discus fish

Discus Fish | A complete Guide, their Origin, Types, Care Guide, Breeding

If you want to boost your aquarium’s aesthetics, then discus fish is the ultimate choice. This freshwater fish is known as the “king of the aquarium.” They are peaceful and energetic tropical fish that can easily cheer up anyone.

This freshwater fish is famous for its mesmerizing and amazing display of colors. The only thing that keeps the aquarists from keeping this beauty is its difficult care level. It’s hard to keep and can give its owner a really tough time.

Let’s discuss this amazing tropical fish in detail.

Origin and History

Wild Discus fish belongs to Amazon River Basins in South America. There are five different species of discus differencing slightly in shape and color. The most popular one is the Symphysodon discus. This freshwater cichlid is most often bred in South Asia.


Scientific nameSymphysodon discus

Discus fish is seen in the distinctive shape and have particular behavior. They have vibrant colors and attractive patterns. This wonderful fish is also known as “Pompadour Cichlid” for its appearance.

Due to the amazing work of fish breeders nowadays, there is a whole different universe of types and colors. Naturally, this fish inhabits flood plains and travel in groups or schools.

See our other articles on Oscar Fish: Their Origin, Types, Growth Rate, Lifespan, Care, and Breeding.


One of the most interesting features of this aquarium fish is its beautiful form. It has a flat body in disc shape; that’s why it is called “Discus.” Some of these cichlids are triangular in shape, and some are rounder and flatter.

The dorsal and anal fins are round in shape, so they enhance its round body. Moreover, its caudal and pelvic fins are more marked.

Another noticeable feature of cichlids is their amazing and unique eye color. The most popular and highly demanded is red eye color cichlid.

Color Variations

Generally, these cichlids are available in the following colors.

  • White Discus
  • Red Discus
  • Brown Discus
  • Black Discus
  • Royal blue Discus
  • Yellow Discus

They have horizontal or vertical black colored stripes over their bodies. Those bred in captivity have bright colors as compared to the wild ones. Yellow discus is a trendy and highly demanded type of cichlid these days.

White Discus

White discus is commonly known as “Albino Discus.” This type is famous for its elegant and charming white coloration. Its fins are light green to red in appearance, with widely scattered black spots all over the body. Its size ranges from 2″-3.5″.

This discus has outgrown Angelfish in popularity, and fish keepers are rushing to have one for themselves.

Royal Blue Discus

This cichlid is also known as “Symphysodon Aequifasciatus.” Royal blue discus is a relatively new breed known worldwide for its majestic blue color. The fact that its color depends upon its mood and surroundings makes it so unique and popular.

Its territorial nature makes it difficult to breed. The most appropriate conditions for breeding royal blue discus are warm, slightly acidic, and soft water. The maximum size achieved by the Royal blue aquarium discus is 6″.

Pattern Variations

Based on their unique and eye-catching pattern, the followings are the discus fish types.

  • Golden Marlboro Discus
  • Albino Leopard Discus
  • Albino Snakeskin Discus
  • Red Turquoise Discus
  • Golden Checkerboard Pigeon Discus
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Discus is without any doubt the most popular schooling fish. A bunch of these beauties can attract anyone’s attention. They love to move and play together and avoid any fight or conflict.

Due to their colors and patterns, a group of these fish can create a mesmerizing pattern over the walls. Discus fish is least aggressive or competitive; they get along well with many other fishes.

Discus is usually a middle-dweller and mostly dominates the mid-section of the aquarium. Usually, they stay close to the plants, rocks, or large driftwood.


Discus fish is one of the largest and brightest freshwater fish ever. Their body can range from 18″-20″ inches in length and 8″-10″ in diameter. This huge size makes them fairly appropriate for the home aquarium.

Aquarium Environment

To mimic their natural habitat providing plants and rocks is necessary. As this fish originated from the amazon’s flood plains, flood pulses/waves are beneficial for their growth and development.

Following living conditions must be provided to this fish to ensure maximum growth.

Discus Fish Tank size

Discus fish is best grown when kept in groups. A group of 6 fish is suitable for your aquarium. Regarding their tremendous growth rate and extraordinary size, they need immense space.

A tank of 50 gallons is best for a group of six discus fish. This space will ensure better growth and flourishing health.

A tank space of 7-10 gallons is best for one discus fish. As they reach adulthood, an updated larger tank is necessary. A tank of 14-15 gallons will work for individual adult discus.

Tank Conditions

A soft substrate with fine gravel particles that are harmless for the fish is highly appreciated. Discus can dig around the substrate looking for food; thus, a hard substrate like large gravel particles can damage their delicate skin.

Moreover, slow-moving water should be preferred as high-pressure pulses can disturb their balance. Thus, a water pump is unnecessary. Furthermore, to break natural water currents, use obstacles like vertical bars or other ornaments.

Tank size7-10 gallon
Water temperature82-8-degrees Fahrenheit
Water qualitySoft
Chlorine, ammonia or nitrate0ppm

Discus fish prefers high water temperature as cold water can lessen their immunity. Thus, low water temperature is harmful to their health.

Abrupt changes in water parameters can prove dangerous for your discus. Thus, one should focus on maintaining average water parameters than establishing ideal conditions. Slightly acidic or neutral water is most appropriate for their growth.

Using tap water for your fish aquarium is the biggest mistake you can make while setting up a discus fish tank. Use de-chlorinated and neutralized water. Moreover, filtration through biological media should be preferred.

When it comes to plants, use smaller plants as dwarf hair grass, Anubis, and java fern, as it proves a good oxygen source. Using live plants can provide an environment to the fish similar to their natural habitat.

Discus fish origin and Care guide


When choosing tankmates for your discus, you need to be a little careful as they can sometimes be shy or timid.

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 To make them feel safe, you can use small colorful fish. These fish are commonly known as dither fish.

Following Tankmates Could Prove Best.

  • Ember tetra
  • Gouramis
  • Cory catfish
  • Bristlenose pleco
  • Clown loaches
  • Neon tetras
  • Rummy nose tetra

Avoid keeping any aggressive fish with discus; your discus fish might get suppressed.

The following fish should not be selected as discus fish tank mates.

  • Angelfish
  • Oscar fish
  • Arowana
  • Other territorial fishes

Large territorial fish can even try to eat your discus. This type of behavior can put huge stress on your fish. Snail and shrimps are also good options for discus tank mates, as they can get along well with discus.

Keeping the Discus Together

Nothing sounds better than “Petting a group of discus together.” They are fun-loving, active, and entertaining. Being a schooling fish, discus should be kept in groups.

But this all doesn’t mean that you can’t keep single discus fish. You can keep a maximum of 5-6 discus at once, but the more they are, the better they look.

Discus Fish Food

When it comes to feeding your discus fish, there are three basic modes. Being omnivores in nature, they can eat both plants and animals.

One-third part of their diet consists of plants, including algae or other plant materials.

The second largest part of their diet is crustaceans, insects, invertebrates, brine shrimp, and other arthropods. Snails and shrimps are also appreciated.

To improve the coloration of your fish, use different types of food, including fish flakes, pellets, and dried or frozen bloodworms.

In a wild environment, discus usually prefers mosquito larvae. Snails and shrimps are best to maintain and enhance their pigments.

Overfeeding can be dangerous, as they can survive days without eating. Thus, the best way will be to feed your discus once a day for not more than 3-5 minutes.

Overfeeding can further lead to many health problems and decreased immunity. Moreover, excessive waste in water can ruin water quality. If overfeeding occurs, then stop feeding your fish for the next few days.

Discus Fish Care

Keeping a discus is a rewarding experience, but taking good care of this fish can be troublesome. As discus fish is delicate and fragile; thus, water conditions should be monitored regularly.

As these fish requires warmer water conditions, thus maintaining a good water temperature is necessary. If kept in the cold, your fish might get sick because of low immunity.

Moreover, a clean water tank setup should be your utmost priority. An efficient water filtration system coupled with regular testing can be the ultimate solution to fish care. The canister filter is an intelligent choice these days.

A water change of 25% every week is necessary. But frequent water changes should be avoided. Use a vacuum for cleaning the gravel and for removing extra waste. Slightly acidic water is most suitable for their growth.

The most common problem that you might face while keeping a discus is parasite infection. Your fish might show redness or itching symptoms for parasite infection; thus, you need to look out for these signs.

To protect your fish from these parasites, clean your tank regularly, and parasite cleaning solutions should be used. Regular water changes are key to your fish’s health.

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If anything gets serious, try consulting an expert.

How to Breed Discus Fish?

One of the most difficult tasks and rarely achieved things is breeding a discus. Although breeding this fish is pretty hard, but the results are extraordinary.

Nowadays, there is a whole new world of discus available, all that is the outcome of selective breeding done over a thousand years.

Following steps should be taken to achieve outstanding results.

  1. Breeding Tank Setup

    Firstly, use a separate tank for parents and maintain the above-mentioned water parameters. An appropriate tank setup is vital.

  2. Increase Temperature of water

    To induce the spawning process, increase the temperature of the water.

  3. Use a spawning cone

    Use a spawning cone as a medium; this cone is the best place for laying eggs.

  4. Remove Female from Tank

    After the egg-laying process is done, to maintain a peaceful environment, remove the female from the spawning tank, as they tend to eat their own fry.

  5. Male Nurturing

    Lastly, the males are generally left to nurture their fry.

  6. Hatching Time

    It takes at least 3-4 days for eggs to hatch and another 3 days for them to become free-swimming.

  7. Young Ones Feed

    The young ones feed on the mucus released by their parents rich in nutrients and essential vitamins.

Although it is difficult to breed discus fish, it is still worth the efforts.


To make every point crystal clear for our readers. We have answered some of your frequently asked questions.

How big do discus fish get?

The size and weight of discus basically depend on their living conditions and surroundings. This fish can attain a maximum size of 18″-20″ with 6″-8″ in diameter in suitable conditions.
Another amazing fact about the discus is that they can live up to 14-15 years; this is extraordinary for an aquarium fish. They reach their maximum size at the age of 2 years.

What do discus fish eats?

Discus is omnivorous in nature; thus, it feeds on both plant and animal-based food. In nature, plants make a major part of the fish’s diet. One-third of their food is based on algae and other plant material.
They also like to feast on crustaceans, brine shrimp, and blood worms. The second major part of their diet are invertebrates, snails, and arthropods.

How much are discus fish?

Discus are quite expensive as they are tough to breed and difficult to keep. Moreover, based on their popularity and mesmerizing beauty, they can really cost you a lot of money, but they are definitely worth it.
Discus fish price can range from $110-$250. The price varies depending on the type of discus with Golden Marbello Discus and Super Pigeon Snakeskin discus on the top of the list.


If you want to keep a good-looking and energetic fish in your home aquarium, then discus fish is without any doubt the best choice. Although, for beginner’s discus fish could be a little troublesome.

To maintain their charming beauty and magnificent looks, provide them with ultimate care and nutritious food. Establishing appropriate water conditions and proper cleaning is inevitable for their growth and survival.

I hope we provided you with every bit of information you needed to keep this amazing fish.

Comment below if you have ever kept a discus fish before or owing to keep one in the future.

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