Oscars are a cichlid species that originates from tropical South America, including the Amazon River basin.
In this guide, I’ll go over 11 different types of Oscar fish with you.
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Are The Different Types of Oscars Different Species?
They’re all that same species: Astronotus ocellatus.
All of the different colors and patterns that you see available in the aquarium hobby were selectively bred over many generations, similar to how wolves were selectively bred into the different varieties of dogs we have today.
11 Popular Types of Oscar Fish
1. Wild Oscar
Wild type oscars have been bred to stay true to the wild form of the fish, instead of attempting to change the fins, patterns or colors.
Their bodies are covered with a mottled pattern of dark gray and black. Each fish will develop a slightly different pattern as they mature.
The pattern on wild type oscars always reminded me of black and gray army camouflage. It helps to visually break up the lines of the fish to hide them from prey they want to ambush and predators that want to eat them.
At the base of their tails they have black spots that are rimmed with bright red.
This is an eyespot, a marking resembling an eye that can help to fool predators.
I have heard from other aquarists over the years that wild oscars are much more aggressive than other varieties, but I can’t definitively confirm this.
2. Tiger Oscar
Tiger oscars are the most common variety that you’ll see in the fish trade.
They have the same irregular pattern of a wild type oscar, but instead of just gray and black, they have large, irregularly shaped patches of bright red mixed in as well.
The amount of red varies widely among individual fish. Some may only have a few small patches of red, while others may be almost covered in it.
3. Black Tiger Oscar
This variety is much darker overall than the standard tiger oscar. The fish’s body and fins are almost completely solid black with small red-orange patches and spots.
In my opinion, the dark black color kind of makes them look a bit meaner than other color varieties. They aren’t actually, but there’s just something about a giant black fish that makes them look even more like big bruisers.
4. Lemon Oscar
Lemon oscars are a truly stunning fish. Their whole bodies are a solid bright neon yellow with just a little rim of white or gray along the trailing edges of their fins and tail.
They really stand out. There isn’t another bright yellow fish of that size in the freshwater aquarium trade that I know of.
This variety can be hard to track down. You might have to special order them from a breeder online, but they’re totally worth it!
5. Red Oscar
Red oscars are a much more uniform red color than tigers.
Usually, the head, back, tails and fins are solid black and the sides of the fish are covered in a large solid patch of red.
It’s also more of a true red whereas the tiger oscar is more of an orangish red.
6. Albino Oscar
Albino oscars are very striking fish. They are a bright white color that stands out even across a room.
Their sides are often covered with a spattering of orange spots that make them more interesting looking.
For me, a lot of albino animals look sort of weird because of the pink eyes. But albino oscars have never looked strange to me. Maybe it’s because regular oscars already have a red ring around their eyes, so there isn’t a drastic change there.
It really doesn’t make a difference one way of the other as far as care or lifespan or even breeding.
But there are some pretty snarky debates online, so beware.
7. Albino Red Oscar
There is a lot of variety when it comes to albino red oscars.
Some are a solid light orange color, similar to a creamsicle. It’s a really interesting shade of orange that I don’t ever recall seeing on another species of fish.
Others have a white head and back with patchy red-orange sides. And I’ve seen fish with a white face and solid orange back and body.
So, it all really depends on the individual fish.
It also may be hard to tell what the adult fish will look like when you’re shopping in a live fish store. An oscar’s color pattern can change dramatically as it ages.
Their color might look very patchy when they are juveniles and then become more solid as they mature.
8. Copper Oscar
The copper oscar has a black head and back but the rest of the body is a bright orange color.
Some individuals will have small black speckles on their dorsal region, but most do not.
Their fins are the same orange color as their body but usually have thick bands of black that follow the trailing edges.
9. Fire Red Oscar
Fire red oscars are another absolute stunner!
They are a solid bright blood red. The color even extends all the way to the edges of the fin.
But here’s the catch: they’re almost impossible to find. The fire red is pretty much the unicorn of oscar fish.
And if you do find them, they can cost as much as $125 per fish.
Is it weird that that makes me want them even more?
10. Golden Oscar
No, this is not the super cool award statue that Meryl Streep has a million of.
The golden oscar is somewhere between a lemon oscar and red oscar. They have a dark brown/black head like a red oscar, but they have a dusky sunset gold color (think 70s gold car paint) on their sides.
Their fins and tail usually fade from the gold color to the darker color as they near the trailing edges.
11. Longfin/Veil Tail Oscar
Last, but certainly not least, longfin and veil tail oscars are absolutely spectacular in my opinion.
You can find them in several different color patterns, like tiger, lemon and albino. They are simply gorgeous with long, flowing fins that make them look like an enormous Betta.
This is definitely a centerpiece fish that is going to stand out in the tank.
You would need to be really careful though, when it comes to decor in the tank.
Since oscars are huge, they are already prone to bumping into decor and hurting themselves, especially if their tank isn’t big enough.
Those huge flowing fins could easily snag or rub on decor and become torn.
Do Different Types of Oscars Need Different Care?
For the most part, no. They all need the same tank size, food, temperature range, etc.
But, it’s extra important to protect the fins of longfin and veil tail varieties by making sure that decor in the tank will not catch or tear their fins.
You can read our Oscar fish care guide here.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to oscar fish. There is a wide array of patterns and colors in the aquarium trade, which I think is pretty awesome.
I do have to get on my soap box a little bit and remind you that these fish get really big. You need at least a 75 gallon (284 liter) tank for just one of these big guys and at least a 120 gallon (454 liter) tank for two.
They also require a lot of maintenance since they are big eaters, and therefore, big waste producers.
But, if you have the room, these are amazing fish that have a lot of personality and are highly intelligent.
They’ll beg for food as soon as you come in the room and do their best to follow you wherever you go.
And the longfin and veil tail varieties are especially beautiful and worth the trouble to track down.
I wish you and your fish all the best!