The Fish Guru

Mastering the Art of Keeping and Breeding Discus Fish

Introduction to Discus Fish

Discus fish are some of the most intriguing freshwater creatures in the aquarium industry. These challenge-loving fish require careful attention to thrive and maintain vitality.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about these fish, including their physical characteristics, types, and care requirements.

Importance of Proper Care for Discus Fish

The care requirements for discus fish are unique and quite demanding. Without adequate and pristine water conditions, these fish could fall ill and require costly medical attention.

As a result, it is important to ensure that the water quality in their aquarium is maintained at the highest level. Aside from their sensitivity to low-quality water conditions, discus fish can also be quite expensive to purchase.

Therefore, it is essential to make sure that you provide them with proper care, so your investment does not go to waste.

Discus Fish Identification

Appearance and Physical Characteristics of Discus Fish

Discus fish are renowned for their disc-like appearance that sets them apart from other aquarium fish species. They have a round body shape and a distinctive dorsal fin that creates a crown-like appearance.

In terms of color, discus fish are some of the most vivid freshwater aquarium fish available. The intensity of their colors and intricate patterns make them a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts.

Discus fish come in various color variations ranging from shades of blue, yellow, orange, red, and brown.

Types of Discus Fish

Discus fish are further classified into various species based on their color and pattern variations. The blue discus is a common variation that comes with a vibrant shade of blue-black to an intense turquoise color.

It is highly sought after for its striking colors and unique patterns. Another variation is the red discus, which has an intensely red hue with a characteristic yellow or orange pattern.

Its bold coloration and striking patterns make it a popular choice among aquarium hobbyists.


Discus fish are some of the most demanding and unique fish species in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They require high standards of water quality, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment to thrive.

Investing in quality filtration systems, heater, and aeration system is a must for keeping discus fish happy and healthy. Ensuring that discus fish are well taken care of involves a lot of time, patience, and financial investment.

But with proper attention, they will thrive and provide a beautiful centerpiece in any aquarium setting.

3) Natural Habitat and Behavior of Discus Fish

Discus fish are native to the Amazon River basin and its various tributaries. Species such as the blue discus, in particular, are typically found in rocky areas at depths of up to 20 meters.

These areas have slow, murky waters that have low oxygen levels, which makes them challenging for other fish species to survive in. Red discus are native to the lower regions of the Amazon River in Brazil.

In its natural habitat, the water is slightly acidic, soft, and warm, which is conducive to discus fish growth and survival. The vegetation in their natural environment is dense, providing cover and food sources.

Behaviorally, discus fish are generally shy and calm. They are social animals that tend to congregate in small schools in the wild.

Like most cichlids, discus fish are territorial and will defend their nests aggressively. Discus fish are relatively peaceful when placed in a community aquarium setting, but they remain shy and introverted.

They are best kept with other slow-moving species that do not compete for food or the same hiding spots.

4) Discus Fish Tank Requirements

Minimizing tank size for discus fish is a crucial consideration. It is recommended to use a 75-gallon tank or larger, depending on the number of discus fish you plan to keep.

Although discus do not require a planted aquarium, some potted plants or driftwood can be added to create a more natural environment. The substrate for a discus tank should be kept bare to facilitate tank maintenance, and filters that can handle a larger volume of water are preferable.

It is important to keep the water quality as pristine as possible, as discus fish are especially sensitive to changes in the environment. Discus fish require warm temperatures (82-86 F), slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0-6.5, a general hardness (GH) between 50-100 ppm, and a carbonate hardness (KH) between 40-80 ppm.

Water changes can be done weekly to maintain these optimal water parameters. When it comes to tank-mates, it is important to select species that do well in warmer water temperatures and do not pose a threat to the discus.

Good choices for tank-mates include slow feeders such as tetras and rasboras. It is best to avoid aggressive species, as they can create too much stress for the discus.

One of the primary benefits of keeping discus fish is their docile nature, which makes coexistence possible with other fish species in a well-thought-out community aquarium. Identifying and maintaining ideal water quality parameters, along with careful selection of compatible tank-mates, will create an ideal environment for these stunning fish.

5) Breeding Discus Fish

Breeding discus fish can be a rewarding experience. Before starting, one must take note of the sexual dimorphism of the species.

Males are generally larger and have a broader forehead. Females tend to be smaller and rounder with a blue background color.

They will most likely pair naturally according to their own preferences.

A breeding tank of at least 30-40 gallons must be used for the process.

A sponge filter and aquarium heater are needed to maintain steady water conditions and water flow. A high-quality protein-rich diet should also be provided to stimulate the breeding process.

After selecting a breeding pair, they will be moved to the breeding tank. The breeding tank should be kept highly functional with a bare-bottom to facilitate egg attachment and easy cleaning.

Rough-textured objects like clay pots, PVC pipes, or artificial breeding cones also serve as ideal egg-laying surfaces. A good ceramic tile or cichlid flat may also be used.

Discus fish don’t breed regularly, but typical mating practices involve cleaning and flattening breeding surfaces before laying their eggs. After laying the eggs, both the male and female will tend and guard the eggs until they hatch in just a few days.

The young sprout shortly after hatching and will stick to the spawning surfaces until sometime after the yolk sacs are depleted. It is normal for the parents to protect the young until they become free-swimming fry.

In some cases, the breeding cycle may not be successful. If the pair is having trouble laying eggs, consider increasing the temperature and water agitation in the tank.

Some other issues include discus eating eggs and fry, which may be due to a lack of food or other environmental disruptions. One can mitigate these issues by minimizing stress and reducing other tank-mates’ aggression, such as removing male tetras or cichlids.

When the fry become free-swimming, they will need nutritional supplements in the form of baby brine shrimp or commercially made fry food. It is essential to keep water changes regular and the water quality pristine during this period and handle them minimally.



Keeping and breeding discus fish can be challenging, but it is rewarding due to their colorful appearance and introduced sense of life in your aquarium. One must take note of several essential factors when keeping them, such as investing in quality filtration, monitoring aquarium water quality regularly, and maintaining a proper diet.

By following specific guidelines and recommendations, the chances of keeping discus fish healthy are increased. Potential buyers must only purchase discus fish from credible stores.

As previously mentioned, it is best to keep them in groups and slowly introduce them to avoid causing them unnecessary stress. Daily water changes, regular vacuuming of the substrate, and proper feeding are paramount for their health and enjoyment.

With proper care and attention to detail, discus can thrive in your aquarium and remain a breathtaking centerpiece in your home for years to come. Discus fish are a unique and challenging species to keep and breed.

They require meticulous attention to water quality, a specific environment, and proper nutrition to thrive. However, their striking colors and vivid patterns make them a worthwhile addition to any aquarium, creating a sense of life and beauty in any room.

By learning about their natural habitat, setting up an ideal tank, breeding them, and providing daily maintenance, enthusiasts can enjoy these beautiful fish for years to come. It is essential to purchase discus fish from a credible source and provide proper care to ensure their health and longevity.

By following these guidelines, enthusiasts can experience the satisfaction of successfully keeping and breeding discus fish and experience the joy of their peaceful yet vibrant presence in their aquarium.

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