Oscar Cichlid Care Tips

Oscars are freshwater dwellers originating from the warm waters of South America.
i Oscar image by Nkostadinn from Fotolia.com

When it comes to large, aggressive fish like Oscar cichlids, proper care is essential for their well-being and longevity. Simply putting an Oscar in any type of tank with other fish and basic fish food simply won't work. However, following specific Oscar care tips will help your finned pet thrive.

Setting Up an Oscar Tank

Oscars are are not small fish. They may get as large as 16 inches with proper care and a lot of living space. If you want your Oscar to grow to his full potential, you should invest in a tank that is at least 100 gallons. Adding the proper equipment to your Oscar's aquarium will help him reach his life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. An aquarium thermometer and heater will allow you to keep his water between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. By using a test kit or pH meter for aquariums, you will be able to achieve the best balance of acidity and alkalinity in your pet's water by making sure it stays between a 6.5 and 7.0 pH level. Because Oscars get so large, keeping the aquascape in his tank at a minimum will give him more room to move. A layer of aquarium sand, a few aquatic plants and a large rock or two are all your Oscar will need in his watery home.

Maintaining Cleanliness

When it comes to your pet's filtration system, one large filter as opposed to multiple smaller ones will help keep the water in his tank fresh and clean. Oscars have the tendency to be messy, so you will appreciate the help of a good filtration system. By cleaning and changing disposable parts of the filter at least once a month, you will help to ensure that your friend has clear, healthful water. On a weekly basis, remove 10 to 15 percent of the water in your tank and replace it with fresh water that has been pH tested. In addition, by making sure that the fresh water you add to the tank is the same temperature as the water in the tank, you will prevent your pet from experiencing thermal shock.

Oscars with Other Aquatic Dwellers

In captivity, Oscars do not travel in schools and are loners by nature. So if you are thinking about a friend for your pet, you may want to reconsider. Oscars can be aggressive with most smaller fish. On the other hand, other aggressive fish may pick on an Oscar, even if he is much larger. Semi-aggressive cichlids are good options if you must have tank mates for your Oscar. Another option is to get two Oscars of the same size at the same time. When raised together, they are likely to get along and not develop territorial issues.

Proper Nutrition

Oscars are meat-eating fish, so your finned friend will appreciate a meaty diet. Freeze-dried or processed foods and pellets formulated for Oscar cichlids, which can be found in pet or aquarium stores, will provide necessary nutrients. Adding feeder shrimp, worms, insects and fish will give your pet the sustenance he needs to grow big and strong. Feeding your Oscar only the amount of food that he can eat in a couple of minutes will help to keep the tank clean and the water clear.

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