Red Oscars arrived on the scene several years after the Tiger Oscar and became an instant hit in the Cichlid, aquarium hobby. They were the second, selectively bred variation of the original, Amazonian, Wild Oscar and are admired for the burst of orange-red color and personality that they can add to any aquarium. Red Oscars are intelligent and can learn to distinguish their owner(s) from strangers as well a develop rather interesting personalities; in addition to their constant “begging”, they can also be trained to eat from their owner’s hand, which is why they are sometimes referred to as river or water dogs. Red Oscars have a base color of tan to gray with a bright orange lower jaw, “neck”, operculum, belly and flanks. Red Oscars usually have dark fins, but some specimens have orange that extends from their flanks to their fins (although their pectoral fins are usually translucent). Some specimens have a black, ocellus spot at the beginning of their caudal fin.
Red Oscars require an aquarium of at least 75 gallons and should be provided with a sand or gravel substrate and multiple places where they can find shelter (driftwood, rock structures, vegetation, etc.). Red Oscars are known to dig in substrate, which will cause uprooting in regard to live plants; live plants should have strong root systems, be placed in pots within the substrate, or species that will attach to and grow on driftwood and other structures should be used. Water changes (at least 25%) should be carried out every 2 weeks (or more or less frequently, depending how efficient the aquarium filtration is). Red Oscars are very hardy fish, but they are also big and messy eaters and eventually they will have health problems if their water chemistry is not maintained; filthy water is usually where “one-eyed” Red Oscars come from as well as Red Oscars that have developed HITH (Hole-in-the-Head) disease. Red Oscars are omnivorous (more accurately, facultative piscivores); they love live foods and enjoy the chase (your live plants won’t), but will also readily accept many other foods. Red Oscars require vitamin C and will develop health problems in its absence. Ideally, Red Oscars should be fed a variety of foods, such as live, frozen or freeze-dried ghost shrimp, minnows, bloodworms, blackworms, mealworms, earthworms, and crickets. To make sure they are getting enough vitamins and nutrition, Red Oscars should also be fed some prepared foods such as Cichlid pellets or sticks.
Red Oscars are egg-layers that practice brood care; a breeding pair of Red Oscars will become very aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. Once a mated pair is established, the female Red Oscar will lay around 800 eggs in a carefully cleaned, flat location (driftwood, flat rocks, slate, etc.) within the aquarium. The eggs will hatch in 3-5 days and the fry will be free-swimming within a week. The newly hatched fry can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp (and crushed flake food) and moved to other foods as they mature.