Lemon Oscar Care And Species Profile

lemon oscar

The lemon oscar, or Astronotus ocellatus, (also commonly called the tiger oscar or tiger perch) is a large, predatory freshwater fish that belongs to the Cichlidae family of South American cichlids. Due to its relatively peaceful disposition and its beauty, it has become popular in aquariums around the world. While their care isn’t overly difficult, there are certain precautions that you must take to ensure that your lemon oscar lives an enjoyable life in captivity.

The lemon oscar or Astronotus ocellatus, also known as the dwarf oscar, is the smallest species of the Oscar family of cichlids and one of the smallest freshwater fish in the world.

This popular species is an excellent community fish that’s easy to breed and requires little maintenance, making it ideal for beginner hobbyists and advanced aquarists alike. In this article, we’ll learn about the lemon oscar’s behavior and care requirements as well as provide helpful tips on keeping these beautiful fish healthy and happy.

There are many species of cichlid in the Amazon basin, but one of the most popular among aquarists is the lemon oscar, Astronotus ocellatus.

Native to the Amazon River basin and its tributaries, the lemon oscar makes an excellent addition to any community aquarium with other fish that can appreciate the small-but-aggressive oscar’s company. Learn more about how to care for a lemon oscar and what sort of water parameters they require below.

Origin and descriptions

lemon oscar

Astronotus ocellatus, more commonly known as a lemon oscar, is an armored catfish species native to South America that also inhabits parts of Central America. A member of the genus Astronotus which includes other popular fish such as tiger shovelnose (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) and midnight parrotfish (Scarus coelestinus), lemon oscars are easy to care for but require pristine water conditions to thrive in captivity.

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The average length for males is 11 inches while females average 8 inches. Lemon oscars are part of what is called the pest fish group along with their cousins like corydoras and otocinclus making them a perfect choice for aquariums set up to handle these types of finicky animals. However, it’s important to note lemon oscars do not survive well in uncycled setups, so you will need a fully cycled tank set up before attempting to add them.

Species profile

lemon oscar

Lemon Oscars are freshwater or tropical fish belonging to both the family Cichlidae (cichlids) and Genus Astronotus. They’re native to South America, where they inhabit large rivers in coastal Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia. In nature, their diet consists of various insects and worms that are readily available.

In an aquarium setting, their diet should be fortified with vegetables as well as high-quality pellets. It is important to note that lemon oscars can grow up to 12 inches in length; therefore, it is imperative that your tank is at least 75 gallons so you can provide them with ample space for swimming and exploring.


Lemon oscars thrive in well-planted aquariums with live or artificial plants. A soft substrate, such as sand or fine gravel, is ideal for these species because they spend most of their time digging holes in which to hide. The downside to a thick substrate is that it can cloud a tank; frequent water changes are recommended for heavily planted tanks with deep substrates.

To keep your oscar healthy, avoid heating pads and under-gravel heaters because they can cause burns on your fish’s delicate skin. Make sure you buy an appropriate heater: if you have a large tank (75+ gallons), you’ll need at least 75 watts of power; 50 watts will do for smaller tanks. Heat rocks should also be avoided: They get very hot—sometimes too hot—and though many pet stores still sell them, we recommend avoiding them altogether.

Lemon oscar size

This species can grow up to a maximum size of 12 inches (30 cm) in length.

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Lemon oscars tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 75 gallons

Tank set up

Lemon oscars are extremely active, schooling fish that need a lot of room to move around. A bare 20-gallon tank with nothing but some decor and plants will likely lead to unhappiness for you both. They need at least a 75-gallon tank with lots of live or fake plants, plus caves or other structures for hiding places. The aquarium also needs strong filtration; these guys produce a lot of waste as they race around so frequently.

Stay away from overfeeding; these guys get fat quickly if there’s too much food available! Tanks should have plenty of open space for swimming, so make sure you have more room than your average goldfish needs. This species is an omnivore in its natural habitat, meaning it eats meaty foods like brine shrimp and algae.

Lemon oscars tank mates

You can keep lemon oscars with other characins, catfish, dwarf cichlids, silver dollars (Metynnis argenteus), gouramis, angelfish, and other similar-sized tropical fish. However, you should avoid keeping them with larger or more aggressive fish as they can be eaten by more aggressive species. They may also be too small to properly defend themselves against larger tankmates.

Lemon oscar breeding

lemon oscar

Lemon Oscars are by far one of the easiest cichlids to breed in captivity. Spawning usually occurs on a flat rock. This is one of the very few species that are known to frequently eat their own eggs. Sometimes, it seems as if they almost prefer them over live foods. The female will release up to 300 eggs at a time; these eggs will be guarded by both parents.

They will remain with their fry for about two weeks after hatching before releasing them into open water. Newly hatched fry should be fed micro-foods such as rotifers or brine shrimp nauplii, because larger food items can become lodged in their throats, which can lead to complications for the young fish.

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Once they have reached 1’’ – 2’’, they should be moved to smaller tanks with more current; this will help prevent swim bladder disease (SBD). Swim bladder disease is when gas builds up in one section of a fish’s swim bladder; causing erratic swimming patterns. If allowed to progress long enough, it can eventually cause death, so constant monitoring is necessary to prevent any injury caused by SBD.

Are Lemon oscars aggressive or peaceful?

The lemon oscar is a generally peaceful fish, but it has been known to defend its territory when there are multiple oscars in one tank. However, they rarely fight with their own kind; they’re more likely to squabble with other types of fish than members of their own species.

Lemon oscars care

lemon oscar

Lemon oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) are one of several popular aquarium fish known as archers because they continuously shoot streams of water from their mouths. Their behavior is captivating to watch, but it’s not too difficult to mimic in a home tank setting. To do so, you need a moderately-sized tank with about two feet of swimming room for each lemon oscar.

The filtration system should be strong enough to support many plants; hardy species like Java fern and java moss will also provide excellent cover for lemon oscars when they get territorial with other members of their species.

What do Lemon oscars eat?

Lemon oscars are omnivores; therefore, they will eat meaty foods such as brine shrimp, earthworms, and even some vegetation. It is recommended that you do not overfeed your fish as it can cause an excessive build-up of waste in your aquarium which may lead to unwanted diseases within your fish.

Fish can be fed once or twice per day with appropriately sized food items depending on their age, size, and appetite. In terms of their meals, it is best to feed them krill, beef heart (chopped), beef liver (chopped),  , or chopped shellfish either every other day or every two days.

Water parameters

lemon oscar

The ideal water should have a ph of 6.5-7.0; Temperature 18-25 degrees Celsius (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit); Carbonate hardness (dKH): 6 – 14°; General hardness (dGH): 4 – 10°. These should be adjusted to suit your fish’s requirements as it is essential for its overall health, development, and growth.

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Lemon oscars lifespan

This species can live up to 20 years with good care

Parasites and diseases

Treatment for fish diseases varies. Because some illnesses can be treated with antibiotics (like Finrot) while others cannot, it’s important to research treatment options carefully before administering medication to your pet fish.

Often you can treat certain ailments at home, such as black spot disease, red spot disease, ich, and other protozoan infections by adding salt to your tank and changing the water regularly. However, once an infection takes hold in a lemon oscar’s delicate skin and sensitive gills, professional care will likely be required.


Lemon oscars are susceptible to predators, such as piranhas, cichlids, red-tailed sharks, and even large loaches. Keep an eye out for any fish that may prey on your oscar. If you already have an aquarium set up with predator fish or other aggressive species present in your tank, it is best to wait until they are gone before introducing your new fish.

The exception to this rule would be cory cats. They are known scavengers and will not harm your lemon oscar when properly introduced into the same tank. Although, there have been reported instances of male cory cats attacking females of their own kind; therefore, if you decide to house a female goldfish with two male cories, be prepared for lots of drama!

Do Lemon oscars make good pets?

Yes. Lemon Oscars make a good aquarium fish for experienced aquarists. They are generally hardy, peaceful, and very interesting to watch. In order to keep them, one needs to make sure they have room to swim in their aquarium, as well as plenty of hiding places so they feel safe from predators.

They will require regular water changes in an appropriately sized tank that are kept clean of waste at all times.