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FAQs on Oscars 2

Related Articles: Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscars 1, Oscars 3, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Disease/Health, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Huge Oscars Hi Bob I am lost in Oscar land... One of my friends had to leave the country for business and had to leave his Oscars behind. I collected them a few days ago. I was completely caught by surprise. They are huge fish (5 years old). The Oscars had a stressful ride home after which I immediately placed them in a 20 gallon tank (biggest I had).  The tank was set up only 2 days before. The male was very stressed at first and stayed on the bottom of the tank. The female seemed fine. The water quality deteriorated so I installed another filter and partially changed the water. The male started eating again the next day, but the female has not eaten at all. (3 day now) This morning I found the female resting at the bottom of the tank. Her stomach is a little swollen and her lips are a faint pink color. One of my friends suggested that I try feeding her live food. What should I feed them? Should I partially change the water again? Should I move them to a bigger tank at this stage? The water is still a bit milky at this stage... This is the first time I try my hand at Oscars so any advice would be much appreciated. < The milky water is ammonia and needs to be removed. Your fish should be in a 55 gallon tank that has a filter that turns the water over at least three times per hour. It will take a month to get the beneficial bacteria going to break down the toxic ammonia down to less toxic nitrites and then even less toxic nitrates. They should be keep at 80 degrees and fed a high quality flake and pellet food. Stay away from live or frozen food until you get them into a larger tank. If you intend to keep them in the smaller tank then you will need to change lots of water every day as well as change the filter almost every day. If you do not do this then they surely will become ill.-Chuck> Regards Jaco Mysterious Malady Dear Crew, Good evening.  I am hoping you can help me.  I have a year old, 8", male tiger Oscar.  His name is Morbo, and I look forward to having him until he is old and huge.  Unfortunately, I made the classic Oscar blunder.  I bought him at the pet store when he was but an inch long and did not realize that he would soon outgrow the six gallon tank.  When he was about four inches and had been by himself in the tank for about three months, I got a twenty gallon.  Initially it had a 20 gallon TopFin power 20, which I buy bio filtration cartridges for.  Last weekend I installed an under gravel filter.  (15-20 gal Top Fin)  I use Marineland Labs Bio-Safe and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc. Stress Coat with Aloe (in measured doses) for every water change.  I change 25% of the water every week, and vacuumed the gravel until I got the new undergravel filtration.  Only about 1/3 of an inch of large gravel.  I know the tank is a little small, and am planning on upgrading to a 55 gallon when I move out of my cramped one bedroom apartment.  I do not know my water parameters yet, but will be taking a water sample to the pet store in the morning.  (Thanks for the suggestion.)  Assuming that all the water parameters are normal, please give me all the info you can on the following situation.   Last Friday I installed a new under gravel filter.  I removed Morbo from the tank during the process.  It was a huge WET ordeal, and he did not come out from behind his log for hours after it was over.  The day after, he had ICK!  (I assume it was stress.)   Immediately gave Jungle Ick Clear.  Dosed three times, 25% water change with each treatment, carbon out of filter but all running.  Spots are mostly gone, still a few light spots on one fin, but I would say, 99% healed.  One wound, from the net, aprox. 1/4 inch long, shallow,  left side, it got ick in it but has healed over almost completely.  Only a small scar, ick 99% gone. Really just a light mark.  Just today he has started two alarming habits.  He rubs against the gravel.  Have noticed one very small black spot on left side, but could just be new coloration.  (I observe VERY closely.)    Yesterday and today he has been really lethargic, staying at bottom of tank.  Has not been excited about food, but still eats it all.  ;o)  I feed Wardley cichlid pellets, and the occasional feeder.  ( I buy from a local cichlid specialty shop, VERY clean, and keep them for two weeks before feeding.)  The feeders are only for after water changes, to give him some initiative to come out from behind the log.  Have not given feeders since ick set in.  His left fin (clear of ick) has been twitching tonight.  It is off and on.  Tail fin is shaking too.  Breathing is normal, gills look fine.  No outward signs.  Checked all equipment for shorts, frayed wires, all fine, heater too.  No cracks.  Water has become slightly cloudy.  Was crystal clear before starting treatment.  Haven't done anything else, don't want to stress him out any more than I have to.  What can I do? < The ich is not yet gone or it may be another ecto parasite attacking the skin of your Oscar. Any way here is what is going down in your tank. The undergravel filter is a waste of time. As soon as your Oscar digs any type of hole then the undergravel filter plate will be exposed and the water will go through the path of least resistance and go directly through the filter plate and not through the gravel. The gravel should be like beach sand or slightly larger. The beneficial bacteria that break down the fish waste from ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate live on the outside of the gravel. Smaller sand has more surface area then gravel per weight so for the same amount of gravel you might get as much as ten times the surface area with the same amount of sand. Your fish are not completely cured. Raise the water temp. to 80 to 82 degrees and treat with a formalin malachite green mixture like Kordon's rid-ich for three days and you should see the twitching stop. Keep in mind that every time you use a feed you may be introducing a diseases into your tank.-Chuck>    Thanks, -;- Nicole -;-

Tank size for Oscars I had a question on how big of a tank I should get for my 4 Oscars (1 lace, 1 tiger, 2 albino red)  and still have room for some other fish, and what other fish would be a good choice preferably other cichlids)? Also for this tank what kind of filtration would be needed? < If you intend to grow them to adults then I would recommend a 100 gallon tank with a power filter that pumps at least 400 gallons per hour.-Chuck> Thanks My red tiger Oscar Hi again chuck, I got a problem with my red tiger Oscar. I bought it and 4 more with it. Since that day it doesn't want to swim or eat like the others. What can I do so it can move and eat more? < Make sure the water is at 80 F and the filters are clean. There should be no ammonia and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm. If the fish do not eat at all then I would treat for an interior bacterial infection with Metronidazole until that are eating again. Remove dead fish ASAP so others will not become sick by ingesting the infected flesh of the dead companions. If the fish are eating but not very much then I would try washed earthworms.-Chuck> Night Fright Hello WWM! <Hello back. Don here> I have a problem with my 2 red Oscars and my sailfin Pleco. I have a fluorescent light and when ever I turn it on the fish go to "their" corner and sit on the ground hardly moving except when spooked by the other fish. Another problem I have is at night when I'm asleep I hear a big splash and gravel hitting the glass. It makes me jump and scares me. The fish have scars on there head from this in the past and I am afraid its not the heater or electric. It's like the fish spook each other. pH, nitrites, nitrates, and temp. are all stable. <What are the readings? Ammonia and nitrite must be at zero. Nitrate below 20ppm. Water conditions could be a reason for the inactivity of your fish. You should be changing lots of water with these 3 fish. Up to 100% per week in 2 or 3 stages. Depends on the size of these fish.> The temp stays at 78. They're in a 55 gallon aquarium. <OK if the fish are small. But these are three large fish as adults. The Oscars can hit a foot, the sailfin Pleco can reach 18 inches! All are messy eaters and produce a ton of waste. Make sure you vacuum your gravel> <First, the splashing you here at night is either from your sailfin, or the Oscars being scared by the sailfin. Plecos are more active at night. He's just out looking for food and waking up the sleeping Oscars. It is not uncommon for a large, starving Pleco to try and take a bite from a sleeping fish. Try giving him a piece of zucchini, squash, cucumber or carrot. Attach it to a rock to keep it at the bottom and add just before you go to sleep. That may calm things down. About them being shy/hiding; Any chance another pet is bothering them. Maybe a cat? They may feel unsafe with the lights on. A cat may even explain the night fright. Make sure there are plenty of places for them to hide. They will come out more if they know they have a safe home to retreat to when scared.> I also have another problem. I have 4 cichlids, one electric yellow <nice, but can be aggressive> and 3 I don't have a clues <Also nice. I use to breed "Idonthaveaclues". Won a prize for my Idonthaveaclue whatelseisnew :)>, my friend gave me the tank. Its not good at all. It's a 10 gallon. The filtration is perfect <What is it?> but the space is cramped. <Agreed> The electric yellow is 3 inches while the others are abut 1 inch. The 3 unknown species (with vertical stripes. They are blue in color and the other one dark with a red fins. Not a red tailed shark I'm 100% sure on that. Doesn't even look like it) but anyways, the electric yellow seem to torment the smaller fish. <Yep> I'm going to return the 2 Oscars and move them into there, but I'm afraid of the Oscar problem happening to them. Please help. <Before you choose which fish to return, check your pH and hardness. The yellow is an African cichlid and likes a high pH and hard water. The Oscars and Pleco are South American and like a lower pH and softer water. If you match the fish to your local conditions you will have fewer problems. But if you go with the Oscars and Pleco, you will need a larger tank in time. If you put the Africans with the Pleco, he may still cause a commotion at night. Again, target feed your Plecos!>

Night Fright pt 2 I also have something to add to the Oscar problem. It seems that the light stay on thru the week at  night Mon-Fri. <Not good> I'm not here on the weekends due to divorce problems. <Sorry to hear. Been there> Is this a problem and do they have timers so the light turn off and on by timer <Yes, or leave them off all day. Better than on all night>  and some kind of automatic feeder. I'm trying to move them to the house I'm at Mon-Fri but it's slow happening. Also how can I move my fish long distances about 75 miles doing 60 the whole way.....thanks. <You can get a small timer to handle the lights. Any hardware or department store will have them for less than $10. You can also get auto feeders at some of the larger pet stores or online. Better if you can talk whoever is there during the week into feeding them. As to moving them, it really depends on the size of the fish. Small fish in a large plastic bag half filled will be OK for an hour or so. If they look like they are gasping for air, open the bag and splash the water around a little. Larger fish can go in a clean bucket or other container. A battery powered air pump with an air stone will help a lot. Take as much of the old water as you can, use it to refill the tank. If your filter has a bio wheel or pad, keep it in tank water and reinstall on the tank. Do not clean it or keep it in tap water.>

Oscar systems hey there guys, hopefully you can answer a question I have that I hear a different answer for every time I ask! I currently have 3 Oscars (2 tigers, and an albino red) all between 5 1/2 and 7 inches collectively, and a 14 inch common Pleco (no joke, this is the largest Pleco I've seen before) in a 100 gallon tank, with a Fluval 403 canister filter.......is there a problem with this setup? < No the set up is fine.> is my tank too small? < No the tank size is fine too.> will I need more filtration? < That all depends on a couple of factors. Your filter should turn the tank over at least three to five times per hour. How often do you do water changes and how much water to you change. The nitrates should not be over 25 ppm. If they are then you need to change the filter and do a water change to reduce them.>   will I eventually need to re-house one of my Oscars? < Don't think so.-Chuck>> your help with this query would be greatly appreciated, as I have the time and money to do what is right for these fish, but I need to know what actually is right first ;)  BTW these fish all get along great                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks in advance                                                                                                                                                                                 Wanting what's best for my Oscars

Tank size Hi guys!   I've written before and like you site. I was wondering if a 125 gallon tank is big enough for a pair of Oscars plus a few other tank mates. I have two albino red Oscars that have great color to them. I bought them when they were about 1-2 inches long. They are now about 6 inches and doing fine. I have both of them in the 125 gallon tank with 3 Severum, two Plecos, a blood parrot, a large snakeskin Gourami and a dojo loach. All of them get along fine, the Oscars run into each other sometimes trying to beat each other to food. I've read that it is better to have either just 1 Oscar or several but not just 2 due to the larger one picking on the smaller one. I haven't had any problems, but both of my Oscars are pretty close in size. Do you think this size tank is big enough for them to grow healthy and happy in? Thanks for the advice < The tank size is fine. If your Oscars decide to pair off then all the other fish in the tank will be in trouble. Cichlids guard their eggs and young from all other fish. They may even kill the other fish to protect their young. Something to out for when they get bigger than 8 inches or so.-Chuck> Bill

Wet Web Psychics Could use your helps please guys! <So long as I do not have to leave my house.> Hopefully you can answer a question I have that I hear a different answer for every time I ask! <Damn MagicEigtballs, so wishy washy. Just give me a straight answer, please.> I currently have 3 Oscars (2 tigers, and an albino red) all between 5 1/2 and 7 inches collectively, and a 14 inch common Pleco (no joke, this is the largest Pleco I've seen before) <I know them well.> in a 100 gallon tank, with a Fluval 403 canister filter.......is there a problem with this setup? <Yes> Is my tank too small? <As I see it, Yes.> Will I need more filtration? <Yes Definitely> Will I eventually need to re-house one of my Oscars? <Cannot Predict Now> Your help with this query would be greatly appreciated, as I have the time and money to do what is right for these fish, but I need to know what actually is right first ;) <Better Not Tell You Now.  Ok, Ok, sorry, I'm done.  Environmental variables will directly affect their growth rates.  Diet, water temperature, water quality, tank mates, and on and on, will all play a role in their development. Luckily with a 100gal tank you have some time to plan for their futures (College? Medical School?  Maybe even an Astronotus?) It all depends on the quality of life you want for your fish.  If you keep them in the 100gal and do everything else perfect, you are going to find yourself with 3-5feet of Oscar that have no room to swim, attitudes to match their size, appetites to match their attitudes, and all that food has to go somewhere.  It won't work in the long run (2-5yearish).  I give the Fluval a few more months at best.  Great filter, but buy itself it cannot keep up with the bioload.  I'd add another canister filter for now, and of course weekly to biweekly water changes.> BTW these fish all get along great. <Don't worry, that'll change in time.  Consider some drift wood for your tank; the less dominant will use it for cover, and the big boys can push it around without injuring they fleshy faces.>                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks in advance                                                                                                                                                                                 Wanting what's best for my Oscars <Frequent water changes and a varied diet.-Gage>

Sideways Oscar My Oscar developed hole in the head, I am still treating for it, but now he cant close his mouth, and his eyes are cloudy and he lays bent in half on the bottom of the tank...always on his right side he lays, last night he floated to the top, and folded in the middle, and looked dead except for his breathing WHAT CAN I DO? I only have Metronidazole in the house....if that wont treat it, is he dying? Is there a way to euthanize him? <It is possible that the meds you used killed your bio filter causing an ammonia spike. Do you test your water? Send us the numbers if you do. If not, start! What kind of filter and what size tank do you have? Must warn you, by the time a fish is in this condition it is rare for them to pull through. Don> My big fishy Hi Bob, My girlfriend and I have an Oscar that has had pop eye for at least three weeks.  It started with the one eye and now the other eye is beginning to bulge.  He is eating very little, if at all.  We have him isolated in a separate tank (none of the other fish have any symptoms).  We have been treating him with Maracyn Two and have completed the second treatment, but it seems he is getting worse.  White spots have appeared on his body.  Should we continue with treatment?  Switch the treatment?  What could this possibly be?  HELP! Please let us know if it is time to say good-bye. < Pop-eye is caused by bacteria growing behind the eye socket. Metronidazole will treat the pop-eye and rid-ich by Kordon will treat the white spots if he has ich. Do a 30% water change and keep the water at 80 degrees F and clean the filter. Follow the directions on the packages. These medications may affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so check the water quality often during treatment. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm.-Chuck> Thanks much!! Craig

Oscar Hello, My name is Bill Holland. I have an Oscar that has been laying on his side at the bottom of the tank. I read some of the FAQ and advice, and notice you advice Epsom salt and medicated food. Could you please give me a dosage for both, and a brand food you would advice. Thank you. < Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Make sure the water temp is up around 80 degrees F. Try and get him some washed earthworms. Once he eats a couple of these he should be up and about. Try and get him to eat some pellets by Spectrum, Marineland or Hikari. -Chuck> Bill

Re: Oscar I've done the water change and filter change. I put in salt this evening, as well as a treatment for ick. Should I keep going with the salt, or just go with the food? < I think you need to get him up and build up his strength, so I would start getting him the food.-Chuck>

5 yr. old Oscar & Plecostomus Hello, I have a 55 gallon tank with a red Oscar and a Plecostomus which are both at least five years old. The Oscar is about 10 inches long and the Plecostomus is about a foot long. The Oscar looks as if it's pregnant. It is blotted and has clear looking eggs coming out right  under his stomach. I know that this is not possible but I have seen fish eggs and that's what it looks like. It's not acting any different, but I'm worried about the clear eggs coming out. Please help me. We have had them so long I would hate for anything to happen to them. Thanks, Joni < I think your Oscar has an internal bacterial infection and the infection has caused the gut to swell and prolapse part of the intestine and rectum. Treat with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package. The fact that he is still eating is a good sign.-Chuck> Sick Oscar sick I have a 6yr old Oscar who has had hole in the head since he was 2yrs. Recently he has developed cloudy pectoral fins with red streaks in the vein of one side. The tank is a 55gl he is about 12" filtration is a 350 magnum,400 Emperor 280 Emp he is the only fish in it. water changes are done weekly. filters changed about evert 2 weeks alternating .Change water consist of, ro/di add SeaChem cichlid salt and alk buffer and cycle to tank each water change  test for GH 7 KH 3 ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 60ppm I have been dosing Metronidazole last three water changes  it seems to help some but at each new water change he seems to do worse again. He acts like he is having a hard time seeing his food which all he will eat is tetra food sticks Half the tank has about a 1/4" of small gravel the other side he stays at the most is ,bare .PH is 6.9 to 7.1 Not sure why he seems to do worse after water change it does look like he has some ich also temp is 79 would  be very thankful for any help Thanks Jeff. He has had a good appetite until having trouble seeing < The nitrates are too high making him susceptible to diseases. Nitrate levels should be under 25 ppm. This is partially the reason for the hole in the head. So here is what is going on and here is how to fix it. You have lots of filtration which is good , but you are not changing them often enough. I know the canister filter is a pain to deal with but you need to change all the filters at the same time and at least once a week. The filters take the waste out of the tank but do not remove it from the system. So the bacteria continues to break down the ammonia and nitrites into nitrates. That is good and that is what is supposed to happen . The problem then is removing the nitrates. Nitrates are removed by changing the water to dilute them to under 25 ppm. You can change all the filters at once because the bacteria are living on the BioWheels. Do a 30% water change and clean all the filters. Vacuum the gravel to get rid of all the crude that has accumulated there. Once the tank is clean we can begin treatment. Organics in the water will absorb fish medication making them unavailable for treating the diseases. Remove the BioWheels and any carbon in the filters. Place the BioWheels in a container with water from the tank and let them sit in a cool dark place for a time. You Oscar has developed a bacteria infection and needs to be treated with a Nitrofuranace type drug. If he has ich too then treat it at the same time with rid-ich. Change 30% of the water before repeating the medication. Try and get the water temp. up to 80 to 82 degrees F. Once the fish is cured try to get him to eat with washed earthworms. The additional live food should bring him around quickly. Once he is eating then change some water and put the carbon back into the filters. When the medication has been removed and the green colored water is gone, you could then put the BioWheels back on the filters. Watch for ammonia spike because the medication may affect the good bacteria needed to break down the fish waste. So more water changes may be needed under the tank stabilizes again. If you Oscar is strong enough then he can handle the changes. Hopefully you have caught it in time.-Chuck>

Just bought 3 Oscars Hello, I just bought 3 medium size Oscars from PetSmart last night. They told me that they would be OK in my 46 gallon tank.... even if they get to be 12 inches long a piece.... After reading a bit on your website... it sounds like they were wrong!! What should I do? Can I make it work? They are doing very well right now. < Check the nitrates. They should not exceed 25 ppm. If they do then you need to change some water to get them down. I think you will find that you will need to change water at least a few times a week with this many large Oscars in this tank. They will eventually get sick and not look very good or you will get tired of changing 25 gallons of water every other day. Start thinking about a larger tank in the next few months.-Chuck> Please help! Kathy Houston, TX.

Re: Just bought 3 Oscars I checked my Nitrates and it is about 10ppm. How big of a tank will I need for my 3 Oscars? It makes me so mad that they told me they would be OK in this tank.... they were using the method... 1in. of fish for every gallon..... I might see if they will let me return them.... I am afraid that I won't be able to get a larger tank... they are so expensive! I hate to return them.... I have wanted cichlids for a long time!! and when I saw the Oscars I thought they were so neat. If you have any other words of wisdom, please let me know! Thanks for your help!! < Keep in mind that healthy Oscars will be close to a foot long in a year or so. Your 46 gallon tank is probably a little over 3 feet long so it won't take too long before there is no room for them to swim. You can keep smaller cichlids that are just as interesting and colorful and don't get too big. I would recommend central American cichlids of the genus Archocentrus. Males get about four inches and females get about half that. They are a little aggressive but are easy to keep and breed. A. nanoluteus  and A. myrnae are a couple that would very easy to keep and are very pretty too. They are not too common in pet shops yet so you might have to look around. Check out Aquabid.com there may be some on there you can bid on. -Chuck> Kathy

Re: electric yellow gets dark/new Oscar problem Hi Jim - Thanks for getting back to me. I seem to have a much more urgent problem now, but before I go into it, I will answer your questions as far as I can. Water - no ammonia or nitrate; I do not know the precise pH. After I started my aquariums two years ago, I was assiduously attending to ph, but the local fish store lady told me that with my well water, the same water that she uses in the store, I had no need to do so and so I haven't since. Diet - tetra cichlid sticks and jumbo min food sticks. I also throw in some Wardley's Large Tropical flakes for some of his tank mates. As to F1 and F20, I have never before encountered these terms. Nobody picks on this fish, nor does he pick on anybody, unless they seem about to intrude into his hollow log, which he dearly loves. He still seems good and healthy. Now, the more urgent problem: I have three Oscars in my 90 gallon tank, all nearing two years of age, and all rambunctious, vigorous eaters. I feed them three times a day - 9 JumboMin food sticks per feeding, at about 10:00 AM, 6:00 to 7:00 PM and about 1:00 AM. They leap for those sticks even before they hit the water, and all nine disappear in a matter of seconds. Tonight, at evening feed time, they were all in their usual place by the lid, but when I threw the food in, nothing happened. All three simply ignored it. The only time any of them have ever ignored food has been after a battle that it got the worst of,  and that hasn't lasted. Last night, I vacuumed the tank and did a 25 percent water change. I did my other four tanks at the same time, and all the other fish are eating as normal. I checked for ammonia, found none, though I did find a low level of nitrite, barely registering. I always change my filters 24 hours after I vacuum, so that whatever crud gets stirred up and not removed from the water will get caught in the old filters, and that 24 hours came after the feeding. I usually add about three tablespoons of salt after a water change, but I forgot to do so last night, although I do not believe that to be the cause of the problem. They are milling about right now and they look normal as regards color and fin, so I am perplexed. There is a Pleco with them and it is scurrying about doing its thing. Most of the pellets have now disappeared, and I think that was the work of the Pleco. The tank is well aerated. I hope I still have Oscars in the morning. If I do, and if they have not returned to their diet, what are your thoughts? < Give them a few days to settle down. I think they may have been overfed and have bloated up. If they don't eat after a couple days and their fecal matter looks long white and stringy then they have come down with an internal bacterial infection. I would recommend treating the water with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package very carefully.-Chuck> Bill

Re: electric yellow gets dark/new Oscar problem Thanks, Chuck - and good to hear from you again. Did you catch my earlier comment about how the green terror suddenly started eating normally last month? He is looking very good, and has even grown some more since returning to his normal eating habits. < It sounds like he may have damaged that pharyngeal bone earlier and it has healed itself by now. That's good news.> If you think the Oscars may have been bloated, does this mean 9 pellets three times a day is too many? < It could be too much of a good thing. I know that Oscars are chow hounds and it is hard to resist feeding them sometimes. Try cutting back for a few days and see if they get back to their old selves.-Chuck> It has been a bit odd since this problem first arose. At some feedings, one or two Oscars have eaten, and at others, all three. No more feedings have been altogether ignored. But the old enthusiasm and voraciousness is not there. They all look good. Bill

Oscar with bloated belly Hello! I have three Oscar fish. One is isolated on one side of the tank because he won't stop fighting. Here is my question: Just this week I have noticed he has a tennis-ball size lump on his belly. There is a hole with what looks like his male organ coming out of it (almost clear pinky-like). He (or she?) is eating and swimming okay, but seems to keep his mouth open most of the time. Can you help? I am very worried about the poor guy! Is he dying? < If he wasn't eating I would suspect bloat. But either way I suspect an internal bacterial infection and would recommend treating with Metronidazole for anaerobic bacteria. If not treated the bacteria could continue to grow and eventually kill your fish.-Chuck> Christy

Re: Oscar with bloated belly One more question: After "Bruno" is better. Should I try to put him/her with the other two Oscar's or leave him where he is? They are in the same tank, but with a glass partition between them. It's a pretty big tank, but I'm sure they would all like a little more swimming room. Before he and only one of the Oscar's fought quite a bit, so we separated them. Should I give it a try? Or leave them where they are? We had a Red Devil in the tank, but he was way to aggressive, so we bought him his own. < The best way to treat Bruno would be in his own small hospital tank away from the other fish. This way it is cheaper to medicate a small tank rather than a big one and you have better control. After he's is fully cured you could put him back in his old tank with the other fish. But I would wait under dark, rearrange all the decorations and do a 50% water change. Add Bruno back in a turn off the lights for the night. The logic behind this is to disrupt the cichlids aggressive behavior and allow Bruno a chance to get settled in and have a chance to peck his way back in to the group. -Chuck> Christy

My Tiger Oscar is Turning Black I was hoping you could help me out. My boyfriend has 2 Oscars, one is a Tiger the other a red and they live happily in a 100 gallon tank (at least, I think it might even be bigger) with the big Pleco. They have all been doing well except the large Tiger Oscar. He recently has been turning black from the back to the middle of his body. I noticed yesterday that the front part of his body is very grey looking and his coloring is dull all over. He looks like he is breathing very hard, he's very lethargic, not moving around much at all and has not eaten in about 4 days or so. I know my b/f has had these Oscars for quite a few years, at least 5 or so, and we were just wondering if the Oscar was just getting old and dying or if this might be some form of disease or something. The other 2 fish are absolutely fine, they're very active still and the color is fine. The tank is cleaned regularly and there has been no changes in the water or they way b/f has kept the tank. I have been looking everywhere for some kind of answer, but have not found anything like this. Any suggestions? Nanette < A bacteria attack has created this 1/2 black condition on your Oscars. Place in an isolation tank and treat with Furanace. If an isolation tank is not available then do a 30% water change and remove the carbon from the filters. Treat with Furanace and follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Oscar question Hello, I was just wondering if you could help me out with a question about my Oscar.  He has always been a very aggressive fish but has never lost any scales from bumping things before so I do not believe this to be the cause now.  He is losing scales all around his gills on one side.  Along with this he seems to have a fleshy growth coming out of his mouth.  It now pokes out when his mouth is completely closed.  I'm getting rather concerned because we live about an hour and a half from the nearest pet store and if I need some medication I will have to make plans to go get it.. My fish is about two years old and a good 8-10 inches long. I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me.  Could you please send any response to my email address of XXXX@gawab.com. < Sounds like he has been in a fight or has run into something rough and hard. Either way you need to get a water conditioner with some wound control in it to prevent infection. If the areas look like they are getting white and fuzzy then there is a fungal infection starting. Make sure the water is clean and the filter is serviced. Keep the wastes down by doing water changes. He may come down with a bacterial infection with red streaks or blotches that need to be treated with Furanace or Maracyn. A tablespoon of rock salt will help him produce a slime that will help prevent infection.-Chuck> Thanks very much, Brad Oscars, shedding scales hello wet web media!!!! my new Oscar tank(355 gallon tank is doing wonderfully thanks to you guys help but my 2 16 inch Oscars (red) are being awfully lazy I mean very lazy they just sit around I feed them some pellets and they might eat just 1 pellet then go back down to the ground I'm keeping the water temp at 78 f.     well  I want to know if this is normal there about 8 months old now and they have never acted this way before.....Pls let me what you guys think. < If they are Ok and just being fat and lazy that is one thing. If they are truly ill then that is another. Try not feeding them for a few days and then see if they perk up. If not and there are no external symptoms then I might think about treating with Metronidazole for internal anaerobic infection.-Chuck>                                             thank you                                             Sean (ps-you website is so awesome gg guys) Re: Oscars, shedding scales they are also shedding scale this is creeping me out < Shedding scales is not normal and definitely bacterial. Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Treat with Furanace or Maracyn. This will affect the biological filtration so watch for ammonia spikes. Try and place them in a smaller tank to save money on the medication. You have a big tank and will cost a lot of money to treat.-Chuck> Oscar Cichlid sick? 7/28/04 Hello, I have an albino Oscar.  Last week I noticed the edges of his bottom fins were black and also a little on the edge of his tail.  I called the local pet store where I normally go to get his feeders and asked them what could be wrong and they stated that he probably had a fungus.  I went to askjeeves.com and asked a question about what could be wrong and found your site.  I have to say I am very pleased as there is lots of information but nothing that exactly pertained to my problem.  I did a 30% water change and for the last 5 days I have been adding Tetracycline tablets to the tank as the pet store advised to try to clear up the fungus they thought he probably had.  Now this evening when I came home, my Oscar is kind of floating on his side at the top of the water in the aquarium and really acting lifeless. Could you please tell me what could be wrong with my Oscar and how I can try to help him and cure whatever is wrong with him.  I dont want to lose him, as he was a birthday present to me.  I have had him for 4 months and truly have gotten attached to him.  I have watched him grow and hate the thought that he might die although I do realize that this may be an option.  Do you think you know what the problem is? < You actually had fin rot which is a bacterial infection. The tetracycline will work if the water is acidic. Unfortunately the medication has probably killed off the good bacteria that converts the deadly ammonia to nitrite and eventually nitrate. So what you have now is new tank syndrome with high ammonia levels. The red coloration of the medication has masked the cloudy appearance of the water from the ammonia. You need to do a 30% water change right now!. Service the filter and replace the carbon. When the water is clear add some Amquel plus to absorb the ammonia. Change 30% of the water every day and check the ammonia levels. They should be zero and the nitrite should also be zero. The nitrate should be under 0.25ppm.-Chuck>

RE: Sick Oscar Chuck, thank you for responding to my email.  I called Pet Supermarket yesterday and the guy told me to get some PimaFix and said that he thought my Oscar had an internal fungus.  He told me to do a 75% water change and add that to the water.  I did this and immediately after putting Oscar (that's his name) back in the tank he was back to acting like his old self. Now, my question is, the bottle says that I am to add this PimaFix to the water for 7days to clear up the infection that he has.  I am into the second day of using the medicine.  My question is, is the water supposed to be murky looking.  I changed the filter and put in new carbon.  Although Oscar is fine and acting as his normal self (although he's not eating yet, but I figure he'll let me know when  he is hungry) the murky water concerns me. Is there something else that I need to add to the water to offset that.  I hate to be a bother, it's just that for 4 months I haven't had a problem with my Oscar and now it seems that trying to clear up this fungus is something new.  Can you help me now and tell me what to do? < The water change was good. I have never heard of an internal fungus but I guess it is possible. I have never heard of PimaFix so I cannot comment on it directly but I think I can still help you. Any time you medicate an established aquarium you run the risk of killing off all those good bacteria you waited so patiently to get going so you could add all the fish you wanted. The medication has probably killed off all the good bacteria and now you tank may be showing signs of ammonia spike. Check the ammonia levels. When you medicate it is a good idea to change some of the water. It is NOT a good idea to keep carbon in the filter since it will absorb the medication. If the ammonia levels are OK then the color is from the medication. Some medications seem to take forever to go away. use good quality carbon and frequent water changes.-Chuck>

FW stingrays sorry about this I will be quick but are stingrays  fine with Oscars or not because I really love them but if they are not I will  give them there own tank so please email me on your thoughts about this thank you very much < This is a tough one. I think the Oscars will leave the stingrays alone and vice versa if they are about the same size. The problem I see is getting enough food to the stingrays without the Oscars eating it all. maybe feeding at night will help. If it looks like the stingrays are getting too thin then separating them from the Oscars may be the only option.-Chuck>

Stingrays with Oscars thank you for your time  do you think that a stingray would be fine with Oscars < I think that as long as they are pretty equal in size they should get along. I would still watch them closely for the first few days to make sure.-Chuck.> thank you

Stingrays with Oscars thank you for your time. I would like to know if you would know it would be possible to out a stingray with Oscars  thank you for your time <Both come from South American rivers so the water requirements should be the same. They should get along as long as they are close to the same size. The Oscar may not let any food sink down to the bottom so you may have to feed the stingray at night to make sure he is getting some food.-Chuck>


Open mouthed Oscars Hi, I have been looking for information on what could be wrong with my Oscars. I have searched all your postings and while I did find one that related to open mouthed Oscars, it did not give me much information. I have a black Oscar and a white one. The black one's mouth has been opened continuously for about 6 weeks now. The white one for about a month. They are hungry and try to eat but cannot close their mouths to keep the food in. I have done a couple of 25% water changes in the past 2 weeks but no change in the fish. I have never tested the water as I do not know how but am looking to learn. I must admit that I have not changed filters and water at optimum rates in the past. Any ideas? < If they are gasping for air then you probably have some waste build up that needs to be addressed. Change the filter and do a 30% water change every other day for a week. Next week vacuum the gravel to get rid of all the junk accumulating in the sand. Your water should be in pretty good shape by now. If no improvement is seen then there may be an obstruction in their throats. Catch one of the fish and look down the throat with a flashlight and see if there is any visual signs of problems. If not then their mouths may have been damaged from trying to eat materials that are too hard to chew, then try and premoisten the food to soften it up and see if that helps.-Chuck>                                       Thanks, Brad Re: Open mouthed Oscars Chuck, thanks for the quick response. I went to my local fish & aquarium dealer today and I told him about the open mouth symptoms that my Oscars are displaying. He told me that they have developed a disease that is similar to "Lock Jaw" and that it is rare but that he himself has dealt with it. To his knowledge, there is no cure and very little info out there on it. He also said that he did not know it was contagious and could not understand why both had developed the problem. In his experience just one Oscar in a tank of several had developed the condition. He said that the Oscars would eventually starve to death. Does this make sense to you Chuck? Ever heard of "Lock Jaw" leading to starvation in an Oscar? < Never heard of "Lock Jaw" disease before in Oscars. Some cichlids with producible jaws I have seen over extend their jaws and become stuck out but they are still able to feed. This is a new one on me and my friends. Another reason may be a damaged pharyngeal bone. These bones act as a second set of jaws that may become damaged while eating hard foods like pellets. Look down their throats and see if you find anything .-Chuck>    Thanks again,    Brad PS   I am beginning the treatments you prescribed to see if that will help. Oscar Problems Hi to all at WWM! I'd like to say thanks for the help you've given me in the past and now I'm sorry to say I need to bother you once again with another concern of mine. I wrote to you about a month ago give or take in relation to an albino Oscar I've had for about 5-6 months now. Anyway my problem then was that the Oscar was breathing quite deeply (not rapidly) and would scratch itself a couple of times in the morning - no other symptoms, one of the crew suggested that my large canister filter (Eheim 2028) may have been choking up the supply of oxygen to the tank and told me the flow return should be above the water level (which it wasn't and funnily enough the filter was a new addition). Having made this adjustment the problem with the breathing seemed to ease up a bit but never went away completely (although I no longer see any scratching first thing in the morning just occasional sideways swaying in the water). Ok well a few weeks ago I made a water change and absentmindedly forgot to turn the heater back on (for about 5 days) and the little Oscar was freezing - he just hid behind his plant and lay on the gravel all day until early evening when he would come out to eat. I was really worried when I realized what the problem was and dosed the aquarium with some salt (after turning the heater on again of course - I tried to return the temperature to the norm of 26 from about 17 over a number of days) and fed him a little antibiotic food thinking that he may have gotten something as a result of the stress. This is where I had my second problem - I used marine salt which buffered the pH from around 7.5 (normal for my aquarium) to 7.9. I changed the water to get it down again but he would have been subjected to the high pH for a couple of days and most probably residual salt quantities until where I am at the moment. The Oscar seems to be developing faint grey silverish tinges on his body (in patches - I'll see if I can get a photo) and is still breathing with difficulty (just deeply). When I did my most recent water change he seemed to shed his entire mucous layer (there was a lot sucked up the filter intake and stuck on plants and just generally floating about). This only occurred on the day immediately following the water change and doesn't seem to have repeated (I haven't as yet done another water change though). I know I should be thankful that the little guy is still even alive after what he went through but I think he's pretty strong and will be able to pull through if I can just work out what he is suffering from. Also he has two little black dots inside the circle on his tail, only on one side and they are really small, I have no idea what they are but they've been there for weeks and I've seen no change since they appeared. I was thinking he may have Costia what do you think? < You may have gill flukes or a protozoan infection. I would treat with clout first and then if things don't get better I would use Furanace.> Also do you think it would be worth my while to purchase a dissolved oxygen test - I was thinking that it would be handy to be able to eliminate this as a cause (at least of the breathing) straight away. < Add an air stone or a box filter. If the heavy breathing stops than you solved the problem and no further purchases are needed.> And I also just bought a microscope (I'm a little scared to use it however - don't want to stress him out any more than I have to) but if it would be helpful, I suppose I could do a skin scrape. < You need a book to identify pathogens or you can try looking online to try and match things up.> Parameters: - The tank is about 140 litres - The temp is now stable at 26 C - Oscar is about 4 inches and is by himself - Two filters (the 2028 and liberty 200) - Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 8 (these quantities have remained stable) - pH 7.6 - I'm currently dosing the tank with Melafix and feeding him antibiotic food - Behavior wise he's pretty much normal (well as normal as an Oscar can be :-)) I am really worried about him so any advice you could give me would be very much appreciated. Oh and one other thing, may or may not be important, he has gill curl - I realize the condition is permanent but what generally causes it? I have been led to believe it is from mineral/nutritional deficiency but I feed my fish a really varied diet and he has never got feeders so would that mean that I should be adding mineral salts or liquid trace elements to the water? < No it is genetic and there is no cure.-Chuck> Thanks again, Erica


Oscar Breeding

Thank you Chuck! They are separated just like you said, have been for two days now.  They look at each other through the divider. Is there anything I can do about them not eating? < Big cichlids usually don't like to be disrupted and may fast for a couple of days. Try washed earthworms to get them going.> I am putting the vitamins in the water which are supposed to help enhance their appetites.  The tiger just lays at the bottom of the tank and is not swimming around much.  He isn't beat up enough (as far as I can tell) to not be able to swim. So, they will still be able to "mate" separated? < Yes. As long as they can see each other and there is circulation in the tank, some of the 1000's of eggs will be fertilized.> Any idea how long I have to leave them separated? < I would not put them back together until they are both eating well and are active again.-Chuck> Thanks again. Joey from Alaska

Oscar Breeding, More Follow-up Another question for you, and this is an odd one... How long will it take for my Oscar's teeth to grow back in?  Now that the mating pair is separated and I'm medicating, my tiger Oscar's damaged flesh has sort of fallen off and has revealed that in the process of their brooding, his upper lip was so damaged that it has sort of come off.  Very sad site to see.  He had a pretty decent under bite before this all happened, so this doesn't surprise me.  But, his teeth lie just under that lip and I noticed that he only has 2 left.  This is why he is not eating I suspect. Not even interested so much in blood worms. Any idea how long they take to grow in?  I am medicating and watching him very carefully and there does not appear to be any infection.  Just a lot of facial damage. Hope you have an idea.  This is probably one of the stranger questions you get.  Even a ballpark figure would help so that I know what to sort of suspect.  Poor fish!!! < The teeth actually play a very small role in the fish's ability to eat. Once the gums and lips heal over then the appetite should pick up. Add some vitamins and keep the water clean to promote a quick recovery. White flesh is a sign that it healing. White cottony growth is fungus and needs to be treated.-Chuck> thanks again, Joey from Alaska

Sick Tiger Oscar I have a Tiger Oscar approx. 6 inches in length, have had him ~ two years in a 55 gallon tank.  I have two double penguin filters and do water changes as needed.  The only tank mate is an algae eater.  I began  vacuuming the gravel in   my tank ~ 1 week ago and noticed how much material I was stirring up, so I was putting well water in with one line and vacuuming out the water with another line thinking I was doing a good thing.  My Oscar is still eating, but sits on the bottom of the tank the rest of the time gasping.  I removed all the tank decorations (plastic plants and things) to clean and have not put them back.  Could this be stress, bacterial, fungus infections from stirring everything up?   His scales look normal, he has a few patches of white coloration on his sides (it is not fuzzy, just a paler coloration), I thought I saw a fuzzy thing on his tail (but I can't tell if it is just air), nothing else to speak of regarding his appearance.  Water temp is 80, PH was 7.6 or higher (my card does not go any higher), Nitrate was 40, and Ammonia was normal.  I began treating with Paragon II, it contains Metronidazole, Furazolidone, Neomycin Sulfate, Naladixic Acid and Sodium Chloride.  This is a broad spectrum antibiotic, although I do not know what I am treating for.  I also did a ~30% water change prior to medicating.  Any advice is greatly appreciated, he is part of my family. Thank you in advance.  Susan < You have a couple of things going on. Your high nitrates probably have stunted your Oscar. Sometimes well waters from agricultural areas contain high nitrates already. They should be 25 ppm or less. Check your well water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The ammonia and nitrite should read zero. Record the pH too. Let the water sit in an open container for 24 hours and check the water again. If the well water has changed pH then there was some co2 gas in the water that affected the ph and stressed the fish. Any radical changes in water chemistry are stressful to the fish and weaken them to disease. I would make sure the tank is healthy first before I started to medicate. Your shotgun medication may have affected the good bacteria in your tank so now you need to watch for ammonia spike now too.-Chuck>

Oscar tankmates Hi, how are you going < Fine thanks.> I was wondering I could have a couple minutes of your time < No problem, that's what we are here for.>   do you know what fish are fine to have with 2 large Oscars that are 7 inches long in a 5 foot tank thank you for your time < Your Oscars will be bigger in no time and will need all of that 55 gallon tank. Right now I would not recommend you add any other fish. Maybe a 4 inch Pleco if you give him a sheltered spot where the Oscars cant get to him.-Chuck>

Oscar has ICH or HITH? Hi, MikeD here> My Oscar still has his white spot O <--- about the size of that zero and the Tiger Oscar is only about 4 inches long.<Definitely not ick, which is a tiny white spot about the size of a grain of salt or smaller> The spot hasn't grown or healed and he's had it for at least 2 and a half weeks.<Where is the spot located on the fish, and is it a definite pit or hole?> I do water changes once a week and vacuum once a week.<Not too much of a water change I hope?> When do you think I should change the gravel.<Why would you want to change the gravel, unless it's because you don't like the color or stone size?> What should I treat his white spot as ICH or HITH?<From the information you gave me, it's definitely NOT ick, and maybe not HITH, at present I'd hold off on treating with anything....any chance of sending a photo?>

Re: Oscar has ICH or HITH? <Hi, MikeD here again> Ill send you a Photo Next E-mail (About 2 days)<OK> Its just a pit, not really a hole. Also it's right above the gill. <Good. That would sound more like lateral line erosion than HITH, which can often be made to subside merely by improving water conditions and food quality. My personal suggestion is to never use live goldfish as feeders, BTW. It's also possible it MAY be just a scar, and until you're sure WHAT you're treating, there's always the chance of doing severe harm by using the wrong treatment.>

Re: Oscar has ICH or HITH? <Hi again, MikeD here> What do you recommend as food. Right now I'm using Floating Pellets (Medium) made from Wardley.<Any good cichlid pellet or such should be fine, preferably one made for predators> Their quite old like a month. I feed him twice a day<Great idea! It's a growing baby and once a day often just keeps them alive, while more allows them enough extra energy to grow> about 7 pellets each serving. Their bags zip lock broke so I put it in a new Zip Lock Bag.<Good idea as they CAN go stale and lose food value> All I feed him is pellets. How do I know how much to feed him? I heard put in some pellets and see how much he eats in several minutes, but is several minutes 2 or 3 or 4?<Basically, you can feed it all it will eat until it quits eating, then stop. Any food left uneaten after 15 minutes should be removed> If you have any Recommendations for food I'll go out and grab some.<There are hundreds of predatory cichlid foods on the market, with most being satisfactory. find one that both of you seem to like and you should be fine. As "treats" you can offer it live ghost shrimp, even small earth worms if you so desire. some people feed live feeder fish, but with that you always stand a good chance of picking up parasites, so I'd suggest avoiding the practice to stay on the safe side.  Keep in mind that you'll need to change the size of the food pellets/treats as it grows, plus increase amounts according to its appetite>

Split fin on an Oscar, in the rain Hello, I have just recently acquired an Oscar and noticed that on his anal fin, he has a small split...my question is do they heal? If so how long does it normally take to do so?? Thanks. < Normally fishes fins will heal and grow back as long as the water is clean and no secondary infections are present. With clean water and good food the fin should heal up in a couple of weeks depending on the temp of the water and how far the tear went up the fin.-Chuck>

Itchy Oscar Hi to everyone at WWM! I hope you can help me in regards to a question I have about my Oscar which I bought about 3-4 months ago know I think. The tank parameters are: -          pH: 7.5 -          Ammonia: 0ppm -          Nitrite: 0ppm -          Nitrate: 5ppm -          Temp: 26 C -          40 gallons -          The Oscar is about 3.5 inches (he is the only one in the tank and was not put through a cycling process) -          Filtration: Eheim Liberty 200 and Eheim Professional 2028 Ok, for a while now (about a month) it seems (I say seems because I am not 100% sure if this is how he used to be) to be breathing deeply. Deeply as in I can distinguish pretty much every breath he takes from about two metres away from the tank and I'm pretty sure I haven't been able to notice this with any other fish I've kept. Also he is breathing deeply and not quickly. At first I thought it might have been just the way this fish breathes but over the last couple of weeks he has started to sway in the more powerful water return and every morning for the last five mornings, he has looked like he is trying to shake something off his head and scratches his head area/upper body along the substrate a few of times. This behaviour then stops until the next morning but he continues the sort of swaying motion throughout the day. He has no physical symptoms apart from those aforementioned - no white spots, no cuts, nothing else that is visually discernable as out of the ordinary. This is what I have done so far: -          I initially thought it may be flukes and as such dosed the tank with Praziquantel (2mg/litre) and started antibiotic feeding to reduce the chance of any secondary infections, unfortunately this doesn't seem to have had any marked impact at all and although I have kept up the feeding of the antibiotics did not bother to do a repeat dose of the Praziquantel. -          The only other thing I could match the symptoms to was some sort of protozoa infection like Costia (I had had the blinds open for a couple of weeks straight with direct sunlight on the tank and fish for most of the day - I thought this may have aggravated such a condition) and after leaving enough time for the Praziquantel to become ineffective, I dosed the tank with 0.3% salt in an attempt to flush it from the symptom, this doesn't seem to have helped matters either so now I am totally stumped (although still have the salt in the tank). I have no idea if what the fish has got could be lethal for him but it seems to be getting ever so gradually worse - any ideas you could give me would be really appreciated because it is frustrating me now to the point of giving up and seeing what symptoms eventuate as a result. I was thinking of getting a microscope but don't feel too confident in the physical scraping department - do you think it would be worth the effort? Hope this hasn't been too much of a drag for you. < No problem. Part of the problem may be you big canister filter. These big filters hold lots of media that the good bacteria live on to break downs the fishes waste products. As the water goes through the filter these bacteria need oxygen to survive. What ends up happening is that you have oxygenated water going into the filter but the water coming out of the filter has no oxygen left in it at all. Marineland compensates for this by having their BioWheel kits oxygenate the water as it flows over the wheels before going back into the tank. I would start by having the return tube above the waters surface to become oxygenated as it enters the tank or add an airstone to break the surface tension of the water. If all the environmental parameters are still good then we have to start thinking about diseases. Place the fish in a quarantine tank and treat with rid-ich to kill all external protozoans. Some like ich are visible to the naked eye but there are many that are not. Give these suggestions a try before making the big time investment of a microscope.-Chuck> Thanks again, Erica

Mouth fungus I have been treating a 4 in Oscar for mouth fungus today is the last day of the MarOxy treatment. My question is should I do a water change and do another 5 day treatment because he has only healed about half the way.-------------Thank You Fred < Water changes are never a bad idea. Watch the open wound closely. It a tank with clean water the wound should completely heal. Watch for ammonia spikes because the treatment will affect the "good" bacteria" and you may get an ammonia spike. Retreat if the wound looks like it starts to grow.-Chuck>

Re: mouth fungus I had a question I have a 3 inch Oscar that has mouth fungus. I treated him over the past 2 1/2 weeks with Maroxy. It cleared up a little after the first treatment so I waited about 4 days to see if it would clear up completely. When it didn't I treated another 5 days. My question is it's not cleared up much more should I try something else or not worry about it. He is acting fine eating great jumping almost out of the tank for food when I feed him swimming normally acting like a Oscar should.----------------Thanks Fred < The fungus may be gone but it is taking awhile to heal. If it looks like it is coming back and is getting larger I would treat with Furanace as per the directions on the package. Make sure that you do a water change to it will help the medication become more effective. -Chuck>

White bellies on my Tigers I have two small Tiger Oscars.  Fat Man has been turning a grey green and now his belly scales are turning white.  There are no wounds, no lost scales and no fuzz.  He is eating and behaving normally, just turning albino.  I feed them pellets, meal worms, shrimp, and worms from my garden. Now Little Boy is staying orange on his body but his belly is turning white too. < Tiger Oscars are a line bred fish in Asia bred for their colors. Tiger Oscars are not found in the wild. If your fish is not in distress then I would assume that it is part of his coloration and may be with him his whole life. If some symptoms do occur then we may be able to do something. Another approach may be to feed some color enhancing food that may give you Oscar a less whitish appearance. Try some Marineland Bio-Blend food or some Spectrum fish food . If there are any color cells left then these foods will bring them out. Neither one has hormones that will affect the growth or reproductive capabilities of your fish.-Chuck>

Tiger Oscar Hey, my Oscar has this white little indent right above his gill, theirs only one. I think I spotted it about half a week ago as just a white spot, but know I think I notice a little indent. I think it may be Hole In The Head Disease. I did my gravel vacuuming and also a 30% water change with water conditioner in the 30% new water and I also put in a new filter in the filtration system ( Do you think that will fix the indent?). < The improved water conditions can only help. It may slow the disease down.>   I don't have an Ammonia and Nitrate kit but I think I will go out and buy one tomorrow ( Can you give me a rough price ). < Each kit should be under $10.> Do you think you can send me some pictures of some fish with the Hole in the head disease just appearing if that is possible. Also can you, if you think it is HITH disease give me some information on treating it to get it to go away? < I just had this discussion a couple of nights ago with a few friends of mine at the local cichlid club. Unfortunately there has been no real science done on hole-in the head. Many people have done some lab work and found many things but no real "smoking gun" has been found yet. Keep the water clean and try to vary the diet to include some live food like earthworms and brine shrimp. If the holes look like they are getting bigger then you could try some Metronidazole at 250 mg per 10 gallons and follow the directions on the package. Prevention is much easier than treatment. Good Luck. Do a Google search on Hole-in-the-head disease and you will find numerous tips and theories on how this disease works and how to treat it. Some saltwater  fish get it too.-Chuck> Thank you.

Re: Tiger Oscar Thanks for the information so quick. Right before I got to bed, quick question? Its possible to cure right? Like make the hole go away and stop it from spreading with that medication? Or is he going to die?!.... Also when you said the improvements I did can "help" ( new water, new filter ), does this mean that it may cure it or does it mean it will only slow the death down? < If you don't know the specific cause of the stress then you don't know what needs to be changed. In some fish it may be high nitrates. But I have seen the disease in fully planted aquariums with no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate measured in the water. So then you have to start looking at other things like pH and diet. Vitamin deficiencies may be a cause too. No two aquarists keep two tanks totally alike. So the same two aquarists may have the disuse but the causes may be different depending on all the variables such as food source, initial water chemistry and other fish. There are no stone cold locks when it comes to treating Hole-in-the-head as of yet. I gave you some generalities to increase your fishes chances of survival. You may have to try some of these things and see if they are effective. But be aware no matter what you do you may never be able to cure your fish.-Chuck> Bye

Re: Tiger Oscar Also I read up that in most cases if it is caused by stress or poor water quality it isn't contagious meaning that it isn't bacteria and it wont spread and that one particular dent will clear up on its own if you clean the tank and such. I was just curious on your statement for that if it is true or totally made up. Thanks bye. < You need three things for a disease to occur. A parasite, a host ,and an environment that at the same time weakens the fishes immunity while at the same time enhances the reproductive behavior of the parasite. If you have poor water quality in your tank then other cichlids are likely to show the same symptoms because the conditions are the same throughout the entire tank. Stress can lead to all kinds of diseases not just hole in the head. I don't just make things up. My answers are based on years of experience with cichlids as well as attending seminars all over the country on cichlids too. Of coarse I am always willing to listen to something new on treatment for the problem, unfortunately I have been lead up the golden path many times over the years by "new " treatments that have never really been panned out.-Chuck>

Damaged Fins Help!!!  Hi there just a quick one. I bought 4 red Oscars (about 3-4cms long) and put them in my Cichlid tank till morning when my new tank would be ready for them. As I found out to my horror this morning the poor little Oscars never lasted as well with them as I thought: 1 has only 1 fin intact and 2 have 1 shorter fin  they were ok when I went to bed, they had got them selves all laid together in the corner as per usual but obviously their tankmates had set upon them when I shut the door or before I got up!  Do they grow back??? < Yes the fins will grow back if they have not been fungused. Keep the water clean and they should grow back although they may not be as straight or as long as undamaged fins.-Chuck>

Tiger Oscar Hey, I was just wondering when I should clean my tank. Its 10 gallon with about a 3.5 Inch Oscar. I know the tank is small but its okay for know, I'm eventually going to move him over to a 55 gallon once he is larger. The filter is Regent it came with the aquarium. It also has a small log in it with a heater and a thermometer. I feed him 3 pellets, 3 times a days. I'm wondering how and when I should clean my tank and change the filter and also vacuum the stones and change the water and how much percent of the water. Thanks < You need to have your water tested. You should have no ammonia and no nitrites in your water. If you do you need to service the filter and vacuum the gravel. The nitrates should be no more than 25 ppm. If they are higher then you need to do a water change to bring them down to that level. As a general rule I change 30 % of my water every 2 weeks while vacuuming the gravel. On week that I don't do a water change I change the filter. Check out Dr. Tim Hovanec's articles on filtration at Marineland.com and then click on Dr. Tim's Library for a more in depth understanding.-Chuck> Also I just became curious about my Oscars back fins, the tips are clear but just barely the tip (about 1mm-2mm ). I did some research and it sort of looks like Fin Rot but I'm not actually sure because I can't remember if he always had that as if it was part of his colour scheme. Sorry for the questions in the same day =-} < It could be part of the color scheme. Watch it closely to see if it grows.-Chuck>

Oscars breathing one-sided. Hi, Just wondering if you could possibly give me some insight as to what could be going on with my 2 Oscars?  I bought an adult pair of Golden Oscars on March.25. They had a host of problems.. all are gone now except for this gill issue. They seem to switch back and forth, and then use both gills normally. No particular gill is favoured. I thought they had gill flukes (although they are not breathing heavily).. using one gill seems to be a classic symptom of flukes. But they still continue to use one gill occasionally. After the first treatment I figured maybe I didn't dose the aquarium correctly. So I waited a few days, used carbon to remove the medication and treated for flukes a second time. Still no improvement. I'm completely stumped. They look and act healthy otherwise. It just bothers me to see them breathing that way. It's been just over 3 months now with no improvement. Could this be some sort of gill damage? < Based on their rather tough past it could be gill damage. Typically gills that have been "burned" by excessive ammonia do grow back. If they have been exposed to fungus as a secondary infection then they might not. I would recommend keeping the water well aerated so they don't have to labor to breath.> My water parameters are.. Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0 and Nitrate=10ppm. PH is 6.6. Water changes are done frequently.. I was hoping it would help. Aquarium is 75g and they are the only occupants. < Try and keep the water as clean as possible. Your numbers look good. Try and keep the nitrates under 25 ppm.-Chuck> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Linda

New Oscar I just purchased a 1 inch red tiger Oscar 3 days ago and he is in a 120 gal tank and he hasn't eaten yet. I called the pet store where I got him and they said to give him another day or two and if he isn't eating to bring him back to exchange him. I really don't want to take him back for another. I'm trying to feed him the cichlid gold mini pellets. There is a 18 inch Pleco in the tank with him. I had an 8 year old albino Oscar in there until a month ago when he died. Please any advice. < New fish can be a little temperamental until they get use to their new surroundings. Ask the store what they were feeding it. That should get him started. I wouldn't be really worried until after a week or so.-Chuck> Thanks Fred 

Tiger Oscar Hi Again; This is my second message of today but I forgot to add another question.  Like I said I feed my nearly 3 inch Tiger Oscar Cichlid Floating Pellets (Medium) made from Wardley.  I fed him one pellet before I went to bed (10:30 Pm). I woke up the next day ( 7:20 Am) and it was gone ( Not sure when he exactly he ate it although it had to have been between 10:30 Pm - 7:20 Am).  I got dressed and got ready to go to school and before I left I put another pellet in ( 8:20 AM ).  I came back from school and fed him another pellet at 6:30 Pm but he went up to it an put it in his mouth and spit it out without chewing it. I took it out and I thought I'd just feed him before I go to bed.  I was just wondering if he maybe he is full since he is a small Oscar and as you know, new to the tank so he hasn't been very active.  Also I wanted to know if I'm feeding him at good times or should if I should change the schedule and the amount of times he is fed. I also wanted to know how long I should leave a pellet in before I take it out of the tank because some people say to take it out right away since it may cloud the water- although there's only one Oscar in it.  Sorry for the two messages in the same day. < I don't think it is a good idea to leave the food in all the time. Eventually it will become lodged in the filter where the fish can't get to it. Put the pellet it and then take it out when you leave. If he is hungry then he will eat. Keep in mind that the pellets swell when wet.-Chuck> 

Re: Tiger Oscar Again As you know my Oscar is about 3 inches long, he's the only one in the tank and the size of it is 10 gallons it also has some decoration stuff in it like a log which is 5 inches long 4 high and 2 wide and an other decoration which is 1 inch wide 1 long and 6-7 high. it also has a heater 1 filter and a thermometer. I'm going to move him into a larger one ( 55 gallon ) once he is bigger. I was wondering how many times should I clean the tank and change the water est. ( keeping in mind that he is the only one in the tank). Thanks again < It depends on how often you feed, how much you feed, and what you feed. Start out changing two gallons a week. More if the water starts to smell or looks cloudy. This will keep the wastes down and your Oscar will grow quickly. -Chuck> 

Oscar-ama - II? III? Thank you for getting back to me so quickly but today when I got home the Oscar was dead. I took him back and traded for a 3 inch Oscar today. So I hope things will work out they tested my water and said it looked good.  I would like to ask the Pleco I have is 18 inches and for 8 years he has had no hiding spots and I seen on your site where you said to get PVC tubing for them to hide in. My question is do you think I should get it for him and how would I clean it so it would not effect my water chemistry. < Not all pleco's are the same. Some don't mind being out and about while others are very secretive. PVC is pretty inert and a good rinse is all you need. It is also cheap so I would offer it to him and see if he uses it.-Chuck> Thanks Fred 

Oscar Hello; He isn't as shy as he was when I first got him know. He know comes out and swims around the tank vertically and horizontally on a regular basis. Although if I approach him quickly he tends to back off but doesn't go hide in the corner like he use to.  He is know eating at least I think he is because the pellets which I put in are know missing, but I do see pieces of some of them laying on the bottom of tank- do you think he may have just taken some bites as they tend to get quite large when left in the tank for more than an hour or so?  I was wondering if I should steal feed him some Earth Worms from my backyard even though he maybe eating, just as a treat to get him to like me. He is only about 3 Inches long. Should I minimize the size of the worm or does it really matter? < Don't feed him any pellets for a day and then try the earthworms. He should be eating them very vigorously. If not then we need to start looking at other things.-Chuck>

Oscar Hello I recently purchased an Oscar and he has been hiding in the corner of the tank.  All he can do is lay on one side but he sometimes gets up and swims around when it is dark.  I read someone else's question like mine but I think mine may be different. I think it maybe because of stress or that he is just new to the tank.  Help, Thanks ( don't know how much longer ;( ) < New South American cichlids do sometimes take a while to get use to a new aquarium. If the water is 80 degrees and not too bright then he should be up and about in a couple of days. Try feeding him some washed earthworms. That should get up and about. If not then he might be getting sick. Watch for symptoms and get back to us.-Chuck>

Re: Oscar Thanks for the Advice. I think you are right because while I'm typing this message he is slowing going back and forth and watching me, Also last night I saw him again go for a swim. He went up and down and all over the tank. Although he is not eating I think I will do what you said and dig up some worms and rinse them and put them in ( I was feeding him Cichlid Floating Pellets from Wardley). < The worms will help bring him out of his shell. After awhile he should have his face plastered against the glass begging for more.-Chuck> 

Tiger Oscar goes "Grrrr..!" I feed my know 4 inch Oscar medium sized pellets- I was just wondering how many times I should feed him and the amount, because whenever I grab the bag he gets all excited as if I'm going to feed him again after I already did. I was wondering if I'm not feeding him enough, I feed him three times a day three pellets each time. Thanks <As long as the food is all gone in a couple of minutes then three small feedings a day is fine.-Chuck>

Red jaguar Oscar acting funny To start off, what an excellent FAQ!!! My Oscar, a red jaguar, is 5 inches and in a 10gal tank. That's the first problem which is being solved very shortly. He has grown 2 inches this semester and the largest tank I'm allowed to keep in my dorm isn't going to work anymore. I have been feeding him feeder fish his whole life, and there hasn't been too much of a problem. Since I got him almost a year ago, his color has lightened a little, but not much. Yesterday I came out to check on him and found he had turned a bright white from his usual dark brown and he was floating. It was time to change the water, but I was in a rush so I put him in my feeder tank. The next morning he was a lot livelier and his color was fluctuating still. He would go from his normal dark brown to the pale white about every five minutes. It was an all of the sudden change in color, then steadiness.  I took his tank today and did a full clean of it, and let it settle. Put him back in his normal tank with a few buddies (5 feeders).  I don't expect him to eat any yet, and he will probably not eat for another day or so.  I've noticed that back in his tank he tends to swim backwards towards the corners allot more than usual, and if he is not doing that he will do headstands. When he is in the corners he is usually on a 45 degree angle. Any ideas past a new tank (I should be getting a 55 gal soon) why he is acting funny? Maybe a diet of more pellets? < Your poor Oscar. At a year old he should be at least 12 inches in length or close to it. The high ammonia, nitrites and nitrates have probably stunted him for life. The high protein diet generates lots of waste. Your technique of waiting until your Oscar is near death before changing water has probably stressed him to a point to where he may not recover. If your Oscar is still alive when you get your 55 gallon tank then I would recommend a book so you can properly care for your fish. Anything else but an Oscar would have been dead a long long time ago. -Chuck> Thank you in advance Mike

Bosco Oscar I have any Oscar that is about 5 to 6 inches long in a thirty gallon tank by himself. I have had him for a year or so. Recently, he stopped eating as much and he always seems to stay at the top of the tank by the filter. He stays upright, but does not really swim around. he just stays in one area.  any idea what may be causing this.  < Change some water and rearrange the tank. If there is no medical problem and he is just bored then this might get him stimulated to check out his new habitat. If the problem still persists then I would look to change his diet. Try washed earthworms or pellets. Try different things and see what happens. -Chuck>  Thanks, Greg

Minimum tank size for two adult Oscars Hi.  I was wanting to know what is the minimum tank size for two adult Oscars. < Probably at least 100 gallons with good filtration. Adult Oscars are big fish and messy eaters, so you need a good filter that is easy to service and will do the job. I would recommend the Marineland Tidepool filter with the skimmer attachment. Look around and you can probably get both for around $200. You will still need to get a pump for it. You need to get a pump that will pump at least 300 gallons an hour. The Tidepool system can handle up to 600-700 gallons per hour. The best thing about this filter is it has a very large biological filter with its built-in BioWheel. It is very easy to service. Check it out.-Chuck> Or what is the best for them.  Thanks.

White patches: ich, velvet, both, neither? Before I start, here's the background: Two 5-6" Oscars, one 5" Pleco, 39 g tank (which I now know is wayyyy too small and am diligently saving toward obtaining a 120 g tank ASAP).  Two HOB filters (Penguin 125 w/BioWheel & a Millennium 1000).  Biweekly 25-50% water changes depending on the amount of crud. Try to keep Ph no higher than 7.0 and ammonia is at a "safe" level according to the ammonia alert card in the tank (can those be trusted?).  I put in 1 Tbls of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water I add during water changes. I use tap water treated with aqua safe & try to get it as close to the tank temp as possible.  1 or 2x daily feedings of Oscar pellets, dried brine shrimp &/or occasional live earthworms (rinsed).   Please see the attached pics of my Lilo's spots and tell me if this looks more like ich or velvet or just injuries from fighting. <After reviewing the photo it looks like wounds from fighting> It doesn't look fluffy like velvet or pinpointy like ich.  Stitch has recently started ramming Lilo's sides and I noted a scale pop off yesterday.  Obviously I need to get a much bigger tank ASAP.  In the meantime, I put a plastic screen in to separate them, which unfortunately only makes the habitat smaller for each, but at least they aren't tormenting each other at the moment. The pic has a greenish tint because I added 3 tabs of Tank Buddies Fungus Clear (Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate) and per the instructions, took out the carbon cartridges from the filters. < You should have removed the BioWheel from the penguin filter too. Medications can kill the bacteria on the wheel sometimes.>   How soon before I can put them back in?  The box says do another treatment and 25% water change in four days if it hasn't cleared up. Does that mean the cartridges stay out for that long? I don't want to poison them!  They are each quite lethargic right now & didn't swim up to greet me at feeding but did each eat a red wiggler this morning.  Thanks in advance for your assistance. < Do a partial water change and try using a conditioner with some wound control in it. The Oscars will recover from the wounds since they don't look too serious and Oscars are pretty tough customers to begin with. I would not remedicate if the fungus does not reappear. The fungus likes to live on dead tissue. Watch you ammonia levels since the bacteria may have been harmed by the medication. Add the carbon back after 24 hours to clear things up and get you tank back on track.-Chuck>

Pool Filter Sand in Oscar Tank I am setting up a new Oscar tank and seen pictures of a guy who used pool filter sand in his and I really like the looks of it.  My question is, is it O. K. to use this type of sand in an Oscar tank or will it create me problems down the road due to the silicates it contains? <Sand is basically silicon dioxide SiO2(Quartz and glass). As long as it is well washed so no dust sized particles are being returned to the tank you should be OK. Some problems may arise using sand blasting sand. Sand blasting sand is crushed sand that is angular and abrasive. It can also be abrasive against a fishes scales  or eyes should they rub themselves on the sand . This is especially bad for Lake Tanganyikan sand sifters.-Chuck> Thanks for your help, Bryant Brown

I think my Oscar is dying I have a tiger Oscar in a 55 gallon tank right now with 2 tin foil barbs and a Bala shark (all are fairly young and eventually we will get a bigger tank). I am running 2 emperor 280s on the 55 gallon tank which I think is plenty.  A while ago my Oscar started swimming funny and acting like a recluse. He was twirling and rolling over and swimming horizontal (like laying on his side) and then he'd just lay at the bottom away from everything else behind a rock. I took in a water sample to my local pet shop and was told my nitrate levels were way too high. I started doing 30% water changes every 3 days for 9 days.  He seemed a little better and was even swimming normally for about 3 days and now he's started floating at the top of the water completely horizontal. Yesterday he swam completely vertical (nose to the ground) all day.  He appears to be sunken in or to have lost some weight in his belly which might be due to the fact that he's  not eating.  His gills are also swollen.  My fiancé thinks he's a goner, and I just can't accept that. There has to be something I can do. Right?   I've done a bazillion searches on things like whirling, twirling, rolling over, vertical swimming, horizontal swimming, and can't find anything to help me out accept a lot of suggestions to keep doing frequent (every 2 or 3 days) water changes.  Will that really solve this problem?  I really hope you can help me, as I've grown really attached to the little guy. <High nitrates over a long time can induce stress and disease. Unfortunately not all the diseases are on the surface of the fish and indeed are internal. Internal infections are hard to diagnose and very difficult to treat. If the fish is still eating I would try some washed earthworms to build up his strength. If he is eating I would increase the water temperature to 80 degrees. Ask your local fish store for some medicated fish food with Metronidazole in it. Look online too. If he is still eating then feed the medicated food to him as per the directions on the package. This may be a lot of work to save a fish with the chances of a full recovery pretty slim. Good luck.-Chuck> -Kelli

Re: I think my Oscar is dying Thank you for your reply.  I wish it was more promising. I treated the tank today with some aquarium salt (1 tbsp/ 5 gallons). <The salt will help create a slime on the surface of the fish but may not help with internal conditions.>   I also noticed a bump or bulge on one side, the side that's floating above the water. He's been on his side all day and seems to struggle in intervals to be in any other position.  He hasn't eaten today and I don't believe he ate yesterday.  I read some things that said to stay away from pellets...should I? < Overall pellets are not too bad. If in doubt you can soak them first so they swell up before you feed them. Try not to over feed. It is easy to do with pellets> I also measured the nitrates today before a water change and they were between 25 and 40. < Service the filter to help keep the nitrate load from building up> I could only do a 10% water change today because I ran out of dechlorinator. I'll have to run and get some tonight.  The tank has always been at 80 degrees, so unfortunately I can't do anything there. Any additional help would be greatly appreciated. < I think you are doing everything possible, but at least try on earthworm to try and get him to start eating.-Chuck> Thanks, Kelli

Feeding my Oscar I also have one more question about feeding them. I feed them medium sized cichlid pellets and they both eat one and then they don't eat any more. I don't know if there getting the right amount of food I do that twice a day. after they eat they just go to the corner by the heater and sit there for about 5 min.s then there swimming around fine I want to know if I'm feeding them too much or too less <Only feed them enough food that they will entirely eat in a few minutes. The extra pellets floating around the tank will just end up in the filter and cause maintenance problems. Keep in mind that these pellets may expand when wet. This may be the case with your Oscars. Try soaking them in a small dish with water or better yet vitamins until they expand and then feed them and see if there is any difference.-Chuck> Sean

Oscar tank question I have just bought 2 baby 2-3 inch tiger or red Oscars. there like super friend they wont leave each others side. I have a 40 gallon that wide deep and sort of long. I have 2 bio wheels that pump out 150 gallons each. I want to know if  my tank will be good enough for them. I really need to know I need to get a bigger tank or replace my filter or any sort of that I'm kind of used to my 5 gallon with tiger barbs thank you this is very important Sean =P < Your forty gallon will do for awhile. Your filtration is very good. Marineland makes excellent products. When you Oscars get about 5 to 6 inches long I would start thinking about a larger tank. 55 gallon minimum and up to a 100 gallon would be fine. When you switch over then one of your filters could be boosted up to an Emperor that filters 400 gallons an hour.-Chuck>

OSCAR PROBLEMS Two years ago we purchased a house that came with a fish tank, I'm not sure of the gallon size of the tank but it is 5ft long, 16in wide and 20in deep.  I have a 15in. Koi, 11in Oscar, 8in Catfish and two 4in Plecostomus', which have lived nicely for 13 years together with exception of the Plecostomus'.  Trying to keep the ammonia down to an acceptable level I took all the gravel out of the tank and replaced it with large rocks.  I have done many water changes since and the local fish store tested my water 3 times and said it was excellent every time.  The problem is now my Koi has turned on the Oscar and is trying to slam him into the tank and rocks.  I made a tunnel out of rocks so the Oscar can get away and hide but he has been in the same position for days, lays on his side and hasn't eaten for about a week.  They have both lived on Hikari cichlid pellets their whole life and I've even tried other kinds of pellets to get the Oscar to eat.  Nothing seems to appeal to him.  The Oscar also has some cuts on his side from trying to avoid the Koi, but he seemed to be in bad shape before that.  The Koi still has normal behavior toward the Catfish. My Koi used to suck on the gravel most of the day and I was told that he might just be bored now.  Is this true? < Your Koi should be in a tank or pond of its own since it likes cooler unheated water. Check your heater. The Oscar should be at 80 degrees. This is much too warm for your Koi. I suspect your heater is broken or can't keep the water warm enough for the Oscar. Heat the water up to 80 degrees and offer them some washed earthworms. This should do the trick. If your Oscar still does not respond then I would place him in a separate tank with clean treated water and try feeding the worms to him. >: Is my Oscar at the peek of his life span? < Oscars can live for many years in the aquarium. Yours at 15 years is very remarkable and may indeed be close to the end. The Koi on the other hand can probably live up to 25 years or more and get 3 feet long.> Or could he have a disease or sickness? < An Oscar that old could have suffered some internal injuries for its altercations with the Koi.>   We plan to get another tank and separate the two, but I'm afraid he's not going to make it by the time I get it set up for him.  Can you please give me some advice on what I can do with my problem, < Heat the water and see if the Oscar comes around. If the water is already heated then I would get a tank divider and try and separate them.> and is my Oscar really dying, or just scared of the Koi? <Only time will tell> Sometimes I think about grabbing him like a bass and dropping some food in his mouth, but I think that would make matters worse. < So do I> I was also told I could not try salt because of the Plecostomus, is this true? <Salt added to a freshwater aquarium will aid in creating a slime on the fish. This would help to fight infections of fish that may have encountered wounds. South American fish really don't like salt.> The conditions of the water in the tank and it's surroundings are much better now than they ever have been. < Your fish have lived a very long time. Keep up the good work-Chuck>

Oscar with bacterial and/or fungal infection Hello- I searched through the FW disease and infection sections and FAQ's but I still am having troubles finding a good solution to my Oscar's problems.  First, my tank set up is the following: 125 gallon with wet/dry filtration with about 5x per hour turnover.  It is a CA/SA cichlid tank with 2 Oscars, 2 Firemouths, a convict, a jack Dempsey and 2 pike cichlids (Crenicichla lucius and C. strigata Venezuela sp.).  Also, there are some pieces of driftwood and some broken clay pots.  The two Oscars tend to have little spars from week to week, I'm not sure if they are trying to size each other up for breeding or in territorial spats.   I usually try to do water changes of about 33% every other week, but sometimes I get a little behind.   Anyway, about a week ago, one of the Oscars started looking sub-par.  His dorsal, caudal and pectoral fins looked a little ragged.  I figured it was just due to fighting with the other Oscar.  But he has been getting worse; he's to the point now of sitting at the top of the tank, not swimming and not eating.   His fins have large chunks missing and his body has some kind of infection, I'm assuming fungal.  There are large sheets of white hanging off his skin and much of the scales are gone, exposing the flesh underneath. None of the other fish are affected and all are eating fine.  I have removed the sick fish into a quarantine tank and added some FW aquarium salt.  I want to go and get medications today, but I am unsure of what to get.  Because of the fin rot and what I'm assuming to be a fungal infection, I would think Maracyn would be the best choice. Sorry about the length, I just wanted to be as descriptive as possible.  I greatly appreciate any help, < Your Oscar may have suffered some brutal attacks by the other fish. Open wounds can be serious. The problem is probably bacterial and not fungal. Fungus attacks damaged tissue and usually not live healthy flesh. Probably the bacteria are attacking your fish and the fungal infection is secondary but the most easily observed. In your quarantine tank I would treat with Maracyn or a Furanace type of drug as per the dosages on the bottle. Change some water everyday-Chuck> Ryan Day

Oscars I have a Q, I hope you can help me with. I did read about what I'm going to ask but this is a little different. I have two Oscars one is a male and one is a female the male I sent full grown yet and my female seams to be a lot smaller I was wondering if I could put them in a 55 gal tank I know you should put them in a bigger tank but since I don't think my female Oscar is not going to get so big I was wondering if that would be ok to do. < A 55 gallon tank would be fine for awhile. Make sure you have a filter that pump/filters at least 3 times the volume of the tank and check your nitrates. When the nitrates get between 25 and 50 ppm you will need to do a water change and service your filter  to reduce them. How much water and how often will need to be determined by you and your test results. -Chuck> Thank you April

Oscar and Gar in a 55g? I was recently at a pet store and I was told that it will be ok for me to get 2 Oscars and 1 gar fish and put them in a 55 gal tank. I want to know will they get along and will 55 gal be enough. If not what should I do? >>Hello :D Since you are asking, I get the feeling that you think a 55g would NOT be large enough, and you would be right. A 55g is not even large enough to house ONE Oscar for it's natural lifespan, two would require twice-weekly water changes just to keep them healthy, no guarantees either. Adding a gar to the mix would be a bad idea, and I am sure that someone down the line would talk you into adding a Pleco as a cleanup crew...another bad idea! The average Pleco sold to you would probably be an Hypostomus species, growing to two feet and not an ideal cleaner-upper, they create more waste than they remove. If your tank is a 55g, I would recommend going with some smaller species of Cichlidae, perhaps some jewels, some keyholes, some convicts if you like protective parents ;) or maybe just some Gouramis, or a nice community tank. A 55g is too small to house most cichlids for any length of time. If your pH is high, say around 7.8 and higher, you could house some Africans in there, but beware of aggression, even though the Africans may not grow to 15 inches, they are aggressive enough to warrant a great deal more space.  Good Luck :) -Gwen<<

Re: Oscar in 55 gal tank Thank you for responding so promptly to my last email titled "Cichlid water qualities+well being" I took your advice and moved my tiger Oscar into the 55 gal tank. The only problem is that I heard you couldn't put plants in with Oscars b/c they like to dig and will uproot them. <Correct> So now the tank looks so bleak and bare. All I have in it is a few medium-small sized rocks, a larger rock, and a small piece of low lying fake wood with some river stones scattered around it. I also have white gravel in the tank. Should I change the gravel to brown/natural? < Gravel is just a matter of personal taste. Brown would probably make your Oscar look less washed out.> If so could I just add some brown/natural rocks on top of the white rocks or would I need to totally change them? < You could always take a small portion of each and mix them together and see how you like it. It would be difficult to keep them separate since the Oscar will mix them out as he digs through the gravel.> Also, do you have any suggestions as to what I could do with my tank or put in my tank to make it look less bare and more like an interesting habitat that my Oscar would be happy to live in? <Look for large pieces of driftwood to add to your tank. The seasoned wood adds some tannins to the water and give it a tea colored look. In nature Oscars would hide near fallen tree stumps and near the roots of trees along the waters edge. Stores sell this material as "African Ironwood". It is pretty much already seasoned and will not float. You could always make your own by obtaining some would near a creek, stream or river and soaking it for a few weeks or months until it sinks.> Also, I got this tank used form my grandfather about a year ago, but I still have no idea as to how powerful the filter is. All I know is that is fairly large, and it consists of 2 separate but connected parts, the filter and the BioWheel. I also know that it is a hot magnum filter. Do you know of any way to see what power it is without having the box handy? < The Marineland HOT magnum pumps about 250 gallons per hour when the water flow is unobstructed. This will give you a 4 to 5 times per hour turnover in your tank. The BioWheel is an excellent attachment to the system. The bacteria live on the wheel and break down the waste products down into less toxic nitrates. The magnum does not have a high capacity for storing waste and will clog soon after cleaning up a messy fish such as your Oscar, so watch the water flow and when it slows down you will need to wash it out. Rinse the wheel every once in awhile under a gentle garden hose to remove excess build up. Take the magnum apart and make sure you rinse the filter fabric under a strong stream of water to clean it. Add  or replace the carbon often in the filter basket to keep the water sparkling clear.> I am also going to put my African cichlids in the 29 gal now. That would work out fine wouldn't it? It said that these cichlids only get up to 5 inches so they would be ok right? Would I be ok to add 1 or 2 more also? I have 3 now, and they are about 1-2.5 inches long. < African cichlids actually do better when they are crowded together. I would put in somewhere between six and ten fish. You are adding a lot of active fish to a not so big tank so you will have to have a good filter, feed only algae flakes and check on the nitrates to decide when water changes need to be done. Check out the local fish store for a book on Malawi cichlids. You may be surprised on what species are available. Stay away from some of the larger ones (Up to 12 inches). They too can get as big as your Oscar and then you will be in the same situation all over again!!!-Chuck>                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks,                                                                                              Dylan Cobb

Re: Cichlid water qualities+well being How are you? < Fine thanks> I would greatly appreciate it if you could help guide me in the right direction with how to maintain my cichlids. In the past I had 3 Oscars. I have lost 2 to various diseases such as hole in the head and body rot. I don't want this to happen  to my last Oscar. He is 1 year old and around 6-7 inches long. He is currently in a 20 gal but I am thinking about moving him to a 29 gal. <Oscars are from South America and can easily get up to one foot long I would recommend at least a 55 gallon tank for your one remaining Oscar>> I know that the filter is too small for the tank right now but I will change all of this with the 29 gal. < A 29 gallon is better but still not good enough. If a 29 gallon is all you have right now I would recommend a large outside power filter that pumps at least 100 gallons an hour and is easy to clean> The remaining Oscar is a tiger Oscar and he is in the tank with a Pleco. He has a small amount of hole in the head I think... and I am not quite sure how to maintain his tank or how to keep him perfectly healthy. What does his ph need to be? I have heard that it needs to be around 8.2, but he is currently at about 7.5. Is this ok?  is it possible that he has adjusted to this ph and doesn't need to be in 8.2?  also, I think that my tap water has a ph of about 7.0 or lower, and I hate to have to go through the process of raising it every time I change the water. < Don't worry about the pH right now. Get a nitrate test kit. I think you will find the nitrates are off the scale. Reduce the nitrates by doing a water change and servicing the filter. The nitrates should be 25 ppm or lower. No more than 50 ppm or you will start having the problems you describe all over again> I have been feeding him cichlid pellets, any other diet suggestions? < Oscars eat just about anything. Try some washed earthworms every once in awhile> I recently bought a huge container of Jumbo Min for my Oscar, but when he eats it he flushes more than half (or maybe all of it seems!) out through his gills. Is this normal, and should I keep feeding him this seeing as he is making a huge mess out of it? < Oscars are messy feeders. As they chew their food some of it ends up flowing through their gills. This is normal for them.> Also, how am I supposed to measure his ph if the test kit only goes up to 7.6?? < They make high range pH kits, you may have to shop around.> I currently don't have an ammonia or nitrite/ nitrate test kit, but along with the other aquarium I have, and getting a bigger tank, this is getting expensive. < Initial setup can be expensive but it does not have to be. Spend your money wisely on good quality equipment right from the start and you will have years of success with your aquariums. If your heart is set on Oscars then you need to take care of him the right way. If you cannot give him the care he needs then he is better off back at the pet shop and maybe you should get some smaller fish. > I have been reading on your site and have heard a lot about Epsom, is this a good method to get him in top condition and get rid of the possible hole in the head, or do I just need to get the water stabilized?? < Forget the salts for now. Clean the filter and do a water change. Feed the Oscar only enough food that he will consume in a couple of minutes.> Between him and the Pleco they produce huge amounts of waste, what size filter would be best for a 29 gal? Is there anything else you could think of to make sure my Oscar is in prime condition? < Put him in the 55 gallon tank and take a look at the emperor filters by Marineland. They move lots of water and are easy to service. The bigger the better. Get a gravel vacuum and vacuum the excess food out of the gravel when you do your water change. You will have less algae and your Oscar will be very happy. > Sorry for such a long email but I also have questions about my other tank. It is a 55 gal, and I have currently purchased 3 small African cichlids and plan to buy more for it, the tank also has a large Pleco in it. Would it be better for me to put the Oscar in the 55 gal, or will he be fine in the 29?, < If you want to keep the Oscar then move him to the 55  or get rid of him> as I have heard that he will be limited in his size by the size of his aquarium...? < His growth and well being will be limited to the amount of wastes built up in the aquarium not by the size of the tank. You have been getting some bad advice, I am guessing it is from the store that may have sold you the three Oscars and a 20 gallon tank.> Back to the African cichlids, will it be ok to introduce more African cichlids their size into the tank, as I have just purchased them within the week? <  Most "African cichlids" come from Lake Malawi in Africa and are farm bred in Florida. The usual ones are the fish that eat the algae off the rocks and are called Mbuna by the natives and by cichlid enthusiasts. They are very territorial and will defend their area using those same teeth they use to clean algae off the rocks on each other. When adding fish I would take all the rocks out. Do a water change. Put the rocks back in a different arrangement. Put the new fish in and turn off the lights for the night. This will give the new fish a chance to find their own territory.> Also, what would a stable ph level be for them, or is ph not even as crucial as I think?? < They definitely like the pH above 7.0, 8.0 would be better.> How often do water changes need to be made in these tanks? <Check the nitrates with a kit and keep them below 25 ppm. The amount of water you change and how often depend on many variables. If the nitrates are at 50 ppm then I would consider a 50 % water change over a few days. If they come back in a week then you would have to do a 50% water change every week in your tank. If the nitrates were at 30 ppm then you would only need to a 25% water change or so every week. If the nitrates were only at 10 % then you could skip a water change if you wanted to.> It is a big hassle and seems to put a lot of stress on my Oscar. < In a 29 gallon tank a 7 inch fish doesn't have anywhere to hide. The bigger tank will be less stressful if he has a place to hide like a large flowerpot or big piece of plastic pipe from the hardware store.-Chuck>   Thank you for your time.                                                                                                                                                                       Sincerely,                                                                                      Dylan Cobb

Shy/stressed-out Oscar Thanks for your advice on setting up my 55 gal aquarium with the Oscar in it. I put in some bigger brown gravel instead of the white and it looked 10 times better immediately. I am also going to get a big stick of driftwood for it. Ever since I moved Tiger, my tiger Oscar, such an original name right? Into the 55 gal he has been stressed and very shy. I made the move about 2-3 days ago, and he has been laying on the bottom hiding. He seems to be extremely shy. Would Doc Well Fishes Aquarium Salts help reduce his stress? <No> And do you have any advice on his shyness? <Leave the lights off for a couple of days until tiger gets use to his surroundings. Walk up to the tank and offer him a washed earth worm. It will squirm around for awhile but he will eventually eat it. Do the same thing for the next couple of days. He will learn to associate you with food and hopefully come out when you approach the tank. This is like training a dog . Don't worry if he doesn't eat for a few days. You could also try some dither fish. These are fast moving fish that do not hide and are active feeders. Get a group of 4 to 6 medium sized barbs about half the size of the Oscar. Smaller fish may work but then he may eat them too. These barbs are always hungry and your Oscar will be joining them in no time. > I know he is swimming when we aren't there, but I think he is scared of us right know b/c of all the stuff we have been doing to change tanks has frightened him. The main problem with this is I can't seem to get him to eat, since whenever I come by he hides. Any suggestions would be extremely appreciated. <Just be patient and give him a few days to settle in. Make sure the water temp is still around 80 degrees. If your heater can't keep up then the cooler water may be suppressing his appetite too. -Chuck >                                                                                        Thanks,                                                                                        Dylan Cobb

Oscar-resistant algae eater? Is there any kind of algae-eater or scavenger that I could put in the tank with my 12" Albino Oscar, Sleepy Jean.   Her mate died a couple of weeks ago and she seems so sad.  I don't want to put another Oscar in there until I get a bigger tank.  She's in a 55 gallon now. < Your 55 gallon should be fine as long as you have a big enough filter that moves at least 150 gallons an hour. Bigger is better! The more water movement in the tank the cleaner your tank will be. Try and get an outside power filter that is easy to maintain. I like the Marineland brand myself. Look at one of the Emperor filters or something similar. How much water do you change and how often? Algae problems are usually related to high waste in the water. I would get a water quality test kit and test for nitrates. Reduce the levels with water changes.>   I know it's too small and it's probably part of the reason that he died. I need a 100 gallon tank.  I'm working on it.  Until then, is there any type of fish that I can put in there with her to keep her company and possibly help with the algae? < A regular Plecostomus would probably do the job just fine. I would add a PVC pipe from the hardware store that is big enough to let the Pleco in but not the Oscar. The Pleco will come out at night and eat the algae while the Oscar is sleeping. Make sure the Pleco is at least 1/3 of the size of the Oscar. Any smaller and it might be eaten ,or at tried to be eaten by the Oscar.-Chuck> Terri

Sick Oscar I was wondering if anyone had any different ideas on how to save my albino Oscar.  In the beginning I had a tiger Oscar and an albino Oscar in a 55 gallon tank together.  They are almost a year old now.  About one month ago, the tiger Oscar grew rapidly while the other Oscar didn't. <Albino fish are generally genetically weaker and do not do as well as their wild or normally colored tankmates>   The albino also began to show signs of being beat up, scrapes on the sides of his body, etc.  So I separated them into two 55 gallon tanks until I purchase some larger tanks.  The problem is the albino has not recovered.  I left him in the original tank since he was the smaller one, thinking that I didn't want to shock him by changing his environment.  The other Oscar moved and has done fine.  The albino was treated with Melafix and all the visible wounds have healed nicely.  The problem is he won't eat or even socialize with me now.  He hasn't really eaten in 5-7 days and just lays at the bottom of the tank.  He doesn't look good at all.  Prior to me moving the tiger, he was swimming around and eating with no problems.  The tiger did not eat the first few days of the move, but has recovered nicely.  Are fish capable of mourning?  It's almost like that is what he is doing but I know he can't go back into that tank.  HELP!!!!!!!! < Cichlids like Oscars are somewhat social. When not interacting with other fish they usually interact with their owners. Try earthworms or some other form of live food to get the albino moving. A large water change may also get him kick started again. Try placing a mirror next to the tank for a short time to see if he reacts to his own image in the mirror. Don't leave it there for too long. Just long enough to see if his reluctance to move is mental or physical. If none of the above work then there may have been some internal injuries that may not be apparent. -Chuck>

Oscar and environmental disease My Oscar is fairly good size, he has been swimming frantically across the tank slamming into the sides and everything else in the tank. When he is not doing that he floats almost as if he is dead. I have him in a 55 gal tank. he has a yellow coloring along his belly and gills. There is also marks on his face from slamming into the rocks on the bottom and turning in circles. He acts as if he is going crazy.. >>Hello. Sorry to hear about your fish. We need to ask you some questions to help us help you. How many inches long is your Oscar? Are there any other fish in with him? Can you please give us some water test results. what are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Please be precise. This is important. Also, how often to you do partial water changes? What exactly do you feed him, and how often do you vacuum the gravel?  -Gwen he is approx. 10-11 inches long, 6-8 inches tall, there are other fish in the tank and they all seem to be doing fine. I had my water tested at the nitrate level was off the chart within a few seconds. So will the changing of say 50% of the water for the next 4 days be sufficient? < Change enough of the water to bring the nitrates down to 25 ppm> Will he beat this problem, or is he to far gone already? < Cichlids , like Oscars are pretty tough customers. Get the nitrates down, service your filter and add some salt to the water to increase the slime coat on the fish. If he is still having problems then he may be suffering from a bacterial attack on his skin and gills. Look at a Furanace type of medication for treatment but watch out. It will probably kill the good bacteria in your filter too.> I usually change 25% of the water once a month, and the same goes with gravel vacuuming. <Obviously this is not enough because your nitrate readings are off the chart. Get a good nitrate test kit and change enough water to keep the nitrates around 25 ppm. Don't let them get any higher than 50 ppm. This will help you determine how much water to change and how often. Don't forget to service your filter or

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