Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidelines

  • JasonR
  • JasonR's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Hey man...Got a light?
  • Posts: 8643
  • Thank you received: 452

JasonR created the topic: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidelines

Guidelines for Feeding Your Oscar

Summary of what will be discussed:


What to Feed – A quality floating cichlid pellet should be the staple of your Oscar’s diet

Babies (up to 4”): Micro or Baby size pellets (1mm)
Juveniles (5-10”): Mini size pellets (2mm)*
Adults (10”+): Medium size pellets (3mm)

*Oscars in the 5-10” range will readily eat a medium size pellet and can be fed these, but you may find that especially the smaller in this size range can make quite a mess with this size pellet.

How Much - The most your Oscar should eat in a single feeding is slightly less than as much as it takes for you to notice a very slight bulge of the Oscars stomach. In other words, you should never see a noticeable bulge of the stomach after feeding.

How Often – This varies with life stage, but during the period of life when growth is fastest (baby-juvenile) you’ll feed twice a day and gradually decrease as they mature.

Babies – Juveniles (0-1 Year): 2 feedings per day
Sub-Adults (1-2 Year): 1 feeding per day
Mature Adults (2+ Year): 1 feeding every other day (or 1 smaller feeding each day)

Other Foods – This is a list of other foods that can be incorporated into your Oscars diet and be fed a few times each week in place of a pellet feeding. So you should not be increasing the number of feedings per day with these other foods. Many of these foods are offered live, frozen, or freeze-dried. Make sure you know the source of any live insects you feed as they should be from places free of pesticides and herbicides. It is also important to avoid any fish and invertebrates that contain Thiaminase as it can lead to a Thiamine deficiency. For further on this and a list of fish and invertebrates that contain Thiaminase: www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm

Bloodworms
Mealworms
Earthworms
Crickets
Grass Hoppers
Beefheart
Krill
Shrimp
Fish (Fresh or Frozen)*
Tubifex Worms
Algae Wafers or Pellets

Vegetables
Peas
Green Beans
Carrots (cooked)
Broccoli
Water Chestnuts
Cucumber
Zucchini
Lettuce
Spinach


Fruits
Bananas
Strawberries
Blueberries
Apples
Grapes
Pineapple
Mango


*Live feeder fish are NOT recommended for a number of reasons which will be discussed later in the thread.

Supplemental Vitamins – Soaking your Oscar’s food in a liquid vitamin supplement such as Boyd’s Vitachem can be very beneficial giving him vitamins and minerals that he’s not getting in his regular diet.


A Detailed Look at Proper Diet & Feeding

One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when keeping Oscars or any fish for that matter is what and how to feed them. A big reason it’s so important is simply due to their huge appetite and inability recognize what’s good for them and how much they should be eating. If given a chance most Oscars will eat lots of things they shouldn’t be and in amounts far greater than what is actually good for them. This means it’s up to you to feed them only what is healthy and to commit to a feeding routine focused on their long-term health.
Since most people start out with baby or juvenile Oscars I’ll start with them assuming you’ve just acquired one of these little guys.

What to Feed: First thing you can do and this is often overlooked is figure out exactly what they have been feeding it at the pet store and get some of it. This is important because Oscars are notorious drama queens when it comes to changes in their environment which may lead to sulking and appetite loss when you first bring it home. Your best chance to get them eating again is to feed them something they’ve regularly eaten before whether it be flake food, pellet food, etc. If it happens to be anything other than a quality pellet food, don’t buy too much of it because you’ll only be feeding this temporarily because a good, quality pellet food is eventually what you’ll want the staple of your Oscar’s diet to be. So be sure to also purchase a baby or micro size cichlid pellet for any Oscar you acquire that is 4” or less in size. A few examples of quality cichlid pellets include Hikari Gold & Bio-Gold (my favorite), New Life Spectrum, and Aqueon. I’ll be including a more extensive list of acceptable foods for your Oscar later in the thread.

Getting them to Eat Regularly: Once you’ve got the fish home and in the tank it’s not necessary to feed it right away because it likely won’t eat anyway. Instead just get him in the tank, keep the lights off and let him settle in for 24hrs. After a day try feeding a pinch of flake food or a few pellets with the lights off. If he doesn’t go for the food right away then try walking away from the tank for 15 minutes or so to see if he’ll eat when you’re not present. If he hasn’t eaten when you come back just scoop out the food (to avoid excess waste in the tank) and try again later. Keep this up until he eventually eats. Once he starts eating freely feed no more than twice a day.

How Much: Now that your Oscar is happy again and feeding regularly it’s time to determine how much you should be feeding him. You’ll come across all kinds of rules regarding how much with some of the most common be how much they’ll eat in specific time increments such as 1 min, 2min, etc. These time-based rules are mostly useless and can often lead to an overfed, unhealthy Oscar since most are capable and willing to eat far more than they should in less than a minute. The best approach is to feed just a little bit at a time making sure to allow the fish to completely swallow what you’ve just fed. Keep doing this (keeping track of the running total of pellets you’ve fed) until you first notice a slight bulge in the stomach and stop there. At this point you've fed too much so back this amount off a little bit. There should be no noticeable bulge to the stomach after feeding. This will be the most you’ll feed during a single feeding and no more than twice a day (obviously it will gradually increase as the fish grows).

Pellet Training: With your Oscar now feeding regularly it’s time to get him switched over to quality pellet if this isn’t what he’s already eating. Obviously the first approach is to just try feeding him some and see if he eats them (he may or may not). If he does you’ll be good to go, but if not make sure to remove all the uneaten food then don’t feed him for 24hrs and try the pellets again. Eventually his appetite will get the best of him and he’ll eat. Later in the thread I’ll discuss dealing with especially stubborn Oscars. Once you’ve got him eating pellets make sure to keep him on a pellet-only diet for at least a month before incorporating some of the other tasty foods I’m going to discuss in the next section. A common problem people have is getting their Oscar to eat pellets again once they’ve tried some of the tastier foods on the market. This month of pellets only can help avoid this issue and it’s very important that the pellets be the staple of their diet as they contain everything an Oscar needs whereas many of these other foods will not.

Incorporating Variety: After a full month of pellet-only conditioning you can start incorporating some of the treats you’ll find in the “Other Foods” list earlier in the thread. So a few times a week now you can replace a pellet feeding with something on this list. Variety is good so mix it up a bit. One of the most important foods on that list in my opinion is Peas. Peas are very beneficial to the digestive system and can also help with some of the constipation problems (which are common) that you may encounter. It’s better to train them to readily take peas while healthy rather than hoping they take them once already sick.

Live Feeder Fish: A common and often hotly debated topic is whether it is ok to feed your Oscar live feeder fish. In short, my opinion is no and I have several reasons for this.

1. Live fish can have diseases or carry parasites that are easily transmitted to your Oscar. This can be the case regardless of the conditions they are raised under and frequently people are unaware they are carrying disease or harboring parasites. Now obviously there are things that can be done to minimize this risk, but there will always be a degree of risk.

2. Some of the live feeders commonly used contain Thiaminase which can lead to a Thiamine deficiency. For more on this and a list of fish that contain Thiaminase see this link: www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm

3. Live fish generally lack in nutritional value

4. Feeding live fish can frequently lead to aggression problems amongst tankmates. Once your Oscar(s) see live fish as a food source, aggression in your aquarium can increase dramatically and it is difficult enough as it is to get Oscars to live together in the home aquarium. You may also start to see any other tankmates of your Oscars start to disappear.

Frankly, for these reasons live feeders should not even be considered. I suppose if you are determined to feed your Oscar live fish the best case scenario would be using feeders raised in strict pristine conditions and only fed to an Oscar in a tank by himself with no plans of adding tankmates in the future. You still would have a degree of risk, albeit low.
#291253
The following user(s) said Thank You: Vik, bserafin23, goldie15

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • JasonR
  • JasonR's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Hey man...Got a light?
  • Posts: 8643
  • Thank you received: 452

JasonR replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

This isn't complete yet but it's a start. I'll be adding more and am open to criticisms and recommendations. I'll leave the topic open for that but eventually delete the responses and lock it once we have a complete guide.:)
#291254

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • ehall67
  • ehall67's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Ohio Cichlid Association Chairmen
  • Posts: 15869
  • Thank you received: 439

ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

Bloodworms Algae Wafers or Pellets
Mealworms Peas
Earthworms Green Beans
Crickets Banana
Grass Hoppers
Beefheart
Krill
Shrimp
Fish*
Tubifex Worms


I would give each food its own line ... and number if you want so its easier to see also maybe say bugs not from outside as for pesticides might be present

The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals


#291258
The following user(s) said Thank You: JasonR

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Nina_W
  • Nina_W's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Waterchange Warrior
  • Posts: 7765
  • Thank you received: 345

Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

this sounds great Jason - I want to read it through again, but for now, most excellent job :)

Just as a first thought, you could list a whole lot more vegetables/fruits, like banana or strawberries.
#291259
The following user(s) said Thank You: JasonR

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • JasonR
  • JasonR's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Hey man...Got a light?
  • Posts: 8643
  • Thank you received: 452

JasonR replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

Thanks.:) Yeah that list was the last thing I had been working on and wanted to see how it showed up before adding more. Tried for columns but didn't work.:s
#291263

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Posts: 11056
  • Thank you received: 877

Rocksor replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

Personally, I think that if the fish gets a bulge in the stomach that they no longer need to be fed the rest of the day. The how much section alludes to giving the fish a second day of feeding after a bulge develops as the result of the first feeding.
#291268
The following user(s) said Thank You: JasonR

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • JasonR
  • JasonR's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Hey man...Got a light?
  • Posts: 8643
  • Thank you received: 452

JasonR replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

Yeah I agree Rock so I'll think of a better way to convey a stop point in the feeding...
#291269

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Nina_W
  • Nina_W's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Waterchange Warrior
  • Posts: 7765
  • Thank you received: 345

Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

ah, you need to mention thiamenase somewhere amongst the frozen foods.

Maybe just include the link somewhere?
www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
#291282
The following user(s) said Thank You: JasonR

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Posts: 11056
  • Thank you received: 877

Rocksor replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

According to this study, wheat and cornmeal arent easily digestible for juvenile oscars

www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1807-86722012000200006&script=sci_arttext

Fishmeal and soybean meal are better. So I would stay away from fish food that has both corn meal and wheat meal. Unfortunately, Hikari Excel has both, so I would no longer feed oscars that food.
#291600
The following user(s) said Thank You: JasonR

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • JasonR
  • JasonR's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Hey man...Got a light?
  • Posts: 8643
  • Thank you received: 452

JasonR replied the topic: Re: Oscar Diet & Feeding Guidlines

That'd make sense Rock since these are often seen as poor fillers in other animal foods as well. I'd suspect these types of fillers to only really be suitable for true herbivores maybe...

Thanks for the link.
#291604

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Big-KenDRACO
Time to create page: 0.162 seconds