Discus are members of the Family Cichlidae and are sometimes referred to as “King of the Aquarium” because of their majestic beauty and regal colors. Discus are found in Amazon River basin and are known for their circular shape and striking colors. They prefer quiet water and are rarely found in areas where there is strong current or wave action. Discus fish are generally calm and peaceful, but can be aggressive toward one another when attempting to pair off and spawn.
Discus prefer warm, soft, acidic water. pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5 and TDS should be between 100 to 300ppm (for breeding discus <80). Temperature should be kept between 28° to 30°C, use an aquarium heater to maintain proper water temperature. While captive bred discus can be kept in dechlorinated tap water using water conditioners, RO water will provide the best conditions. Discus require pristine water quality, and weekly water changes of 10% to 25%.
Discus grow to be quite large and require an aquarium size of 3ft or larger when full grown. Tall aquariums are best to accommodate their body shape. Some suitable aquarium mates include cardinal tetras, neons, emperor and rummynose tetras as well as clown loaches and dwarf cichlids. All of these fish tolerate the high temperatures and low pH/hardness required by discus.
Discus are omnivores and will thrive on Flakes, Granules & Pellets. Frozen and live foods should also be fed as treats or to help induce spawning. Some hobbyists and breeders feed their discus beef heart, and while it is not harmful, it is certainly not a natural food for discus. For best results, rotate their diet daily and feed only what they can consume in 2 to 3 minutes, once or twice a day.
The main takeaway from this care guide is to reduce stress. Raise the heat, keep the water clean and stable, and feed them correctly. Don’t let kids tap on the glass, and limit the amount of traffic near their tank. Also, don’t put their aquarium right next to the TV with lots of loud noises and flashing lights. Anything you can do to help these shy creatures feel safe will go a long way in enhancing their health and quality of life. With these simple guidelines, you’re on your way to having a successful, enjoyable discus tank for many years to come.
Ways to keep discus fish happy:
- Reduce stress : Keep the water clean and stable, and feed them correctly. Don’t let kids tap on the glass, and limit the amount of traffic near their tank.
- Provide a large aquarium : Provide a large aquarium with room to grow.
- Make frequent water changes : Make frequent water changes to promote fish health. Some breeders change their discus’ water 100% only once a week. Others change their discus’ water 25% three times a week.
- Provide a clear area for feeding : Discus are messy fish so need a clear area free of aquarium plants in which to feed.
- Provide high oxygen levels : Ensure carbon dioxide is turned off and the planted tank is well aerated at night.
- Provide night light : Night light helps discus fish orient themselves by creating a transition between daylight and darkness at night, thus relieving stress. Night lights should not be on all night because fish do not have eyelids and only sleep in the dark.
- Provide peaceful tank mates : Being an overall peaceful fish, they too require peaceful tank mates. If their tank mates are too big or aggressive, they might be bullied or get eaten themselves.
A healthy Discus should always be lively, should have their fins open, and curious about what’s going on inside the tank and outside.