The Oscar, also known as the Marble or Velvet Cichlid, makes a great addition to a large aquarium. There are several color variations including Albino, Red, Tiger, and Zebra. The Albino is pale orange-pink in color and may be missing the eyespot. The Red is orange-red with dark gray shading and an eyespot on the dorsal fin. The Tiger has a blue-black background with an orange-red pattern and its dorsal fin has an eyespot that is very brightly colored. The Zebra is black and white with gray shading and an eyespot on the dorsal fin.
The Oscar requires a large aquarium of at least 70 gallons with a deep sand bottom and a few large rocks. It will dig up plants; so any that are in the tank should be potted with the root surfaces covered with rocks. Using floating plants is a good option to avoid this problem. Cichlids are hearty eaters and should only be kept with other fish that are of the same size, as they will eat any that are smaller than themselves.
The male and female Oscar will form a pair, make a nuclear family, and are generally peaceful. It is difficult to distinguish between the male and female, but during spawning, the female has obvious genital papilla. A large tank should be used for breeding, 100 gallons if possible. The Oscar will spawn in soft or hard water as long as the water is clean and clear and has a temperature between 79-86°F. The female will lay from 1,000-2,000 eggs on rocks that have been carefully cleaned. The eggs are opaque at first, turning transparent in 24 hours. The brood will be carefully guarded and cared for and the fry will be kept in pits and may even be covered. When they are free-swimming, the fry should be fed Cyclops. Sometimes, the fry will cling to their parents.
When pairing up they have been known to 'gang up' on tankmates who they perceive as a threat to their chance of sucessfully breeding. This intelligence sets them aside from most other aquarium fish
The Oscar is a carnivore that is a predaceous and hearty eater. Cichlids will eat a variety of meaty foods, including small fish and earthworms, Cichlid pellets, larger flake food, ocean plankton, bloodworms, and tubifex worms.
Ideal tank mates include similar sized: Loaches Other South American Cichids Plecos Scavenger Catfish Sharks Similar sized fish (miscellaneous fish)