Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oscars Popularity

They have become very popular with fish keepers and have gained the nickname water, or river dog. This came about because of the way they act whilst in the tank. These fish are professional beggars, they are always on the lookout for food. As soon as you approach the tank, they'll be there wriggling and opening their mouths in the hope that you will drop some food in for them.

Contrary to popular belief, Oscars are not aggressive fish. You often see them labelled as killers of other fish. Yes, an Oscar is more than capable of killing another fish but they don't make a habit of terrorising their tankmates. You may well have problems if you keep two Oscars that just don't like each other, but as a rule, Oscars are definitely not among the most aggressive of the South American Cichlids.

Oscars can be moody fish and have been known to sulk for various reasons. This normally occurs if you move things around in their tank, or sometimes when water changes are carried out, especially if there are sudden changes in water temperature. As you can see in the photograph to the left, the two Oscars are sulking after a water change, this behaviour didn't last very long on they were soon swimming around normally. I would dismiss statements that quote Oscars sulking for days or even weeks. I have kept many Oscars and I've never seen this happen. If you keep Oscars in the correct environment, they should live quite happily without getting upset. Yes Oscars will sulk, but not for very long, and certainly not for days at a time. if you observe your Oscar sitting on the bottom of the tank looking unhappy for days, then you should be looking for an underlying problem, possibly poor water conditions, or may be illness in the Oscar itself.

They will also become very tame and will show little fear if you put your hand in the tank, if you are lucky, they may even let you caress and stroke them. It's no wonder people have fallen in love with them. Having said that, try not to handle them too much, the delicate membrane that covers their skin can easily be damaged which could leave them open to infection. What I actually do sometimes is put my hand in and let them come to me, rather than chase them. Remember that it is not natural for fish to let you touch it so if you want to pet your Oscar, take your time and don't rush things. Don't just shove your hand in the tank and expect the Oscar to let you touch it, it won't. You could start by hand feeding your Oscar. Quite often, Oscars are so interested in the food, they will actually barge through your hand to get to it. Once they become accustomed to taking food from your hands, you could try just touching your Oscars head with a finger. Once they get used to this try putting your hand in the water whilst they are feeding and let them brush up against your hand. Once again, don't make any sudden movements, just keep your hands still and they will just get on with things. You could also start petting them whilst you are cleaning the tank. They will often approach you by themselves, just leave your hand in one place and they may just brush past.

Putting your hand in their tank if they have eggs is certainly not advisable. Oscars have got very small teeth in their mouths. They won't be very apparent until an Oscar actually catches you on the finger when feeding. A large Oscar is more than capable of drawing blood.