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Extreme Oscar Stress


Vic215
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I've recently returned to the hobby of keeping large American Cichlids after many years of being away. I figured a good introduction to the hobby for my young son would be to raise up a small Oscar to adulthood. We picked up a very small 2" Oscar about 9 months ago at our LFS and grew him out to a fat, healthy, happy outgoing 8" specimen. 

Recently I painted and did some light remodeling in the room the fish is located in. I took the opportunity to upgrade to a much needed larger aquarium since I had to move the tank anyways.

Since then, the fish has been highly aggressive and extremely stressed. Hardly eating, attacking his reflection, charging me and changing colors drastically. Gill flaring, laying on his side, etc. Now, I am not new to large Cichlids nor this behavior but I have not witnessed this to this extent. Ther fish has been acting (without pause) like this for about two weeks now. I am concerned that the stress will effect the fishes health sooner rather then later. There's already a few scales missing and the fish has eaten only three times in two weeks. Prior to the change, this fish would splash water to get my attention and then swim to the front corner of the aquarium and wait for a meal.

Here are my thoughts: The fish is still adjusting from the change in environment and will settle eventually. Or, I'm using black window cling on the rear of the aquarium instead of paint (as I usually paint the rear of my aquariums) and the cling is not washing out the reflection and maybe increasing it. The fish is constantly attacking the reflection. And possibly, the fish is entering sexual maturity and this is normal.

There's no tankmates. The decor consists of a tile slate bottom and a piece of driftwood with a really really old anubias plant grown on it. I use a powerhead for flow and an air driven sponge filter - I'm old school that way. The water parameters are perfect with Nitrates being below 10ppm and I do large water changes 2x weekly. Apprx 50%.

Thoughts, feelings, and ideas?

Personally, I'm considering draining the aquarium and painting the rear, sides and bottom to resolve the reflection issue as much as possible.

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I do not know anything about oscars but unfortunately through sad experience I do know about paint fumes anywhere near aquariums. Is it possible at any point his water that he was in was exposed to fumes?

the tank I lost several just died quickly several became extremely lethargic then passed and a few went bonkers for a week then passed.

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So, the fish has eaten a few more times but he/she is still showing aggression and stress. I turned the lights off to reduce the glare, but the fish is still attacking its reflection and gill flaring when I enter the room. I made mention of the water parameters in the OP. I keep pristine aquariums. Nitrates are under 10ppm. I do 2X water changes weekly. The picture was taken before the fish really started to freakout so much. As I type this, he/she is attacking the glass and showing stress. Gill flaring, color changing, etc. Also, I removed the stones as the fish was relentlessly attacking them as well. I'm going to paint the rear of the aquarium and get rid of the window cling. Also, I'm considering some dither fish as a way to direct his aggression away from the reflection.

PXL_20210725_215310064.MP.jpg

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Wow that anubias looks really healthy. How long did you say you had it?

 

Also related to the oscar, I think your initial assessment is correct that there are too many reflections in the glass and he/she sees it's reflection as someone trying to steal his/her territory. You could use black silicone too rolled out on the surface if you don't have a well ventilated room. Also Oscars can get bored, have you tried neutral buoyancy lure balls to play with? Just make sure it's big enough to not fit in it's mouth.

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Yeah, I'm leaning towards the reflection as the major issue. He's destroying the anubias plant now. So. I'm going to replace that with something artificial. Also, I'm considering dither fish as an outlet for aggression. I leave for vacation soon. I'm going to kill the lighting and cover the sides of the aquarium to try and reduce the reflection as much as possible. Hopefully, this gives the fish time to chill out and relax while I'm gone. When I return I'll be making the changes to the aquarium, painting it etc.

The anubias I bought as a three leaf plant maybe in 2012. It's an extremely durable plant and has survived multiple melt offs, drying out, days without light, etc. I really enjoy that plant. Thx for the compliment. 

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Oscars are very emotional fish. I've had one sulk for days/weeks over minor changes. They're also a pretty smart fish. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Reflections are an issue and Oscars like to redecorate their tanks, so yeah, he'll play with the anubias. I wouldn't try a dither fish with him. If you do you'll need something big and tough like silver dollars, tinfoil barbs, etc. I've found they like toys. I've used plastic golf balls, artificial plants with a weighted base. Small stones or pieces of driftwood that are small enough for him to move. (Not big enough to break the tank if dropped though.) One of mine would spend hours picking up his weighted plants and moving them around. He'd drop, then swim away and look back. He'd then swim around them and more often than not, pick it up again and move it elsewhere and repeat the process. They're a smart fish often in a relatively boring environment. Keeping them mentally stimulated helps.

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