August '00 - Igor's 640 Liter Oscar Tank.
This monthīs page was a great pleasure for me to prepare. First because it adds yet another country (13 now) respresented in this truly international section. Second, because it focuses on a "Species Tank" of a very dear and popular fish. And third, because it gives me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite "campaigns" in the hobby: against keeping large fish in ridiculously small aquariums! As I said, the Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) is one of the most popular species in the world, due to its beauty and especially its moody, captivating personality - a true pet that relates to the owner and seems to have just the right balance between aggressiveness and friendliness. But precisely because itīs such a popular fish, and also because of its adult size (30+ cm), the Oscar is one of several species that suffer the most from being kept in totally inappropriate tanks. Greedy fish dealers deceptively sell them at incredibly small sizes (Iīve seen them sold as mere babies, about 1 cm and little more than a week old) to fish keepers with little sense of responsibility towards their fishes, so these poor creatures end up enprisoned in tanks as small as 30-50 Liters, sometimes sharing it with other similar victims such as Bala Sharks (30+ cm), Irridiscent Sharks (90+ cm), Arowanas (60+ cm), Black Ghosts (50+ cm), Plecos (30+ cm), Goldfish (25+ cm), Clown Loaches (25+ cm) and several others. And then we get those classic "Help, my Oscar is a murderer...he kills everything else in the tank" messages in the boards. Well, I would do the same if I was confined in such cramped quarters too. I like to say that people who do this kind of thing are actually Fish-HAVERS, not true Fish-KEEPERS.
The minimum acceptable tank size to properly keep a single Oscar alone is 200 Liters. And you should add about 100 Liters for each additional Oscar you plan to keep in the tank. These guys donīt just get big, theyīre also territorial and need all that space. If this care is taken, then instead of stressed out and deadly prisoners youīll be able to enjoy the wonderful and fun pets that these fish actually are. So this monthīs tank is an excellent example of the PROPER way to maintain Oscars. Six full grown, fine specimens happily swim about in this huge and wonderful 640 Liter tank, created by Yugoslavian hobbyist Igor Lepedat. He actually built the entire setup himself!
Here are a few comments made by the owner:
"This 640 liter tank is my fourth tank, and itīs my own handwork with the help of my friend Tomy and my girlfriend
Bojana. The glass tank dimensions are 160x50x80 cm and it weighs 150 kg, so it took four of us to bring it inside the house. After a few weeks of testing, it was completely functional in August ī98. Filtration in this tank is performed by a Maxi Jet 1000 water pump in a glass home-made filter which contains 50 liters. Air is supplied by a Regent 7500 air pump and an 80 cm long sprayer. This combination has shown as very good, especially when you have a messy eaters like I do. I used 3x40 W fluorescent lights, which is hardly enough for the depth of 80 cm. Some of the plants that need a lot of light wonīt make it at this depth. Gravel is mostly sand, about 7 cm thick, and the decorations are massive stones and some well cleaned roots of vineyard. Also, the back and side walls are covered with stone plates so it looks really cool. Water temperature in this tank is 27°C, but pH, GH, KH are not measured because these fish need lots of water changes, about 200 L per month, so it would be too complicated to maintain the same water quality. Oscars just love fresh water and they donīt complain because their pH is not 7.0 :)"
"Fish Population is: 6 Red Tiger Oscars (2 are almost 2 years old now, and 4 are 1 year old. They are all more than 25 cm long), 1 plecostomus (30 cm), 1 gibbiceps (25 cm), 1 albino plecostomus (15 cm) 3 Botias (I think, because I almost never see them), 2 Walking Catfish (??? See photo below, Iīm not sure what fish this is, I canīt find any information about them. If you know anything please contact me. They are both 40 cm now, and have no intention to stop growing). With this kind of fish itīs very hard to have a well planted tank. If they do not like where you placed a plant, root or even a stone, they will move it, and if you have put it so deep that they canīt pull it out, you will have a plant with no leaves. In my tank I have Anubias nana, Amazon plants, Aponogeton (huge). These are the plants they leave in the tank, everything else is too tasty for them."
"I feed my fish once a day, sometimes twice, and one day in the week they do not get food. Usually they eat beef heart, earth worms, corn, cichlid pellets, and 2-3 times a month they get live fish (this is something you should see!). I live in Pancevo, a town near Belgrade, and we have two rivers in our town, so itīs not a problem to get live fish. They really eat a lot, but they seem to be always hungry...they just canīt resist...my water filter needs cleaning every third month, sometimes less...itīs really a lot of work for me!"
"I would like to give a little tip to everyone who thinks about an aquarium like this. Donīt make it 80 cm tall, itīs a problem every time you want to move something on the bottom...you have to put your cheek in the water, fish bite you, etc...But it looks good! Iīve been in this hobby for more than 3 years now, and Iīm planning to be for a long time...
Iīm thinking of making a bigger tank because these fish are getting bigger and I already have 2 small albino Oscars in
another 100 liter tank, so they will need more space soon..."
If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.
Central Closeup Showing Other Species
Photos taken by Igor Lepedat and displayed here with his permission.