungus.  Best of Luck, Gage>

Oscar and Myxosoma? <Hello!> I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days , but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal. During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. There are no references to a cure. One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! Do you think that this is what I'm up against? Do you have any information on this and a possible cure? I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this. <I am sorry it took me a while to get back with you! I also had problems finding treatments for this disease.  This seems to be fairly rare infection in a warm water climate.  Myxobolus cerebralis is the parasite you're dealing with, and it seems to find it's host initially in Tubifex worms.  I think the following course of action is in order: Quarantine the Oscar in a sanitized tank.  By medicating your other fish, you're putting additional stress on their environment.  Keep his water in the QT changed as much as you can, and feed him lighter than normal.  You may want to contact the nice folks at http://www.whirling-disease.org/ for more suggestions.  I have a friend who is a toxicologist for the Department of Fish and Game- I'll forward your email and see if he has treatment ideas as well.  Sorry I can't be of more help! Ryan> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

- Oscar and Myxosoma? - I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days, but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal. During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. <This is where it occurs most often... is bad news in aquaculture, in fact is a 'reportable' disease in the US because its spores can live in the mud for up to a year, and even survive being dried out.> There are no references to a cure. <Not really, is a seriously debilitating disease [cartilage is destroyed] and can only be addressed by making sure breeding systems/raceways are cleaned/disinfected.> One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! <I hear you.> Do you think that this is what I'm up against? <A possibility, a co-symptom of whirling disease is a black tail, so you might look for that too.> Do you have any information on this and a possible cure? <I have information, but none about 'curing' this problem in adult fish. Because it is a parasite of cartilage, it is very hard to treat directly.> I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this. <I'm sorry I don't have better news. I'd keep up the observation... perhaps Oscar has just learned a new trick and is trying to get your blood pressure up. Let's both hope for the best.> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. <Cheers, J -- >

Oscars? How do you know all that about Oscars men can you give me some more tips to race some Oscars because I already have three and I want them to grow really good you know and something more can you give me some pictures of the Oscar you have. okay <Oscars are very easy to raise....all you have to do is provide a large aquarium for them (75 gallons to start) feed them sparingly and do small frequent water changes. And choose their tank mates wisely. Whatever you do, don't feed your Oscars feeder goldfish or feeder fish. You would be surprised how many diseases the goldfish can give to your precious Oscar. As for the pictures I suggest you go to www.google.com and do an image search for "Oscars". IanB>

Tiger Oscar problems Good Afternoon, <And the same to you! Ryan here> I have just finished reading several of the letters on your website and learned a lot! <Great! Don't stop there!>  I learned that first off my 55 gallon tank is to small for my community (1 tiger Oscar, 1 Pleco, 2 Dempsey.) All have been living together however for over 6 years. <Sounds good.> The problem I am currently having I have never encountered before. My Oscar which is the oldest at 6 years old has suddenly developed an unusually large extended abdomen on both sides of his body. <Sounds like bloat without seeing it. Do you have the resources available to quarantine the fish. What is he eating daily? Is it varied?>  If I had to guess I would say that he is constipated. He is eating everyday like normal and the other fish appear normal. I am planning on moving in the next week so I was avoiding doing a 25% water change just to have to break the whole tank down in less than two weeks anyway. <OK...I'd probably do for safe measure.>  I have not had a chance to check the water yet, I will do that today. <Let us know the results...bloat can be correlated to water quality.> I have read some sites that suggest a diet change. <Not a bad idea-> The symptoms appeared about a week ago. Any suggestions as to what could be wrong with my baby. <Not without more info...change his diet/lessen his food intake.  Quarantine him if possible.  Test that water, and get back to us.  If you can get a digital photo, I'd be happy to take a look and give you my best guess!  Take care!> Michele Cooper

Tiger Oscar Problems Good Afternoon, <and the same to you, Michelle.  Ryan with you again!> I have watched my Oscar after 3 days since the 25% water change I made. <Good, observation is the single most important part of this hobby!> Although one side of him appears to have gone down the other side is still quite distended and he has not been fed in 3 days.<Eek.  Keep with it.>  The other fish in my tank are eating small cichlid crumbles just fine but he is not interested in eating that. <Have you tried other things?  Bloodworms?  I would even try live foods at this point, just get something down him.> I have not fed him the cichlid pellets. I read on your website from another letter something about using Epson salt. What do you advise about that? <It can work wonders, but I'm not sure it's the right solution for your problem.> I am unable to send a picture of him at this time. Any other suggestions? Again I will be moving in 2 day and the whole tank will be broke down and setup again. <Moving the tank is going to be a stress in itself- Use this opportunity to quarantine him.  I would try the Epsom salts about three days into quarantine if he hasn't improved.  Do you notice dark nodules appearing on his scales?  Is he swimming in a controlled manner?  Watch for signs of Popeye, or swimming in circles. Internal fungal infections can cause fluid in the stomach- not much you can really do.  Just give him time, care, patience.  -Ryan>   Thanks for your help, Michele

Keeping Oscar cichlids in the tank Alrighty kids, long time listener.....first time caller. I have a question and then a little "story." <I'm all ears> I've had a few different aquariums thru the years and I want to start a new one. My Oscar committed suicide the other evening (hence the "story") but we'll get back to that in a minute. I like the larger fish, so I wanted to put a green Severum, a parrot fish, and an Oscar.....with a Pleco together? <Parrot is the odd fish out> Is this allowed or will they tear each other apart. <Leave out the parrot, and you may keep the piece for a while.  You'll need 150 or more gallons to do it, though>  Ultimately, I would like to have 3 large fish (could be two of the same fish) and one Pleco living together in perfect harmony (Any thoughts?) <Achievable!  It's what we all stride for.  A biotopic display is your best chance at peace.>  I like fish with character. The four I chose are the ones I like a lot. Once I figure out the fish that can be together, I will get the proper sized tank. Any inkling of info on this matter would be greatly appreciated. <Get them young, hope for the best.  Oscars aren't mean spirited, per se, they're just consistently hungry.  A pair of Oscars and a large Pleco is going to require a huge commitment on its own...And a killer bioload depending on your filtration>  Now onto the story.......My Oscar was about 10" long, so the other day I wake up and come down stairs and what do I see laying on the floor quite a few feet away from my tank!!? That's right, my Oscar. Somehow he knocked the entire hood and light into the aquarium (yea I know, hoods with the light on them are heavy) and then tried to dodge the falling debris and ended up on the floor. <Ouch> Alas, I am saddened.....but what can you do, but to move on and forge ahead.<Too true> Ergo, starting a new bigger and better tank with latches on the hood, lots of latches, latches with chains hooked to them and then wrapped around.......<Ha!  Better not let the Oscars see the combination on your Masterlocked tank!  These things happen-To our dismay.  I think you'd be more successful with a species tank.  If you like fish with personality, check out the Tilapia butterkoferi.  Must be housed alone, but it's a great "Bad boy."> I look forward to hearing from you kids. <And we look forward to hearing back from you!  Until next time, Ryan>

Open Mouth Albino Oscar Hi, <Hello> One of my Albino Oscar's has been having an open mouth for almost a month now. At first, I thought it was a fighting injury and thought it would go away. However, it does not seem to be going away and is starting to concern me. <What size tank and how many fish?> My water parameters seem to be OK (pH ~ 6.7, NH4+ < 1 mg/l, NH3 0.01 mg/l, NO2- < 0.8 mg/l). However I don't test for NO3- though (LFS was out of stock when I got the other kits). <Actually, your water parameters are not OK at all. NH3 (ammonia), NH4 (ammonium), and NO2 (nitrites) should all be at 0ppm, anything above this is harmful to your fish. Ammonium is less harmful than ammonia but it's still not desirable in your tank. You need to do water changes to get these levels down to 0 and to keep them there. Once you get them down I think you'll see an improvement in your fish.> Would appreciate any experience/advice you may have on this. Thanks in advance & Best Regards, KC Somaratne <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: Open Mouth Albino Oscar Howdy, Thanks for your input. However, I am not sure how to measure the ammonia, ammonium and nitrite to such precise levels to be able to say it is "0". I use the Sera (GmbH) Test Kits and what they have is a color chart that predicts what the approximate levels are. Well how you interpret it is subjective. They have 5 colors (say 1,2,3,4,5 from better to worse), and mine are usually within 1st - 2nd closer to the 1st. For the nitrite test kit they don't have a zero at all. It starts from < 0.1 mg/l. In their guide if you are at 1st or near 1st they mention the water quality being unquestionable. However for pH, I can be absolutely sure as I am using a pH pen (+/- 0.1 accuracy) for that. Well I did make mistakes in my previous mail when specifying the levels for each of the substances. The values I quoted are the upper limits of what I've maintained and the ammonia should have been actually "< 0.01 mg/l" (NOT "0.01 mg/l", as I mentioned). The average values for the last month would be pH 6.7, ammonium < 0.3 mg/l, ammonia < 0.002 mg/l, nitrite < 0.3 mg/l. The values I quoted earlier were including the occasional spikes (mainly due to occasional over-feeding). Well my tank is a 55 gal with an Eheim Pro II 2026 external filter and a medium sized gravel substrate with a few Amazon swords planted in a corner. I have two Oscars (both ~ 3 in), two knife fish (both ~ 4 in) and a silver aro (~ 9 in) and one Pleco (~3 in). Hope this is helpful in trying to identify the situation. Actually, one more thing I forgot to mention in the earlier mail. The gaping open mouth of this Oscar almost looks as if there's as jaw dislocation. One side of his mouths underside also has a visible bent mark. Thanks again in advance & Best Regards, KC. <OK, this isn't quite as worrisome then but I would recommend getting some new kits that give more detailed readings. That way you know without a doubt on the water quality. The open mouth of the Oscar may indeed be an injury from a fight (as you originally thought) and it may not ever close. If it was a break or a dislocation that healed incorrectly then it will always appear gaping. As long as the fish is able to eat and does not show signs of distress I wouldn't worry about it. Ronni>

What size tank do I need? Hi, last year I bought a 44 gallon tank, 2 red bellied Pacu, and 2 Oscars (1 tiger and 1 red) all from PetSmart.  I was told that they could live happily together in that tank, but now they are all huge and seem very sad about their small living area! One Pacu is 12 inches, the other is 10, my red Oscar is 6 inches, and my tiger Oscar is 9 inches.  I buy all of my supplies at PetSmart, but no longer trust the advice given by the employees there! Could you please send me an e-mail telling me the appropriate size tank I should buy for my babies?!?! <I hate to be the bearer of bad news but to comfortable hold these 4 fish when they are full grown you are going to need at least a 300-400 gallon tank and even that is going to really be pushing the limits. The Pacus can reach sizes of about 3 1/2 feet long each and the Oscars can reach about 18 inches each. Ronni> Oscars (spawning, rearing) I emailed u before about my tanks. my question for you though is that my Oscars just had there first spawning in the Trigon 350 and I am a little unsure if to leave them in there as there is a plec and a catfish in the tank. <If this is the first or second, third spawning, do leave them all be as they are now... too traumatic to be moving any, all fishes, young around. And this tank is big enough to allow the "plec and catfish" to get out of the Oscars way... and run away. In a few spawns, I would utilize an easy to remove spawning medium (like a large clay flower pot, piece of slanted slate... and remove this to a rearing tank... Do start studying up about these affairs, planning on space to raise whatever number of young you think you might want... raising foods for them... Bob Fenner> do u think I should set up another tank or leave them with their proud folks any help would be much appreciated Alex

Longed Finned Albino Oscars Sir, PLEASE HELP ME!!! I have two Longed Finned Albino Oscars in a four foot tank. The larger of the two is about 14 inches long, the smaller is about 12 inches. I believe that they are about 2.5 years old and we hope that are a breedable pair. <Do keep your eyes on them... this is a very small tank for such mature specimens and things can go sideways quick should they start fighting> I have seen lip locking and some very industrious rock cleaning. The rock is a flat piece of slate. The larger fish does occasionally move small amounts of gravel. The smaller of the two Oscars laid eggs approx 12 months ago so I know that I have at least one female. The other fish showed no signs of interest. I feed them mainly with barramundi pellets and live fish and occasionally crayfish. I am disappointed that they have not bred. Could you offer any suggestions to push along the process? e.g. water temperature, PH level, hardness, water quality, water changes. Thank you for you time, Brad. <It's possible you have two females... and there is a hard fact I must convey. In order to keep the price and availability of these hybrids controlled, the folks who produce them in the Far East try to sterilize them (with high temperature, chemicals)... so breeding pairs outside the area are exceedingly rare. Care is per the "regular" Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 19.0 temp. 22-25 C. Best to condition pairs, keep together, with large, regular water changes. Bob Fenner>

Rare Spawning Oscars please could you answer a couple of questions for me. firstly is it ok to have my 2 Oscars in a 350 L tank?  <Yes, certainly to both> how many could I have? <Two would be a good number for once they're about full size> secondly in my 4 foot tank is that big enough for a Volitans and a Odonus niger?  <Should be... just assure the Lion isn't large enough to swallow the Trigger when the latter is small, and that the Trigger doesn't harass, deprive the Lion of food when it is larger> the tank holds about 210 L both English litres the marine tank is run by a Fluval 303 and an AMiracle trickle filter and also another Fluval with a uv sterilizer attached to it. thanks for your help Alex <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tiger Oscar Question How's it goin?? <Fine> I have an almost full sized tiger Oscar that has developed some strange marks on its head. At first I though he had just hit something in the tank because it looks almost as if a shallow chunk of skin is missing. Well this continued to spread, he now has these patches in several spots on his head. Any ideas??? <Unfortunately yes. This does sound like a case of HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion), a nutritional disease for the most part. Please read carefully about others problems, responses here: http://WetWebMedia.Com/cichlidfaqs.htm and follow the links, FAQs suggested to them on our site. You want to develop a plan now to halt this ugly erosive condition. Bob Fenner> thanks Kyle

HLLE, Oscars, Etiology, Cures Hi Robert... <Hello> I am sure with the volume of mail that you receive, you don't recall who I am. I had the two gold Oscars that had HLLE. <I recall> Though I followed everything that was explained to do, tonight I lost one of them. For some reason, this one just did not respond to anything I did. The other seems to be at least remaining the same, if not slowly healing, it is difficult to tell. I have some generic questions that I have found no answer to. Is HLLE an actual disease, a skin condition, a bacteria, or most importantly, contagious? <There are a few theories as to root causes of HLLE... most favor nutritional deficiency syndromes (mainly vitamins, iodide/ine)... some suggest protozoan involvement (esp. Hexamita spp.), others stray electrical potential (sellers of grounding probes), general "poor water quality"... Myself? I believe the first is a principal cause with all others being contributory. Please read through "the three sets of factors that determine health" piece here: http://WetWebMedia.Com/mardisease.htm For a "more rounded" view/glance of what goes on in the real universe> Everything I've read says that it cropped up about 15 years or so ago, and the likely hood of the causative action being Hexamita is slim. <Was about way before this time... know because I was there...> As this is what killed one of my Oscars, I would like to know more about what it actually is. <I understand your provocation... treatments more often kill off livestock...> You spent a great deal of time working with me on fixing this problem, and I truly do appreciate it. <An honor to help> One just didn't have it in him to make it though. I still have hope for the second one. Thank you again cj. <Please do read over the HLLE FAQs and environmental disease sections on the Marine Index part of our site (WetWebMedia.com) as well. The same etiology/ies for marine fishes pre-dispose them to this "disease". Bob Fenner> C.J. Moody

Tiger Oscar Color Changes? Check the water quality weekly.  The only thing that is abnormal is that I cant really seem to get my nitrite level down.  0 - ammonia, 2 ppm nitrite, and around 40 ppm nitrates.  I normally do weekly water changes of around 1/3 of the 30 gallon tank. <Wow, that's really high on the nitrites but I wonder what's causing it? Are you testing the water at home? If so, take some water to your LFS and have them test it to see if you possibly have a faulty test kit. If it shows up at 2ppm for them too then you need to do some checking on your filtration. It may not be enough to handle the mess produced by your fish. The high nitrites could indeed be causing the color change for your fish and could easily prove fatal for him, especially at this level. Ronni>

RE: Tiger Oscar Color Changes? Well I am using the Fluval 404 canister filter on a 30 gallon tank.  The filter is rated for 100 gallon tanks.  I am using carbon, pre-filter cotton, pre-filter ceramic, and bio-max ceramic.  Filtration should not be a problem.  I do have a growth in the tank that keeps coming back.  A whitish gunk grows on runner parts in the tank: outflow connector, suction cups for the filter hoses.  I also have a growth of something on a fake plastic magma formation.  I scrub the thing about every two weeks to clean it off. <Well... a thirty gallon system won't suffice for long for this specimen... and you may just have a "bunk" specimen... there are ones that just don't color up. I would keep trying to expand the food selection to include foods with carotenoids in them (like dried krill) in an attempt to restore your Oscar's color. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscars - Are they hybrids? Good morning.  I am wondering what "The Crew" thinks about the origin of the aquarium variety of Oscar.  I personally believe them to be hybrids. <No, THE Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus used in the hobby and as food fishes are not hybrids (crosses between species)> I replied to a post about cichlid hybrids on a forum (with what seems to be some pretty smart people) debating this very issue in order to perhaps stimulate some intellectual thinking.  The only posts I received however were, "You are wrong!  Oscars are not hybrids."  This is a direct quote of what I had written on the forum.  "Currently, there are three species of "Oscar", Astronotus crassipinnis, A. ocellatus, and A. orbiculatus.  However, back in 1831 when Agassiz discovered the Oscar, <Described by Louis Agassiz in 1831> there was only one species, Lobotes ocellatus.  All three species were believed to be this one species.  When these fish were imported, they were very hard to breed, taking years to reach maturity.  Florida fish farms (at that time basically importers) gathered large numbers of these Oscars, regardless of looks, and threw them in outdoor ponds to raise and breed.  Since they were all considered one species, there wasn't a problem with this.  This is how all of the aquarium strains came to be (red, tiger, silver, gold, albino, and long-finned)." <Mmm, actually... have been in the hobby and business or ornamental aquatics a good long time (since the mid-1960's) and have visited fish farms (in the orient, this fish and its sport mutations are not bred commercially in the U.S.) and have seen the efforts at selective breeding to make these other varieties... sometimes easier to do starting with crosses... but am pretty sure these are all A. ocellatus> Does this argument make any real sense?  Do I even have an argument?  What are your views on this?  I am hoping you can shed some light on this for me, so I will know whether to back down on this issue or perhaps push it a little further.  Thank you. <Perhaps a trip to a large/college library and a search for literature on the species, its history. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Karyotyping ("chromosome mapping") work has likely been done on this "species-complex" that will reveal if the current animal in use is just one or a mix of species. Press on my friend. Bob Fenner> - Jason Seymour

Red tiger Oscar (health) I have a sick red tiger Oscar, I've had him for about ten to twelve years. Three days ago   he's been laying on his side at the top of the tank and his body is in a curved position, also his body color is turning darker. Is he dying or is it some other type of sickness. <Doesn't sound good. What are your water quality measurements telling you? Has their been a sudden drop in pH? Any appreciable ammonia, nitrite? Have you done anything to the system recently? How are the other fishes (if any present) acting? Is your aeration, filtration going? I would immediately do a 25% water change, vacuum the bottom, clean your filter media and see if this improves its behavior. If not, please write back with answers to the above and notes re your set-up and its history. Bob Fenner>                                                                         Thank you,                                                                                  DTM      

- Filtering Oscars - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I am in the process of purchasing filters for a 125 gallon Oscar tank. I recently ordered an Ocean Clear 340 and a Mag Drive 1200 pump for the tank. I was hoping that I could get an opinion from you people as to if this would be a good and efficient filtration method for keeping these fish in this size tank. <It's about as efficient as 'you' care to be. Due to the nature of these filters, which is really a high flow canister filter, it will be up to you to change the media regularly. If you don't, it won't be efficient at all. Other than that, it's a fine filter and probably what you need for a tank of this type.> Thank you for your help. Brian T. Peek <Cheers, J -- >        

Tank mates for Oscars I was recently searching for information regarding my Oscars and hit upon a question on WetWebMedia.Com that someone had asked you that is similar to the one I am searching for answers on. Here goes: I have two Oscars which I have been told are a little over a year old; they are 7-8" long. I have had them for 8-9 months; and after a couple of years of MANY failed attempts to keep fancy goldfish, I am thrilled that my fish (Grouch, as in "Oscar the ...." and Della, as in "Oscar de la Renta") are happy and healthy. I have recently moved them from a 35 gallon tank to a 65 gallon tank. It is a custom build tank made by Tenecor which has an excellent built-in filtration system. The Oscar's only other tank mate at this point is a "Pleco" that is about 5". It has lived with the Oscars since I got them, and they don't bother the catfish at all. So, now that my fish are settled in to their new home, I am wondering if there are any other fish that could peacefully cohabitate with two half grown Oscars and a Pleco. I've been searching around on the internet and found several references of Severums or Jack Dempsey's being recommended as tank mates for Oscars, but I'm not convinced yet. Questions: * Do you think that, given my tank size, its current inhabitants, the size/age of my fish, I should consider adding any other fish to the mix? <No... too crowded as is... unfortunately. A person of substantial ambitions as yourself needs more tank space.> * If so, what are your suggestions? <We could write the proverbial book here. Many other neotropical cichlids, large characoids, catfishes galore... many more> * Our local pet store had two types of cichlids which my husband and I liked. These were Bumblebee cichlids and Jewel cichlids. Would either of these cohabitate with my Oscars? <As stated, not in the 65> * One last question, if you do think that additional fish are in my future, what is the minimum size fish that you recommend? <Depends on species... a few to several inches> Any input would be appreciated. Thanks much, Susan

Oscar/Texas cichlid I have a 3" albino tiger Oscar and a Texas cichlid in a tank together. I was wondering if these are suitable tank mates. I have heard that the Texas cichlid is very mean and might kill the Oscar, but so far it seems to be the opposite. The Texan just kinda hangs around the bottom and sometimes when the Oscar sees him he will chase him for a bit, but quickly loses interest. They don't seem to mind each other for the most part. They are currently in a 29G but I'm planning to upgrade to a 60G before too long. I've heard some people say they are good together, and some say they don't mix. So I guess I'm a tad confused. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Also I was wondering if you had any info on the Texan because there are barely any on any sites I can find. All I know is that he is the coolest looking freshwater fish I have seen thus far. Thanks for your time. <As far as water parameters go these fish should be fine together. The chasing you are seeing is most likely because of territorial disputes, especially if the Oscar is larger or was in the tank before you added the Texas. They need to be moved into the larger tank ASAP and once they get large you may find yourself needing an even larger tank to prevent the fighting. To find more webpages on the Texas, do a search for the species name Herichthys cyanoguttatus or the more common name Rio Grande cichlid. Ronni>

Oscar health >C.J. Moody >CASA >Kitsap County Juvenile Court Services ><Is this the same town with the Kitsap County Aquarium Society? I  >used to >"scan" your periodical back in the seventies for the local SDTFS...  >Bob Fenner> Yes, it is. I didn't realize that it was such an older club:) <Yikes... I took over after Guy Jordan's passing back in the early seventies...> But... I need help. I mean I really need help. My Golds [Oscars] are looking really horrible. One of them now looks like his fins are rotting off. They have that cottony cloudy fungal look to them, but they seem to be rotting away. He is missing a huge chunk of his side fin, and his tail has *holes* in it that are getting bigger. <...!> I am giving them vitamins, Vitahex, with their food. I am putting about four drops of the baby vitamins a week into the water. I found some potassium iodide and followed the directions to the letter. I removed the heater and bought a new one [the only piece of electrical equipment in the tank]. I did a 50 percent water change, and then a week later, a quarter tank water change. I am continuing that schedule of water changes [my magnum is not working as well as it should]. <What? How long has this been going on? What other livestock affected? What water tests have you been doing?> What else can I do??? I am really getting stressed over this. I know my fish is going to die, one at a time, if this continues to degenerate like this, and at this rate. As it is one will be *horribly* scarred. I can live with that, but am unsure I can live with all my fish dead. Is there any thing else I can do? I read about something called Hexamita "Synonym Octomitus" as being one of the causes of this type of disease. Is this true, and if so, what can I do for that? cj. <Hexamita (formerly of the genus Octamita) necatrix is almost for sure not the causative mechanism here... Water quality is very likely the prima facie cause. Arresting the necrosis is all-important at this point, as is "solving" by correcting the poor water quality. Again, please answer the above questions... I would be changing massive amounts of water and likely applying furan compounds. Please place any/all terms above in your search engines and study NOW and act NOW to save your livestock. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ongoing Oscar Disease Problem >I did a 50 percent water change, and then a week later, a quarter  >tank >water change. I am continuing that schedule of water changes [my  >magnum is >not working as well as it should]. ><What? How long has this been going on? What other livestock  >affected? >What water tests have you been doing?> This is the same problem that I have had for the last few months. It just seems to have gotten really worse over the last week. After I started treatments with vitamins and stuff, it seemed to improve, then this big crash all of a sudden. I haven't done any water tests. To be frank, the expense I am running into with the vitamins, the new heaters, the other medications, along with other household expenses is stretching me thin between paychecks. <I do understand this believe me. Do look for other ways to save money (for instance cheaper pelleted foods, cut beef heart...) for your Oscars, and get test kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate at ASAP. Stop with the treatments for Hexamita... these are quite toxic, and I strongly doubt that they are/have been doing you (or your fishes) any good> The water test kit was pricey, as was the *only* bottle of iodide I could find [it was huge]. Mind you, this is a 150 tank. I will take a sample into my fish store today and have them test it. I already have new 2 new magnums on order. >Is there any thing else I can do? I read about something called  >Hexamita >"Synonym Octomitus" as being one of the causes of this type of  >disease. >Is >this true, and if so, what can I do for that? ><Hexamita (formerly of the genus Octamita) necatrix is almost for  >sure not >the causative mechanism here... Water quality is very likely the  >prima >facie cause. Arresting the necrosis is all-important at this point,  >as is >"solving" by correcting the poor water quality. Again, please answer  >the >above questions... I would be changing massive amounts of water and  >likely >applying furan compounds. Please place any/all terms above in your  >search >engines and study NOW and act NOW to save your livestock. Bob  >Fenner> Ok, I have no idea what your talking about furan compounds. I will do so on the search engine right this minute. <Very good my friend. These are anti-microbials like Nitrofurazone, as you will know. Bob Fenner> cj.

Re: Ongoing Oscar Disease Problem >>above questions... I would be changing massive amounts of water and  >>likely >>applying furan compounds. Please place any/all terms above in your  >>search >>engines and study NOW and act NOW to save your livestock. Bob  >>Fenner> >Ok, I have no idea what your talking about furan compounds. >I will do so on the search engine right this minute. ><Very good my friend. These are anti-microbials like Nitrofurazone,  >as you >will know. Bob Fenner> All my searches are turning up using those words are chemical compound information texts, and chemical/pharmaceutical companies. Nothing that even relates to aquatics. <You may need to consult actual books on fish disease.> The good news is that they still eat ravenously, and there bottom fins are still out and set straight as if they were healthy... I will wait and see if you can give me anything else on the furan stuff to look for, and then will bottle some water and start another water change. What is so frustrating is that all these fish lived in a 55 gallon, over crowded, and stayed fairly healthy. A few problems with ick and aggression, and the start of the HLLE. About two months ago I pulled the money together to get the 150 tank. The HLLE was just starting when I did the tank change. <You can, will defeat this problem.... with improvement in water quality, stability of same, and use of vitamins and iodide> It just seems to keep going downhill. I used the water from the 55, I did everything as normal as I would have done if I moved them to any other tank. I have shifted tanks many times over the years. I thought the 150 would make them happy, alleviate the overcrowding, and be wonderful. And it seems that it just keeps going downhill. I have four other tanks of beautiful healthy fish, not a problem with any of them, and they are all cichlid tanks with the exception of one which is Gouramis and tetras. I am really frustrated and broke [brokenhearted] now. <Please don't give up. Persistence pays my friend. Bob Fenner, who suggests logging onto one of the cichlid chatforums for consolation and other input.> cj.

Pop Eye I have a 14 inch Oscar that suddenly has a bulging eye. I'm told it's "Pop Eye" by a respected aquarium store. After starting treatment of 1/3 water change every two days, erythromycin on the change, using a different conditioner, I found some of your FAQ answers. It's on the right side only. Still eats well, food limited to pellets and angle worms. He does move rocks around and bangs around in the tank once and a while. Had a few whitish spots (maybe from hits?) <Maybe> that quickly cleared up. Still sees well with one eye (will quickly open his mouth if I do). Water tests OK and is kept at 78 degrees. Looks like a wait and see for a couple of weeks? <Yes... this is what I would do... keep up on maintenance, water quality... should show improvement by then. Service, life to you my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Update Dear Bob, I thought I'd let you know that Oscars et al are doing well. We have been testing the water daily - everything coming up normal, and doing a 20% water change every other day. I would once again like to thank you for your help (my fish thank you too). <Great to hear of the improvement> We set up a 40 gallon tank yesterday and will follow your advice and let it cycle for a few weeks before adding livestock. That will give us time to plan what goes in and keep the stress level to a minimum. I am thinking of putting a couple of crayfish (Astacus) in (cause I like to watch them) <Very interesting animals... I had Procambarus clarkii (the most common "crawdad"... used as "ditch bugs" in Louisiana, Texas, and California when I could get enough of them...) for years> and need to figure out what to add with them. I haven't had an aquarium since I was very young (too young to know how to look after them) and I had forgotten how enjoyable and relaxing it is to watch them. <Look for livestock that's fast, aware, large enough... but not too susceptible to crayfish dinners!> Thanks again for your help and do/will keep in touch. Linda <Do so. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Oscar with Popeye I Have an Oscar which appears to have Popeye. By the advise of the first Pet Store I treated the tank with a partial water change, aquarium salt and tetracycline tabs for six days....The fish still had Popeye. So by the advise of a second pet store I again treated the tank with a partial water change 50%, aquarium salt and penicillin every other day for three treatments. Still the fish has Popeye. what else can or should I do. I have had aquariums for 15 years or better and never had a fish with Popeye. I would be appreciative of any advice. You can e-mail me at <Thank you for writing. Popeye (fancy name exophthalmia) is a hard condition to cure... when "one sided" (unilateral) the cause is typically "mechanical injury" (a bump in the night)... Treatments per se are not necessary... but does take a good long time for the bulging to subside (weeks to months). Keep the system clean, maintenance up and you should see improvement in a few weeks. Please read here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/popeyefaqs.htm and possibly the "Neotropical Cichlid FAQs" posted on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> THANK YOU, K. JACKSON

Re: Oscar with Popeye Since I received your information on the subject of Popeye with my Oscar. I have kept a good watch on the tank and Oscar for any changes. My Oscar originally had her eye popping out and another bump on the upper back of the eye. Since I stopped treating the tank with antibiotics the bump has gone and another one has appeared her eye is still popping out and there is now blood in the eye chamber. What should I do if anything? And If there is no treatment will her eye eventually hemorrhage or will it go down. Any information you have will be helpful. <Do your best to keep the system optimized and stable... and the fish fed with nutritious foods... This and patience is all that is needed, desired. The eye will improve or not otherwise. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Kelly

Tiger Oscars Dear Bob, first thanks for a wonderful and helpful website. I have a 130 gallon short tank with four new two inch tiger Oscars.  <Ah, an adventure> I read one of your FAQ's re tankmates in which you recommend other South and Central American Cichlids and catfish as tank mates. Could you recommend some catfish? I was thinking about putting 2 Vampire Plecos and two royal or leopard Plecos. <Gorgeous choices> If this would work (total of 8 fish), is it necessary for me to buy the Plecos larger than the Oscars?  <A bit larger... these species are slower growers... do train them on sinking pellets/wafers that are algae based... and have some sinking wood for their use in place.> I want to get it right at the start and have everyone grow into their environment. Thanks for your time and help. Linda <Thank you for writing. Make it known how your system progresses. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tiger Oscars Thanks for your quick reply. I just want to confirm that these 8 fish will fit into their final environment. Someone else suggested adding tinfoil barbs for viewing. What do you think? <Well, these are beautiful fast moving fishes that will/would go along with what you have, plan temperamentally and about same water quality. What do you think? Bob Fenner>

Help, something is wrong My tank has been set up for 5 days, we tested for nitrates - 0, ph 7.0 and I used a product called Cycle (which is supposed to add friendly bacteria) I also used a water conditioner with aloe. The 4 Oscars I first wrote to you about were sucking air pretty heavily earlier today, and have not eaten all day. <You placed these fish a bit soon... are you testing for ammonia, nitrite? Do not feed them anything...> Tonight they are mostly down the bottom and their mouths and gills are moving constantly. I introduced some tinfoil barbs and they immediately went to the top -- it looks like they are trying to suck air. I ended up getting a Armoured catfish (our aquarium store has not any much luck with the vampires they have gotten recently so they are reluctant to order any. We also added an additional "quick filter" tonight. Any suggestions on what the problem may be? <Likely a oh-too typical "run-in" period bottle-neck... New systems need/take time to "settle in", particularly with essential bacteria populations for "cycling"... conversion of the principal waste product of fishes, invertebrates (ammonia) to less noxious nitrate (through an intermediate series of toxic nitrite)... Hence the suggestion to not feed at this point... Stop adding livestock, increase aeration and if possible add some used filter media, substrate... Please read here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm This piece on marine systems... principles apply to all aquatic systems. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much for your help. Linda

Re: Help, something is wrong Thanks again, I'll keep you posted. All the best for the new year. Linda <Thank you my friend. And to you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help, something is wrong Hi, me again. I read through your articles, and should have done so before getting my fish. We were told 3-5 days set up is all we needed with Oscars and add from there. <Yikes!> Wow, not too accurate. We added the aeration filter and some more Cycle and everyone seems happy right now. Ammonia, Nitrate, pH, and Nitrite are okay.  <Ahh, thank you for this news> How long do you figure I should wait to feed?  <At least a day. Do test your water on the morrow> Thanks for your helpful advice, my poor fish could have suffered more, even died without it. Linda <Ah, a pleasure my friend. Life to you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscars, disease  ... Thank you very much for your advice... I will try to contact a veterinarian because here I have a veterinarian university. <Very good. Have them contact me as well if I may be of assistance> Last night I lost another very young Oscar ... and I see in the moment of death : fish are very agitated and swimming so fast, swimming in the imaginary circle axis...and in the final, death with mouth open. first fish dead have same mouth open). I read on the net about that. and I find something called Myxosoma Cerebralis causing "whirling disease"... but I don't see nothing about white or transparent fecal in this disease. <Not necessarily related. Does sound like Myxosoma> I'm scared right now, because I don't have any idea to rescue my Oscars. I think I will try again with the salt bath. Anyway Thank you again for your answer . Andrei. <Good luck, life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Oscars, Disease Hi, I have a big problem with my Oscars, I have seven Oscars in my tank and I think haves Hexamita or Ichtyosporidium (Phycomocetae family) aka HLLE. I feed my fish with Tetra Cichlid Tablet, Chironomis worms, and Heart Beef (rarely). I'm from Romania and here it's difficult to find medications for my Oscars, I find on the chemist's shop for human, Metronidazole tablet <Am very familiar (unfortunately) with the disease/condition HLLE and the anti-protozoal Metronidazole (aka Flagyl generically here in the West> 250mg(for Trichomonas virginals, Labia intestinal is, Entamoeba hystolitica....) , and I used 250mg at 5 gallons water . <Mmm, this is about twice the dosage I typically advise.> two Oscars are young (5inch) and look fine, fish colours are normal, colours of excrements are normal brown-black, eating and are fine. Five are very young , (2inch) and just one of them it's fine. Four are very bad... not eating, not swimming and stay down on the ground with difficulty to breathe (mouth open all time) and the colours of excrements are white or transparent sometimes rubbing on sand or stones or shake the head on sand). I have not idea if the Hexamita is the malady or other, or I made a mistake with this Metronidazole. <Perhaps an intestinal worm, other gut-fauna cause> Fish are from 2 days in this conditions and one of them (very young) it's dead right now. Please give me a piece of advice in this problem, because it's very hard for me to see my Oscars in this situation. Thank you a lot. (Forgive me , if my write it's not correct grammatical) Andrei. <Thank you for writing. You are perfectly understood here. Do you have a college/university or a veterinarian nearby who will take a look at the fecal/waste material of your Oscars? This should show/reveal the nature of the cause of their illness. I do not suspect Hexamita here. Upon examination, you may find that an anthelminthic needs to be applied. Possibly Piperazine or di-n-butyl tin oxide. At the very least, do enquire of the veterinarian of the usefulness of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) applied as a dip/bath. Please write back if this message is incomplete, or not able to be understood. Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscars Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo here in your service> I have two Oscars that have some kind of parasite or disease that I and my fish store can not seem to identify and cure. Both of the Oscars are scratching their entire bodies against the rocks and gravel in my aquarium. They almost seem to "freak out" before doing this by starting to wiggle a little and then go spastic and swim blindly into things or scratch themselves on purpose. They have large patches of scales missing. I can not see anything wrong with them. Their eyes are clear, no visible parasites, and they breath at a normal rate. <could just be (common with big messy fish) a water chemistry problem that irritates the gills like high nitrates or extreme pH...test and report. May not be a disease at all> First I tried an antibiotic than helps with loss of scales and fungal, internal, and bacterial infections.  <safe move, but if pathogenic, scratching is more indicative of a parasite> It had no effect. Next I tried copper. Their appetite returned, but they are still getting worse because they do not stop scratching. <sounding more like a water quality problem> Their tankmates (a jack Dempsey, a Pleco, and a red devil) are unaffected by this.  <different species have different tolerances> I have been doing large water changes ritualistically in this tank since these fish produce a lot of waste, so I doubt it has anything to do with water quality.  <never assume that ...especially with messy fish> <good> I also added aquarium salt at one tablespoon per gallon and a product that helps coat the fish's scales and reduce stress to try and help relieve some of their discomfort. Thank you for your help. I am afraid if I do not cure this soon, they will die. <have no fear...they are very hardy fish. Do a full chemistry test and report back. Anthony>

Oscars, Velvet Cichlids I have two Oscars about six inches, I've had them for several months now but it seem one is sick. The larger of the two has gotten sluggish and tends to lie on the bottom or top of the tank. He has a few dimples or slight holes around the front of his head so I've started treatment for hole in the head but know I've noticed a slight film over one of his eyes. Is there something else I should be treating him for? John Wissler <It sounds like you may have some water quality issues. These big, messy eaters require frequent large water changes and a large tank to remain happy and healthy. Twenty five percent per week and housing two in at least 75 gallons of water would be good. Also, try adding 1 tablespoon of Epson salt per 5 gallons until the eye clears up. -Steven Pro>

My Oscar Bob, I just fed my Oscar's some goldfish and while one was going after a goldfish it accidentally swallowed a piece of the gravel at the bottom of tank. the fish is about 4 inches long and about 3 months old. I was wondering if he was going to die or if he will digest the rock? if you could respond I would appreciate it. thanks <In all likelihood "this too shall pass". Happens quite often with these gluttonous feeders. I would not be overly concerned. Bob Fenner>

Re: my Oscar Bob I just wanted to thank you for responding to my email. I really appreciate it. <You are welcome my friend. Glad to be of assistance. Bob Fenner>

Pleco feeding hi, Thanks for your help. I took your advice and got two pleco's to go in my tank with my Oscars and Severums. Everyone is still quite small ( Oscars are already bigger than the rest ). I never see the pleco's eating ( one is Gibbiceps Pleco and the other is a Gold Nugget ), so at night night I place some algae wafers and cucumber slices in the tank. <Good idea. Do you have a bit of sunken "driftwood" in the tank? A very useful adjunct to these Suckermouth South American Catfishes nutrition.> I noticed the Oscars and Severums like these foods as well and my question is : Am I over feeding the Oscars and Severums by leaving large pieces vegetables in tank overnight ? <No worries... these materials won't cause them trouble (unless there's so much in the system that it rots)> I know about the 5 minute rule...but I'm worried about the pleco's not having a chance to eat if I don't leave the food in overnight. The tank is a newly cycled tank and is very clean. Thanks, Adam <Do keep an eye on ammonia for a few weeks more... and start in with regular (weekly, biweekly...) gravel vacuum, water changing, etc. Bob Fenner>

Bala Shark & Oscars <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> First of all I really enjoy your web site, over the past 3 years I have started 3 tanks and your website has given me the most helpful information. <<Glad we can be of service.>> I have a Bala Shark in a 42 gallon tall tank with an angelfish, in my second 73 gallon tank I have 3 Oscars and 2 Parrot fish, The Bala shark is around 5 inches, Could I move the Bala shark into the tanks with the Oscars? <<You could... but would you want to? Oscars really do their part to tax a filtration system, and by adding anything to that tank you're going to add to the bioload.>> The Oscars are around the same length as the Bala shark and the Parrot fish are smaller. <<It would likely work for a while.>> My second question involves my saltwater tank that has the ecosystem, Caulerpa a UV sterilizes, some bioballs and tribase carbon, my Koran angel has started to develop a slight case of lateral line on one side. I have just started to add vitamins to the their food and fish solution from ecosystems. Has my UV sterilizer killed some needed bacteria? <<Hard to say except that it is defiantly not part of the Ecosystem Aquarium as designed by Leng Sy which in my book is a "designed" system - anything else added to, or altered from the original designs will change the results. I would stick with the "system". Only way to know is to take it out of line. HLLE on the other hand is almost entirely nutrition-related. Your best option here is to make sure the angel gets a good mix of foods including something containing marine sponge [like, but not exclusively, Angel Formula] as that is what these eat most often in the wild. Success against HLLE is less likely to come from a bottle than from a well-balanced, natural diet - no terrestrial vegetables.>> Is my carbon removing some necessary trace mineral? <<I doubt that but you should also not leave the carbon in for extended periods of time - so it doesn't become a detritus trap, and the aforementioned reasons.>> Any thoughts would be appreciated Martin Rischall <<You got 'em. Cheers, J -- >>

Cichlids <<Greetings, fellow enthusiast...>> As a new aquarium enthusiast, I began about 2 months ago with a 10 gallon setup and within it, 2 Oscars (tiger and albino), 1 small green puffer, 2 Bala sharks, 3 emerald barbs and one 6 inch Pleco. Shortly there after I realized my over population mistake and began saving up for a larger tank. <<Enough said, then.>> As I saved my money, the fish in the tank started disappearing. Strangely, there was no trace of them, no bodies or parts, they had simply vanished. I was perplexed to say the least. One day while sitting down to an evening meal, I watched my Albino Oscar, chase, attack, and swallow my last Bala shark which brought me to a whole new level of enlightenment. <<Ahh... those Oscars...>> That said, I have learned a lot about Oscars in the time between then and now. I have since purchased a 30 gallon tank and recently moved my Oscars into it. <<Erk, did you miss the part that said these can grow largest than your shoe? For certain this 30g tank won't last much longer than the 10g did. Oscars and Plecos both can get quite large, and I mean LARGE.>> (the only other survivor was the Pleco who is also in the larger tank.) My wife thought that a few more fish would be nice so I have recently acquire a small Jaguar Cichlid and another (much larger) Green Puffer. <<Too much for a tank of this size... Oscars being what they are, your biggest challenge will be keeping the water clean.>> With the exception of some excessive fin nipping by the Puffer, they seem to do well, at least until this morning. My Oscars adjusted quickly to the new tank as did the Puffer. The Jaguar did not, for the first three days he hid in the live plants under a thick and comforting blanket of foliage. Not an abnormal re-action I thought considering the change of environment so I left him alone and just kept an eye on him. My smaller Oscar proceeded to chase him constantly during this time but inflicted no damage. Day three rolled about and the Jag had apparently become more comfortable, he no longer hides unless spooked by fast movement and the table have appeared to turn. Upon my inspection of the tank this morning, my smaller Oscar was hiding in the foliage, since he had never done this before I thought it a little strange. As I watched my tank and drank my morning coffee, I realized why. The Jaguar who was half his size was chasing him, and making the occasional brutal hit. So far I have seen no physical damage to the Oscar and perhaps it is just payback for the hazing he issued the Jag upon arrival, but some of the hits were definitely meant with intent to harm or kill. <<Sure... this is most likely competition for space from a fairly aggressive fish.>> I have watched my Oscars for some time now and know their habits and know that they will chase and sometimes nudge each other forcefully. But I have never seen attacks like these even while they were feeding.  Are these fish, when closely sized, good tank mates? <<Perhaps in a larger tank, where each can have it's own personal space/territory, but the Jaguar Cichlid is a known aggressive fish, chances are good that it would continue attempts to establish dominance over its tankmates.>> I already have a larger tank on the way but I am debating if they should be kept together. All of these fish are on the semi-aggressive to aggressive list so I figured they would be decent matches. <<The Jaguar is probably better housed with something that would be more willing to fight back, like a Fire mouth.>> The new tank will be 100 gallons. <<Ahh good, much better size, but still... probably not enough in the long run. Did I mention these fish get really large?>> Also, where can I find good info on Jaguars Cichlids? I search google and turned up virtually nil. <<The Latin for this fish is Parachromis managuensis, you might try your luck at http://www.fishbase.org or even on Google - I just gave it a shot and came up with quite a bit.>> regards, James Williams MCSE, A+, Network+, CCNP Jacksonville, Fl <<Cheers, J -- >>

Oscars determining the sex of Oscars Could you please tell me how to determine what sex are my Oscars. Characteristics of the different sexes. thanks, Linda Perry < That is a great question, one I have been meaning to ask for a while now. There are a few ways to sex an Oscar. One is to wait for the Oscars to pair off, spawn, and watch to see which one lays the eggs. The second way is to remove the fish from the water, flip them over and compare their vents. I found a picture of someone doing it at the following link http://www.petsforum.com/personal/svoorwinde/Oscars/oscars.htm The above method does not sound like much fun to me. My Oscar (Buster) gets mad when I try to rub his belly. I asked Anthony about it and he told me the best way I have heard of yet. Below is what he said. 'there is an easier way: when most cichlids are first fed they will briefly express (extend/drop/flash/whatever) their "stuff". The ovipositor of a female is quite blunt and obviously wide enough to pass an egg through. Males have a pointed and tapered protrusion which generally is not extended as far as a females. Feed some tasty earth worms or small ghost shrimp to get them in the mood if necessary. When you are comfortable sexing African cichlids... you can apply this too to some Central and SA cichlids by looking for thicker lips and a larger buccal (chin) cavity on males' Hope this helps- Gage>

Milky water (Oscars... FW...) Hi Rochell and Chris>> Hi I have a 66 gallon with a Fluval 404 2 heaters 2 aerators 3 Oscars 1 convict its been set up for 2 months and I cant get rid of the milky white water iv tried weekly water changes and it just wont go away if you have any ideas I would appreciate it thank you <<We're going to need more information. What are your water parameters? Do you have the necessary test kits? If not, run a sample of your *source* water and your *tank* water to a local fish store you trust and have them test your water for you, or, invest in some good quality tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness. I don't know how big the Oscars are, but unless they are small this tank is overloaded, and regardless, will be overloaded in short order by the Oscars, let alone the convict. My bet is on poor water quality with these big eating messy cichlids. Testing will tell you what is going on. You will need to either sell/trade a couple fish, or plan on a bigger tank. Adult Oscars get big. Craig>> 

Oscar emergency (HLLE) 3-4 years ago I treated my Oscar for what I thought was HITH. He developed some pretty bad holes and he never completely looked the same after that but he was doing fine otherwise so I assumed it was all over. About 2 weeks ago it looked to me like it was coming back. There was one other Oscar in the tank who looked okay. I took my water to the pet store and they tested it and said everything was fine. I then started treating with Metronidazole for the recommended course. <Yes. This anti-protozoal is the recommended material here> My fish did not improve. I have been working very religiously on keeping the water clean and testing it daily. About 2 days ago the other Oscar who did not have any holes developed one hole on the center of his head. It was somewhat deep looking and looked like a perfect hole had been punched with a hole puncher. At this point both Oscars started getting a little white fuzz on the holes. Last night the Oscar with the just one hole had a bit of blood coming out of the hole. He was not attacked. This morning he was dead. <...! Sorry to read of the loss... and this is a very short period of time for this course of events to have occurred> I now have one Oscar who is 6-7 years old. He has not eaten in two weeks. He has a little bit of white fuzz on some of his holes. One side of his face nearly looks like a crater and if it gets much worse I will be able to see through it into his mouth. He is breathing somewhat heavy but not super bad. I don't know what to do at this point. The water is testing okay. Do I just have to watch this one die too? <Hopefully not> The tank is 80 gallons with a canister filter and an HOB filter. The water is 82 degrees. I don't know what else to do. Is this even HITH? <Cannot tell from a description... and the term Hole in the Head is a descriptive one... that is, it does not define a/the root cause of the symptoms, just the symptoms themselves. How much Metronidazole are you using, and how have you been applying it? Are you adding vitamins, iodide to the animal's foods, the water? Bob Fenner> Thank you for any help. Tami

Re: Oscar emergency My Oscars both died the day after I sent you this. <Very sorry to hear... Please do consider sterilizing (with the careful use of bleach, as detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm) the system before trying other fishes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscar emergency Thank you but I did break down the tank and completely clean it. I used diluted bleach on the recommendation of my pet store only on certain parts. The tank is recycling now. <Ah, good... and fast! Bob Fenner>

Oscars Hi, First off I really like your site, it's very insightful. I have 2 Oscars that are in a 55 Gallon tank,  they have been together for a little over 2 years now and have always gotten along, just recently though they have  started locking lips with each other.  I was wondering what caused this behavior? Thanks, Tom <Hello Tom, this is behavior can be expected with these large aggressive fish kept in small quarters.  They are probably starting to feel cramped and are getting cranky.  I would move these fellas to a larger tank as soon as possible.  Best Regards, Gage>

Baby Oscar with swelling Hi, I have a baby Oscar, about 2" long, that's suddenly developed a swelling on its anus. It looks like it has a hernia. <More likely a "prolapsed colon"> The fish is acting normally, but a day after I got him I noticed this...its like a P (rotated 90 degrees clockwise) on his underside. I think it went down one day, only to come back the next day. and stay that severe for the past few days. I have another Oscar, from the same batch at LFS I got a few weeks prior. it and the rest of this "batch" still at LFS are not showing this problem. Amanda <Do try to feed this fish smaller amounts of foods more frequently, particularly meaty items like frozen/defrosted brine shrimp... in all likelihood the protruded part of your fish's digestive system will "go back in" in time. Bob Fenner>

Re: lethargic Oscar I have an 80 gal tank with 2 Oscars and a bunch of other fish (13 fish total 3" - 8") A magnum 250 and a penguin 330, 2 power heads w/ undergravel filter and lots of structures.  The problem is one of the Oscars is acting dormant.  lying on his side with somewhat labored breathing.  He is still eating when fed and pretty much defending himself, but this is not normal behavior.  We've had him and another one for over a year ( not much bigger than a goldfish) and the other one did this and died a couple of days later.  Now I'm worried this one will do the same.  His gills seem to functioning correctly, we never feed him live food, all levels (nitrites, ammonia, pH, and temp) are excellent.  A 30 percent or so water change has been being done every 4-6 weeks.  There are no visible signs of disease or wounds.  He has lightened colors.  When the other Oscar died we got an albino Oscar (same size as the one we had) they fought, we separated them, let them out, now they are fighting a little but not much and now he is acting this way.   <This sounds like a water quality issue, what were the results of the water tests?  Test for nitrate as well.  What types of food are you feeding?  I would increase the water change routine to 30% every week.  Best Regards, Gage>

FW Filtration Howdy, I found your site and read for a few hours yesterday learning a TON of information regarding my new 30 gallon freshwater tank. <Glad we have found each other> The basic setup that I have is a 30 gallon Power Filter, 100 watt heater, thermometer, ammonia chart (which changes color in the presence of ammonia), 2 plastic plants, and one large plastic magma/lava rock formation.  I have (2) small 3 inch Tiger Oscars, and one 4 inch blue channel catfish.  When I first got my tank I had read differing ways of cycling the tank for the first time and the leading websites, not yours, recommended just starting the tank with 2 to 3 small, hardy fish. <Yes> Let me start by what I did wrong: WAY overfed them, tried a bunch of different chemicals (store-bought) to deal with the ammonia problem.  This led to ICK which I am now treating with CURE-ICK. <Yikes! Quite an adventure> Today I literally cleaned my whole tank with a light bleach solution and a 100% water change.  I know this will now need to start the new cycle again and is but a temporary solution but I wanted to get all of the scuz out of my tank and start fresh -- and hopefully a little wiser. <Much better> The questions that I have are as follows: How often should my fish be fed on a normal basis?  Every day or every other?  This is what my LFS recommended because of my ammonia problem. <Twice a day for most aquarium fishes that might go in a thirty gallon system... some need to be target fed (like sinking pellets for bottom dwellers)... If you suspect ammonia et al. nitrogenous wastes might be a problem you're encouraged to get and use test kits... not to feed at all if the ammonia, nitrite approach 1.0 ppm.> How MUCH should I feed my fish?  A friend claims the stomach is about the size of the eye. <Better to use time as a guide here. Tap some food into the top of the can it comes in for gauging about how much you're applying... and see if they eat this much in a couple, three minutes... there should be no food laying about> What other type of filtration would you recommend besides the Power filter that I have?  Please try to give me the best solution under $200. <Perhaps adding an airstone, pump for same, tubing, a check-valve... the present power filter is fine otherwise> Erm, anything else that you can help me with would awesome and thanks again! Awesome website!!! Jim Howrie <Looking forward to your future participation. Bob Fenner>

FW Filtration Thanks for the speedy reply!  I do have an air pump, tubing, and one of those fibrous release tubes.  I have the air pump set to max for the most aeration possible but do not use an air stop or check valve. <Do get one or at least "loop" your tubing above the aquarium height... to discount the possibility of back-siphoning (started by capillation) in the event of power or pump failure> My main concern is that the filter will not really allow enough of a medium for "good" bacteria to set up on.  Another problem is feeding.  These Oscars will eat and eat damn near non-stop if I feed them.  I was target feeding the catfish.  I would drop about 3-4 shrimp pellets into the corner where he hangs out just after I turn out the light at night. <Good technique> How long should the light be on for a day?  Should I get on of those little timers to regulate the light? <A good idea. If no plants, about any length, regimen you like... perhaps ten, twelve hours a day> And I know that you are an expert and all, but are you sure there isn't a better way for me to filter?  Such as getting a biological filter or a combo or something? <Mmm, more filtration would be better, will be absolutely necessary with your fishes growth... you could add another outside power filter (hang on or canister type)...> I will eventually get a larger set up when the Oscars get larger so anything that you recommend now should and will be used for the larger tank anyway so it would not be a waste of money.  From what I have read on your website too much filtration is never a problem. <This is correct> So what type of filter system would you recommend for a freshwater say 55 gallon tank? <For Oscars et al., vigorous outside power filtration, powerheads in the tank to add circulation, aeration... and frequent partial water changes... likely ten, twenty percent a week, with gravel vacuuming.> Thanks again!!! Jim Howrie <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

- Oscar with Dirty Pores - <Hi, JasonC here...> Hi, I have a 4 year old Oscar who has developed these holes on both sides of his head. He also has a large red blotch on the front of his head, which is indented and looks like a scrap, but it isn't a scrap because it would have healed by now.  He has had both of these symptom for at least two weeks.  I thought he had the hole in the head disease which would explain the holes, but I don't think that would also cause the red spot.  But I treated him for it anyway. I used clout last week for 3 days. Then this week I used this "Parasite clear" by "jungle" for 8 days, but it doesn't seem to be helping and the holes are getting larger and I think more are starting to form on his face.  His behavior is normal. I attached 2 pictures of the marks on him which hopefully will be able to help you. So if you can tell me what you think it is and what I can do, I will appreciate it very much. <Unfortunately, this condition is very common with Oscars, and it comes from the condition of the water they are living in. Essentially, these fish can dirty their water beyond what most people expect, can see, or have placed equipment for. For the most part, this is very hard to reverse. You're best bet is to apply all your energies to keeping the water as pristine as possible. To do this you should at least double your filter cleaning efforts, and probably add a second filter as well.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

Re: lethargic Oscar All levels in the tank are exactly were the are supposed to be according to a Fresh Water Master Test Kit made by aquarium pharmaceuticals, inc.  We feed them Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets.  By the way, one of the original jack Dempsey fish has died in the meantime.  Same sort of symptoms, but they've gone on and off again several times.  Is there some kind of a disease that slowly kills the fish with  no visible (i.e.: sores or streaks) signs? <Hello, I'm still thinking it is a water quality issue, 13 fish in the 80gal is a little crowded, it is really only big enough for 2 Oscars.  I would take a water sample down to the local fish store to confirm that your tests are correct.  It could also be internal parasites, or just stress from "defending himself".  Oscars are extremely sensitive fish, it is not hard to hurt their feelings.  After I moved mine to his new home he would not come near me for a month.  It would not hurt to move him to a separate tank until he has recovered from what's ailing him. -Gage>

Oscar Swim Bladder Hello, My Oscar is about 2 years old and 8" long.  He has recently developed what I believe is something wrong with his swim bladder-he floats upright at the top of the tank with about 1/4' of his back bobbing out of the water. In all respects he appears very healthy and vigorous, but he can't seem to swim down to the bottom of the tank-when he tries he just floats back up to the surface.  Can you give me any advice on what may be the cause of this and how I might be able to cure him?  Thank you very much in advance. <Hello David, sounds like it could be a problem with the swim bladder, or maybe a gut impaction of sorts.  Could have been brought on by diet, what has he been eating?  You could try adding a small concentration of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to its water (about a teaspoon per ten gallons of system water) to facilitate muscle relaxation, possibly passing of material in its gut.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fw3setsdisfaqs.htm >

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

Color changes? Do you happen to know what some factors are for color changes in Tiger Oscars?  I have a black/gold Tiger that has changed his hue to almost a light blue where the black was that seems to match my aqua gravel.  The only time that I have noticed him doing so was when I bought live feeder guppies. I do not feed them live food often so for my Oscar to change color on me like this seems strange.  Any ideas? Thanks in advance! Jim <Color changes can be caused by any number of things. Stress, excitement, water quality, change in diet, adult coloration, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. I won't go into details of each one but do have your water tested to make sure it's fine. If so, I would say there's nothing to worry about, just keep an eye on him. Ronni>

Overcrowded Oscars I have a 10 gallon tank with 1 sucker fish and 3 other fish.  The other fish are small (1-2 inch) Oscar fish.   <Whoa! Way too many fish for this tank! A full grown Oscar can reach nearly 18 inches long so even one Oscar is way too much for a 10 gallon tank. These 4 fish should be kept in no smaller than a 75 gallon aquarium, 100 gallon would be better.> I'm having a problem however with the tank. The water stays clear for only about a day and then no matter what I do, unless I do a full water change it stays cloudy.  The pH is 7.0, I've added "algae fix" to help keep the algae in control.  I've tried "tetra aqua-easy balance" to try to get rid of the cloudiness, as well as "clear water" which is supposed to remove cloudiness.  Nothing is working.  It's getting frustrating because the tank just isn't as pretty when it's cloudy.   <This is all probably a result of the tank being overcrowded. The water quality is probably very poor because of the feeding necessary and the wastes from the fish. Algae is not causing the cloudy water here, it's probably ammonia.> Is there something I'm missing?  Something else I should be testing, like ammonia and nitrate levels?  If so what should the level for my fish be? <Ammonia and nitrites should be at 0 in any aquarium. You need to either get a much bigger tank for your fish or get rid of the Oscars and get some fish that stay small for your current tank. Be sure to do lots of research on the fish you plan to keep *before* you buy them. There's a ton of info available on http://www.wetwebmedia.com  and also at http://www.fishbase.org > Thanks...Kendall <You're welcome! Ronni>

Oscar Tankmates Can you please tell me what fish can go in with 2 juvenile Oscars.. they aren't aggressive, unless they are hungry, but I feed them three times a day, so I think they should be fine, but can you tell me all they fish that can go safely with them? >> Many choices in rough and tumble fishes here... other South and Central American Cichlids and catfishes would be my choices... How big a system do you have? Will your filtration handle more load? Bob Fenner

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