Discus Fish – Species Profile & Facts

The Discus Fish is amazing in a sense that there are so many unique color and pattern combinations for this species. You can set up a single species tank with a bunch of Discus, all of them flourishing in different colors. It allows you to set up a breathtaking aquarium that you will be proud to show to your friends.

When it comes to their temperament, they are totally peaceful and we can only recommend them to beginner fish keepers. You only need to read our guide to be able to take proper care of these little beauties. It is not going to be the easiest thing, but we already did the research for you. Now all you need to do is to keep on reading and you will know exactly what to do.

We will talk about their diet, the ideal tank setup and the water conditions as well. And, of course, if you would like to breed them, we will talk about that as well. The Discus Fish is extremely popular among fish enthusiasts and for a good reason.

If you want to become a Discus owner yourself, then make sure to follow our tips and you will be ready to set up your own aquarium. Let’s get into it!

Discus Fish Natural Habitat

Like so many other interesting fish species, the Discus Fish was also discovered in the Amazon River. The courtesy of this discovery goes to Dr. Johann Jacob Heckel who discovered this fish back in 1840. In the river, they live in groups, which is the best way for you to keep them at home as well.

Out in the wild, there are lots of plants around these fish that also filter out most of the sunlight. You will need to mimic the same environment at home. Most of them live in the Columbian, Peruvian and Brazilian parts of the Amazon river.

Of course, the water there is quite warm so you will need a heater for your aquarium as well. There are quite a few different types of Discus out in the wild but in this article, we are going to talk about them in general. Most of the Discus Fish that people keep at home originate from the blue and brown variety.

Discus Fish Fish Tank Requirements

Not only that the substrate has to be soft, but you should use accessories that can’t injure your precious Discus Fish. They will dig in the substrate and bump into their surroundings so make sure there is nothing too sharp. For Discus, it is essential to put as many plants in the tank as possible.

It is important to use floating ones as well because you don’t want them to be exposed to the light directly. They prefer dim light, as the sunlight never hits them directly in the Amazon river either. We have some really good plant recommendations for you in case you are looking for some.

You can either use the Amazon Sword Plant or the Dwarf Hairglass in your aquarium, both are ideal. These will not only make your fish tank look great but also generate a lot of oxygen for your fish. These plants can help you optimize the water quality as well by keeping the nitrite concentration low.

Buying at least 5 Discus Fish and putting them in the same tank is the best idea. The bigger their group is, the better, as they are schooling fish by nature. Compared to most tropical fish, discus fish can get quite large, therefore they need a big tank.

For 5 individuals, a 50-gallon aquarium is a bare minimum. Don’t shy away from buying a bigger one if you can do so. A bigger tank also means that there is less contamination and thus the water conditions are stable. This is very important for this species. For every additional Discus Fish, the tank should be 7 gallons larger.

Discus Fish Water Conditions

Just like many other fish that come from the Amazon river, this one also requires a higher temperature. You will need to buy a heater and set it anywhere between 82 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder or warmer water only weakens their immune system, making them more vulnerable to diseases.

The waters they live in out in nature are all soft and slightly acidic. Therefore, you should keep the pH value between 6-7, which is easy to maintain by frequently measuring it. The Discus Fish is very sensitive to water conditions; hence you need to keep them constant at all times.

Remember that some of the diseases can be fatal, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you can’t use anything other than tap water, then make sure to de-chlorinate it. Discus prefer neutralized water that doesn’t contain anything.

They also live in slow-moving waters, so your filter should not generate a strong water flow. If it does, you can always reduce the waterflow by putting some additional driftwood or a spray bar. Or just buy a good filter that can be used on a lower setting.

Discus Fish Diet and Feeding

Similarly, to many other species from the same area, the Discus Fish are also an omnivore. It generally eats plant debris and algae when it comes to vegetarian food. They can find an abundance of crustaceans, invertebrates and insects there, too. If you want this fish to truly flourish in its vivid colors, then you need to keep it on a very healthy diet.

Buy some high-quality spirulinas and fish flakes as a base of their diet. The other two things that fish keepers usually feed them are shrimps and algae. Mosquito larvae, bloodworms and brine shrimp are all essential for the Discus Fish.

These are the live foods that they truly enjoy consuming. It might take some time to figure out how much food to give them. If they can consume it within 5 minutes, then you did it right. There shouldn’t be any leftover food in the water after they ate.

Feed the Discus once a day and make sure every one of them got his own portion. Fishes are sometimes greedy, stealing food from their mates. A great strategy is to distribute smaller portions in different spots.

Discus Fish Tank Mates

The Discus Fish can be rather skittish, but not if it’s surrounded by other fish that are peaceful and don’t threaten them. An obvious suggestion here is to get some more fish that comes from the Amazon river. If they don’t have an issue with living together there, then they are going to have a great time in your tank as well.

There are plenty of Tetras, for example. You can go for Rummy Nose, Ember and Neon Tetras. Some of the other options include Pencil Fish, Gourami, Neon Hatchet and Bolivian Ram. These are all rather peaceful fish that won’t generate any tension.

We can even recommend you the Sterbai Cory Catfish, as it is one of the few catfish that prefer a higher water temperature. Don’t even think about keeping Discus in the same tank with aggressive fish. It is going to be a disaster to say the least.

Fortunately, there are enough peaceful freshwater fish to choose from. You can include a couple of snails or shrimp in your aquarium for some additional diversity. If they are too small, however, then they are going to be eaten. Betta fish can also be kept with discus fish, however, there are a couple of things to consider when housing these two fish species together.

Discus Fish Breeding

This is probably not what you wanted to hear, but breeding Discus Fish is not going to be easy. It is an absolute challenge, yet one you shouldn’t turn your back to. After all, who wouldn’t want to see that little Discus grow up and become one of the most glorious fish to keep?

It is certainly a better feeling to breed them at home than to just buy them, right? Now let’s see what this species needs exactly in order to be willing to breed. First off, you need to be very consistent and precise with the water conditions.

Even a slight deviation from the ideal values can ruin the whole plan. The best way to go about it is to let the female lay down the eggs and then remove her to a separate tank. Once the eggs are laid down, there is a high chance that the female are going to start eating them.

The male is more likely to guard the eggs, but you can remove him as well if you are concerned. After all, if there is nothing to guard the eggs from in the tank, they are going to be fine. You are going to see the fry coming out of the eggs in three days. It is enough to give them nutritious commercial foods once they become free swimmers.


As you can see, there is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to taking care of Discus Fish at home. As long as you measure the water conditions regularly and keep them constant, they are going to thrive. We have also mentioned the foods you should feed them if you want them to flourish in their vivid colors.

A single species aquarium of Discus can be rather diverse. The great thing about this species is that it comes in many different colors and patterns. You can set up a community tank with many species, however, if you want to.

Just make sure that you buy a big enough tank for them to feel comfortable. That is all you need to know, are you ready?

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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