We have received an incredibly beautiful pair of wild caught Oscars from the Rio Tapajos. At least the male absolutely competes with the breeding form “Red Tiger Oskar” in color, but as we said, they are wild-caught!
The sexes are difficult to distinguish externally in Astronotus, but the striking color difference and the expression of the dorsal, anal and ventral fins make it very likely that our animals – they are 20-25 cm long – are indeed a pair. However, for safety reasons we have housed the precious animals individually and therefore cannot say whether they get along.
For our customers: the animals have code 633427 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply to wholesalers.
Of the seven scientifically described species of Astronotus, only two are currently recognized by most ichthyologists, namely A. crassipinnis and A. ocellatus; however, a third, A. zebra, is so distinctly different in color from the others that there is little doubt as to its validity. Now a new name has been established: the Oscar from the Orinoco drainage and the Gulf of Paria in northern South America has been scientifically described as A. mikoljii (Perez Lozano et al., 2022). All images in this post show Astronotus mikoljii at different age stages and local populations.
Besides A. mikoljii there are – according to molecular data – at least three more species of Oscars in South America, which are named Astronotus sp. “East”, A. sp. “Negro” and A. sp. “Jurua” in the work of Perez Lozano et al. In the case of these species, however, it must be carefully checked whether they have not been described before and are wrongly listed as synonym. However, the matter is not simple, because Oscars were and are brought within South America also again and again as food fish into areas, in which they were not native originally at all. In addition, this may have led to hybrids, which are also difficult to represent molecularly.
A. mikoljii was named after Ivan Mikolji, an avid artist, nature lover, and explorer of Venezuela and Colombia who is also an ornamental fish exporter. Mikolji’s Oscar, like all Astronotus species, usually grows to 25-30 cm in length and does not differ from the other species in terms of care and breeding.
Literature: Perez Lozano A, Lasso-Alcalá OM, Bittencourt PS, Taphorn DC, Perez N, Farias IP (2022): A new species of Astronotus (Teleostei, Cichlidae) from the Orinoco River and Gulf of Paria basins, northern South America. ZooKeys 1113: 111–152. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.1113.81240
Currently we import very pretty young Oscars from Brazil, which are offered under the name “Astronotus crassipinnis”. The species A. crassipinnis exists in Brazil, but there is no possibility to check if the species identification is correct. We suspect that the animals are bred ones.
The beautiful fish show the typical behaviour of all Astronotus children: they have a strong need to be with conspecifics. The conspicuous colouring of all young Oscars is in fact a camouflage. The animals form larger groups and swim so close together that they look like one big fish to a potential attacker.
The loss of the child’s pattern is indicated by the fact that the animals develop their typical eye spot on the tail root. From then on, the young Oscars begin to live rather individually (or in small groups). The eye spot is used to mislead attackers (who orient themselves by the eye of the victim when preying). Oscars from this size upwards prefer to eat small fish themselves, but in the aquarium they also take any other kind of strong food of carnivorous nature.
How these Oscars look like as adult fish, we do not know, therefore a safe scientific determination is not possible. However, it can be assumed with some certainty that this Astronotus species also grows to a length of about 25-30 cm.
For our customers: the animals have code 632302 (4-6 cm) and 632303 (5-7 cm) on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
Why the Oscar is called the Oscar? Honestly, we don’t know that for sure. But what is certain is that the name originated in the USA. In 1936, an essay by E. W. Clarke about Astrontus appeared in the journal “The Aquarium”. In 1949 Gene Wolfsheimer reported in „The Aquarium Journal“ that the aquarists in California called Astronotus cichlids Oscars (Wayne Leibel, Aquarium USA Annual 2001). But it is also conceivable that the word “Oscar” is a corruption of the scientific name (Astronotus) or the Tupi word for all possible larger cichlids “Acara”. Tupi is the language of the people living in Brazil before the Europeans arrived in America.
The Oscar is despite its stately size – it can become over 45 cm long and 1,5 kg heavy, although such giants are very rare; usually, Oscars become 25-30 cm long – a popular aquarium-fish. Only few species of fish unite so splendid colors and so much charisma, besides, Oscars, at least for fish-continuances, are rather intelligent and are clearly more pet than aquarium-fish sometime.
We have just some very beautiful, 12-15 cm big Oscars of different colors in the stock, that spent their youth in a garden-pond in Southern France and grew up to powerful adolescents. We have no information whether they became special friends of the film “Oscar” with Luis des Funes during their time in France.
For our customers: the animals have code 632906 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers
We obtained very nice juveniles of the Oscar from Colombia. In contrast to the adults the juveniles are strictly schooling fish. In case of a real or imaginary danger the fish school performs a kind of globe. This behaviour also explains the otherwise illogical attractive pattern. In a school this pattern works as a camouflage, comparable to the wear of militairs.
However, one should not be fooled by the large innocent looking eyes of these fish, which are, by the way, real personalities. Oscars are predators and 5-6 cm long ones will readily take a guppy as snack. So the oscar is suited for community tanks only under certain circumstances. Tankmates must be large enough that they are not taken for food. In case this preference is fulfilled the oscar is on its best behaviour. Compared with other large species of cichlid, members of the genus Astronotus are rather peaceful creatures.
For our customers: the fish have code 632501 (4-6 cm) and 632502 (4-7 cm) on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer