tropicals medium-sized smooth gravel. Pieces of bogwood can be laid on this smooth gravel, and perhaps some smooth rock, to mimic the natural habitat of this cichlid. Plants have no place in this aquarium setup, as the oscar is one for rooting around in the gravel and would soon dislodge any plants that the aquarist is foolish enough to include.

If possible the water in the tank should be moderately soft and acidic (dH 5 to 10; pH 5 to 6.5), but considering that oscars at the many fish stores are farm-bred fish, they tend to be adaptable to various water types, including moderately hard water. A temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit maintained by a heater thermostat protected by a heater guard is ideal.

In a mixed community aquarium, companion fish for the oscar need to be large, so as not to be taken as food.

With no plants to worry about, flu-^«scent tube lighting of one's choice will suit these fish fine.

I Oscars and other large fish that are ssy eaters produce copious amounts of waste, which in turn produce undesirable by-products like ammonia. Thus, a vital part of an oscar setup is a large external canister filter (perhaps even two for a community tank) that can cope with all the waste. ^Large partial water changes of 25 percent are needed every two weeks to keep nitrates at low levels in the oscar setup. If water quality does go down, your pet oscar could become susceptible to "hole-in-the-head" disease, which is caused by the protozoan Hexamita. There are medications available for treating this disease, but the best advice is to maintain high water quality.

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