When my husband said he wanted a fish tank, I pictured a pretty, color-filled aquarium with cute little guppies (like Nemo) swimming around.
No such luck.
We decided a freshwater tank instead of saltwater. Despite my let-down, the picture was still pretty as we filled the tank with interesting fish like Tetras, Channel Catfish, and few types of Goldfish. It quick became a soothing focal point of our living room.
Then came Oscar.
My husband told me that he wanted an Oscar fish and asked if I minded as he would likely grow bigger than the other fish. Of course I didn’t mind, I loved the fish tank and the more the merrier, right?
I’d done my homework on how to maintain a tank, keep the water levels balanced, proper feeding of fish and so on. Why I didn’t register what the word “big” fish really implied, heaven knows.
Oscar entered our tank without much fanfare. He was a cute little fish, green with orange spots that appeared to glow when he was eating. My kids got a real kick out watching him make a pig of himself on fish food while his spots took on their bright hue. It initially appeared, despite his big appetite, that Oscar was a neat addition to the tank.
Over the next month, we were amazed to find that Oscar doubled in size. This, however, made him more interesting. He also began to anticipate his feedings and would rush to the top of the tank to greet us. How fun!
Then, a strange thing happened. One night I (mentally) tucked all the fish in and turned off the lights. The next morning, I turned the fish tank lights on and said “good morning.” Only… something was different. I couldn’t quite put a finger on it until I fed the fish. Oscar jumped to the top to get his daily share and the other fish began clustering near the bottom waiting for their crumbles to drop. Then, I realized what was wrong. One of my pretty little tetras was missing.
I looked in the little aquarium ornaments we had on the bottom of the tank where the fish sometimes hid, but the Tetra simply disappeared.
Forgive me for being a little slow on the uptake, but it wasn’t until the next morning when the second Tetra disappeared that I put two and two together-Oscar was eating the fish! Within a week, all my little darlings were gone and my Oscar again, doubled in size. (The Channel Cat and two larger Goldfish survived.)
At this point (hindsight is always 20-20 right?) I did more research, this time focusing on the Oscar fish. What I found our is:
– Oscar fish are part of the Chichlid family of species
– Oscars can grow up to 16 inches in length with a weight of 2 pounds
– Oscars learn quickly to associate their owners and feedings
– Oscars eat small fish, bugs, worms, and crustaceans
– Oscars have all sorts of quirky habits from sulking at the bottom to uprooting plants and objects in the tank
– Oscars require a large tank (over 50 Gallons)
– Oscars can live for 10 to 15 years
In other words, Oscars are not only big fish, they require big commitments.
At this time, as our Oscar had already wiggled his way into our lives and our hearts, we chose to take the plunge and keep the Oscar as our pet (rather than finding him another home.) And so, our Oscar now has reign of the fish tank. The Channel Cat and Goldfish live in harmony with him (so far) but we realize we will not be getting any new fish for a long, long time.
Our Oscar eats crawdads, guppies, feeder fish, bugs (a great way to get rid of unwanted invaders in your home when you find them,) shrimp, Chichlid food, and worms. Some people recommend supplementing their diets with peas (skin removed,) but our Oscar wants nothing to do with them.
Another bonus is that our Oscar is relatively easy to care for. As long as he is well fed and the tank temperature stays consistent, he’s happy. On the downside, feeding the Oscar can be expensive.
Overall, we are happy with the big guy and though I still miss my Tetras and feel bad for their early demise, I rather enjoy having Oscar around.
The moral of the story: when your husband suggests bringing a “big” fish home-do your research!
A few websites you might wish to check out are http://www.oscarfish.com/ and http://www.oscarfishlover.com prior to committing to having an Oscar fish for your long-time pet.