Lemon oscar stats infographicThe Lemon Oscar is relative of the infamously aggressive Cichlids; however, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this brightly colored fish. The Lemon Oscar is the perfect fish for experienced aquarists who want to build an aquascape around an active and smart species.

In this article, you will learn all about the Lemon Oscar’s background, as well as what it needs in terms of an ideal home, a balanced diet, and a happy aquarium life.

What Is a Lemon Oscar?

The Lemon Oscar is a large, freshwater fish that is known for its predatory and aggressive nature. Its entire body comes in a magnificent shade of bright yellow, making it an immediate eye-catcher in almost any aquarium. It’s unique due to its highly intelligent and responsive to its owners.

Lemon Oscar Stats

Before we move on to learning about how to care for the Lemon Oscar, you should first familiarize yourself with this fish’s commonly asked for facts and statistics.

Common Name Lemon Oscar
Scientific Name Astronotus Ocellatus
Care Level Moderate to Difficult
Average Lifespan 15 to 20 years
Maximum Size 10 to 12 inches
Diet Carnivorous
Breeding Type Egg-layer
Minimum Tank Size 120 gallons

In addition to the Lemon Oscar’s facts and stats, you should also take a look at this fish’s taxonomic details as this can tell you a lot about its background and relatives.

Order: Perciformes
Suborder Labroidae
Family Cichlidae
Genera Astronotus
Species Astronotus Ocellatus

It must be mentioned that only the scientific community refers to the Lemon Oscar as the Astronotus Ocellatus. On the other hand, the fishkeeping community may sometimes refer to the Lemon Oscar using the names shared by other Oscars and Cichlids; some examples of these names are Velvet Cichlid and Tiger Oscar.

The Sunshine Lemon Oscar that rarely appears in the wild and must be bred under highly selective conditions. Due to their rarity, the Lemon Oscar costs about $48 to $90 each, depending on the fish’s size, age, and condition upon purchase. The price of a Lemon Oscar may even be higher than that if the fish store you visit only has a limited quantity of this beautiful fish.

Lemon Oscar Care

There are a lot of things you need to know when it comes to the proper care of your Lemon Oscar. In this section, you will learn how to set up your aquarium for a Lemon Oscar or two, how and what to feed it, and how to address any health issues you might encounter while caring for this fish.

– Diet

The Lemon Oscar is carnivorous by nature,it thrives on a protein-rich diet based on fresh or frozen food. Occasionally, it will accept commercial fish pellets and flakes, but these will likely not satiate your Lemon Oscar’s hunger and nutritional requirements.

Lemon oscar the vibrant and intelligent cichlid of freshwater tanksFeeding Lemon Oscar fish might be tricky for aquarists who have never had cared for a carnivorous fish before.

Hence, do your research on the kinds of Oscar-appropriate meaty food that you can source easily and reliably even before you add this bright fish to your aquarium.

You should feed Lemon Oscars based on their health condition and age. For instance, a full grown Lemon Oscar needs to be fed heavy meals once or twice daily. On the other hand, young Lemon Oscars may need small, frequent meals around two to three times a day.

Lemon Oscars prefer eating live food as they were designed to chase and hunt down their prey instead of simply waiting for morsels of food to break the water surface. Consider stocking up on live earthworms, bloodworms, or mealworms as the most economical choices of live food to keep near your aquarium. You may also want to maintain a small tank of small, live fish such as Goldfish and Guppies.

Additionally, keep some frozen food on hand for your Lemon Oscar. Having some frozen prawns and cut-up pieces of fish on hand will ensure that your Lemon Oscar receives its meals regularly even if you run out of living prey.

– Water Parameters

Aside from knowing what and how often to feed your Lemon Oscar, you also need to pay attention to its aquarium’s water parameters. Lemon Oscars come from a family of tropical fish, meaning they prefer a warmer temperature over a colder one. Take a look at the information table below to learn more about the Lemon Oscar water parameters you need to maintain in order to keep your vibrant fish happy and healthy.

Temperature 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Level 6.5 to 7.2
Water Hardness 12 to 15 dH
Light Level Low to Moderate
Substrate Sand or gravel

The Lemon Oscar is best suited for experienced fishkeepers who are ready to take on the challenge of caring for an energetic and boisterous fish that spends its time hunting down smaller fish or harassing its neighbors.

The ancestors of the Lemon Oscar, similar to many other Oscars and Cichlids, originally inhabited the diverse ecosystem of the South American river basins, specifically in the Amazon River. You should endeavor to mimic the qualities of the water in the aforementioned ecosystems in order to provide your Lemon Oscar with the best home possible.

– Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up a tank and furnishing it with plants or decor, you should know that Lemon Oscars have minimal needs. That is, so long as you maintain the right water parameters, your Lemon Oscar won’t mind if you do not have any kind of special lighting or complicated equipment in the tank.

You may or may not add tough, live plants to your aquascape as such flora may require increased lighting. Lemon Oscars fare well in dimly-lit tanks and may become stressed if they are exposed to a higher intensity of lighting than they are originally accustomed to.

Instead of including live plants in your aquarium, you might want to provide your Lemon Oscar with large rock caves and platforms scattered throughout the tank. These will give your Lemon Oscar places to explore and rest in should you ever need to increase the lighting or perform major water changes.

You should also have a strong water filter as Lemon Oscars prefer having a moderate to high water flow. This mimics their natural habitat and encourages the fish to move around a lot.

Last, but certainly not least, you should make it a point to provide your Lemon Oscar with at least 120 gallons of tank space. The Lemon Oscar is a big fish that can grow up to 18 inches in length; it will suffer in cramped spaces and will become highly aggressive if it is cooped in a small tank with other fish.

– Lifespan

The average Lemon Oscar lifespan is 15 years, but this fish can live up to 20 years if it is well-cared for and housed in an environment with consistent water parameters and an ample amount of food. Indeed, the Lemon Oscar is a hardy freshwater fish that will outlive most of the smaller, more delicate species you may have in your aquarium.

That said, you need to think about whether or not you are ready for the commitment and dedication it takes to ensure your Lemon Oscar lives a full and comfortable life.

– Common Diseases

Like their cousin Oscars and Cichlids, the Lemon Oscar is susceptible to a number of health conditions, namely Ich and Hole-in-the-head Disease. They may also be affected by parasitic or bacterial infections.

As mentioned previously, however, the Lemon Oscar is a resilient type of fish that usually enjoys robust health. The main reasons that a Lemon Oscar may fall ill are not due to its genetics or breeding and are instead mostly linked to the quality of its diet and the cleanliness of its surroundings.

– Ich

This is also called the White Spot Disease. Ich is mainly caused by the presence of a parasite named Ichthyophthrius Multifiliis. It is such a common parasite in tanks that most fish have developed a good immune response against it. In addition, Ich can be easily controlled in an environment that is always kept clean and filled with filtered water.

Why do Lemon Oscars get Ich? The answer lies in the condition of their immune system. Your Lemon Oscar will only develop Ich if its immune system is compromised. The latter can be caused by many things such as stress, poor tank conditions, and an unhealthy diet.

Furthermore, the best way to prevent and treat Ich is to perform water changes religiously, provide only the best and cleanest food possible, and ensure that your Lemon Oscar has enough space to keep it from being stressed.

– Hole-in-The-head Disease

Hole-in-the-head is another common disease shared by almost all Oscars and Cichlids alike. It can be alarming to find your Lemon Oscar with a pit or shallow crevice on the top of its head that keeps getting deeper as time passes. Hole-in-the-head is caused by the parasite known as Hexamita. As with Ich, Lemon Oscars will only suffer Hole-in-the-head disease if their immune system is unable to fend off the parasite.

Some aquarists also believe that Hole-in-the-head is caused by having a large amount of activated carbon in the aquarium, while others think that Lemon Oscars that succumb to this disease lack calcium and other minerals.

You can treat and prevent Hole-in-the-head disease by decreasing the amount of activated carbon you use in your aquarium, providing nutritional supplements, and performing major water changes as is necessary.

– Bacterial and Fungal Infections

If you notice that your Lemon Oscar appears weak or lacks an appetite for more than 48 hours, then it is possible that your fish has a sustained bacterial infection. On the other hand, if your Lemon Oscar has a fuzzy growth on its eyes, face, or anywhere on its body, it is possible that it is suffering from a fungal infection.

Moreover, bacteria and fungi are organisms that your fish will naturally encounter throughout its lifetime. However, if your Lemon Oscar has a weak immune system, then it will definitely have a more difficult time ridding itself of the infection compared to an Oscar that has a healthy body.

You can find water solutions for bacterial and fungal infections in most local fish stores. You may use these in conjunction with performing regular water changes while your Lemon Oscar is trying to overcome the infection. Providing healthy food and having an isolation tank ready for more severe cases will also help you in preventing the infection from spreading to other members of your aquarium.

Tank Mates

The Lemon Oscar does best when it lives alone in a large aquarium. However, if you insist on housing it with other fish, you should know which ones make for the best and worst tank mates.

– Ideal Tank Mates

The best tank mates for a Lemon Oscar are fish that are large, peaceful, or only slightly aggressive, and tolerant of the Lemon Oscar’s bursts of energy. You can house the Lemon Oscar with one or two Plecostomus, an Arowana, and even a few other Cichlids if you have a large enough tank for all of these big fish.

– Tank Mates To Avoid

On the other hand, avoid housing small and delicate fish like Minnows, Guppies, and Goldfish in the same tank as your Lemon Oscar. As you know, these fish will simply invite your Lemon Oscar to hunt them down. You should also avoid placing snails and small crustaceans in the same tank as your Lemon Oscar unless you want them to end up as a fish snack.


It usually comes as a surprise to aquarists that the Lemon Oscar is easy to breed in a home aquarium setup. The difficulty lies in getting a bonded pair of Lemon Oscars. If you are intent on breeding this kind of fish at home, you can either purchase a bonded pair of Lemon Oscars or take a group of six to eight juvenile Lemon Oscars and wait for them to grow and bond naturally.

– Pre Breeding Care

You will need to prepare a breeding tank for your Lemon Oscars. A mating pair will become highly aggressive and anxious if they are forced to spawn in a community tank. Provide a tank of at least 100 to 120 gallons in capacity, and then cycle the water thoroughly before introducing the breeding pair to the tank.

The breeding tank should have a fine sandy substrate as well as large, flat rocks on which the female Lemon Oscar can deposit her eggs.

Keep your breeding tank in a dim and quiet area of your house. Feed the breeding pair two to three times a day with protein-rich food. Furthermore, slowly increase the water temperature so that it reaches anywhere from 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The female will lay her eggs three to five hours after a successful mating, the eggs should then hatch after about 72 hours.

– Post Breeding Care

The parent Lemon Oscars will guard their fry by moving them to shallow pits or dugouts in the sandy substrate. At this point, continue feeding the parent Lemon Oscars as you normally would, and be sure to keep an eye on the water and tank parameters.

You may squeeze water from a sponge filter directly into the breeding tank as this contains some particles that the fry can feed on. Shift to feeding the fry cyclops, baby brine shrimp, and infusoria when they grow big enough to become free-swimming.

Once the Lemon Oscar fry starts to gain weight and grow to about one to two inches in length, you may return the parent Lemon Oscars to the main tank.


Lemon oscarThere’s certainly a lot to know about the beautiful Lemon Oscar. Here’s a quick recap of the key points we tackled in this article:

  • The Lemon Oscar is an aggressive and highly-intelligent freshwater fish.
  • It was selectively bred for its coloration, though it retains many of the physical traits and personality quirks of its relative Oscars and Cichlids.
  • This fish grows up to 18 inches in length and may live up to 20 years if given ample space, a proper diet, and appropriate care.
  • The Lemon Oscar is a hardy fish, but it can still suffer from diseases such as Ich, Hole-in-the-head, and other such infections if it is housed in a dirty environment.
  • You can breed Lemon Oscars easily at home if you have the necessary resources.

Now that you know these things about the Lemon Oscar, you should feel confident enough to care for one or two of these magnificent fish in your own aquascape.

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