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Symphysodon aequifasciatus/discus
Blue Discus, Green Discus, Red Discus, and all domestic variants

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Discus - Symphysodon aequifasciatus/discus

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Symphysodon_aequifasciatus_5.jpg (17kb)
Symphysodon aequifasciatus axelrodi
Photo Credit: Ricardo Kornelius
Symphysodon_aequifasciatus_6.jpg (17kb)
Symphysodon aequifasciatus aequifasciatus
Photo Credit: Jian

Name: Symphysodon aequifasciatus/discus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Amazon River Basin
18 cm 200 L 6.5 28C


You can gather a lot for a fish species from knowing where it comes from. The discus comes from the Rio Negro and surrounding tributaries and streams in the Amazon Basin. From this we know it likes very soft and acidic waters, with minimum current and warm temperatures. Wow! those are the basics of keeping discus. The discus, despite popular belief, doesn't typically inhabit the same waters as the angelfish. The angelfish is more or less originated around the Amazon River itself and surrounding tributaries, which is a bit farther north. The water the discus comes from looks like a well brewed cup of tea from the large amount of wood and leaves releasing tanins into the water. There is a greater concentration of wood and rock to plant life in the discus habitat, most of the plant life is lillies and other floating types, so the discus feels more at home in subdued lighting.

The Basics:
You can house a single individual or a mated pair in a 75 L tank, but surely you would give such a grand fish a more roomy penthouse than this. In my opinion a discus should not be kept in a tank smaller than 180 liters. This tank can house 4 discus along with some cories and peaceful algae eating fishes. The general rule I have found with discus is that you keep a single fish, a *mated* pair, or in a large group. Why? do you ask, discus are cichlids and when adults will kind of establish a pecking order. Pairs typically are bonded and don't pick on one another very much, a solo fish doesn't have anyone to pick on or vice versa, and in a group no single fish is target for all the picking. Discus are predatory and in the wild they would eat small fishes, bugs, worms, grubs and maybe even dead animals. So the diet for your discus should be meaty, but do add some vegetation, it really perks their coloration. I have found Tetra ColorBits to be good at bringing out colors and my discus relish the small pellets, this is about the only dried food they will have. They really have a preference for frozen foods. A lot of the big breeders keep their discus in nothing more than a water filled glass box. I personally don't like this method and believe for the discus to show its best colors and be healthy it should have some hiding places.

I won't go too far into this subject, because I have only reared a handful of discus in comparison to some of the professional discus breeders. But the pair chooses their spawning site - usually a leaf, pot, slate rock or some other smooth flat surface - and lays their clutch of eggs. They protect and fan these eggs until they hatch in about 2-3 days. The young act much like Angelfish, they will wiggle and squirm about for 5-6 more days. Then they will free swim and feed from the mucus coating on the parent fish. I start supplementing this diet with newly hatched brine shrimp when the fry are about 3-5 days old. This is truely a sight to see, it is touching and amazing to witness a group of around 100 young discus feeding from their massive parents. Doing daily water changes of 20% is good. When the young are about 2 cm, move them out to their own tank and continue feeding the brine shrimp. Start introducing some frozen foods and basically keep that tank clean. They really aren't hard to keep if all precautions to keep water in its prime is taken.

Whether you are and avid discus addict or just looking into these beauties, there's certainly one thing most of us agree on: there is no fish quite like the discus. There is no site so grand as to see a tastefully planted tank with several of these peaceful cichlids floating about in the midst of the plants.

Contributed by Lynn Smith

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