A Complete Oscar Fish Care Guide

Oscars are popular tropical freshwater fish. These fish are popular because many consider them highly intelligent, playful, beautiful. But, oscar fish are not the easiest fish to care for, and only experienced aquarists should handle them. This article teaches you everything you need to know about oscar fish care. Let’s start with a quick overview of how to care for an oscar fish.

Oscar Fish Care Overview

Oscar Fish Intelligence – Are They ‘Smart’?

Oscar fish are intelligent. These fish can recognize and often interact and play with their owners. They are nicknamed ‘water dogs’ because they wag their fins and bodies much like dogs when they see their owners. Oscars that bond with their owners even allow the owner to hand feed them.

oscar fish are intelligent

How Fast Does An Oscar Fish Grow?

Oscars usually grow at a rate of 1 inch per month. How big do oscar fish grow? A fully mature oscar fish is about 10-14 inches in length. This is a fast growth rate, and they are big fish, so they need a big tank to thrive and be healthy. Of course, their final size will depend on their health, care, and diet.

How Long To Oscar Fish Live For?

Oscars are hardy fish and live long lives. Under proper water conditions, an oscar fish can live up to 20 years. However, the average lifespan of an oscar fish is between 10 and 20 years. Again, their diet, lifestyle, and care will play a role in how long they live.

Oscar fish have very long lifespans. They can live up to 20 years!

Oscar Fish Care: Tank Size & Water Parameters

When caring for oscar fish, three essential things to consider are 1. tank size, 2. water pH, and 3. water temperature.

Oscar Fish Tank Size

These are big fish. This means that oscar fish need lots of tank space to grow and be healthy. The ideal oscar fish tank size is at least 55-gallon per fish. The more fish you have, the larger the tank needs to be.

Unlike other easy-to-care-for freshwater fish, oscars are known to be quite the poo machines. They produce more waste than other fish and need more frequent water changes. A larger tank reduces the risk of contamination and the need for regular water changes.

Recommended Oscar Fish Temperature – 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit

5 tier oscar fish in an aquarium.
Tiger Oscars

The ideal water temperature for oscar fish is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23 – 27 Celcius). Oscars are sensitive to changes in water temperature. So, if you don’t live in a tropical area, it’s best to use a water heater to keep the aquarium water temperature stable.

This simple water heater is highly recommended for 55-gallon tanks. It also has an external thermometer so you can keep track of the water temperature at all times. Of course, larger tanks need a more powerful heater, so purchase according to your tank size.

Recommended Oscar Fish pH – 6-8

The ideal pH level for oscar fish is between 6 and 8. They can also survive in varying water hardiness, around 12dH – 15dH. You need a good filtration system to prevent drastic and unhealthy changes in water conditions as these fish are sensitive to such changes. Many aquarists use this robust aquarium filter; it works great with the previously mentioned water heater. It supports tanks up to 75 gallons.

caring for oscar fish

Do you need help determining how clean or healthy your aquarium’s water conditions are for your fish? The API FRESHWATER MASTER 800-TEST KIT is a must-have piece of equipment in fish care. There are versions for freshwater, saltwater, and reef tanks.

Diet: What Do Oscar Fish Eat?

Oscars are suction feeders. They open their mouths in a rapid motion to draw in water. Smaller fish, flakes, and pellets caught in the current get sucked into the oscar fish’s mouth.

In the wild, oscars eat small fish, insects, and crustaceans. If you keep oscars as pets, it is best to feed them a balanced diet. So, things like flake and pellet foods are ok to use. But, you also need to add live foods like insects, shrimp, or worms.

Recommended Oscar Fish Food:

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Bloodworm
  • Krill
  • Cichlid Pellets/Flakes/Wafers

We recommend these cichlid pellets. They are, by far, the best available on the market. It has all the nutrients needed to help provide your oscar fish with a balanced diet.

close up of oscar fish facial/mouth structure.

How To Breed Oscar Fish?

What’s more complex than caring for oscar fish care? You guessed it. Breeding oscar fish is no easy task. Oscar fish can start breeding between 16 to 24 months. However, these fish are very selective when choosing a mate. This makes breeding difficult in a tank setting.

Oscar fish care for their young.

There are two ways to increase the success rate of breeding oscars:

  • Buy a pair of oscar fish that have already mated and produced offspring.
  • Buy young oscars and raise them together. The chances are that some will form a bond and mate in the future. For example, house six young oscars together and let them create their own pairs.

There are several types of oscar fish. These varieties are the easiest to breed:

  • Tiger Oscar
  • Red Oscar
  • Albino Oscar
  • Yellow Oscar
  • White Oscar

Crossbreeding is possible amongst the different breeds of oscar. There are no special requirements to make this happen. The oscars only need to form a bond with each other.

Common Diseases That Affect Oscar Fish

According to Love To Know,

There are five diseases that strike oscar fish frequently and are easy to recognize, including hole in the head disease, ich, fin and tail rot, popeye disease, and bloat.

Nutritional deficiencies and bacteria are the cause of most diseases that affect oscars. For example, when using feeder fish or other live foods, please place them in quarantine before introducing them to your oscar’s tank.

Oscar care guide

Best Tank Mates For Oscar Fish

It is possible to keep more than one oscars in the same tank. These fish get along and do well in pairs or small groups. For this reason, it is ok to keep 2,4 or 6 oscars in a suitable fish tank.

You can also keep other fish species in the same aquarium as your oscars. However, remember that oscars are territorial cichlids and can become violent toward other species. If you want to add different fish, these fish need to be larger and docile. That being said, aquarists have had success keeping the following fish with their oscars:

Smaller fish, freshwater shrimp, and freshwater snails will be eaten. Freshwater clams are ok tank mates to keep with oscar fish, but they have their own unique needs that may make keeping them together tricky.

The Bottom Line

oscar fish care guide

So long as you know how to care for oscar fish, they can be fun to keep in your aquarium. They are intelligent and capable of forming bonds with their owners. However, they need a large and clean tank that’s kept warm to thrive. Proper nutrition also plays a vital role in their development. So, if you’re up for the task and have the space to house them, go right ahead! Hopefully, the information in this oscar care guide helps you get started!