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popular freshwater tropicals Text and Photos by Iggy Tavares, Ph.D.

It's Oscar

These large, long-lived cichlids make excellent aquarium pets.

,he oscar (Astronotus ocellatus, Agassizi, 1831) is a fish that is surprisingly popular in the aquatic hobby, since it is a cichlid and not really a community fish. Oscars grow to be big fish that demand large aquariums. Many colorful strains of oscar have been bred, giving rise l^^fc popular, self-descriptiV! names, such as red oscar, red tiger oscar, velvet oscar and marble cichlid.

A 2-inch-long baby oscar in the

Once taken home, an oscar will usually develop a great personality and have a good rapport.

local fish store (LFS) is an endearing fish. It is usually colorful and rushes up to the front of the aquarium and seemingly begs to be taken home. Many fishkeepers are moved on impulse to purchase baby oscars, not knowing what they are buying into.

Once taken home, an oscar will usually develop a great personality and have a good rapport with its keeper, quite happy to take food from the hand. Oscars are long lived and make nice family pets that can live in enclosed spaces. They are always pleased to see their owners, but they do not need to be taken out for walks.

The oscar, which can grow to some 14 inches,

Young oscars start out at 2 to 3 inches, but in one year's time they more than doubled in size to 7 or 8 inches.

is a deep-bodied, oval-shaped, stocky fish. General body coloration of wild fish is dark brown to gray with some lighter mottling usually along the posterior of the body. These oscars have a smattering of orange scales on the flanks as well. The long-based dorsal fin, which is brown, does occasionally carry some orange highlights. The brown, rounded caudal fin is brightened by conspicuous bilateral ocelli, consisting of a black spot surrounded by an orange ring, on each side of the upper caudal peduncle base. The anal

-continued on pg. 124 FishChannel.com

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This pair of red oscars represent one of several varieties of these popular aquarium fish.

Notable oscar features like a large mouth, thick lips and a protruding lower jaw are clearly visible in this specimen's mug shot. In oscars, the sexes are virtually identical in size and look.

This pair of red oscars represent one of several varieties of these popular aquarium fish.

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