Tiger Oscar – Tank Requirements, Diet, Facts, FAQs

The tiger Oscar fish is a beautiful living creature with marbled spots of red pigmentation. It is a species of the cichlid family. It has a variety of common names such as velvet cichlid, red Oscar fish, and marble cichlid. They naturally reside in tropical South America, throughout the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers and tributaries. Tiger Oscar is an aquarium fish and keeping their environment clean is an essential part of their care. Oscars are infamous for their aggression, which is hard to imagine since they swim so gracefully.

If you have your doubts about Tiger Oscar fish due to lack of knowledge and information required to maintain this beautiful and intelligent species. I am glad to inform you that they have a moderate care level and the requirement for Tiger Oscar fish is not more than you can bear and they are fishes that can be kept together. However, they are semi-aggressive but they co-exist fairly well with some other types of fishes.

This article contains information on where tiger Oscar fishes are found, how big they grow, how fast they grow, their lifespan, behavior, diet, color, breeding method, tank and tank size requirement, their tank mates, facts about Tiger Oscar fish. You may have pondered on some questions about Tiger Oscar fish, about the attributes listed earlier, and never seemed to get answers, well, the answers are clearly stated as you read further.

Tiger Oscar Color

Tiger Oscars are monomorphic, that is both sexes have the same appearance. Majorly, in some naturally occurring strains, males are noted to possess dark blotches on the base of their dorsal fins. However, wild forms of Tiger Oscar are usually darkly colored and they have yellow-ringed spots or ocelli on their dorsal fin or caudal peduncle. In addition, they can rapidly alter their coloration and this trait facilitates ritualized territorial and combat behaviors among Oscars. Moreover, Juvenile Tiger.

Oscars are a little different from adult tiger Oscars. As a result, in terms of coloration, they are striped with white and orange wavy bands and they have spotted heads.

Habitat of Tiger Oscars

Their natural environment is typically a slow-moving white-water habitat, and they take shelter under submerged branches. They are native to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and French Guiana. Also they occur in the Amazon River basin (one of the most biodiverse environments in the world), along with the Amazon, Içá, Negro, Solimões, and Ucayali River systems. However, they are not widely distributed because of their intolerance of cooler water temperatures. Typically, their lower lethal limit is 12.9°C (55.2°F).

Growth size of Tiger Oscar

Tiger Oscar males grow more rapidly than female and adult tiger Oscars typically weigh about 1.4kg to 1.6kg (3.5lb). They grow to a length of 36cm to 45cm (18in) and they reach this size quite quickly in their lifetime. They grow one inch a month until they are fully grown.

Lifespan of Tiger Oscar

They can live up to 10 to 20 years. In the wild, they usually grow slightly larger, and there have been reports of these fish growing up to 19 inches.

The behavior of Tiger Oscar

Oscar fishes are aggressive and territorial, they usually lay claim to a particular area and attacks any fish that encroaches their territory. However, this makes them a difficult species to handle. In most cases, the size of their territory usually depends on their size and aggressiveness.

Tiger Oscar is full of personality because a wide variety has been bred, this offers some different colors and patterns.

Tiger Oscar’s behavior to food

They can also be aggressive during feeding and mating times. They spend most of their time swimming in mid-levels of the tank and they head down to the substrate to search for food. Most importantly, ensure you secure everything in the aquarium well, because you might see them uproot plants during their search for food. However, they are not particularly fussy about food.

Tiger Oscar Diet

Oscar Fish are omnivores, and they can eat pretty much anything you give to them. They typically eat insects, small fishes, worms, plants and berries that fall into their environments. In an aquarium, the simplest option is to feed them store-bought flake/pellet foods. Typically, this is designed to contain all the nutrition your fish need.

You can also supplement their diet with live/frozen mealworms and insects (which are protein-rich). Some examples are bloodworms, grasshoppers, brine shrimp, and daphnia. This encourages them to catch their food and bring out their natural hunting instincts.

You can also chop up your spare green vegetables and put them in the tank. Also, you can use them to make your homemade fish foods. However, this should not be a large part of their diet if you’re feeding them enough of other foods.

Tiger Oscar food requirements

A mixture of different food types diet is the best diet. It will provide a range of nutrients that your fish will need to stay healthy. Also, you should feed them a couple of times a day, in amounts that they can finish in a couple of minutes. Ensure, you watch out for aggression as they get excited around food.

Furthermore, you should purchase your live food from a reputable pet store or you can raise your own. Likewise, do not feed them insects taken from outside because these insects can be exposed to pesticides which can make your fish ill.

Breeding method

They reach sexual maturity around one year of age and continue to reproduce until 9 to 10 years. Moreover, they are one of the tedious fish to breed in captivity. Also, detailed information regarding their reproduction in the wild is scarce.

The frequency and timing of their breeding naturally are related to the occurrence of rain, but this can be controlled. Hence, to signal the rainy season in an aquarium try lowering the temperature a couple of degrees. However, water changes every couple of days and sprinkling water on the surface for a few minutes each day will also help.

Oscars are very picky when choosing a mate. Therefore, you can’t assume that putting any old male and female together will immediately result in juveniles. You can also try to buy an already established breeding pair.

Another option is to buy a group of juveniles. As a result, they grow together and will build a connection and they will be more likely to form mating pairs. Majorly, the problem with this option is that it will take a while for breeding to happen. Hence, you will need to wait until the juveniles have matured; moreover, this takes about 1-2 years.

As long as this fish thinks they’ve found a suitable mate, you can breed any combination of individuals from different varieties. Certainly, when the fish is ready to spawn they’ll flare their gill and use their fins to indicate to their mate. Usually, this can be a simple fin waggling or vibration.

The pair will select and clean good flattened horizontal or vertical surfaces on which they will lay their 1,000 to 3,000 opaque eggs. Typically, they practice brood care. The females fan them to keep the substrate from smothering them, while males keep other fish away.

General Tank requirements

Fishes evolved to live in their natural region, therefore, you need to create an aquarium that meets their natural conditions. Tiger Oscars are naturally found in waters with neutral Ph. Hence, they can’t survive in an environment with extreme alkalinity or acidity.

Furthermore, the bottom of a river is usually a soft substrate with rocks, debris, and vegetation scattered around on top. This is quite easy to create in a tank. Hence, the base of the tank should be a layer of a soft substrate.

Tank size requirements

Tiger Oscars grow very big, up to 12 in. Therefore, you will need an aquarium that is large enough to accommodate them comfortably. Typically, 55 gallons or larger is ideal. As a result, their size and need for territory means each fish needs lots of space. You should try 55 gallons for the first Oscar, then 20-30 gallons more for each additional fish. Also, tighter quarters can lead to overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, which in turn can lead to disease.

Ensure you place your aquarium on a sturdy stand or table, so you can enjoy watching your fish. Make sure the tank and table are completely level. Certainly, an uneven tank puts extra pressure on the side panel seals, which can lead to leaks.

Here are some specific requirements for a tiger Oscar fish tank:

Tiger Oscar usually requires clean, fresh water in their tanks, proper food, and a quality filtration system. Their ideal water conditions are in the range of 74-81°F, 6-8 pH, and 5-20 KH. Also, you can use a heater to maintain their ideal temperature range. Most importantly, ensure you avoid glass heaters because Tiger Oscars can break them.

A charcoal filtration system is essential for all home aquariums. Majorly, this is important for Oscar fish because of how much waste they will generate.

The function of a filter is to:

  • Remove solid waste such as food particles from the water.
  • Oxygenate the water and
  • Control chemicals and biological agents, as well as reduce ammonia in the water. Normally, this is created during respiration and excretion of Tiger Oscar fish.

Tiger Oscar Tank Decoration

At the base of the tank should be a layer of a soft substrate. Naturally, the softest substrates are fine-grained, which makes sand the ideal. Moreover, they like to dig so a coarse substrate would scratch them and injure them. The most natural look is to place rocks and bogwood around the tank. Nonetheless, you’re free to choose any decoration of your choice. Also, ensure to firmly fix the decorations in place. This is because they will dig around objects when looking for food and this can dislodge these decorations. You can also make a couple of caves for each fish so that they have somewhere to hide away within their territory.

Live plants are unlikely to be eaten, but they’re still not safe. Just like the decorations, plants can be uprooted while they dig through the substrate. Therefore, use hardy plants. Floating plants are safe from damage and hornwort plant is a good option. Aquarium light is suitable too.

Attach equipment firmly to the tank or they will suffer at the hands (or fins) of Oscar’s digging. Keep the lid on because these fish are powerful and may jump, or force other fish to jump. They are used to strong currents in the wild. Usually, a quality filter outlet can create a strong enough current, so you wouldn’t need a water/air pump.

Feeder Fish Cautions

Oscars need a balanced diet, so feeding them small fish is fine if you limit it to just a few fish per week. However, there are a few important tips to keep in mind: Always choose extremely healthy feeder fish. This is because sick or diseased fishes can pass along diseases to your Tiger Oscar. Diseases such as “hole in the head”.

If you have difficulty getting healthy feeder fish, try breeding your own. A typical example is Guppies and they are prolific breeders, that are often used as feeders. However, feeder goldfish is not the ideal fish for Oscar’s diet. This is because they are prone to disease since they are typically kept in overcrowded tanks. Therefore, if you must feed goldfish, be very selective and never purchase from a tank that contains any sick fish.

How to Care for Oscar Fish

Oscars require more care than most other species because of their size and a large appetite. Truly, this means that they produce a lot of mess. Therefore, cleaning the tank regularly is very important, or conditions will deteriorate quickly. Also, water should be changed at least once a week, and ideally twice.

Oscars don’t get sick often because they are hardier than most fish, but they can get ill just like all species. Furthermore, a common problem for this type of fish is the hole in the head” disease. This is where cavities and holes begin to form. Hence, this can be a sign that they’re not getting enough nutrients in their food. Therefore, you are to change their diet if you see signs of this disease.

Oscars can jump, therefore you need to provide a shield over the aquarium. Majorly, to prevent them from leaping to their death while jumping, ensure that the flaps on the tank hood have a latch on them. Also, you can use bricks to hold them down. An Oscar fish can open them if he bangs into the aquarium hood. Therefore, this means you have to ensure the hood fits tightly and securely over the top of the aquarium. Hence, this helps in keeping the hood clean and latched. This can keep your fish where you want them and where they need to be – in the tank! Food or waste particles on the hood excite them and can cause them to salivate, which would, in turn, lead to jumping.

Tiger Oscar diseases

There are typically five diseases that strike oscar fish frequently. Also, they are usually easy to recognize. They include Hole in the Head disease (HITH), ich (white spot disease), fin and tail rot, popeye disease, and bloat. Firstly, you should learn how to spot a sick oscar fish and determine which treatment it needs. Most importantly, always ensure you treat them immediately.

Hole in the head disease (HITH)

HITH is the most common Tiger Oscar disease, but the exact cause of the disease is not known. Several factors play a role in the development of this illness. They include vitamin or mineral imbalances, overcrowding, poor water quality, or improper nutrition. HITH symptoms include:

  • White sores around the eyes and on top of the head
  • Pitting lesions of the head and lateral line
  • Larger holes and sores
  • Mucous trailing from the holes
  • Loss of appetite

This disease is fatal if left untreated. The Iranian Journal of Veterinary Science and Technology stated that this condition can be treated with a drug called Flagyl (metronidazole). Therefore, this will be added to the aquarium water, and the fish will be left in this bath for about 24 hours. According to the case report, the fish will also receive treatment with malachite green and formalin (also as a bath). Although, it is not certain that these steps are necessary.

Ich (White spot disease)

Ich is a common disease problem of all aquarium fish including Oscars. It is caused by Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, a protozoan parasite. The organism causing this disease has a complex life cycle and can reproduce rapidly. This certainly, will lead to a sudden onset of the disease. Also, the development of this parasite occurs more quickly in warmer water. Typically, this disease can be brought into an aquarium by the addition of new fish, live plants, or live food items.

Some symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • Reddening of the fins
  • Flashing, a behavior in which fish rub their bodies on objects in the tank
  • White spots on the skin or gills
  • Sitting on the bottom of the tank
  • Increased gill movements.

Ich is usually fatal if not promptly treated. The following products can be used to treat ich:

  • Salt (non-iodized table salt, Kosher salt, or sea salt)
  • Malachite green
  • Formaldehyde (formalin)
  • Copper sulfate
  • Victoria green and acriflavine

Tiger Oscar tank mates

A Tiger Oscar only tank is probably the best idea if you want this type of cichlids. However, if you choose to turn your tank into a community. Then, you will need to choose some large, passive fish that will stay out of the way and can defend themselves. A few examples of such fishes include Arowanas, Bichirs, Convict Cichlids, Firemouth Cichlids, Green Terrors, Jack Dempseys, Jaguar Cichlids, Sailfin Plecos, etc. As you can see, fellow cichlids are the most common tank mates since they can usually hold their own against an Oscar.

Furthermore, small fishes quickly disappear from the tank and this also applies to small invertebrates like shrimp and snails too.

A Happy and Healthy Oscar Fish

Oscars are friendly, intelligent and very interesting fish. Hence, with careful attention to their water and food needs, you can prevent most diseases. Therefore, if your Oscar ever does become sick, hopefully, quick recognition of the ailment can help you get them healed on time.

Disease Prevention Tips for Oscars

There’s a common theme among most of these tiger Oscar fish diseases and that is ‘keeping the aquarium water clean.

You can follow these steps to help ensure a healthy aquarium:

  • Firstly, ensure you test the tank water frequently and make sure levels of ammonia and nitrates are within acceptable limits.
  • Secondly, install a thermometer in your tank and keep water temperatures at optimal levels.
  • Then, change filter pads and materials frequently.
  • Thirdly, quarantine new fish for at least two weeks, and ideally 4-6 weeks to make sure they aren’t sick or carrying parasites. This is because new fish can introduce diseases into the cleanest aquarium environments.
  • Most importantly, always provide adequate tank space for your Oscar fish and do not overcrowd the tank.
  • Fourthly, buy new fish from pet stores with healthy fish. Never buy fish from a tank with cloudy water or visibly sick fish, even if the fish looks healthy.
  • In conclusion, treat your fish as soon as they get sick, separate sick fish from healthy ones by placing them in a separate tank if possible.

Tiger Oscar facts

Some interesting facts about Tiger Oscars are:

  • They have bright colors
  • They have unique social behaviors
  • Diseases are uncommon
  • They have a wide range of choices for their diet, and,
  • Tiger Oscar fish is one of the most long-lived aquarium fish when given the right habitat.


There are some frequently asked questions related to Tiger Oscar, this section answers these questions:

Why do Tiger Oscars change color?

They can rapidly alter their coloration. Also, this trait facilitates ritualized territorial and combat behaviors amongst conspecifics.

Where do Tiger Oscars live in the wild?

Wild populations are found in China, Northern Australia, and Florida, the USA as a byproduct of the ornamental fish trade.

How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon?

Their need for territory and their size means each fish needs lots of space. Therefore, try 55 gallons for the first Oscar, then 20-30 gallons more for every additional fish.

Can different types of Oscars be kept together?

Oscars can be kept together, and this is the safest option. You should only ensure to follow the stocking guidelines. Majorly, you are to ensure they have enough space in other to reduce territory dispute. Also, you are to move juveniles to a new tank with a sponge filter for the best chance of survival. Furthermore, you are to feed them around 2-4 times a day to help them grow quickly. Hence, you will have to move them again as they get bigger. Majorly, because the tank will get too small and their growth will be stunted.

How Big Do Oscar Fish get?

They grow very quickly; up to one inch per month until they reach around 12 inches in length. In the wild, they usually grow slightly larger. There are also reports of this wild fish growing up to 18 inches

What Do Oscar Fish Eat?

They are omnivorous so they can eat a wide variety of foods. Typically, in the wild, they mostly live off a diet of small insects and crustaceans. Also, this is usually supplemented by some live fish and dead plant matter. As stated above, you can feed them a pellet or flake diet, with the occasional live food treat.

How Long Do Oscars Live?

Most live between 8-12 years, however, given the right care, tank conditions, and diet, they can live up to 15 years.

What Is Hole in the Head Oscar?

Hole in the head disease is a common freshwater fish disease that commonly affects large cichlids such as Oscars and Discus. This disease is also known as Hexamita. Their symptoms include white stringy feces, faded color, and loss of appetite. Sometimes, but not always, this disease leads to lesions on the head and the body of the fish. Hence, this disease is caused by the parasite ‘Hexamita’ and can be fatal if not discovered early.

What happens when your Oscar Stops Eating?

Your fish can suddenly stop eating for different reasons, but it is a signal that something is wrong. These steps may help resolve the problem:

  • Firstly, test the water in the tank; the pH should be between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Secondly, try doing a water change of 25 to 50%
  • Thirdly, try a different type of food. Oscars need variety in their diet and ensure you are not feeding the fish with sick or infected feeders
  • However, if the water condition is fine, and you’ve tried different food, and still it won’t eat, stop feeding it for a few days. Usually, a healthy fish will start eating again when food is reintroduced

If after you take these steps, symptoms persists, talk to a veterinarian or your local aquarium shop expert.

Are Oscars Suitable for your Aquarium?

Rarely, Oscars can just be added to an already existing tank. This is because, they need a carefully planned tank and specifically chosen tank mates. This cichlid is a centerpiece that you design the rest of the tank around.


Although it may sound like a lot of work to rear a Tiger Oscar fish. I can assure you your effort will be rewarded with some bright colors and unique social behaviors. Once the tank is up and running you shouldn’t experience any problems. Diseases are uncommon and you have a wide range of choices for their diet. Breeding them may be a challenge but it is not impossible. Obviously, If given the chance, Oscar fish will quickly work their way to become one of your favorite fish.

Tiger Oscar fish is one of the most long-lived aquarium fish when given the right habitat. Choose a roomy aquarium, provide a good filtration system, and feed them the proper diet, meet their tank requirements. This will help ensure that you enjoying your beautiful fish for a long time to come.