Discus Fish

Scientific NameSymphysodon
Common Name(s)Discus
OriginSouth America, Amazon River Basin
Temperature Range80 – 86°F
Water Parameters5-7pH, 1-8dH, 1- 3KH
Adult Size8-10in
DietCarnivorous, live food, frozen food

Discus Fish Facts:

  • The discus fish is a type of cichlid and comes in a variety of beautiful, rich colors.
  • Fry start out their lives by being carefully cared for by both parents, and even feed on a secretion from their parents.
  • Valued for their beauty as much as for their willingness to interact with their owners. They can even be fed by hand.
Discus Fish

Discus Fish Overview:

The discus fish is a beautiful tropical fish known for its gorgeous coloration. There are subspecies of the discus fish, each with their own unique patterns and color schemes, which allows them to appeal to a broad audience of hobbyists. They can be quite pricey and difficult to keep, so they’re not recommended for beginners. Experienced hobbyists can expect an interactive and somewhat challenging experience.

Being cichlids, the discus fish is often kept in a species-only tank. They prefer taller tanks and should be kept in at least a 30 gallon tank in order to be comfortable. They don’t hide as much as other fish, and are quite graceful, but still benefit from good quality decorations and floating plants for shade. Any rocks or decorations should not obstruct swimming though, since discus fish do like to have a vast, open area to swim in. As always, with brightly colored fish, dark strata help to enhance and bring out their more vivid tones. Tank mates can be included, as these are not particularly aggressive fish, but they do require very strict conditions and frequent water changes. The tank also needs to be kept relatively warm, so before adding tank mates, be absolutely sure that they can survive in those conditions. Discus fish are not recommended for heavily populated, established tanks with more common fish. The conditions are not adequate.

These are carnivorous fish as well, so flake food should not be their main source of nourishment. Discus fish can be fed blood worm, tubifex, shrimp, and other meaty frozen foods. Luckily, there are food pellets designed specifically for discus fish, so supplementing their diet is quite easy.

They are peaceful fish and will form families within their own species. Younger discus fish will actually pair themselves, male to female, and remain an established couple. If this happens, it can signal that it’s time to breed. The discus fish also has a unique and interesting way of caring for its young. Breeding is done in slightly acidic water, during which time the fish may become territorial, as they’ve now committed to becoming parents. Once born, the fry stay with their parents. The pair secretes nourishment for their young through their skin and in captivity, the fry have been known to feed off of the secretions for up to two weeks. Since the fish are schooling and quite peaceful, there is no need to remove the younger fish. Instead, they will be integrated into the school, creating a nuclear family.

These beautiful fish are alert, interactive, and graceful which is why it’s sometimes been called the king of tropical fish.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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