Discus Fish | The Beginners Guide

Beautiful discus fish in a tank

Discus fish are lovely-looking fish that come in a stunning variety of colours. You certainly get your money’s worth when purchasing discus fish. These majestic creatures can live to a grand old age of ten years plus. This is obviously dependant on water conditions and habitat. Although Discus fish are a pretty large fish they are also a very placid breed. Saying that, the Discus likes to hang around in shoals so naturally, there will be a top dog. For this reason, just keep an eye on the smaller ones in the group just in case they get bullied. Due to them being a shoal fish when you first add them to your tank buy a minimum of 6 fish to keep them happy in their surroundings.

Discus fish generally grow up to about 8 to 10 inches long. These make them one of the largest fish you will find in most aquariums. They are certainly a popular fish for aquarium lovers due to their size and stunning colours. A shoal of Discus is almost mesmerising as they swim about the aquarium. They tend to spend most of their time swimming mid-water. This being said they will rise to the surface and rummage around the bottom when it is feeding time. It is said that Discus fish are hard to keep. But as with most fish if you keep an eye on things and keep the water quality how it should be then you will be fine.

Size Of Tank For Discus Fish

The Discus is a large fish that like to hang around in shoals for this reason they will need a fair bit of room. A lot of people will say a 55-gallon tank is a minimum size you can have. Ideally, a 55-gallon tank should only hold 5 fish. For healthy fish have one fish for every 10 gallons of water in your tank. So a 75-gallon tank should have 7-8 fish and 100 gallons would suit 10 fish. This is just a general rule obviously the more room they have the more they will thrive.

Ideal Water Conditions For Discus Fish

Discus fish are native to the Amazon river, for this reason, they like their water temperature warmer than most other fish. This is worth bearing in mind when adding other fish to the tank. Generally speaking, the ideal temperature should be 82-88F. This temperature should keep your Discus at their healthiest. The water should be soft and acidic with a PH of no lower than 6.0 and no higher than 7.0. As long as you keep your water at these levels your Discus should be nice vibrant healthy fish. The water will need frequent changes to stay at the desired levels so do regular checks to make sure. When you first buy your Discus it is worth checking what water conditions they have been raised up in. A sudden change in levels can be disastrous to the fish.

What To Feed Your Discus Fish

Discus aren’t too fussy when it comes to what they will eat. In their natural surroundings in the Amazon, they will happily tuck into algae and other decaying plant matter. They will also eat all types of small crustaceans and worms. In captivity, it is a good idea to feed them a healthy varied diet. This will help keep their colours vibrant and stunning. A healthy fish will have a real vibrant colouration that will stand out.

Food such as tropical fish flakes are fine to feed to your Discus but it is important to keep feeding them other food as well to keep it varied. Live food is also advisable and can include Brine Shrimp, Bloodworm, and Mosquito Larvae. This type of food will add important nutrients to their diet and keep the fish active.

Your Discus will need feeding every day to keep your fish happy and healthy. When sussing out how much to feed them just put enough food in for a 5-minute feeding spree. Any flakes etc left in the water after that need scooping out really. The last thing you need in your tank is uneaten fish food. This will damage your water conditions and could affect the health of your fish.

Breeding Tips For Discus Fish

If you have a couple of Discus that have reached sexual maturity, you may want to start breeding them. A female Discus should be matured at about 12 months old and a male about 14-15 months. There is a chance that nature will take its course and they will naturally breed. If for some reason this doesn’t occur there is a couple of things you can do to help.

Set Up A Breeding Tank

Once you have picked your most likely candidates for breeding it is time to separate them from the rest of the shoal. For this, you will need a breeding tank. I would suggest a tank of about 30 gallons for the job at hand. Add a sponge filter and heater and you are almost good to go.

Water Quality

Water quality is vital when it comes to any Discus fish wanting to breed. As I mentioned earlier the Discus is native to the Amazon. The Amazon water quality is soft and acidic. This is exactly how you want your water to be with a temperature between 82 and 88F

Seperate The Happy Couple

As the saying goes ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. This is true when it comes to Discus fish as well as humans. Try separating the male from the female by putting him in another tank or by means of a tank divider. Keep them apart for 2-3 days and then re-introduce them. Sometimes doing this the male may get a bit aggressive towards the female so it is worth keeping a close eye on them.

Drop The Water Temperature

Another trick to trigger the breeding in Discus fish is to do a 25% water change and drop the temperature by a couple of degrees. This can imitate their natural habitat and spur them into getting it on. Just be sure to check the PH and the hardness is still spot on. Something also worth mentioning is if you do end up separating the male be sure the other tank has the right water quality as your main tank.

Add Some Spawning Surfaces

Out in their natural habitat, the Discus needs the right type of surfaces to lay their spawn on. This needs to be replicated in your tank as well. Discus like to lay their eggs on quite flat broad surfaces so adding some broadleaf plants and some rocks should do the trick. A few bits of driftwood from your local supplier also wouldn’t go a miss.

Frequently Asked Questions

To Conclude

Discus fish really are a beautiful breed of fish that will add stunning colours to your aquarium. A lot of people think they are really hard to keep, but this isn’t strictly true. Just keep an eye on your tank conditions and sticking to a good diet will make for some happy Discus fish. Let’s face it what fish don’t need looking after to that extent? Enjoy your Discus Guys!

  1. How many fry do Discus have?

    The female Discus usually lay around 400 eggs. If they have no appropriate surfaces to lay them on, they can lay them on the side of your tank.

  2. Why do Discus eat their eggs?

    Discus fish are very good when it comes to parenting. Any eggs that are eaten have not been fertilised. These unfertilised eggs could spread disease if they are left unattended. For this reason, the Discus eat them up.

  3. Can Discus live in cold water?

    The simple answer to this is no. Discus like their water warm like their natural habitat in the Amazon. Colder temperatures will lead to stress and general unhealthiness.

  4. Do Discus jump out of tanks

    As a general rule happy Discus will not feel the need to jump out of your tank. That being said a stressed-out fish or a spooked fish may be able to leave the tank. If they are kept in good conditions this should not happen.

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