10 Types of Oscar Fish – Beautiful Varieties
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Oscar fish are Amazonian cichlids that have become extremely popular in the aquarium trade. Several characteristics recommend them as valuable companions, such as size, appearance, and, more importantly, personality. These fish can grow up to 18 inches and rank as highly intelligent and active.
You can’t really house them with other fish, as they prefer to live alone. They’re also rather territorial and tend to eat smaller fish if given the opportunity. But we’ll not be discussing any of these aspects today. Instead, we will dive into the family itself, looking at the best-looking types of Oscar fish available for purchase today.
Let’s dive straight in!
Florida Oscar Fish
The Florida Oscar fish is more colorful than the typical Oscar and comes with several distinct features. The specimens vary in terms of coloring and pattern, with some displaying a mix of yellow and black while others mix red and black. The dorsal fins appear spiky toward the neck and the tail eye is generally red and quite visible.
This subspecies shares many of the typical Oscar’s characteristics, including territorial behavior and inquisitive nature. I don’t recommend you pair the Florida Oscar with other fish unless you have a lot of space and very thick-skinned fish. Even so, expect the Florida Oscar to exhibit territoriality and bully its tankmates; that is if it can’t eat them to begin with, of course.
Aim for a tank size of 55-70 gallons, depending on the specimen’s size. Oscars don’t grow above 18 inches for the most part, but many of them won’t reach that size either. Their maximum size depends on the specimen itself, environmental conditions, diet, and stress levels.
However, if you can choose, I say go above the minimum recommended tank size. The Oscar won’t mind the extra space since it will provide it with ample exploration opportunities.
The ideal temperature range sits between 72 and 80 F, typically in the mid-70s. As with any other Oscar fish, tank cleanliness and water parameter stability are essential.
Veil Tail Oscar Fish
Even without seeing the veil tail Oscar fish, the name alone sounds majestic, doesn’t it? Well, this Oscar fish certainly looks to par. Think a veil tail betta, but 13-14 inches big, and you’ll get the picture. This Oscar comes in a variety of colors, making it probably the most colorful Oscar subspecies you can find. Expect color variations like red, yellow, orange, and black, with numerous randomized patterns.
Some veil tail Oscars only have one dominant color, like the light yellow variant that resembles a standard albino, except it lacks red eyes. The tail eye is always easily spotted in this subspecies. But it’s the fish’s fins that make all the difference. Veil-tail Oscars have long and fluffy fins, especially the tail ones. The dorsal fins are spiky and rugged, but they’re typically shorter than in other Oscar variations.
Despite its modest size (typically up to 13 inches), this Oscar variety requires a lot more space than you might expect. Many veil tail keepers opt for 70 and even 100-gallon tanks for one fish, no tankmates included. This is to accommodate the fish’s active nature and predilection for exploration and investigation.
Veil tail Oscars are very intelligent and playful and require a lot of space to keep their exploratory interests spiked. The water requirements are all standard for an Oscar, with the ideal temperature range in the mid-70s and clean water. A filtration system is absolutely necessary to accommodate this species.
Blue Oscar Fish
The blue Oscar fish is one of the most vibrant Oscar variations you can get. This cichlid possesses the natural Oscar body shape with a compact head and round fins, giving its body an oval-shaped appearance. The fish’s large mouth with thick lips and protruding eyes adds a plus of personality and character.
But it’s the fish’s coloring and pattern variation that takes the cake. These cichlids exhibit multiple pattern variations, but the color choice remains somewhat similar. The blue is present in pretty much all specimens, as the name suggests, but it never comes alone. Most specimens also showcase nuances of yellow, black, and even purple. There are numerous morphs available, all showcasing a multitude of patterns, depending on your preferences and pocket size.
It’s important to note that blue Oscars are the result of human-guided selective breeding, so they don’t exist in the wild.
You should expect this variation to reach 11-12 inches in captivity with good care, which may sound small, but it’s actually the norm. While Oscars can reach 18 inches at adulthood, this is their wild size. Oscars typically don’t reach the same size in captivity. Even so, you still require a lot of space to satisfy your cichlid’s need for exploration and playing.
A 70-gallon tank is the standard requirement, although many name the 55-gallon piece as the minimum. I say go with whatever feels better for your Oscar and keep in mind that these cichlids require more space than other fish compared to their body size. The extra space is necessary for the additional tank equipment, and tank decorations meant to satisfy your cichlid’s natural curiosity and playfulness.
Green Oscar Fish
Green Oscar fish may sound boring, except they’re anything but. These fish showcase exceptional pattern variation; the difference is that many specimens only exhibit subtle differences that may be invisible to an untrained eye. Green Oscars only have green as their main background color, although they also present shades of black, yellow, and orange at times.
The fish’s overall appearance diverges a bit from the standard Oscar look. This subspecies’ head is slightly sharper with a more elongated face. The body is oval-shaped with compact and rounded fins, in typical Oscar fashion.
The typical requirements apply with this species as well. Green Oscars usually grow up to 12-14 inches max and demand at least 70 gallons to stay healthy and active. Top water quality is necessary to ensure the fish’s health, and water parameter stability is key for a long and stable lifestyle.
These fish may also require some recreational activities to remain in top mental shape. Oscars are generally very curious and intelligent fish that actually like to play with their keepers. Consider investing in some toys to keep your Oscar entertained and mentally sharp.
Lemon Oscar Fish
Lemon Oscars are probably the least varied Oscar subspecies on today’s list in terms of coloring. These cichlids exhibit very little pattern variation, as they’re all pretty much completely yellow. Some specimens may exhibit some subtle red splashes around the gills, but that’s about it.
In terms of overall body shape and appearance, these cichlids retain the classic Oscar look with round and compact fins and a round head. The eyes are small, protruding, and black, contrasting with the fish’s overall coloring.
You will find quite a lot of conflicting information about lemon Oscars online, which is rather natural because of the discrepancies between wild and captive-bred Oscars. So, no, lemon Oscars won’t reach 18 inches in size and can’t live up to 20 years or more in captivity. Instead, they will likely measure up to 12 inches and live approximately 10 years, even in good housing conditions.
Everything else stays the same as with any other Oscar, including the minimum recommended tank size, temperature, water conditions, and so on.
Snow-White Oscar Fish
The snow-white Oscar ranks as the most peculiar entry on today’s list, primarily because many people mistake it for the albino variation. These cichlids are some of the rarest you can get. They’re not that expensive, as a 2.5-3-inch snow-white Oscar can cost approximately $100-$150 per piece, depending on the specimen, the seller, and your geographical location. The problem is that snow-white Oscars are the exclusive result of selective breeding and are not as widespread as other variations.
This subspecies showcases some color and pattern variation but nothing to write home about. The ‘purebred’ version is completely white with black eyes, but others may exhibit some pattern variation with red splashes around the midsection.
Snow-white Oscars have standard requirements in terms of tank size, water parameters, decorations, and water quality. They do best in 70-gallon tanks and larger with temperatures around 73-80 F and clean water. They’re territorial, so don’t have more than one per tank and choose their tankmates wisely; these are general recommendations when it comes to Oscars, though.
Black Oscar Fish
Black Oscars are pretty much the standard variation, although they’re slightly different than the common species. Most black Oscars showcase the same background color, as they come in different nuances of black. But, while the standard Oscar variety also has red, yellow, and other color variations included in the mix, the black version has none of these.
At most, black Oscars may showcase some grey patches, but that’s about it. The cichlid’s overall appearance is standard, with rounded fins and compact bodies, but some variations may exist, depending on where you’re getting your specimen.
Oscars have been subjected to intense selective breeding over the years, so they possess various physical characteristics depending on the breeder’s goals. Some specimens may come with larger fins and bigger foreheads, while others may stick to the more natural Oscar look.
The black Oscar fish subscribes to the standard Oscar requirements in terms of water quality, water parameters, space, and layout needs. These fish are smart, playful, and inquisitive, and it will show. Expect your black Oscar to reach up to 14 inches in captivity, which means you need a large tank for them.
Go for a minimum of 70 gallons and monitor your cichlid to gauge its content levels. You may need to upgrade the tank if you have a more active and playful cichlid than expected. Keeping the Oscar in a small and overcrowded space can impact its life quality and lifespan.
Albino Oscar Fish
The albino Oscar fish are different than what you might expect from an albino variation. Most albino fish species are typically white with red eyes. These are the primary features that all albino fish will exhibit. It’s safe to say that this pattern doesn’t allow for much color variation. An albino only qualifies as such based on its coloring. You can’t have a black albino specimen, just as you can’t have a black Oscar that’s actually white; it’s paradoxical.
This being said, albino Oscars don’t quite fit the common pattern. That’s because these fish aren’t white, at least not completely. Albino Oscars are always a mix of white and red or orange, depending on the specimen. The background color is white, while the red/orange covers the fish’s mid-section in a freckled pattern. The cichlid’s head and fins are almost always white, except for the tail, which may sometimes exhibit red freckles similar to those on the fish’s midsection.
The eyes are obligatory red, which is an important distinction, separating the albino variation from the snow-white subspecies, which we’ve already discussed.
Albino Oscars have identical lifestyle requirements to the standard Oscar in terms of space, water quality, parameters, and overall layout. These cichlids can live between 8 and 15 years in captivity, depending on the quality of care and their genetic predisposition.
Tiger Oscar Fish
The tiger Oscar variation is a confusing one. That’s because the cichlid’s name should be suggestive of its appearance, except it’s not. In other words, tiger Oscars don’t resemble tigers at all, except maybe in behavior. This subspecies combines colors like black, red, yellow, blue, and orange to create different patterns depending on the specimen.
The standard tiger Oscar comes with a mix of black and red and may exhibit some stripe-based pattern across the midsection. But don’t count on it. The head and tail are generally one color, typically black or reddish-black. Many specimens have black heads and a black-red/orange body with a maze-like pattern; these don’t resemble a tiger either. Fun, right?
Make sure you’re getting an actual tiger Oscar because these cichlids can often become confusing with their many random pattern variations. I advise asking for a professional’s insight just to be sure.
Tiger Oscars are adaptable and resilient, so they don’t have any special requirements aside from those that describe the species’ standard needs. These cichlids can also reach 10-14 inches in captivity, so prepare for a large tank, preferably around 70-100 gallons.
As with any Oscar, avoid pairing two of them in the same tank, no matter how much space you have. The tank’s layout should consist of a lot of open swimming space with some moderate decorations like flat rocks, and that’s pretty much it. We’ll discuss this in more detail shortly.
Red Oscar Fish
I would recommend the red Oscar fish as one of the most beautiful and engaging variations on today’s list. This one is a wonder to look at. Most specimens come in vibrant red coloring, but the actual pattern variation is astounding. It’s almost impossible to find two identical red Oscars; this might be true for all Oscar types, but nowhere is that more visible and obvious than here.
Some specimens are completely red with little-to-no variations, others are red with blackheads and fins, and others showcase random black and red patterns. There’s a little bit for everyone here, depending on your preferences. Body-wise, this cichlid variation is true to the Oscar nature. The body is slightly oval-shaped with a round head and fins.
Red Oscars abide by the standard Oscar requirements. Aim for a tank size of minimum 70-75 gallons, with the potential for a 100-gallon piece, depending on your Oscar’s size. Water parameters are also typical, with temperatures ranging between 73 and 80 F and pristine water quality.
Caring for Oscar Fish of Different Types
The nice thing about Oscars is that all subspecies prefer the same environmental conditions. That’s because the process of selective breeding can only alter the fish’s appearance, but not its true nature. So, whatever applies to one Oscar morph pretty much applies to all of them.
Here are the main parameters to consider:
The size is the first concern here because Oscars are active and inquisitive swimmers. The ideal tank size is 55 gallons for a 4-8-inch specimen but quickly jumps to 75 or more for a full-size 12-13-inch Oscar. I say that, if you’re determined to invest in an Oscar, you should always go for more in terms of tank space.
When it comes to the overall layout, Oscars demand open space above everything else. That’s because these cichlids are notorious for their swimming and exploratory tendencies, but there’s another aspect worth mentioning. Despite their intelligence and wit, Oscars are rather clumsy. They will often bump into various decorations around their habitat, which makes them prone to injuries and stress.
Avoid decoration clutters to prevent that, especially given that Oscars are very big and powerful fish, capable of tipping over rock formations and destroying live plants and other decorations.
The ideal temperature range sits between 73-75 and 80 F. If you can keep the temperature at a fixed value of 77 F, that would be ideal. Water hardness should stay between 5 and 20 dGH with a carbonate hardness of 7-12 dKH. Maintain the water pH between 6.5 and 7.5, with 7.2 being the ideal value.
Water quality is essential for Oscars, as cichlids, in general, are sensitive to poor water conditions. Remove food leftovers and fish poop and perform a water change every 2 weeks, depending on the situation. Don’t change more than 25-30% of the total water volume in one session to avoid drastic shifts in pH and water mineral and bacterial content.
Oscar fish rank as opportunistic omnivorous fish, as they will consume pretty much anything. This includes smaller fish, crustaceans, insects, larvae, worms, plant residues, veggies, greens, and tankmates. These fish are generally easy to feed because they have a healthy appetite, although some specimens may be pickier than others.
If your Oscar doesn’t like a food that its species normally consumes, that’s okay, just replace it with something else. Pay attention to the cichlid’s meal size and frequency, though, because Oscars are notorious for overeating.
Oscars eat more frequently (2-3 times per day) as babies and juveniles, but adults don’t need as much food. You should feed your Oscar cichlid once per day and even 4-5 times per week as it grows older.s
It’s not easy to find adequate tankmates for Oscars due to their fiery temperament and territorial tendencies. However, you can work something out. Try pairing your Oscars with fish similar in size and temperament, like Jack Dempsey, green terror, and firemouth cichlids. Catfish are also viable tankmates because they stick to the substrate and avoid the Oscar altogether.
Even so, you should always monitor your fish interactions because things might not work out, despite looking good on paper. If your Oscar is too aggressive, you might want to remove its tankmates to avoid bloodshed.
Oscars are astonishing cichlids that require personalized care to reach their full potential. They also showcase amazing morph variety, providing you with multiple options to choose from. Today’s list is a good start if you’re not familiar with the different Oscar cichlid varieties available, but feel free to research the topic more in-depth.
And always learn about the fish’s requirements to see whether you can handle them with ease.