Discus Fish Lifespan – How Long do Discus Live?

The discus fish is an interesting fish species. They have a very unique look, as they are much slender and slimmer than other fish. And combine that with exciting colors, and you get an interesting combination of traits and physical features.

They are also relatively hardy fish that will last for quite a long time. In captivity, they can survive for anywhere between 10-15 years, depending on various factors. One of the most important ones is genetics, but also how well you treat the fish.

In their natural habitat, their lifespan will be slightly shorter. That’s because they will depend on other fish species and will also depend on how the conditions are in their habitat.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the discus fish and their life span – how long they live for, and how you can improve and lengthen their life span easily.

How to Improve Discus Fish Lifespan?

In some cases, you can’t change the fact these fish will pass away after some time. It’s partly because of their genetics, no matter how hard you try. However, if you take great care of the fish and make sure you do all of these things, then you have a good change of keeping them alive for longer.

1. Keep Good and Stable Water Parameters

Arguably the most important thing is that you keep good parameter levels at all times. Discus prefer a slightly warmer environment. They like temperatures between 82- and 88-degrees Fahrenheit (28-31 degrees Celsius), and the acidity of the water should be around the neutral pH. levels, which is around 7.0.

You should try and keep the parameters at these levels at all times, no matter the conditions outside. The temperatures should be high especially, because these fish will not survive in colder waters and they are used to warmer waters from their natural habitat.

The best way to ensure that is to get a heater for these fish. This will especially matter in winter when the outside temperatures are lower, which can negatively impact your discus fish. Keeping them in bad water parameters for too long can increase stress and will massively impact your discus fish.

2. Feed Good Quality Food

Discus fish demand that you feed them quality foods. Even if you’re trying to feed them pellets or flakes you should opt for high-quality foods. Ideally, these foods should specifically be made for discus fish as only these sorts of food have the right nutrients.

In case you decide to feed them meat-based foods, take great care. Some food providers don’t vet their foods, which means they might carry various infections and viruses that can make your discus fish ill or even might cause death. Take great care with the diet.

But also make sure you feed them at appropriate windows. Two times per day is ideal, and even more frequently for the smaller and younger fish.

3. Eliminate Stress in the Tank

Another very important thing to do is to eliminate or at least lower the stress in the tank. These are the most common sources of stress for the discus fish:

  • Other aggressive tank mates
  • Bad water conditions
  • Wrong water parameters
  • Outside stress factors, such as noise
  • Excess exposure to sun
  • You handling them too often

Try to make sure you eliminate those stress factors as much as possible. Place the tank in a quiet and peaceful environment, such as your room, for example. Make sure it’s not exposed to direct sunlight. Always make sure the fish has enough food, and good food, too. Avoid putting aggressive fish next to the discus fish. Also, make sure the water is always clean and the parameters are correct.

4. Identify and Combat Diseases

if your fish gets sick, then you will want to identify something’s wrong as soon as possible. This can be done by simply observing your fish and its behavior often. It is not very complicated because most likely, you will notice immediately something’s off.

As soon as you notice something unusual or strange with your fish, analyze its overall behavior. Make sure you notice how it behaves, if it’s aggravated, or if it swims around too much. Another potential problem is anemia and lethargy. Observe for physical changes – has your fish changed in appearance, or lost colors?

As soon as you think something’s wrong, make sure you visit the vet and arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Prevention is also very important, and can be done with good care and proper feeding.

5. Buy from Reputed Sellers

When you’re buying your fish, make sure you buy only from reputed sources. This helps you eliminate sellers who don’t take care of their fish.

Also, this makes sure your fish’s genetics are ok. If they are vetted properly, you will have a better chance of keeping them with you for longer. Always ask where the fish has been kept, how long will it live, and if it’s healthy.

The Lifespan of Wild Discus Fish

So, discus fish in captivity will survive for 10-15 years or even longer with proper care. How about fish in the wild? How long will they live for?

Normally, these fish will live for 5-8 years, and maybe longer if they’re lucky. That’s because they might be exposed to different kinds of animals, so they might get preyed on. Also, they might be more susceptible for various diseases or health problems.

And since they won’t get help, they might die because of these help problems. So these fish will live for a shorter amount of time than bred fish.


Discus fish can live between 10-15 years in captivity, and between 5-8 years in their natural habitat. A lot of it depends on how you take care of the fish and how it’s treated. If you provide them with good conditions, then it might live for even longer than that. Make sure you follow the advice in this article to prolong their lifespan.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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