discus fish

Discus Fish Stats

Scientific Name: Symphysodon Aequifasciatus
Care Level: Moderate to Difficult
Size: Up to 8 inches
Temperature: 82°F – 86°F (27°C – 30°C)
pH level: 5 – 7
Water Hardness: 1° to 8° dH
Life span: If well cared for, they can live upto 10 years
Origin / Habitat: Amazon River
Discus Temperament / Behavior: Very peaceful most of the time.
Discus Breeding: Breeding them can be very difficult because of the pristine water conditions that they require.
Discus Tank Size: 50 gallon minimum, prefer tall aquariums


The Discus Fish is a very popular tropical freshwater aquarium species. Some common discus fish names include: Cobalt Discus, Blue Discus, Blue Faced, Blue-Head, Red Thunder, Blue Red Turquoise, Marlboro Red, Pigeon Blood, Green, Brown, Snake Skin, Spotted Strawberry.. and so on. It seems that the names for the different Discus varietals have all just originated from their physical coloration and appearance. The natural discus habitat is shallow streams, creeks and small lakes running off the Brazilian Amazon River of South America and its tributaries. In the wild, discus live among submerged tree roots, close to shore. Nature has provided the discus with black horizontal bars which are ideal for blending in with root systems.

The name “Discus” is derived from the “disc like” shape of the fish. Discus can be commonly found in patterned shades of green, red, brown and blue.



Discus fish are peaceful and highly social. They are not predatory and they do not burrow in the substrate. They are a schooling fish and prefer to be kept in groups of around 6 fish, but may not do very well if kept alone. Several discus can be kept together and they can be kept with some of the more peaceful tropical fish.

Discus will react to your presence in the room, things on TV, or they even may tap on the glass at your approach before feeding time. Discus fish will quickly endear themselves to you. They will recognize you and eagerly rush to greet you and discus fish will eat out your hand. Discus fish exhibit unique parental behavior as they raise their fry (babies) much differently than most tropical fish. Both parents take an active role in raising their young.

Take notice of their feeding habits on a regular basis. If they are not eating, there is something wrong. They have very small stomachs and can have trouble

Water Quality

Discus require excellent water conditions, frequent water changes and higher water temperatures than most other tropical fish. These fish are extremely sensitive to disease and water conditions. Since Discus do not tolerate water quality changes well and a smaller tank is more likely to fluctuate its pH levels, a 40 gallon tank is the smallest recommended tank size for them. Clean water should have zero ammonia and nitrite levels.

Water changes must be done on a regular basis to ensure a healthy discus aquarium. It will require an investment of time to properly maintain your discus aquarium. You should investigate the parameters of your local tap water. If the tap water in your area is very hard with a high ph, you may want to use softened water to blend with your tap water in order to achieve desirable water for the discus. The softer water will be easier to adjust the pH to the desired range for the discus fish. An excellent method of softening tap water for use in the discus aquarium is the use of a reverse osmosis filter. The aquarium filter must “cycle” or become “established” with nitrifying bacteria before it is ready for discus fish.

Temperature requirements: Discus require warmer temperatures than other tropical fish. Preferably 84°F-87°F, with 82°F being the lowest. Use a 250W heater in a 55g tank.

pH level: 5 – 7. However, 6.5 is ideal in an aquarium setting. If your pH is too low it can harm your nitrogen cycle


Discus fish


Discus will generally enjoy a wide variety of live and frozen foods. For the best coloration you will need to feed them a varied diet of frozen foods. Discus are usually not fond of eating from the surface of the tank so you should avoid flakes or other floating food types. When feeding dry food pellets or granules that sink slowly are best. For the best results I suggest feeding a combination of dry New Life Spectrum Discus Pellets and Frozen Beefheart Cubes


It is usually best to keep discus fish by themselves. Their higher temperature and lower pH water requirements make it very difficult to keep other species healthy in the same environment. Discus are a schooling species and should be kept in groups. Resist the urge to add a lone discus to a community tank stocked with various types of fish.

Lemon discus

The Takeaway

The Discus fish is a great choice for experienced freshwater hobbyists who are looking for something a little more colorful than your usual freshwater community tank. They are very friendly and exhibit excellent personality when they become accustomed to captivity. The rigid feeding and water quality requirements make the discus fish a very challenging, but rewarding pet.