Profiling the Oscar Fish Cichlid

The Oscar Fish is a freshwater tropical Cichlid native to various rivers and waterways located in the Amazonian basin in South America. Even though the Oscar can be found living wild in other parts of the world, including some of the waterways around Florida, these are fish that have been released on purpose and have started breeding.

Oscar fish normally reach a maximum size of 11 or 12 inches in captivity and can weigh up to approximately 3 lbs. Oscars can exceed 14 or 15 inches, however, fish like these are quite uncommon.

Oscar fish grow at an incredible rate. Fish stores normally sell them anywhere between 1 and 2 inches as babies. Once in your aquarium and being fed on a regular basis, you can expect an Oscar to gain nearly an inch each month for the first seven or eight months. At about nine months, your Oscars growth rate will start slowing down. Once they reach 12 months you should expect your Oscars size to be close to 10 inches, maybe even bigger. Oscars will probably reach a maximum size at around three years old.

Various types of Oscar fish

Listed below are some photos of the different varieties of Oscar which have been artificially bred from the wild Oscar that is found in its native environment.

The photos below show other colour varieties of Oscar, plus several that are not so common.

Tiger Oscar Fish

Tiger Oscar fish - this most resembles the original Wild Oscar fish and is extremely common

Albino Tiger Oscar Fish

Albino Tiger Oscar fish - if you want to be pedantic then this is actually a Lutino Oscar fish as it exhibits colour pigmentation, whereas true albino creatures do not. However, for the sake of stopping confusion, they are normally referred to as albino. This particular fish all so has some Tiger Oscar fish in it as well

Red Oscar Fish

Red Oscar fish - first bred over 40 years ago, the red Oscar fish is truly beautiful when displaying its vibrant red colouration

photo of a albino Oscar fish

Albino Oscar - This Oscar does not appear to exhibit any colour throughout its body, therefore we would refer to this as a true albino Oscar fish.

Veil Tail Oscar

Veil Tail Oscar fish - these Oscars have been bred to exhibit long fins. As you can observe by our example, the fins can become damaged quite easily. Nevertheless, they are beautiful fish with their long flowing fins that often look like silk

Red Lutino Oscar

Red Lutino Oscar fish - this is what we would call a red Lutino Oscar fish, although some people may still refer to it as albino, does it really matter?

photo of a wild Oscar fish

Wild Oscar - I have been reliably informed that this is a wild Oscar that was taken from a river in South America.

The Lemon Oscar Fish

Photo of Lemon Oscar Fish

There are some species of Oscar that are unique and therefore quite rare. One such species of Oscar is called the "Lemon Oscar". Our photo shows a pair of Lemon Oscar's that were bred in the Philippines. They were then purchased as juveniles and now have grown into arguably two of the most beautiful Oscars, you will ever see.

Intelligent Cichlids

Most cichlids show signs of intelligence, the Oscar Fish is no exception. It's no wonder people fall in love with these excitable fish as soon as they see them. Unlike most tropical fish, the Oscar seems to have the ability to actually acknowledge what is going on on the outside of their aquarium. Oscar owners will tell you that as soon as they walk in the room the Oscar will show signs of excitement in the presence of its owner., it will wag its tail, swim back and forth in the anticipation of getting some attention. It really isn't any surprise that the Oscar fish has gained the nickname "river" or "water" dog because they behave very much like an excitable little puppy.

If you ever see your Oscar attacking the side of the glass then there is every chance that he is seeing his reflection. Whether this could be classed as intelligence is up for discussion, however, it can be quite startling when you see this happening for the first time. You can read more about Oscars seeing their own reflection in this article.

Do Oscar Fish play

Try putting a ping-pong ball inside the aquarium so that it floats on top of the water. You may find that your Oscar comes up to investigate exactly what this strange addition to the tank is. Most fish would probably not pay any attention to something like this, however, Oscars are different and it can be quite fun watching them knock the ping-pong ball around the aquarium. Many people claim that their Oscars do actually play. I have my opinion on this which you can read here

Oscar aggression

Oscar fish are what we describe as "semi-aggressive". I do get rather annoyed when I read articles suggesting that Oscar fish are outright killers and will basically slay any other fish living with them. This is about as far from the truth as you can possibly get. In fact, Oscars are in most very placid and will tolerate most other tankmates. Having said this, they are cichlids and this species of fish can show aggression towards fish living with them, including their own species.

In order to minimise aggression, you should always give your Oscar fish the correct size aquarium to live in. This means 55 gallons for one single adult fish. Once you start adding more Oscars, or different species of fish then you will need to start thinking about a much larger aquarium.

It's fairly easy to identify an Oscar that is showing aggression. In most cases, they will open their mouths as wide as possible and flare their gills to make their heads look as big as possible. Oscars will often get aggressive during tank maintenance as some of them do not like you putting your hand in their tank. Where it's very rare for Oscars to hurt their owners, they do have fairly rough mouths which can inflict superficial wounds on rare occasions. If you do have young children then it's advisable to avoid little fingers entering the tank.

It is easy to confuse aggression with what we refer to as a "breeding ritual". It's not always that easy to differentiate between outright aggression and a pair of Oscars that are flirting with each other. If you visit this article I will talk a little bit more in detail about telling the difference between fighting and flirting.