- Scientific name: Astronotus ocellatus
- Common name: Oscar, Velvet cichlid
- Group: Cichlids
- Habitat: South America; Amazon river and its' tributaries also Paraguay
- Size: 30 cm.
- Biotope: Wide distribution from the Orinoco River Basin to the Rio Paraguay.
- Social behavior: A peaceful cichlid despite its large size. Many make the mistake of placing the Oscar in tanks with fish that are too aggressive. The Oscar should be combined in a large community aquarium with other similarly-sized companions. Pairs become aggressive while spawning and participating in brood care. Oscars will burrow in the substrate.
- Diet: Live, fish, earthworms, Tubifex, large insects, aquatic insects, large crustaceans, chopped meat, pellets, tablets, spinach. The Oscar is a greedy and messy eater.
- Breeding: Easy
- Tank: Minimum 300 litres
- Population: 1 couple for 500 litres
- Decoration: The tank should have a deep substrate with some large rocks. Plants must be potted and robust with their stems and root protected with rocks.
- Temperature: 25-26°C
- pH: 6-8
- Hardness: 4-20 NK°
- Lifespan: 10-13 years
Description: Oval and elongated when viewed from the side. Very robust body. Dorsal fin starts above the gill slits, Caudal Peduncle taller than long, Pectorals and unpaired fins rounded and Ventral fins are pointed. They can reach a size of up to 14 inches and are sexually mature at around 4 inches.
Varies greatly, very pretty and is different between individuals and age. Background color of mature specimens is dark Olive Green, Brownish Black or Blue Black. This pattern is broken up into large random spots and black band edged with pale White or Yellow. The Dorsal fin can have a few eye spots and males may also have three small Basal spots in the spiny portion. The Caudal fin can have Red-Golden spots and a very jet Black spot edged with Red at its base. The wild form of Oscars have been selectively bred to include many beautiful varieties including the Tiger, Albino, Red Tiger and more.
The Oscar is one of the Easiest fish to care for and for its size one of the most peaceful. The tank should be large-at least a 55 gal with a medium textured substrate. Keep plants to a minimum and provide flat rocks and pieces of driftwood for cover. If you want to use plants I suggest large leaf varieties of lilies or some floating plants, Oscars like most Cichlids can and will dig the substrate. Water conditions for Oscars are not critical but they do like medium hard, Acidic to slightly Alkaline ( pH 6.5 to 7.5 )water. Feeding as you would expect is no problem as oscars will take all types of food including flake frozen, pellets, kitchen scrapes and of course live. Do not restrict your Oscars diet to feeder goldfish as these do not provide all the needed nutrients, in nature they are an opportunistic fish and will eat anything that happens by. I even dig Earthworms from my yard for them. Oscars are a very long-lived fish and quickly develop their own personality, probably one of the reasons they are so popular today.
Oscars will form true pairs and stay together for the duration of their life, each take part in the laying of the eggs and caring of the young. The Oscar is a typical open brooder. The eggs are colored to match their environment and adhesive and are laid in the open, on a rock or a large leaf. They can lay a large number of eggs. The Hatched fry are looked after and fiercely guarded until the egg sac is absorbed and the young are free swimming. Parental care extends even beyond this point in the form of protection from predators. This phase is very dangerous for other fish in the aquarium as the parents can extend their brooding territory and increase their aggressiveness.
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