Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Oscar!
When I hear the word ‘Oscar’ in regards to fish, I immediately think back to when I was 7 or 8 and my regular trips to the local pet store with my dad. I loved going to the pet store with him to look at and pick out our newest fish to bring home. I was especially fascinated by the huge black and red Oscars. I continued asking if we could get an Oscar and eventually my dad gave in and let us get one! We had several large spare aquariums at home and we set one up to put our new Oscar in!
Oscars Astronotus ocellatus belong to the cichlid family Cichlidae and are very popular in the aquarium world! They have been in high demand for years and have seemingly intelligent personalities. They are known for becoming feisty and interactive when you come up to say hi to them or feed them. These fish do become quite large, reaching 12 inches in length once full grown. They are easily bred in captivity, which makes a large variation of color patterns available. The Red Oscar is the most popular for its color patterns because it is red with black spots that are not as muddy colored as wild caught Oscars.
Other Oscar types are the Tiger Oscar and the Speckled Red Oscar. The Tiger Oscar looks more like the wild ones but with more red. The Speckled Red Oscar has black fins and has been developed more recently. There are even variations of these types including the Albino Tiger Oscar and the Albino Red Oscar, as well as lutino varieties. Long finned oscars have also been developed which gives them an interesting look. If you are an Oscar lover there are quite a few types to choose from!
Oscar history: The Oscar was first “discovered” or given a name and described in 1831 by Agassiz. They originate in South America, being found in the Amazon River Basin, the Rio Paraguay, the Rio Negro, and the Parana. They usually stick to the slower moving waters and feed on smaller fish and other small creatures. South Americans value Oscars as a food item too. Oscars have been artificially introduced into China, Florida, and Australia. They are bred in captivity in the United States and elsewhere specifically to be kept as aquarium fish.
The care and feeding of Oscars is straight forward but needs to be taken seriously to keep them healthy. They will eat almost any type of frozen, flake, or live foods because they are carnivores. Feeding them chunks of earthworms, beef heart, good quality pellets, and live guppies and/or goldfish will help them grow and stay healthy.
If you purchase juvenile Oscars it is best to start them out in a large aquarium from the beginning to accommodate their growing needs. A 100 gallon tank is ideal for an adult. Frequent water changes and good filtration is a must when keeping Oscars because of how much they consume and dirty their water. Oscars love to play around with their environment and will constantly attempt to move around and dig out any decorations! Rocks are good decorations that are hard for them to move or ruin. Plastic plants are best if you want plants in the aquarium. Try to bury them deep or cover them with rocks so they are harder to uproot.
Oscars are not community fish and because they are carnivorous, they will eventually eat any other types of fish as they grow larger. You can usually keep more than one Oscar together as long as they are of similar size and if they have grown up together. If you want to breed them it is especially helpful to start out with several Oscars and let them pair themselves (because it is difficult to determine their sexes).
The main disease you need to be on the look out for is Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE). This usually looks like a hole is developing on their head and is thought to be caused by poor nutrition and/or poor maintenance of the aquarium environment. Providing proper care should prevent your Oscars from developing this disease.
Read more about Oscars in general and in more detail on Animal-World’s Oscar page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
New iPhone Game Donates Proceeds to Environmental Charities
GreenPleco is a game studio that creates fun mobile games in order to raise awareness for environmental issues. Their latest iPhone and iPad game, GreenPleco: The Sucker Fish, hits the Apple App Store today. 100% of the profit from all sales will be donated to environmental charities.
“Our ultimate goal is to make factory farms illegal and stop all animal cruelty while offering a great, fun game,” says Milton Mariscal, co-founder of GreenPleco. “Many nonprofits have few ways of getting financial support. With each download, we raise money for organizations that care for animals and the environment.”
GreenPleco has already donated to several charities, including Save the Manatee Club, while developing this game.
GreenPleco contains one full game and a series of three mini-games, each of which features a lovable animal helping to rehabilitate the environment. By combining fast-paced action with memorable characters such as The Sucker Fish, Mr. PigBounce, Claudia the Crab, and Gemma the Turtle, the game appeals to both adults and children alike.
“If you like fun games and you care about the environment, this game is for you,” says Milton Mariscal.
GreenPleco: The Sucker Fish is available worldwide in the iTunes App Store for $1.99.
GreenPleco is run by Milton and Claudia Mariscal, animal enthusiasts who want to bring awareness to environmental issues in unique ways. GreenPleco’s mission is to support nonprofit organizations in their efforts to protect many different species of animals on our planet. The company’s name and logo is inspired by the algae eater fish “hypostomus plecostomus,” more commonly known as the sucker fish.
Check out the cool GreenPleco! game app!
Milton & Claudia Mariscal
Founders of GreenPleco Games
“Zebra Cichlids are from Lake Malawi and are rock-dwellers! Also called Mbuna Cichlids, here you can find out about their care!”
One of the most popular Lake Malawi Cichlids are the Zebra Cichlids!
Zebra Cichlids, or Mbuna Cichlids, are from Lake Malawi in Africa. These are popular cichlids – and they are known for their aggressiveness and their activeness. There are many species that belong to 12 genera and they are all rock dwelling cichlids. The word “mbuna” is African and means “rockfish.”
Zebra Cichlids are the most popular of the Mbuna group cichlids. All Mbuna Cichlids used to be in the Pseudotropheus genus, but now there are several other genera that many have been moved to. Now Zebra Cichlids include Pseudotropheus, Tropheops, and Maylandia genera. All of these cichlids are very attractive and are often kept in good size community tanks together.
A total of 9 genera are in the Mbuna species and these include many different color morphs as well. They are quite beautiful with several different bright colors and patterns. Usually Mbuna females are yellow and Mbuna males are blue, regardless of genera, however they can be colored with black bars as well… Read More
Large South American Cichlids
“Large South and Central American Cichlids! Here are tips on keeping large cichlid aquariums, different types of cichlids, their habitats, and their personalities!”
These Large South American Cichlids include some amazing and beautiful looking show
Many people really enjoy having show aquariums, especially for large American Cichlids. These cichlids tend to have very interesting temperaments, personalities, and along with their sizes – they really make great show specimens! Large South American Cichlids also interact with their owners and other fish/animals in their environment! These great personalities and behaviors really make keeping them as pets enjoyable!
Large South American Cichlids are part of the large cichlid family, which provides many different types of fish for different aquarium environments. They are usually durable fish. Some large cichlid hybrids are also available and they come in many different colors. Some examples are the Flowerhorn Cichlid and the Blood Parrot.
Some of these larger cichlids are better-tempered than most. All cichlids are aggressive fish, but some of the gentler ones include Angelfish, Discus, and the Severum. These ones can often be kept in community aquariums, whereas most others have to be kept singly… Read More
“All about the different Dwarf Cichlids, including South American and African Dwarf Cichlids. Learn about their natural habitats and how to keep them successfully!”
These Dwarf Cichlids are perfect for aquarists wanting a smaller aquarium!
Dwarf Cichlids are much smaller than regular cichlids once full-grown and they are also usually more peaceful. This also allows people to keep them in smaller aquariums as well as have a more community type of tank with other varieties of fish. It is also less common for them to have destructive habits such as digging holes in the substrate and destroying aquarium plants that larger cichlids have. All in all they are much better suited for other tankmates and a nicely planted aquarium, which is good for more casual fish keepers.
South American Dwarf Cichlids, as well as Apistogramma, are great for limited space aquariums and are just as amazing to interact with and watch as the large South American Cichlids. Most of them are also fairly easy to breed in the aquarium setting, which is just one more plus side to keeping Dwarf Cichlids… Read More
Lake Victoria Cichlids
“Victoria and East/West African Cichlid information, as well as Dwarf Cichlids and Mbipi. Helpful tips on keeping an aquarium with African cichlids!”
The Lake Victoria Cichlids have a huge range of differently colored species!
The most popular cichlid species are typically from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika, however several other species of African cichlids from other areas are also available for keeping and they add even further variety in terms of beauty and behavior. Lake Victoria Cichlids are cichlids that meet this criteria and are becoming more popular among cichlid enthusiasts.
About 200 species of Lake Victoria Cichlids are out there as well as many East African Cichlids from close by lakes and rivers and some species of West African Cichlids as well.
African Cichlids in general are popular because they have so much variety in their colors and behaviors. They are able to live in many rivers and lakes because of the way they have evolved. Because of this many hundred species of diversely colored Lake Victoria Cichlids are found in Lake Victoria alone… Read More
Malawi Cichlids – Haps
"The popular Haplochromis Cichlids and Utaka Cichlids are some very special cichlid beauties from Africa. Facts about their unique habitats, behaviors, and tips for their aquarium care!"
Malawi Cichlids, also called, Haps, are one of the most colorful fish around the world!
The beautiful Malawi cichlids often display bright colors, iridescents, or striking patterns. Many are only surpassed in beauty by the most magnificent specimens of marine tropical fishes.
Lake Malawi Cichlids from Africa have quite interesting behaviors, are very active, and most of them have successfully been bred in captivity. The Malawi Cichlids are very popular among aquarists, due to their beauty and personalities… Read more
"All about African Cichlids, from their evolution to the diverse types of cichlids of today. Learn about their unique habitats and fish care needs to keep them in the aquarium!"
African Cichlids come in a variety of shapes, have unique behavior, and are very active!
African cichlids have some of the most colorful varieties in the freshwater fish kingdom. They also have interesting behaviors and are very ritualistic. Other attributes are that they can be very personable with their owners – greeting them and waiting for food, and are quite active. Because of all of these attributes, they are a favorite fish for many aquarium keepers… Read More
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Jack Dempsey Fish!
Many people are drawn to keeping cichlids in their aquariums – they are fascinating fish, come in many different colors and sizes, and have a variety of personalities! The Jack Dempsey is one of the most popular of cichlids and is often the cichlid which many novice cichlid keepers begin with. Some of their most appealing attributes are their amazing color patterns. They are covered with sparkling blue, green and gold spots over a purple background color (once full-grown), and the males also have bright red areas along the edges of their anal and dorsal fins. It does take over a year for them to develop their full coloration however, so you will have to patient if you obtain them when they are young. A variation on the typical Jack Dempsey is the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey which has been bred specifically for it’s bright color.
Here are some interesting history facts regarding the Jack Dempsey. They were named after a Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1919 named Jack Dempsey because they were considered very aggressive, just like the boxer! This is even though later cichlids that were introduced were actual much more aggressive then the Jack Dempseys! They originate from Southern Mexico, North and Central South America, Yucatan, Guatemala, and Honduras, mostly in swampy and slow moving waters.
As for keeping these cichlids as pets, they can be challenging yet rewarding. They grow fairly large – up to 8 inches in length and need lots of space. A minimum of 50 gallons is recommended for a full-grown Jack Dempsey, and obviously you will want and need a larger aquarium if you plan to keep more than one fish. They need good filtration, lots of plants and hiding places, and good water movement to thrive. In the wild they will eat insects, smaller fish, worms and crustaceans. Because of this, in captivity they will eat several types of food available at pet stores, including flakes, pellets, and live foods. You will want to make sure to do 20-25% water changes weekly to keep them healthy as well.
Socially, as I mentioned above, these cichlids can be quite aggressive and territorial. Because of this, they generally do not make good community fish. This is especially true when it comes to its own species and other breeds of cichlids. Also, the older they get, the more territorial they get. Because of this, it is best to either keep them by themselves in their own aquariums, or to have a large enough aquarium to keep several in together. This makes them less likely to single out one another and beat up and/or kill their tankmates. You will want to keep several plants and hiding places such as logs in the aquarium as well so that they have places to go by themselves. And of course, if you want to breed them, you will want to make sure you have a male/female pair.
These fish generally fare pretty well if kept well taken care of. The most common disease for these fish, as well as any large cichlids, is Head and Lateral Line Disease (HLLE), also known as “Hole-in-the-Head.” Again, the best way to prevent this is just to maintain the aquarium, with regular water changes and keeping an eye on such things as hardness, pH and temperature.
If you would like to learn more about the Jack Dempsey fish, their history and just general cichlid care, check out theJack Dempsey page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Choosing fish as a pet for your home may appear to be an easy choice, but choosing what type of fish is right for your lifestyle may need a little more knowledge and investigation.
After deciding that pet fish would make the best choice to suit your lifestyle, you need to begin researching how much time and effort you have to put into this endeavor.
Variety – Varieties of aquariums can fall under the categories of freshwater, marine, reef, and even pond.
Size – Starting with gallon sizes, you must realize that fish tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from the standard size goldfish bowl up to tanks that hold 100 gallons or more. Aquariums vary in shape ranging from oval and tall, to wide. Remember, the larger the tank, the more maintenance of equipment or expense may be involved, and the smaller the tank, the more difficult to keep clean. Once you have decided on the size and shape of your tank, be sure to find the appropriate base or stand for your tank as larger tanks can weigh upwards of 200 pounds.
Type of fish – Once you have decided on what size tank you wish to care for, you need to gain knowledge regarding what type of fish can thrive it that size tank. Some fish require larger spaces if they are a dominating species of fish. Others may be too small for a larger tank, and be preyed upon by larger fish. Compatibility is a factor as some species of fish can be aggressive, nipping at fins of other fish.
Home Environment – Water temperature, PH balance, hardness, plant species, heating and filtration systems are only a few components you will need to explore as you dive into the proper care of your particular species of fish. Whether or not they eat live plants, other feeder fish or insect larvae as well as vitamins and supplements are factors for which you will need to obtain and be educated.
Style – The style of the fish tank or aquarium depends upon your reasoning for owning one. If you were considering fish as a family pet, then a small to medium size (perhaps 10 gallon) tank would suit your needs. On the other hand, if you are dressing to impress, there are choices from custom made, wall-to-wall, and even floor-to-ceiling aquariums.
Whatever choice you make, be sure it is a choice that you are comfortable in making. Obtaining knowledge as to what is involved regarding cost, upkeep and maintenance, but mostly the care for your fish will assist you in deciding swimmingly on what type of fish is right for your lifestyle.