Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How To Set Up The Aquarium For Oscars

Oscar fishYou have bought yourself a fish tank (aquarium) and you have got yourself the filtration system for it. Now what? Time to fill it up! Okay, there are plenty of information on the net on how you should condition the water in an aquarium and that you have to use all kinds of water treatment liquids to ensure that the water condition is just right before you introduce your Oscar fish into the aquarium. Trust me, having reared an Oscar successfully, it need not be so complicated.

Firstly, I placed the fish tank on sturdy stands. Usually the shop which sells you the tank would recommend a stand to go together with the tank. Then, I will set up the water filter and run the pipings according to instructions. If you wish to place gravel in the tank, rinse them before hand to remove dirt, dust and grime.

Next, place a plate or something flat on top of the bed of gravel before pouring water onto it. This will prevent the water from disturbing your latest landscape work of art. After you have filled up the tank with water (usually leave at least 3 inches between the water surface level and the top of the tank), turn on the water filter and let it run. The water might turn slightly cloudy as tiny particles in the gravel are mixed into the water. It is okay. The water should turn clear in a while.

Whilst letting the filter run, get a good anti-chlorine and add this into the water. I previously used the Genesis brand. Follow the instructions on the bottle. As the Oscar fish is pretty hardy, you don't really need stuff like ph-control unless your water source is seriously skewed towards extreme levels of acidity or alkalinity. You might, however, want to put in a couple of bio-bacteria drops which you can purchase from the aquarium store. This helps to start up the friendly bacterial colony in the water filter system. Allow the water to set itself up for about an hour or more before introducing your Oscar fish into the tank.

Now, don't just throw that Oscar into the water. Whilst the Oscar fish is still in its bag, float the bag over the water surface in the aquarium for at least 30 minutes. This allows the water in the bag (with the Oscar) to be brought nearer to the temperature of the water in the aquarium. You may release the Oscar fish after that. I usually only release my pet fish when it is dark. This helps to minimise the stress to the fish when it is introduced to a new environment - its new home!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Suitable Filtration Equipment For Oscar Tank

Okay. You want to buy an Oscar fish and you have set your sights on a fish tank for that purpose. But wait! You will also have to consider finding a suitable filtration equipment for the fish tank to house the Oscar. Without proper filtration, chances are your Oscars would not live long enough to keep you in good company.

Before choosing which type of filtration you should use for an aquarium tank containing this cichlids, you must understand the Oscar's feeding habits. Now, unfortunately, the Oscars are not cultured diners. They are messy and they love their food. Feed them and they will chomp on their food (whether it be live feed or pellets) and some of these food will come out where their gills are. Bits and pieces of food would then be lying over the floor of the aquarium and over time, will decompose and become toxic if not efficiently removed by the filtration system.

An efficient water filtration system for the Oscar fish tank would be one containing mechanical filtration, chemical filtration and bio-filtration - usually in that order of filtration. Put simply, the mechanical filtration which are usually made up of sponge or suitable wool material helps to trap larger particles - sediments and food. The chemical filtration part which is usually activated charcoal (not your average charcoal for barbeques) are designed to and would help remove odour or medication. Finally, the bio-filter which houses friendly bacteria in sponges or ceramic balls will act on processing and changing feed waste (ammonia) into harmless nitrate. In an ideal world, the water becomes clean and need not be changed. However, the opposite is true. You should, as a matter of practice, continue to change about 20 to 25% of the aquarium water weekly so that fresh water is introduced and the level of toxic waste is reduced.

What kind of filter would be suitable? I would say filters which reside outside the tank. Filters such as vibrator-type air pumps are useless for this kind of fish and their waste produce. It is also usually noisy. Undergravel filters are also not suitable for the Oscar fish as the Oscars like to shift the gravel around and this disrupts the efficiency of the undergravel filter system. A canister filter or overflow system which uses a power head would be most suitable for the Oscar tank.

Both the canister filter or overflow system allows for cleaning of the filtration media without disrupting the tank occupants. It is also less messy for the owner in a way. In the next post, I will teach you how to change the water in the tank and how to clean the filtration media.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oscar Fish Tank Requirement

Right, looks like the Oscar fish is a good candidate to take home for you? Have you got the right fish tank for the Oscar? Let me share with you what I did which went wrong and how you can learn from my experience in setting up the right tank to rear oscar fishes.

Firstly, bear in mind that the Oscar cichlid fish can grow up to a foot in aquarium conditions. Bearing that in mind, you would want to get a tank which is at least 3 times the maximum length of an adult Oscar. A tank with a minimum 3 feet length and 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall would be ideal for an adult Oscar. I mentioned "an" meaning just one Oscar. If you want to rear more than one, get at least a 5 footer length aquarium. The reason for getting such a long aquarium is to allow the Oscar fish to roam freely without inhibition. I learnt the hard way in just providing a 2 feet tank to my Oscar and he could not grow any further than about 6 inches long. As a result, I replaced the tank with a larger tank (at a cost, of course! and full of hassles) and that allowed him to grow further.

Set up your tank bearing in mind that the Oscar fish grows rapidly, especially during the juvenile stage. Don't bother with too much decor like fake houses or colourful wheels or even plastic plants. Forget about using real plants as well as they, like many other cichlids, have a tendency to be "destructive" in the sense that they like to dig and push gravel around. It is okay to use gravel only and perhaps a couple of big rocks to give them a sense of security especially when they are still juveniles. Consider removing these big rocks when they grow big especially if you don't want them to hurt themselves brushing off their bodies against the rocks.

Invest in the best filtration system you can afford because the Oscars eat a lot and them excrete a lot. You wouldn't want to be using an inadequate filtration system which allows the nitrate levels to build up faster than it could cope. Water quality is always important when rearing fish and you wouldn't want to be killing your pet fish slowly with poor water quality. In the next post, I will discuss on the suitable types of water filtration for rearing the oscar fish.