The Discus Fish, scientifically known as symphysodom, is a stunningly beautiful freshwater fish that carries itself with grace, and they are loved by most aquarists. This fish is also referred to as King of the aquarium. This fish originates from South America in the Amazon River basin, and they opt to live close to the fallen trees on the shores. Besides their beauty, they are calm, and this makes them more lovable.

The name King of the tropical aquarium was given as a result of its rainbow colors and amazing pattern that add some elegance to the tank. The Discus Fish belongs to the family of Cichlids and is a hardy fish that can survive in any type of water. There is no specific guide that you need to follow, but it is important to follow the right care guide in order to raise beautiful species. This species can make an ideal fish for both beginners and expert aquarists. They are affordable, with an average cost of 25 to 40 dollars.

Despite the fact that this species is hardy, it does not mean that they should not be given the right care. They deserve good care so as to thrive and live a happy life in captivity. Therefore, this guide seeks to give you complete information you need to know about the care of the Discus Fish.


Scientific Namesymphysodom
Family Cichlidae
ColorRed, brown, yellow, blue multicolored, and turquoise
Size 8 to 10 inches
Lifespan 10 years
Tank size50 gallons
Care levelEasy to moderate
Freshwater or saltwaterFreshwater
Temperature82 to 88 degrees F
Compatibility levelOther peaceful species


The Discus fish are sometimes shy, and this can be solved by adding the tank mates that will show them that they are not in danger. The best tankmates are those that come from the same warm Amazon water, and the shoaling tetras also look amazing. Some the ideal tank mates include;

  • Neon Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Rummy nose Tetras.

They are beautiful and easy to take care of. You can also put them together with;

  • Pencil fish
  • Gourami
  • Bolivian rams

The Hatchet or Neon marbled fish make a great combination with since the hatchet fish will stay in the upper section of the tank, but you need to ensure that the tank is fitted with a lid. Also, most of the corydoras would make excellent tank companions, but they would need colder water. The ideal fish to add as a companion would also be sterbai Cory since they also live in warm waters and they occupy different levels of the tank. They are also very peaceful.

Being a peaceful fish, you should avoid pairing the Discus fish with an aggressive fish. Some of these aggressive fish will try to attack them by trying to bite them and end up causing wounds to their bodies. Angelfish can also make good tank mates, but they sometimes bully them as they compete for food. You should closely examine every species individually before adding them to the tank.

 This species is also compatible with some larger species, such as snails and shrimps, but you should ensure they are not too small to be eaten.


It is important to put the Discus Fish together, and also those that are from different varieties can also school together. This will bring about a great color variation out of different varieties. It is advisable to keep them in groups of at least five, but you can have more so as to create a sturdier group.


Discus fish is named after their disc-shaped appearance. Some are more triangular compared to others or more round than others. They are all thin and flat looking. This species has a rounded dorsal and anal fin that also contributes to their overall body shape. They also have a pronounced pelvic and caudal fin. With their bodies being 8 to 10 inches, they are among the large aquarium fish.

They are popular among aquarists due to their vibrant colors. Some of the colors include; red, brown, blue, green, and yellow. In captivity, this species appears much brighter compared t when it is bred in the wild. Their coloring also comprises vertical and horizontal stripes that cover fins as well as their body.

Whenever they feel threatened, they become more pronounced. This is a good and beautiful thing, but this should be avoided since they are sensitive to stress. Their eyes have a variety of colors, with red being the main, but this color is not a sign of health despite this myth being spread frequently. This species comes in different varieties, and they have varying features.


 These different varieties of Discus fish are defined by their difference in coloration. Varieties such as Giant Flora and Red Aenquer Discus boasts light blues and red coloration, while the Albino  Platinum Discus are all white with red eyes that seem to glow almost.

The Checkerboard Discus is among the popular varieties, and it contains a mottled turquoise battered over a strong red base. There are different types, and it is worth your time to create a shoal that comprises the colors that you love most.


The average lifespan of The Discus Fish is ten years, but this can only be achieved under optimal conditions throughout. The lifespan is determined by factors such as the quality of water in the tank and the diet they are being fed on. Also, the type of tank mates may be a determinant because if they are constantly harassed and attacked, they will die prematurely. You, therefore, need to give them a nutritious diet, and the water must always be clean and have all the needed parameters.


This species is a native of South America in the Amazon River Basin. They are found congregating close to fallen trees at the shore. This congregating is not common among the cichlids since they like being solitary. The size of this congregation can be into multiple dozens. In their natural habitat, this species mainly feed on algae, small invertebrates, and other plants and detritus. The amount of food they take is determined by the season of the year.

In the wild, their diet is 38 percent made of invertebrates, and this is the high water season, but when it is low water season, this percentage falls.


Before making a decision to keep the Discus Fish in your tank, you need to research their behavior and get an understanding. This will affect some of the decisions, such as the tank mates. This species is a schooling fish, and this means that despite their price, you need to keep them in a group of at least six, and they will thrive and live happily. Being large fish means you will need a larger tank, and the average size of the tank should be at least 50 gallons.

During the breeding season, you need to separate the breeding pair, and the appropriate tank should be 40 gallons. For beginners, it is not advisable to breed this fish. This species being the cichlids, behave as one, and that indicates that pecking order will be established. This is the importance of having a school of at least 6. In a school of 2, one might be bullied by the other and sometimes to death.

After this species has established the pecking order among the school, the aggression will wane some. It is important to ensure that the species that are at the bottom of the pecking order receive enough food, and sometimes you need to spot feed them. It is advisable to add your Discus fish in the tank at the same time because when they are added to an already existing school, the pecking order will be disrupted.


This species originates from the flooding plains of the Amazon basin, and they are used to changes in water conditions. In their natural habitat, they are found along the shore line near the fallen trees. With all this in mind, it is crucial to ensure that you provide an appropriate environment for them, and it should be a mimic of their natural habitat. These conditions include;


This fish is large in size, and therefore it needs a big tank in order to swim and move around without feeling congested. Remember that they are schooling fish. The average size of the tank should be 50 gallons. However, this size can change according to the number of fish that you are keeping together. This is only enough for about 5 to 6 species, but if you must add more, ensure that you add the size.

This fish is very active and loves jumping, and this means a small and congested tank will make them uncomfortable and unhappy. This will subject them to stress, which can be fatal.


It is important to have a filter fitted in the tank so as to regulate the water flow and help in cleaning water. You can get a filter such as a sponge filter or a canister filter, and they will effectively flush out the contaminants of water and will keep the aquarium clean.


This fish does not need bright lighting. Moderate lighting of 1 to 1. 5 watts is perfect for this species.


The substrate is not necessary for this fish, but it helps with the aesthetic of the tank. A bare bottom is easy to clean, which is an advantage, but again, on a bare floor, the waste will be left standing out. It is therefore advisable to use a rock bottomed tank instead of a bare one. Some of the tanks are coved by the tiles and rocks instead of remaining bare. This makes the cleaning process easy.

You can also opt for sand and gravel as substrate, but they are a bit challenging to manage. This can, however, be the ideal choice if you are planting to keep some live plants in the tank.


This fish loves a decorated tank, and therefore it is crucial to add some decorations such as caves so that the fish can have hiding spots. Also, you can add some driftwood so that the fish can hide whenever they feel shy or feel threatened. These decorations should be cleaned before being added to the aquarium, and they should also have no sharp edges and rough surfaces. This is because they might cause injuries to the fish.


In the wild, remember that we said this species lives in warm water, which is above between 82 to 88 degrees F. This temperature needs to be maintained, and therefore a heater is needed for this. You will also need a thermometer to keep monitoring the temperature and ensure it is within the range.


This fish has a bright coloration, and it makes them beautiful in a planted aquarium. However, the plants will make the cleaning of the aquarium difficult since the filter will not be able to reach within the plant and underneath it.

Some of the ideal plants to add to the Discus Fish tank are stem plants and floating plants since they remove the nitrates best. Some of the plants include the Anacharis and Amazon swords.

You can also include;

  • Java moss
  • Horn wort
  • Rotala
  • Pennywort
  • Ludwigia
  • Dwarf swag
  • Anubias
  • Reroot floaters
  • Banana Plants

The tank needs to be cleaned after some time so as to remove all the waste and dead plant matter in the tank. The cleaning should be done on a monthly basis. However, you should ensure you do not use any soap-based or chemical product in cleaning the tank. This is because the chemicals might harm the fish health-wise. Just use lukewarm water and a piece of cloth.


The Discus Fish live in the combination of both soft and hard water, but you need to ensure another parameter such as temperatures and ph. are within the recommended range. Some of the parameters that the tank water should meet include;


The best and ideal means of raising happy Discus fish is by maintaining the right temperature, which is between 82 to 88 degrees F. It is crucial to remember that in the wild, they live in warm rivers of the Amazon basin, and it needs to be replicated in the aquarium. By providing this, they become happy and more active.

This should be maintained, and it will lead to better metabolism and faster growth. Also, their vibrant colors will become brighter.


The recommended Ph. levels should be between 6.0 to 7.0.


This species lives in a combination of both light acidic and slight soft water, and therefore the average water hardness in the tank should range from 1 to 4 Dkh.


It is important to replace the water in the aquarium so as to maintain the quality. These species are schooling fish, and bearing in mind their size, they have a high bioload, and this means water should be replaced regularly. You can change the water at weekly or fortnight intervals.

If you choose weekly, ensure that you replace 10 to 15 percent of water in the aquarium, and if you go for a fortnight, you need to replace 20 to 25 percent. You should maintain the pattern that you will choose. Also, ensure that the new water you are putting in the aquarium should meet all the parameters as stated in this guide.


The primary diet of this species in the wild consists of green plants or fallen foods. A third of this fish diet come from small arthropods like crustacean and insects and some invertebrates such as copepods and amphipods. It is easy to recreate their natural diet, but there are plenty of options to ensure that your fish eats healthy.

It is important to ensure that this species gets fed every day. Once you feed your fish, they will feed for about five minutes to get full. You should then remove any uneaten food after then since the left food might decay and cause some problems in water. If you have multiple fish in your aquarium, you need to monitor each fish individually to ensure they are well fed. This fish maintains a pecking order, and therefore the larger fish might starve the smaller ones by taking all the available food.

If you notice that the bigger food is taking all the food alone, by chasing the smaller one, you can solve this by placing food on both sides of the tank. Also, ensure that the size of food you are feeding to your fish is not too big to fit in their mouths. This is a common mistake among beginners. If you notice that our fish is having some difficulty trying to eat the food, the fish might be having some difficulty with the food size, and you can split the food into smaller pieces.

This species does not like feeding on the surface of the aquarium, but they prefer food in the middle section of the tank. You can go for food that is in granules, and they will have it in the middle. To ensure that your fish is always healthy, ensure that you feed a variety of diets. Despite the fact that these fish is omnivores, they thrive best in a diet that is mainly comprised of animal products. You can feed them on live or frozen bloodworms since they are also small in size, and this makes it easy for the Discus to eat them.

One of the ideal and perfect examples of food combinations for your fish is a mixture of bloodworms, beef hearts, pellets, and flakes. This will ensure all the minerals and vitamins are provided. You should be careful when using the frozen beef heart since they might pollute the tank and clog the filters. If you are concerned about the color of your Discus fish, then you should use granulated food that is balanced properly. A diet that is a combination of tropical fish flakes or spirulina with shrimp pellets or algae can help in making up for the unavailable vegetables.

Some of the ideal foods you can feed to this species include;

  • Live micro worms
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Blood worms
  • Froze or Live brine shrimps
  • Tetra Discus Granules
  • Live or freeze-dried black worms
  • Hikari Vibra Bites
  • Sera  Discus Granules


Discus fish breeding is a difficult yet interesting topic. For those who have an idea about the breeding of this fish, it is similar to breeding the Angelfish. The first step in breeding this species is getting breeding pair. The easiest way to get this is to buy a proven breeding pair from an online shop, but this is a bit expensive, with an average cost of 500 dollars. Alternatively, you can set up an aquarium with eight random species and raise them as you wait for them to pair naturally. This will take a year and more before pairing.

There are some of the noticeable signs of a fish that is ready to pair. They includes a male suddenly becoming aggressive and guarding a certain area of the tank as he interacts with the female and waits for them to approach. When this fish has already paired, you will notice them bowing or interacting with each other and bending their fins. When they have paired already, they will choose a spot in the tank that will act as their territory, and they will attack any fish trying to invade it.

After they have started attacking other fish that come close to their territory, it is the perfect time to move this breeding pair into a separate breeding tank. When they are ready to spawn, they will look for the site and begin to clean it. Ensure that you maintain a regular lighting schedule so that it affects the spawn time. After cleaning for some days, the female will lay some eggs. Different from most fish, this species is a good parent and will take care of the eggs and should not be separated from them.

The eggs will take around three days to hatch, and the parents should now be separated from them after attaining a nail size. You should move them and start feeding them on high-protein food so as to support their growth. At this point, you should also be treating the aquarium for gill flukes and other possible diseases since these fries are prone to diseases at the point.


The Discus Fish, just like any other freshwater fish, is prone to some diseases. There are some specific diseases that you are likely to deal with as you raise this species. Below are some of the diseases and the signs you should look out for;


The most common cause of this disease is Hexamita. This is a small intestinal parasitic diplomonad. The fish can develop this disease by eating something that has a parasite. The main symptoms include the head of this fish growing holes, getting thin despite eating a proper diet and putting out a white-colored fecal matter. If you notice that your fish is exhibiting these signs, the best thing is to give them metronidazole. Every one gram of metronidazole should be mixed with twenty gallons of water.


This is another common ailment that the Discus fish deals with mostly. The main cause of this disease is physical trauma. There are some ways in which this can occur, and they include; two fish having a physical alteration, the fish hitting their head against driftwood, or even being frightened. Also, this can be caused by an imbalance in the water Ph. This fish has a protective layer that protects the eyes from sudden changes.

The common treatment for this disease involves using a little salt and stress coat from API that contains aloe vera. If the problem persists, it is advisable to seek help from a vet.


This is also a common ailment among the Discus Fish. This is a bacterial infection that is compatible with an infection that humans may get from their extremities, such as fingers or toes. The common cause of this is the high organic load in your tank. The most appropriate solution to this problem is the use of oxytetracycline and ensure you do a deep clean of any rocks or wood in your tank.


This occurs when the fish feeds on something, and it spoils in the stomach before it is broken down by the digestive system. This results in a painful condition as the stomach is filled with gas. This is mainly cured with Epsom salts.

To prevent your fish from this disease, ensure that they are living in a clean and healthy aquarium, and all the conditions should be adhered to. Also, ensure that the diet you are feeding them is balanced and nutritious enough to keep their immune system strong. This way, you will avoid most of the diseases.


IS the Discus Freshwater fish?

Yes. The Discus Fish is a freshwater fish that originates from the Amazon River Basin. They prefer residing near fallen trees at the shore of the river.

Do I need a bare bottom tank?

No. It is not necessary to have a bare bottom tank. However, this makes the cleaning process easier. You can decide to choose it, and there is no problem, but for a planted aquarium, you need substrate for the live plants. If you use a bare one, ensure you paint to prevent reflections that might stress the fish.

Can I raise one Discus Fish in my tank?

Yes, you can. However, if you want to get the best of your Discus fish and have them live a happy and healthy life, you should keep them in a group of 5 to 6. They are schooling fish, and they can easily become aggressive if kept alone.


The process of taking care of the Discus fish is not as simple as someone might assume. However, this species is intelligent and colorful fish, and the challenges and difficulties involved are worthy. It is a rewarding experience.

This guide aim of this guide was to teach you everything you need about the care of this fish; It is our hope that you have learned enough and you are ready to get into Discus Fish rearing. You are now ready to venture into this challenging yet rewarding endeavor.

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