Oscars 4         

 
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Sexual Differences.  How do you sex oscars?  The ones you see laying eggs are females.  All bets are off on the others.  (Two females may pair off and spawn together.)  At breeding time, the male’s breeding tube looks like the writing end of a ball-point pen.  The female’s egg tube looks like the other end of the ball-point cartridge.  This gives you a four-day window in which to sex them.  The French web site calls their sexual differences “inexistante.”  You cannot sex young oscars, period.

LA Pic
1.5" normal oscar babies in feeding frenzy.

Big Eaters.  The trait that endears oscars to most people is their insatiable appetite.  Their gourmandizing begins at an early age and never ends.  They remind you of hatchery-raised trout at feeding time.  Oscars nearly climb out of their water to get at the food in your hand.  A spawn of 500 baby oscars makes the funniest snapping noise at feeding time.  The surface just pops with their smacking lips as each strives to be first in line.  The “small oscars” sold in shops are actually baby oscars.  Baby oscars need baby foods.  Many baby oscars fare poorly on flake foods.  Give them frozen brine shrimp or other tasty treats for a month or so -- as well as the flakes.

Water Changes

Huge Eaters.  Oscars process huge quantities of food.  Too many people fail to take into account how much oscars eat.   What goes in one end also comes out the other end.  Also, when oscars eat goldfish, blood, scales, and assorted orts and ends go flying.  Oscars need your constant attention to keep their water clean.  They need very good filter systems.  You cannot filter them too much.  They also need new water often.  Instead of weekly water changes, make your oscar water changes twice a week.  (Those dozen goldfish you pour in there do not magically evaporate into the ozone.)

About Those “Bugs.”  Sooner or later you will see tiny “worms” or other mini-critters climbing the walls or even crawling on your oscar.  These bugs are not harming your oscar.  They are part of your filter’s clean up crew.  They live in the gravel of most aquaria.  They help eat the extra miscellaneous gobbets that drift down into your gravel.  If you fail to make regular water changes, these critters climb up out of the gravel looking for more O2.  Don’t try to kill them.  You need them.  Make your water change that you forgot to make.  The bugs will go back into their homes below the gravel.  Or, your oscars may have grown to exceed the bio-capacity of your filter system.  Move them to larger quarters or juice up your filter system.

 

LA Pic
One side not bad.  Reverse side eye looks to be rotting out.  Change your water NOW.

LA Pic
Larger view of that bad eye.  Caught in time?  You can't keep big oscars in a 10-gallon tank.

What about Slime?  If you fail to make your water changes on a regular basis, your oscar WILL develop a slime coating –  from the accumulated filth in his water.  His eyes will cloud and actually rot out.  One-eyed oscars usually come from dirty water -- rarely from injuries.  Forget about antibiotics. When you fall in the pig lot and cut your arm, you need more than a coating of iodine.  Change half his water.  Add NovAqua.  Repeat the process every other day until he returns to normal.  Big oscars can stand a great deal of abuse.  Unfortunately, filthy water will zap the best of them.  It rots their eyes out.  

LA Pic
Hole-in-the- Head disease on an oscar.  Non-fatal on oscars and other honker cichlids.

Hole-in-the-Head Disease.  Wimpy fish like Discus cannot survive hole-in-the-head disease.  If you look at many large oscars, you can see the zit pits in their faces.  The Hexamita varmints that cause these scars can easily be treated with Metronidazole.  Except for the scars, the disease seems to affect them very little.  We ignore it.  Clean water plays a big part in helping them ward off this and other diseases.

Ich.  In the winter, the chill on the way home (or other stresses) makes oscars (and other fishes) susceptible to ich parasites.  Preventive treatment of their water with an ich cure really pays off.  Half strength, please.  Small oscars are really baby fish in spite of their comparatively large size.

LA Pic
Not normally a community fish.  These guys stressed out and caught ich.

Not a Community Fish.  Most small oscars start out in a tank of community fish and gradually grow into “specimen fish.”  They chow their tank mates as they quickly outgrow them.  Big oscars are best housed as singles or with other honker-size fish.  Two fish you can usually keep them with include Plecostomus and Channel Cats.  In smaller tanks they will usually harass, maim, or eat their tank mates.  In larger tanks (with room to run), oscars will tolerate other forms of fish life (if they are too big to eat).

Go to Oscars Chapter 5

More info and pictures for oscar fanatics:

Oscars 1
Oscars 2
Oscars 3
Oscars 4
Oscars 5
More Oscar
More Oscar II
More Oscars III
More Oscars 2007
More Oscars 2007.5
More Oscar 2008
Oscar Spawn

 

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