View Full Version : Some Discus Basics

06-28-2008, 01:57 AM
There are 5 different kinds of Discus, unless you go and buy wild Discus, the ones in the hobby are all hybrids. There are only 2 species (a third is being argued) of Discus with 5 subspecies. Symphysodon discus, and S. aequifasciata are the 2 species. The subspecies are as follows:
Symphysodon discus discus - Red Discus
Symphysodon discus willischwartzi - Pineapple Discus
Symphysodon aequifasciata aequifasciata - Green Discus
Symphysodon aequifasciata axelrodi -Brown Discus
Symphysodon aequifasciata haraldi - Blue Discus

The different color strains in the hobby are simply specific mixes of these different colors. For example, S. discus discus and S. aequifasciata haraldi are the 2 colors used in the creation of the Red Turquoise Discus. Many of the strains are not simple combinations of the 2 but are rather results of a few generations of breeding.

Caring for these captive bred specimens is much much easier than caring for their wild cousins. The captive bred discus are much more tollerant of higher pH values and are also slightly more tollerant of lower water quality. That said, Discus owners should still aim to keep them in a pH in the low 6's and should endevour to do large frequent water changes in order to provide the optimal water conditions. If Discus are not given clean water with a proper diet, they are easily stunted.

The diet for Discus should include a high quality pellet food such as New Life Spectrum, Sera or Hikari pellets. Many breeders also feed their Discus Tetra Color bits. While they are not my personal preference, many do find them to be adequate. Young Discus need to be fed often, some recommend upwards of 6 feedings a day consisiting of pellet food, brine shrimp, and beefheart. Jack Wattley (leading Discus breeder in the world for many years) actually recommends against feeding bloodworms to young Discus due to the tough skin on bloodworms. Many people still feed them with no apparent side effects.

Finally, if you are planning to add these fish to an already stocked tank, then I'd recommend getting fish that have already attained a length of at least 5". It is very difficult to grow Discus to a length of 8-10" in a stocked, planted tank with substrate. The reason being, water quality can't be kept as good as it is in a bare bottom tank. The argument that is often given at this point is that the nitrate levels can still be maintained, however it is not the nitrates that are the issue, it is the particles that are afloat in the water. It is not mearly a case of keeping the water parameters low, it is a case of keeping the water very clean. The cleaner the water, the healthier your fish (provided you give them a proper diet).

Following the above, you can have healthy vibrant Discus. While it sounds difficult, it really isnt', it is simply more work. Discus are not necessarily more difficult to keep, they are just more work to keep and for this reason they are not recommend for the beginner aquarist.

06-28-2008, 01:59 AM
great article.... thanks for writing

06-28-2008, 02:01 AM
Thanks. This was actually just a quick post I made earlier, but I wanted to separate it out into the Discus forum to help would-be Discus owners.

06-28-2008, 02:22 AM

06-28-2008, 02:36 AM

Evil Slimy
06-28-2008, 04:26 AM
Very nice :)
Something else that would be useful would be being able to see the difference in overall body shape and eye size for stunted vs not stunted discus. The differences are dramatic, but I don't think they are apparent to most people. But maybe that's a new article :P

Lady Hobbs
06-28-2008, 12:47 PM
Good article, Brad. Thanks.

06-28-2008, 01:41 PM
thanks goldbarb:thumb: :thumb:

06-28-2008, 02:02 PM
Nice article.thank you thumbs2: :22:

06-30-2008, 04:45 AM
great artical.. i was wanting to do some research on discus for future info

07-03-2008, 03:26 AM
For those with water outside the 'ideal' pH range of the lower 6's, discus can be successfully kept in higher pHs. I bought some from a breeder who breeds them in 7.0. I have even heard of at least a couple breeders who breed in 7.5-7.6, but the hatch rate is lower (not sure exactly how much lower though) and the water quality is higher (constant automatic water changes). The most important issues in water parameters are stability (not constantly changing the pH to get it to 'ideal') and high water quality (lots of water changes).

In my personal experience they do much better in planted tanks. The seem more comfortable and more confident. Plants also help increase water quality between water changes. So try with and without plants if you want and see which works better for you, your tank, and your discus.

09-11-2008, 09:59 PM
I liked the article too but I would like to add a few things. For Discus you are feeding Pellet or dehydrated foods to, I reccomend Omega One Brand. They use fresh salmon and no fish "by products". Discusalso go for that yummy aroma and fresh taste! And one other hardly ever mentioned Discus feeding problem: Discus can choke to death on chunkss of food, albeit pellet or beef heart, etc. Discus being "thin" have a very narrow digestive system. So please if you are making home recipes or feeding pellets, be aware of the size of the food.

09-12-2008, 12:51 PM
New Life Spectrum would be at least as good as Omega One (in my experience better). NLS has garlic in it to help fight parasites. Bowl feeding can help with switching foods as well as keeping all the food in one spot to help maintain water quality (other foods get all over the tank and inevitably some is never eaten, it then breaks down and reduces the water quality).

I have never heard of any cases of discus "choking" on food. Once it is in the stomach it will be broken down and even if it wasn't broken down and blocked the digestive system at that point it would be an impaction, not a choke.

09-23-2008, 02:13 AM
nice job but, could use a little more detail in the writing. but, the info you have is very professional. i just think you should write more.

09-23-2008, 02:25 AM
Thanks, it was never intended to be an in depth article. I just wanted to cover the basics.

09-23-2008, 04:19 AM
very good artical many people could get alot of help from this

well done ILMGB

09-28-2008, 08:40 PM
great article..that,s was good news ..bad news is :14: i was ceatin ..wend i buy my discus they thold me is wild discus but i dont fiind them in any categories or sub.They...must be Nhamunda solid red Discus

09-29-2008, 12:34 AM
If they are solid red they are not wild Discus. Heckels are not a solid color. The selective breeding and cross breeding has worked to produce solid colors in Discus.

06-17-2009, 10:27 AM
Great Article,
I am about to venture into Discus Fishes by next week. Can you give me some ideas how to set up the tank before i can add the discus fishes.


06-17-2009, 10:31 AM
First question, what size tank are you planning for them?

03-25-2012, 12:07 AM
great article.... thanks for writing
ive got a fish tank 5ft x 2 ft x 18 inch 450 litres ive got black neon guppies and swardtail but i want something big as my tank looks empty i like discus will they all be ok together if i buy discus small so they can get used to each other

03-25-2012, 12:55 AM

I agree! STICKY!!! :)

03-25-2012, 12:57 AM
I agree! STICKY!!! :)

umm...it already is a sticky.

03-25-2012, 01:32 AM
Sorry, didn't realize it. Was on my phone and didn't notice it was already a sticky.