The oscar is also known at the tiger oscar, velvet cichlid and marble cichlid… mostly to confuse its creditors. It is a species of fish that lives primarily in those parts of South America that don’t have any land in them. They weigh about three and a half pounds and can grow to eighteen inches. The oscar can keep growing after that, but it won’t get any longer or heavier. The oscar has a dozen dorsal spines which is why, according to most scientists, it doesn’t wear a hat. The fish also has three anal spines. This is why the average oscar can go through three or four dozen recliners in a lifetime.
Aside from being pointy, the oscar also has ocelli or spots resembling eyes. These spots might confuse predators into thinking that the oscar’s tail is its head. This is effective against piranha, which nip at the tails of fish; moreover, it allows the oscar to feign interest in something while reading the sports section at the same time. Some oscars have multiple eye-spots allowing the fish to impersonate a softball team all by itself. Some theorize that the oscar’s ocelli is used during mating, although I refuse to imagine how.
Oscars prefer slow-moving rivers, mostly because they like to remain in one spot for a while, but also because fast moving currents mess up their hair. As they loiter, the oscar enjoys sucking in insects as well as the occasional crustacean. They even consume other fish; but, I don’t know what happens when one of those fish has an eye-spot. My guess would be that the oscar reacts skeptically and takes a chomp. There are also reports that the oscar feigns death to attract prey; although other paleontologists think that he’s just doing it to gain sympathy…
Sexual maturity is reached at the age of one year. At this point the male, perhaps using his eye-spot somehow, attracts a female and persuades her to help him set up a spawning site. This site is usually built in shallow water, which insures that the site is not established in deep water. Then, thousands of eggs are laid and the couple protect them as if they were their own. In a few weeks, the adult oscars realize that their young are simply a bunch of fresh-water fish and go off to do something else; the young oscars find someplace to hide and try to grow ocelli as quickly as possible.
The oscar is native to South America; however, feral oscars are found in China, Australia and the United States. The word “feral” might give one an image of a vicious snarling creature that tips over garbage cans; but, the oscar is just a dumb-looking fish. They were simply taken to other places as aquarium fish—although why, I cannot say because they uproot plants and eat most of the other aquarium fish. In fact, of all the members of the animal kingdom, zoologists have determined that the oscar is the closest relative to the soccer hooligan. Perhaps their owners realized this and dumped them into the nearest brook.
All in all, the oscar is a fairly nondescript fish. Without the ocelli and the anal spines, it would probably be lumped in with a lot of other plain vanilla fish. As it is, it is barely deserving of the name Tiger Oscar.