Discus fish worth knowing about keeping zooroyal magazine

The discus fish – also known as the "King of the Amazon" – looks particularly magnificent and requires special care. What aspects you should take into account when acquiring, caring for and keeping your dog, you can find out here.

General information about the discus fish

Discus fish, also called discus cichlids, are freshwater fish and belong to the family of cichlids. Originally they come from the Amazon river system in tropical South America. Characteristic for them is the strongly compressed and high-backed physique. Due to its rounded forehead profile and the small snout with a small mouth and bulging lips, its appearance is reminiscent of the discus that gives it its name.

If you want to keep discus fish, there are a few things to keep in mind. Especially aquaristic beginners are often overchallenged with the discus fish. Although the keeping is generally well possible, it happens quickly that smaller inattentions become a bigger problem. So that you do not get into such a predicament, we would like to help you with our tips. This way you can create a species-appropriate environment for your discus fish, so that you can enjoy your aquarium inhabitants for a long time.

The aquarium size

In order for your discus fish to feel comfortable, it needs a suitable environment. The size of the aquarium is crucial. The discus feels most comfortable in groups of at least four to five animals. So that all animals have sufficient place, you should pay attention to an appropriate basin size. A volume of 50 to 60 liters should be planned per fish. Make sure that the aquarium has a length of at least 150 cm, because the discus reaches a size of 15-20 cm.

The lighting

The lighting of your aquarium is also important. Discus fish are relatively sensitive to light. In its original environment the discus lives in the tributaries of the Amazon between roots. These calm and slow flowing rivers are surrounded by many trees with dense, large leaf and branch crowns. Especially with wild specimens, but also with cultivated forms, the lighting of the aquarium must therefore not be too bright. In general, the use of fluorescent tubes similar to daylight or comparable LED bars is recommended. Lamps with a high red content bring out the fascinating colors of the discus optimally. Lighting should be on for about twelve hours a day, and in no case less than 10 or more than 14 hours. It makes sense to use a timer, which ensures a regulated and even day-night rhythm. With floating plants and roots you can create shady areas, which the fish like to visit.

The temperature

Discus fish like it warm! So that your specimens feel well, we recommend a water temperature of 28 to 30 degrees. A bar heater is a suitable heat source. When buying a tank, you should make sure that it reaches at least the temperatures mentioned above. It is advisable to use two small heaters instead of one large one. These are best mounted at both ends of your aquarium. The advantage of two heaters is that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the tank. This makes no significant difference to power consumption.

The furnishing of the aquarium

To keep your discus fish healthy from the beginning, you should pay attention to sufficient planting. Especially newly introduced fish suffer from stress. Find sufficient shelter under plant leaves or behind plant zones to calm down. When selecting plants, make sure that they can withstand water temperatures of up to 32°C. Examples are Anubias, Echinodorus, Vallisneria, Cryptocorynes and Microsorum. Do not place them too close together. Otherwise food remains and excrement will collect between them. This complicates the care. The water is unnecessarily polluted.

Floating plants such as conchflowers and frogbit dim the light and make the environment more species-appropriate for your discus fish. It is also recommended to plant the tank with in vitro plants. Here you need some patience until they have reached the desired size. But you prevent with the greatest possible security the introduction of pathogens. Roots as decoration provide a good appearance. The discus can use these as a refuge. You should check them regularly for rot and soft spots, otherwise harmful substances could be released. Moor pine roots do not form rot, because they are impregnated with humic acids due to their origin in the moor. Finger wood roots are also suitable. You can also hang them excellently from above in the basin. This looks great and offers protection to your discus cichlids!

The feeding

The discus fish needs a varied and healthy diet. He depends on it to stay healthy and fit. Because with a good feeding you can prevent deficiency symptoms. Create a better water quality. Feed several times a day in small portions. The discus has a short digestive tract. Adult fish can be fed two to three times a day, while adolescent fish need at least five meals a day. Various types of frozen, dry and live food are available, which should be given alternately if possible. Also widespread among discus enthusiasts is the feeding of turkey heart and beef heart, as these are particularly rich in protein and consequently enormously conducive to growth.


Do you want to have additional other inhabitants in the aquarium? Then you should make sure that these fish are rather calm and not aggressive at all. Otherwise it can quickly come to disputes. Moreover, they have to cope with temperatures. Feeding the food. Suitable co-inhabitants are armored catfish, snails and small tetras. Not recommended are a large number of fish from Asia, such as labyrinth fish and barbs. Likewise you should avoid other predatory cichlids and suckermouth fish and fin suckers.


Work yourself before the acquisition of these animals something into the topic. Keep to some basic things. Then the attitude and care is no witchcraft and realizable also for aquaristic newcomers. You will see: You quickly moult to an expert and you will have a long time pleasure with colorful and exotic discus fishes.

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