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 Profiles South America Oscars Astronotus ocellatus
Astronotus ocellatus
Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus
Pronunciation: s-tr-n-ts s--lt-s
Common Name(s): Oscar
Geo. Origin: Rio Ucayali drainage & upper Amazon river of Peru and Brazil
Habitat: Slow moving waters with sunken logs and roots
Diet: Carnivore
Gender Differences: Monomorphic
Breeding: Substrate Spawner
Temperament: Aggressive
Conspecific Temperament: Aggressive
Maximum Size: 14"
Temperature: 80°F
pH: 7
Water Hardness: Soft
Difficulty: 3
Photo Credit: Eric Glab
The oscar is one of the most commonly kept cichlids in the aquarium. Astronotus ocellatus was first described formally in 1831. Astronotus is derived from the Greek words "astra" meaning ray and "noton" meaning back. Ocellatus is Latin for spotted, referring to the spotted pattern on the body of many wild fish. This spotting can be absent in some wild variants and can certainly be absent in aquarium strains. The coloration of the "Oscar" can vary from olive-green to gray to chocolate brown in base color with a smattering of some or all of these colors. Black spots surrounded by an orange or red ring on the base of the upper caudal peduncle is a noteworthy characteristic of the Oscar. The natural diet of oscars consists of smaller fishes, crustaceans, gastropods, and aquatic insects or insect larvae. Although oscars can seem almost "lazy", they are capable of ambushing and capturing fleeing prey over short distances. Oscars in captivity are notorious for their gluttonous diets. It is very difficult if not impossible to sex Oscars from external characteristics. In the aquarium, pairs have been observed to prepare a breeding area. This is typically a flat stone or slate. Eggs hatch typically in 3 to 4 days. A single spawning may consist of as many as 2000 eggs! Breeding populations of Oscars in south Florida stem from a deliberate stocking in Dade county by aquarium fish farms in the 1950s. Individual fisherman further spread the Oscar to at least six south Florida counties. Casual observances indicate that the Oscar is becoming less dominant of an invader as once thought.
 Profiles South America Oscars Astronotus ocellatus
 Key To Species Profile Terms
 Pronunciation: Refer to our Pronunciation Key for an explanation of the phonetic symbols.
 Habitat: This is the primary location where the cichlid is found and is a generalization. This does not
  mean a fish cannot be found in other habitats.
 Diet: Many cichlids specialize in eating one type of food; notwithstanding, some of these specialized
  feeders are flexible and can be opportunistic feeders.
 Temperament: This describes the overall demeanor of a cichlid toward other tankmates that
  are of a different species. Consider that there is variability in temperament due to various factors,
  including aquarium size, tankmates of similar appearance, stocking levels, and order of introduction.
  There may even be some variability among individual specimens.
 Conspecific Temperament: This describes the overall demeanor of a cichlid toward other tank-
  mates of the same species. Consider that there is variability in temperament due to such factors as
  aquarium size, stocking levels and order of introduction. There may even be some variability among
  individual specimens.
 Maximum Size: This is in regards to total length (including the tail) of typical aquarium specimens.
  Wild specimens may not attain this size, or may in fact grow larger than aquarium raised individuals
  due to various factors. Also consider that this is the typical maximum size and there are exceptional
  individuals that will exceed it.
 Difficulty: This measure is a relative value, comparing a single species against all other cichlids.
  This only accounts for maintanence in the aquarium and not breeding considerations.
  1 = easy and forgiving, 5 = extremely challenging.
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