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Discus fish care guide – the king of aquarium fish

Discus, the Amazon cyclid or the king of the aquarium according to aquarists, has a body in the shape of a disk and that’s the reason for its name. Discus is a strong and resilient type of fish which can grow up to 25 cm and the average life span of this fish is 10 years. However, discus is really complicated for keeping and it requires ideal living conditions.

discus fish 2

Environment for Discus fish

Discuses reach their sexual maturity after one year and then form couples ready to spawn. For the egg laying to be successful, it’s necessary to have a special aquarium (50x50x50 in dimension) without the substrate and plants, with 20˚C degrees soft water and low levels of carbonate KH<1, GH 2-3 degrees and pH 5.8 – 6.2 which is accomplished with RO (reverse osmosis) systems.

They can spawn in water with different characteristics but there is less roe that way. Aquarium/spawning place should be placed in a peaceful environment because discuses can’t stand noise or supervision during spawning. It’s also necessary to provide them with a bigger leaf or a ceramic bowl in which they will lay the roe.

We prefer keeping Discus fish in aquarium decorated with our Wooden custom 3D aquarium backgrounds, they are the perfect environment for keeping species such as Central American or South American cichlids and are especially popular with Discus fish keepers. We have 4 different models.

3D Aquarium background, model E in a fish tank

Be careful; it’s not rare that parents eat the eggs and their offspring if the conditions are bad.

Transferring Discus fish

When you transfer the discuses into the spawning place, make sure to increase the amount of food you give them and replace the water every two days because it will incite the couple to spawn. As soon as you notice that their skin color is more intensive or that they are nudging each other, you’ll know they are ready to spawn.

The female lays the eggs and the male goes behind her and fertilizes them. After that, they take care of the roe together and occasionally “air it out” by waving their fins above the eggs. The fertilization process lasts for 72 hours after which eggs get small tails and the parents move them to a different place where they will start swimming in 3 – 4 days.    

Until then, parents will change their colour (darken) and their bodies will form a nutritious slime around it.

discus fish

They are very special because of the way they feed their young; they youngs latch onto the body of the darker parent because there is more nutritious slime on its body and they eat off of him. They are fed like this for ten days after which their diet is supplemented by artemia.

Discus common diseases

The most common diseases that these beautiful fishes have are intestinal parasites and “hole in head” disease.

Intestinal parasites (Hexamite) – the illness causes their stomach to be drawn in and their excrement becomes white and slimy. The fishes hide in the corners of the aquarium and throw up. The parasite first attacks the digestive system and then the kidneys and liver.

Discuses infected with hexamine usually don’t have visible symptoms for a long time but the water quality disbalance can make the fishes weaker and incite the reproduction of the intestinal parasite leading to animal dying in the span of three days. Products that contain metronidazole are used to treat this disease.

Hole in the head – The illness is caused by the lack of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D required for the normal growth and development of the fish and this deficiency is most commonly caused by inadequate and monotonous diet. Holes appear on their head above their eyes. 

To treat this disease, you should turn up the water temperature in the aquarium to 35 ˚C and throw in an orvagil tablet.

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