Astronotus Orbicularis

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General: Astronotus Orbicularis (?)
Common Name: Bumblebee Oscar.
Size: Picture shows my young adult male when he was about 9”; they can grow up to 14” or more.

Defining the species, sub-species, or genetic variation:
There is much internet chatter about the Bumblebee oscar as possibly a distinct species of Oscar. There is, however, no scientific study that I am aware of that provides concrete evidence for making this claim. Currently there are two recognized species: Astronotus ocellatus and Astronotus crassipinnis. The traditional distinction is the presence or absence of the ocelli (“eye”) at the base of the tail. This designation has been useful, but is not definitive, as scientists think that A. ocellatus possibly harbors other species ( Colatreli 2012 ). Apart from these, oscars in the fish hobby are typically differentiated because of genetic mutations or “defects” that breeders have exploited and developed into distinctive variations (such as reds, lutinos, albinos, etc.). As to whether or not the Bumblebee is a separate species, sub-species, or simply a genetic variation is not certain, especially given the genetic diversity within A. ocellatus mentioned above.

Jeffery Rapps, a fish breeder and importer, is the primary source for this relatively rare variety of oscar in the US and the primary source for the promotion of the “orbicularis” name associated with the Bumblebee oscar. I have asked Mr. Rapps to clarify his use of the orbicularis name in association with this fish and am still awaiting a reply.

For my part I am not that concerned with the “purity” of this fish, but know the one I own, Darth Vader (formerly Capone and owned by another member of this forum), to be a particularly elegant fish (albeit with dramatic and awkward tendencies), having somewhat more elongated fins and his body shape is more tapered than other examples of A. ocelletus (such as my red, Poseidon) I am familiar with.

Habitat: Amazon River basin, possibly south-east Brazil more specifically (aka "Sao Paulo Bumblebee Oscar").

Tank Requirements:
Tank Size: bare minimum 4’x18”x18”, 75 US gal with 6’, 125 US gal, being the preferred minimum.
Temp: Recommended 78-82F (25.5-28C).
Water parameters: Soft, blackwater conditions are best with a Ph between 6.6 and 6.8 being ideal.

Care:
Feeding: Omnivore, variety of protein and vegetable pellets as a base (e.g., Omega 1, Koi veg/fruit pellets); supplemented with such foods as freeze-dried krill, raw fish and shrimp, peas. I often soak food in a vitamin supplement liquid (such as Boyds). I typically skip one or two days a week feeding him given his massive bio-load, which seems proportionally higher than my other oscar of a similar age. Unlike my other oscar, he will literally eat the kitchen sink if I put it in the tank (well not literally) – as he is not a picky eater at all. Loves all food.

Tank maintenance: Bioload is extensive, so large w/cs are a must to try and keep the nitrate reading in the 10-20ppm range or below.

Temperament towards other fish: Darth Vader also has elevated aggression levels and use to attack other fish, even when in a 6 foot 150 gallon aquarium. Currently he resides as a solo wet pet in a 75 gallon and vents his aggression on my hand during water changes.

Availability in the US: Currently the only distributor of this fish is Jeffery Rapps.


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Poseidon2.0 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

Please contribute to this thread current and former Bumblebee owners! Also, if anyone wants to correct or add any clarifications to the entry, please do. The lack of reliable info on this fish is itself interesting.
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DMD123 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

Awesome write up!
This fish is sometimes called the 'Sao Paulo Bumblebee Oscar' since the catch location is supposed to be from that point in Brazil. My 'Bumblebee' Oscar is about 11" and also was purchased from Jeff Rapps. When talking with Jeff he said this is an F2 gen. fish. From the time period involved it is likely that my fish and the one Poseidon has are likely siblings. Not 100% sure as to sexing but from the shorter anal fin and much calmer disposition than Capone/Vader, I would think mine was a female.

Not able to prove but internet rumor and buzz on other forums has said that Jeff's original male hit 16". There is talk that he lost this one and that his current batch of fish are from another pair. Again no positive info as to whether this part is true, just internet chatter. There is some online debate as the the classification of this fish as Astronotus Orbicularis with some beilef this is an old outdated, dead name and that really it is a Astronotus Crassipinnis. I dont have a feeling on the matter at all but just was adding what has been floating around out there.

Here is my fish named Chunk.
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DMD123 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

Just wanted to add these little bits of email conversations with Jeff.

As to the fact his current batch are captive bred, and F2
8/17/14
"Bumble bees are captive bred from originally wild collected stock near Sao Paulo in SE Brazil.
I have tried on numerous occasions to have these fish recollected – including attempts by myself when I was last in Sao Paulo area 3 years ago.
Thankfully one of my exporters secured this race prior to then and I outsourced stock from that collection to be captive bred.
The fish I have now are a result of that captive breeding project."


8/29/14
"I’ve sent stock to a friend that breeds these in outdoor vats. I re-import the juveniles to market them. Probably F2 on hand at this stage."

As to getting the patterning to show up a bit more...
8/29/14
'The wild types generally do not display marked light/dark patterns over dark substrate. I’ve learned that from keeping them in bare tanks, natural tan gravel/sand, and black gravel/sand.'
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Poseidon2.0 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

It is interesting the issue of whether it is a Crassipinnis or not. According to the article I cited the original distinction between ocellatus and crassipinnis is the ocelli (eye) mark. This old model differentiated the two was partly based on this, but the article shows that this designation is limited at best and they hypothesize about 5 possible astronotus species. Too complicated to get into here (and some of the science speak went over my head), but interesting nonetheless. (I should also credit Lamm for helping me with doing research (or discovering how little published research there actually is) as fish journals are not my usual area of research. :lol:) I think there is exactly one scientific paper that uses the name A. orbicularis in an article about zebra danios, that simply used the orb as a "predator" to test the danios.
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DMD123 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

Forgot to add this:

My Oscar is currently housed in a 72g bowfront aquarium filtered by an AquaClear 110 HOB and an Eheim 2217 Canister. While filtration seems adequate for the fish the tank however is not. The bowfront tapers to 13" at the side and the wide point in the center is 18". Ive seen the fish struggle a bit to turn around when he is at the edge so this made me rethink his home. I have purchase a standard 75g tank for him that has a 18" width throughout. He will hopefully get moved next weeked into his better footprint home.
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Poseidon2.0 replied the topic: Astronotus Orbicularis

Yeah, I put 75 gallon as "bare minimum" in part because of your issues and my own experience with a mass bio-load. Can't imagine putting one of these in a 55.

Also, I changed the habitat section to reflect your Sao Paulo B. Oscar comment. I had read Brazil in a number of places, but was pretty vague. Interesting that Rapps has his own "explorers." This is beginning to remind me of the rare book and manuscript trade that I am more familiar with. Lots of sketchy dealings with locals in remote regions; not the Rapps did anything sketchy, but I hadn't realized how much he initiates the collection of fish, having thought of him more as a breeder than anything.
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daddadoo7 replied the topic: Re:Astronotus Orbicularis

Great write up guys !
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