Oscar Fish Prices 2024: Purchase Cost, Supplies, Food, and More!

Written by Sarah Psaradelis
Updated: September 13, 2023
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The Oscar fish (Astronotus ocellatus) is a species of cichlid that originates from the warm South American waters. They are sometimes referred to as velvet or marbled cichlids, but the name Oscar fish is most commonly used.

These tropical freshwater fish can be found in the aquarium pet trade, where they make lovely additions to very large aquariums. Oscars are well-known for their intelligence, large size, and dog-like behaviors, which has increased their popularity as pets.

This article will guide you through the expected costs and considerations of buying an Oscar fish.

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The Oscar Fish’s Price Range: How Much Do They Cost?

Oscar fish can range in price, with some varieties being more expensive than others.

The average price for Oscar fish is around $10 to $40 from pet stores. That is the expected price for the common varieties of juvenile Oscars. You are likely going to pay more for an adult or rare Oscar, because of their availability and size. The rare varieties of Oscar fish can be priced as high as $200, but most Oscar fish aren’t very expensive.

There are generally four places you can choose to purchase an Oscar fish from.

  • Pet stores.
  • Breeders.
  • Online retailers.
  • Buy and sell websites.

Pet stores and online retailers are the most popular options that people use to purchase their Oscars. You can often find Oscars being sold for a discounted price at those places, which can save you some money.

Keep in mind that reputable fish breeders may sell their Oscars for a higher price than certain pet stores or online retailers. This is primarily because they might charge more for the quality and health of their stock. Oscar fish breeders are also more likely to sell the rarer varieties of Oscars that can cost a couple hundred dollars.

Variety of Oscar FishCost
Tiger Oscar:$10 to $45
Albino Oscar:$30 to $150
Red Oscar:$10 to $50
Lemon Oscar:$20 to $80
Blue Oscar:$30 to $150
Black Oscar:$20 to $60
Veil Tail Oscar:$30 to $120
Snow-White Oscar:$20 to $60
Copper Oscar:$25 to $60

Factors Affecting an Oscar Fish’s Price

There are several factors that can affect the price of an Oscar fish. This includes the fish’s rarity, size, age, and fin type which we discuss more in-depth below.

Rarity

Certain varieties of Oscar fish are rarer than others. This will affect their price since common varieties of Oscars are usually lower in price than the rarer ones. Oscar fish can be found in many different colors and patterns, with tiger, red, and albino being the most common. The green, blue, and snow-white Oscar fish are considered to be the rarer varieties. The tiger Oscar is often the most inexpensive out of all the varieties because they are common and widely available.

Size

Most Oscars reach an adult size between 10 to 15 inches. They are considered large aquarium fish, and it is one of the main reasons they need to be kept in big tanks.

Tiger Oscar

The tiger variety is perhaps the most common of the Oscars. They can reach up to 15 inches as adults.

©letspicsit/Shutterstock.com

When purchasing an Oscar, you will notice that the juveniles (usually under 6 inches) are lower in price than the fully grown adults. This is because raising Oscars into adulthood is challenging and can take a few years. They are less vulnerable as an adult since the breeder raised them till their full size, which makes them more valuable.

Age

The age of an Oscar fish can influence their cost, especially for very young or very old Oscars. They have an average lifespan of around 10 to 12 years. Young Oscars below one-year-old are typically cheaper than mature Oscars older than two years. However, if the Oscar is already in its later stage of life above six to eight years, they may cost less. This is simply because the Oscar is guaranteed to live much longer and might be too old to breed.

Furthermore, adult Oscars mature at around one to two years old and can be used for breeding purposes. This increases their cost because potential owners can breed them and make money by selling and breeding them without having to raise them into adulthood.  

Fin Type

Although most Oscars have standard short fins, the veil tail variety has long and flowing fins. They are a striking variety of Oscar with delicate and thread-like fins. They are rarer than standard fin varieties, so they will cost more regardless of their coloration.

Purchase Considerations

Albino Oscar

These fish may turn into interior designers in their tanks, rearranging the rocks and décor to their liking.

©Santhosh Varghese/Shutterstock.com

Before purchasing an Oscar fish, it’s important to consider whether you can care for these fish properly. In comparison to other types of aquarium fish, Oscars can be slightly more challenging to care for. They are not the best choice for community aquariums because of their compatibility issues, nor are they good additions to small aquariums.

Oscar fish are not a first choice for beginner aquarists, and they are better suited for more experienced fish keepers.

Tank and Setup

Oscars have the opportunity to grow very large, which means that they require a spacious tank. They are not suited for bowls, vases, and any small aquaria under 55 gallons in size. Most adult Oscars will need to be kept in a 75-gallon fish tank, with 120 gallons being ideal for a pair. Their tank should have more horizontal swim space rather than vertical. A standard rectangular fish tank is recommended for these fish. Most large aquariums over 55 gallons in size can be pricey. You can expect to pay between $150 to $900 for a large aquarium without a stand. This price can vary depending on where you purchase the tank from.

Their tank should be equipped with an aquarium heater as they are tropical fish. They also need a powerful filter to run in their tank and keep the water aerated, clean, and moving to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.

You do not need to keep them in a planted tank or with a substrate, although many Oscar fish keepers prefer the naturalistic look this setup offers. Oscars are not very fussy about the décor in their tank, but they do appreciate some driftwood, plants, and some hiding spots. Juvenile Oscars feel safer if they have a rock formation or driftwood to hide behind, but the adults are not too picky about that.

Diet

Oscars are carnivores and their staple diet should consist of animal-based foods like crustaceans, worms, small fish, and even insects. You will need to feed Oscars a pellet or flake food formulated for large carnivorous fish alongside live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, crickets, and snails.  

Most Oscar fish don’t thrive on a diet consisting purely of pellets or flakes. Although they do offer Oscars the vitamins and minerals, they need to stay healthy, they rarely have enough of the varied protein that Oscars love.

Compatibility

An oscar swimming in an aquarium

Oscars are well known for being aggressive aquarium fish.

©elpashtetto/Shutterstock.com

If you are looking to keep Oscars in a community aquarium, they are not a very good choice. Oscars thrive in a species-specific tank and usually do not tolerate other fish or invertebrates in their space. They will eat any fish, snails, or shrimp that they can fit into their mouths. Oscars can also bully other fish by nipping at their fins or chasing them around the tank.

Also, Oscars already need pretty big fish tanks. If you were to keep them with other fish, the tank would need to support each species of fish you are keeping with their size being taken into consideration.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 75° – 80° Fahrenheit (23° – 27° Celsius)  
  • pH range: 6.0 – 8.0
  • Water hardness: 90 – 357 ppm
  • Ammonia level: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite level: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate level: Below 20 ppm

Oscars are freshwater fish that need to be kept in tropical aquariums. A heater is necessary to keep their water temperature warm since cold water is stressful for Oscars. If you were to keep Oscars in a water temperature out of their ideal range, they are going to be stressed and more susceptible to disease. Their metabolism functions best in warm water, so be sure to keep the water temperature within the ideal range.

Water quality is incredibly important for the Oscars. They do not tolerate traces of ammonia or nitrite in their water, with the safest level being 0 ppm. However, they can handle nitrates up to 20 ppm before a water change is due.

You will need to cycle your Oscars tank before you put them inside it, otherwise, you will be faced with a very sick fish that could die from ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

Cost of Oscar Fish Supplies

The initial cost of Oscar fish supplies can be pricey. However, once you have the main supplies like the tank, heater, filter, and cleaning supplies, you probably won’t have to purchase them again. The ongoing or monthly costs for Oscar fish are relatively low, and you are more likely to spend more money maintaining the aquarium rather than food for your Oscar fish.

They do not necessarily need veterinary care, and most medications for Oscars can be purchased from pet stores or online retailers. Fish medications can range in price depending on what they are treating, but usually cost around $10 to $40.

SuppliesCost
Large fish tank:$150 to $900
Aquarium heater:$10 to $20
Filter:$10 to $45
Net:$1 to $5
Lighting:$25 to $40
Substrate:$3 to $15
Plants or décor:$20 to $50
Water treatments:$2 to $20
Bucket (5 gallons):$3 to $18
Siphon/gravel vacuum:$8 to $20
Food:$5 to $15

Overall, you can expect to spend between $240 to $1,150 on the supplies and tank for an Oscar fish. Most of the supplies (including the tank) will be an initial cost. The rest of the supplies, like food and water treatments, will be an ongoing cost.

Reputable Oscar Fish Resources and Platforms

If you are ready to purchase and care for an Oscar fish, we highly recommend doing more research into their care needs.

We have compiled a list of resources and platforms you can use to learn more about Oscars and their tank conditions.

Alternatively, you can continue checking out the latest posts on aquariums, fish, and Oscars on our website.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for a large fish available in several different varieties, an Oscar fish is a good choice. These intelligent fish can be on the more aggressive side, so they are a poor choice for community aquariums. Caring for an Oscar fish involves feeding a carnivorous diet, maintaining and cycling the aquarium, and ensuring the water parameters are within ideal ranges.

While most Oscar fish are not expensive, their tank and supplies can be. However, the initial costs are much higher than the ongoing costs. You can expect to spend around $20 to $50 for an Oscar fish per month, and around $200 to $400 annually.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © weter 777/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

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