The Tiger Oscar was the first, variant (selectively bred) of the original, Wild Oscar from the Amazon River basin in South America. Tiger Oscars are one of the hardiest and most popular Cichlids in the hobby and have the closest resemblance to Wild Oscars out of all the other, selectively bred Oscar variants. They are extremely intelligent and can distinguish their owner(s) from strangers as well as associate them with food; they will also develop and display unique and interesting personalities. In addition to their constant “begging” for food, 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. Tiger Oscars have a base color of tan to gray with varying black, tan, gray and bright orange markings on their body and fins (although their pectoral fins are usually translucent with no additional colors or markings). They also have a black, ocellus spot at the beginning of their caudal fin which is bordered in a bright orange outline.
Tiger 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.). Tiger 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). Tiger 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” Tiger Oscars come from as well as Tiger Oscars that have developed HITH (Hole-in-the-Head) disease. Tiger 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. Tiger Oscars require vitamin C and will develop health problems in its absence. Ideally, Tiger 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, Tiger Oscars should also be fed some prepared foods such as Cichlid pellets or sticks.
Tiger Oscars are egg-layers that practice brood care; a breeding pair of Tiger Oscars will become very aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. Once a mated pair is established, the female Tiger 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.