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In a mixed community aquarium, companion fish for the oscar need to be large, so as not to be taken as food. They also need to be large when purchased, as they are usually slow growing compared to the oscar. Suitable companions include three or four tinfoil barbs and clown loaches, both of which can reach 12 inches and are nice, active species. A pleco that also grows to a maximum size of 12 inches could be another fish to consider. Such a setup should probably contain just one oscar though. This avoids having two male oscars fighting or a pair spawning.

Feeding the Beast

Oscars will basically eat anything that is offered to them. They have ravenous, insatiable appetites that some keepers try to fill. Oscars should only be fed twice a day with a varied diet that could include cichlid pellets, as well as bits of fish from the local fishmonger. The garden is also a great source of natural food for oscars. It provides offerings like earthworms, wood lice and insects that they enjoy eating. Be sure that any garden foods come from a pesticide-free garden.

With oscars, both parents look after eggs and fry and defend their territory against intruders.

I for one am not inclined to feed oscars with live goldfish. The main thing though is not to overfeed, especially with pellets that could lead to nutritional problems down the road.

Breeding Oscars

With oscars, both parents look after eggs and fry and defend their territory against intruders. The age-old advice for acquiring a breeding pair: buy six young cichlids, grow them up for a year or more and a male-female pair should naturally occur. A healthy, mature male and FishChannel.com

popular freshwater tropicals female oscar will eventually get the urge to breed, which is best done in a tank of their own. Prespawning behavior might include locking jaws as well as rearranging aquarium décor.

Oscars like to spawn on flat horizontal surfaces, such as a large flat rock or even the aquarium glass bottom exposed by them removing all the gravel to one corner. A female can lay as many as 1,000 to 2,000 adhesive eggs that are fertilized by the male. Eggs take about three days to hatch, and the hatchlings are moved to pits in the gravel. They become free swimming some five days later at which time they need to be fed.

The fry are big enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms. They also eat powdered flake food and anything else they can fit in their mouths. After two weeks the fry should be moved to grow-out tanks. Later on, one needs to find homes for the young oscars.

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Conclusion

Oscars are a good choice for the hobbyist who wants handsome, long-lived fish with a lot character. Oscars are generally hardy and can live in a community aquarium containing other species of large fish. Oscars are not too demanding, eating most foods offered to tftm.

They adapt to most clean, well-aerated water types. They do need a big aquarium though to reach their full potential. One does need to think carefully before taking on the long-term commitment of caring for an oscar in a captive environment. U

Iggy Tavares started keeping fish more than 40 years ago when he caught some wild guppies in an African stream. Although interested in all aspects of fishkeeping, his passion is breeding cichlids. He also enjoys writing about his numerous experiences and is an enthusiastic fish photographer.

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