By Rena Sherwood
Looking for trouble? It's a big decision to take on oscars (also called velvet cichlids), because they grow into such big fish, averaging a foot in length. When they become adults, they also become very cranky. No two oscars act alike, so you may be able to have two oscars in the same tank or you may have one kill the other. Expect the unexpected with oscars.
Things You'll Need:
Aquarium (at least 50 gallons large), Aquarium stand Lid with light, Brick or stone for lid, Gravel (optional but recommended for starting out), Large rocks for decoration (optional), Filter, Heater, Thermometer, Air pump, Air stone and hose attachments, Any water conditioner required
Choose a place for the tank that can withstand several hundred pounds. Choose a basement or ground level floor when possible to avoid the tank damaging your structure. Place the stand there.
Rinse the tank out with warm water. Place on stand. Fill with water about 1 inch deep. Check to see if the water is level. Adjust the stand if it's not. According to "The Everything Aquarium Book," uneven water pressure can cause the tank to crack (see Resources).
Rinse gravel in a bucket or colander until the water runs clear. Place gently in tank. Repeat with large rocks. Young oscars will allow decorations, but adults tend to rip them apart.
Place in thermometer, heater, filter and air stone. Readjust until you like where they are. Then, add the lid and light.
Add the water gently so as not to really disturb the gravel and rocks.
Only after the water is in should you turn on all of the equipment to see if it is working. Test the water to see if you need to add any dechlorinator or other conditioners.
Keep everything on and treat as you would with fish in it. In this way, you can check to see that all of the equipment is working and help the tank build up good bacteria.
Find a small stone or brick to place on the lid. Oscars like to jump and are strong enough to push open the lid unless it's weighed down.
Tips & Warnings
It's good to get a separate electrical outlet strip to plug all of the aquarium equipment in. This saves on some confusion about what wire goes with what appliance. Do not get the fish until a month after the tank is up and running. There will not be enough good bacteria in the tank to keep your oscar fish alive. Never use soap on an aquarium or anything that goes inside it. The residue can linger and poison the fish.
To learn more on oscar fish care and breeding, download the complete ebook guide on oscar fish care at www.oscarfishsecrets.com