The Discus fish is by many considered the king of freshwater fish and the ultimate challenge in the freshwater hobby. It is a gorgeous cichlid fish with a unique body shape and an incredible amount of different color patterns, due to years and years of breeding. They used to be very challenging to keep because most were wild caught species, but the common aquarium bred species of today adapt easily to the aquarium life.
Keeping discus fish
Discus fish are best kept in groups of 5 or more, but you have to realize that although they are not big swimmers, these fish get huge and need big tanks. We recommend an aquarium of at least 400 to 500 liters, equal to 80 – 100 liters per grown discus. A high tank is also preferable, due to their unique high body shape: 60 cm height as a minimum, with 55 cm water minimum. Nowadays more and more people keep Discus fish in planted tanks which used to be considered impossible, because of the higher water temperature. Nowadays many fish stores offer plants that do well in warmer water such as the Java Fern, Anubias, Echinodorus sp., Amazonicus, Bleheri and Uruguayensis.
Regular water changes are important as these big fish’s metabolism works faster in warm water and they produce more waste than, let’s say, the average household freshwater community aquarium fish. Equally important is to keep the tank oxygenated at all times – because warmer water means less oxygen – preferably with a streaming pump, to keep the surface area moving.
Discus fish behaviour
Remember that a Discus fish, even though a calm and peaceful fish in general, is still a cichlid and they tend to fight with each other. We therefore recommend to select a group of Discus fish of the same size to diminish aggression, because the more fish, the less aggression they show. Discus fish are not aggressive towards other species and are often kept with Neon Tetras, Corydoras and Angel fish.
The ultimate goal
Eddy Leysen’s aquarium is a great example of a beautiful, planted Discus tank: Symphysodon Heckel, S. aequifasciatus, S. haraldi en S. axelrodi
|Up to 20 cm in diameter
|Amazon river system, South America
|Temperature: 27 – 29 °C
pH: 5 – 7
KH: 3 – 5
GH: 5 – 8
|As the name ‘Discus’ applies: as flat as a pancake but a stunningly beautiful fish. If you want your discus to show natural schooling behaviour, keep a group of Discus fish with the same colours (the same breeding type), for example ‘Brilliant Turquoise’ with ‘Brilliant Turquoise’, ‘Pigeon blood’ with ‘Pigeon blood’, etc. But besides the hybrid ones, you can also keep a group of wild ones together.