Discus Fish

The Discus (Symphysodom Discus) belongs to the Cichlids, an important group of relatively large and often colorful aquarium fish native to South America. They require excellent filtration, slightly acidic water, frequent water changes and relatively calm tankmates. The Discus is a peaceful species and should not be kept with more aggressive cichlids. Discus do not dig up or destroy plants.

Photo by Larysa Johnston

These fish are often called "the king of aquarium fish," and with good reason: their saucer-shaped bodies, slow swimming patterns, and bright colors make them a standout in any tank. Sex is rather difficult to distinguish. There are two wild discus species, Symphysodon discus, or the Heckel, with three dark vertical bands and Symphysodon aequifasciatus with nine bands. These bands, though, are not always visibly present. In nature, discus are very social, living in family groups among submerged brush and plants.

Female discus secrete extra body mucus which is utilised as a food source by the young. Discus are finicky creatures. They are relatively difficult to feed, sensitive to water conditions, and susceptible to diseases. You will need a good knowledge of discus natural environment, water requirements, diet and breeding habits. This bubble nester requires very soft, acidic water low in heavy metals in order to breed. Aim for a pH of about 6.5, and a dH of about 2 or 3. Temperature should be 82° to 86°F. The brood size is about 400. Discus form strong pair bonds and should be conditioned together to keep that bond strong. Fry are far more sensitive to water quality than most adult Discus, and even small amounts of ammonia or nitrites, or excessive levels of nitrates, can kill them or stunt their growth. It is extremely important to maintain superior water quality on a continuous basis to raise baby Discus to adulthood.

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