Discus – Symphysodon aequifasciatus

Discus - Symphysodon aequifasciatus

  • pH: 6-8
  • gH: 1-10
  • Temperature: 28-30C
  • Maximum Size: 15cm
  • Minimum Tank Size: 180 litres, 100x40x55cm

Most discus for sale in the UK are from tank bred stock and have a wide range of colours and patterns. Those are what this care sheet is aimed at, and the requirements for wild caught fish are considerably different. The parameters above are typically acceptable for German-bred strains, in particular, fish from the Stendker line. Asian bred discus need softer, more acidic conditions. The right way to determine the correct parameters is to speak to your supplier and provide the same parameters that the fish have been raised and kept in.


There aren’t many truly compatible fish to share a tank with discus because of their requirement for such a high temperature. Companion fish should also be peaceful, not too inclined to eat all available food, (discus can fail to compete for food), and be large enough not to be eaten. Classic companions include Corydoras sterbai, cardinal tetra, German blue rams.

Housing and Feeding

The tank size quoted above is suitable for a group of young discus or an adult mated pair. Juveniles need to be in a group of at least six, preferably more as they can be shy and fail to thrive if kept in too small a group. Alotugh some like to keep discus in bare-bottomed, spartan tanks, I feel that due to their shy nature discus do better with a sand substrate and plants to provide cover and give security.The discus tank does need to be kept very clean and the water maintained with very low nitrates for the best health.

Feeding can be based on a quality granule food such as Tetra Prima, with fresh/frozen live foods in addition. Many keepers feed beef heart to promote rapid growth, but there is some argument about whether or not this should be done as such food would never be part of the fish’s natural diet. Young discus need a lot of food and can be messy  eaters which is why some keep them in bare bottomed tanks with little to no decor as it makes cleaning easier.


Once a pair has formed, the female will lay her eggs on a surface – tank sides etc., or a clay breeding cone if provided to them. The male follows behind and fertilises the eggs. The fish take care of the eggs, fanning them with their fins to keep them oxygenated and picking off any infertile eggs to prevent them growing fungus and contaminating the fertile ones. The fry hatch after about 3 days and at this point the parents may move them to another part of the tank. After a further 3 days or so the fry will have used up their yolk sacs and are able to swim. The parents will start producing a thick mucus coating on their skin, on which the young fry will feed. They can also be fed live baby brine shrimp. A couple of weeks after the fry have hatched the parents should be removed. The young will need frequent feedings and very clean conditions to grow and thrive. It is important for the water in a breeding tank to be soft and acidic as harder water can prevent eggs from hatching. Some discus will eat their own eggs – many do at the first attempt at breeding, but get the hang of it after a few tries. Some never stop eating their own eggs and in those cases, it’s best to remove the eggs and rear them without the parents.


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