Oscar fish, or Astronotus ocellatus, is a freshwater fish belonging to the cichlid family. It is known by various names like peacock cichlid, walnut cichlid, tiger Oscar, velvet cichlid or marble cichlid. They are basically the natives of South America, but are also found in other areas including Australia, China, and the United States. Oscars mainly inhabit the slow moving rivers and lakes in the Amazon region.
How do Oscar Fish Look Like?
The wild forms of Oscar fish are dark in color and have orange ringed spots, known as ocelli, on the caudal peduncle and on the dorsal fin. This species is known to alter its coloration, which is a trait that facilitates territorial and combat behavior. The young Oscars differ in coloration with the adult ones. They are striped, with white and orange wavy bands and have spotted heads. 'Astronotus' literally means marked with a star on the back, and 'ocellatus' means bearing an eye spot. They are also known as peacock cichlids because of their peacock like tail. Oscar fish grows up to fifteen inches long and can have a mass of about 1.6 kg. However, it can attain this size and weight only in the wild. In captivity, this fish grows up to 9 to 12 inches on an average.
What do Oscar Fish Like to Eat?
Oscar fish are carnivorous and eat multiple type of meat. In their natural habitat in South America, their diet mainly consists of insects, however these carnivores love to prey on smaller fish using a suction mechanism. The common fish that they feed upon in the wild are catfish, including Bunocephalus, Ochmacanthus and Rineloricaria species. They appreciate live foods so if you are planning to keep Oscars in the aquarium, remember to feed them with lots of live feeder fish or insects. You could go for Cichlid pellets which is the best recommended Oscar diet as it is nutritionally balanced. It can be supplemented with prawns or shrimp.
How to Care for Oscars?
The most important step is to set up the right tank for your Oscar, with all the necessary equipment. The size that Oscars can grow to, must be considered while choosing the size of the tank. Oscars are the messiest of all fish and cleanliness and maintenance of the tank becomes very important. Provide them with high protein diet to keep them healthy. But avoid overfeeding as it adds to the waste and can cause problems related to pollution. Oscar fish are aggressive, carnivores and can eat up the small fish, hence it is best to keep them alone or with other cichlids of nearly the same size.
How Long do Oscar Fish Live?
Oscar fish life expectancy depends on the quality of care given to it. Providing the right diet to your Oscar can increase its life expectancy. The average life span of an Oscar is around 10 to 12 years, however with proper care and diet, they can live up to 15 years. Choosing the right size of tank also plays an important role in their life expectancy. A smaller tank can stunt their growth and eventually harm their internal organs and reduce the fish's life span. So it is advisable to go through the Oscar fish care sheet, which gives a detailed information of their diet, breeding, and care, before getting an Oscar home.
So, this was all about Oscar fish life span and care. Oscars are wonderful creatures and can be great companions if you take proper care of them!