Feeding Your Oscar Fish

The biggest mistake a lot of people make is to feed their Oscar on foods that are unsuitable and unhealthy. To give your Oscar Fish the best chance in life we recommend feeding it on healthy foods at all times. An unhealthy diet could contribute to illnesses and disease one of which is the dreaded hole in the head disease. Many people think that this illness is brought on by poor water conditions, however, a poor diet can also put the fish at a higher risk of developing horrible diseases. Oscar fish should always be fed on food that is good for them. We would recommend that at least 80% of the main diet consists of a good quality Cichlid pellets. There are various different manufacturers that produce really good quality food that is packed with all the nutrients and vitamins that your fish need on a daily basis. You can then supplement the rest of the Oscars diet with other types of food. Some people like to add a lot of natural food that is close to what the Oscar would feed on in the wild. Oscars eat a lot of insects in the wild so feeding them on live food like crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, mealworms and even garden worms is good because all these foods contain vitamins. Seafood is also healthy and a great supplement for your Oscars diet. They love cockles and mussels, obviously minus the salt and vinegar. Prawns and shrimps are absolutely fantastic food as they contain a lot of fibre which can aid the Oscars digestive system. Try chopping up pieces of fish such as tuna or salmon. You can even feed your Oscars on pieces of squid, they love the meaty texture of this seafood.

There really is a massive amount of food available, especially if you visit your local fish store and have a look in their frozen food section. Visit our food list article for a much more in-depth list of what foods you can give to your Oscar. If you click on the blue links then you will be taken directly to eBay where you can purchase the food with one click.

How much and how often should I feed my Oscar?

There really isn't anything to worry about what it comes to feeding your new friend for the first time. Baby Oscars are absolutely voracious eaters and seem to be hungry all the time. However, there is obviously a limit on how much they should be fed and I'll explain how I've been doing it for the last few years.

If your new Oscar is just a little baby then it is advisable to stick with fairly small foods, to begin with. I certainly wouldn't be putting in large prawns, or even very large pellets because baby Oscars are incredibly greedy little individuals and will more than likely stuff as much as they possibly can into their mouths. When this happens they often have problems swallowing the food. Cichlids pellets come in three or four sizes, I would advise starting off with the smaller sized pellets that are available. Start off by dropping in three or four small pellets, to begin with, and let the Oscar eat them. Follow this procedure for about three minutes and then stop feeding. Keep this feeding regime until the Oscars reach about 5 inches. Obviously, in the meantime, you could increase the size of pellets. There's no need to put a stopwatch on, three minutes is really just a ballpoint figure. You may find that the Oscar doesn't want any more food after three minutes. Normally the Oscar will indicate when it's had enough. However, baby Oscars are very greedy and it's very easy to get taken in by them. Don't be fooled by their constant need for food, these guys can beg like a pro, which is why people often overfeed them.

Oscars that are 5 inches or more don't necessarily need to be fed three times a day, you can reduce feeding down to twice a day. Carry on the same routine, as much food as they can eat in about three minutes. Once the Oscar reaches 10 or 11 inches then you could feasibly feed it just once a day. However, most people would prefer to feed at least twice a day. If your fish leave any food floating on the water remove it before it starts breaking down.

Beware of some foods

There are some foods that we would recommend you avoid feeding to Oscar fish. Some food items may contain parasites and disease, whilst other types of food either don't contain many nutrients or more worryingly contain high levels of saturated fat which are very bad for fish.

Feeder fish

The term "feeder" fish basically refers to any small fish that is used as live food for another fish, normally a larger predatory species of fish. The most common species people use as feeders are goldfish. The problem with goldfish is they can contain internal parasites that if ingested by your Oscar can cause all sorts of problems. No one is disputing the fact that Oscars will probably be an opportunist in the wild and will certainly eat any other small fish given the chance. However, we feel that it's a risk that is not worth taking so feeding live fish is best avoided when there are plenty of other better and more healthy foods available. If you are absolutely adamant that you want to feed live fish to your Oscars then we would encourage you to either breed the fish yourself or quarantine any purchased fish for at least two weeks. But that will never 100% guarantee you are not feeding infected fish to your Oscar.

Animal meat

We get asked questions about whether you can feed foods like chicken, beef, other types of animal meat to your Oscar. It's important that you understand that a fish's liver is not very good at processing saturated fat which is what you get from animal meat. Fish that consume large amounts of saturated fat on a regular basis are at risk of developing a fatty liver disease which can be fatal. Whereas I personally wouldn't recommend animal meat as food for your Oscar, in very small amounts fed occasionally it probably won't do any harm. However, I would only recommend beef heart as this is one of the leanest parts of the animal and contains a lot less saturated fat. High-protein foods can be used to enhance growth rate. You can also make up your own beef heart recipe and include vitamins and other healthy food items such as shrimp. Some people make up the own beef heart recipe in order to administer vitamins and medication..

Enhance the colours of your Oscar fish

There are a few ways to bring out the colours in your Oscar. One way is to use light-coloured substrate and has fairly strong lighting. You will often find that red Oscars become extremely vibrant in these sort of conditions. Another way is to feed your Oscar on foods that are known to enhance colours. River shrimp are one source of food that could improve the colouration of your Oscar. However, there are foods that are specifically made to bring out the colours of your Oscar fish. One of the best and well known are


These cichlid pellets supposedly bring out the colours in your fish. Now I'm going to be perfectly honest with you, I've used these over the years and I couldn't really give you any guarantees on how well they work. The best thing to do is feed them as a staple diet for at least five days a week for several weeks or months, you will then know for sure how well they work.


Commercially available fish foods

I've compiled an extensive list of commercially available foods that are available. I'm very sorry, but I can't guarantee that all of these foods are available in your country and at your fish store, you will just have to ask. However, you will see that a lot of the list items are text links. I've searched out items to make sure they are available on eBay and linked directly to the products. If they are not available at your local fish store then hopefully you can get them off of eBay.