Fish Care

Why do Oscar fish sleep on its side?

oscar fish sleep on its side

Does Oscar fish sleep on its side? Yes. Oscar fish can sleep on its side. They have their own version of sleep and this mostly involves them entering a sort of sleep state or resting state.

Do oscar fish sleep?

Many people think that fish do not sleep because their eyes are always open. The thing is that there is no fish in the world that has the ability to close its eyes. Sleep in this species of animal is not about closed eyes but about rest. Mammals lie down on the floor and close their eyes while sleeping. However, fish do not behave that way. Rather, they go into a kind of relaxation that helps them regain their energy.

If you’ve ever seen your Oscar fish sleep on its side at the bottom of your tank, I’m betting you were terrified at first. Oscars have been known to sleep on its side at the bottom of their tanks or rivers. This is how they find time to sleep and rest. Many people believe that seeing a fish lying on its side at the bottom of a river is a very bad sign. But it is not a cause for alarm most of the time.

If it’s not a cause for alarm, why is do my Oscar fish sleep on its side?

Oscars, like a lot of cichlids, lie on their side when they enter a sleeping state. Sometimes, resting without even sleeping is out of their need. However, there are other reasons such as an Oscar fish sleep on its side on the bottom of the tank.

Oscars are very social animals. There is an inevitable hierarchical position between them, they are known for their territorial behaviour. If you keep more than one oscar fish in the same aquarium, there is bound to be a conflict.

  • Humans

Another quite unexpected thing that can leave Oscar fish behind and hide at the bottom of the tank is human interaction. Oscars are very sensitive animals and it only makes sense that they are afraid of their home being invaded by human hands.

  • Fixtures on the tank

The hoses and pipes certainly add to the feeling that the fish holds. No one would be comfortable having huge hoses and accessories in their home.

Do all Oscars lie like down this way?

No, the truth is that there are some Oscars who are docile. Although there are Oscars with many personalities. They can even inflict a nasty bite on your intruded hand if you put it in your tank.

That’s not to say that some Oscars are strictly aggressive or strictly submissive. Oscar’s behavior can change from mood to mood or from Oscar to Oscar. It may also be affected by the presence or lack of or any other fish. Maybe that’s why they are so popular in the aquarium hobby.

Oscar’s sleeping behaviour

To be more detailed on how Oscars sleep and behave in their resting state, I would like to reiterate that Oscar fish are more rested than actual full sleep. Oscar fish are nocturnal animals and thus you may notice this behavior only at night. It will return to the corners and hide behind rocks in the aquarium. They will try to hide behind or under them while it takes him some time to get comfortable.

This behavior is very common among cichlids, you can see if your Oscar will respond by lightly touching the tank. In the wild, Oscar finds somewhere to hide at night. This can be under rocks or between tree roots. They do this because they are trying to avoid being eaten by some bigger fish.

Are there other chances for Oscar lying down?

If you consider the fact that fish are constantly forced to swim, it is no wonder that they sometimes lean to one side and become motionless. If you keep the aquarium lights off all the time, you can see Oscar sleeping during the day. This is because it needs darkness to tell the fish that it is time to rest. However, if you keep the lights on, they will miss their natural sleep hours and end up weak and sleepy during the day.

  • Sleep deprivation at Oscars

There can be many reasons for not sleeping. Lack of sleep can make Oscar tired and restless, or even fall ill and die. This is why it is important to know the risk factors of this condition and face it boldly.

  • Nocturnal vs Diurnal

You will likely encounter some problems keeping a nocturnal fish with a diurnal fish. An example of a diurnal fish in this case can be the cat fish while a nocturnal fish is the Oscar fish.

This is because catfish can disturb Oscars at night and they also make a lot of noise. Catfish can also grow significantly bigger than the Oscars. This means that Oscar could become a prey to the catfish. At least, they will disturb Oscar’s sleep. On the other hand, things could get pretty bad for the catfish to kill the oscarfish.

  • Flesh eating plecs

For some strange reason, plecs are attracted to Oscar’s shilling shimmering body. Plecs have a thing for sucking on on the flesh of the Oscars while they sleep. So if you keep your Oscar and Plec in the same tank, you have to be mindful and alert of the Oscar. If they develop holes in their sides, you may have to remove the plec.

  • Small tank big fish

This is a condition where the fish feel cramped in the tank due to lack of enough space to swim. This can be especially bad if you have more than one fish in the tank and they have to fight for space or territory. If the tank is too small, it can affect your fish’s behavior while sleeping. This can also cause the fish to attack each other because they will constantly be in each other’s path.

Tips to help your Oscars fish get a good night’s sleep
  1. Feed them during the day. This is important because if you feed them too close to bedtime they can become very active at night.
  2. Keep the water clean and well pressurized. Unclean water may contain ammonia and this can make them uncomfortable and unable to rest.
  3. Keeping bigger or more ferocious fish out of your tank. Those bigger fish could attack your Oscar.
  4. Switch off all the lights before sleeping. The lights mimic the time of day for him and Oscar will not be able to sleep peacefully as long as the lights are on.
  5. Avoid playing loud music in the room during night time. This can make the fish restless.
How can I change the aquarium water without disturbing my Oscar?

I do have some suggestions that you can try. However, I can’t guarantee a change in your Oscar’s behavior—but, hey, why not try?

First, give your Oscar somewhere to hide when you do your water change. I understand that Oscar may be very large and your local big box pet store may not have the castle for his hiding. Well, no worries! Because you can just use terracotta flowers pot instead.

Another option would be to reduce your attack in the tank. Try switching to a siphon method. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did in the end anyway because carrying bucket after bucket of heavy water down the drain can be a real pain in the lower back!

What about that 1/10 chance it could be something bad?

For most free-swimming, mid-water fish, lying on the bottom of the tank means something very bad is going on. In fact, most of the time it’s a sign that your poor fish can’t make it.

So, how can you tell if your Oscar is just sad or it’s a serious health problem?

Well, if your Oscar only acts when you mess with his tank and then reverts to his normal type of behavior afterwards, you probably have nothing to worry about.

If your Oscar is lying on its side without showing secondary signs of illness, there is probably nothing to worry about. And conversely, if your Oscar fish spends long amounts of time at the bottom of the tank by their side, this could be a problem that deserves more consideration. Take a closer look at your Oscar and check for other signs.

Does it have small holes on its head? Very small holes are just sensory pits, but large, small holes are a sign of HITH, a bacterial infection. Also check for parasites and fungi. Are there flukes on the gills? Or the long hard bits of poop in your tank? And how about fuzzy white patches? Are your Oscar eyes cloudy?

Other signs that your oscar fish is sleeping laterally;
Constipation in fish

Fish do get constipated! It can be caused by an improper diet, certain manufactured fish foods, or overeating. Constipation can cause blockage if not resolved.

  • Treatment

Fortunately, you have two options for treating constipation in fish, but the first step is the same.

  1. Stop Feeding
  2. Change the aquarium water.
  3. Turn the aquarium heater up a degree or two.

Then use one or both of the following methods to clear the blockage:

  • Recovery

Once the blockage is removed, begin feeding your fish small amounts. Choose easily digestible (preferably whole) foods. You should also provide a clean, quiet environment to avoid stress-induced secondary infections.

  • Tank cycling?

Tank cycling is essential if you want your fish to live in a healthy peaceful environment.

The grown bacteria will then digest the ammonia from the waste, converting it to nitrite. Although nitrite in hard water or water with a high pH level is actually more toxic than ammonia, the bacteria in your tank eventually convert the nitrite into nitrate which is relatively less harmful to fish.

If the water in your fish tank is not changed regularly, nitrates accumulate and become harmful, causing the fish to stop eating and become stressed. Additionally, the growth of algae is accelerated. Therefore, it is imperative that you follow the cycling process and maintain a clean tank (that regularly removes nitrates) for the health of your fish.

  • Water change

Water change will bring fresh mineral-rich water to the tank. By doing partial water change of about 15 -20%, you also reduce the amount of nitrates that build up in the water. Weekly water changes also help remove other toxins or pollutants that may have accumulated in the tank. If a siphon is used with a gravel cleaner, the gravel can be cleaned and fish and plant waste can also be removed. This keeps the ammonia level down and the water clean.

An important note about water changes is to ensure that no more than a third of the total water volume. It is also important that the water that is added has the correct pH and temperature and is free from chlorine etc.

  • Proper water movement

Proper water current plays an important role in the health management of aquarium fish. Many overlooked processes important to fish health occur because water actively moves throughout the aquarium.

  • Bacterial infection

Avoiding stress and maintaining healthy water conditions is important to avoid fish disease. Test your water regularly for ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, abnormalities in pH and correct any problems if necessary. Poor aquarium sanitation and poor water quality are major factors in most disease outbreaks.

  • When to Call the Aqua Vet

Call the vet if you notice that your oscar fish sleep on its side and not swimming for a long time. It can be a sign of some disease. Although, it is normal for Oscar fish to sleep on its side. Oscars are usually awake during the day and sleep at night. If your Oscar is sleeping all day, call the vet.

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