Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Oscar Fish

The Oscar Fish, or to give it its scientific name, Astronontus ocellatus.  Astronontus actually means being marked with a star on the back.  Ocellatus means bearing an "eye spot"  The Oscar is a fresh water fish that is a member of the Cichlid (pronounced sick-lid)  family which is native to the Orinoco, La Plata, and Amazon river in South America where they inhabit the many slow-moving rivers that are attached to the Amazon.

During the rainy season the Amazon rainforest floods to depths of 9 m and covers an area the size of California. The Amazon river is home to some of the largest fish in the world including massive catfish and the elusive Arapaima which can reach lengths of over 4 m.

The Oscar has also found its way into other tropical and subtropical parts of the wild such as some of the canals in Florida USA.  However these are not native and were probably introduced accidentally, or released on purpose.
The oscar  has various names such as velvet  and peacock cichlid. It is fairly obvious why people sometimes refer to an Oscar as a peacock cichlid, you only have to look at its tail to realise why this has come about.  The reason it is sometimes called a velvet cichlid is because of the size of its scales, if you look very closely, it almost has a velvet appearance.  Having said all this, is most commonly known as an Oscar with aquarium hobbyists.  Nobody is actually sure where the name Oscar came from. It probably came about from an early importer of tropical fish that for reasons of his own, gave the fish the name that we all love.  The Oscar can reach 16 in + (2LB +) in size and weight.  However,  fish normally only reach their maximum size in the wild. An average sized for an Oscar in captivity is probably between 9 and 12 inches.   There are various different types of Oscar, some of which include the Common or Wild Oscar, this being the original Oscar from the wild. Oscars bred from this wild Oscar include  Red, Tiger, Albino, Lutino, yellow, Lemon, Veil Tail. And then of course you can have all your cross breeds such as Red Tiger, Red Albino etc.

You may come across what is commonly referred to as a dyed or tattooed Oscar. These fish often display extremely bright colours that look very unnatural. We would advise anyone not to purchase any fish that has been dyed artificially. Whereas the colours may be bright and vibrant, the chances are they won't stay like this. This practice is very much frowned upon by serious fish keepers as the fish is put through quite an ordeal when artificially colouring it.