Are Oscar Fish Good Pets? (Are They Friendly?)

Oscar Fish is one of the most popular freshwater tropical fish in the aquarium hobby.

This fish is known for its aggression, beautiful colors and patterns, intelligence and its behavior.

But are Oscar Fish good pets?

Keeping Oscar Fish in the tank is not very easy. So you should only keep them if you have some experience in fish keeping. 

It could be difficult to fish tank mates for them because of their aggressive behavior.

But they are pretty hardy fish and not picky about food.

Are Oscar Fish Good Pets? (Are They Friendly?) iamge

Are Oscar Fish friendly?

Oscar Fish belongs to the cichlid family.

The Cichlids are known for aggressive behavior.

Oscar Fish is no exception and it can be very aggressive and territorial.

They are not very friendly fish and you have to be very careful while choosing tankmates for them.

If you keep small size fish with your Oscar Fish then they are most likely going to get eaten up by Oscar fish.

Small invertebrates like shrimp and snails will also get eaten by the Oscar Fish.

Ideally, you should set up Oscar Fish only tank and keep Oscar Fish together.

It is the safest thing to do.

Even when you keep Oscar Fish together you may see some aggression.

So you should keep them in as large tank as possible.

You should get a 55-gallon tank for your first Oscar Fish and then you should add 20 to 30 gallons for each addition.

You can keep as many Oscar Fish in the same tank as you want but you should follow the guidelines related to the tank size.

If you want to keep other species of fish with your Oscar Fish then you should keep other passive fish that can grow similar to the size of Oscar Fish.

Some good examples of Oscar Fish tankmates include Firemouth cichlids, Convict cichlids, Jaguar cichlids, Silver dollars, Severum cichlids, Sailfin plecos, Arowanas, Jack Dempsey, etc.

As you can see, mostly other cichlids are good tank mates for the Oscar Fish.

Because cichlids can hold their own against Oscar Fish.

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What is the life span of Oscar Fish?

oscar fish

Usually, Oscar Fish lives for about 12 years.

It can live more than that in the wild.

And if you take good care of it then it can even live up to 20 years in the aquarium.

When I am talking about taking good care, it comes down to providing it a larger space to swim,  a variety of food and doing regular maintenance of the tank.

Oscar Fish growth

When you get juvenile Oscar Fish for your tank they are usually 1-2 to inches.

But Oscar Fish can group pretty fast at the rate of 1 inch per month.

Usually, Oscar Fish can get up to 12 inches long.

And the biggest Oscar Fish recorded is up to 18 inches lock long.

If you take good care of your Oscar Fish i.e. if you provide it a lot of space (ideally, 55 gallons per Oscar Fish) and keep up with the water changes and provide it a variety of food then it will help to reach the maximum size.

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How much does an Oscar Fish cost?

Oscar Fish Type Size Average price
Tiger oscar small 7-12$
Red Oscar small 12-14$
Albina oscar small 8-17$
Blue oscar small 10-12$
Black Oscar small 10-12$
White oscar small 12- 13$
Veil Tail Oscar small 15-20$
Lemon oscar small 18-20$

As you can see from the table that the price really depends on the type of Oscar Fish.

Also, if you go for a larger Oscar Fish then the price will increase.

Usually, people don’t buy a large Oscar Fish because Oscar fish can grow very fast and people like to watch them grow in their aquarium.

If you want to buy a larger Oscar Fish then it doesn’t cost a lot of money either.

A full-grown Oscar can cost anywhere between 15 to $30.

Where can I buy Oscar Fish?

Oscar Fish is very popular in the aquarium hobby.

So they are available in most of the aquarium shops.

You can also buy them online.

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Oscar Fish Care

Now let’s have a look at general Oscar Fish care tips.

Oscar Fish Care infograaphic


Oscar Fish are omnivorous and they are not picky about food.

So feeding Oscar Fish is very easy.

They can eat whatever you feed them.

But when it comes to diet for Oscar Fish you should feed them a variety of food.

What food does Oscar Fish eat?

In The wild, Oscar Fish feeds on small insects, crustaceans, larvae, small fish, and plants.

So when it comes to diet for Oscar Fish you should feed it a variety of food.

Flakes and pellets

On a daily basis, you should feed them flakes and pellets because they contain all the nutrients that a fish require.

You can also feed them special cichlid flakes and pellets which is more protein-rich.

Live food

Live food is the most protein-rich and nutritious food you can feed to your Oscar Fish.

So you should regularly treat your Oscar Fish with live food such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc.

Live food caries risk of transferring harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites into the tank so you should only get the live food from a reputed source.

Also, live food doesn’t have a long storage life so you should feed the live food within 3 to 4 days of getting it.

Frozen or dried food

You can feed frozen or dried food such as blood worms, brine shrimp, etc to your Oscar Fish.

They may not be as protein-rich and nutritious as live food but they at least don’t carry any risk of transferring harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites into your tank.

Also, live food has a very long storage life and they are very convenient to feed to your Oscar fish.

While feeding frozen or dried food, make sure to soak it in a cup with water from your aquarium for about a couple of minutes and then feed it to your Oscar Fish.

Fruits and vegetables

As Oscar Fish are omnivorous, you can also feed it fruits and vegetables such as boiled green peas, spinach, cucumber, carrots, banana, watermelon, lemon, and oranges.

While feeding the vegetables it is a good idea to blanch them and cut them down into small pieces so that it will be easy for your Oscars to consume.

How often should Oscar Fish be fed

You should feed a couple of times per day to your Oscar Fish.

And you should feed no more than the food it can consume within 2 minutes.

What human food can Oscar Fish eat?

Oscar Fish can eat a variety of food that you can easily find in your kitchen like spinach, green peas, bananas, cucumber, lemon, oranges, watermelon, carrots, etc.

So, if you run out of food then you can easily feed your Oscar Fish these foods until you get the proper fish food.


What is the ideal tank size for Oscar Fish?

Oscar Fish can get pretty big so they require a larger tank.

You should get at least a 55-gallon tank for your first Oscar Fish and then for every Oscar Fish you should upgrade the tank to extra 20 to 30 gallons.

If you keep Oscar Fish in a smaller tank then it can really stress out the fish due to the heavy bioload and small space to see around.

Keeping Oscar Fish in a small tank also leads to aggression.

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How to create an ideal environment in an Oscar Fish tank?

How to create an ideal environment in an Oscar Fish tank infpgraphic

Now let’s talk about how to create an ideal environment in your tank for your Oscar Fish.

When it comes to creating an ideal environment for not only Oscar Fish but any fish, you should try to emulate the natural habitat of the fish in your tank.

In the case of Oscar Fish, it comes from the Amazon basin where the water is slightly warm and neutral

So Oscar Fish is intolerant to high alkalinity or acidity.

In the wild, Oscar Fish lives in rivers like the Amazon river so the current of the water is strong.

The substrate of the river is a usually fine-grained sand substrate.

So you should keep these things in mind and try to emulate the same in your tank.


As we already know, the substrate of the natural habitat of Oscar Fish is a fine-grained sand substrate.

So ideally, you should also have a sand substrate in your aquarium.

Oscar Fish usually swim and stay in the middle part of your tank but it also forages through the substrate to find food.

So using a course substrate can scratch the Oscar Fish. This is another reason you should go for a sand substrate.


Ornaments like driftwood and rocks are great to emulate the natural habitat of the fish.

So you should put driftwood and bogwood in the Oscar Fish tank.

You can also create some caves in your tank which will provide hiding places to your Oscar Fish.


Plants are great for not only Oscar Fish but any fish.

As Oscar Fish comes from the habitat where there is a lot of vegetation, you should also try to emulate the same and keep at least a few plants in your tank.

Besides, there are a lot of benefits of keeping live plants in the tank

For example, 

  • Plants help to lower the ammonia in the water.
  • They help to oxygenate the tank.
  • They give you an opportunity to design your aquarium and give it a unique look.

But when it comes to plants for Oscar Fish tank, you should go for hardy plants because Oscar Fish like to forage in the substrate and can uproot the plants.

You can also keep floating aquarium plants to avoid this issue altogether.

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Water current

In The wild, Oscar Fish lives in the rivers.

And usually, rivers have a strong current.

So you should emulate the same in your tank.

Usually, the filter in your tank is sufficient to create strong current in your tank.

But if your tank does not have a strong current then you can introduce an air pump into the tank.

It will create a strong current and also help to oxygenate the tank.

Check out our recommended Air Pump

Water conditions

As Oscar Fish comes from the habitat where there is slightly warmer water, the ideal temperature range you should maintain in your tank is between 74 to 81° Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range of Oscar Fish is 6-8 PH and the hardness tolerance range is between 5 to 20 KH.


You will require a few equipments to create a good environment in your tank.


Oscar Fish can get pretty big and it grows at a rapid speed of 1 inch per month.

Also, Oscar Fish can produce a lot of waste that leads to a lot of bioload in the tank which is harmful to the fish.

To keep this bioload in control, you should have a good filtration system in your tank.

Ideally, you should get a powerful canister filter for your tank.

You can also keep an additional sponge filter or HOB filter.

This filter will help during an emergency if your canister filters stop working.

And it will also help to create a strong current in the water which is good for Oscar Fish.


The natural habitat of Oscar Fish has slightly warmer freshwater.

So you should maintain warmer water in your Oscar Fish tank of about 74-81° Fahrenheit.

To avoid temperature fluctuations and maintain a steady temperature, you should get a heater for your tank.

Besides, you should also have a thermometer to regularly check the temperature and adjust it accordingly.

Checkout our heater and thermometer recommendation

Air pump

If your tank doesn’t have any surface agitation then you should get an air pump for your tank.

Surface agitation is necessary for keeping your tank well-oxygenated.

An air pump will help to increase oxygen in your tank.

An air pump will also help to create a strong current in your tank which is ideal for Oscar Fish.


Lights Are not absolutely necessary for Oscar Fish if the tank is going to get natural light.

But if you are going to keep your tank in a shady area. 

Or if you have plants that require decent lighting then you should get lights for your tank.

Usually, the inbuilt lights that come with the tank are sufficient to emulate the night and day cycle for your fish and most of the plants.

But if you have any plants that have special requirements for lighting then you should get the lighting accordingly.

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How many Oscar Fish can stay together?

You can keep as many Oscar Fish together as you want.

But you should also make sure that they are getting sufficient space to swim around.

If you keep Oscar Fish in a smaller tank then you may notice aggression among them.

Also, Oscar Fish can grow pretty fast and this fish can get very big and produce a lot of bioloads.

So keeping them in a smaller tank can really stress them.

And bad water quality can also cause diseases.

So you should have at least 55 gallons for your first Oscar Fish and then 20 to 30 gallons for every new Oscar Fish.

Can Oscar Fish recognize their owners?

Oscar Fish are very intelligent and this is one of the reasons they are very popular in the hobby.

They will start flaring their gills and fins whenever you enter the room.

But they can’t see you clearly. 

They just see you as a blurry thing that feeds them regularly.

But they are very intelligent and they have a personality.

You can form a very good bond with them.

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Does Oscar bite?

Oscar Fish can bite. But it is very unlikely to cause any major injury due to Oscar Fish bite.

Most of the fish can bite but most of the fish bite doesn’t cause any severe injury.

Besides, Oscar Fish doesn’t have to chew the food.

Instead, they are suction feeders.

Should Oscars be kept in pairs?

Yes, you should keep Oscar Fish in pairs. 

Or you can keep Oscar Fish in a group of 4-5.

You should avoid keeping 3 Oscar Fish in a tank because the two of them will form a pair and may bully the third one.

What size tank do I need for 2 Oscars?

Ideally, you should keep two Oscars in a 90-gallon tank.

Oscar Fish can grow very quickly.

It can grow at a rate of 1 inch per month.

Also, it produces a lot of waste.

So when it comes to tank size for Oscars, the more the better.

Can you put Oscars with Goldfish?

It is not recommended to keep Oscars with Goldfish because both the fish require different water temperatures.

Goldfish is a coldwater fish whereas Oscar Fish prefers warmer water.

So they will not thrive in the same aquarium.

You can keep them in the same tank and if the fish adapts then they may survive.

But they will not live for longer and thrive in the aquarium.

As you can see in this video Goldfish and Oscar Fish are kept in the same tank.

How long can Oscars go without food?

Oscars can go without food for 2 to 4 weeks.

How long your Oscar Fish can go really depends on its age, size and also genetics.

Usually, healthy full-grown Oscar Fish can live without food up to a month and even more.

And when Oscar Fish are smaller they can live for two to four weeks without food.

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So are Oscar Fish good pets?

Oscar Fish are very good pets to keep in your tank and they can be the center point of your aquarium.

Keeping Oscar Fish is not very easy so you should only consider keeping Oscar Fish if you have some experience in fish keeping.

Also, it is very difficult to find good tank mates for your Oscar Fish.

And keeping Oscar Fish in your existing community tank is most likely not going to be a good idea.

Ideally, you should set up a separate tank for Oscar Fish and then build your tank around it i.e. you can keep the fish that are compatible with your Oscar Fish.

Usually, the compatible tank mates for Oscar Fish are other cichlids.

Keeping Oscars in Oscar Fish only tank is the safest way to go.

You can keep a pair of Oscar Fish together or you can get a group of 4-5.

Keeping 3 Oscar Fish in a tank is not a good idea because two of them will form pair and may bully the third one.

I hope you found this article helpful.

If you do, please share it.

As always happy fish keeping.

Photo of author
Prathmesh Gawai
He is the main author and editor at And he loves to share helpful information on aquarium and/or fishkeeping hobby. Prathmesh has over five years of aquarium and/or fishkeeping experience. Currently, he has a Betta fish tank. He has written hundreds of articles on various aquarium fish species and on fish tank maintenance over the last five years. Connect with him on YouTube here. Learn more about him here.

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