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I first started keeping Oscars about 30 years ago. Since then, many have passed through my fish room. I have kept almost every color strain on the market. Currently, I have a 180 gallon (680 liters) aquarium with a trio of Lemon Oscars. It is an aquarium full of movement, color, and personality.
To grow properly, remain healthy, and show good coloration, Oscars need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet. Commercially prepared foods should make up the bulk of an Oscar’s diet, then be supplemented with a mix of other foods such as live and frozen foods.
It is easy to see why Oscars are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. They are big fish with tonnes of personality. They quickly become people’s wet pets. As with all big fish, they have big appetites too.
They will eat just about anything you put in the tank with them. A word of caution though, just because they WILL eat something, doesn’t mean they SHOULD! Choosing a poor diet for your oscar can lead to stunted growth, poor coloration, and even Hole in the Head disease.
I offer my Oscars a real mix of foods, each time trying to offer them something different from the previous feeding. This gives them a balanced diet and hopefully stops them from getting bored of their food and refusing to eat. Oscars can be stubborn like that.
Cichlid pellets produced for large fish like Oscars come in a variety of pellet sizes and in either floating or sinking varieties. These pellets should form the staple backbone of your Oscars diet.
When your Oscar is a juvenile, use the small pellet. As the fish grows, increase the pellet size to match. Consider the size of your Oscars mouth before you buy the next packet. A good quality pellet will have a balance of nutrients and vitamins to give our oscar an all-around balanced diet.
I’ve had good success with Hikari Cichlid Gold and Cichlid Staple. Both come in floating or sinking forms. It doesn’t really matter which you choose unless your oscar prefers one form over the other. I also feed my Oscars a lot of Bug Bites from Fluval
As with all fish foods, only feed as much as your oscar will consume within a few minutes. From personal experience, it is much easier to remove any uneaten floating pellets than it is ones that have sunk to the bottom.
Any fish keeper that hasn’t tried Vibra Bites for their fish should order a packet today. I cannot speak highly enough of it. I feed it to everything in my fish room from Cardinal Tetras to huge fantail goldfish. I haven’t had a single fish refuse it (assuming it’s a fish that will eat prepared foods. I haven’t given it to the puffers). Vibra Bites are designed to look like bloodworms. They are red and they float for a bit then sink. The fish go nuts for them.
I use Vibra Bites as an additional food to my Oscars staple diet. I might feed it once a day with pellets and another food making up the other two feeds.
Repashy is fairly unique in the fish food world. You buy it in as a powder, then mix it up with water to make batches of gel food. Repashy can be kept in the fridge for 4 or 5 days or in the freezer for several months.
Repashy comes in a variety of flavors. I tend to use either the Community Plus or Grub Pie for my Oscars. In reality, Oscars will devour any of the flavors. They are all made with high-quality ingredients.
Freeze Dried Krill
Freeze-dried krill is another food Oscars will devour. I only tend to feed it to my larger Oscars. I throw a few pieces in as a treat and they will just scoff it all. The downside of freeze-dried krill is that it can be messy.
Great clouds of dust come out the Oscar’s gills as they chew it up in their throats. If you are keeping your Oscars with a small-mouthed fish like blood parrots, the blood parrots will clean up all the bits the messy Oscars leave floating as they eat.
When we think of live foods for Oscars, we often think of feeder goldfish. I am not a massive fan of feeder goldfish as they offer little or no nutrition for Oscars and they are often sold emaciated and riddled with disease.
If you really must use feeder goldfish, buy them from the store a couple of weeks before you want to use them and keep them in their own tank. Medicate them, especially for worms, and feed them well.
At least that way they won’t pass any illness on to your Oscar. Be aware, your Oscar isn’t built for speed. He can really hurt himself chasing a spritely feeder fish around the tank. I’ve seen nasty injuries caused by an excited Oscar running into bogwood or sticks in the tank.
Other live foods I have had success with include:
- Black soldier fly larvae
Whatever live foods you feed, make sure they come from a reliable source. Unless you live in a very isolated location, I would be reluctant to collect live foods from the wild and feed them to our Oscars as you don’t know what pollutants, chemicals, or pesticides they may have picked up.
I use live foods as a treat. I feed them maybe once every couple of weeks.
One major advantage of live foods is that you can ‘gut load’ them. This simply means keeping them in a container for a few days prior to feeding them to your Oscar and giving them fresh foods to eat.
With crickets, for instance, they will eat fresh fruit prior to feeding to our Oscars. This gives the Oscars additional nutrients they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Frozen Fish Foods
I love frozen foods. I’ve used bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, beef heart, and just about every other type of frozen food on the market at one time or another. Your local fish shop will probably have the common varieties in the store, but online retailers such as Amazon often have a much wider selection.
I feed frozen food in one form or another to my Oscars nearly every day. Pop a cube out of the packet and drop it into the tank. The Oscar will pick away at it until it has either defrosted and sank or all been eaten.
Frozen foods offer a great solution when you go on vacation. If you have someone coming in to feed your tank, just ask them to plop ‘x’ number of cubes in every other day and your fish are in little danger of being overfed.
I recently wrote another article titled 10 unusual foods your Oscar will actually enjoy.
It is completely up to you what you decide to feed your oscar. Just try and offer them quality and variety. You may find you have a fish that refuses to eat this type of food or that type. Don’t stress about it, just try a different style or a different brand. Oscars are greedy feeders that relish variety. Feeding them is one of the best parts of owning an oscar.