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FAQs on Oscar Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 

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

Related FAQs: Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, 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 Disease Cichlid Reproduction,

Feeder goldfish are a horrible (source of) nutrition for an Oscar (or most other fish, for that fact). 

New to Oscar care    11/5/12
Hello I recently purchased a baby albino tiger Oscar. I am totally new at this it's been about a week since I bought him or her. There is a question that I have about this fish! What is it's eating habits and behavior, all it does is sit in it's cave and sometimes comes out and swims around but I never see it eat! What I have to feed it is tropical flakes and freeze dried bloodworms. Is this a good diet for the Oscar?
<Mmm, I'd switch to a pelleted food staple (Spectrum or Hikari) and ditch the Bloodworms>
And information would be quite helpful.
牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋牋 Thank you,
<Read here:
and the linked files above at your leisure. Bob Fenner>

Baby Albino Oscar not eating or growing properly    3/28/12
We got a baby Albino Oscar on January 1st. When we first got him, he had a huge appetite and was very energetic. In the last few weeks he refuses to eat almost all food. We have tried Cichlid flakes, pellets, freeze dried shrimp, freeze dried bloodworms, freeze dried plankton. The only thing he will eat is frozen baby brine shrimp. He hasn't grown much in the last
three months, but his head looks like it's growing, but not the rest of his body.
<Bad; because the skull is so solid, if the fish is wasting away, the body behind the skull ends up looking disproportionally large.>
He is in a 55 gallon tank with 2 algae eaters and a Pleco.
<Overstocked. Oscars need 75 gallons really, especially if kept with a single Plec. Add other fish, and things get bad, quickly. What's the nitrate (with an "a") level? That's the clue. If above 20 mg/l, your tank is overstocked and/or you're doing too few water changes with nitrate-free water. Needless to say, ammonia and nitrite MUST be zero as well.>
My boyfriend added a second red Oscar over the weekend hoping it would help to have a companion.
<Uh, no Oscars are territorial and aggressive, and surely do not need friends. Likely made things worse, and perhaps exposed this new Oscar to whatever's ailing the current one.>
When we change the water, he sits at the bottom for 24 hours and doesn't move or eat. Any suggestions?
<Environmental, probably exacerbating an underlying Hexamita infection.
Review living conditions, fix them, and treat for Hexamita with Flagyl (Metronidazole).>
We'd appreciate any advice. All the other fish are healthy and growing.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Astronotus; diet, health   1/8/12
Hey there I'm new to this but I have an Oscar almost 3 years old
<You're new to fishkeeping and only just got this 3-year-old Oscar? Or you've kept this Oscar for 3 years but feel like you're a new fishkeeper?>
he has been swimming upside down for two days I've read that a lot of goldfish is bad
<Yes. Why are you feeding your Oscar goldfish? That's the single best way to ensure your Oscar gets diseased. There are no books on Oscars that recommend goldfish, and no experienced fishkeepers writing in magazines or websites. So I have to ask, where did you get the idea to use goldfish from? Sometimes people keep predatory fish because they want to see one fish kill and eat another fish. You can find videos on YouTube of teenage boys (with social inadequacies, I have to assume) videoing this sort of thing, usually with rock music in the background. Depresses the heck out of me. Please don't follow their lead. Oscars need a mixed diet, largely based on good quality pellets such as Hikari Cichlid Gold, with some fresh or frozen foods such as tilapia fillet, cockles, prawns and mussels used now and again. If your fish can't balance itself, it may be constipated, in which case Epsom salt together with a diet of JUST cooked peas will help (no, he won't eat the peas at once, but when hungry, after a few days, he will).
But if the problem is more serious, as it could easily be, then we'll need more information on this Oscar's world. How big is the tank? What is the water quality like? How often do you do water changes? Apart from goldfish, what food do you use and how often?>
so I think that might be the problem he also has a bump coming out his left
<His left'¦? Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health   1/8/12
The tank is 48g I change the water ones a week he shares it with 3 jack Dempsey I've had him for 3 years
<Too small, as I'm sure you realise. Oscars alone need at least 75 gallons (though often mentioned, 55 gallon tanks quickly become filthy and nitrate levels are very difficult to control in tanks that small). Add a bunch more cichlids like the ones you have, and you need a tank 100 gallons or larger.
How much water do you change? I hope at least 25%. How big is the filter? I hope at least offering a turnover rate not less than 8 times the volume of the tank, i.e., 48 x 8 = 384 gallons/hour. Nitrate levels must be 20 mg/l or less; ammonia and nitrite must be 0. This fish is almost certainly being stressed, harmed, killed by the environment you've provided. Without improving his world, medication won't be much/any use. Nitrate poisoning, constipation, Thiaminase, Hexamita, secondary bacterial infections -- all
these are possible explanations for the symptoms you're observing. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health
Water temperature is 80 degrees I usually feed him Hikari pellets water change is 25% weekly
<Given how small your tank is, I expect you will need to do more water changes than this to keep nitrate levels low enough. In any event, the rest of my comments stand. This fish has been stressed by the environment you've provided. Read through my messages and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Astronotus; diet, health   1/8/12
Thank you very much
<Glad to help. Neale.>

Oscars; sys., fdg., hlth.    7/14/11
First off I'm new to Oscars and have learned TONS from the posts on your site. I have 3 juvenile Oscars. The largest 2 are around 4 inches long. I bought them because they looked cool and I had seen a friends very gregarious Oscar and thought how much it reminded me of my black lab.
So being the typical exuberant "act first and research later" Oscar owner, I bought 3 of them. Doh!
I have 2 albino's and a tiger. Originally they were all in a 35 gallon aquarium together, but later I built a new 65 gallon and moved the tiger to it along with several new jacks, auratus and a couple others.
<One Oscar will not live long or well in a 35 gallon system>
The tiger was the largest of the fish in the new aquarium and everyone has gotten along famously for several months despite significant size differences. Mistakenly I have been feeding goldfish to my various cichlids... soon to stop thanks to what I have read here.
I have been keeping the gold fish in a separate aquarium that remains heavily medicated with elevated temperatures. None of my fish have shown any signs of parasites or disease and I check them daily.
<You won't be able to see... until there are REAL problems>
The 2 albinos are still in the 35 gallon and seem to get along fine despite a significant size difference between them.
<Antagonism will occur very rapidly...>
I checked the water a couple of days ago and the nitrite/nitrate/ammonia levels are fine, but I clearly need to change the water more often.
<I'd change a good percentage every week. See WWM re>
The filter is a 55 gallon filter in a 35 gallon aquarium so it does keep ahead and I clean the filter every week or so. The 65 gallon aquarium has a 120 gallon aquarium filter in it so it too keeps ahead and the filters get cleaned at the same time as the smaller aquarium.
OK for the problems...
1. The albinos are in the 35 gallon aquarium. The larger albino for several months has randomly exhibited the odd behavior of being placid and calm for days and then suddenly slamming himself into the glass, bottom or lid.
<Due to the size/volume, and/or possibly a (goldfish vectored) parasite.
These fish need to be moved (now) to larger quarters. Read here:
It then acts like it has knocked itself out and will lay on the bottom on it's side, breathing heavily. A few minutes later it's swimming around like nothing ever happened. The albinos will obviously soon outgrow their current home, but have never conflicted or caused each other any harm. Is the large albino crazy?
<Mmm, no>
The slightly smaller one NEVER acts that way. Some times this will happen in the middle of the night when I am asleep and the thrashing around noises are so significant that it wakes me up.
2. The tiger Oscar was in the 65 gallon aquarium and has been a great fish both to me and it's tank mates. It has been in a static environment (no new fish or other changes) for several months with 4 jacks and 3 auratus and a pleck
<These fishes also need a much larger world...>
of which all are smaller than the Oscar by half. This past week the Oscar stopped eating and being gregarious and then killed an auratus and started doing the random slamming into things. It currently has a deep gash in it's head. I know it wasn't the best of solutions, but I moved it back in with the other Oscars to save the other fish. The three Oscars for the past 3 days of being back together are getting along very well despite the aquarium size. The large albino and the tiger are the same size and never apart and swim side by side or lay on the bottom together. They never fight and completely ignore the smaller albino. None of then show any territorial signs...yet.
Any suggestions would be helpful.
<As you re-read the "Oscar Health/Disease FAQs" files, you might consider a mixed treatment of Metronidazole and an Anthelminthic (in foods), otherwise, STOP feeding "feeders" and oh, I see some good news below...>
Obviously these guys need much more space and I intend to build a 300 gallon in the next 6 months, but they wont wait that long.
<Likely not>
I have an empty 55 gallon that I may split them up in until then.
<A good move>
I'm concerned they will
kill themselves slamming into things. Is this remotely normal?
<Yes... from crowding, certain parasitic infestations>
Can I do anything about it?
<Read where you've been referred to>
I already removed anything from the aquarium that they could bash into the glass for fear of them hitting the glass and breaking it. Thank you in advance for your input.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

My Oscar won't eat floating pellets   9/10/10
Hi guys first let me say longtime reader first time writer,
My Oscar frank is 7 inches big and completely healthy and happy alone in a 50 gallon tank with a 200 lph filter and a homemade 550 lph bio filter, my question is why will Frank only eat frozen food that sink to the bottom and not the expensive Hikari floating pellets? I've tried to starve him for two days to deprive him from his picky eating habits, I've only had him for less than a week, the guys at the specialist pets store told me the pellets
is what they fed him, I'm starting to think they just wanted to make a sale. I have turned the lights off so he won't be scared to venture out to the top at night and still won't have a bar of it. what would be your suggestion for me to do. Thanks Dan.
< Getting your Oscar on pellets is a very good idea. Offer a few pellets in the morning. Remove them all after 5 minutes. Repeat every day until he starts to eat the pellets. Then feed only enough pellets so all of them are
gone in a few minutes. It may take a week or so to get him off the imprinted frozen food but eventually he will switch. This works for all foods besides pellets.-Chuck>

OSCAR QUERY... issues, not eating... no reading    5/5/10
Dear WWM,
I have been experiencing some issues with my adult Oscar. He is the only fish in his 55 gallon aquarium.
Has been fine all the while, but suddenly he had stopped eating his food (shrimp).
<Astronotus ocellatus is famous for "hunger strikes". Do not feed just one type of food! Try and offer different foods every day, and one day per week, don't feed at all. Shrimp isn't a good food because it contains a lot of Thiaminase, and over time this will cause vitamin B1 deficiency. Use shrimp only once per week. Concentrate on Thiaminase-free foods, for example good quality pellets, tilapia fillet, earthworms, cooked/tinned peas, live insects, etc. Do read here:
After a few water changes, he is now fine and eating moderately but I have not seen feces at the bottom for over 2 weeks now. I don't know what to think. he doesn't look that jolly as well. He has also developed a habit of spitting out his food after chewing. Please help. He has been with me for over 4 years and is very close to me.
<Do read:
Oscars are omnivores, and there are many things you can feed them. Don't use "feeder fish".>
You guys are doing a fine job!
<Kind of you to say so.>
May God bless you all.
<Let's hope!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Thanks a lot!!! :)
<You're welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

Not Eating - Oscar   4/2/10
<Hello, Iran, Melinda with you here today.>
I am sooo sorry if I wasn't diligent enough but I tried to read EVERY possible other message listed to see if anyone else was has already written in with my issue but...found some closely related but no exactly matches. I have an adult albino Oscar [about 9"]
<Still has some growing to do... at least three or four inches.>
and up until about two months ago he was very active. Since then, he has been very subdued. He used to be a big eater, now I haven't seen him eat ANYTHING in the last two months. I had the PH levels in my tank checked and was told it is ok.
Every day I come home from work I wonder "how can he still be okay having not eaten?" What should I do? I feed him pellets but when I put them in the tank the just float and he never eats.
<Please write back with details about this system (tank size, filtration, including type and turnover of the tank's volume per hour), and actual numbers on Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels. What temperature is this tank? Tank mates? I'll need information in order to help you. In the reading on our site that you've done, you've surely noticed that sick Oscars are usually sick due to their environment, and there's more to environment than pH. Please feel free to write back with the above information.>
Iran Montiego

Re: More re: Oscars and some sort of parasite infestation! (fish lice)?
Feeding Mealworms to Oscars -- 03/20/10
I do have a question though. I don't feed my Oscars any sort of feeder fish and its been at least a year since the introduction of any new fish into my tank so I was wondering where the parasite might have come from? I feed
them meal worms from time to time as a treat, is it possible that one of those could have brought the parasite to the tank?
Thanks again, Patrick
< Mealworms will not introduce parasites. They are fine to feed your Oscars. Just not too often as they are very fatty.-Chuck>

Oscar Can't Eat -- 11/17/2009
Hi Crew, Ok first off let me tell you I have had this Oscar for about 10 years. At a young age his eyes were eaten by another fish, so I have been hand feeding him ever since. This disease he has is a little bit hard to
explain. To be honest I am not sure it is a disease. His gills look enflamed. It seems very hard for him to eat even though he seems very hungry. He still comes flying up to the top of the tank when he feels me walking towards the tank. (95 gallon) He is the only Oscar in the tank along with a large Pleco. The more he eats, the easier it is to see how red the gills are. Have you ever heard of this? and if so, what can I do to save my friend?
<He may have an obstruction in his throat. Catch the fish and restrain him in a wet towel using aquarium water. Make sure he can't thrash about and hurt himself. Pry his mouth open with a pen cap and look down his throat to see if he ate anything like a plastic plant or if there is any damage.
Remove any obstacles with long tweezers. If nothing is there then check for damage or inflammation. being blind, he may have tried to eat something he was not able to swallow.-Chuck>

Dwarf Freshwater Puffers and Oscars (fdg.)  09/15/09
Hello crew and sorry to be sending this message again...either I have had no reply or my spam filter instantly deleted your reply D:
<Oh dear.>
I have a ten gallon aquarium in my basement being used to breed feeder guppies for my black volitans lionfish.
<Why bother? These fish are so much healthier given a more varied diet.
Besides being expensive, Lionfish aggression increases when they're given live fish as food. Bob Fenner has written copiously on feeding Pterois spp., and I'd encourage you to review this material here at WWM before getting bog down in a pretty pointless exercise.>
The tank is filtered and instead of a heater I use a big reptile lamp clamped to the side near the water to provide light for plants and warmth.
The tank is sectioned off into 2 parts with a divider: 6 gallons for maybe around 15 adults (mostly female) and 4 gallons for babies (around 20?).
Anyways I also have a large mass of floating hornwort and 2 bunches of Cabomba in with the adults the strategy being provide as much cover for babies until I can see them and switch them over to the other side and it has been successful thus far. However there is also becoming a huge problem with snails. I was wondering if a dwarf freshwater puffer could help with this.
<Not in any meaningful way, no. Puffers will eat snails to be sure, but this species would sooner eat the fins of your Guppies, and in any case is so small it would only eat the very smallest snails.>
All of the guppies are either the same size or twice the size of the puffers at the store I work at.. Would the puffers leave the guppies alone for the easy prey of snails?
<Not a chance. Snails are difficult prey, which is why every Puffer that ever lived will sooner take something easier! See those shells on the snails? They evolved over literally 500 million years for one particular
reason: to stop predators. And, for the most part, they're very good at doing this, which is why there are (at minimum) 60,000 snail species on Planet Earth compared with a mere 5,000 mammals.>
Would the puffer eat flakes or should I use frozen brine instead after all the snails are gone?
Would the guppies (both adults and babies) be able to take care of themselves in the hiding places provided by the plants?
Also I saw the maturation period for the guppies on your site was around 6 months. Is the time less for the feeder guppies?
<Six months is a bit generous really, I'd say about three months for male Guppies, and about four months for females.>
Also in addition to the puffer dilemma I am also a little uneasy about some Oscars I recently came into. I have a red Oscar, a red tiger Oscar, and an albino tiger Oscar (all 1.5 inches) in a 50 gallon with a 2 in Pleco. When all Oscars and Plec reach 6 in I plan to upsize to a 150 gallon.
<Will be necessary before too long; allow about 55 gallons for the first Oscar, and a good 30-40 gallons for each additional specimen. Although not an aggressive species given its size, Astronotus spp. do become territorial once pairs form.>
The first night the red tiger was lying on its side on the bottom but now 3 days later all seem to be in good health. This is my problem. I have been feeding them Hagen's freshwater flakes which they will eat but then spit out something none of my previous Oscars did.
<I'd not even bother with flakes for Oscars. As you hopefully know, Oscars evolved to crunch invertebrates, typically snails, crabs, crayfish and things like that. They also eat small fish and frogs, not to mention fruit and a certain amount of plant material. In short, they're omnivores. For small specimens, finely chopped white fish and seafood makes a great diet, perhaps augmented with krill and other marine invertebrates. Live snails would be an excellent addition to their diet, though they'll ignore them unless hungry. Try squishing some snails first, after skipping a couple days feeding: the Oscars should get the hint (as well as a good dose of calcium from the shells!). Adults eat similar things, but more chunky, taking care to avoid fat and thiaminase problems (see WWM re: these key issues). Oscars are easy to hand feed using long forceps.>
The store I work at said they were being feed Omega brand flakes and should switch over. Should I not risk them ever switching over to Hagen's and get some Omega brand at work tomorrow?
<Hikari Cichlid Gold is probably the best staple for Oscars, but even then, I'd only be using that once or twice a week. Fresh or wet-frozen foods are better in terms of avoiding constipation. A bag of mixed seafood from my local grocery store costs a few UK pounds, and should last juvenile Oscars several weeks. Augment with frozen lancefish, earthworms, krill, cooked peas, etc for a nutritious, inexpensive diet. Use flakes and/or pellets sparingly as a "vitamin booster" rather than a staple.>
In a few weeks I plan to start giving them frozen brine/ live brine, cichlid pellets and the occasional guppy. Is this a decent food plan?
Thanks again-Ray
<Cheers, Neale.>

my Oscar crazy  7/27/09
Hello, I have been reading your site and can not find the answer to my problem.
<I see.>
I have an Oscar about 3 yrs old in a 55 gallon tank, the last three days he has started this crazy behavior of filling his mouth with gravel and moving it to on side of his tank and building a large pile.
<Quite normal.>
He has been staying vertical in the tank, not upside down, head down and tail up, strange to me, he has stirred up a mess in his tank, my kids have fed him pieces of hot dogs and he loves them, but we usually feed him washed earth worms or shrimp.
<I really wouldn't recommend using human foods such as these. Besides the obvious statement that they aren't their natural diet in the wild, the critical thing is that mammal meat contains oils that are liquid at mammalian body temperature (37 degrees C) but solid at the body temperature of a "cold blooded" animal like a fish (i.e., the temperature of your aquarium, ideally 25 degrees C for an Oscar). Once those oils become solid in the gut or worse, the blood vessels, they can cause very real damage.
Much better to concentrate on what Oscars eat in the wild: snails, shrimps, fish meat, fruits, worms, insect larvae, and so on. A mixed bag of frozen seafood coupled with a good quality cichlid pellet such as Hikari Cichlid Gold would provide an economical and extremely healthy diet for these fish.>
His mouth is like a big shovel and we can hear him working on moving the gravel all night, what's his deal.
<He's making a spawning pit, and may well be a male gearing up for breeding. His behaviour is absolutely normal. As you observe, these fish have large jaws, evolved for crushing crabs, crayfish and snails. These jaws are also extremely good earth-moving scoops, too. Assuming your don't have an undergravel filter, feel free to let him dig a pit whenever he wants, just watch he doesn't undermine any precarious rockwork or damage anything delicate, such as glass heaters.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding Flies To Oscars   7/11/09
Hi my name is Sef.. I have an albino Oscar, my question is. can you feed an Oscar regular house flies? The reason I ask is one fell into my tank and he ate it.. Since then 've been feeding him them he seems to like them .
<Insects are a natural part of a fish's diet.-Chuck>

Oscar cichlid eating issue 05/26/09
Oscar Having Trouble Swallowing
Hi, I tried to research this and couldn't find any useful information. My full-grown Oscar appears to have developed trouble swallowing. He used to go after 3 or 4 cubes of blood worms chomping down and swallowing a whole cube at a time. He would also eat several large pellets at a time. Now we chews the pellets and most of it comes out of his mouth. He nipples at the blood worm cubes--sometimes not even eating most of it. He seems active otherwise. Have you heard of this before? Thank you.
< Cichlids have a second set of jaws called pharyngeal bones. This is usually a wide plate on the bottom with two upper plates above. With large cichlids they usually try to eat anything and occasionally these bones become damaged. This can happen on hard frozen foods or even bits of gravel and wood too. If the fish does not eat after three days then net the fish out and gently pry his outer jaws open to see if there are any obstructions. I once had a large cichlid with a bit of plastic plant down his throat. Had to remove the plant with needle nose pliers. If there are no obstructions then look for damage to the "jaws". If you don't see anything then try presoaking the pellets to make them soft to see if that makes any difference.-Chuck>

Fresh produce can I feed bananas to Oscars  05/23/09
Feeding Bananas To Oscars
Hello Crew, I love your site as always and it makes up the majority of my reading almost everyday. I have a question regarding my Oscars again. I know that it is recommended to give my Oscars fresh produce such as peas and stuff but is it ok to feed them bananas. My youngest child was helping with feeding them the other day and she dropped a small piece of banana in the tank and the fish gobbled it up. Is this fruit too sweet for them is it a good idea to feed it to them because the ate it great? I just wondered if it would be ok to continue to feed it to them on occasion as they are getting tired of the other greens that I have been feeding them and thought that if it is good for them I would continue to offer it on occasion.
Thank You, Heidi
< Some fish have difficulty eating land based plant products because of the plant cell wall. Some South American fish like pacu's are fruit eaters and do OK with some fruit products. I would recommend that you feed your Oscar a commercially produced pelleted food as a basic diet and try to refrain from other foods. If bananas were good for fish then I think they would be in many commercial fish foods. I don't think I have ever seen bananas in
any commercial food. Bananas may not be bad, but there may be better things for your Oscar.-Chuck>

Re: Follow-up to the follow-up 05/21/09
Thank you. I'm looking at Rams, also.
<Very different to Apistogramma and shouldn't be confused (or kept) with them. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi requires much hotter (28-30 C), much softer water (pH 6, less than 5 degrees dH) and commercially produced stock is of notoriously poor quality, often infected with Hexamita and sundry bacterial infections that cause death a few weeks or months after leaving the fish farm. Cannot recommend them.>
And perhaps it didn't go through; if I'm annoying you I apologize, but did you send a reply to my initial email?
On a different note, I'm thinking that one of those little hamster domes would be perfect for an Apisto or ram.
<If it is sold as safe for aquarium use, by all means use it. Otherwise, no. Mikrogeophagus are open spawners, and want flat rocks and then dig pits in the sand for resting the fry; Apistogramma need dark caves with very small holes; coconut shells as described earlier are used with great success.>
And on an even more different note, what are your thoughts/ comments on Bristlenose Plecos with Amazon swords?
<Wouldn't use them. All the algae-eating Loricariid catfish scrape at stiff surfaces, and the stiffer the surface, the harder they scrape. As they scrape, they damage the leaves, and rotting sets in. In my experience, they reduce plants with stiff leaves -- such as Amazon swords and Anubias -- to something like Swiss Cheese Plants.>
I've heard from a semi-reliable source that if wood is included in the tank it not only discourages the fish from munching on the plants, but adds a healthy source of fiber.
<Certainly some bogwood should be available; while I doubt it will put them off grazing the leaves of plants, but it is a useful source of fibre.>
And on a COMPLETELY random note, what are your opinions on dying fish and feeding baby mice to large predatory fish such as Oscars?
<No and no. Dying fish are sick, and feeding them to predators makes the predatory fish vulnerable to infection by whatever made the dying fish sick. Mammal meat contains lipids that are liquid at body temperature but solid at room temperature or the temperature of cold-blooded animals. When the lipids congeal, they can cause all kinds of problems. Certain fish may be adapted to dealing with this problems (e.g., sharks that feed on seals) but Oscars certainly aren't. Oscars in the wild eat crayfish, snails and other crunchy foods -- not mice!>
I think both are disgusting and unnecessary, but I'll leave that rant for another day.
<I agree.>
Thanks Neale (and the entire Crew),
Will N.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar and shrimp question, fdg.    5/4/09
Hi there,
I have a question about keeping freshwater prawns/shrimp with Oscars. First of all would a healthy diet for an Oscar be mostly shrimp with some bits of cooked veggies here and there?
<Up to a point; the problem is that shrimp contains a lot of thiaminase, so fed excessively, could cause problems with Vitamin B1 deficiency. See here:
So while unshelled shrimp would be an ideal food once or twice a week, I'd be augmenting that with squid, strips of lean fish, freshwater snails, earthworms, and of course balanced cichlid pellets such as Hikari Cichlid Gold.>
I have heard that Oscars keep eating when there's food in front of them, is it possible to keep a population of shrimp with Oscars, and have there be enough shrimp to keep the population going with breeding while being predated, or would the Oscars just keep eating till they got sick and died and there were no shrimp left. I guess I thought maybe that once the Oscars got full, they would have to chase their food and couldn't be bothered with the effort. But if this would happen, what would be a good second tank size and number of adult shrimp to start with to keep enough shrimp coming to satisfy two young Oscars and a while down the track, two adults?
<I wouldn't bother with this approach. Sounds like too much work and expense on what really isn't that brilliant an idea to start with. If you have the hankering to breed live food, may I suggest a wormery or compost heap? Cultivating earthworms isn't all that hard, and the results are extremely nutritious animals brim full of minerals, fibre and vitamins. Yum yum! Neale.>

Questions regarding a new filter system. 3/31/09
Hello Crew,
I have a quick question again I want to make sure that my fish have the proper filtration needed to keep conditions good for them.
<Fire away.>
I have a 55 gallon tank with one tiger Oscar and one red Oscar.
<If these are both males, there will be a lot of fighting when they mature.  I'd recommend one Oscar per 55 gallons, and would only ever keep two if I wanted to breed them (which I don't, since offloading the hundreds of fry is very difficult).>
Ammonia and nitrates are all at zero, and I do a weekly water change of about 20% to 25% and vacuum the gravel.
<Fine; do note Oscars are very intolerant of nitrate, and levels above 20 mg/l vastly increase the risk of Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head.>
I have just purchased a new under gravel filter along with a power head that pumps around 400 gallons per hour.
<Not a good plan. Oscars like to dig, and in doing so, will short-circuit the flow of water through the UG filter. So while you might use the UG alongside other filters, you'd have to make sure that the other filters are 100% up to the job of maintaining these fish. Don't rely on the UG for anything. Since Oscars are big fish, you're after a turnover rate of 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank per hour. So a 55 gallon tank would require 630-440 gallons per hour. This is EXCLUSIVE of what the UG provides. The nightmare scenario otherwise is that you go away for a day, the Oscar uproots the undergravel, and because filtration rate then plummets, there's an ammonia spike during your absence. However, you could use a gravel tidy
to secure at least 2/3rds of the gravel bed in place, and that would be one way to prevent this problem; combined with a canister to form a reverse-flow Undergravel filter, and that would work very well.>
I also have a hang on the back filter that I have left there just to help a little, it has been there since I set up the tank I wanted to keep all the good bacteria that it had.
<HOB filters would not be my preference for these big, messy fish; they lack the oomph to keep detritus at the lower levels of the tank moving.>
This filter cycles around 200 gallons per hour. Between the two filters I am pretty sure that I have enough filtration to maintain the tank. I am aware that the Oscars will make bare spots by digging in the gravel, but mine do not dig too much so I am pretty sure that they should do fine.
<They aren't digging yet...>
They are a male and female and I want to keep them as happy and their water as clean a possible so that they may possibly mate.
<How have you sexed them? You can't sex immature Oscars, and even when mature, you can't sex them unless they are actually spawning, because you have to look at their spawning papillae to tell the males from the females.  I'd also ask *why* you want to breed them; Oscars produce thousands of eggs, and realistically you'll end up with hundreds of fry. The market for these is very small, and since yours will be mixed rather than pure-bred fish, the market will be even smaller. Think EXTREMELY carefully about this.>
I am also looking into acquiring a larger tank I know that they are going to require more room when they mate, however I know that I still have time they are they are still only around 9 months old.
<They grow extremely rapidly, so start shopping now.>
I am very grateful for any more advice that you can give me they are my pride and joy and everyone loves to stare into the tank and watch their antics.
<Much written about them here at WWM; start here:
Do please pay attention to diet; the usual thing of throwing goldfish at them is about the worst thing you can do. Don't overfeed, don't use live fish, and concentrate on a balanced diet of healthy foods including greens.>
They love all the attention that they get as well, they are very brilliant and fun creatures to have in my home and I want to keep they healthy and happy.
<Yes, they are lovely fish. Make good pets.>
Thank You,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Questions regarding a new filter system.  4/2/09
Neale, Thank you for the answer I had never thought about a gravel tidy but I am glad you mentioned it.
<Happy to have helped.>
I know that these guys grow very quickly, they have proven that, I got these guys when they were about one inch long. They are now around 10 inches each and are very spoiled.
<Oh dear!>
They also do have a varied diet, they get cichlid gold pellets, along with peas, freeze dried plankton and krill. They do not get goldfish but on occasion they do get rosy red feeder minnows, that I have quarantined at my home for about a month and treated to make sure that they have less of a chance of getting sick from them.
<Still, don't use Minnows. Parasites are one issue, but the other two are thiaminase and fat. Minnows, and indeed seemingly all Cyprinidae, contain a lot of fat. Accumulation of fat around the internal organs seems to be common among predatory fish that die prematurely. Perhaps the lack of exercise makes things worse for aquarium fish compared to wild fish?
Regardless, there's really no point taking this risk. Thiaminase is an enzyme that breaks down Vitamin B1. Until very recently aquarists didn't think about this issue at all, but recently people have become aware that at least some mystery deaths may be down to vitamin deficiency, caused by use of thiaminase-rich foods. Again, all Cyprinidae seem to contain this enzyme, including Minnows and Goldfish. So yet again, there's no point taking this risk either. Finally, I'd add a general observation made by many aquarists that predatory fish fed feeder fish are more aggressive than those that aren't. Unless you have an obligate piscivore, there are NO good reasons to use feeder fish, and MANY good reasons not to. I cannot stress this too strongly. You aren't doing your fish (or your pocket book) any favours.>
They only get around 10 of these about once a month.
<Still 10 too many... If you want to feed them live food, then think about what Oscars actually eat in the wild. See those huge, strong jaws? They're for crushing shells. In the wild that would include crayfish, snails and crabs. So find some live crayfish or snails of suitable size, or see what happens. Since these are the *natural* food for Oscars, the result will be a happier, healthier fish. Otherwise, earthworms are a real treat, and for most fish, these are Nature's perfect food. Full of decaying plant material as well as grit, they are a meaty, fibre-rich treat most fish just love. If you have a garden where pesticides aren't use, then you can collect your own for free! What could be better?>
I am currently shopping around for the larger tank however, and hope to find what I need at a good price.
Thanks again for the advice.
Thank You, Heidi
<My pleasure, Neale.>

Oscar Diet   3/23/09
Oscar Nutrition

Hello Crew, I am a faithful reader of your wonderful site and have another question for you because I was unsure of something. I read the daily F&Q today and saw two answers that confused me. One answer about Oscars that said that it was not ok to feed land animal meat, and another answer that recommended beef liver or heart I believe. What I really wanted to know is it OK to feed beef or not OK to feed beef? I wanted to try something new with my rapidly growing Oscars to keep their diet a little more varied,
because I know that is the best way to keep them healthy. Also I heard of people who feed their large Oscars baby mice or hamsters, while it seems a little barbaric for that to happen is it a good food for them? Thank You,
Heidi Casey
< I can see why you are confused. Fish nutrition is a science all to itself. Take into consideration old time accounts of success with home recipes with all kinds of diets. Beef heart can range from 15 to 50% fat on
a dry weight basis. The fat from warm blooded creatures like mammals has a higher melting point that fat from cold blooded creatures. If this fat gets into your fish then it has a difficult time digesting that fat and causes problems with the liver (Bloat/Dropsy?). Old time discus breeders were looking for a source of protein that would not carry any parasites into the tank and affect their fish. The beef heart was carefully trimmed of most of the fat and mixed with other ingredients to make a fish food for these discus. Gut contents of wild discus show algae and invertebrates. Algae is actually very high in protein. Spirulina algae was not common in many fish foods manufactured years ago. Young fry and breeding adults need more
protein than older non breeding fish. At the higher temperatures that discus were being kept at, 85 F +, these fats were more soluble and were less of a problem. Most fish are kept at temperatures lower than this so I would not recommend feeding any mammalian protein for the reasons mentioned above. For a long tern stable diet I would recommend a diet with 35-50% digestible protein, and no land based fillers like corn or wheat.-Chuck>

Oscars are not eating  12/13/08 Hai this is pavan from India. I have bought two Oscars two weeks ago. They are not eating food. tried pellets and dried worms. had ich and i used medicine and cured it. today they are looking dull. What to do. please do the help. Thank u waiting for reply <Pavan... likely the medicine is at fault here... It may have caused the fish to go off food directly by a sort of poisoning... or more indirectly by killing off your biological filter. Do you have tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? If you have another established system with room, I would move these cichlids to it... If nothing else, I would start doing serial water changes (10-20%) every day and use some activated carbon in the system's filter/flow path. Please see WWM re (the search tool), if you have questions. Bob Fenner>

An Oscar's diet...  7/18/08 Thank you so very much for the information your site provides! I have been overwhelmed with all that I have learned in the last couple of weeks. Neale has answered some questions and my transplant tank for my Oscar is coming along nicely. I wish the friend who gave me the aquarium with the Oscar would have read this site so I wouldn't have had to spend so much $$ to ensure "SharkBait" would have a happy/healthy life! (Upgrading from a 35 gallon hex with a single Emperor 280 to a 75 gallon with two Emperor 280's and an Eheim 2217) <We're glad to help, and I'm pleased to hear about all these positive changes.> My friend also told me that all I had to do was buy these Cichlid Pellets and feed him twice a day. Reading over your FAQs, I see that SharkBait should have meat in his diet. I live in S. Florida and we have had lots of rain lately...the frogs have been very busy and I have 100s of tiny frogs hoping about the yard...are these safe to feed to an Oscar? (I have read and searched the FAQs and I see that crustaceans (shrimp) and veggies (shelled peas) are recommended.) <Oscars certainly will eat small amphibians in the wild. But do be careful, because some amphibians are toxic. Here in England for example, the common toad contains Bufotoxin, and I once had a cat that bit one and then spent the rest of the day frothing from the mouth like it had rabies. So you have to be careful. Personally, I wouldn't take the risk. Oscars feed primarily on fish and arthropods, especially crayfish and small crabs. The second most common part of their diet is plant matter, something aquarists don't always realise. So rather than worrying about "one" perfect food item, I always recommend people come up with as diverse a menu as possible for feeding Oscars. There is a good reason to avoid live foods though, beyond the risks of poisons/parasites, and that's the infamous Oscar Hunger Strike. Some Oscars are prone to accepting just one favourite food item. This causes major problems in the long term. So you want to be offering something different every day or two, so bad habits can't form. Do take care not to overfeed your fish too; Oscars are consummate animal psychologists that are very good at training humans to provide them with food on demand. Resist their mind games! A healthy Oscar should be lean, and with a just-filled abdomen rather than looking stuffed.> Thank you again for all the time the crew has put into this site and answering questions like this one. The information is invaluable to we who do not know and need to learn. <Thanks for the kind words. Oscars are lovely fish, perhaps THE most intelligent fish in the hobby, and make amazingly good pets. Time used researching your fish is time well spent. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars and flies as food  2/13/08 Hi, I had read on here as well as other sites that flies are good for Oscars. <Most fish love them. Natural food for many species.> My question is how many is to many? <You'll get bored catching them LONG before the fish does.> how fresh should they be? <Fish definitely prefer them alive! But I sometimes squish them for the smaller fish.> Can they be frozen? <I suppose.> Can they cause illness? <Parasites aren't likely to be a problem, but a fly that's picked up insecticide is obviously not a good thing. So if someone goes about spraying flies in your house or garden, you might choose not to use them.> Etc... Basically, what is the rule of the thumb when feeding flies? <Catch, feed, enjoy!> Thanks Tracy <Cheers, Neale.>

Another Oscar eating question -- 1/28/08 Hi Guys, I've read through a lot of the question and answers, but just didn't find anything that quite covered my question. I have a 20gal tank full of Black and Potbellied Mollies, and as we all know they can really produce the babies. Their tank conditions are pristine. Can my two Oscars (Hurri ) and ( Cane ) eat these babies. I know they will eat them, but I have yet to hear anyone mention feeding them Mollies. I didn't know if they might be to fatty like goldfish? One other thing I know the two minute rule, but is there a specific number of pea's I should let them have in a feeding? Thanks, Tracy <Hi Tracy. Home-bred (as opposed to store-bought) livebearers are the only reliably safe feeder fish for any predatory fish, whether freshwater or marine. Goldfish, minnows, etc. are not at all safe, as you rightly observe. So provided the Molly fry are kept in clean conditions and free of disease, you can use them. HOWEVER, there is absolutely no need to give live fish to your Oscar; your Oscar will live perfectly well on prepared and frozen foods. In addition, the feeding of live fish to predatory fish has been frequently associated with that predatory fish becoming more aggressive. Quite how or why this happens is unknown. As for the number of peas, the short answer is let your Oscar eat as many as he wants. Vegetables generally have a lower protein content than meaty or prepared foods, so the risk of overloading the filter is far less. Being quite fibrous, the Oscar will probably feel full long before there's any risk of overfeeding. As you say, fish should only receive as much food as they can consume in a few minutes, and anything uneaten should be removed. But better indicators of how much to feed a fish come from the shape of the fish and the water quality. A healthy fish will have a gently rounded abdomen. If it has anything like a paunch, it's been fed too much. Same as humans, really! Fish don't die from being overfed itself -- they die because water quality suffers when they are overfed. So the other clue is water quality. If there's zero ammonia and nitrite, and a moderate amount of nitrate (ideally, less than 20 mg/l and certainly less than 50 mg/l) then you're fine. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Another Oscar eating question Thank you so much, wow that was an amazingly fast reply. <You're welcome! Cheers, Neale.>  

My Oscar... fdg.   1/3/08 Hello, I have a 5 inch tiger Oscar in a 50 gallon tank. I bought him from Wal-mart when he was about an inch long and he has always been very healthy. Two weeks ago he began refusing to eat his flakes or his pellets, the only thing he will eat is peas and freeze-dried shrimp. Can he survive eating only peas and shrimp or does he need pellets in his diet? I've even tried soaking them in some water taken from his tank to soften them, but he will not eat them, he just looks at them and swims away. He looks completely healthy, swims well, has good colour, greets me when I near the tank, he has no visible white flecks or holes in his head. The levels of the water are fine and his schedule is the same as always. What do I do? Or should I just continue feeding him peas in the morning and shrimp at night and wait it out? (if he needs anything else other than that) Thank you for taking my question. <Greetings. It is not uncommon for Oscars to become very picky about their diet. There are plenty of stories about Oscars that will only eat a single brand of pellet for example. The job of the aquarist is to prevent this from happening! Starvation helps -- if the Oscar refuses its food one day, then don't feed anything else. As the old proverb says, appetite makes the best sauce! An Oscar the size of yours could easily go two weeks without food if in good condition to start with. The basic diet of shrimps and peas isn't at all bad, and your Oscar would remain in good health eating just those two food items: the vitamins and fibre in the peas complementing the protein and fat in the shrimps. Still, I'd try mixing things up a little. Try a bag of mixed frozen seafood from the grocery store. Here in England a half-kilo bag costs about £3-4 and contains a mix of mussels, squid, scallops, and prawns. All of these should be eaten by your Oscar and make a very inexpensive staple diet, while being rich in nutrients and completely safe. Alternatively, you could switch to a different brand of pellet food. Having said that, provided the frozen/fresh food diet is varied, there's no reason to feed pellets if your fish don't like them. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: my Oscar... fdg.    1/3/08 Thank you so much for replying so quickly! It is nice to have someone there to give you advice. At my local pet stores the employees are useless, knowing less about fish than I do. I suppose I will continue feeding my Oscar peas and shrimp, I have started feeding him fresh shrimp and he greatly enjoys that as well. I am just curious as to how often I should feed him now? I currently feed him twice again, Lena. P.S. I really love your site, it is most helpful! <We're happy to help, and thanks for the kind words about the site. Oscars don't need to be fed daily, but if anything small daily meals are kinder to the water quality than lots of food every other day (which is what some people do with big, predatory fish). Peas and other green foods hardly impact water quality at all, so feel free to use those liberally. Protein-rich foods are more of any issue. So long as water quality is good and the fish has a gently rounded, but not engorged, belly, you're feeding your fish properly. That's really all there is to it. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: my Oscar -- 1/04/08 Thank you so much, once again! Your website is so great and helpful, I often take a look just to pass the time and always walk away with some new info on Oscars and really anything else about keeping fish. Thanks again, Lena. <Glad we could help, and thanks for the kind words about WWM. Good luck with your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars Not Eating   12/4/07 My Oscars are not eating. For the last week or so I was away and when I returned the wife told me they were not eating the food...(coy flakes or pellets) it has happened before and I would change water and all is well in a couple of days . The thing is water was changed two days before I left and they were ok (eating and all) right now the water is clean and so are the filters. The tank has two penguin Bio wheel 350 filters and two large air stones, the four Oscars are 8 to 10 ins about 1 1/2 yrs , one is a red tiger the other three are Albino (those yellowish/orange fellas) no sand or gravel in the tank. Tank is approx 18" x 28" x48" and has a single small piece of driftwood and ah 10" long 4" piece of PVC pipe in it . Can you kindly assist me with this problem? Thanks in advance < Check the water temp. It should be around 80 F. They probably all got overfed and may have an intestinal blockage. Don't feed them for a couple of days until they start to act like they are hungry. If they don't eat then treat with Metronidazole for internal infections.-Chuck>

Oscar Out Of Water 10/04/2007 Hello. I have 3 tiger Oscars. They are approx. 3-4 years old, and range from 6 to 9 inches long. I bought them at Wal-Mart when they were just an inch or so long. They are now way too crowded in their 29 gallon tank, so I bought a 55 gallon for them, and am going to give my dad my smaller Oscar to put in his 55 gallon, so that she may live by herself, peacefully. In the meantime, we are moving, so I can't set up my new tank until we are done with that..........My question is, I have noticed for about a week now that my one middle sized Oscar is swimming at the top of the tank with his back out of the water. When I reach in and gently "push" him down, he seems to swim funny, as if one of his fins may be damaged, but they appear to be fine physically. He eats normal, and seems to be fine otherwise, but I can't figure out why he is swimming partly out of the water the way he is. My best guess is that the larger "meanie" may have picked on him and done some kind of damage to one of his fins or something. <Hmm... swimming problems can have multiple causes. Constipation is one. People often feed Oscars too much soft food. They need fiber. Unshelled prawns or whole crayfish are ideal. Crickets and frozen krill will also work well. Some Oscars also enjoy tinned peas, and these are excellent for this. Oscars eat quite a bit of plant material in the wild, and so you need to make sure they eat at least some in captivity. Another problem is poor diet. The single worst food for Oscars is live fish, especially goldfish. Goldfish contain a lot of fat, and this messes up their internal organs. Goldfish also contain Thiaminase which destroys vitamin B1. But the biggest problem with live feeder fish is the risk of disease. No responsible fishkeeper recommends using cheap feeder fish. So if you're using live feeder fish, stop. If the "laxative" option doesn't help, then treating for internal bacterial infections would be my second course of action.> My other question is, when we move, what would be the best way to move fish of that size without stressing them out too much? The house we are moving to is approx. 15 minutes away. Thank you for your help. ~T~ <Moving fish isn't usually a problem. For a fish this size, get a nice big bucket with a lid. I use 5 gallon buckets from DIY stores, used for mixing paint and such. Put a bit of water in there, enough to cover the fish, but otherwise leave air in the rest of the bucket. Place the fish in the bucket, and keep the lid on. Normally, fish settle right down. One fish per bucket. Once you get to the new place, dribble water from the new tank into the bucket, and after 30 minutes catch the fish and place in the new aquarium. Don't put the polluted water in the bucket into the new aquarium. Hope this helps, Neale>

Bait shrimp for Oscar   8/26/07 Hello to all at WWW, I've read time and again about feeding shrimp to Oscars. I envisioned those nice, pink, fat, little shrimp they sell at the grocery store. My husband passed a bait shop today and (thinking of my Oscar) brought home a box of frozen shrimp. But these are *whole* disgusting looking shrimp, complete with shells, tails, guts, whiskers, everything. I went ahead and cleaned them under cold water and cut them up (yuck) bagged them and put them in the freezer (while fighting off 4 cats and some very interested dogs). Can these shrimp be fed to an Oscar? It's highly unlikely they were raised under clean or parasite-free conditions considering they were raised for fish bait. It's the potential disease or parasite exposure that has me concerned. I know Oscars in the wild eat them, but they're probably also considerably more resistance to parasites. Does freezing them make them safe for aquarium fish to eat? If you deem them safe, can the Oscar get a very tiny chunk every day in since it's part of his natural diet (he's only 3" now). I've been looking through the FAQ's for references to 'bait shrimp' without any luck so far, will continue looking. Thank you for all you do. You all have the patience of Saints! Mitzi <Should be fine. As a broad rule, marine animals make safe food for predatory freshwater fish because relatively parasites can infect both marine and freshwater fishes. Feeding freshwater animals to marine fish is (broadly) safe too, but there are specific problems with using freshwater *fish* as food for predatory marine fish because of nutritional imbalances. You're correct about wild fish being less troubled by parasites, though the reasons for this are more to do with population biology and epidemiology than resistance. Freezing doesn't necessarily kill parasites though it may do. Regardless, your Oscar will certainly enjoy the whole shrimp, and the extra fibre will do him good. Just make sure you balance the diet with other things: shrimps contain a lot of Thiaminase, and long term this causes problems with Vitamin B1 availability. So use them a couple of times a week, and augment the diet with other things, such as shelled mussels (an excellent staple for most fish), earthworms, and a good quality cichlid pellet. Some green foods are also important, either as algae wafers or things like tinned peas. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bait shrimp for Oscar -- 08/26/07 WWW Crew (Neale), Very thought-provoking, thank you. The idea of feeding the entire shrimp makes perfect sense. I'd read another Crew member's recommendation to take the shells off 1st because of big pieces of shell causing swallowing or digestion problems. I'll chop them up with the food processor (and not tell my family lol!) into coarse chunks and freeze them and just thaw out a chunk a few times a week for him. The shelled mussels are an excellent idea and I'll do that also. Thanks to the WWW website he's got quite a buffet in the freezer right now of peas, earthworms, his shrimp, frozen bloodworms, tadpoles & crickets, twice a day he gets 1 pre-soaked medium Hikari Cichlid Gold pellet. I only give him less than a 1/4" chunk of 2 of these frozen foods twice a week but he sure works for them begging non-stop. My 11 yr old son is disgusted and demoted me to the bottom shelf of the freezer-ha! I'd written to you a few wks ago about putting a similar sized blue crayfish in a 90 gal tank with the Oscar and got mixed opinions. Just to update you-the crayfish is still in his 20 gal quarantine tank, I've decided to just keep him there by himself (he's so funny!) and get another tank for quarantine. This is exactly what happens to all my quarantine tanks :-/ The 90 gal is going through a fishless cycle (thanks to WWW also) so the 3" Oscar is still in his 47 gal. I'd bought it as a "40 gal breeder tank" but when I did the math on it with several different size/gallon converters it measured out to 47 gallons. Not sure why they marked it as 40 gal (it's 36" x 18" X 17" tall). Interesting also. I'm grateful beyond words for this website. I've learned more through this website than I did from the endless other websites and books I've read. Thank you! Mitzi <Hello Mitzi. Glad we could help. Obviously whether or not you remove the shells from the shrimps depends upon the relative sizes of shrimp and Oscar! An adult Oscar (30 cm+) can handle unshelled shrimps around the 5 cm length without any fuss at all, and the shells will do him good. But a juvenile Oscar trying to swallow a shrimp almost as big as he is... well, that's not so sensible, and shopping the shrimp up makes sense. So use your discretion there. Oscars *are* crustacean eaters though, and they have the mouthparts to handle them. Because fish can't really choke as such, assuming the prey fits into a fish's mouth, it can usually swallow it, even if it takes a long time to do so. Sometimes aquarists get confused by watching the prey seemingly stay in the throat for long periods. Fish have "pharyngeal teeth" in the throat used to process food. Cichlids in particular have very sophisticated pharyngeal teeth that explain part of their success at being able to evolve into a bewildering variety of types able to eat everything from snails to plants. It's also why most cichlids are such opportunistic feeders, as you're discovering. Most cichlids will eat a wide variety of foods, and while some are specialists, most are omnivores feeding on whatever animals, plants, or organic detritus they can find. So your approach of "a little of everything" is just about perfect. Don't forget to try and add some greens to your Oscar's diet -- most cichlids eat some green food, whether algae, live plants, or decaying plant material. As for your aquarium: it contains 6.3 cubic feet, which is 39.2 Imperial gallons but 47 US gallons. I'm guessing the manufacturers labeled the tank using Imperial rather than US measurements. Everything is easier when people switch to the Metric system, because a litre is a litre is a litre wherever you live. (And it's so much easier to work out weights and lengths, too! One 10 cm cube of water weighs one Kilogram and has a one Litre volume. Idiot-proof.) Good luck, Neale.>

Finicky Oscar, fdg.   8/13/07 I have a 2 1/2 yr old Oscar who has become quite finicky about what he eats. I have tried all the different brands of pellets, flakes, etc. as well as fresh shrimp and fish. The only thing he will eat is Fancy Feast cat food- the tuna & ocean whitefish. <Interesting> I only feed him once a day. I have tried the "if he's hungry, he'll eat it" approach with the pellets, but he will go several days without eating until I break down and give him his Fancy Feast. It makes a mess of the tank. What do you suggest? He is very healthy and about 10". Thanks, Susan <Mmm, I would switch to the "Spectrum" brand of pelleted foods... and try mixing some of these in with the Cat food in higher and higher percentage, till the latter is no more. Spectrum is nutritionally complete and very palatable... Bob Fenner>

Bait Minnows Makes Oscar Sick   5/20/07 Hi, I have a question about my Tiger Oscar "Luka", he has been very sick for about a week and a half, and it's my fault, you see Ludka enjoys chasing and eating feeder fish, Ludka is a year old, and about 5" long, he was in a 35 gallon hexagon tank ( I know that it's too small of a tank, we are going to provide him a tank of 75-100 gallon when our living room is finished remodeling) his tank-mates are a Blood-Parrot Cichlid( Mugsy ), 2 sharks, not sure of species but they are very friendly, 1 smaller cichlid and our lobster ( crawfish ) Thor. Recently we took a couple minnows that we had left-over from fishing and let them lose in our tank so that the fish could have fun, I wasn't thinking at the time, and now I regret it. Ludka ate some along with the cichlids and Thor, about 4 days later Ludka started to bang himself along anything that he could find, and he really did a number on himself, then he would lay at the bottom of his tank and not move. His body started to get this white cloud-like look to it, he no longer greeted me when I came into the room, and his eyes started to cloud over. I did research on the net and found out that I probably infected him with parasites from the minnows. I did end up losing one of my smaller cichlids, and almost lost Ludka. I isolated him into a 30 gallon tank with a brand-new filtration system and started to treat him with parasite killer, I also started treatment to my main tank. Now he looks like the pet of Freddy Kruger, his fins have dissolved away leaving the Freddy Kruger look, his color went from beautiful black with the red, to an ugly shade of sick gray, he no longer will eat for me, his eye cloud is getting better though and he is no longer laying on his side, he does recognize me when I talk to him and try to get him to have some food but he just doesn't seem interested. I feel so bad for doing this to my baby. My question is how long will he go with out eating? He was a big eater before and has not lost any weight. How long does it takes to recover from this? Is there is a food that I can offer to help him in his recovery? I plan on keeping him in his own tank until we have a large enough tank to house all of our babies together. My family misses Ludka and so do our visitors, he is the main attraction in our home, he even does a "trick". I wet a large brine shrimp and place it on the inside of the tank lid and close the lid, Ludka would look at it, get positioned, and with a thrust of his tail he would jump to the lid and get his favorite treat, the lid would knock as he hit his mark. Ludka would also dance with us. We would stand at the tank and sway back and forth and he would do the same. Any suggestions on how to get our Ludka back to health would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Bonnie < The minnows probably caused an internal blockage. The thrashing about was your Oscar probably trying to dislodge the blockage. The whitish film could be a bacterial infection or fungus growing on the damaged tissues. I would recommend doing a 50% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter. Treat the tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The Metro takes care of internal protozoan problems while the Nitro handles the bacteria and fungal issues. Treat every other day for three treatments. Change 50% of the water in between treatments. After the treatment try and find a medicated food with Metronidazole in it. You may have to go online. When your fish starts to eat it is getting better. Fish can usually go a couple of weeks without eating before they start to look ill. If the damaged fins have fungused back to the body then the fins will probably not grow back. Damaged fins will recover but they will not look as nice or as straight as the original undamaged fins.-Chuck>

Keeping Oscars   - 4/7/07 Hey there. I was just wondering about the conditions of my Oscars. I have five 2-3 inch Oscars in a 56 gallon tank. I know, its bad. I have two tigers and three albinos. I had 6 Oscars to begin with, but I lost that one to a bad condition of fin rot. I didn't know if it was my fault, or if it was just there when I bought him. My tigers keep growing and one of my albinos remain the same size, except one. And that one is a little smaller then my  biggest tiger, and he has gashes on his head, and I was wondering if  that was fighting or was hole-in-the-head? I do put in about 30-40  feeders every two weeks about. I know that's really bad too,  but I am only fourteen, so my parents insist on buying feeders  for them. What is the best food for them, and do you have any recommendations  for me? Thanks =] < You already know you have many problems with this tank. At fourteen you are old enough to understand what is needed and hopefully will follow my recommendations for the sake of the animals. Lets start with water changes. You need to be changing at least 30% of the water weekly. While changing the water you should gravel vac half the tank to remove the mulm that has accumulated there. Clean the filters every other week. The filter should be pumping at least 200 GPH. Feeder fish introduce diseases and have very little nutritional value. Try feeding high quality pellet food instead. For a treat give them washed earthworms, mealworms, kingworms and crickets. They are healthy, do not introduce diseases and kind of fun to watch the Oscars eat them. Conventional fish foods like flake and frozen are also very good for them. As conditions improve you Oscars should be growing strong and healthy. The gashes on the head of the Oscars may start to heal up. If not try to feed them medicated foods with Metronidazole in it.-Chuck>

Oscar Can't Eat    2/16/07 Hello, My name is Emily and I have a 4 foot tank with three Oscars one tiger one albino and one blue Oscar. I have had them since babies and they are now getting quite big. My tiger Oscar has always been the most dominant one they share the tank with a silver dollar angel fish a salmon tail cat fish and feather fin cat fish. My tiger Oscar is usually the pig but lately when I feed him he can't seem to eat. He holds the food in his mouth and then spits it out this goes on for a while then he seems to give up. Also, I have noticed that his scales are coming off and his colour is fading. I don't want him to die, he is my pride and joy can you please me? Thank you < He could have an internal infection that is blocking up his digestive system. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Do not feed the tank. Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole, or Clout. When he acts hungry you can do a 50% water change, add carbon to the filter and slowly add a little food every day. The medication may affect the biological filtration so watch for ammonia spikes. Next time please check you grammar so I don't have to spend so much time fixing your question and can spend more time helping aquarists keep their animals alive. Thanks-Chuck>

Oscar Stressed By Over Feeding   10/5/06 Hi, I hope you can help. I have a tiger Oscar only a few months old in a 55 gallon tank. Lately I have noticed quite a few things go wrong pretty quickly and I'm on info overload after reading everything. < Thanks for looking first.> First, there are pink bits of his poo with white almost fur like things on it all the time. I do 30% water changes at least every week cleaning the gravel as I go but it just doesn't seem to go. Then I noticed some white spots on him which have gone now without any treatment, however with the life cycle of ich I think I may need to treat! Which I will start tomorrow. Today I noticed his poo was yellow/light green and he is really worrying me. I think he has hole in the head but I'm not sure. He has two small (about 1mm diameter) holes between his mouth and his eyes. Please help, I've become really close to him and I want to make him well again! I feed him on 'cichlid gold' regularly a pellet at a time until he stops eating about twice a day. I do pH checks which are normal, but no nitrate checks. I have a Fluval 3 filter in the tank that I clean in the tank water every week (I remove some water and clean it in that then throw the water away!) hope you can help Rachel < Feed you Oscar once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Remove all leftover food. The stress of him being overfed is taking a toll on his digestive tract. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Add some variety to his diet by adding some chopped earthworms, brine shrimp or Spectrum Pellets.-Chuck>

My Oscars are living in spite of me  8/25/06 I have a display tank in my office ( 13 inches across, 9 inched deep, 48 inches high - 30 gallons) and 2 new Oscars ( a tiger and a red Oscar) <Not enough room...>   My clients told me to get Oscars... they told me to give them feeder fish. <A very poor idea> They told me not to worry about cleaning the filter too much , or changing the water every week. I've listened to them , and the Oscars are fine ( I thought swimming up and down would be a problem, by they are fine) After reading the faq's , I see I'm doing everything wrong.  I only have time on Sundays to do anything more than 5 minutes of work. Where should I start? ;-)avi <Regular water changes... weekly, stop feeding feeders for all the reasons stated on WWM... Look into larger quarters... Bob Fenner>

Oscar fdg., health,   8/8/06 Hello, <<Hello, Paige. Tom with you this morning.>> I have had an Oscar for 2+years and he has fought a fungus quite often.  Which I am thinking might be because of the feeder fish.   <<One of the several problems with using feeder fish, unfortunately.>> But the Jungle fungus eliminator seems to work great.  For the last two days he has started swimming around with his mouth wide open.  I treated him last night with Binox and also ich treatment.   <<More than "fungus" going on with your Oscar? The open mouth isn't related to a fungal infection, Paige.>> What would cause the gaping mouth?   <<Smart money? A stone/foreign object caught in the animal's mouth or throat. Not uncommon with Cichlids and Goldfish since both almost constantly pull gravel into their mouths. Once in a while, a piece gets stuck.>> Is there a better course of treatment?   <<No real treatment here, Paige. I don't know if your Oscar will sit by and let you pick around in his mouth (no fingers, please!). Typically, the blockage will move in one direction or the other of its own accord.>> I have put salt into the tank but I don't want to hurt the catfish. <<Won't help or harm in this case.>>   I also have a south American redtail cat that is about 1+ year and he is the reason I feed the feeder fish because he loves them.   <<And given the enormous size these fish can reach, I suppose it's prudent to give him whatever he wants. :) Seriously, you do realize these fish can reach up to four feet in length! Gorgeous animals but better left to very, very large aquariums that can provide the room they need. I'd also keep an eye on your Oscar. A hungry Red-Tailed Catfish isn't likely to be "sentimental" about a tank mate.>> Is there an alternate food source I could get for him?  I have tried sinking carnivore tablets but he doesn't even bother with them. <<Not hungry enough, perhaps. These fish are fairly indiscriminate about what they'll chow down on. You do need to get some variety into him though. Prawns and crabs are generally taken well. Bloodworms and earthworms are also good choices at the juvenile stage but your fish should be in the 16"-20" range by now and will need more than an earthworm or two to feed on. Probably best if you can find some meaty foods other than the feeders such as frozen foods. The feeder fish may be his favorite but it's not good to continually medicate your tank because of what they're bringing along with them.>> Thank you for your time and insight, Paige <<You're welcome, Paige. Tom>>

Feeding Oscars  - 07/03/04 Hello, <Hi Mark, Pufferpunk here> I have a Tiger Oscar I believe.  Actually he is my wife's.  Can we feed him luncheon meats, lettuce and human food?  What is the best food for him?  Flakes vs. pellets vs. feeders vs. human food?  He never loses his appetite... he will eat anything you give him. <They should not eat processed human food--way too fatty.  If you want to feed him veggies, try shelled peas (frozen, then defrosted, before feeding).  Cichlid pellets, people shrimp, small pieces of fish, all are good foods.  Please refrain from feeding nasty, diseased feeder fish to your Oscar--worst thing you can feed a pet fish!> Thank you for any help you can give. Mark Cone P.S. The pellets we have been giving him which is supposed to be composed of the same nutrients he would get from feeders... it seems he spits 1/2 of it out while trying to eat it.  It makes more of a mess in his tank than what gets into his stomach. <Yes, Oscars are one of the messiest fish around--fishy garbage cans.  This is why they need large tanks (55g minimum for 1 fish, 75g better) & huge weekly water changes (50% minimum).  ~PP> Feeding Guppies To Oscars  - 05/20/2006 Hey, I have been reading your FAQs for about 3 hrs now and have learned a lot but I see you don't suggest feeder fish.  But what if I have raised the guppies now for 6 yrs or so as well as the Oscar? I have been feeding them to 'mostly as a treat'. They get frozen food, pellets  3 types, and live worms  as a regular  diet. I have seen the more live food they eat the more aggressive they get . My question is, if I know the guppies have a good diet and are not ill then is it still bad in your opinion to use fish as a food? < You have eliminated the reasons for not feeding them. They will be very good for your Oscars.-Chuck>

Cichlids Competing For Food  4/6/06 I have a 4" inch Oscar in with a 10" tilapia and they get along fine, except that the Oscar goes into such a frenzy when being fed it is constantly injuring itself by darting to a piece of food right as the tilapia is going for it and getting ripped up. I've been working on avoiding this... with some success. Do have any suggestions? And what do you feel the best way to treat the wounds is? < Your big tilapia can eat quite a bit while your Oscar is striving to get anything that is left. Try feeding pellets at different ends of the tank at the same time. keep the tank clean and add Bio-Coat to the water. If it gets infected  place the fish in a hospital tank and treat with Nitrofurazone.-Chuck> Food For Albino Oscar   3/18/06 Thank you for the quick reply, the food that I'm feeding him is Hikari Cichlid Gold Food.  Is this a good food, or do you recommend anything else? LeeAnn Hathaway Anderson < It is pretty good food, but it does have color enhancers they may be causing the blackened fins. Try another name brand food with out the color enhancers and see if the black goes away.-Chuck>

Oscar Not Eating   2/22/06 Hi I'm Gertrude from Malta. I have two Oscars they are two years old. About four months ago they started always to fight and then they stopped eating so I had to make another aquarium to separate them. One of them is ok, after some days she started to eat again but the other one still not eating. I'm very worried cause now it's been a long time since she ate. I wonder how is she still alive. I would appreciate if you tell me what more I can do for her. Thanks < Improve the conditions of the aquarium. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Raise the water temp to 82 F. Offer live food like washed earthworms, mealworms, insects etc... If this still does not work then there may be an internal bacterial infection. Try treating with Metronidazole.-Chuck> Re: HELP!!! For my 11 inch Oscars- sick! Oscars Won't Eat   2/14/06 It's just me again with the third, and hopefully, last  question. We have done all that we could, with your help and suggestions 2  times.  The Oscars (at times only), seem slightly or moderately interested  finally in eating, yet when they eat a pellet or prawn, it flies back out of  their mouth.   (The pellets are in pieces, but they cannot be digesting  them).  They must be hungry- haven't eaten right in weeks, for a week or  more nothing. They seem to want to eat, why cannot they keep the food in  them?  I offer it to them 2 times a day, sometimes they are interested once  a day, sometimes two times, but never eat more than one or 2, and usually spit  it back out almost immediately in pieces.......I get very upset, they have to  eat to live- they may be 12 inches now, really good size. And other than a few old? HITH scars, they look good I  think. Thanks again in advance for your past help!- Diana  D. < The fact that they are not eating is not a good sign. They are probably infected with an intestinal bacteria. If Metronidazole alone will not work then it is time to get a little more aggressive with the treatment. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat on day one with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. On day two do a 50% water change and add one tablespoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of water. Day three, treat as per day one. Day 4 treat as per day two. Day 5, treat as per day one. Day 6 treat as per day 2. After treatment to a 50% water change and offer them some food. If they are eating then start them off very slowly. You have probably removed much of the good bacteria in their gut and they need to get that going again. Add carbon to remove any remaining medication. Then add Bio-Spira to get the tank cycled quickly. Slowly increase their feeding to normal over a week.-Chuck>

Big Oscar that won't eat  11/21/05 Hi I have a ten inch Oscar in a 60 gallon tank that just doesn't seem to be interested in food. I just set up this new tank, but I don't think that that is the problem, since he wasn't eating well before the move. My temp. is fine <Fine?> and water conditions optimal, <What? Then I guess... all is "good"> I have tried a variety of foods now to peak his interest including, krill, his usual pellet food, and some other variety of Hikari cichlid food. I even tried some beef heart that a friend of mine had. Previous to this past week he was a voracious eater. He shows no signs of disease and acts quite normal except for the not eating part. I have heard of internal parasites, but what could be signs of that?  <Maybe... or could have swallowed a "bug" from outside, but most likely is "just in a funk" over being moved. I would raise the water temperature to the low eighties F., and check your water quality for ammonia, nitrite, and keep offering different foods daily> Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help. Jason <Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarfdgfaqs.htm.  Bob Fenner> 

Bigger Oscar Has Become a Bully 10/22/05 The website seems much more organized since the last time I visited. Thank you! Much easier to find information without wading through pages of emails... Now, I need some advice on a tiger Oscar. Let me start by saying that I've had two tigers since they were the size of half dollars, and they are the newest additions to the tank. They live in a 75 gallon tank, with a four-inch armored catfish and an 8" Pleco. The Oscars are both slightly over 6". I run two 60 gallon Whisper filters and do a 25% water change every 7-10 days. They eat everything to Cichlid pellets to worms, crickets, and chicken. < Chicken?> <<Land mammal and poultry meats should never be offered as food to fish, with the exception of beef heart only in certain extreme cases.  -SCF>> For the last couple of months, the two tigers have been lip locking and pushing one another around the tank. There are no sharp edges, and neither of them get beat up (minus a scale or two I find vacuuming). For the last week, the seemingly dominant tiger, has been bullying around the other roommates as well. Surprisingly, it has even been going after the Pleco, which has always been larger than itself.  Now, when I clean the tank, it is charging and biting me, as well as the vacuum, plants, and even water drippings from the carbon filters as I pull them over the top of the tank.  Although I find this slightly amusing and no one is getting physically hurt, I am beginning to be concerned for the psychological well being of the other tank mates. Should I move that Oscar to a tank of its own? < Your Oscar has now determined that this tank is his territory and that he is in charge. He will defend his territory against all intruders.> Will it become lonely? < No , he will start interacting with people walking by the tank or even in the same room.> Can this behavior be from diet related issues? or perhaps the vacation that I went on when I didn't change the water for 13 days? < This is actually pretty normal for every large New World cichlid.> Also, I've been thinking about buying a separation screen for the catfish so that it can eat without the Oscars snatching up everything. How long should I give it to eat before removing the screen? < Most fish I recommend leaving the food in for no more than two minutes. But with the Pleco I would make sure that he is eating for about 15 minutes each day. Vegetable fish food is high in fiber and not much protein, so they need to eat a lot of it to get enough nutrition.> It will not eat pelleted food for catfishes or anything that floats. I'm concerned that I'm not providing a wide enough arrangement of food with chicken, earthworms, and blood worms. Any suggestions? Beef doesn't seem to work in any form: hamburger, steak, or heart.  Thank you very much for your time, Chris < Go with commercially prepared sinking pellets for algae eating fish and stay away from the grocery store. Try Spectrum, Hikari, OSI or Marineland pellets. You fish will learn to eat them after a few tries.-Chuck> 

Angry Oscar Needs His Space 10/22/05 Thank you for the timely response to my last email. Should I make a new tank for the aggressive Oscar? <This would be best for all of your fish.-Chuck> 

Oscar Illness? - 10/18/2005 I recently purchased two tiger Oscars, both of them are about 2 to 3 inches.  Currently they share an 80 gallon tank with community fish (I figured they eat them when they got big enough, and they'd have the tank to themselves)   <Uhh, can't say as I agree with or endorse this....> In the last two days, my Oscars have both been laying at the bottom of the tank.  They both come up to eat (bloodworms, beef heart)   <Do not feed them land mammal meats....  even beef heart....  this can really lead to serious nutritional disease with time.  An occasional bit is probably not a big deal, but why take the risk, eh?> They do not have any visible parasites.   <Do they have any other symptoms?> I talked to a person at the pet store where I purchased the Oscars, she suggested putting Parasite Clear in the tank, which I did.  Today I did a 25% water change.  I have had the Oscars for about two weeks and this is the second water change since I've had them.  I changed my filter, and my water levels are good.   <"Good" is subjective....  What levels specifically?  If ammonia and nitrite are not ZERO, or nitrate is above 20ppm, rectify with water changes.> This behavior is new for these Oscars, any suggestions? <Too little information to go off, here, I'm afraid.  Test your water, maintain optimal water quality....  and be on the lookout for any other symptoms whatsoever.> Thanks,  -Sean <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Oscars Are Eating Pleco's Wafers  9/19.5/05 A friend of mine has a problem with his Oscars and asked me to send you guys a message because I have used your guys' services before and have gotten many problems solved.  He has a pair of young albino Oscars and a medium sized Plecostomus.  He typically feeds the Oscars Hikari Cichlid Staple pellets and supplements that with Rosy Red Minnows once every week or so.  He feeds his Plecostomus Hikari algae wafers but his Oscars always eat the wafer.  I told him that I thought it was because of the Oscars being used to eating the Cichlid Staple that is so high in vegetable matter and that the wafers probably taste very similar.  My friend would like to know why his Oscars continuously eat his pleco's food and if there is any way to get them to stop doing so.  Thank you so much for your help. < Oscars are pretty intelligent for fish. They know that these wafers are good food and don't mind eating them as soon as they hit the water. This is a problem with many aquarists trying to feed bottom dwelling fish. Pleco's are mostly nocturnal while Oscars are mainly diurnal. So turn out the room and fish tank lights about an hour before you go to bed. Just before you go to bed you can throw in the algae wafers. The Oscars should be asleep and the Plecos will be up and eating.-Chuck>

Sulking Oscars  9/3/05 I have two large red tiger Oscars about eleven inches in length.  They have a very healthy appetite for dried food, frozen food, and live food such as guppies, goldfish, and earth worms.  I've had them for about one year and two years.  One of them is just sulking around the tank.  All of the sudden, this monster that eats twenty-four hours a day hasn't eaten in three days.  It has no apparent sores or illnesses, it is just weird that it doesn't move or eat all of the sudden.  Please send me back some suggestions on what may be wrong with it or what I can do to fix it.  Thank you very much. Eric Messenger Thank you very much P.S.  Maybe is the breeding cycle setting in or beginning, I know nothing about the breeding of Oscars.  Thanks < Try a couple of things. Do a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel while you are at it. Clean the filters. This would normally get them fired up. If this doesn't work then it may be a more serious matter. With no external symptoms then we have to think that maybe he has an internal bacterial infection or a damaged pharyngeal jaws. Not much you can do about the jaws so treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Oscars Act Like They Are Starving  8/31/05 First off.  Love the site.  Have learned a lot from it.  I have 2 Oscars (Pedro & Napoleon) in a 75 gallon.  Pedro is about 5 inches, while Napoleon is about 4.   My problem is that they like to leap out of the water when I feed them.  If I open up the lid and hold my hand over the water with food they will jump up to my hand (Pedro has been about 90% out of the water). And they splash water all over the place!  I even got nipped once. It didn't hurt....Do you think they'd bite hard enough to hurt me? < They don't really have teeth but they will get larger and may develop some then.> I like my fingers and want to keep them.  One time Pedro must have hit the side of the lid on his way back in, because I saw a section of his scales floating in the water.  Maybe he'll learn his lesson?  :) Is there  anyway to stop them from jumping?   I try to open the tank lid really quick and throw the food in and close it fast!  But it's kind of difficult because I have a 2nd lid above it on my canopy.  By the time the canopy lid is open, they are up top awaiting my feeding hands. Suggestions, comments, or jokes would be greatly appreciated...Dave < Lower the water temp and that will slow them down. Mid to upper 70s F will slow down their metabolism and they won't be starved all the time.-Chuck>

Oscars and "Feeders" - 08/17/2005 I have 2 large Oscars (one red and one tiger) in a 55 gallon tank with no other fish except a Plecostomus. <Too small for these animals....> I recently did a full water change/tank cleaning and gave them some feeders (I only do this every couple of months). <The full water change is rarely a good approach - on your tank, I would recommend weekly water changes of about 30%, or more/more frequently, depending upon your nitrate levels and how quickly they build up.  Err, and NEVER feed your fish unquarantined live "feeder" fish!!  This is almost a 100% guarantee that you will introduce parasites, bacteria, or other disease to your animals.> Now my red has developed a bulge on his left side (there is a slight protrusion on the right but not as prominent) and he is mouthing like he is having a hard time breathing. <A number of possibilities....  if he is not defecating, I would suspect he may be constipated.  I would add Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the water at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons.> He is also not eating his usual pellets which he is usually very excited to get. The tiger is showing none of these symptoms. I have had these two for almost six years, since they were babies, and have never seen anything like this. I did a lot of reading and searching for fish with these symptoms and from everything that you have said (in answer to others questions) this could be an internal infection?? The people at the fish store don't seem to informed about Oscars and their behavior and told me that he is possibly is having a hard time digesting the feeders?? That just doesn't seem right? <Mm, possibly right, to an extent....  Feeder goldfish are a horrible nutrition for an Oscar (or most other fish, for that fact).  I would not be surprised if the Oscar has a gut blockage from this sort of a meal.  Be pleased if that's the only problem from it....  and be on the lookout for parasitic infestation, bacterial illness....> Please help. Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks,  -Trouble in Jersey <Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm  and the links, in blue, at the top of that page, for more information.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Oscar Not Eating 8/15/05 My Oscar has not been eating. I have changed & checked water conditions. Everything is alright.  He ate live fish for a few days, but now he is no longer interested in anything. I have noticed that his tail is shaking occasionally.  What is wrong with my Oscar? Thank you, AK < He might have caught an internal bacterial infection from the feeders. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole. If you cannot find it then try Clout or a double dose of Nitrofurazone. The metro works the best if the disease is caught early.-Chuck> Feeding Oscars Feeders 8/15/05 Hi, I have two Tiger Oscars.   They are just over 4 inches long.  Currently I am feeding them mini granules for cichlids and gold fish flakes for color.   My question is at what size can I begin feeding them feeder fish.    Thank you, Branden Osburn < While feeder fish are somewhat entertaining to watch getting eaten for some people, they really aren't that great a food item. They are poorly treated and poorly fed because they are cheap. Many times they often carry diseases into your aquarium that can be very expensive and potentially very deadly for your fishes. As a rule of thumb I would not feed any item to a cichlid that was any longer than one quarter it's total body length. So a  inch feeder goldfish or guppy would be fine. To really make your feeders safe and a better food item for you Oscars you should do a few things to prevent problems. First, all feeders should be placed in a quarantine tank for at least two weeks. They should be treated if needed and cured prior to being used as a feeder. In the meantime they should be fed a very high quality food to make them more nutritious. Finally, only feed them enough so that the feeder is totally consumed in two minutes once each day. Don't put all the feeders in at once and watch the poor Oscars overfeed and kill themselves.-Chuck> Oscars eating Worms 7/27/05 What do you know about Melafix? < This is a derivative of the Melaleuca plant (Bottlebrush Family). Stores have been promoting it lately like it will cure everything. But based on the feedback we get here at WWM it does not seem as effective as antibiotics to cure diseases.> Can you tell me the pros or cons of feeding the Tiger Oscar Canadian Nightcrawlers?  These are the kinds of worms I purchased at Wal-Mart yesterday, but do not want to use them (when he does start eating again) if it will get him sick again. < This is a great food in moderation. These Nightcrawlers can be pretty big so I would use a night crawler no longer than one quarter the size of the Oscar. So a 4 inch Oscar would get a one inch piece of Nightcrawlers two to three times a week.-Chuck> Oscars eating everything 7/21/05 I am currently housing Oscars, i have about 6 of them approximately 1 to 2 inches long, they been eating carrot , turnip, cabbage, green peas, figgy duff, <What is?> also wieners , blood puddings, hamburger meat, and salami, pork loins and liver all chopped  fine of course, my question is,  is there anything these fish will not eat or should not eat? <Heeeee. I'd avoid fatty animal foods. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarfdgfaqs.htm> they rush right to the top when i approach the tank, so I'm assuming they really love these foods. should i or should i not be feeding them this type of food , they are growing very rapidly, any suggestions? what's next ? .........bacon and eggs?     thanks again for your help!                                                George! <I'd settle on a steady pelleted diet, augmented... avoid live freshwater fish as food. Bob Fenner>

DIY Fish Food 7/19/05 Hi there Chuck . Thank you so much for your prompt and very insightful reply. The information is a great help. < Glad you found the info useful.> Sadly one of the Tigers has died and the other one is on his way out. Do you know if raw chicken is safe and I also heard about a guy feeding his Oscars raw stock fish from the fish and chips shop with great results . Do you know anything about feeding them raw fish meat ? <The best DIY fish food recipe can be found in the book "Enjoying Cichlids " by Ad Konings. It is a combination of frozen peas and shrimp. Check out the book and see for yourself. Others have experimented with many different things with mixed results. Any time you add raw protein your tank has the potential to go through an ammonia explosion if overfed. Try the Konings recipe first. I am sure it will work for you.-Chuck> Thanks once again for your help Regards Trevor.

Oscars Need No Heart 7/17/05 Hi there. Maybe you guys can help because the shop owners around here are pretty useless. I have a four foot tank with largish Oscars and it is going great I also have a three foot and it is the tank where my big Oscars all started out in with great success. All the other fish are thriving (Cats , Plecos Knife fish Eels Black Ghosts) I mean really thriving all growing well. The PH and water conditions are fine . On three occasions I have attempted to buy more babies (2 inches or so) and even though I they all started out well I lost 7 of 8 and 4 of 6 for no apparent reason (While the rest of the fish are thriving). The only thing I can put it down to is I am feeding them raw ox heart from the butcher and I think they might be picking up parasite from the meat. The ones that survive thrive and grow and behave like Oscars are supposed to. I am in the process now of watching two slowly die and the other two grow and flourish , all in the same tank. I am completely stumped and don't know what to do and any advise would be greatly appreciated Thanks and thanks for a great site Regards Trevor < The bacteria in your new Oscars gut is not accustomed to you ox heart mixture. It sits in their gut and rots. Eventually some will develop this bacteria but you will lose a lot of fish in the meantime. I don't recommend mammalian protein for my fish but I know many people that swear by it. If you are going to stick with the ox/beef heart then try very little bits at first. Slowly increase the amount of heart over  a long time. Eventually the bacteria will develop.-Chuck>

Re: Please help with my Oscar Thank you a million times, I removed the shells, changed a lot of water and treated the fish. He is now swimming normally, and eating. I couldn't find the medication you mentioned, I have been told it was pulled from the shelves because of people using it for other than fish. So I bought a product called Fungus Eliminator by Jungle. It said it treats swim bladder disease, and in about 3 days it did! I also used something called MelaFix. One more question... My large Oscar likes to eat crickets, are they ok for him? <Yes, very good. Bob Fenner>

Oscar systems, feeding, Gage's go Hello there, Thank you for your web-site it is an easy to navigate wealth of knowledge. I have spent over an hour reading trying to narrow down my problem   I have, what I believe is, an albino Oscar.  He/She is white with an orange "knot" on s/he head and tips of fins.  He is about 6 inches tall and about 10" long.  I have had him for 5yrs now, and bought him when he was about 2".  (He was sold to me as a semi aggressive). He has since killed all the other semi aggressive that I had! So he is now the only one in the tank.  No matter what he is, I just adore him, he is our pet, and I have become concerned with his well being. From the readings, there is a lot I should be doing that I have lucked out and never had to.  I am just concerned on where I should start. I did a complete water change last week.  I also replaced the air tubing for the underground filter system, and bought a new over the tank filter.  Lots of changes here, so I wonder if I haven't stressed him out. As a treat, only the third time I have ever offered, I put in 12 feeder gold fish.  If he has eaten any of them it was only one, as I now count 11.  But I don't know if that was done here or at the store. The water was cloudy on the first day after the change so I added some Stress coat to my 50 gal tank.  The water cleared up beautifully. Now I want to give my fish a hug.  He seems depressed almost afraid of the gold fish.  He has always been "moody" after a water change, but only for a few hours.  I changed his water last Tuesday and he has not snapped out of it.  He mingles at the bottom of the tank in one corner or another.  He still comes up to see me for feeding, but he is not nearly as perky and playful as usual.  After eating about 5 pellets he meanders back to the bottom.  He is not playing with the goldfish at all...the goldfish are not even afraid to go eat his pellets in front of him!!  It is almost as though the goldfish are bullying my Oscar!! I see suggestions of Epsom salt, live worms, and water testing.  I have never done any of those things.  Where should I start??? I do not see any visible fungus, or sickness.  His eyes and fins look good at this point, although the water seems to be getting a little cloudy again.  By the look of the water, it seems like maybe his natural slime is falling off??   He still comes up and "kisses" at me and my children when he is visited.  He just seems sad and sluggish.  I want to catch whatever it is before it becomes a bigger problem.  Please advise on where I should start to diagnose our pet. Thank you so very much for your time and your website.  I look forward to hearing from you. Jessica           <Hi Jessica, glad to hear you are learning what is best for your fish and correcting past mistakes. Most likely the 100% water change is what stressed out the fish, that is a pretty big shock.  The slimy weirdness in the water may be from the stress coat.  Feeder goldfish are not a good idea, for a treat I might pick up some frozen krill from the pet store, or even yummier big fat worms from a bait shop or a hole in the back yard. Feeders can introduce parasites, fungus, all around nastiness to your tank.  Just keep up on weekly to bi-weekly water changes and watch for signs of sickness (fuzziness, weird spots, open wounds, etc.).  He should return to his normal behavior in no time.  Best regards, Gage> Oscar systems, feeding, Bob's try Hello there, Thank you for your web-site it is an easy to navigate wealth of knowledge. I have spent over an hour reading trying to narrow down my problem   I have, what I believe is, an albino Oscar.  He/She is white with an orange "knot" on s/he head and tips of fins.  He is about 6 inches tall and about 10" long.  I have had him for 5yrs now, and bought him when he was about 2".  (He was sold to me as a semi aggressive). He has since killed all the other semi aggressives that I had! So he is now the only one in the tank.  No matter what he is, I just adore him, he is our pet, and I have become concerned with his well being. From the readings, there is a lot I should be doing that I have lucked out and never had to.  I am just concerned on where I should start. I did a complete water change last week. <Mmm, best to avoid such complete change-outs... restrict these to a good 20-25% maximum... too much change too soon is bad... and source water can be dangerously variable in quality> I also replaced the air tubing for the underground filter system, and bought a new over the tank filter.  Lots of changes here, so I wonder if I haven't stressed him out. <Possibly> As a treat, only the third time I have ever offered, I put in 12 feeder gold fish. <Not a good idea... real trouble as a source/vector for disease...> If he has eaten any of them it was only one, as I now count 11.  But I don't know if that was done here or at the store. The water was cloudy on the first day after the change so I added some Stress coat to my 50 gal tank.  The water cleared up beautifully. Now I want to give my fish a hug.  He seems depressed almost afraid of the gold fish.  He has always been "moody" after a water change, but only for a few hours.  I changed his water last Tuesday and he has not snapped out of it.  He mingles at the bottom of the tank in one corner or another.  He still comes up to see me for feeding, but he is not nearly as perky and playful as usual.  After eating about 5 pellets he meanders back to the bottom.  He is not playing with the goldfish at all... the goldfish are not even afraid to go eat his pellets in front of him!!  It is almost as though the goldfish are bullying my Oscar!! <Happens> I see suggestions of Epsom salt, live worms, and water testing.  I have never done any of those things.  Where should I start??? <Reading further> I do not see any visible fungus, or sickness.  His eyes and fins look good at this point, although the water seems to be getting a little cloudy again.  By the look of the water, it seems like maybe his natural slime is falling off??   <Possibly... the water change, possible disease from the goldfish...> He still comes up and "kisses" at me and my children when he is visited.  He just seems sad and sluggish.  I want to catch whatever it is before it becomes a bigger problem.  Please advise on where I should start to diagnose our pet. Thank you so very much for your time and your website.  I look forward to hearing from you. Jessica       <Mmm, keep reading, on WWM re feeder goldfish, all the Oscar FAQs. Bob Fenner> Re: Oscar Looks Like a Red Devil, Chuck's input Hello there, and thank you so much for your prompt response.  My gut feeling is to remove these goldfish, of which I will do today.  I have since been to the library and have found that I don't have an Oscar, but a Cichlasoma citrinellum (Midas Cichlid). < Go to fishbase.org and search for red devil. There are a couple of fish that look similar.> I have also learned he is indeed a male. :o) He is a beautiful fish and I plan to search your website for info on him. Do you have any tips on this type of fish?? < You seem to have learned a lot and I think you are already on the right track.> He seems to have a lot of the same characteristics of the Oscar is there any definite differences? <The are both new world cichlids. The Oscar comes from South America and the Red Devil type comes from Central America. They are both one of the top predators in their natural habitat.> I also purchased a heater, and thermometer for his tank, he has never had one before, but I want him to be comfortable.  Dang, I forgot that water tester equipment that you advised!  Back to the pet store.  Thanks again for your advise and your website.  I appreciate your time and your help. Jessica < This is what Wetwebmedia is here for.-Chuck>

HUNGRY OSCAR I get up in the morning at 4:00 am I feed my Tiger Oscar, whom is about 3 1/2 inches long, 5 medium pellets and they are gone before I leave. My husband gets up at 6:00am and feeds him 4 more which are gone in no time. When my husband gets home from work at 4:00 pm he feeds him about 4-5 more, and about 7:00pm we feed him about 5 more and wait till he's finished, and cut off his light for bed. But in between times he still seems hungry, popping bubbles at the top of the tank. Are we not giving him enough for his size? And when is it going to be time to get another tank?? He is in a 10 gallon now...Thanks.... < Little Oscars seem like eating machines. I would recommend that you feed him once a day only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. You will have to learn to ignore him the rest of the day. Sounds like he already is getting you well trained. The Oscar can get up to a foot long in as little time as a year under the right conditions a 50 to 55 gallon tank should be fine with proper filtration.-Chuck> 

Starving Oscar Hi, I've just bought a medium tiger Oscar a few days ago and it won't eat. And it's always hiding in the shadow but its alone in a 20 gallon tank.  < Sometimes fish get "Imprinted" on certain foods and can be difficult to get to switch to other foods. Ask the store where you bought him what they had been feeding him. If he wasn't eating at the store then you need to try different foods until you find the one he will eat. Look at flake and pelleted foods to start. Try live black worms, meal worms and washed earthworms. It is important to clean up any un eaten food after a couple minutes. Don't let the food sit in the tank all day and pollute the tank.-Chuck> 

OSCAR ON HUNGER STRIKE - II? Hi again, I asked the store manager about the food today and they told me it was the same kind of food they fed. So I was wondering if I could feed it some feeder guppies? < I really don't like to use feeder guppies unless nothing else will work. They carry disease and are usually not a very good nutritional source. If you must feed guppies then place them in their own tank and treat them for any diseases like you would with a new tropical fish for a couple of weeks. Feed them nutritional food so that they themselves will be nutritional to your Oscar.-Chuck> 

Oscar Feeding? Hello, My name is Courtney and I am wondering what types of food can I feed my Oscars and my cichlids? <Mmm, all sorts of pellets, sticks... cut meats (freshwater, marine... beef heart and liver... worms, bug larvae like meal worms...> Now, I have 3 Oscars ranging from 8" to 12", and an Red devil cichlid about 7", and two smaller ones  a jewel and a zebra cichlid ranging about 2".  The question that I am really trying to ask is well, what kinds of veggies and fruits can I feed them?  I already feed them peas and lettuce and they love it.  But what other types of fruits and veggies can I feed them????? <Really, the "sky is the limit"... and there are no hard and fast rules... these animals can be quite individualistic... so, it is suggested that you experiment. Tough terrestrial greens may be better blanched or lightly microwaved before offering...>   All I want to do is maybe give them more of a variety.  There diets consist of beef heart, cichlid sticks and pellets, lettuce, and peas.  Now, When I feed them of course I don't give this all to them at once.  I very it as I do the feedings.  The only thing that I will not do is feed my fish, is feeder fish.   <Good> They mean too much to me and well, I am very attached to them, I don't know what I would do if they got sick and I lost them.  I am also able to feed my fish by placing my fingers in the tank and they come up and take the food out of my fingers, I am also able to pet them.  They are very friendly fish when I am around, but they have become protective.  All I would like to know is what other types of food can I feed them?????  Veggies, fruits what ever it may be.  Thank you for the time and I hope you will be able to answer my questions. Courtney <Do consider earthworms... mealworms and other insect fare. Otherwise, you are doing fine. Bob Fenner>

Black Oscar advice, please First off, thank you in advance for the guidance you have offered all of us. I have been able to extrapolate and apply information from your previously posted suggestions and ideas to maintain a "successful" tank. <Welcome> I appreciate all the help you have given me through responses to other writers... now I would like to ask for help. <Go ahead> I have an 8", 6 month old Black Oscar who shares identical eating behaviors as those of previous writers. When he is fed, he will chew the food one or two times and spit it out. As well, that which he does not spit out appears to pass through his gills. This behavior has gone on for at least 4 or 5 weeks now. He is regularly fed Hikari Gold Cichlid Pellets, which has never been varied from. <Not unnatural behavior... may seem kind of strange, but your Oscar is mainly bored with the pellets... do look into earthworms, cut meats...> Over this period of time, I have tried giving him small pellets, but he just spits those out without even attempting to chew. I have tried the large pellets which he does chew up 4 or 5 times, but this is when the food comes through the gills, then he spits the rest out. I have tried soaking the pellets first, with the same result.  I have tried blood worms, but he does not appear interested in these. <Too little> I have also gone as far as to treat as if he had an internal parasite, using Metronidazole (which he attempted to eat during the first treatment, but hadn't touched during the balance of the treatment) and still the same eating behavior. <I would leave off dealing with this dangerous medication> I have also followed your previously posted advice to remove him from the tank and look into his mouth and throat with a flashlight. I found nothing. I have also not fed him for 5 days, hoping this would work... but it did not. <... do try other large meaty foods... water changes... likely nothing organically wrong with your fish> Aside from his not eating, he appears to be 100% healthy. He has NOT thinned up at all in this period. He displays normal activity at all times. He is attentive to feeding time and continues to show excitement when attempting to feed. He does not scratch or scrape rocks. He does not hide or just lay on the bottom. He has no territorial issues with his tank mates. Breathing and fin activity are normal. He has no pits, lesions, cuts, "fraying", discolorations, or external parasites. One weird thing to note though, I have not seen him (to put nicely) excrete digestive waste in this same 4 to 5 week period. <Good, and good info.> He lives in a well aerated 50 gallon tank with 4 other small cichlids (rainbow, black convict, 2 lemon), all of whom are healthy and active eaters. I do very regular water changes of 20 to 25% every 5th day, with regular maintenance on the gravel and filtration system. My temperature is a constant 79 degrees. pH is right at 7.8 or 7.9. Ammonia and nitrites always read as 0 and nitrates are regularly in the 20 to 25 range. <All sounds good> I am at a complete loss of what to do now. Please help. Please suggest anything that I could try. I will do anything as I have grown quite attached to this fish. Paul <Don't despair my friend... the Oscar is just in a bit of a mental funk... will turn around... Do go hunting for earth-, meal worms... a cocktail shrimp... sans sauce. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Oscars I have had a tiger Oscar for about a month now and I love it to bits. I just want to make sure that I am feeding it properly, it seems to always be hungry! I have been feeding him various sizes of floating pellets and occasionally a few live fish. What else can they eat? how much and how often should I feed him? he is 5 inches long and is very happy and active, he lives alone in a 30 gallon tank and I plan to get a bigger tank this summer I have read the articles/comments on your site and it seems that people feed them everything from pellets to table scraps and I want to make sure that is healthy. < I would recommend a varied diet with lots of shrimp and worms. Live fish may carry disease and really aren't that great nutritionally for the Oscars. Feed them only enough food so that all of it is entirely gone in two minutes each day. Don't give in no matter how hard he begs.-Chuck> thanks for your help, Jen Re: feeding Oscars just one more question, could you clarify on the shrimp and worms, do you mean earth worms or brine/blood worms. and what kind of shrimp? thanks for answering my rookie questions < As far as worms go I like to feed earthworms, black worms, meal worms and king worms. As far as shrimp, I like to use some brine shrimp, krill and plankton.-Chuck>

Oscar spitting food Hi! Three weeks ago I was given a four year old male Red Oscar. He lives in a 6o gallon hexagon aquarium with two Bala Sharks, whom he seems to get along with just swimmingly. The problem I'm having is that the Oscar (Henry) begs for food (I feed him JumboMin sticks), he eats the food, but then spits out pretty much everything. So much food comes back out of his mouth and gills, that he couldn't possibly be swallowing enough. His previous owner told me that he is a very picky eater. I've tried several other kinds of food, I've even tried gut-loaded feeder goldfish, but he only likes the sticks. I'm already quit attached to him. Do you think he's spitting everything out because there's something wrong? Please help! Thanks, Jillian < I suspect that he has probably imprinted on one kind of food from a previous owner reluctant to vary his diet early and often. To get him back on track do not feed him for a week. After a week offer him only enough food so that all of is gone in two minutes. If any food remains then net it or siphon it out. Eventually he will get hungry enough and learn that if he does not eat when it is offered then he will not get to eat at all.-Chuck>

Oscar Eating Habits I have two tiger Oscars.  They are about 9 inches a piece.  I feed them 20 large cichlid pellets a day (for both of them).  I use the large bag.  When the bag is empty, I starve them for two days, then feed them a dozen large feeder goldfish.  For the past several months, they eat a few fish and then no more.  I usually flush the remainder of the fish after about two days (as no more fish are eaten) and continue on with the pellets.  Is this healthy? < Feeder fish in general really are not healthy for them. Feeders are fed very poor food which in turn makes them poor food for other fish. Next time place the extra feeders in a plastic container with an airstone and feed them a good quality flake food.> How long do I continue to let the goldfish in the tank if they are ignoring them? < Place one goldfish in the tank. If it is not eaten or he is not trying them remove it in two minutes. Try again the next day.> Do I leave the goldfish in the tank without feeding them pellets until they eat the remaining goldfish? < Pellets or goldfish, whatever you place in the tank remove any excess food in two minutes.>   How do I get them back to eating goldfish?  They used to be aggressive when I would put goldfish in the tank, now not so much.  Please let me know. < They are probably bored with them and need a break. Try earthworms, king worms, mealworms or crickets to get them looking forward to eating again.-Chuck>

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

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> 

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>

Pleco feeding hi, Thanks for your help. I took your advice and got two pleco's to go in my tank with my Oscars and Severums. Everyone is still quite small ( Oscars are already bigger than the rest ). I never see the pleco's eating ( one is Gibbiceps Pleco and the other is a Gold Nugget ), so at night night I place some algae wafers and cucumber slices in the tank. <Good idea. Do you have a bit of sunken "driftwood" in the tank? A very useful adjunct to these Suckermouth South American Catfishes nutrition.> I noticed the Oscars and Severums like these foods as well and my question is : Am I over feeding the Oscars and Severums by leaving large pieces vegetables in tank overnight ? <No worries... these materials won't cause them trouble (unless there's so much in the system that it rots)> I know about the 5 minute rule...but I'm worried about the pleco's not having a chance to eat if I don't leave the food in overnight. The tank is a newly cycled tank and is very clean. Thanks, Adam <Do keep an eye on ammonia for a few weeks more... and start in with regular (weekly, biweekly...) gravel vacuum, water changing, etc. Bob Fenner>

My Oscar Bob, I just fed my Oscar's some goldfish and while one was going after a goldfish it accidentally swallowed a piece of the gravel at the bottom of tank. the fish is about 4 inches long and about 3 months old. I was wondering if he was going to die or if he will digest the rock? if you could respond I would appreciate it. thanks <In all likelihood "this too shall pass". Happens quite often with these gluttonous feeders. I would not be overly concerned. Bob Fenner>

Re: my Oscar Bob I just wanted to thank you for responding to my email. I really appreciate it. <You are welcome my friend. Glad to be of assistance. Bob Fenner>

Oscar Won't Eat 10/14/03 He's about 8inches and in a 55 Gallon tank with a 6 to 7 inch Plecostomus (a Snow King Pleco or  Hypostomus plecostomus [it looks like both I got it at a local Wal-Mart]),  2.5 inch and a 3 inch electric blue African Cichlids, and a 3 inch Opaline Gourami. <Most aquarists agree that a 55 US gallon tank is the absolute minimum tank size to house an adult Oscar. This is because a smaller tank simply does not have enough water in it to dilute the waste produced by the Oscar. It is also because a smaller tank simply does not have enough room for the Oscar to swim. A standard 55 gal tank is about 4 feet long and one foot wide. Since an average Oscar grows to about 12 inches a 55 gal barely provides room to turn, and provides a straight line swimming distance of about 4 body lengths, which is not much.  Never mind a common Pleco, which can grow twice as large as an Oscar.> I'm not sure on the tank chemistry as I've never had reason to check it so haven't bothered to get any tests. <As I believe you tank is overstocked with 2 very messy fish (Oscars & Plecos are poop machines) I am almost sure you will find your water parameters are way off.  Without hefty (50-80%) & often (weekly-biweekly) water changes, I don't see how they can't be.> It is filtered with a BioWheel filter and an undergravel filter which gets vacuumed weekly. I feed Medium Cichlid pellets and tropical fish granules. <I suggest a larger variety of foods.  Large pieces of krill & pieces of fish or smelt from your grocery store fish dept. can be offered.> Every thing in the tank is eating but the Oscar. The Oscar hasn't eaten for about 2 or 3 days now. <I still think your ammonia/nitrates/nitrites may be off.  This could cause your fish not to eat.> The only thing I've noticed different lately is the Plecostomus started eating the cichlid pellets about a week ago. Previously only the Oscar was eating them. I've put in extra since the Plecostomus started eating them too. <What was the Pleco eating before?> I hope you can help. <Have your water tested, or better yet, get your own test kit.  You can buy a Master Test Kit for around $10 at www.bigalsonline.com.  Either way, have your LFS test it tomorrow.  As long as these fish are in that small of a tank, you are going to keep a close eye on the water parameters.> I'm rather attached to him. <I totally understand.  Get him a bigger tank.  Pufferpunk>

My Oscar won't eat..... I had bought my fish under the impression that an inch of fish for every gallon of water was the general rule of thumb to go by. <That rule is only for small, thin fish like guppies, Neons, etc.  Imagine 10 1" Neons, or 5 2" guppies in a 10g tank.  Sounds ok?  Now imagine a 10" Oscar in that same 10g tank.  Kind of crowded for that fish.  Got it?> The Pleco was eating algae before. <Now he'll be eating algae wafers, right?> Ok, Thanks for your Help. <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

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