Tiger Oscar - Rapid Breathing and Not Eating

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an interest in aquariums or fish keeping!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Aquarium Advice FINatic
May 4, 2011
Philadelphia, PA
My 4 inch tiger oscar has been breathing rapidly and not moving much the last 2 days.

tank Parameters:
ammonia: 0 ppm
nitrites: 0 ppm
nitrates: 10ppm
temp: 80
pH: 7.4

It's a 65 Gallon with a 15 gallon Sump (eshopps wet/dry) and has been running since April.

There are 6 Fish in the tank: Convict, Tiger Oscar, Tiger Barbs and BN Pleco

I did a 50% PWC yesterday, but he has remained in the same bad state. There are no spots or other external signs of parasites/cottonmouth that I am aware of.

NOTE - I had a firemouth that died from rapid breathing about 3 weeks ago. The Firemouth was doing extremely rapid breathing when he died, the oscar is doing very slow labored breaths. All other fish in the tank seem very lively and happy.

Please make some suggestions, so I can hopefully save my oscar, and any other fish if this is something that could spread.
Unfortunately not. Hes still acting the same and not eating. Even if he doesn't die from the breathing issues, how much longer can he live without eating? Hes on day 3 minimum.
Do you give the Oscar too much Protein? What is their diet?

I'm thinking bloating/constipation.
I feed all the fish a mix of:

New life spectrum jumbo floating pellets
Omega one spiraling pellets
Nutrafin max sinking pellets

How would you detect and treat bloat/constipation?
Stringy white pooh, clamped fins, spiting food or stopping eating entirely, reclusive behavior followed by death within around 7 days. Most Africans are prone to bloat having a long intestinal track to remove nutrients from algae and being fed a high protein diet but South and Central Americans cichlids it's fairly uncommon. They are like dumpsters that can handle a higher protein count than the fish across the pond.
Last edited:
HUKIT - He has None of the above when it comes to those Bloat Symptoms. Other than the non-eating.
Small Update:

Day 2 of treatment. The Oscar is still hovering down by the rocks in the back of the tank. He used to be so active when I would walk past the tank, but since he got sick, he tends to just hide if I come near him. Yesterday evening, I walked by and he actually responded minimally, so I got out a pellet and dropped it in the tank. he actually went to the top and ate it, which got me excited. However, then he went back to his corner and has been hiding since.

I guess it's a good sign that he finally ate something, but not getting my hopes up.
Bacteria infections are the worst. I hate the way my fish feel when they get that long stringy poo and become less active. All you can do is treat THE WHOLE TANK with a liquid do not try to seperate him and treat him specifically because this bad bacteria can be in other fish, in the filter media, in the gravel, on plants and even in the water! May explain why it keeps reoccurring. Definately expect some fish loss tho it may be just the one you have already lost or your whole community may go, these infections are the worst :(
He probably has a parasite or infection... My gold nugget had really rapid breathing and was bloaded when he had ICH, all my water parameters were perfect, it was when i dropped a diff fish in from a different store it caused it.. He didnt eat at all.. Hes doing much better now and im still treating.. But stress is also a good cause for fish diseases..
Whatever you do, please treat the whole tank as these infections can lay dorment for a very, very long time on a lot of surfaces without you even noticing for a very long time.
Just going on what my Oscar acted like and the enormous poop he eventually did shortly before he started acting normal again... :)

I was not judging you on that diagnosis, it's just he had sent me 7-8 PM's prior to him posting that so I had alot more background information so I'm sorry if that sounded that way.
Gotcha. You've helped me a bunch in the past so I consider you better 'qualified', but just didn't want them overlooking a possibility. :)
I am treating with the jungle product. I did decide to treat the whole tank. I guess I'll have to do new substrate when this is over, since it's white and will be stained.

Oscars still hanging in there. I gave him another pellet this morning and he ate it. Well he spit it in a bunch of chunks, but then ate most of the chunks. Hoping for the best, but I still don't think it looks good. No other fish appear to have problems.
Top Bottom