Oscars Chapter 5
Misc Frogs II
Misc Frogs III
Misc Frogs IV
Misc Frogs V
Pet World Visit
Good looking fish with the start of a bad eye. He needs a water change now.
Needs Space. Oscars not only need elbow room, they will take it from their tank mates (by killing or eating them). This applies to other oscars in limited quarters. You can uncomfortably house a single in a 20-gallon tank. They really need 30+ gallons. Two adults will co-exist in a 55. They need a 70. Four can live in the 70, but expect lots of arguments.
Mr. Personality. New oscars pout. They lie on one side and look up at you with one untrusting eye. They’ll do the same if you redecorate their tank or move them to new quarters. When you net your oscar, expect to get a free shower. Some thrash so much they “foam” up their net. When you put him in the new tank, he’ll extend his hard rays and make it difficult for you to get him out of the net. Just like a freshly hooked bluegill. Don’t touch him unless absolutely necessary. His top and bottom fins are “stabbers.” You will find this out the first time you try to pick him up after he jumps out on the floor. Use a wet net, not your bare hands.
New Oscars. Resident oscars consider new oscars intruders invading their living room. The current occupant will try to evict the new tenant. The bigger the oscars, the bigger the fight (and the bigger the splash).
Like to Argue. Oscars also fight because they feel good, want to breed, or just want a little exercise. Their French web site calls them “toujour agressif.” Very aggressive describes oscars quite aptly.
Fighting or Spawning? Oscars fight by slapping each other while facing head to tail. They also lock lips and wrestle each other and try to bite chunks out of each other. (Typical pre-spawning behavior also.) Expect these arguments. If they get too violent, put in a divider. Add NovAqua to “bandage” their wounds and abrasions.
Good Fighters. Wild oscars in Florida escaped from flooded fish farm ponds or were released by fishermen who saw their fighting potential as a game fish. Their pugnacious natures make them a great fish to catch on hook and line. They put the “game” in game fish. They fight better than bass. They taste better, too.
Big Bruisers. Oscars break heater tubes, power filter intakes, under gravel filter stems, and floating thermometers. Some they break by running into them accidentally. Others they break on purpose. They consider these items “oscar toys.” If you replace them, your oscar will probably break them again. Use suction cup holders to reduce breakage and figure out less superfragilistic ways to replace broken equipment. If you want to give them a toy, toss in a ping pong ball occasionally. Forget the paddles.
Décor. Forget beautifully decorated planted aquaria like Amano-san constructs. Oscars rarely tolerate live plants. Use plastics. Weight the bottoms so they look normal when your oscars move them. (And they will.) Epoxy a gob of gravel on their base. Use the same gravel as their tank substrate. When they move them, the plants still look planted. Avoid rough rocks and sharp pieces of wood. Why ask for trouble? Arguing oscars can very easily injure themselves on sharp objects.
Growth Variation. If you start with equal-sized oscars, sometimes one grows faster. The big one gets most of the food and then grows even faster. Whip out your divider and separate them. Reduce the rations going into the large guy and give the extra to the little guy. He’ll catch up (usually). If you move one to a different tank, put the bigger guy in the smaller tank.
Preventing Stunting. You’ve heard many people say “fish grow to the size of their tank.” You can stunt an oscar in a 10-gallon tank. But why put one of these potentially huge fishes in a little tank? Get a neon tetra. Okay, so you had no idea how big he’d get and he’s in your 10-gallon tank. How do you keep from stunting him? Stunting results from the waste products in the water – not from bouncing off the glass walls. Just change the water more often and/or make larger changes. You can grow a huge (and very uncomfortable) oscar in a 10-gallon tank, if you change enough of his water often enough. So reach under your mattress and extract enough of your tax refund to house him right. Or get him a home equity loan.
Breeding Oscars. You won’t breed them in a 10. You need (minimum) a 55-gallon tank (70 gallons would be better). In fish farms they use a large diameter concrete pool two feet deep -- very similar to a kid’s wading pool in a public park, but with steep sides. They put in lots of large oscars and let them select their own mates. The breeder adds several large pieces of slate (some on the bottom, some leaning against the sides). The slates are checked frequently for spawns. Slates of eggs are removed and hatched artificially under controlled conditions. You can get bit walking thru these breeding ponds -- especially when extracting egg-filled slates.
Breeding Tank. In your breeding tank partially bury a large slab of slate. Let them dig it out themselves. (If they spawn on the filter plate, the eggs and fry get sucked under.) Take out the eggs. Do it at night, if you fear oscar hickies. You will have better results rearing the eggs artificially.
Oscar Eggs. Put the slate in a well-filtered 10-gallon tank and add a slow bubbling airstone as their surrogate mama. Add methylene blue to taste (circa 2 ppm). Most cichlid eggs are clear or a light amber color. Oscar eggs are a cloudy off-white nearly tan color. As they develop, a line divides the eggs in half. They hatch in three to seven days depending upon temperature.
Hatched Eggs. Oscar eggs hatch into an eyeless blob with a wiggling tail attached to the slate by an unseen thread. They look nothing like oscars (or fish). As they absorb their yolk sacs, they lose their sticky thread and fall to the bottom in a sticky clump. Most cichlids absorb their yolk sacs fairly quickly and turn into hungry baby fishes. Oscars take much longer and grow into much larger and hungrier fry. Once they grow eyes and fins, they will start swimming (and eating). They cannot eat until they become free swimming.
Oscar Fry. Very small oscars sport a black line down their sides (typical of predator fishes who tend their young in schools). If you’ve ever seen a male largemouth bass tending his pit of fry, you’ve seen the obvious relationship between our North American centrarchids and the South American cichlids. Oscar fry eat newly hatched brine shrimp – lots of it and often. You will not believe how much they can eat. You will need to change their water often.
Oscar Babies. You find that 1,000 oscars eat mondo quantities of baby brine shrimp -- way past the glass tube quantity. Once they hit an inch or so, they lose their schooling line and develop a mottled pattern. They now look like oscars.
Final Word. Enjoy your oscars. Remember to change their water often. You’ll see few problems if you keep their water clean. LA.
More info and pictures for oscar fanatics:
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