Suitable Tankmates for Oscar

oscar_goldfishRemember, Oscars and small fish don't mix You may want to consider adding some tank mates in with your Oscar if your tank size permits it. Please do not go out and buy the first fish you see, careful consideration must be taken when choosing tank mates for an Oscar fish. Oscar don't have big mouths for nothing, they are predatory fish and will try and eat just about anything they can get in into their mouth. There are three important factors that should be taken into account when choosing tank mates. They should be big enough so the Oscar will not look upon them as food. You should choose fish that are capable of defending themselves because Oscars can be bullies at times. And finally, you need to choose fish that can compete for food.Oscars have got eyes bigger than their belly.

A few suitable tankmates

·        Synodontis Catfish - 7" (very active at night)
·        Black Lancer Catfish - 8"
·        Clown Loach - 12" (should be kept in groups of at least four)
·        Silver Dollars - 6" (also like being in groups)
·        Severum - 12" (excellent tank mates for Oscars )
·        Jade Eyed Cichlid - 6" (excellent tank mates for Oscars)
·        Chocolate Cichlid - 12"
·        Pumpkinseed - 5 to 7"
·        Banded Leporinus - 12" (can occasionally nip at other fishes fins)
·        Satanoperca jurupari (Earth-Eater) - 10" (very placid & like being in groups)
·        Blue Acara - 8" (get more aggressive the older they get)

The sizes quoted on this page are meant to give you an idea of how big these fish can get. It isn't guaranteed that these fish will get this big in your aquarium.

Choose Tank Mates Carefully

Oscars like to be boss. They may well try and bully other fish but as long as they are capable of getting out of the Oscars way pretty smartish, you should be okay. There are various fish that could pose a problem if mixed with Oscars, some of them are the Jack Dempsey, Terrors, Flower Horns, Parrotfish and Blood Parrots. Apart from the latter, all these fish can be very aggressive. Blood Parrots may have difficulties defending themselves which could result in them not being able to compete for food. Some people don't have a problem with mixing these type of fish, it's just something you should bear in mind. Just let me reiterate what I said about putting small fish in with Oscars. If you want community fish such as Tetras, Mollies etc, put them in a tank of their own because they probably won't last very long in with the Oscars.
You have to remember that the total body mass of of fish will determine how much bio-load will be put on your biological system. To put it simply, the amount of ammonia that your nitrifying bacteria is able to process. If the bacteria can't keep up with the waste that your fish produces, dangerous toxins could well start building up in the tank water. This is where health problems could start.

I am afraid there isn't anything written in stone that tells you how many, and what to put in your tank. You will have to think about it very carefully, research the sort of fish that are compatible and be sensible about how many fish you put in with your Oscar.
Okay, we have already established that 55 gallons is only big enough for one Oscar. If you have a 110 gallon tank, you could have two Oscars, perfect if you want to breed. However, you may want one Oscar and some tankmates. Let's go back to the total body mass of a fish. An adult Oscar can be very big, it has a large body mass. Not only do Oscars grow to quite impressive lengths, they also have deep bodies as well. Oscars normally only reach around 12 inches in captivity. If this is the case, you may calculate that half of 12 is 6 and determine that you can only have a couple of 6 inch fish. This isn't necessarily the case. Let's look at pictus catfish for instance. These can reach five or 6 inches. That is half the length of a 12 inch Oscar. However, it is by no means as deep, in fact it, an Oscar is probably four times the height of the pictus catfish, so you can see that you could probably have four or five pictus catfish in with one Oscar as four or five pictus catfish will produce around the same amount of waste as one large 12 inch Oscar. In fact, I would say an Oscar of that size will produce a lot more waste. And since pictus catfish to do well in shoals, these make ideal tankmates.
So you can see exactly how easy this is to work out. Just make sure you know how big your preferred tankmates reaches as an adult.
Some cichlids can be very aggressive, so mixing them has to be thought through thoroughly. For instance, I wouldn't recommend putting a green terror in with your Oscar, that could well be a recipe for disaster. I have already mentioned that Oscars will eat anything that they can get in their mouth, so putting in a shoal of neon tetras would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Whatever you put in with them, make sure they are at least 4 in. long. Silver Dollar's, tinfoil barbs (not too many as these do get quite big) some species of cichlid are all suitable for a large Oscar Tank. I have got a jade cichlid and I have no problems whatsoever, it is a beautiful peaceful little fish.
There are various catfish which make suitable tankmates for Oscars. if you do choose a catfish, I would strongly advise you to go for a fully grown adult. Pictus catfish are common amongst aquatic enthusiasts and are a nice addition to any tank. These little catfish normally reach around 5 inches. If you do choose one of these, try and go for one that is at least 4 inches, preferably more. 

Beware of Catfish

We already know that Oscars have got big mouths and they can get a lot in them. They are greedy fish and sometimes have eyes bigger than their belly. They will often grab hold of things that they have absolutely no chance of swallowing. The problem with some catfish is they have spines located on various parts of their body, especially on their dorsal and pectoral fins. These spines can be extremely sharp, some catfish have spines that are sharp enough to penetrate the bottom of somebody's shoe. What can happen is an Oscar grabs hold of the catfish, realises it can't swallow it and then tries to expel it. This is when problems can arise.
Fish normally swallow their prey headfirst so that fins such as a dorsal fin don't get stuck in their throat. Unfortunately, what goes down easily doesn't always come out as well. When the Oscar tries to expel the catfish, the spines can get stuck in either the fish's throat, or its mouth. In a lot of circumstances, the Oscar will manage to release the catfish. In a small number of cases, it just cannot budge it. When this happens, you have to take immediate action. If you are a confident person, remove the Oscar from its tank and take the catfish out of its mouth. If the catfish's spines have penetrated the Oscars mouth and you can't pull the catfish straight out of the mouth, you will have to remove the spines from the catfish. A pair of manicure scissors are excellent for this task, if you haven't got any of these to hand, something equally as small should suffice. Snip the spines and remove the catfish. 
One of our own members had this exact problem. His Oscar tried to swallow a catfish and it got stuck. The spines actually penetrated the bottom of the Oscars mouth. He had to perform minor removing the spines from the unfortunate catfish, which meant he could remove it from the Oscars mouth. Luckily, the Oscar lived to tell the tale. So you see that choosing tankmates is very important. Oscars can and will try and eat their tankmates if they think it is a viable meal.

Check the Size

Massive plecoPlecos are extremely popular in home aquariums and can be purchased at almost any fish shop for a very reasonable price indeed. There are numerous species of pleco so we could actually spend all day talking about them. As you can see from the picture, some of them can grow to gargantuan size. In fact, a lot of the ones that you purchase in your aquarium shops grow to over 2 feet in length. Most people don't actually know this until they've had the fish for a year and it has grown to over a foot long. The majority of these fish need a huge tank just for themselves, let alone putting them in with your Oscars so if you do purchase one, think very carefully about how big it is going to get. I would actually encourage you to do some research before buying one of these fish. One of the best websites to visit is You will get some really good information on this website from people who keep these fish. There are some absolutely stunning plecos that you can purchase, some of them have a very hefty price tag indeed. You do have to be very careful about purchasing the sort of pleco that won't become a potential meal for your Oscar. To be on the safe side. Before forking out lots of money, check how big they reach as adults. To be on the safe side, if they don't reach at least six or 7 inches, I would avoid them. Like I said, some of them are very expensive, nearly £100, that would be a very expensive meal for your Oscar.
If you do want tankmates for your Oscars, don't buy them as babies. Try and find tankmates that have already grown quite a bit. The reason I say this is because an Oscars growth rate is a lot faster than most fish so if you get a very small 1 inch fish that doesn't grow very quickly, it could be a potential meal for the very fast-growing Oscar in only a few months.
How many of you have seen what you thought was a piranha in your fish store? A lot of the time you're probably looking at a fish called the pacu which is actually a member of piranha family, which is why it looks like one. There are several species of pacu including Black, and Red Bellied. All of them can get very big indeed, a lot of them can actually reach a maximum size of 3 feet. They are not guaranteed to reach this size in the home aquarium but they will still get extremely big. So, we have to ask ourselves, are they really suitable for the home aquarium? Well, if you can provide them with a suitable tank then there is no problem with keeping them. However, the majority of people just don't have the space, money or time to house one of these large tanks so really, a pacu is not suitable for the average home aquarium. They are obviously very small as juveniles which is why people buy them not realising how big they will get.
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