Why does my Oscar fish lay on the bottom?

Do you have an Oscar fish that lays on the bottom of the tank sometimes? Does your Oscar fish seem to sleep on the bottom? Does your Oscar pout in the corner if you have to mess with stuff inside the tank? Why does my Oscar fish lay on the bottom? If you’ve ever asked any of those questions, we’ve got some answers for you.

Oscar_cichlid

For starters it is not a cause for concern and in most cases this is perfectly normal. The Oscar fish is quite temperamental and sometimes they just pout. Mine will lay in the corner if I have to move stuff inside the tank, almost every time. If you leave for a few minutes and come back, he is usually back up and swimming around. If your Oscar lays on the bottom for days on end this could be the sign of a problem though, so check your water parameters if that is the case.

It is not uncommon for them to rest on the bottom from time to time. They may do it because of stress, it is really hard to say. Mine will sometimes take a bit of a rest on the bottom after a big feeding session as well. So, many factors can contribute to an Oscar resting on the bottom but in most cases it is nothing to worry about. As long as it isn’t for days on end and the fish is still active and eating an occasional rest on the bottom is not cause for concern. If you are concerned it doesn’t hurt to run a water test to make sure all the parameters are good, as long as they are your Oscar should live a long and healthy life.

27 Comments

  • Kaye says:

    I have a 14inch tiger Oscar who is about 4 years old. He has a 15 pleco as a tank make. They have been together since they were fry. I have a 55 gal and I recentley added a 6 inch jack dempsey. My Oscar is laying around like he is lathargic. What do I do?

    • TankTerrors says:

      I would suggest removing the Jack Dempsey and getting it a separate tank if possible. That tank was already well over the limit with a full sized Oscar and large Pleco. If you want to keep the JD with them then I suggest no smaller than a 125 gallon for that trio due to the large waste load all 3 fish produce. You must keep up on water changes and such pretty well if you’ve managed to grow an Oscar that big in a 55 gallon, so just keep doing water changes for the time being because it will foul up fast with those Monsters.

      The JD can be aggressive (and have teeth) and Oscars can be passive, so he is probably sulking and pouting because of the new tank-mate in the already cramped space who may or may not be picking on him. If you can get the JD his own tank, a 6″ guy would be alright in even a 20 gallon as long as it wasn’t permanent. Then you could give him the 55 gallon and upgrade the Oscar tank. Anytime I moved my Oscar or changed something he would pout but as soon as he got put back in my old 200 gallon he’d perk right back up. They don’t like change as odd as it seems, good luck. Hope this helps.

      Oh and you can find cheap tanks on Craigslist by the way, usually some careful looking can net you a tank for around $1-2 per gallon – so you can get a 100+ gallon for under $200 and many times they’ll include filters and stuff.

  • my oscar fish is laying on the bottom he has been doing it for two days now and i took a look at the water what do i do

    • TankTerrors says:

      I would do a 50% water change even if it tests out fine. If you’ve added any other fish or anything else, that could also be the cause. They get stressed out easily as tough as they seem.

  • i have a nother oscar fish in the with my other oscar fish could that be the reason why he is laying at the bottom of the tank

  • he is getting bullied by the other oscar

    • TankTerrors says:

      Then that is why he is laying on the bottom. You either need to put them in separate tanks or at the very least put a divider in there to keep them apart. Those are really the only solutions aside from getting rid of one of them to a friend or fish store.

  • i have dividers but there all to small

  • i have other tanks but all my filters are all broken and my friends don’t want the other one and the pet store won’t take the other oscar and i don’t have a enough money to buy a new filter what do i do

    • TankTerrors says:

      Buy some cheap acrylic at a home improvement store and make a divider out of it. Smaller thin sheets can be bought very cheap. You can also use white plastic egg crate at home improvement stores, it is also known as light diffusing panel for even cheaper.

  • Zak Lucous says:

    How can I get my Oscar fish to move? He is no longer than 3 inches and I have him in a 45 gal fish tank that has been filtering for 6 weeks

    • TankTerrors says:

      If he is laying on the bottom he is either stressed or the water quality isn’t up to par. Do a water test and change if needed. If that doesn’t help then perhaps another fish is bullying it. It could also be stress from a recent move.

  • Gagan says:

    I ve a white oscar one year old wid 3black sharks also 1 year old.. From past 3 months its layin on the bottom 24 hours.. Only comes up whn i feed.. Its a v beautiful fish i dont want to let it die.. I dont find any sign of fungus infection on it.. My aquarium is 3 feets by 2 n half feets a standard size.. Pls suggest me somethng

    • TankTerrors says:

      What gallon size is your tank? What is the depth from the front to back? It sounds on the small side for an Oscar. I would suggest a large water change followed by a water test. Make sure there is no Ammonia, Nitrite, and less than 10ppm Nitrate. If there is do daily water changes until those readings are achieved. They can be moody fish but often times are stressed by poor water quality. It is a good sign he is eating but he shouldn’t lie on the bottom all the time so something is likely wrong or it is stressed from something. Sometimes they can be sick with no external signs though. Also make sure the light cycle is consistent with a timer, do not leave them on all the time. Best of luck with your Oscar.

  • Thiare says:

    Im concerned my is belly up but still breathing and swims but belly up! What should i do? He looks dead as soon as i move him to place him right side up he goes back down :(

    • TankTerrors says:

      You could try doing water changes to make sure the water is perfectly clean. Aside from that the symptoms you have mentioned are usually a very bad sign. Sometimes a fish can make it through but often times going belly up is a sign that they have a serious problem. Best of luck with your Oscar.

  • Pebbles says:

    Please help I have a 5in oscar had him since april 1 2014 started out great shy for a about 3 days he was about 1 1/2in when I got him so he’s been growing nicely would come to front of the tank when approached an then about a month ago he started hiding all the time he acts very scared now I have to shake the food now to get him to come out an he doesn’t eat nearly as much as he was I feed him twice a day he’s in a 75 gal with a Raphael catfish that only comes out when it’s pitch black in the room my levels are good ph 7, amo 0, nitrites 0. Nitrates 15 the only thing that I can think of is i got some pond snails from the lfs here an put them in the tank for the assassin snail that was in the tank he ate most of them before they hit the bottom an a few days later I notice little white things on the glass which I have since found out are limpet snails an I don’t know how to get rid of them an they are breeding badly. Oh an my temp is 80 an I do wkly 50% wc. Please any help would be great.

    • TankTerrors says:

      It could be the snails doing something to the water, but it’s hard to say for sure. If the water reading is still good, then he may just be moody. I don’t know much about snails but you may want to check out some fish forums or snail forums to see if they release anything into the water. The tank size should be good. Is the lighting on a schedule? If not try to keep it on a timer so it is consistent. Good luck. A water change never hurts though, so if all else fails try that.

  • Pebbles says:

    I turn his light on at 10 and off at 830 pm. Is that to long?? I have searched an everyone says those snails are beneficial to the tank I hate them personally they make my glass look dirty but I don’t want to use chemicals to get rid of them. Thanks so much for the help hopefully he will come around.

  • Pebbles says:

    Ok I did some more test today an my ammonia is now 0.25 ph ,nitrite , nitrate had no change what can I do?? Thanks for your help

    • TankTerrors says:

      In that case you will need to get a water change done to bring the ammonia down. Adding some Prime water conditioner will help make the ammonia less toxic in the meantime. It appears you tank is either still cycling or going thru a mini cycle. If you washed your filters recently and used tap water instead of tank water you possibly killed most of the beneficial bacteria that convert ammonia into less harmful nitrates. It will catch back up eventually but just watch ammonia levels in the meantime.

  • Pebbles says:

    Ok I’ll do a 50% wc now I use prime all the time I do rinse the bio balls an ceramics in the tap water never really thought about that being bad would it be ok to use distilled water. I use the syphon that attaches to the faucet so my tank water goes down the drain. Thanks again

    • TankTerrors says:

      You could use distilled (you can use anything really as long as it doesn’t have chlorine like tap water does) – or another option is to just scoop out a few large cupfuls from the tank and use that water to rinse the bio balls in a bucket.

  • Pebbles says:

    Ok thanks for the help

  • Avnit says:

    I have two a black oscar.One Just come up while i am serving food to fishes.Rest time she comes up or swims very rarely.The second oscar swims rarely well.Is there is any problem with the one that dosent swim.

  • Avnit says:

    This black oscar is in good condition doest not have any white spot and is alive from small age but dosent swim to much.

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