Do Oscar Fish Have Sharp Teeth?

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Oscars are big aquarium fish, that can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) in captivity. They can be very huge and scary-looking in the wild, and a lot of people think that oscar fish have sharp teeth, like piranhas. When you have this large-sized fish, you probably wouldn’t want to have your finger snatched when feeding it. Even though oscar fish can look intimidating, they are almost harmless to humans. Some fish keepers may have instances, where an oscar fish bit them, but mainly no bad injuries have ever happened with these species. Continue reading to find out why.

Table of Contents

Does Oscars Have Teeth?

Almost all aquarium fish have teeth, and oscars are no exception. Oscar fish do have teeth, but they are not very sharp, and can rarely cause a significant injury. If you find yourself getting bitten by an oscar fish, be sure to clean the wound if there is one. 

Oscar fish are not ferocious feeders like sharks or piranhas, so you shouldn’t worry too much about getting bitten by an oscar. These species might look scary and threatening through the aquarium, but they do not have the capabilities to cause any bad injury to your fingers. 

Can Oscar Fish Bite Your Finger?

In short answer yes, Oscars can easily bite your finger if you put it into water. There can be a few reasons why they want to bite your finger. Firstly, oscar fish might confuse your finger for food, and try to eat it. This can cause some pain or scratch to your finger, so be careful.

Secondly, oscar fish can bite you if they feel threatened. It is unlikely that they might do that since most fish just swim away and hide when feeling scared. Every oscar fish have a different character, and some of them might try to bite you instead of hiding.

You might also like to read: Can Angelfish Live With Goldfish Together?

What Kind of Teeth Does Oscar Fish Have?

Oscar fish have two sets of teeth. The first set is located in the back of their mouth, and the second one is in their throat. These species have pharyngeal teeth, similar to other popular aquarium fish like goldfish or loaches. So if an oscar fish bites you, there is very little chance of significant pain or injury, because their teeth are located very far up their mouth.

close up of oscar fish mouth and teeth

To actually get injured by an oscar fish, you would need to fully put your finger in its mouth and let it start chewing. Even then you might be able to get away with a minor injury, but I simply don’t recommend trying to give your finger to an oscar fish.

How Does Oscar Fish Eat?

Oscars are suction feeders, similar to other cichlids. What that means, is oscar fish opens their mouth very fast, which creates a water flow, that sucks their desired prey into their mouth. Oscars do not have any teeth in the front of their mouth, so they can’t really bite anything, compared to piranhas. 

Is Oscar Fish Aggressive?

As I mentioned before, every oscar fish can have a different and distinctive character, similar to bettas. These creatures are very smart, and can even recognize their owners. Nevertheless, oscar fish are highly hostile towards other fish species, and should not be kept with anything else. These species belong to the cichlid family, which is notorious for being aggressive.

Oscar fish are also very territorial, which means they need a very big aquarium to house multiple oscar fish at the same time. If there is not enough space, they will eventually fight, and even cause significant injuries. This aggression can also transfer to the owner, and oscar fish might try to bite you whenever they get the chance.

Do Oscars Eat Other Fish?

In nature, oscar fish are predators, which means they will gladly eat any fish they can fit in their mouth. That is why you shouldn’t keep oscar fish with other smaller species because they will eventually become tasty snacks. If a smaller fish is a little too big for an oscar to consume, your oscar fish might still try to bully and chase it around.

What Kind of Food Do Oscar Fish Like?

To move on, oscar fish are omnivores, that like both protein-rich, and plant-based foods. These species enjoy eating smaller fish, clams, freshwater shrimp, bloodworms, insects, and larvae. At the same time, oscars tend to graze on algae and eat fruit and nuts in the wild.

How to Safely Feed Oscar Fish?

If you do not want to risk any small injury while feeding oscar fish, simply put the food into the water and close the lid. Don’t stick your fingers into the water, because oscars might confuse them with the food.

Just be sure to not overfeed your oscar fish, because it can cause significant damage to their organs and health overall. Every fish might look hungry, but you shouldn’t be fooled by their looks. Feed your oscar fish 1 time per day, and be sure to put enough food, so that they eat it in a couple of minutes.

Can You Teach Oscar Fish Not to Bite Your Finger?

Your oscar fish can easily be taught to not bite your finger. Although this technique better works when your oscar fish are still juveniles, hand feeding can teach them not to bite your finger.

Firstly, your young oscar fish would try to bite you at first when you hand-feed them, but it wouldn’t hurt. After a few hand-feeding sessions, your oscar fish would be smart enough to tell apart your hand and food. This technique does not work that well with adult oscar fish. You can still try with adult oscar fish, even if they bite you, oscars don’t have sharp teeth, so you would be okay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Oscar Fish Mouth Breeders?

Oscars are known for being mouth breeders. These species carry their babies in their mouths until they are big enough to live and defend themselves. Oscar fish are very protective of their young and are good parents, although they might eat their fry if they feel hungry or stressed.

Does Oscar Bite Hurt?

In most cases, an oscar bite should not hurt that much. They don’t have any front teeth, and can only cause some serious damage if the whole finger is in their mouth. If an oscar fish bites your whole finger, it might become scratched or even bleed.

Writer's Thoughts

Oscar fish are very beautiful species, that are great for bigger aquariums. I personally believe that they are not dangerous to fish to humans, even though they bite. Simply, people should just be a little careful around oscar fish, and everything would be just fine.

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