Setting up Your Oscar Fish Aquarium
Let's talk about setting up a tank for your Oscar. We will give you some ideas on how you can go about giving your Oscar fish a fabulous home for it to live in for many years.
The Oscar Fish requires special attention when it comes to the size of tank they are going to live in. Oscars can easily exceed 12 inches from the tip of the nose to the end of their tail. If you are going to keep these fish then forget your small community tanks with tiny internal filters, look towards large aquariums with lots of filtration. If you give your Oscar a suitable environment to live then it could easily give many years of joy.
The Oscar Fish loves food, they eat a lot of food and therefore create quite a lot of waste. Setting up a tank for the Oscar fish cichlid does require a little bit of thought, it's very important that the tank is large enough to accommodate a fish that could potentially reach 16 inches. With all the will in the world, tank maintenance will be a regular and ongoing procedure for the entirety of the Oscars life. If you house your Oscar in an unsuitably small aquarium then you are going to have an uphill battle keeping the water in good condition. Poor water conditions are very bad for Oscars and nearly always leads to illness and disease, and even death.
Your aquarium filtration system is the lifeline of your whole system, without having a way of removing all the dangerous toxins that your fish produce they would all die within a few days. Many newcomers to our hobby don't understand fully how important a fish tank filter is and it's only when they start having problems they then realise the importance of installing the proper filtration on your aquarium. Installing an adequate filter on your aquarium is so important, please take the time to read the information on our website and we will explain in detail and hopefully in a simplistic way exactly how your filter works and what you will need if you are going to keep Oscars..
The Oscar Fish really does require some thought when you are setting up an aquarium. Continued exposure to poor water conditions will more than likely lead to disease and illness, or even fatalities in your fish.
An Oscar Fish can often reach 12 inches in captivity, sometimes they have been known to far exceed this. A very large Oscar could easily exceed 2 pounds in weight.
Fish do not do well if they are kept in poor conditions. If you are planning to keep Oscars then you really must provide them with an aquarium that is set up specifically to cater for their requirements. We always recommend going for the absolute largest tank you can afford, or house into your property. Many people seem to agree that 55 gallons is about the minimum size aquarium if you want to keep one adult Oscar. I would actually recommend no less than 75 gallons for one adult Oscar. The extra room will really benefit your fish and will significantly reduce the amount of maintenance needed if accompanied with a good filtration system. Once you start thinking about more than one Oscar then you are looking at tanks in excess of 100 gallons. People choose from attempt to keep Oscars in very small aquariums nearly always run into water quality problems so a large aquarium is absolutely imperative for more than one Oscar Fish.
In the UK, commercially available aquariums that are available from many aquatic centres on the Internet don't get much bigger than 161 gallons. However, Bow Aquatics in the UK sell a 193 gallon aquarium. There is a four-month wait for this particular aquarium. Check their website out, they have a large selection of aquariums. If you want a very large aquarium then you'll probably have to have it custom-made. If you've got the money, check this website
Again, it all depends on how big your aquarium is. Basically, if you've got less than 100 gallons I wouldn't recommend any more than one Oscar. A 125 gallon tank is more than capable of housing two adult Oscars. Given the chance, Oscars will happily breed in captivity. When animals breed they often become aggressive towards any other animal that encroaches into their space. So if you intend on keeping more than two Oscars this is something you may want to consider. It is perfectly acceptable to keep more than two Oscars in a tank together, just make sure you give them plenty of space, this will greatly reduce the chance of aggression if two Oscars do you happen to pair off.
Before you fill your aquarium with water, get yourself a spirit level and check that it is completely level with the floor. If it isn't, you may run the risk of broken seals or cracked panel. You can use foam board or thin pieces of wood to get the level right. You may also want to consider putting a very thin layer of padding between the tank and the stand. This wil help prevent the tank cracking if there is any debris left on top of the cabinet. A piece of polystyre cut to the surface area of your tank and around a quarter of an inch thick is often a very good material to use. You can obtain these from builders merchants. If you choose not to put anything under the tank, you must brush the top of the stand thoroughly, you may have missed some debris, or there may be a slight flaw that could crack the bottom of the aquarium.
You also might want to consider filling your tank up in three stages, especially if it is a large one. This will allow the base and floor to settle. I better finish of this section by mentioning just how heavy a fish tank is when it is full of water. A 55 gallon tank will weigh in excess of 460lb (quarter of a ton). A 125 gallon tank will weigh in excess of half a ton (1000lb+) So taking this into account, be careful where you put your tank. It's always best to put these large tanks against a supporting wall. If in doubt, contact a reputable builder. The last thing you want is a tank crashing through your floor. If you have a nice solid concrete floor, then you have nothing to worry about.
An Oscars Home Is Its Own
There is one thing every new Oscar owner should know. Oscars love moving things around inside the aquarium. You can bet your bottom dollar that if you arrange the tank in a way you like it, they will prefer it completely the opposite way, and boy will you know about it. Oscars are very powerful fish, they can move just about anything in a tank, even large rocks. Don't be surprised if you wake up to find a large pit dug out in the substrate, heaters detached from side of the tank, plants ripped to shreds and you thinking "I'm sure I didn't put that rock there" If you want a pretty tank that looks nice, don't bother getting Oscars. There really isn't any point in you putting things back to where you like them, I can promise you that you will give up before the Oscar does.he
Fish would not survive for more than a few days in a tank without any filtration. The Oscar fish is a particularly messy Cichlid that eats a lot of food, therefore it will create a sizable amount of waste and ammonia. Using the incorrect filters on an aquarium will result in poor water quality and a dirty tank. Using plenty of filtration when keeping Oscar fish will help keep your water clear and clean and free from toxins. Failure to use the correct filtration will almost certainly result in health problems with your fish.
It's amazing how many people purchase little baby Oscars without even considering the care and attention they need. Most people are completely clueless on the importance of keeping an Oscar fish in the correct environment. Correct filtration on an Oscar fish aquarium is extremely important and you must install the correct filtration system on a tank if Oscar fish is going to live a long and happy life. It would be great if you could just fill a tank with water, plonk your fish in and sit back and enjoy them, unfortunately there is a little more to it than just that.
When fish breath and go to the toilet they create an element called ammonia (NH3). Ammonia is extremely toxic and can have a serious effect on the fishes tissues, gills and internal organs. Exposure to ammonia for prolonged periods of time can also cause psychological imbalances, impaired growth, resistance to disease and death. A filtration system that is working properly will help the nitrogen cycle perform the way it should do. To put it into the simplest terms, the nitrogen cycle means that ammonia is processed by nitrifying bacteria known as Nirosomonas. Once this process is complete you are then left with another toxic element called nitrite (N02-). Nitrite goes through a similar process as ammonia and is processed by a slightly different strain of nitrifying bacteria called Nitrobacter, as a result you are left with nitrate (N03-). Nitrates are kept under control by carrying out water changes. Whereas ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic, nitrate is much less toxic to fish, however it must not be left to build up to high levels as this can result in stress to your fish which in turn can lead to illness and disease. So, your filtration will be constantly recirculating your water removing not only any solid waste, but that dangerous ammonia that your fish has produced by respiration and eating. You can now understand how important your filtration system is.
If the nitrogen cycle still means nothing to you and you just can't get your head around it then just remember that any ammonia in your fish tank water is too much and may mean that things are not working properly. A filtration system that is working properly will mean that when you test your water for ammonia and nitrite, you will get "zero" reading for both, anything above zero and you must start looking for reasons why this is happening, sitting back and are ignoring it could result in serious problems with your fish.
An aquarium containing large fish such as Oscars will require a lots of filtration. Many people purchase complete aquarium setups which include everything, tank, filters, heating and lighting. These aquarium setups come with very mediocre filters that are basically a load of rubbish, unless you are keeping small community fish. If you want to keep Oscars then you will need to drastically increase your filtration. Filters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some of them you submerge inside the tank, others hang on the back of tank, whilst others reside in your cabinet and come with lots of annoying pipework. Ever since I have kept Oscars I have always used X2 filtration on the tank. This basically means that if the aquarium is 55 gallons, I would install a filter that is rated to at least 100 gallons. As it happens my first big tank was a 125 gallon aquarium, I installed two Eheim canister filters, both rated up to 133 gallons, more than enough filtration for a couple of adult Oscars plus a few tank mates. There are literally hundreds of different filters out there on the market, you can get some canister filters that are rated up to 1200 L, that equates to a 300 gallon aquarium. My advice would be to shop around, you don't necessarily need to install two filters, you could just put one very large filter on it. Don't let all the numbers confuse you either, nearly every filter will come with instructions that tell you exactly what size tank it is rated for. As long as you know how much water your tank holds then you won't have a problem installing filtration on it. Just bear in mind that two large Oscars can create an enormous amount of waste so having the filtration to keep up with them is important for the sake of their health and welfare.
You may well have heard of different kinds of filtration. Mechanical, biological and chemical, I will try and explain as briefly and simply as I can what these three types of media do, and how they affect your filtration system.
Mechanical Media Filtration - sometimes referred to as a prefilter, this type of media is designed primarily to stop large particles such as uneaten food, fish waste and any other large particles getting through to your biological filter. It is not designed to stop tiny tiny particles getting through as this would very quickly cause the mechanical media to become saturated with debris and then finally reduce the water flow dramatically which in turn could lead to water quality problems. Mechanical filtration is very important when keeping a large messy fish like Oscars, these fish produce an enormous amount of waste which very quickly makes its way into your filtration system. If you were to leave mechanical filtration out completely then you would probably run into serious problems as your biological media would just be engulfed in gunky horrible smelly waste, believe me waste from an aquarium is rather nasty so catching as much as you can in your mechanical filter can only benefit you in the long run and save you a lot of work. If you are keeping more than one Oscar then my advice would be to use plenty of mechanical filtration, at least two course mechanical sponge filters and maybe some brushes depending on how much space you have got your filtration system. Mechanical filtration is very easy to clean, you simply remove it from the filter and wash it out in a bucket of water, certainly a lot easier than having to remove all of your biological filtration.
Biological filtration is not the same as mechanical or chemical filtration. Biological filtration is what removes the dangerous toxins from the water, elements like ammonia and nitrite which if left to build up in the aquarium water will eventually kill your fish, or cause them serious harm and long-term health problems. It's important that you know the difference between biological, mechanical and chemical filtration as discarding the wrong media could cause major water quality problems. The beneficial bacteria that remove all the dangerous toxins live on your biological filtration, therefore it is vitally important that you leave this media intact and don't change it too often. By all means clean your mechanical filtration, you can even change it every now and then, but my advice would be to leave your biological filtration alone and only give it a rinse out in existing tank water so as to maintain your healthy bacteria colony.
Chemical Filtration (activated carbon)
Chemical filtration - whereas biological filtration removes ammonia and nitrite, and mechanical filtration remove solid waste, chemical filtration is primarily used in the aquarium environment to absorb and remove impurities and dissolved organics from the water. Activated carbon is used as chemical filtration in aquariums and is recognisable by its black colour. Chemical filtration can be used after a period of medication has finished, however several water changes will often perform the same task. A lot of aquarium filters that come with biological & mechanical media, also come with activated carbon installed. We would recommend that you don't leave activated carbon in your filters all the time. It is thought that once chemical filtration becomes saturated with impurities, they can start leeching back into the aquarium. Our advice would be to replace chemical filtration with either biological or mechanical filtration.
Aquarium Filters for the Oscar Fish
Filters come in many shapes and sizes and every aquarium should have the correct filtration working on it. Your filtration system is probably the most important part of your aquarium set up. Without a filtration system your fish will not survive for more than a few days. Oscar Fish create a lot of waste so the filtration needs to be able to cope with all this. Filtration doesn't just remove solid waste, it also removes all the dangerous toxins which are responsible for most fish deaths.
Choosing the correct filter for your tank is by no means complicated. In most cases it will tell you exactly what size aquarium the filter is made for. However you'll need to know how many gallons/liters of water your aquarium holds. Using this basic calculator you can enter the dimensions of your aquarium and it will give you an idea of how much water it holds. Once you know this information choosing your filter is child's play. Look at the filters specifications and you will see information including power consumption, delivery head, pump output, and most importantly, filter circulation. This will tell you exactly how many liters an hour the unit will filter.
Canister filters are very popular amongst Oscar fish keepers. Whilst providing extremely effective filtration, they are also very easy to maintain and can be left for longer between cleaning than your average filter. Canister filters come in varying sizes depending on how much water your aquarium holds. You can get canister filters for small 30 gallon aquariums, but also for very large aquariums up to 300 gallons. Unlike submersible filters and under gravel filtration systems, canister filters are always located on the outside of the aquarium, in most cases located in the cabinet underneath the aquarium. A canister filter will have two pipes that enter the aquarium, they are called the outlet and inlet pipes. These two pipes have two very important functions, the outlet pipe carries water from your aquarium into the filter, the inlet pipe will return the clean water back into your aquarium, it's as simple as that. When choosing a canister filter you must make sure that you are choosing the correct size for your aquarium. All canister filters will be rated for a maximum aquarium size, in other words you could get a canister filter that will filter up to 120 gallons, any larger aquarium would require more filtration. Choosing a canister filter for your aquarium is very easy indeed, just make sure that you double up filtration for your particular aquarium if you are keeping Oscars. Whereas a canister filter rated to 125 gallons would be perfectly okay on a 125 gallon tank containing small community fish, it would probably not be quite enough with the same tank containing two adult Oscars, you'd be much better off either installing a couple of canister filters, or a very large canister filter, the choice is yours. Just remember that you may benefit from having is one filters if one of them fails, at least you will still have a filter running on the aquarium, even if it isn't quite enough, it will still filtrate the aquarium okay. If you've only got one canister, you're basically screwed if it packs up. One of the reasons why people prefer to use canister filters is because they don't need constant cleaning, if you have a couple of sizeable canister filters then you can sometimes leave them for a few weeks in between cleaning. However, becoming complacent about cleaning them can often work against you and you may actually find that your water deteriorates.
The Aquarium Sump Filter
An aquarium sump filter may sound like a complicated piece of equipment, it's quite the opposite actually. You can buy commercially available sump filters, however they are often very expensive and are aimed more at marine aquariums. Most people manufacture their own sump filters because they are easy and cheap to make. A sump filter performs in much the same way as any other filter. However, the beauty in designing your own sump filter is you can tailor it to your own personal preferences and make it so much more efficient than any other filter you could possibly get on the commercial market. Sump filters can be designed to hold enormous amounts of media which makes them the ideal filtration system for very large and heavily stocked aquariums. Further Reading on Sump Filters...
Clean Your Filters
Don't think that just because you have a large filter it doesn't need cleaning. Canister filters especially will slowly collect waste and if you just leave them to it will eventually become so full of crap and debris, they may well start working against you. If the filter becomes clogged then the water will not be able to pass through it fast enough which in turn may lead to ammonia building up in your tank water. You may also find that the amount of waste collecting inside the filter creates extra nitrates. If you have one single canister filter then you'll have to clean it more often than if you have one large oversized canister filter, or maybe two filters. A large sump filter can go for quite a long time between cleaning, but remember the longer you leave it, the more debris will collect inside. A properly designed sump filter is an absolute doddle to clean so there really isn't any need to leave it for long periods of time in between cleaning. Canister filters are also very easy to clean, the trays that contain the media can be lifted out and dunked in a bucket of existing tank water. Don't forget to clean the actual empty canister out either, you'll find a lot of debris collects in the bottom. Internal filters will need cleaning on a regular basis as these are just inadequate when keeping large fish like Oscars.
Don't Turn Your Filters off for Too Long
The bacteria that live in your filtration system must be looked after carefully. In order for the bacteria to survive and perform properly they need oxygen and a surface to live on. Therefore it is recommended that you keep your filters running at all times and only turn them off when you need to. There is a lot of debate as to how long bacteria can survive without oxygen and new research recently has blown a lot of common consensus out of the window. It is now thought but not absolutely proven that your biological bacteria can survive for much much longer than we ever thought. It's also thought that these nitrifying bacteria can survive inside bottles by switching their metabolisms which results in resting cells. This could explain how bacteria in the bottle really does work. Having said all this I would still strongly advise you to keep your filtration system running at all times as this will keep your bacteria nice and healthy.
Oscar fish come from the tropics so your aquarium water needs to reflect this fact. I would advise that you keep your water at a minimum of 25°C (77°F), and a maximum of 29°C (84°F), somewhere in the middle, 28°C (82°F) for instant is ideal for Oscar fish. Some literature states that 21°C is the absolute minimum which is okay for short periods of time. In the wilds, water temperature at night may drop considerably but will warm up again in the daytime. Tropical fish don't like cold water and will probably stop feeding if the water is kept too cool. You may also run the risk of them developing illnesses such as white spot if the water is too cold. On the other hand, keeping fish in water that is too hot will certainly not do them any good. Hot water contains less oxygen so in the summertime keep a check on the water temperature and if need be reduced the thermostat on the temperature slightly if room temperatures are high.
Oscar fish can be quite destructive and can easily break some glass aquarium heaters. It is important that you choose a robust heater if you are keeping Oscar fish, many companies manufacture shatterproof heaters which are ideal if you are keeping Oscars. Place your heater somewhere near where the water is entering your tank so the water is warmed as soon as it enters your aquarium. Remember that heating and aquarium is not unlike heating a room. A small heater will not be able to heat a large amount of water, just like a small heater will not heat up a large room. Aquarium heaters come in various sizes ranging from 50 W, up to 500 W. A 125 gallon tank will probably require a minimum of 300 W to heat it adequately. A large 300 gallon tank will probably require 1000 W, maybe a little bit more. Heaters normally have a thermostat which normally runs to around 33°C. If you have chosen the correct heater for your tank than the heater should only come on when the water drops below the temperature you have set on the heater, again very much like a normal heating system in your house. If your heater is not quite big enough then it may struggle to keep the water at the correct temperature and you may also find that the heater stays on all the time. So you can see that it makes sense to put the correct amount of heating on your aquarium. If you use a sump filter on your aquarium then you could house the heaters inside your sump. This is often advantageous because if set up properly, it's a more efficient way of heating your water. Also, you don't have to worry of your Oscars messing around with the heaters and breaking them.
You may want to consider opting for an external thermometer over an internal glass thermometer as Oscars love to destroy things in their tank and some of these thermometers are flimsy and delicate and can break very easily. Whereas the Mercury contained in some thermometers will not cause any harm to your fish you don't really want all the little bits of glass littering your tank.
If you are using internal heaters then remember to switch them off when doing water changes as you may damage them if they are left on when not submerged underwater.
Whereas Oscars can tolerate water temperature down to 21°C 70°F, other fish may not favour these conditions. Keeping fish in water that is too cold for them can sometimes result in diseases such as Ick, so you do have to think carefully about heating your tank properly.
A large aquarium will need quite a bit of heating. A 300 gallon aquarium will probably need about 1000 W of heating if you are putting the heaters inside the tank. There are means and ways of using your household boiler to heat large water features but that is way beyond the scope of this article. Many filters nowadays come with inbuilt heaters so that does away the need for any external heaters inside your tank. If you use a sump filter then you can put heaters in the sump itself which obviously eliminates the chance of the heaters getting smashed by your Oscars. If you can find them, you can get heater modules that are connected to the pipework. Basically, the water that is pumped back to your tank runs through the modules and is heated.
Something that is often overlooked when keeping fish is the oxygen levels in your aquarium. One of the most important aims is to maintain high oxygen levels, but keep carbon dioxide levels low. Carbon dioxide is created by fish, bacterial respiration, and oxidation of waste products.The larger the creature, the more oxygen it will need. Keeping large fish in small aquariums can lead to low oxygen levels plus high carbon dioxide in the water. If the fish does not get enough oxygen but respiration [breathing] is still possible then it can develop a condition known as "hypoxia". If indeed your fish has got to this stage then it will probably be hanging at the surface gasping for air, or possibly just breathing very heavily. If the fish is unable to find enough oxygen then it may well slip into a coma and die. A fish that has died from total lack of oxygen [asphyxia] will often have flared gill covers, possibly a wide open mouth and may have very pale gills.
Many people believe that a heavily planted tank will actually create oxygen for your fish. This is actually untrue since plants use oxygen during the night. The most efficient way of generating oxygen in your aquarium is to use a very efficient filtration system that has a strong output. In other words the water entering your tank from the filter is causing plenty of surface agitation. It is important to set your filter up correctly so this action is taking place. Many people make the mistake of submerging the inlet pipe to cut down on noise. If you are using a very small aquarium then it is important that you ensure enough oxygen is being created. You may be advised to add an airation pump which will not only create oxygen, but will also help remove carbon dioxide from your tank.
It's also worth mentioning that the warmer the water, the less oxygen it contains. So even if you have got a very large aquarium it may be a good idea to add an airation pump in the warmer months just to make sure that your fish are getting enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen can kill fish quite easily. If you must keep your fish in a small aquarium then all efforts must be made to oxygenate the tank properly.
Oscars don't really require any specific type of lighting in their aquarium. Aquarium lights are really only for our benefit. An Oscars natural environment will be one of dimly lit and probably very murky conditions. However, it's nice to be able to see your fish so a lighting system is normally installed on an aquarium. If you don't turn your lights on and your aquarium is quite dark, you may find your Oscars are not so active.
If you have live plants in your tank and you want them to grow and stay healthy, you are going to need bright lighting that is on for most of the day. In the tropics, the natural photoperiod is around 12 to 14 hours. Basically this means the period of time per day that an organism is exposed to daylight (or to artificial light) During the summer months, I don't tend to turn my lights on until the evening, around six or seven o'clock. There really isn't any need since it is quite bright. During the winter time, I leave leave my lights on for around 12 hours. I have a small planted 20 gallon community tank that I also illuminate for around 12 hours a day. This really shows with the plants which are doing extremely well.
If you are going to leave your lights on for quite a while, I would strongly advise you to give your fish plenty of dark places where they can hide away. This could be thick vegetation, lots of rock or large pieces of wood. Remember that a lot of species of fish, especially South American fish come from dimly lit habitats. You should research your chosen fish and find out what sort of environment they live in. If they come from very shallow streams then they will probably be exposed to more light than fish that inhabit mangrove swamps etc.
If you keep both diurnal and nocturnal fish together (diurnal meaning fish that are active during the day, nocturnal, fish that are active at night) you have to remember that you have to give both fish their time of both lightness and darkness. Fish do sleep and will do so not long after the tank is in darkness.
We must mention algae, if you combine bright light and water, I'm afraid you're going to develop algae, there is absolutely no way around it, unless you want to keep your tank in darkness all the time, nobody really wants this. I would just suggest keeping up with water changes so nitrate levels are low and keep an algae cleaner at hand. If your tank is near a bright window, put some backing on the back or the sides, this will make a massive difference to algae build up.
When you turn your tanks on in the morning, don't do it if the room is completely dark, this can be very stressful for fish. Open the curtains and let natural light into the room and then turn your tank lights on.
When you first introduce a fish into your aquarium, especially if it's a baby, turn the lights off. Doing this is much less likely to stress the fish out. Once you've done this, turn the lights on gradually. In most cases, baby Oscars are more interested in food than anything else. My baby Oscars are not put off by anything when it comes to feeding. However, if you have only got the one Oscar, you may find that it is a little more timid than being in a large group. You must also remember that lights generate heat. Having a lot of lighting very close to the water could raise the temperature of the water so be careful.
It's quite common for Oscars to be frightened when the lights are turned on. If this is happening with you, you could try Introducing them to the light gradually over a period of time. Anothor method which may work is to place a coloured perspex on top of your condensation tray changing the colour of the light.in
If you find that your fishes colour fades and they appear light, it may be a case that your lighting is too bright, try reducing it, or switching it off for a while
Oscars Can Jump - Use a Secure Lid
It is very important that you use a secure lid/hood on your aquarium as Oscars have been known to jump out of their aquariums, sometimes perishing because they haven't been found in time. Don't under estimate the power of an Oscar Fish, they are quite capable of lifting an aquarium lid and unintentionally jumping out. It's not quite known why they do this but it is more than likely them investigating what they may see attached to the underside of the lid, or condensation tray. Maybe a piece of debris or uneaten food that could be an easy snack for them. You may find that drips of condensation fool your Oscars into thinking food being put into the tank so they lunge at any potential food and in some circumstances jump a little bit too high. Because they are very powerful fish, they can easily find themselves dislodging a lid or condensation cover, sadly ending up on the floor where they soon perish if not found quickly.
If your aquarium has very light lids then you can secure them using Velcro, I would advise the heavy-duty Velcro just to be on the safe side. Something as simple as a very large book can also be used to secure the lid as well. The lid on my 300 gallon aquarium consists of a large piece of heavy duty plastic, the same material that is used in greenhouses. Rather than cutting this plastic cover into sections, I have actually cut out various access holes along the section of plastic, this enables me to drop food in without having to lift the whole piece of plastic. I also have my lights attached inside plastic guttering which lay across the top of this plastic cover. This actually means even the largest Oscar will not be able to dislodge this 8 foot long plastic cover, even though it is actually very light and easy to remove by hand.
It's nice to have a tank that looks nice, after all it is normally situated in the living room where it can be seen by most people who visit. However, when keeping Oscars, you have to bear in mind that these fish like excavating and moving things around. If you want a pretty tank with lots of nice plants then don't bother with Oscars. Every Oscar owner will tell you that plants don't last very long in an Oscar tank. For some reason, Oscars love uprooting and destroying them, it is very common so don't be surprised if this happens to you. If you don't want the hassle and expense of having to keep replacing plants, you could search around for some fake ones. There are quite a few very nice looking fake plants on the market that should stand up to a destructive Oscar. Obviously with fake plants, you won't have the benefits of them helping to reduce nitrates in the water, they are purely there for decoration and nothing else. Fake plants will never look as realistic as live plants either. There are advantages though, algae will grow on plants, at least with fake plants, you can take them out and give them a good clean. It isn't so easy to do this with live plants as they get broken very easily. If you want to try plants, you will probably be better off planting them when your Oscars are babies. This will give your plants a chance to put some good sturdy roots down, this least give them half a chance of staying up. of course, the Oscars will still rip pieces off so you may still end up giving up with plants. You also have to bear in mind that keeping plants healthy is a task in itself. many people start off with a planted tank, six months down the line, they go to fake plants. Many plants need lots of lights, lots of light means lots of algae in many cases. Some plants also need nutrients to keep them healthy. If you want my advice, don't even bother with real plants, try some fake plants and see how you get on. Get some pebbles and put them around the base so the Oscars can't uproot them that easy.
Most people like to put a bed in the bottom of their tank. This is known as the substrate. The Amazon River has hundreds, probably thousands of tributaries attached to it, many of these are completely different to each other, where as some may have a gravel type substrate, others may have a sand substrate. You don't have to have a substrate in your tank, it just looks nicer, after all, you are trying to replicate an aquatic environment. There are various substrates that you can use. Gravel and sand is probably the most common substrate used. Which substrate you use is entirely your choice, Oscars are not really fussy and you will not be required to use anything special in their tank. If you're not particularly bothered about using anything fancy, then simple play sand, silica sand, volcanic sand, or simple builders gravel will work great. If you want something a little bit more fancy than have a look at your fish store or go online and look at the specialised aquatic shops, they will probably stock a variety of substrates. Charterhouse Aquatics here in the UK sell a wide variety of substrates. You would probably be advised to steer clear of any type of substrates that can affect your pH, these are normally used in African cichlids tanks. Also remember that dark substrate will darken the look of your tank, light substrate will make things a lot lighter. Light-coloured substrate shows up dirt a lot quicker. Sand is easier to clean than gravel so think very carefully before choosing your substrate.
Remember that you don't want too much substrate in your tank. Around 1 1/2 inch is perfectly okay. Having too much can make cleaning more difficult. You have to bear in mind that there are advantages and drawbacks of using sand or gravel. Let's start off with gravel. What are the advantages? Well, apart from disguising a lot of the dirt, waste also tends to work its way under the gravel so that tank doesn't look so dirty. You can remove the waste with a gravel vac. The disadvantage of this is that waste can get missed if the gravel isn't cleaned properly. This could have a detrimental effect on the water quality. Now let's look at sand. The advantage of using sand is that waste doesn't get trapped underneath, it sits on top. This means that the filtration tends to remove it more efficiently than if you're using gravel. If you are using a light coloured sand, you can see the waste a lot easier when you are cleaning. The disadvantage of using sand is that because the waste sits on top and doesn't go underneath, the tank can look a little dirtier than if you were to use gravel. So I suppose it's six of one and half a dozen of the other. Personally I prefer sand. I'm more confident that the tank is cleaner because the filtration removes dirt quicker.Read Full Article on Sand...
One important thing that you have to bear in mind when using sand is dangerous gas pockets can build up so you should try and move it around a little bit when cleaning. You do have to be careful because the finer it is, the easier it is to suck up. It is very important to mention that our substrate will be a haven for beneficial bacteria, just like what is inside your filtration. For this reason, you don't want to clean the substrate too much. What you are trying to achieve is removing waste, that's all. A little bit of dirt is good, you don't want a spotless fish tank.
Before you put your substrate in the tank, make sure you give it a clean. The easiest way to do it is to use a bucket. Fill it half full of substrate and then add water and just swill it around until the water starts clearing. Some substrate is a lot dirtier than others. Black sand for instance can be a lot more dirty than white sand so you might find yourself using a little bit more water and spending a bit more time cleaning some types of substrate. I will say that with all the will in the world, you are not going to clean your substrate to the extent that when you put it in your tank and fill it with water, it will be crystal clear. The chances are it will become quite murky and cloudy and may stay like this for a day or two, maybe longer depending on how well you've cleaned it. It really doesn't matter, you could even put your fish if you want, they won't come to any harm.
If you want ornaments in your tank, make sure they are clean and free from paint that may contain lead or impurities. You can normally find plenty of purpose made items at the aquarium store . If you are unsure in any way, you are probably better off buying from somewhere that supplies aquatic equipment. I often get pots from garden centres. One of my catfish has made a large pot his home. I have even seen one of my Oscars sleeping in the pot at night.
Give your Fish Shelter
Rock and slate always look nice in a tank, especially if you arrange it properly. It is very important that you give your fish somewhere to shelter or hide, especially if you you have other fish such as clown loach or catfish. Diurnal [fish that are active by day] & nocturnal [active by night] fish will need to find shelter so they can sleep in safety. This could be behind a large rock, submerged wood or just about anything that gives them the appropriate shelter. So when setting up your tank, arrange some rocks or wood so that your fish are able to gain access underneath, or behind these constructions.
You can get various types of wood for your tank. Two common types you will see is bogwood and mopani. Both these look lovely in a tank. Mopani is the sort of wood that you would find in the Amazon whereas bogwood isn't. You have to bear one thing in mind when introducing things like bogwood into your tank. You will find that it will probably stain the water and make it look like tea, minus the milk and sugar. Putting activated carbon in your filtration will often remove a lot of the staining. If you do this, make sure you change it every few weeks.
Before you pack your tank full of rocks, wood, pots and other fancy objects, let me explain a few things that may save you a lot of work. These additions may look very nice, after all a tank resembling an underwater desert is pretty boring. However, underneath all these objects is a haven for muck and debris. This could be uneaten food or just plain waste. When you carry out tank maintenance, lift up any old shape rocks and make sure you clean underneath. You'll be amazed how much muck collects underneath objects in the tank. I often find a nice big flat rock pressed firmly into the substrate stops any debris getting underneath.
If you do happen to have a lots of rock in your tank, I would strongly advise you not to take it all out at once if you are arranging your tank. Any object that is in your tank is going to have beneficial bacteria living on it. One day you might decide you want to rearrange everything. I would advise against taking everything out of your tank and replacing it with new. Under certain circumstances, this could upset the stability of your tank. You may start noticing slight readings of ammonia or nitrite. If you have a very good biological filtration, you shouldn't really have anything to worry about. Just be aware.
I just want to touch on something that most people don't even think about. Wood and rock can certainly make a tank look stunning. However, what you have to bear in mind is the more you put in your tank, the less water you will have in there, commonly referred to as "water displacement" A piece of rock 18 inches wide and 12 inches high and weighing 25LB will displace less water than a 3 foot piece of wood weighing the same. Basically it's all down to volume, the bigger the object you put in the tank, the more water you will displace, so if you got a small tank, don't pack it with big ornaments and use minimal substrate.
Changes in Oscars Aquarium
The Oscar could quite rightly be described as being quite an intelligent fish. However an Oscars brain is still very primitive so their intelligence shouldn't be compared to that of a dog, or even an octopus. Oscars are very inquisitive fish and will notice changes in their environment. For instance, they can sometimes show what people would class as an annoyance when things are moved around in their tank. I have observed my Oscars investigating a large crater that was formed by water coming from the hosepipe during a water change. It wasn't there before and they were obviously well aware of this. If your Oscars do show signs of stress or anger when things change, just give them time, they should settle down except and get used to changes.
Oscar Fighting - Rearrange their Tank
So you may well ask how do you stop your Oscars from fighting? If you've got Oscars that hate each other, the chances are they will keep on fighting whatever you do. However, sometimes the simple procedure of rearranging their aquarium can stop Oscars from fighting. This can often help when introducing an Oscar into a tank that already has an Oscar in it. Oscars are very attentive fish that are well aware of their environment. If you rearrange everything in your Oscars tank, this will often take their mind off the fighting. Unfortunately I can't guarantee a long-lasting truce.
Treatments for Cycling New Aquariums
There are various products on the market that claim to aid in the development of your biological filter. I think you should read between the lines and not take these products literally and assume they will perform some kind of miracle and instantly cycle your tank. I have used a product called Stability manufactured by Seachem and it seemed to keep the ammonia at bay, however I was using it on a 20 gallon community tank containing only a few small fish , I doubt whether you would get the same results on a large tank containing lots of big fish. From my point of view I am somewhat dubious on the manufacturer's claims on how these products work.
Don't be under the misapprehension that owning a large aquarium is going to be cheap. Before you think about installing that huge aquarium, ask yourself whether you are going to be able to afford to run it 24/7. Remember that a large tropical aquarium will need plenty of filtration and heaters running every day all year. I never actually calculated exactly how much my 300 gallon aquarium cost to run, actually I haven't got it any more, I sold it a few months ago. My monthly direct debit electricity bill has recently been amended by a reduction of over £60. Nothing else has changed, electricity hasn't increased recently, the only thing that has changed is me not having the large aquarium to light, filtrate and heat all year round. So you can work the sums out for yourself, it looks as though I were spending several hundred ££'s a year to run my aquarium.