Oscar Psychology 101
Oscars are more petlike than most fish — they even play with toys — so aquarists should provide these and other stimuli for them.
Ask any oscarkeeper, and he or she is bound to agree that this fish is unlike any other. Oscars possess their own unique disposition and personality. This fact alone adds to the necessary care that an owner needs to provide his or her animal to ensure that it is as happy and healthy as possible. Enrichment and play are two important aspects to remember, but unfortunately people tend to forget the psychological well-being of their fish.
What makes oscars so unique and different from just about any other fish is the fact that they interact with their owners. They readily and knowingly respond to their keepers, and you can bet oscars know who is responsible for feeding them. When you walk past an oscar’s tank, it will stalk you from one side of the tank to the other.
Attention and Interaction
People are not the only living beings to suffer from boredom. If an oscar is kept in a bare aquarium with no stimulation, it can become stressed or ill. Don’t ignore your oscar. Prevent boredom by giving it attention often and changing up its routine (just don’t make dramatic changes that will stress the fish).
You can bond with your pet oscar by feeding it from your hand. Start by feeding the fish floating foods, such as pellets, so it will readily come to the water surface to feed. Then hold a piece of food at the surface and wait for the animal to retrieve it.
Most oscars will allow their owners to pet them. Because they are rather large and hardy fish, you can put your hand or finger in the tank and stroke them. Some seem to enjoy the attention, but remember to move slowly — these fish may nip.
Want to read the full story? Pick up the September 2012 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.