Can You Keep Angelfish With Oscars? It’s a fun question, because the answer is complicated. But, if you’re in a rush and need a quick and simple answer: oscars and angelfish don’t make great tank mates. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to keep them together, in harmony. So, in this article we’re going to cover what makes it complicated and, hopefully, it’ll help you come to a tank mate decision.
Angelfish & Oscars Together: AGGRESSION!
Both oscars and angelfish are cichlids. They’re also both South American cichlids from the Amazon basin. This is significant because, generally, Amazonian cichlids are less aggressive than their Central American and African counterparts.
Typically oscars are seen as the more aggressive between the two. However, when it comes to cichlids—even the supposedly peaceful ones—no two fish are the same. They’re more intelligent than a lot of fish, and complexity comes with that intelligence. So this means that one oscar might the be chillest character in your large community tank, whereas one angelfish might be a total terror in your medium community tank.
Therefore, it’s generally true that oscars might be too boisterous for their more delicate cousins, freshwater angelfish. However, whenever you mix cichlids with other fish, care and attention is required. This means that you need to spend extra time watching your fish to get a feeling for their personalities and how they interact. Otherwise, you’ll wake up one morning to find some casualties!
Size Difference Between Oscars & Angelfish
Angelfish can grow bigger than a lot of people realize, but they’re still significantly smaller than a fully grown oscars.
But, it’s not just that oscars grow longer than angelfish. They’re also much more robust; by this I mean that oscars are very chunky and stout fish. Whereas angelfish are narrow and quite delicate. Furthermore, oscars can really throw their weight around, i.e. they can charge other fish really fast. While angelfish are generally slower moving and more graceful.
So, if you want to keep angelfish with an oscar, then you’ll need to consider ways to keep the angelfish safe. For example, angelfish are laterally compressed. This means that their bodies are very thin. Therefore, angelfish can slot into narrow gaps whereas an oscar would not be able to do so. Consider using decoration with skinny gaps that the angelfish can hide between if the oscar chases them.
But, even then, you have to be aware that a full grown oscar could really hurt or kill angelfish easily if it felt like it. This is probably the main reason I say that, generally, oscars and angelfish don’t make excellent tank mates.
Growth Rate Discrepancies Between Oscars & Angelfish
It’s not just that oscars are much bigger than angelfish, it’s also that they grow faster. In fact, oscars are some of the fastest growing fish I’ve ever kept. They will outpace your angelfish and fast become a threat to their safety.
Therefore, I’d recommend getting your angelfish first and growing them out to their maximum sizes before considering purchasing an oscar as a tank mate for them. Furthermore, when you do pick out your oscar, grab the youngest specimen you can in order to raise it with the angelfish as much as possible.
Feeding Problems When Keeping Oscars & Angelfish Together
As I mentioned above, oscars are fast and rambunctious. While angelfish are slower and more graceful. This means that when feeding time comes, your angelfish will likely have to wait until your oscar is full before they’ll get access to any food.
So, again, this means if you want to try keeping angelfish and oscars together, you’ll have to put the observation time in. When feeding your fish pay extra close attention to make sure that all your fish are getting the food that they need.
Can Oscars & Angelfish Eat The Same Food?
Looking at oscars and angelfish it’s easy to see that their diets are different because their mouths are different. Oscars have large, upturned mouths. Whereas angelfish have smaller, forward facing mouths.
This means that oscars like to eat larger things from the surface of the water (i.e. insects that live on or fall onto the surface). They will also eat small fish from time-to-time. Fruit that falls from overhanging trees has also been suggested as part of their natural diet. This is why oscars require vitamin C in their food!
Angelfish, on the other hand, like to eat small, mid-water fare, i.e. smaller insect larvae, other crustaceans and even small fish (a large angelfish will happily devour a small neon tetra).
While their natural diets are different, you’ll notice one key similarity: they both eat invertebrates. This is helpful because it means, overall, their dietary requirements are similar enough that they can share food. For example, Hikari’s cichlid pellets (affiliate link) are a good option. So too are Fluval excellent Bug Bites (affiliate link).
However, while there is crossover between their nutrition requirements, there isn’t crossover when it comes to food size! Oscars have big mouths and can eat big pellets, whereas angelfish have small mouths and require smaller bite sizes. This means that if you want to keep angelfish and oscars together, then you’ll need to choose smaller food even if the oscar has to eat more of it to feel full!
Conclusion: Should You Keep Oscars & Angelfish Together?
While it is possible and lots of fishkeepers have done it, I wouldn’t recommend it. Keeping them together represents unnecessary for both you, as the fishkeeper, and the fish, as your pets. By this I mean you will have to put in extra work to make sure the fish get along. While, at the same time, your angelfish will likely lead a stressful life because of the presence of a large, brutish fish in their presence.
If you do decide to try it, then make sure you have a backup plan.
This means that you need an extra aquarium to separate the fish if needs be. The backup aquarium must be fully cycled and ready to go in case your oscar injures your angelfish (or vice versa! Stranger things have happened!)
Alternatively, you should be prepared to rehome the fish if it doesn’t work out. Fish can be returned to a fish store. When returning a fish to a fish store, sometimes you can receive store credit. However, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it because both oscars and angelfish are common fish in the aquarium hobby. Furthermore, large oscars can be viewed as burdensome fish because of their tank size requirements.