Getting its name from the shape of its body, the Discus Fish is one of the most beautiful and vibrant species to have in an aquarium. These species of fish are natives of the Amazon river in South America.
The blue discus is found in the eastern Amazon basin, the green discus in the western Amazon basin, and the red discus in the Rio Negro region. The blue discus’ scientific name is Symphysodon aequifasciatus, the red one goes with Symphysodon discus and the green one is Symphysodon tarzoo.
They belong to the cichlid genus. The Discus Fish prefer living in groups and radiates a diffident nature to other species of fish.
This fish is a bit hard to keep in an aquarium due to its high-temperature preferences, low pH levels, and high mineral content. Though it is worth keeping because of its magnificent appearance.
In this article we will take you through a thorough guide on how to take care of Discus fish.
Appearance of Discus fish
The Discus fish is a captivating fish to look at. It is sure to amaze you with its beautiful appearance. This species of fish has flat and round-shaped bodies.
Discus fish come in four vibrant colors and have a range of markings and patterns that makes them beautiful. Heckle discus are pale yellow with three vertical stripes of the same color, one of which runs through the eye.
There are nine vertical stripes on the brown discus and red dots on the blue and green discus. These magnificent features of this fish come along as it becomes mature.
What is the Size and Lifespan of Discus fish?
Discus fish attain a length of 4.8–6 inches in their natural habitat. They may grow up to 9 inches in length in captivity. Male discus fish is a little bigger than female discus fish.
In terms of lifespan, Discus fish can live for 10–15 years in captivity. Because of predators, their lifespan in their natural habitat is frequently shorter.
Best Foods for Discus Fish
Discus consumes a lot of plant matter and plankton in nature. They also hunt around the bottom for worms and tiny crustaceans. They are omnivores. You must feed them foods that are rich in protein.
You can give them live foods, flakes, frozen foods, and shrimp eggs. Give them frozen and live meals to stimulate spawning. Although they have a flat body, avoid feeding them large-sized foods.
Frozen bloodworms are an excellent option for discus, their slim shape making them ideal to slurp up! However, be careful with the frequency of feeding your discus these worms – they can easily become addicted. To ensure that all nutritional needs are met, it’s important to provide a varied diet which includes many small foods.
Feed them once or twice a day, and only feed them what they can ingest in 2 to 3 minutes.
Care For Discus fish
What Tank Size You Need for Discus Fish?
The optimal tank size for the Discus Fish is 60 gallons. As these fishes prefer living in groups in the wild, so in an aquarium they must be kept in a group of their kind.
If you’re looking for the best results, we highly recommend opting for a 75-gallon or larger aquarium. While you may get away with using a 60-gallon tank, this would mean having to regularly do much more meticulous water changes – an extra hassle that can easily be avoided!
In a 60 gallon tank you can keep a group of 6 of them. 10 gallon for each Discus fish.
As your discus mature, you’ll be able to distinguish the more agggressive males and you should send them back to the pet shop. Once that’s done, you should ultimately have a tranquil group of six adults consisting mostly of female discus with perhaps two or three males included.
Tankmates for Discus fish
Discus are peaceful fish who flourish when they may swim quietly in a group around an aquarium.
Discus hide in plants or caves when threatened by larger, quicker, or more aggressive fish. During the day, Discus fish are busy, while at night, they slumber.
Though they are peaceful fishes, they have a hint of territorial nature in them.
So in an aquarium, you must pair a group of Discus fish with a peaceful temperament, large fish that prefer the same water parameters as that of the Discus fish.
The best tankmates for Discus fish are Hatchetfish, Clown Loaches, Cardinal tetras, Neon Tetras, Plecostomus catfish, Glowlight Tetras, and Sterbai Cory catfish. Never pair Discus fish with Goldfish, Angelfish, African Cichlid, and Oscars.
Water temperature and Water parameters for Discus fish
The Discus fish prefers a sightly high water temperature. The temperature should be regulated between 82° and 86° F. Although wild Heckel Discus like water approaching 90° F.
Warm, soft, acidic water is preferred by Discus fish. The pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.0, and the hardness level should be between 6 and 14 dKH.
The temperature for the Discus fish must be maintained as they like it and not force them to adapt to lower temperatures. Your discus will become more active, their metabolisms will function smoothly, they will develop quicker, and their colors will improve if the temperature is maintained.
Tank setup for Discus fish
Get the right size of tank and get the aquarium geared up with all the pieces of equipment. A heater and a strong filter are necessary. For the substrate, you can use sand and soft gravel. These species of fish like to dwell around the bottom for food.
Large broadleaf plants and vertically organized driftwood should be used to represent felled branches and trees, and water movement should be mild.
To offer shade and shelter, a few floating plants can be added. Add plants that can tolerate the level of temperature that Discus fish require such as Sword plants, Java fern, and Anubias.
These fishes require good quality water. As their metabolism is quite high they can produce waste quite frequently. So a strong filter is needed. A water change of about 20% to 25% per week is required.
Common diseases that can affect the Discus fish
Cotton wool and hole-in-the-head illness are the most frequent warm-water bacterial diseases that Discus fish are susceptible to. Internal and external parasite diseases, such as gill flukes, are also a concern for the fish.
If the discus fish’s high water temperature needs are not met, the fish may become infected with cool-water parasites and diseases like as ich.
Maintain the water parameters, especially the water temperature to avoid your Discus falling prey to diseases. Keep the water clean at all times and perform water changes weekly. If they happen to get any of the diseases, it’s better you resort to remedies. If they become severe, you must consult a vet and go for treatments.
Breeding Discus fish
The hardest part of breeding is sexing a Discus fish. These males and females of this species are extremely hard to tell apart. The Discus fish takes about 2 to 3 years to attain sexual maturity.
But as soon as a pair from the group of Discus fish you have to begin to show territorial behavior, get a breeding tank ready.
Get a breeding tank of the optimal size, optimal size being the size the Discus fish needs. Get all the water parameters such as temperature, pH levels, and hardness to the required level.
A substrate is not necessary but you will have to add flat rocks or driftwood for the eggs. Then move the pair to the breeding tank. Gestation lasts fewer than four days, followed by a ten-day incubation phase.
After two to three weeks, the discus young hatches. For a few days, the young eat bodily mucus released by their parents until they can swim on their own. For the first few times, novice parents may consume their eggs.
Cost of Discus Fish
The Discus Fish’s cost has a huge range. They can cost from $18 up to $200. It is probably because of their beautiful appearance that their prices can reach high as $200.
Discus fish might be a bit hard to keep but it’s a great addition to your tank. If you are ready to take on the task then you are ready otherwise you are biting off more than you can chew. They can be a bit hard to keep with other species due to their water parameter preferences. Provide these fishes with the required condition and it is sure to be fruitful. Your aquarium will become a scene to behold with these species’ beautiful colors. Although remember to keep a group of them and provide an adequate tank size.