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Oscar suddenly frantic


TimDeck
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I have had my oscar, Redman, since he was a baby, he is now 9-10 inches. His tank mates from the start have been kuhli loaches, dojo loaches, hillstream loaches and some upside down catfish. It was an experiment I ran to see if an oscar would get along with the other fish if it grew up with them. Until a few days ago, Redman has been a buddy to everyone in the tank. He started to flare (mouth open real wide) quite a bit more than usual and began to harass the dojo loaches and only the dojos. I hoped it was an oscar mood swing and observed. Yesterday, Redman started to do quick circles (like a dog chasing its tail)(sometimes he spins left, sometimes it's to the right) for about 5 seconds while flaring and he began to take shots at the dojos. Thinking that he developed an issue with the dojos, I moved the dojos to their backup tank this morning. Redman continues to do his circles and flaring even with the dojos removed. The frequency of his spins has also gradually increased. He leaves the other fish alone, it was only the dojos he targeted. 

Parameters - Nitrate - 40, Nitrite - 0, Ammonia - 0, gh - 200, kh - 100, ph - 7.0, temp - 78F

There has been no changes to the tank besides its weekly water change for well over a year now.

Has anyone run into this behavior before? I have seen him go through mood swings before, he is an oscar, but never like this. Frantic is the word that comes to mind when he starts circling. 

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1 hour ago, TimDeck said:

I have had my oscar, Redman, since he was a baby, he is now 9-10 inches. His tank mates from the start have been kuhli loaches, dojo loaches, hillstream loaches and some upside down catfish. It was an experiment I ran to see if an oscar would get along with the other fish if it grew up with them. Until a few days ago, Redman has been a buddy to everyone in the tank. He started to flare (mouth open real wide) quite a bit more than usual and began to harass the dojo loaches and only the dojos. I hoped it was an oscar mood swing and observed. Yesterday, Redman started to do quick circles (like a dog chasing its tail)(sometimes he spins left, sometimes it's to the right) for about 5 seconds while flaring and he began to take shots at the dojos. Thinking that he developed an issue with the dojos, I moved the dojos to their backup tank this morning. Redman continues to do his circles and flaring even with the dojos removed. The frequency of his spins has also gradually increased. He leaves the other fish alone, it was only the dojos he targeted. 

Parameters - Nitrate - 40, Nitrite - 0, Ammonia - 0, gh - 200, kh - 100, ph - 7.0, temp - 78F

There has been no changes to the tank besides its weekly water change for well over a year now.

Has anyone run into this behavior before? I have seen him go through mood swings before, he is an oscar, but never like this. Frantic is the word that comes to mind when he starts circling. 

Like @Brandysaid he might be bored I have a convict chiclid that got bored and would like you described swim in circles I have her some golf balls to push around and play with and that seems to have made her happy I don’t know what you could do for and Oscar as I have never keep one but I would give him some stuff to “play” with I don’t know what but I would say some kinda ball I also give her fake plants to throw around this could help 

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I had my oscar since little too, and now he's about 10 inches. He does have some high energy moments sometimes, swimming from edge to edge very fast and going up and down, but have never seen him attack a fish, my boy (or girl?) is very peaceful. Perhaps something about the dojos awakened something in him? after all, they got a worm shape, probably he started to see them like prey?

For some reason, sometimes cichlids single out a single other fish and leave the rest alone. My vieja would only target the jack dempsey and harass him, and my blood parrot would sometimes harass a severum. The green terror also targeted the vieja more than everyone, so there's that! Perhaps your oscar reaaaaally doesn't like the dojos?

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He does eat. Normally he will eat from my hand, but will go a couple days occasionally where he ignores food if I'm holding it. Currently he's ignoring, but eats after I drop the food. My approaching the tank does not seem to cause him to spin or stop spinning. If he's spinning when I approach, he'll continue. If not, it's likely he's ignoring me while making sure that I know he's ignoring me. Lol

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If he stops to eat, then he CAN STOP, so it isn't neurological.

Oscars are goofy and moody from what I understand, and I suspect pretty intelligent. I think he is bored.

I agree with the suggestion to give him toys--ping pong balls, or if you could find them one of those cat toy balls that is a plastic cage with a bell in it or a tiny whiffle ball. Stuff some meaty food in there make him bash it around to get it out. We used to have horses that got bored in their stalls and would repetitively rock foot to foot or swing their head, pace in circles--it is like that. We would give them toys, one favorite was a laundry detergent jug, with a few holes, and a handful of grain in it, tied to a string on the rafters. They would shake it and bash it to get the grain to rattle and then fall out. It really settled them down.

The horses wanted out. He may be asking for a larger tank or a major rescape.

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Thanks for the info everyone. Ping pong balls are on my shopping list.

I believe I have discovered the "trigger" of his behavior. It's whenever the room light is on, whether I'm in the room to cast shadows or not. His tank light doesn't bother him, but as soon as the room light is turned on he begins his spinning.

Any ideas on why the light is suddenly bothering him? I haven't changed the bulb. Tips to help the light not bother him (it's kinda hard doing things in the room with no light lol)?

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So Redman has very quickly become sensitive to light. First he did his frantic dancing (see video above) with the room light on. He was fine with the room light off, but then he started the "dancing" when light came in from another room. Keeping the door closed "fixed" this. Now the tank light bothers him, if it's on, he's "dancing". His tank light is now staying off. I have 2 other tanks in the room to the left of Redman's tank and the 2 lights for those tanks are the only light source in the room now. Redman now hides on the furthest side of his tank that he can get from this last light source. He doesn't "dance", just hides in the corner. With no light on in the room, he will swim around the tank.

This behavior only started 5 days ago on Sunday. He ate fine through Tuesday, ate slow Wednesday/Thursday, and ate about 2/3 of his normal food today. 

Any thoughts on a cause for such sudden light sensitivity? I'm at a complete loss, I've never seen anything like this.

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