Among tropical fish enthusiasts, the Oscar has a special place. These large fish have gained quite a following among aquarium owners due to their impressive size and interesting actions in the tank. These "river dogs," as they are sometimes called, will literally beg for food when you approach the tank and sulk in the corner if they are upset.
What Is an Oscar?
Oscars are freshwater tropical fish that are members of the Cichlid family. They are native to the rivers of the Amazon. In the wild, these fish can grow to 16 inches in length and 2 pounds in weight. It is not uncommon for them to reach sizes close to 12 inches in an aquarium. Today's fish tank owners can buy Oscars in a variety of colors with many different patterns, and a tank filled with Oscars and live aquatic plants makes quite a display.
Oscars have a reputation for being quite an aggressive fish. Many are told not to put them in community fish tanks, because they will kill their tank mates. This reputation is unfounded. While Oscars need to be kept with other large fish, because they will eat small fish thinking that they are fish food, they are compatible with most fish their size.
In fact, these fish can become quite tame, and some will even tolerate being touched by their owners. Remember, however, that touching your fish too frequently can damage their skin, leaving them open to infection. The best way to teach your Oscar to let you touch it is to hand feed him his fish food, allowing him to get used to the presence of your hand.
Oscars, due to their large size, need large aquariums. At least 30 gallons are necessary to properly house grown Oscars. These fish are quite sensitive to changes in water quality. They need clean water, so keep your aquarium filters, glass, and aquarium pumps clean and operational. If you are going to add new aquarium decorations or rearrange the tank, be prepared for a few days of sulking. Only use designated aquarium supplies and decorations, not items you find that you think will work well in your tank. By keeping a clean environment for your Oscars, you can expect them to live well over 10 years.