Oscars and Cichlids: Can They Live Harmoniously Together?




Oscars and Cichlids

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Oscars and cichlids are both beautiful species of fish, so much so that many people think they’ll look great in a tank together – but this isn’t always a wise choice.

Due to the temperament of some species of these fish and the water parameters recommended for different species, it can be very difficult to know which can live together and which can’t.

This article will explore some commonly queried pairings – can they live together? Or can they not? We also discuss care tips for both species!

Can You Put Tiger Oscars With Cichlids?

Okay, you’re probably not going to love this answer very much, but… It depends…

Various species of cichlids can be paired comfortably with Tiger Oscars. These include:

All of these species are suitable to be housed with Tiger Oscars as they require similar water parameters and are of a more docile temperament; it’s not likely that any of these breeds will end up challenging your Oscar to a fight!

They’re all also quite large, so the phrase ‘pick on someone your own size’ comes into play here. Oftentimes, like any bully, they won’t; instead, they prefer to pick on the small guys. So, in this case, their size is their savior.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Live With Oscars?

There is a lot of conflicting information surrounding this question online. But allow me to summarise: Just because the Red Devil cichlid can live with an Oscar, it doesn’t mean they should live together.

Whilst these two require the same water parameters and can sometimes get along in the same tank together, they’re both highly territorial and temperamental.

When housed together, these aggressive fish can become quite a threat to one another if they decide to get nasty – so housing them together is only a good idea if you:

  1. Have a tank big enough! And…
  2. Are highly experienced in keeping large, aggressive fish!

Do Oscars Eat Cichlids?

Oscars do not eat cichlids. Although they’re a predatory species, they prey on smaller fish that can easily fit into their mouths.

While Oscars may fight with cichlids, and sometimes even kill them, they do this as a form of aggression over territorial disputes and to assert dominance over the other within their home – not because they see them as a meal.

Cichlid Care Tips

Though there are many types of cichlids, each one with various care requirements. For this section of the article, we will focus care recommendations on the most common species – The African cichlid.

Bumblebee Cichlid

If you’re buying a cichlid of a different species, fully research that type of fish before bringing it home and potentially adding it to an aquarium setup that may not be suitable for them.


In order to prevent overfeeding, cichlids should be given no more food than they can eat within 3 minutes twice a day. This helps to reduce waste and keep the tank clean.

As a solid base for your fish, you’ll want to provide them with a varied diet. Some cichlids are insectivores, some are herbivores, and some are omnivores, so variation is the key to keeping all of them happy.

Cichlids enjoy a combination of small fish, fish meat, tubifex worms, insects, pellets, frozen foods, brine shrimp, and some fruits and vegetables.


Although they’re both species of cichlids, African cichlids and South American cichlids should not be kept together.

These species, although they might look beautiful together in the same tank, require very different care and will likely be very aggressive with one another, leading to fights, injury, and possibly even death.

Small fish, too, should be avoided when considering tank mates for your cichlids, as these may be small enough to become a target, making them an easy meal for a fish as big as a cichlid!

To ensure a beautiful tank full of life (life being the key word here – we don’t want anyone getting eaten!) Large bottom-feeders are considered ideal tank mates as they will be big enough to defend themselves and will likely be left alone. One good pairing is an African catfish with African cichlids.

Cichlids, by nature, though, are very aggressive fish. You’ll also want to avoid any fish which may be defenseless, such as those that enjoy swimming in open waters and any that are too small.

The safest option will always be a species-only tank. It may make things look a little less exciting, but it is far better in ensuring no one gets hurt.

Many owners prefer this as it means they don’t need to constantly watch their fish for attacks or rising levels of aggression.

Tank Size

When buying cichlids, most people tend to adopt them as juveniles. You should always keep this in mind. However, keep in mind the size they will grow to as an adult, and be sure to get a tank suitable for this no matter the age at which you buy your new pets.

Though cichlids can live in a 30-gallon tank, a 50-gallon is recommended for true happiness, giving them enough space to feel free and explore. Be sure to base this on the breed you buy, though, as some species of cichlids require a larger tank.

The more space you have in your cichlid tank, the better. Extra space means your fish can keep out of the way of one another more easily, and as an aggressive species, this means they’ll be less likely to fight.

Tank Parameters

To ensure healthy tank conditions for your fish, it should be standard to test your water regularly using a water level test kit.

These are crucial for monitoring the conditions of the water in your tank to prevent them from getting out of control and making your fish sick.

In terms of temperature, the need varies by species. However, for African cichlids, it’s fairly flexible and can range between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cichlids typically reside in hard water, depending on the species and the exact pH levels they can tolerate. However, with most, it is a range of around 6.5 to 8.5.

Oscar Care Tips

Oscars and Cichlids


Oscars are predatory fish with natural hunting instincts, so it’s best to feed them live food if possible, as they will enjoy catching and chasing it.

This replicates how they feed in their natural habitat and helps increase mental stimulation, so larvae and small fish are a good choice.

They do, however, require a varied diet. They’re an omnivorous, opportunistic species that will pretty much eat anything they come across – this highly varied diet is something you should seek to replicate in a home aquarium.

You can offer a combination of store-bought pellets/flakes, live or frozen foods, including feeder fish, brine shrimp, and daphnia, and plant-based foods such as algae wafers or some vegetables.

Be sure not to overfeed your fish. Oscars should eat two or three times per day, eating only as much food as they can consume within two minutes.


If you’re hoping to house your Oscars as part of a community tank, let me just start by saying it’s probably not the best idea.

If you must house them with other fish, you should choose large, passive species that won’t get in the way of your Oscars!

Obviously, these fish are surrounded by various other species in the wild. Still, tensions can easily rise within the confines of a tank, leading to fights, aggression, bullying, and in some cases, even death.

It’s recommended to house Oscars alone to avoid any bad vibes in your tank. However, if you wish to find them a suitable tank mate, it could be a bit of a challenge. Some suitable tank mates may include:

Small fish or invertebrates, such as shrimp or crabs, should be avoided altogether, as these may become food rather than friends for your Oscar.

Housing Oscars in a species-only tank is possible, but when keeping them together, you’ll want to be certain there’s enough space in the tank for them all to live happily.

Tank Size

For the majority of Oscars, a tank size of a minimum of 25 gallons is recommended, although bigger tanks are recommended for your fish to live happily.

If housing more than one in the tank, you’ll want to ensure an aquarium size of at least 50 gallons.

It’s also important to replicate their natural habitat in the tank, with some debris and vegetation (Java fern and Java moss are highly recommended) and some rocks/caves to explore and hide amongst.

A sandy substrate is essential as Oscars love to dig and rearrange their surroundings, so any plants in the tank should be hardy and firmly rooted, and any decorations should be firmly fixed.

Tank Parameters

Not only should your Oscars have enough space in the tank to swim around and have their own territories, but the water temperature and pH are also incredibly important in ensuring your fish is kept happy and healthy.

These parameters vary from species to species, so be sure you thoroughly research what your particular Oscar needs.

That said, no Oscar is able to survive in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to maintain a consistent and warm temperature in the tank at all times.

A consistent pH is also important. Like with temperature, different Oscar breeds have different ranges which they can tolerate. Most Oscars prefer a neutral pH and are not used to acidic or alkaline waters.

All in all, Oscars and cichlids are both beautiful and unique fish, and despite how much you think they would look great in a tank together, you should only attempt this if you’re certain the species are compatible, and if you’re familiar with caring for species of fish with an aggressive nature.

They both require a lot of care and a large place to live, so if you’re not a total aquarium enthusiast, avoid keeping either species.

If you are, they’re both more than worth it, and owning either of these fish or both can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

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