Discus Fish Care: Tank Requirement, Lifespan, Breeding, Tank Mates

One of the most colorful freshwater aquarium fish that is named after its disc-shaped body Discus. This article provides you general information on discus fish which helps you to know about its appearance, habitat, price, lifespan, and its social behavior and tankmates. It’s worth reading it at least once; especially for the fish lover who wants to know about the fish in detail.

Introduction of The Discus Fish

Discus fish belongs to the Symphysodon genus in the family of cichlid. S.aequifasciatus and S. discus are the two species mostly found in the tributaries of The Amazon River in South America. This fish was discovered between 1817 to 1835. Its brilliant color (yellow, red, orange striped) makes it more attractive from others however in the wild they are often green and brown. Its average length is 8-10 cm of average life span 10-15 years with proper care. Male discus fish are longer than females having a dull color with pointed fins whereas females with round-shaped fins.


For its appearance discus fish is well known as “The king of the aquarium”.  The fish has the most amazing color combination with a unique disc-shaped body. Its body is about 8-10cm.


We can easily find discus fish in the local market or online. As the fish is bred captively these days that covers up almost all the demand in the market, it does not exist on the red list. The price ranges from $25-$85 according to the breed.


The life expectancy of the discus fish depends upon how well you care about your fish. In the wild, the average lifespan of the fish is 10 years but some can live 15 years. The oldest known discus was 17 years.

Social Behavior and Tankmates

Discus fish are clam, peace-loving creatures. It needs good care and nourishment to live. It is a little difficult to keep them alive in an aquarium because of some strict requirements of quality water. Discus aquarium needs frequent water change for its healthy and sound life.

They prefer to make bonding with their tankmates which are good for their mental health. It is also believed that it could die without its mates or bonding. Neon, Cardinal tetras, emperor are some tankmates of discus fish.

They are shy nature and very sensitive to their water condition. That’s why you need to take good care of its environment, eating habits, and more importantly about the lighting condition of the aquarium. Ambient light is preferable for this fish.

Sexual Differences

The common way to identify females and males is their fins, forehead, and lips. Male have pointed dorsal fins with thicker lips and forehead. While female discus fish have short round shape fins with thinner lips and forehead than its male.

In the spawning time, the female has a larger breeding tube than males which is located between the anus and anal fin.

Discus Fish Care

As a living being, they also have a basic need like air, water, a diet with a sound environment. More importantly, we need to remember that fish do need care. Especially discus fish needs more care as they are very sensitive to its environmental condition.

Below I have listed the most important things you will require to keep Discus fish in your aquarium.

Fish Tank

Fish needs enough space to swim; likewise, the water in a bigger tank deteriorates way slower than a small tank thus providing adequate water parameters to the fish.

Discus are big fish that can get up to 7 inches in length. One inch of fish requires one gallon of water so, 7 gallons is regarded as ideal for one discus fish. In the same manner, a 100-gallon tank is suitable for 14 full-size discuses fish. It is always better to decorate your aquarium but remember to the favorable condition for your discus fish.

The most important thing is you need not leave any waste particle of food in your aquarium because it leads to environmental changes in the aquarium which is dangerous for the health of your discus. So, always siphon any uneaten food.

Discus Fish Diet

You should know discus are carnivorous fish which prefer bloodworms and beef hearts mostly which you can find packet if frozen food for fish. They need to 2-3 times be fed twice a day at its adult phase whereas it is suitable to feed it regularly in its infant phase. Remember, fish are not that big so, they cannot eat a lot amount of food. Feed them what they can consume in 3 minutes.

Decoration and Substrate

You can decorate your discus fish aquarium as per your wish, but it should not affect the living of fish inside the aquarium.  You can decorate the tank with natural rocks and driftwood. Make your fish comfortable inside its home.

Maintaining Water Quality

It is most preferential to maintain the quality of your discus tank. Water temperature, filtration must be maintained properly as per fish nature and need. You need to know why, how to maintain your discus tank.


Discus fish are tropical fish; they need a heater to maintain its tank temperature. Its aquarium temperature should be around 82F-88F (28C-31C). you should adjust a heater in a discus aquarium to maintain the temperature constant because your fish can die if the temperature is very low or more than the requirement.


There is no doubt discus fish need strict care more importantly in the quality of the water. So, you change about 10% of the water every other day; once in two days. Filtration is compulsorily necessary for discus as they are messy while eating and the waste particle of food is very dangerous to degrade the environment inside the aquarium which may lead to the death of your discus. The temperature difference between the new water and the aquarium water should be no more than 2-4 °C and the new water should always be cooler than the aquarium water.

The hang on back (HOB) filter system is preferable for discus tank.

I Like to use a sump filter or a canister filter in my discus tank as it can hold lots of bio media in it.


Discus fish are shy and easily agitated inside the aquarium with its surrounding. So, it needs very little light in the aquarium. Ambient light is best for them as per their nature.

Discus Diseases

Swollen belly, rapid breathing, skin ulcers, hole on the head, cloudy eyes are some common diseases that are found in the discus.

You should keep them in proper water conditions inside the aquarium and frequently change the water. The leftover food particle should be removed as fast as possible as it negatively disturbs the environment of the aquarium. Quarantine is the best treatment for sick discus.

Breeding Discus Fish

Here is the breeding process of discus.

  1. Selection of breeding pair.
  2. Preparation of breeding tank with a 20-30-gallon capacity
  3. Installation of sponge Filter
  4. Spawning the fish (Naturally Happens)
  5. Hatching of the eggs into fry

After hatching, the young feed on heavy body mucus secreted by the parents for a few days until they begin to free-swim. Discuses grow quickly gradually and become sexually mature at the age of 9-12 months. It will be fully-grown at the age of 2-2.5 years.

They seem to be aggressive during their spawning time even being the shy natured fish. Male discus is found more aggressive than the female to protect their mates. Both parents are involved in nursing their young ones. They secrete a musk-like substance from their skin which helps for nourishment for the young discus fish.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Keeping Discus Fish

The fish keeping is very beneficial for your eyes, enhances your room’s beauty, induces happiness in you. Other than this, hyperactive children, Alzheimer patients have a positive impact on their mental and physical condition. It will be the best decision if you chose discus fish for your tank. This is because it is the most beautiful fish that would brighten up your room in your house mood. Who would not love to see amazingly natural swimmers in their aquarium?

Undoubtedly, discus fish are hard to keep due to their strict rules to maintain their survival. It is difficult to rear and care the fish in the aquarium as they need proper as well as regular which consumes your time which may regard as a disadvantage for keeping the discus fish.


Discus is the colorful fish water aquarium fish and the best option for fish lovers. Anybody would love to keep the discus to brighten up their room. This article briefly covers information about the discus. After reading this article, anyone will have the necessary knowledge about discus fish and its characteristics. If you guys still have some queries, you can ask us any queries in our comment section without any hesitation. We will always be grateful to help you.