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Discus Fish Aquarium-Getting Started

Return To; Discus Fish Tank

 Discus are popular for aquariums because they are large, vividly colored fish that are marked in a wide variety of interesting patterns. Discus are tropical fish and keeping them does require that their water parameters be maintained. Because they can grow up to 8” long and almost as tall, you will need a 30 to 50 gallon aquarium. Discus are schooling fish, meaning that they are much happier and less stressed when they are in a group of 10 to 15 in a 50 gallon tank, or 4 to 6 in a 30 gallon tank.


Your Discus will be happy and healthy if you pay close attention to their water conditions. Discus fish originate from the Amazon River basin, and they are tropical fish. Even the cultivated varieties that have been bred in captivity require warm water. The water in your discus fish aquarium should be kept at a consistent temperature between 83 to 86 for adults and 86 to 88 for juveniles. This warmer heat helps the discus fend off disease and stimulates appetite. It is recommended to use two 100 watt heaters in a 50 gallon tank to maintain these heat requirements. Discus prefer water that is slightly slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.5 to 7.2.

Before adding Discus fish to your aquarium, you will need to cycle the water. High levels of ammonia or nitrites are toxic to tropical fish aquariums, so be sure to check the water before adding them to the tank. You should plan on changing out 25% to 30% of the water each week to keep the fish healthy and the tank fresh, change the water more frequently if it appears dirty or if your Discus have lost their appetite and show sign of darkening and clamped fins.


Your Discus fish aquarium can be planted with artificial or live plants. This will provide hiding areas for your Discus to rest in. Discus can become territorial as they grow so having plants in the tank helps to break up the landscape and territorial disputes. In addition, breeding Discus, can use the planted area as spawning sites to raise their fry when they are very young, helping to prevent predators from getting to them.

Discus fish do not like having their habitat intruded on, so when choosing live plants, stick with varieties that are easy to maintain so that your Discus won’t become agitated with you tending the plants. Amazon Swords, Java Ferns and similar plants that require little tending are good choices for your Discus aquarium. Also, in order for your Discus fish to really stand out in your aquarium, choose taller, narrower plants that will contrast to their round body shapes and offer them good hiding spots. 

Learn more; How To Set Up a Discus Fish Tank