What are Common Oscar Fish (aka Wild Type Oscar)?

Written by Kmuda. Posted in About Oscars

Common Oscar

Common Oscar - Photo Courtesy of LindaD

Common Oscar or Wild Oscar

It is not quite correct to identify Common Oscars as a color variety of Astronotus ocellatus (Oscar Cichlid). They ARE Astronotus ocellatus in that all other color varities of Oscar fish have the "Common Oscar" color type as the bases of their development. All of the reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and golds, found in the various Oscar Fish color varieties, are likely developed from the genetic base of the "Common Oscar".

Being Olive Green in base coloration, with a well defined Ocellatus on the tail, Common Oscars are as close as we get in appearance to Wild Oscars found in most of the Amazon River basin. Hence, there second name, "Wild Type Oscar". Aside from some rarer varities from remote sections of Brazil and Peru, if you had an actual "Wild Oscar" in the same tank with a "Common Oscar", it would be difficult to tell the fish apart.

Wild Oscar 

Actual Wild Oscar - Courtesy of 

Nor are Common Oscar fish "common". With the onslaught of Tiger Oscars, Red Oscars,  Red Tiger Oscars, Albino Oscars, and Lutino Oscars, these representatives of their wild brethren are becoming increasingly difficult to find. There is a beauty in the purity of the Common Oscar, as close representatives of their wild heritage, that simply cannot be found in the more colorful variants.

Popularity of the Tiger Oscar has impacted the Common Oscar in more ways than one. With Tiger Oscars being the consumers choice, less effort is made to attempt to retain the original gene pool of the Wild Type Oscar. So some fish you find in the hobby labeled as Common Oscars (or Wild Type Oscars) are likely crosses between the Tiger Oscar and Common Oscar, or just poorer quality Tiger Oscars, leading to borderline fish such as the below.

Common Oscar or Tiger Oscar

Common Oscar Photos

Some additional examples of "Common Oscars" (or "Wild Type Oscars") are included below. As you can see, there is wide variety of fish classified as a Common Oscar.

Common Oscars

These photos are uploading from photobucket, so it may be slow loading. Each are member photographs of Common Oscars.

Common Oscar Common Oscr

Common Oscar 

Common Oscar Common Oscar

 Common Oscar

Photo Courtesy of Groovy

Common Oscar

Photo Courtesy of Groovy

For additional photos of Common Oscars, please review the Common Oscar Keyword Album in the Photo Gallery.

Common Oscar Profile

Scientific Name:Astronotus ocellatus (invalid/outdated synonyms: Lobotes ocellatus,  Cychla rubroocellata, Acara compressus, Acara hyposticta, Astronotus ocellatus zebra, and Astronotus orbiculatus)

Common Name: Common Oscar, Wild Type Oscar

Size: 12" is common, larger have been known to occur in aquariums

Origin:Natively found in South America - Amazon and Orinoco River Basins - Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as non-native populations becoming established in Florida, various Caribian Islands, Australia, and likely elsewhere in the tropics.

PH:Unless you are keeping wild caught Oscars, pH is virtually irrelevent. What is important is a stable pH. People keep Oscars in a pH from 6 to in excess of 8. I think the idea pH would be neutral to slightly acidic but there is absolutely no need to attempt to adjust pH.

Food Items:In the wild, an Oscars diet consist primarily of insects and crustaceans. In captivity, a commercially available quality pellet should be the primary staple of their diet. For an in-depth review of an Oscar's dietary requirements and suggested feeding practices, please review this article.

Longevity: In captivity, far too many Oscars die within 3-5 years. For a fish that should live a decade or more, this is a shame. A result of poor husbandry and bad diet. Owning a Tiger Oscar is a long term commitment not to be taken lightly. If the idea of weekly water changes does not appeal to you, you don't need to own an Oscar.

Aggression:By large cichlid standards, Oscars are mildly aggressive. People often make the mistake of assuming Oscars are as aggressive as their New World Cichlid brethren, such as Green Terrors, Red Terrors, Jack Dempseys, etc... They are not. When housed with these more aggressive fish they generally are on the lower end of the cichlid pecking order. When it comes to housing a pair of Oscars, your best chance of success would be with two females. When young, you may be able to keep two males or a male + female but when sexual maturity sets in, hang on. Two males, no way. There is going to be a war and one of two, if not both, will be killed. A male and female can coxist provided neither detects a weakness in the other and/or both decide to spawn at the same time.

Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons, per Oscar.

Common Oscar Care

Common Oscars are simply a variety of the Oscar Cichlid (Astronotus Ocellatus). All information in the article database applies to all Oscars, including the Common Oscar. So feel free to read other articles in the database as well as participate in our forum. A good staring place is the New Oscar Owner Information Packet.