Discus Fish: Interesting Facts About Keeping

The discus fish – also known as the “King of the Amazon” – looks particularly gorgeous and requires special care. You can find out here which aspects you should take into account when purchasing, caring for, and keeping it.

General information on discus fish

Discus fish, also known as discus cichlids, are freshwater fish and belong to the cichlid family. They originally come from the Amazon river system in tropical South America. They are characterized by their strongly compressed and high-backed physique. Due to its round forehead profile and the small snout with a small mouth and bulging lips, its appearance is reminiscent of the discus disc that gives it its name.

If you want to keep discus fish, you have to consider a few things. Especially beginners in the aquarium hobby are often overwhelmed with the discus fish. Although the posture is generally quite possible, it quickly happens that minor inattentiveness becomes a major problem. So that you don’t get into such a mess in the first place, we would like to help you with our tips. In this way, you can create a species-appropriate environment for your discus fish so that they can enjoy your aquarium inhabitants for a long time.

The aquarium size

In order for your discus fish to feel comfortable, it needs a suitable environment. The size of the aquarium is crucial. The discus feels most comfortable in groups of at least four to five animals. So that all animals have enough space, you should make sure that the pool is of the appropriate size. A volume of 50 to 60 liters should be planned for each fish. Make sure that the aquarium is at least 150 cm long, as the discus can reach a size of 15-20 cm.

The lighting

The lighting of your aquarium is also important. Discus fish are relatively sensitive to light. In its original environment, the discus lives between roots in the tributaries of the Amazon. These calm and slow-flowing rivers are surrounded by many trees with dense, large leaf and branch canopy. The lighting of the aquarium must therefore not be too bright, especially with wild-caught, but also with cultivated forms. The use of fluorescent tubes similar to daylight or comparable LED bars is generally recommended. Luminaires with a high proportion of red bring out the fascinating colors of the discus to their best advantage. The lighting should be switched on for about twelve hours a day, in no case less than 10 or more than 14 hours. It makes sense to have a timer that ensures a regulated and even day-night rhythm. With floating plants and roots, you can create shady areas that the fish will be happy to visit.

The temperature

Discus fish like it warm! So that your specimens feel comfortable, we recommend a water temperature of 28 to 30 degrees. A stick heater is a suitable source of heat. When purchasing, however, you should make sure that it reaches at least the specified temperatures. It is advisable to use two small heaters instead of one large one. It is best to attach these to both ends of your aquarium. The advantage of two heaters is that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the pool. It doesn’t make any significant difference in terms of power consumption.

The establishment of the aquarium

In order for your discus fish to stay healthy from the start, you should ensure that there is sufficient planting. Newly introduced fish in particular suffer from stress and find sufficient protection under plant leaves or behind plant zones to calm them down. When choosing plants, make sure that they can withstand water temperatures of up to 32 ° C. Examples are Anubias, Echinodorus, Vallisneria, Cryptocorynes, and Microsorum. Don’t place them too close, however. Otherwise, leftover feed and excrement will collect in between. This makes maintenance more difficult and the water is unnecessarily polluted.

Floating plants such as mussel flowers and frog bites dampen the light and make the environment more species-appropriate for your discus fish. It is also advisable to plant in-vitro plants in the basin. Here you will need a little patience until they have reached the desired size. But you are preventing the introduction of pathogens with the greatest possible security.

Roots as decoration ensure a good appearance and the discus can use them as a retreat. You should check these regularly for rot and soft spots, as otherwise harmful substances could be released. Bog roots certainly do not rot, as they are impregnated with humic acids due to their origin in the bog. Fingerwood roots are also well suited. You can also hang it from above in the basin. That looks great and offers your discus cichlids protection!

The feeding

The discus fish needs a varied and healthy diet. He relies on it to stay healthy and fit. Because with good feeding you can prevent deficiency symptoms and create better water quality. Feed-in small portions several times a day. The discus has a short digestive tract. Adult fish can be fed two to three times a day, while teenage fish need at least five meals a day. Various types of frozen, dry, and live food are available, which should be served alternately if possible. Feeding turkey heart and beef heart is also widespread among discus fans, as these are particularly rich in protein and consequently enormously growth-promoting.


Would you like to have other residents in the aquarium as well? Then you should make sure that these fish are rather calm and by no means aggressive. Otherwise, disputes can quickly arise. They also have to cope with the temperatures and the food. Suitable roommates are armored catfish, snails, and small tetra. Most of the fish from Asia, such as labyrinth fish and barbel, is not recommended. You should also avoid other territorial perch and suckler fish and fin suckers.


Before purchasing these animals, familiarize yourself with the subject. Stick to a few basic things. Then keeping and care is not rocket science and can also be implemented for aquarists’ newbies. You will see: You will quickly become an expert and will enjoy colorful and exotic discus fish for a long time.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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