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FAQs on Oscar Identification 
Related Articles: Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Disease/Health, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,


Oscar fish laid eggs, but buried them in rocks..   5/18/11
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to me. I have a couple of questions regarding my Oscars. They are a proven mated pair, I think a couple years old, I'm not sure, they have laid eggs before and some did indeed get fertilized, some wiggled!, but all died. Anyways, they laid eggs again on Monday night, but have swept them sort of all over the tank (100gal) and buried most under the gravel.
I am wondering why they did that and what I can do to help keep at least a couple alive.
<Provide other spawning substrate...>
We decided letting the Oscars learn to be parents and doing things naturally would be best.
<In general I agree>
There is a very small Chinese algae eater
<I'd remove this>
and a still small Pleco in the tank as well both no more then 3inches long. So what all are we doing wrong?
<These last two may be eating the eggs, young... or bothering the parents, adding to their stress, perhaps to their consuming their reproductive products>
They still eat just fine and protect their cleaned area.
Thank you for your time,
Kelsey and Michael
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarreprofaqs.htm
and why not, the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Oscar fish buried eggs..   5/18/11
Sorry! I also forgot to mention that our Oscars are not petstore bought, they are in fact wild Oscars and the eggs would be F1.
They are tiger Oscars.
<Mmm, no; these and all other than "wild type" are human-produced sports>
We have a friend who is a marine biologist
and even he verified that they are 'wild'.
<... how?>
I don't know if that helps any! Thank you again!
Kelsey and Michael
<Keep reading. BobF>
re: Oscar fish buried eggs..   5/19/11

How? I don't know, because he is a marine biologist and knows a lot about Oscars.
Their colors and patterns are much different then inbred store bought Oscars, their behaviors are different (we understand Oscars are very smart and each has its own personality).
<Umm, no>
We were just wondering why they buried their eggs.
<An aberrant behavior>
Their water is on the warmer side already, I raised it when they first laid eggs.
<... warmer... than what?>
Sent via DROID on Verizon Wireless
<Sent via VAIO laptop. B>
re: Oscar fish buried eggs.. Got my mind straight warden     5/19/11

.....warmer then it usually is... its 'normal' is around 78-79 degrees and now its between 80-81 degrees. Should we take the algae and Pleco out or no?
<As stated in my first response; "yes", if you want to reproduce the Oscars... B>
A WWM dissatisfied customer   5/22/11

Neale, pls see your in-folder... an Oscar querior, w/ the expertise of a "marine biologist" id'ing their fish as wild caught... B
re: Oscar fish buried eggs..

What does 'Oscars....B>' mean?
<<The "B" stands for Bob Fenner, the person who replied, the owner of the site, not to mention one of the best known and most respected fishkeeping writers around today.>>
I am a little lost with everything you have asked me, maybe there is another member of the wet web who could help me?
<<For what it's worth, here I am, Neale Monks, one of the folks who helps with the freshwater queries.>>
Thank you for your time though. I hope someone else gets back to me and can answer my questions.
<<I haven't followed your conversation in detail, but Bob's gist is this:
[1] The Tiger Oscar as sold in aquarium shops is not a wild-caught fish, any more than a Persian Cat isn't a natural form of Felis silvestris. Wild Oscars are only very occasionally traded. That your friend is a marine biologist is neither here nor there when it comes to identifying these fish; my first degree was in marine zoology and nothing I learned at university would have helped me identify a wild-caught Oscar! In any case, not one in ten thousand of the Oscars sold in the United States is going to be wild-caught. The name "Tiger Oscar" simply means its one of the brownish varieties of the species with orange markings, as opposed to any of the other varieties, such as Red Oscars or the wild-type Common Oscar that has the same markings as wild fish. Next up, [2] as for breeding, you aren't going to have much success breeding Oscars in a tank with armoured catfish -- such catfish will eat the eggs during the night. Breeding pairs of Oscars need their own aquarium. Do think very carefully before breeding Oscars; they produce around a thousand eggs and it doesn't take much luck to end up with hundreds of fry. The market for Oscars is very small, and even allowing for the fact they are popular fish, you'd be hard pressed to find homes for a couple hundred juvenile Oscars. Don't forget that it'll be some months, perhaps 4-6 months, before the Oscars will be big enough to pass on to an aquarium shop, and housing a couple hundred two-inch Oscar fry will require a massive amount of space and frequent water changes. In almost all situations, it just isn't worth the bother, and it would certainly be irresponsible to breed the Oscars before first finding out where you're going to get house the fry and then where you're going to sell them on. Hope this helps, Neale.>>
re: Oscar fish buried eggs..
Thank you Neale for your response back, much more info then I had gotten before, although my actual question basically this whole time is why did my fish bury their eggs?
<They do sometimes make pits, but they aren't cichlids that produce spawning pits. Normally they lay their eggs on flat, smooth surfaces such as rocks. But if there's nothing they can use in the aquarium that fits the bill, they will move gravel or sand out the way to expose the glass underneath.>
We don't want to breed them and have hundreds, but 2 or 3 would be cool.
<Doesn't really work that way. And even assuming you euthanise a few hundred fry after a few weeks (that's how long it'll take to get them big enough to judge healthy and hearty) and just keep 2-3 of the good ones, that's a lot of work already. The adults will have kicked the juveniles out the nest within that time, so you'll be rearing these in their own tank. If you just want to raise cichlids for fun, there are infinitely better species to play with.>
We will take out the Pleco and algae eater today. I am aware what a 'tiger Oscar' is, my boyfriend had an Albino one as well a few years ago. Just because it would be rare to have an originally wild caught Oscar does not mean its impossible.
<Depends where you shop. Be under no illusions about this. If you spent a couple hundred dollars on your pair of Oscars, and the retailer was advertising them as wild caught, then I guess it's possible. But even then, there's "wild caught" feral Oscars from Florida, and then there's wild caught from South America, which is something else entirely. Furthermore, the wild caught ones from South America will need soft, acidic water to breed successfully, so if yours are spawning in generic tap water, again, it's highly unlikely these are truly wild Astronotus ocellatus.>
We trust our friend as he has gone and studied them and has some of his own.
<If you have scientist friend who's studied them in Brazil, then the best he can genuinely say is that the ones you have share similar markings to the ones he's seen in the wild. Print off this e-mail and show it to him. As one PhD to another, I'm sure we'd agree on this. Trust me, you cannot possibly know an Oscar in a pet shop is wild caught simply by looking at it.>
There doesn't seem to be too much info on wild Oscars, just the inbred store bought ones.
<Yes. The wild ones are hardly ever imported. In 25 years of fishkeeping I've seen them a couple times.>
Which is understandable, as you said, it would be rare to have wild ones. We happen to have gotten lucky and we only want the best for our fish.
<I fear you're a bit deluded here. Wild caught Oscars simply aren't traded for under $100 a piece, so it's highly unlikely you have them unless you paid big bucks and went to a retailer who specialises in high-end cichlids.>
So aside from what we (you and I) feel my boyfriend and I have (wild or not wild) we just want to know why they swished the eggs all around the tank and buried some.
<Any number of factors: inbreeding, stress, lack of proper spawning sites, the eggs were infertile, the wrong water chemistry meant the eggs failed'¦>
Did they already know they were bad eggs or what?
<Can be.>
Thanks again, I don't mean to offend B, as he according to you is a great writer, I just didn't understand what he was saying and why he was asking me questions that I had previously answered.
<Cheers, Neale.><<Sorry for the lack of clarity to any/all. Am out on holiday, w/ patchy connections... and trying to click/respond as quickly as I can to avoid losing.... BobF>>

Question in regards to Fish sold at Retail Stores (RMF, do you have thoughts?) <Nada.> 3-5-09 Hello, I was reading through your website some more and found the three scientific names for the "Oscar" - Astronotus crassipinnis, A. ocellatus, and A. orbiculatus. My question is what are the common names for each of these. For example is Astronotus crassipinnis consider a Tiger Oscar? <No. All the fancy Oscars, like Tigers and Albinos, are Astronotus ocellatus. The other two species are quite rarely traded, usually wild caught, and much in demand by advanced fishkeepers. Consequently they are fairly pricey as and when they do turn up. But they are definitely worth looking out for! Astronotus ocellatus are virtually all mass produced. Quality varies dramatically, from pretty poor to very good, so do hunt about for good quality specimens. Since an Oscar will live 10+ years, it's worth taking your time to find a specimen you'll love.> I think out of all the fish to have as pets, Oscars are by far the most interesting ones I have ever seen. I remember when I was younger, a gentleman owned a LFS in town and had a couple of Oscars. I saw the most unusual thing. The gentleman stuck his hand slowly in the tank and one of the Oscars came up and rested in his hand. I remember reading on your site that Oscars are like "domestic dogs" and are intelligent, but I never really appreciated just how much they can make for a pet. <Yes indeed. Oscars, and indeed certain other large fish, like Giant Gouramis (Osphronemus spp.), can become surprisingly tame.> Thanks, Neal <Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Question in regards to Fish sold at Retail Stores (RMF, do you have thoughts?) 3-5-09 Neale, You said that the other two Oscar species are rare. What are their physical characteristics? I tried popping their names in the Google Image and Web search, but I get same pictures back of Tiger and Albino. Thanks, Neal <Astronotus orbiculatus is currently considered the same thing as Astronotus ocellatus, the Common Oscar. But it does tend to get used in the trade for what are really nothing other than wild-caught specimens of Common Oscars. Astronotus crassipinnis is a true species. It is distinguished by being dark greenish-grey (rather than brown) and has pale, off-white vertical bands. It also seems to be smaller, less than 25 cm/9 inches seems to be typical, as opposed to the 30-40 cm (12-16 inches) typical of Astronotus ocellatus. But like the Common Oscar, it has an eyespot close to the tail fin. Astronotus crassipinnis is a fantastic fish, but at least here in the UK, it's not widely traded and only ever seen in the stores that stock seriously unusual and rare fish, like Wildwoods. By the way, do also check out Hypselecara temporalis. It's not a huge fish, around 20 cm/8 inches, but a solid, personable beast a lot like an Oscar. What's great about it is its ability to change colours. I kept these in the early 90s, and really loved them. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Oscars - Are they hybrids? Good morning.  I am wondering what "The Crew" thinks about the origin of the aquarium variety of Oscar.  I personally believe them to be hybrids. <No, THE Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus used in the hobby and as food fishes are not hybrids (crosses between species)> I replied to a post about cichlid hybrids on a forum (with what seems to be some pretty smart people) debating this very issue in order to perhaps stimulate some intellectual thinking.  The only posts I received however were, "You are wrong!  Oscars are not hybrids."  This is a direct quote of what I had written on the forum.  "Currently, there are three species of "Oscar", Astronotus crassipinnis, A. ocellatus, and A. orbiculatus.  However, back in 1831 when Agassiz discovered the Oscar, <Described by Louis Agassiz in 1831> there was only one species, Lobotes ocellatus.  All three species were believed to be this one species.  When these fish were imported, they were very hard to breed, taking years to reach maturity.  Florida fish farms (at that time basically importers) gathered large numbers of these Oscars, regardless of looks, and threw them in outdoor ponds to raise and breed.  Since they were all considered one species, there wasn't a problem with this.  This is how all of the aquarium strains came to be (red, tiger, silver, gold, albino, and long-finned)." <Mmm, actually... have been in the hobby and business or ornamental aquatics a good long time (since the mid-1960's) and have visited fish farms (in the orient, this fish and its sport mutations are not bred commercially in the U.S.) and have seen the efforts at selective breeding to make these other varieties... sometimes easier to do starting with crosses... but am pretty sure these are all A. ocellatus> Does this argument make any real sense?  Do I even have an argument?  What are your views on this?  I am hoping you can shed some light on this for me, so I will know whether to back down on this issue or perhaps push it a little further.  Thank you. <Perhaps a trip to a large/college library and a search for literature on the species, its history. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Karyotyping ("chromosome mapping") work has likely been done on this "species-complex" that will reveal if the current animal in use is just one or a mix of species. - Jason Seymour

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