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Oscar Cichlid: Astronotus Ocellatus
Oscar Cichlids are rather large and moderately aggressive cichlids that are found in Peru, Brazil, and French Guiana, and also along the Amazon. Intelligent enough to recognize their owners and silly enough to try to jump out of their aquarium, Oscar Cichlids are great pets to own.
The Oscar cichlid also goes by its scientific name of Astronotus Ocellatus. It is also variously known by the names of Peacock Cichlid, Marbled Cichlid, and Velvet Cichlid. These fish can grow rather rapidly to a size of 12" and live for about 7 to 8 years.
A temperature range of 74F to 80F suits Oscar Cichlids well as does a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. The pH level need not be maintained very assiduously sudden changes must be avoided.
They are moderately high on the aggression scale as compared to other cichlids.
They can be kept alone in a tank. Alternatively, you could keep them in a group, but in that case make sure you keep them in a large enough tank with other cichlids of about the same size. Other fish that cichlids get along well with Oscar Cichlids are silver dollars, pacus, sharks, and other cichlids like the Texas Cichlids, and Jack Dempseys. Avoid keeping 3 Oscars together, as the stronger ones may harass the weaker one
Oscars are perfectly capable of jumping out of an aquarium that does not have a cover. So make sure your aquarium has some kind of a lid before your Oscar start living in it.
Gravel is not absolutely necessary for Oscar Cichlids. Rather they may be healthier without it. This is because waste is collected by gravel, and it lessens the quality of the water. A quarter inch level of gravel will work well enough.
Oscar Cichlids require a larger tank than do other cichlids primarily because they grow so fast. A 75 gallon tank per Oscar would be the ideal size. This tank would of course have to have a filter, and a heater to suit it. Bio-wheel filters are suitable to Oscar tanks, and a heater of about 150 watts would serve a 75 gallon aquarium quite well. If you have Oscars living in a smaller tank, it will be a tricky job to keep the tank clean.
The water absolutely must be kept clean, as cloudy water may lead to hole-in-the-head disease for your Oscar. This is a disease that Oscars are prone to, and one that is difficult to cure.
It is difficult to identify the sexes of Oscar Cichlids. Only when a female is about to lay, does it become evident that she is a female as she becomes somewhat plumper than the males.
Of all the Oscars, the Pink Oscars are normally the least aggressive, but even then, do not keep a few in your aquarium. Get either a single one, or get many of them (at least 6 or more), otherwise, the weaker ones will get bullied. Or, if you have a Pink Oscar living with a Red or Tiger Oscar, do make sure to see to it that its companions are not eating up all its food, and forcing it to go hungry.
You may feed your Oscars with feeder fish. However it is recommended that you feed them pellets, as these contain more nutrition, and are not as likely to contain germs. See to it that you feed younger fish about 2 to 3 times a day while adults can be fed once or twice a day.
Their large size makes it difficult to breed Oscar Cichlids. It would be more desirable to raise convict cichlids instead. If you have several Oscars living together, you may see a male and female getting together, and defending a particular territory against the other fish. This pair should at this point be removed and placed in another tank.
These hardy fish that are found in Peru, Brazil, and French Guiana, and also along the Amazon are also endowed with the intelligence to recognize their owners. Hence they are good pets to own.
[Permission for using the above picture has been given by Jeff Rapps of Tangled Up In Cichlids.]
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