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Oscar Fish Breeding
William Berg

The Oscars, or Astronotus ocellatus, from Cichlidae family, are
fairly easy fish to breed. All you need is pretty much leaving
them alone and letting them do their thing if you lucky enough to
get a pair. If not, breeding might be very hard. They are a very
long-lived fish, probably one of the reasons they are so popular
today. Originally from Amazon.

Oscar Fish obviously requires a large tank due to their large
size. They prefer clean and clear water with a deep sand bottom,
and a few large rocks. If you keep plants with you Oscars they
will be dug up however there are some people that believe that
Oscars like to have plants that they can dig up in the aquarium
and this might be true since many large cichlid like to have toys
when kept in aquariums not to get bored. And since Oscars are
large and very smart cichlids, you can actually teach them
tricks, they might want something to do like digging up plant.

Be careful, they are enthusiastic eaters and they love to eat
smaller fish. Thus, only keep them with other fish that are of
the same size. Temperature is important, and should be kept
stable somewhere in 79-86°F range. Feeding Oscars is not a
problem since they will take every food you give, including flake
frozen fish, prawns, pellets, earth worms, crickets, kitchen
scrapes…and of course live food.

The most trying task to do is finding a mating pair. If your
Oscar is adult in size, it becomes a really trial-and-error
process. However once they form pairs they will stay together for
the rest of their life. Probably the most common and effective
method of finding pair of Oscars is to buy 6 or 8 young specimens
(about 1 inch in length), and allowing them to grow up together.
A mating pair can be identified from their mating play, which is
a seemingly aggressive behavior towards each other; lip-locking,
tail-slapping…. If one of the fish is overly aggressive, and it
is a one-sided aggression and you should separate them or risk
loosing one of them.

During their spawning process, they will use their mouths to
clean a flat rock, and the female will lay her eggs there. Not
all the eggs are laid at once; the female will take breathers, at
which time the male moves in and fertilizes the eggs. A female
usually lays 1,000-2,000 eggs. The eggs are opaque at first,
turning transparent in 24 hours. After the eggs are laid, both
parents watch over the eggs, wafting the eggs with their fin and
guarding them against predators. Occasionally they take the eggs
in their mouth, which keeps them clean and turns up bad eggs,
which are then destroyed.

If a constant tank temperature is maintained, the eggs should
hatch in about 36 hours. At first, the fry cannot swim, but they
squirm "en masse" on the rock, living off the egg sac, for about
4 days. The parents constantly attend to their young at this
time. Feeding these fry is easier than other breeds, because of
the baby Oscar's relatively large size. A good and simple plan is
to crush regular processed flake food in your fingers, and just
drop it in. Turn off filtration during fry feeding time to make
it easier for them to find their bits of food.

How the parents act towards their fry depends entirely on each
fish personality. Some have numerous spawn and never bother their
fry; others easily eat their young. To be on the safe side, you
can separate the fry from their parents. However I do not
recommend this until the parents have had a few unsuccessful
spawnings. The fry will reach 1.5 to 2 inches after 12 weeks at
which time they can be sold.

William Berg is an experienced aquarist and writes for  and have articles featured on
a lot of other aquarium sites such as

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