Red Oscar Fish - Origins and Profile

Written by Kmuda. Posted in About Oscars


Red Oscar - Photo Courtesy of aus-car

Red Oscar Origins

Red Oscars are the first commercially available color variety of the Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus). This color variety of the Oscar fish was originally developed by a Thai Businessman named Chareon Pattabonge, first showing up in fish stores in 1969.

Exactly how Mr. Pattabonge fixed the Red Oscar color strain remains a mystery as he left no documentation and (apparently) never released the secrets to others (at least not that I've been able to find).

However, we can make an educated guess that a wild form of Oscar, possessing an amazing trend towards red coloration, was used, selectively breed for increased red coloration with the end result being the "Red Oscar" we know today. We can further expand upon that educated guess and surmise that Mr. Pattabonge used wild caught Peruvian Oscars as the foundation of his creation. Specimens of Peruvian Oscars can have an almost Red Oscar appearance.


F1 Peruvian Oscar - Photo courtesy of NOLAGT

Red Oscar Characteristics

The defining characteristic of a Red Oscar is obvious, their all red, or almost all red, coloration. An unusual characteristic of Red Oscars is that they are the only color variety of the Oscar Fish that do not (at least rarely) possess an Ocellatus (Eye Spot) on the tail. If they do, it is a mere spec when compared to other types of Oscars.

Red OscarRed OscarRed Oscar

Red Oscar Use in Other Color Varities

It is the prevailing belief that the Red Oscar was subsequently used to develop the Tiger Oscar strain, by breeding the Red Oscar back to the Common Oscar (Wild Type Oscar).

What is lesser known, or should I say less frequently discussed, as there are no known records of how each color variety was developed (we really need to get those Asian breeders to start keeping records), is the concept that Lemon Oscars are actually Xanthochromistic Red Oscars. Xanthochromism is a naturally occuring genetic condition where red pigments are replaced with yellow.


Is the Lemon Oscar a Xanthochromistic Red Oscar?

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Scientific Name:Astronotus ocellatus (invalid/outdated synonyms: Lobotes ocellatus,  Cychla rubroocellata, Acara compressus, Acara hyposticta, Astronotus ocellatus zebra, and Astronotus orbiculatus)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

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

Origin: Red Oscars are not found in the wild. Their parent fish is likely the Peruvian Oscar, are natively found in South America (Peru).

PH: Unless you are keeping wild caught Oscars, and there are no wild caught Red Oscars, pH is virtually irrelevant. What is important is a stable pH. People keep Oscars in a pH from 6 to in excess of 8. I think the ideal 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 consists 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 Oscar Fish Diet – Feeding Oscars.

Longevity: In captivity, far too many Red 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 Red 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 coexist 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.

Red Oscar Care

Red Oscars are simply a color variety of the Oscar Cichlid (Astronotus Ocellatus). All information in the article database applies to all Oscars, including the Red 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.

Red Oscar Photos

Red Oscar

Photo Courtesy of aus-car


Red Oscar

Photo Courtesy of aus-car


Red Oscar

Photo Courtesy of Jon M


Red Oscar


The bad photography of the Author


Juvenile Red Oscar

Same Red Oscar as above, this one taken as a Juvenile