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.                                                                                                  

 

How to Clean Your Aquarium Like a Pro

Fishes can die if you clean the aquarium with heavy chemicals or because of your lack negligence. You can clean it without using the chemicals. It is advised to clean the tank once a month if you start doing it this way.

How to clean aquarium – First Steps

Make sure that all cables are plugged out (pump and lighting). Take a bowl and take everything out so that it doesn’t drip. The majority is easy to wash except the glass. Gently catch the fishes using a net and place them in a plastic bag filled with aquarium water and then transfer them along with the water into another clean bowl. This way, it will be less shock for the fishes. Move them, for now, to a quieter part of the room. 

 

Aquarium cleaning preparations

Take out the most of the water from the aquarium (with a plastic cup or pour it into a bowl). If it’s possible move the aquarium to the balcony, yard or bathroom tiles (but make sure to put an old towel or a rug underneath it). Prepare a sponge with an abrasive or a nanosponge which don’t require the use of a detergent. Take out all the decoration from the aquarium and put it in the bowl. Rinse them first. Take the pump apart and clean it well, especially the sponge inside the pump. If you have rocks in the tank take them out, wash them and leave them aside. It is recommended to keep only a few rocks behind which the fishes can hide in the tank because of easier maintenance.

 

 

Glass Cleaning

You clean the aquarium with water and a sponge. If the calculus can’t be removed, try some rough sea salt (but make sure to wash the tank properly). You can also clean the aquarium by not taking everything out.

how to change water in aquarium

Changing the Water

The new water shouldn’t be too cold or too hot and you can pour it using a hose or a bucket. If you use the chlorinated water from the public water supply, you should let it sit for 24 hours). 

 

Natural cleaners

Never buy fishes if you don’t buy cleaner fishes. Usually, two or three fishes require one cleaner fish (Plecostomus and Otocinclus). Also, there are special cleaner snails which live in aquariums. However, they can be a problem because they eat plants and breed very quickly, so stick to regular cleaners

Everything You Need to Know about Aquariums and Aquaristics

These are the instructions for beginners who wish to start doing aquaristics and make their living space nicer…

If you like animals and a peaceful, Zen environment you definitely need to buy an aquarium. Fishes are pets which don’t require a lot of attention, but they will keep you company and fill out your living space. Aquaristics is a big and broad area so you need to inform and educate yourself thoroughly before you buy an aquarium.

We decided to explain the most important things which will help you start doing aquaristics in order to create a small ecosystem which should function perfectly in your home.  

     1.The size of the aquarium

There is a misconception that smaller aquariums are easier and better for beginners. The smaller the volume of the aquarium, the harder it is to maintain it. Smaller water volume means that every added supplement can seriously damage the water composition so any living creature in the water will have troubles with adaptation. If you are a beginner, don’t buy an aquarium smaller than 65 liters.

       2. Aquarium as a living environment

Many people think that aquaristics is simple and that the water and fishes are enough, however, that is not the case. You have to look at the aquarium as a living being. You have to make your aquarium habitable. That’s the only way your fishes and plants can survive and live for a longer period of time.

aquarium environment - Aquarium and Aquaristics

When you buy a tank, you have to fill it with water and leave it for at least 30 days without fishes. In that way, you cycle the tank and create beneficial bacteria which later clean NO3 gases coming from fish feces. This process can be sped up by adding chemical substances but our advice is to let nature take its course and create suitable living conditions.

 3.Aquarium Plants

Many people forget that you can put plants into the tank. Of course, this is a matter of choice but we advise you to put in a few living plants into your tank. They give a sense of a real natural environment and make your aquarium look more beautiful. Also, plants will create additional oxygen and make the water better for the fishes. They will feel more natural and safer now that there are plants which they can use to hide.  Here you can read a guide for choosing the best aquarium plants for your tank.

aquarium plants

Plant maintenance is not complicated. There are demanding and less demanding plants and we advise you to start with the latter. They need light and nourishing substrate which is placed at the bottom of the tank. After you plant them, they will start developing and growing really fast. Later you can use scissors to prune them and shape them as you wish. If you want to learn more about aquarium lightning we wrote an article that can help you.

4.Filtration and additional equipment

An aquarium can’t survive long without a filter. The filter must be suitable for the amount of water you have in your tank and contain good filtration materials like activated charcoal and volcanic rocks. This way, the water is cleansed and all dirt is removed from the water. First, seek advice from people in the tank shop who will recommend the best filter for your tank. Later you will learn how it functions on your own. We wrote a useful guide on how to choose the right aquarium filter, it should help you to make the right decision.

Apart from the filter, you need to have a heater which will keep the water temperature constant. The temperature depends on the fishes you have in the tank but if it’s a mix of tropical fishes, the water temperature should be around 26 degrees.

Air spray is also very important because it oxidizes the water and makes it easier for the fishes to breathe in it. 

 

5.Lighting

Although we already mentioned the additional equipment, the lighting should be in a separate advice category. As you know, light is very important because it’s the source of life. There are two types of lighting, one for the plants and one for the fishes. The lighting has to be placed right so that illuminates the entire surface of the aquarium. You need to make sure the lighting turns on and off to simulate the cycle of day and night. So, we advise you to keep the light turned off for 14 hours and on for 10 hours, if you want to learn more about aquarium lightning we have an article for you.

aquarium lightning

You can buy cheap timers which will do the job for you.

6.Fishes

When you provide all the right conditions and put in all of the equipment into the tank, you can then start adding the fishes. Try not to add too many fishes at once because every time you add them you change the chemical composition. Before you release them into the water, put the fishes, along with the plastic bag you bought them in, into the aquarium water. That way they will adapt to the aquarium temperature. 

aquarium fish

Before adding them, you should decide which fish you want to keep. You can have a few big ones or smaller ones. You don’t usually mix big and small fishes. Also, you need to see if they are herbivores or not. If you have plant-eating fishes, like goldfishes, then you can’t have plants in the tank.

The most important thing is to add fishes which aren’t aggressive and which get along with others. You always need to check this and ask the shop assistant if the fishes you want to buy can cohabitate with the ones you already have.  

If you didn’t choose your aquarium fish yet, here is the list of most popular aquarium fish for beginners.

7.Cleaning

Many people think that the tank water is changed at certain intervals but that is partially true. The water should never be changed entirely, but you need to change 1/3 every 7-10 days. The tank mustn’t be exposed to sunlight directly or be near the window, as well as cold and drafty places.

You can clean the glass with a razor or with special magnetic cleaners which will remove all the dirt.

Remember that aquaristics isn’t hard but you need to be persistent and try to provide the best possible living space. That way, the fishes will be healthier and live longer and you will have a wonderful part of nature in your apartment or house. 

Why choose African cichlids for pets?

You want to change your home or office space and you decided to get an aquarium. However, you are not sure what type of fish to buy. In this blog I will try to explain why you should opt for African cichlids. In recent years, cichlids became extremely popular with aquarists. Not only because of their bright colors but because of their qualities and characteristic. There are more than 1000 species of cichlids in the world but the ones from the African lakes are the most beautiful. They are very low maintenance for keeping in aquarium conditions. They are resilient, have their own temperament and they are easy to keep. Cichlids live long. The size of most species is from 8 to 15 centimeters. They live alone i.e. solitary in their own flock. They don’t need plants nor any other type of fish. That is why the 3D backgrounds that are manufactured by Aquadecor complete the tank interior completely, making it aesthetically perfect. The perfect aquarium background for your African cichlids is one of our 3D classic rock aquarium backgrounds (A models) is just what you need, they come in 21 different model and every one of them is special in their own way.  Furthermore, they are pleasurable for the cichlids because the fish swims through cracks and hides in those nooks and crannies. classic rock aquarium background with African cichlids

Cichlids are more resistant to diseases than many other types of fish

African cichlids originate from Lake Malawi. That is one of the oldest lakes in the world and very distinguishable for more than one reason. A large number of endemic cichlids lives in the lake. There are two groups of Malawi cichlids. One is Mbuna and the other one is Nonmbuna. Mbune means stone fish in the native language. They settle the habitats closer to the shore where there are a lot of cliffs and passages. Nonmbune is the fish that lives in flocks in the open part of the lake. mbuna fish The first African Malawi cichlids didn’t come to Serbia until 1990. They officially appeared in shops in Belgrade and Novi Sad. They were rare in Europe before 1980. Then the first yellow specimens arrived with their unreal coloring, which only some sea fish had till then. It is a common misconception that this fish is aggressive and complicated to keep. Every overgeneralization is harmful for aquaristics. Not only because it is a product of a lack of knowledge but also because it is the reason for giving up or generating the same beginner mistakes. If you decide to keep cichlids as pets, you will have much fewer problems with illnesses that come with other aquarium fish and also less problems with ambient maintenance. For keeping cichlids, you need a strong powerhead filter and good aeriation. It is important that nitrates in the tank are cycled before settling. If you want to know more about aquarium filters read more in our blog.

African cichlids are low maintenance for aquarium keeping

In the beginning, a longer 26-gallon aquarium is enough. There is no need for excessively large aquariums because these species can adjust. They are small, the young grow slowly and never overgrow the space they are in. There are species that stick to a school of 20 fishes in a 13-gallon tank and spawn there without any problems. It is recommended to keep one fish in 1 gallon of water. The number of males and females is not crucial because there are no major problems when they settle the tank while they are young. When buying cichlids, you should pay attention to their size so that in the beginning all males are equal when they choose their territory. Also, choose younger fish that can get used to other fish over time. Although it is hard to determine the sex of other fish species, this is very easy with cichlids. Sometimes the difference is so big that you might think it is another species in question. Some species of males and females are different. The young always look like females. Males change the colors from yellow to orange to blue and the other way around. Incredible inversive color changes, similar to a negative and an original, happen in a short biological period. Some females change their color in old age. Some species are small and plain, and males are later really beautiful. Some females stay unsightly their whole life and some are more beautiful than the males… Also, there are species where both the males and females are beautiful, almost identical. Given that their coloring is what makes people decide to buy them, it often affects their price. That should also be taken into consideration. The price of cichlids is affected by spawning difficulties, as well as, market offerings or the number of young fish… However, there are always those which are nice, cheap and resilient to beginner mistakes in terms of feeding, water quality and getting on with other species.

Cichlids are easier to keep than cats and dogs

Mbuna cichlids are active like to swim and if they are feeling good they rarely hide and almost never rest. Most of the African cichlids are herbivores. In nature, this type of fish eats algae and shrubbery. If you want to put a plant in the tank, it is not recommended to use real plants but artificial ones because the real plants are usually targeted by cichlids. Cichlids like hard water with a pH level from 7,5 to 8,5. This fish is almost ideal for keeping in our climate. They are adjusted to life in hard and basic water, similar to our tap water. It is extremely important that the water is always relatively fresh. One intervention that can be bothersome but necessary is the replacement of water once a month. It is optimal to change one half with fresh water. That is less work than taking the dog for a walk two times a day. Cichlids belong to a group of caring parents. The young are looked after by their mother, which carries them in its mouth 2-3 weeks. After that it let’s them eat on their own but if it senses any danger it picks them up and carries them again. Baring all of the above in mind, the conclusion is that the cichlids are very easy to keep for beginners and aquarists with a long seniority. It is not a rare case that the cichlid is the first aquarium in most homes.

Lake Malawi Cichlids – One of the Most Famous Fish Species for Aquariums



Lake Malawi cichlids themed aquariums are one of the most beautiful out there. Yet, it is never an easy task to keep a cichlid-themed aquarium. Lake Malawi cichlids prefer highly alkaline water and are aggressive to other fish species. Still, for those who have experience in fish keeping, a cichlid fish tank can be a crown of their hobby. So, let us dive into the world of these beautiful creatures.

A few facts about the Lake Malawi

First of all, Malawi lake is so big that it actually has three names. These are Lake Malawi (Malawi), Lake Nyasa (Tanzania) and Lago Niassa (Mozambique). It is the third largest lake in Africa, and also second by depth. It is the ninth largest lake in the world. The lake is almost 600 km long, 75 km wide and up to 700 m deep. It has more fish species than any other lake in the world.

Lake Malawi has another interesting characteristic – different layers of water don’t mix, and this feature is known as being meromictic. But, the mind-blowing fact that it contains somewhere around 800 fish species. Ninety percent of those are cichlids, and that is what makes Lake Malawi breathtaking and unique. Among 200 rivers, which flow into the lake, the river Ruhuhu is the biggest one. Water is very warm and super clear. You can easily look down to 20m in depth.

Lake Malawi Cichlids - Most Famous Fish Species for Aquariums

The homeland of cichlids

Cichlids live around the world, but Africa is the homeland of at least 1600 cichlid species. Lake Malawi is one the most famous waters which are a natural cichlid habitat. Since the quality of water differs not only among continents but in the lake itself, evolution led to such abundance in variety of fish species. Another thing that contributes greatly to such a variety of cichlid species is definitely their habit of mixed breeding. Subspecies representatives mingle and breed with other cichlid varieties.

Lake Malawi cichlids differ from those living in the waters of America and require slightly different fish tank conditions. Cichlids are not the best species for absolute beginners, but some subtypes are easier to keep than others. Mbuna are definitely a good solution for beginners. There are some rules to follow in order to keep your Lake Malawi fish tank setup.

Lake Malawi cichlids aquarium setup

Lake Malawi cichlids aquarium setup

When it comes to Lake Malawi cichlids themed aquarium setup, size does matter. Bigger is better, but the less is more. Lake Malawi has a high ph level, alkaline water, and aquarium cichlids thrive in the same conditions as well. High ph levels also lead to fewer algae and vegetation. Usually, Lake Malawi themed aquariums have zero plant decoration installed. That’s why it is crucial to have a decent aquarium background, in order to make your fish tank more appealing. It’s best to have 3d aquarium rock-like background installed, since cichlids live in that kind of a scenery, naturally. Mbuna actually means “rockfish”.

Water should have at least 7.8 pH level, and the temperature is best at 72F to 82F. Depending on the cichlid genera, ideal background and aquarium size can vary, but rocks with lots of hiding places and roomy tank are the best solutions.

Popular Lake Malawi Cichlids for aquarium keeping

The most famous is probably mbuna cichlid, and for a reason. Namely, these Lake Malawi beauties are one the most colorful fish species. However, mbuna is a common name for a whole lot of varieties, and the name itself simply means “rockfish”.  

As already mentioned, cichlids are generally not the best fish for beginners in aquarium fish keeping. This is mostly because they are quite aggressive and prefer highly alkaline water. It is usually recommended to have a strictly themed aquarium if you are planning to keep cichlid. To keep aggressiveness to a minimum, it is best to not overcrowd the aquarium. Also, keep a few females per every male. Subtypes like bumblebee cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro), golden cichlid (Melanochromis auratus), red zebra cichlid (Maylandia estherae) and blue zebra (Maylandia callainos) usually the best choice for Lake Malawi themed aquarium.

Utaka cichlids are another genus that is so-so popular among aquarists. However, this family of cichlids differs from mbuna in one important aspect. Utaka cichlids are plain and grey until they reach adulthood. This is strictly evolutionary thing – being plain is what keeps them less visible to predators while they are small and unable to defend. Still, once they reach adulthood, they become as beautiful as most cichlids are. Although keep in mind that there is a big difference between female and male coloration, males are the ones who are brighter and more vivid.

Types of aquarium fish that will thrive in every beginner’s aquarium


Lots of questions pop into beginner’s mind once starting an aquarium – what size to choose, how about filtration and heating, will one fish species get along with another, etc. Answers to these question require a bit of research, and following your own instinct. However, there are a few types of aquarium fish that are easier to keep. Those fish types are usually the ones we all start with, and later introduce specie that require special care and caution.

Some general rules you should always follow. For example keeping your aquarium water fresh and healthy. Making sure that the water is at the right pH level, maintain adequate water temperature, etc. All these factors are there for one reason. That is to keep your scaly pets happy and as serene as possible. Since you are recreating their natural habitat, it is wise to learn about their natural habitat as much as possible. Also, have in mind that the fish we can buy today in a store, was born in the artificial environment, and probably is a 50th generation born in an aquarium. So, the chances are that these little creatures are tough and can accommodate to next aquarium easily.

#1 Tetra

Tetras are definitely aquarium staples. You’ll see them with those who are just starting to explore the world of aquaristic, but they are also very common among experienced aquarists. Most tetras can live up to a decade, and come in dozens of varieties. Relatively small in size, they are easy to maintain and prefer to be surrounded by their own specie. You can keep singles, but once in a group they parade around the fish tank and create that soothing atmosphere you could watch for hours.

Not all tetra sub-species are easy to keep, but Neon Tetra, Candy Cane Tetra, and many others are. They prefer temperature around 70° F, and 5-7 pH levels. One of the most attractive subtype is a Black Skirt Tetra. But, make sure to have rock-like background and lots of hiding places for these little fellows.

#2 Danio

Originally from Southeast Asia, danio is another aquarium fish specie than you can easily keep in your aquarium, as a rookie aquarist. You’ll easily recognize them by their elongated and usually striped or dotted body. Although they can adjust to temperature levels, it’s best to keep your water above 70 ° F.

pair of danio aquarium fish

Danios like to swim, so keep room in your fish tank for that. It’s best to have a longer fish tank model and make sure to cover your aquarium with a lid, since danio fish can easily jump out of one. You can get more information about danio fish here. Keep at least six of them at a time and decorate the inside of the aquarium properly.

#3 Betta

This luxurious looking aquarium fish can really make your aquarium more vivid and appealing. Their lavish red tales contrast the green and the blue so nicely, that you can spot a betta in an aquarium immediately. Have in mind that only male Betta have those bright fins. However, as it is with most males, they tend to fight with each other, so its best to keep only one betta. Still, they tend to get along with other fish species.

betta aquarium fish purple and red

Unlike many other aquarium fish species, a betta can live in still waters, less oxygenated than other. On the other side, they prefer a warmer climate, ideally above 76 ° F. The trickiest thing about owning an aquarium is combining the fish species and making sure that all of their needs are met.

#4 Black Molly

Black mollies are known for their above-average breeding habits. That’s why it is somewhat important to keep two to three female mollies on every male. It is probably best to keep only one male per tank, in order to avoid the drama.

Keep pH levels somewhere between 7.5 and 8.2. Also, water temperature is ideal between 70° F to 80° F. Black mollies love greenery, so fill your tank up with all sorts of plants.

#5 Kuhli Loach

Although many other fish types could fit perfectly in this little article, we decided to name kuhli loach, as the last on the list of aquarium fish that are easy to keep. This fish specie reminds a bit an eel, but they belong to different subtype and are quite easy to keep, due to their well-known hardiness. Their natural habitat is located in the stream-waters of Southeast asia, and they tend to dwell in the lower part of aquarium, especially at the very bottom.

They prefer higher water temperature and lower pH levels. During the day they hide in the sand or other appropriate places and become active in the evening and night hours. Kuhli loach is a peaceful aquarium fish type and you can keep them surrounded by one their own kind, or other fish species that are peaceful by nature, as well.