Once considered an "expert only" fish, discus are now available in many hybrid varieties that are both hardier and more beautiful than their wild caught cousins. Though still a fish that one plans around, rather than just throws into any existing tank, discus fish are growing in popularity. Their interesting form, and delicate habits make them a fascinating pet. Discus easily train to hand feeding. They prefer to live in schools and will become territorial once they have reached a good size. This makes it wise to start a group out together and keep them together, removing pairs as they choose themselves. Discus spawn relatively readily in captivity, but keeping the fry alive long enough to grow is more difficult. They feed their young with mucous from their sides, the only fish known to do so.
The Discus is one of my favorite fish. A friend was moving and didn't want to move her tank with her, she made me an offer I couldn't refuse. The tank was a 55 gallon with stand, and all accessories for $100.00. When I went to pick up the tank I was pleased to find 3 very large Velvet Blue Discus. They were difficult to capture but with patience and care they were moved successfully. These fish are captivating to watch. I have recieved a new 55 gallon tank as a Christmas gift from my husband and I can hardly wait to get it set up.
Discus aren't for beginners of fish keeping. I have progressed through owning goldfish, then my first tropical tank to finally having discus. Water parameters should be watched carefully and a good filtration system is needed for best results. I love to spend hours watching my discus and I have found that they are the best fish I have had yet. Be careful of discus with bad tempers, I have had some that like to have the tank all to themselves. After all they are cichlids!
I have recently started keeping Discus, and they are already my favorite fish. They seem to know you and know what you are doing. I had some difficult times at first with them. I had a small 95 Liter tank, but got 2 discus for it. They were a beautiful pair, a Cobalt Blue and a Turquiose. They were at that time in a planted tank. When I got them the cobalt was very happy and exploring the tank, but the Turquiose just lodged himself in a plant and seemed to be dead. About 2 weeks later he was ok, but now the Cobalt was acting a little sickly. I re-did the tank and fed them more often. Now they were in a loosely planted tank, and doing great. Then the Turquiose was picking on the Cobalt. I re-did the tank again, buying new more heat resistant plants (plastic ones). They were still picking on each other. Then I saw a beautiful Tefe Green Discus, and decided to by it. I must say my tank was overstocked, but the fish seemed happy, so I didn't worry. Then recently I re-did the tank again, making it look like a riverbank. I did it with gravel, rocks, and driftwood. They are currently very happy,and are growing like crazy. I have added two Diamond Tetras in there with them. They are doing fine also. I do a 25% water change each week and keep the water around 29 C, Hardness about 4, and the pH about 7.1. I would not reccommmend this fish for people without patience, or people with no knowledge about them. If you want to get some please start out with a bigger tank and read, read, read, read, read about them.
I am a new aquarist and have not struck any problems or hassles with my Red Dragon Discus. I've always been told that discus should be left to the experts but I don't believe this should be so. They are beautiful and anyone who dares a tropical freshwater tank is capable of keeping discus. My discus "Sally" has been no more trouble than any of the other fish that I have in the same tank. Swimming with Sally are 2 clown loaches and 5 tetras plus a couple catfish on the tank floor. Sally is not shy and certainly doesn't let the frisky loaches bother him/her, either. She refuses to eat the pellets that the petstore told me she has to eat, but is always waiting at the top when her frozen foods are tossed in. Once I tried breeding guppies to give my discus a feed of live food but all Sally did was mother the baby fish and never ate any of them. I am too worried about introducing diseases to my tank with live worms so only frozen foods are fed to my fishies. With my water temperature up to 29°C and my pH always steady between 6.5 and 7.0, and all my natural tank cleaners (snails and cat fish), all my fish are happy and are compatible.
These are not fish for a beginner, they get sick easier than most other cichlids and they go on hunger strike when sick. Also, because of their finicky eating habits, they eat slower and more delicately than other fish, they find competition stressful. Also, they are schooling fish when young and more solitary/paired, when older. Don't get one to watch it grow, do more research, get into Discus to watch them grow, pair, and love you as much as you love them. They become real pets like a cat or dog rather than a tank of fish like Rainbows. Also, I have lost three Cardinal Tetras to Discus, and had to rescue a Discus from a Dwarf Gourami. Discus are best alone or with a very select group of tank mates. Otos, and certain Tetras will work.