The Fish Keeping & Aquarium Guide.

Are Discus Fish Hard to Keep? A Clear and Neutral Answer

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Discus fish are popular with aquarium enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and unique appearance. However, many people wonder if discus fish are hard to keep.

The answer to this question is not straightforward, as it depends on various factors.

Firstly, it is essential to note that discus fish are sensitive to changes in water conditions. Maintaining a stable and appropriate environment for them can be challenging, particularly for beginners.

However, with the right equipment and knowledge, creating a suitable habitat for these fish is possible.


Understanding Discus Fish


Discus fish, also known as symphysodon, are one of the most popular tropical fish species among aquarium enthusiasts. Discus are cichlids, a family of fish known for their bright colors and unique behaviors.

Discus fish are native to the Amazon River basin in South America, where they live in slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation.

They are known for their round, flattened bodies and bright, vibrant colors. Discus comes in various colors, including blue, green, red, and yellow.

One of the reasons that discus fish are so popular among aquarium enthusiasts is their unique behavior. Discus are social fish and thrive in groups of six or more. They are also known for their intelligence and can recognize their owners.

However, discus fish can be challenging to keep. They require a specific water temperature and pH level, and their diet must be carefully monitored. Additionally, discus are sensitive to environmental changes and can become stressed quickly.

While discus fish can be challenging to keep, they are a beautiful and fascinating addition to any aquarium. With the proper care and attention, discus can thrive and provide enjoyment for years to come.


Discus Fish Tank Requirements


Discus fish require a specific tank setup to thrive and stay healthy. Here are some of the key factors to consider when setting up a tank for discus fish:


Tank Size


Discus fish require a minimum tank size of 50 gallons, but a larger tank is recommended. This is because discus fish are known to grow quite large and need plenty of swimming space. A larger tank also helps to maintain stable water conditions, which is essential for the health of the fish.


Tank Setup


Creating a natural environment that mimics their natural habitat is essential when setting up a tank for discus fish. This includes adding live plants, driftwood, and rocks to the tank. A bare bottom tank is not recommended, as it can be stressful for the fish and may lead to health problems.


Water Quality


Discus fish are sensitive to changes in water quality, so it is essential to maintain stable water conditions in the tank. This can be achieved by using a high-quality filtration system and performing regular water changes.

It is also essential to monitor the pH and temperature of the water, as discus fish prefer slightly acidic water with a temperature between 82-86°F.


Tank Mates


When choosing tank mates for discus fish, selecting species compatible with their peaceful nature is important. Avoid keeping aggressive or territorial fish in the same tank as discus fish, which can lead to stress and health problems.

Overall, setting up a tank for discus fish requires careful consideration of their specific needs and preferences. With the proper setup, discus fish can thrive and provide a beautiful addition to any aquarium.


Water Parameters for Discus Fish


Discus fish are known to be sensitive to water conditions, so it is essential to maintain the right water parameters for their survival. The following are some of the water parameters that you need to keep in mind when keeping discus fish:

  • Water Temperature: Discus fish require a consistent water temperature of around 82-86°F (28-30°C). Maintaining the water temperature within this range is crucial to prevent any stress or health issues in the fish.
  • Water pH Level: Discus fish thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water conditions, with a pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. It is essential to keep the pH level stable to prevent any sudden changes that can cause stress to the fish.
  • Water Hardness: Discus fish prefer soft water conditions, with a hardness level ranging from 1 to 8 dGH. Hard water can cause stress to the fish and affect their health.
  • Water Conditions: Discus fish require clean and well-oxygenated water. Maintaining water quality by performing regular water changes, ensuring proper filtration, and avoiding overfeeding is essential.
  • Water Chemistry: Discus fish require balanced water chemistry with the proper ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Monitoring the water chemistry regularly and taking corrective actions if necessary is crucial.

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of discus fish. Following the guidelines mentioned above, you can ensure your discus fish thrive in their aquarium environment.


Maintaining Discus Fish Environment


Maintaining a suitable environment for discus fish is crucial for their health and well-being. It involves several factors such as water quality, filtration, and regular maintenance.

Filtration systems are essential for keeping the water clean and free of harmful bacteria. A good filtration system should be able to handle the amount of waste produced by the fish and keep the water parameters stable.

Choosing a filter designed explicitly for discus fish is recommended and can handle the tank’s size and bio-load.

Water changes are also crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for discus fish. Partial water changes should be done regularly to remove excess waste and maintain the water parameters

. Changing 20-30% of the water every week is recommended to keep the water clean and healthy.

Monitoring the water parameters is essential for maintaining a healthy environment for discus fish. pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels should be monitored regularly to ensure they are within the acceptable range.

Any sudden changes in these parameters could harm the fish and should be addressed immediately.

In addition to regular maintenance, it is also important to provide a suitable environment for the discus fish. They require a spacious tank with plenty of hiding places and a soft substrate.

The water temperature should be between 82-86°F, and the pH should be 6.0-7.5.

In conclusion, maintaining a suitable environment for discus fish requires regular maintenance, proper filtration, and monitoring of water parameters.

A suitable environment will help ensure the fish remain healthy and happy.


Feeding Discus Fish


Feeding discus fish is an essential part of their care. A balanced diet is necessary to keep them healthy and vibrant. Discus fish are known for being picky eaters, so it’s important to find the food they will enjoy.

Discus fish have a high protein diet and thrive on live or frozen foods. Some popular choices for discus fish include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other small live foods.

Pellets and flakes can also be used, but ensuring they are high-quality and formulated explicitly for discus fish is essential.

When feeding discus fish, paying attention to their appetite is essential. Overfeeding can lead to health issues, and underfeeding can cause malnutrition.

Feeding them small amounts multiple times a day instead of one large feeding is recommended.

Different feeding techniques can be used for discus fish. Some owners prefer to feed them in a separate tank to reduce competition for food.

Others prefer a feeding ring to keep the food in one place and prevent it from spreading throughout the tank.

In conclusion, feeding discus fish requires a balanced diet that includes live or frozen foods and high-quality pellets and flakes. Please watch their appetite and use appropriate feeding techniques to ensure their health and wellbeing.


Discus Fish Health Concerns


Discus fish are generally hardy and healthy when kept in a suitable environment. However, like all fish, they are susceptible to various health concerns that can affect their overall well-being.

This section will discuss some of the most common health concerns that discus fish owners may encounter.

One of the most common health concerns in discus fish is ich, also known as white spot disease. Ich is a parasitic infection that causes white spots on the fish’s body.

This disease is highly contagious and can quickly spread throughout the tank. If left untreated, ich can be fatal to discus fish. However, ich can be treated with medication, and early detection is critical to a successful recovery.

Another common health concern in discus fish is stress. Various factors, including poor water quality, overcrowding, and aggressive tank mates, can cause stress.

When discus fish are stressed, they may become more susceptible to diseases and infections. Keeping the tank clean and well-maintained is vital to minimize stress in discus fish.

Fin rot is another health concern that discus fish owners may encounter. Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins to become frayed and tattered.

This condition is often caused by poor water quality or overcrowding in the tank. Fin rot can be treated with antibiotics and by improving the water quality in the tank.

Overfeeding is a common mistake that discus fish owners make. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health problems in discus fish. It is crucial to feed discus fish a balanced diet and to avoid overfeeding them.

In conclusion, discus fish are generally hardy and healthy when kept in a suitable environment. However, they are susceptible to various health concerns affecting their overall well-being.

It is essential to monitor discus fish for signs of illness and take prompt action if health concerns arise.


Breeding Discus Fish


Breeding discus fish can be a challenging but rewarding experience for aquarists who are up for the task. It requires patience, knowledge, and conditions to breed these beautiful fish successfully.

One crucial factor to consider when breeding discus fish is the quality of the breeding stock. Purchasing discus fish from reputable breeders with a track record of producing healthy and high-quality fish is recommended.

This will increase the chances of successful breeding and producing healthy fry.

When it comes to breeding, discus fish are known to be picky about their partners. It is essential to choose compatible pairs that exhibit similar characteristics and behaviors.

Breeding pairs should also be conditioned with a nutritious diet and kept in a separate breeding tank with appropriate water parameters.

Discus fish are known to be doting parents who take great care of their fry. After the eggs have hatched, the fry will feed on the parents’ mucus for the first few days before transitioning to a diet of newly hatched brine shrimp or other small foods.

Providing a clean and healthy environment for the fry to thrive and grow is essential.

Breeding discus fish can be a challenging but rewarding experience for aquarists who are up for the task. With the right conditions and knowledge, breeding and raising healthy juveniles is possible.


Choosing Tank Mates for Discus Fish


Discus fish are peaceful and gentle creatures that can be kept with other fish species. However, it is essential to choose suitable tank mates to ensure that the discus fish are not bullied or stressed.

When selecting tank mates for discus fish, it is essential to consider the tank’s size and the other fish’s temperament.

Discus fish are relatively large and require plenty of swimming space, so choosing tank mates that are not too aggressive or territorial is essential.

Schooling fish are a good choice for tank mates, as they are social and will not bother the discus fish. Some good options include tetras, rasboras, and corydoras catfish.

These fish are also relatively small and will not compete with the discus fish for food.

Avoiding aggressive or territorial fish when choosing tank mates for discus fish is essential. Species such as cichlids and barbs can be bold and may bully the discus fish.

Additionally, it is essential to avoid fish that may nip at the fins of the discus fish, such as angelfish and bettas.

Choosing suitable tank mates for discus fish is crucial to ensuring a peaceful and stress-free environment.

Schooling less aggressive or territorial fish is the best option for tank mates. Avoiding aggressive or fin-nipping fish is essential to prevent stress and injury to the discus fish.


Plant and Substrate Choices


When keeping discus fish, choosing the right plants and substrate is crucial. Live plants are a great addition to any discus aquarium, as they provide natural hiding places and help to maintain water quality.

However, not all plants are suitable for discus tanks, so it’s essential to choose wisely.

Java fern is a popular choice for discus tanks, as it is hardy and can tolerate many water conditions. It also provides a natural look to the aquarium and can be attached to driftwood for added visual interest.

Good plant choices include the Amazon sword, Anubis, and java moss.

Regarding substrate, choosing a material that won’t adversely affect water quality is essential. Sand and gravel are popular for discus tanks, as they are easy to clean and don’t release harmful chemicals into the water.

However, it’s important to avoid using substrates that are too sharp or abrasive, as they can damage the delicate fins of discus fish.

Driftwood is another popular addition to discus tanks, as it provides a natural look and can help to maintain water quality.

It also provides a natural hiding place for discus fish, which can help to reduce stress levels and promote healthy behavior.

Choosing the right plants and substrate for a discus tank is essential for maintaining a healthy and thriving aquarium.

Discus keepers can create a beautiful and healthy environment for their fish to thrive by selecting hardy, natural materials and avoiding harsh chemicals and abrasive substrates.




In conclusion, discus fish can be challenging to keep, but with the proper knowledge and preparation, they can thrive in a home aquarium. It is essential to understand their specific needs for water quality, temperature, and diet, as well as their social behavior and potential health issues.

Regarding water quality, discus fish require clean, well-oxygenated water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. They are sensitive to changes in water chemistry, so regular testing and maintenance are crucial to their health. Maintaining a consistent water temperature between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit is also essential for their well-being.

In terms of diet, discus fish are carnivorous and require a varied diet of high-quality protein sources such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and pellets. It is important to avoid overfeeding and to provide a balanced diet to prevent health issues.

Discus fish are social creatures and should be kept in groups of at least six to eight individuals. They may exhibit aggression towards each other during breeding or establishing dominance, but this can be managed with proper tank size and decor.

Discus fish can be a rewarding and beautiful addition to a home aquarium. Still, they require significant time and effort to maintain their health and well-being. With the proper care and attention, however, they can thrive and provide enjoyment for years to come.

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