13 Types Of Oscar Fish: Care, Breeding, Aquarium Mates Guide

Oscar are exotic fish that aquarists love not only for their unusual appearance but also for their intellectual abilities. Underwater pets can remember the face of their owners and even learn a few visual commands. What rules of care and maintenance do you need to learn before getting an oscar?

Oscar Fish Description and features

The second name of this fish is “water buffalo”. It reflects not only the impressive size of the oscar, but also its character. He can be calm and peaceful, but if the fish is angry, it will become aggressive. In order for both the pet and its owner to feel comfortable, it is necessary to study the biological characteristics of the species.

Full NameAstronotus ocellatus
VaritiesTiger, Albino, Veil, Bumblebee, Fat fin, Wild, Red, Lutino, Sunny lemon, Golden, Bloody super red, Ballon, Painted
ColourBlack, olive, orange, yellow, red
WaterPH (acid-base balance) – 6-7.5
KH (hardness) – 5-20
t (temperature) – 23-28 ° C
Dimensionsfrom 25 to 30 cm
Volume of water (liter) / 1 individual100 l. / 1 PC.
Feedgranules for large cichlids; frozen or live crickets, shrimps, tadpoles, grasshoppers; fish and mussel meat
CompatibilitySilver aravana, black pacu, parrot, flower horn, severum cichlazoma, managuan cichlazoma, pterygoplicht, plekostomus
PlantsArtificial or live – tough with a strong root system
SceneryAny – strong, heavy
Life spanfrom 7 to 15 years old

Oscar Fish Discovery history

For the first time in the scientific literature, a description of this representative of perchiformes is found in 1831. Only a century later, it appears in the aquariums of Europeans as a huge exotic fish. The species was introduced in the late 1950s.  Oscar to this day is one of the largest fish for keeping at home.

In the states of South America, they value not only the aesthetics of the species, but also its taste. Many fish farms operate on the territory of the countries, and sport fishing is developing. Several farms in Brazil and Thailand are raising Oscar for sale as pets around the world.

Oscar Fish Habitat

In their natural environment, Oscar live in water bodies of South America, including the largest rivers – the Amazon, Parana, Rio Negro, Rio Paraguay. The species is not particularly whimsical to the conditions, so it can often be found in ponds, small lakes, canals with a slight current and shallow water. Flooded tree roots are an ideal refuge for fish.

After the discovery of Oscar, travelers brought them to Australia, China, USA, Singapore. There, undemanding fish quickly acclimatized and soon began to negatively affect the local ichthyofauna.

Oscar Fish Appearance

Representatives of the wild world grow up to 45 cm and gain weight up to 1.5 kg. The size of a home Oscar depends on the volume of the aquarium, but often its maximum is 30 cm.

The fish is distinguished by an oval and laterally compressed body, a large head and a slightly convex forehead. In the mouth, framed by fleshy lips, there are many small denticles, which betrays a predator in the Oscar. The dorsal and anal fins reach the junction with the rounded tail, and together they form a pretty “fan”.

This is important : often when sold, Oscar species are only 3-5 cm in size, which sometimes confuses novice aquarists. If you add fish to small species, they can soon be destroyed.

The frequent color of the scales is dark with irregular orange spots. At the base of the tail there is a black speck with an orange edging, which resembles an eye, so it is more correct to call this fish the ocellated Oscar(Astronotus ocellatus). Young fish have light spots. It is impossible to distinguish between a female and a male by external characteristics.

One of the advantages of a pet is its life expectancy: in favorable conditions, the Oscar in an aquarium will live up to 15 years.

Types of Oscar Fish

types of oscar fish

In addition to the “classic” black and red color, breeders have bred many breeds with a different color and even body shape. Below are fourteen of the most beautiful and popular subspecies.

Tiger Oscar

Perhaps the most common subspecies is the tiger oscar. It is the result of reverse selection of a red breed to a natural species. This oscar grows up to 25 cm in aquarium conditions and has a widespread body and fin shape. On the tail, a black spot with an orange outline is visible, resembling an eye. Depending on the age and place of capture, it may have a different color of the pattern on the dark olive scales:

tiger oscar
  • Gray brown;
  • Chocolate;
  • Orange;
  • Nutty with beige splashes;

Often, the tiger oscar has not a chaotic arrangement of spots, but a vertical one, for which it got its name.

Albino Oscar

In the animal world, the absence of pigment is a mutation that carries with it not the most pleasant consequences in the form of difficulties in surviving in a dangerous environment. And for oscar, this became a feature of the next breed.

albino oscar

The albino oscar has white scales with bright orange, often vertical spots. Another feature is the pink or orange tint of the eyes and fins (which is remarkable, they should not have any dark blotches).

Caring for albino oscar is no different from the maintenance of other breeds. The only thing is to soften the lighting and create more cover, as the eyes of albinos can be more sensitive to light.

Lutino Oscar

lutino oscar

If in front of you is the same light oscar, but dark shades are visible on its fins, in the area of ​​the spot near the tail and in the iris of the eye, then this is lutino. Unlike albinos, this species can produce brown, black and olive pigments.

Veil Oscar

veil oscar

This breed can borrow color from any other species. Its main distinguishing feature is its enlarged paired, anal, dorsal and caudal fins. During movement, the fish looks much more elegant than its counterparts. It is best to keep the Veiled oscar alone so that nearby aggressive species do not damage its fins.

Bumblebee Oscar

bumblebee oscar

This oscar can be classified as a separate species, since it does not have a generally accepted “eye” near the caudal fin. The general tone of the bumblebee scales is black or dark gray, the spots are elongated – gold or orange. A unique detail is the width of the stripes and their clarity, which, together with other features, creates an association with a well-known insect. Also, experts note a more docile disposition in a bumblebee, in contrast to an ocellated one.

Fat fin Oscar

fat fin oscar

The smallest among the rest of the family. In the natural environment, the thick fin oscar grows up to 25 cm, in artificial conditions – no more than 18 cm.Light yellow, gold or orange thin spots are located vertically along the dark body and appear quite clearly against the general background.

Wild Oscar

wild oscar

A species with a more natural, camouflaging color: against a gray-olive color, there are black stripes with orange specks. There is a black-orange spot near the tail. Under natural conditions, such an appearance helps the fish to hunt successfully: it hides at the bottom and waits for its prey there.

Red Oscar

red oscar

Breeding form. It differs from the usual color by the uniform distribution of a bright shade: it covers almost the entire body of the fish, leaving a dark color only along the edges of the fins, on the back and head. There are no spots, lines and a characteristic “eye” at the base of the tail.

This is interesting : Astronotus red, or Oscar, was created by Thai fish farmer Charoen Pattabong. He noticed this unusual mutation in one of his fish and tried to fix it when breeding the next generations.

Sunny lemon Oscar

sunny lemon oscar

A variety of lutino and albino. On the light body of the fish, there are vertical and horizontal patterns, small spots of bright yellow color. Sometimes the color is distributed over the scales by spraying, and then it occupies almost the entire surface, making the fish almost monochromatic. A very rare species, almost impossible to find on sale.

Gold Oscar

gold oscar

As in the case of the solar lemon oscar, the fish can have both multidirectional patterns and specks, and bright dusting all over the body. The main thing is that this is necessarily a bright orange hue, for which the species got its name.

Bloody (Super Red) Oscar

It is considered the most attractive among oscar. Its entire body is covered in red, and only occasionally a darker shade can be seen on the edge of the fins. Such a fish will look spectacular against the dark background of the aquarium.

Balloon Oscar

bloody super red oscar

Another breeding breed. Its representatives have a shortened body (at the level of the spine) and are generally smaller in size. Sometimes instead of the name “balloon”, you can find “short-bodied oscar”. The colors are classic: the main tone is dark, the spots are bright orange, of different sizes.

Painted Oscar

It is unlikely that the attitude of breeders to such fish can be called humane. The fact is that these are ordinary albinos and lutinos, dyes are injected under their skin through a syringe. It turns out really attractive, iridescent oscar, but this effect does not last so long.

Plus, after the procedure, the fish’s immunity is impaired: it weakens, grows worse, often gets sick, and dies much earlier than it should. If you are not indifferent to the fate of living beings, it is better not to have colored animals, and even more so not to inject chemicals under their skin yourself.

Oscar Fish Purchasing Guide

There are no specific rules to follow when purchasing oscar. The main thing is the sincere desire and preparedness of the future owner. A few simple steps will help you become more confident in your choice:

  • Read about the biological characteristics of oscar in advance. So you will know what kind of aquarium you need, how time-consuming and costly it will be to keep your pet.
  • Think about others. If you already have an aquarium or are planning to purchase several species at once, be sure to find out about the compatibility of oscar with other fish, molluscs, crustaceans. Few people can harm a huge fish, but a predator to its neighbors is quite.
  • Please note that the oscar fish is a long-liver. If aquarism is not a temporary hobby for you and you can take care of big fish for 10-15 years – only then this option is for you.
  • Pay attention to the appearance and behavior of your fish when purchasing. As mentioned above, painted oscar are the result of painful and harmful injections. You need to know about this in advance, so as not to accidentally support a cruel business. The balloon received its unusual shape due to selective deformation, which, of course, will affect the health of the fish and its care. If in front of you is an inactive fry: it swims sluggishly and adheres to the surface, then it may be weak from birth or sick.
  • The amount depends on intentions. If you are an experienced aquarist and plan to breed oscar, it is better to take 4-8 individuals at once so that the young can pick up a pair for themselves (in the future, pairs will have to be planted, since even one individual requires significant volumes). In other cases, it is better to start with 1-2 fish – this is also related to the requirements for the parameters of the aquarium.
  • Focus on the size of the fry. Ideally, you need to take fish 5-6 cm: for the smaller ones, their state of health and congenital disorders are not always clear. In addition, more “adult” babies adapt better to new conditions.

Oscar Fish Aquarium Maintenance and care at home

oscar is a large fish, so it requires more space and food, and therefore leaves enough waste. Its character is not always unambiguous: the fish communicates with some species without problems and begins to aggro with others. Preparing a predator’s home is a complex process that takes into account all factors.

aquarium Volume

Not only are oscar themselves very large they are very fond of space. A couple of pets will only feel comfortable in aquariums with a volume of 400 liters or more. With each new individual, the parameters increase by at least 200 liters, however, the group keeping of oscar is not recommended. The presence of a lid is also important – sometimes during the game the fish
splash water or even jump out of the aquarium.

Water requirements oscar fish aquarium

The homeland of this fish is South America, therefore it is thermophilic. The water for the oscar should be between 23 ° C and 28 ° C. If the temperature of the aquatic environment drops below 20 ° C, this will affect the well-being and immunity of the fish, and if the indicator drops from the border of 13 ° C, the pet will die.

As for the chemical composition, this species is not particularly whimsical: both acidic and slightly alkaline media are suitable for them. However, freshwater with an acidity of 6.0 to 7.5 and a hardness of 5 to 20 is ideal.


An aquarium for an oscar must be equipped with all the necessary equipment:

  • Aerator. A high oxygen content is important for fish, but it does not like strong currents. Good models for large aquariums are Schego WS3 (IO), Ferplast AirFizz 400, Juwel Eccoflow 1000 with diffuser.
  • Heater. Room temperature is not always sufficient to maintain a comfortable aquarium environment. A thermostatic heater will help eliminate possible water temperature problems. Tetra HT 200, JBL ProTemp S, Aquael Platinium Heater 250w and similar devices will cope perfectly with volumes.
  • External filter. As a large animal, the oscar produces a lot of waste and leaves behind particles of uneaten food. In this case, a filter is required. It is best to buy a model with installation outside the aquarium, for example, Hydor PRIME 30, Tetra EX1200 plus, PRIME (1800 l / h, 35 W), Ferplast BLUXTREME 1500.
  • Lighting. Almost all oscar (except albinos) do not really care about the light level. If there is practically no vegetation in the aquarium, you can use 6000-6500K white light bulbs.

Plants and soil

One of the fish’s entertainment is to dig at the bottom. For decoration, you can use sandy soil, but then oscar will often muddy the water. It is better to opt for large pebbles – it will be easier to maintain cleanliness with it. Some owners completely refuse any soil due to the activity of pets.

Large predators are poorly compatible with living algae, so experts recommend staying on artificial vegetation. If you want to create an atmosphere close to nature, then you should purchase plants with hard leaves and stems, powerful roots. They should be planted in separate pots so that the oscar cannot dig up the algae.


Stones, driftwood, jugs, and other decorative items will fit perfectly into the oscar aquarium, provided everything is fixed. These fish have a habit of changing the “design” of their habitat, so they will tend to drag and drop everything. Decor items should be heavy.

Feeding, eating habits and preferences

The appearance of the oscar betrays a predator in it, although in fact, this fish is omnivorous. In the wild, they feed on small fish, insects and their larvae, crustaceans, underwater, and terrestrial vegetation.

At home, the basis of the diet should be granules for large cichlids – they are not only nutritious but also balanced: they contain all the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy life for oscar. You can feed the fish with crickets, shrimps, tadpoles, live or frozen grasshoppers, as well as fish and mussel meat. Excellent addition to everything is live fish (the main thing is that it is definitely healthy). Fresh green peas and spinach are suitable as a vegetable snacks.

This is important: the meat of mammals is poorly digested by fish – the digestive system cannot cope with the amount of fats and proteins in this product.

oscar, like all cichlids, are prone to gluttony. Once a week, experts advise arranging a fasting day for adult pets to avoid the consequences of overeating.

oscar tank mates

Despite the intelligence and peaceful nature, oscar will take all the inhabitants of the small aquarium for prey. It is better to keep these fish alone or in pairs (most importantly, non-sex, otherwise the instinct of competition will cause aggression). If you really want variety, then you can add fish similar in parameters and behavior to the oscar, with which it can easily get along:

  • Silver Arawana;
  • Black pacu;
  • Parrot;
  • Flower Horn;
  • Tsikhlazoma severum;
  • Managuan cichlazoma;
  • Pterygoplicht;
  • Plecostomus.

Oscar Fish breeding and offspring

If a pair of oscar lives in a spacious species aquarium in compliance with the conditions of detention, then they will spawn regularly.

oscar fish breeding and offspring

oscar male and female difference

In all subspecies and breeds of the oscar, the sex cannot be determined by external signs. You can distinguish a boy from a girl during spawning – by the ovipositor.

The selection of a pair is carried out at random: for this you need to buy several individuals at once and plant them in one aquarium. oscar reach sexual maturity at about 2 years or a body length of 10-15 cm. With the beginning of the mating season, a couple must be planted if they live in an aquarium with other individuals.

This is important: for successful breeding of oscar, you need to create calm conditions. Any stress can lead to the parents eating eggs or fry.

oscar Spawning water

If the reproduction of oscar is not observed, the change in water parameters will become an additional stimulation for the couple. To do this, you need to change it more often than usual (about 40% of the total volume is replaced with clean water once a week) and slightly increase the temperature, of course, within the permissible norm.

oscar Breeding process and pregnancy stain

After mating, the female, like most species of aquarium fish, has a “pregnancy spot”. It is located on the belly near the anus. The wider and more noticeable the spot, the longer the gestation period of the fish.

At the end of the term, the female and male together determine the place of the future ovipositor. This is usually a large rock, which must be in the spawning aquarium. Then, within a few hours, the mother lays up to 1000 large eggs in the form of an ellipse. Parents carefully monitor future children and remove dead eggs from the clutch. After 3-8 days, larvae hatch from the eggs – they feed on substances from the gall sac for the first 4 days.

Fry care

The larvae come to independent life 7-11 days after birth. Fry from one litter grow unevenly, so they need to be sorted every 1-2 days – this will help avoid eating fellows by more powerful individuals.

It is necessary to change the water in the container with juveniles daily – about 1/5 of the total volume. You also need to maintain rigidity: too soft an environment will lead to deformation of the skeleton.

In the first days of life, fry are fed with daphnia, brine shrimp, cyclops. After about 7-10 days, a chopped tubule is added to the diet.

How fast does an Oscar fish grow?

In two weeks, most of the fish grow to 1 cm. At this time, the parental instinct of adults weakens, so the juveniles are transplanted into a separate container. By the end of the first month of life, the length of the fry is on average 2 cm. All this time it is necessary to continue sorting the young in order to avoid cannibalism.

Oscar fish Diseases and prevention

oscar, especially those not bred by the selection, are resistant to diseases. Health problems in these fish rarely occur, and then most likely due to the fault of the owner. With proper care and maintenance, the aquarist is unlikely to encounter such problems.


A dangerous disease caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas dermoalba. When damaged, the fish sticks to the surface of the water, and white areas appear on its body: first under the dorsal and near the caudal fins, then the whiteness spreads throughout the body. The Red and Gold oscar turn yellow. In addition to the epidermis, the bacterium affects the nervous system, which is reflected in the inappropriate behavior of the fish during movement.

The bacterium can enter the aquarium with another sick individual or equipment, items that were previously used in the infected area.

Sick oscar are transplanted into a quarantine aquarium. Chloramphenicol is added to the water in an amount of 200 mg per liter. The treatment lasts 5 days. The main aquarium will have to be completely restarted, the vegetation will have to be destroyed, the decorations will have to be boiled.

Hole in the head disease, or hexamitosis

The parasite leading to this disease is the intestinal flagellate (Diplomonad flagellates). It can live in the body of a fish all its life and not cause consequences, however, improper feeding of oscar, excess nitrates, high acidity can provoke a flagellate. Then you can see abscesses and ulcers on the pet’s head. The lesion of the gastrointestinal tract is indicated by filamentous mucous excrement.

Hexamitosis is treated by gradually raising the temperature to 33-35 ° C, while hydrogen peroxide or an oxidizer will help facilitate the breathing of fish. Preparations are added to the general aquarium or otzadnik: metronidazole, tinidazole, ornidazole, JBL Spirohexol Plus 250, Sera med Professional FLAGELLOL according to the instructions.


A highly contagious infection caused by the bacterium Aeromonas punktata. The pathogen enters the aquarium with live food or sick fish. It develops especially sharply at temperatures from 25 ° C. Symptoms are pinpoint redness and inflammation on the abdomen, near the pectoral fins and anus, on the sides. Sluggish behavior. At the same time, irreversible changes in the spleen and liver occur inside the fish. If, among other things, dropsy and swelling of the scales appear, the treatment will be ineffective.

In the general aquarium, a solution of the antibiotic bicilin-5 is used in the proportion of 500 thousand units per 100 liters of water. The procedures are carried out during the week. Additionally, the affected oscar are processed in trays with chloramphenicol (300 mg per liter).

Gill rot, or branchiomycosis

Unfortunately, the first signs of the disease appear already several days before the death of the fish. Their appetite completely disappears, they hesitate, rise to the surface of the water. Their gills are affected by a fungus of the genus Branchiomyces: it clogs the vessels with hyphae, which is outwardly expressed by alternating pale pink and brown stripes. This leads to the destruction of the gill tissue.

Treatment is carried out with the help of specialized means: acrimet, collargol, nystatin, rivanol, nriseofulvin, methylene blue according to the instructions. In the aquarium, water flow and aeration are increased, and 50% of the water is replaced with fresh water.


The Flexibacter columnaris bacterium forms small whitish spots on the head (especially on the lips and mouth), fins, and gills. Over time, the formations are covered with fluff. The severe stage is accompanied by the destruction of fins, the presence of fish at the surface of the water.

The pathogen loves a warm and alkaline environment. Another reason is a low oxygen level and an increase in the nitrogen content of the water, as well as injuries near the oscar itself. During treatment, part of the water is replaced, the pH is reduced to 7 and below, filtration and aeration are enhanced. In the general aquarium, “Antibac”, “Zoomir Acrimet”, “Tripaflavin-ultra”, TetraMedica GeneralTonic, JBL Ektol fluid Plus, API Furan-2, TCCapsules, etc. are used.


Most often, this is a sign of the acute stage of the disease, when it is difficult to help the fish – its gastrointestinal tract has practically failed due to a bacterial infection. This leads to poor filtration and rare water changes, due to which the pet’s immunity decreases. Before drug treatment in the aquarium, the level of NH4, NO2, NO3 is measured and brought to normal, most of the water is changed to fresh. Next, Sera baktopur direct or Sera bakto Tabs are added to the aquarium according to the scheme indicated in the instructions.


In fact, this disease is tuberculosis. It is caused by a mycobacterium from the genus Mycobacterium. The most noticeable symptom is a change in the shape of the body, in particular the appearance of a hump, and the appearance of ulcers. At the same time, the fish sheds, its color fades, and inside the granulomas, almost all organs are affected. You can bring bacteria into the aquarium with anything with a new inhabitant, used equipment and decor, vegetation. It quickly adapts to the environment, hiding in silt, leaves, on a filter, where it feeds on organic residues. If an oscar with a weakened immune system swallows a bacterium, it will begin to live inside it.

Treatment is possible with kanamycin and rifampicin, which are added both to the feed and to the medium itself (3-4 g and 600 mg per 100 l, respectively). An antibiotic that does not disturb the balance is isoniazid: 1 tablet is dissolved in 60-70 liters once a day for three days. A water change is required.

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