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How To Keep Discus Fish

Updated on October 14, 2009

Discus are some of the most visually appealing fish in the hobby, and it is little wonder that they have come to be called “The King of Aquarium Fish”. They swim languidly in the water, their round bodies gracefully flashing bright colors to awed onlookers.

However, for many reasons, Discus are not the best fish for new fish keepers. They can be quite delicate and need tank water of a relatively basic pH of around 6.5. They also require a good knowledge of water management and a very well filtered and cycled tank. A small mistake or a sudden spike in ammonia or nitrites can severely affect the health of your discus.

Discus are expensive fish. Even common specimens command prices of fifty dollars upwards, and nice specimens sell for many times more than that. If you are interested in keeping this gorgeous fish, you will find the information in this series quite useful. I do advise you to supplement it with further reading and a forum or club membership to a relevant group, there is nothing like being able to get solid advice from other keepers as and when you need it.

Discus Tanks

Discus tanks need to be between 55 and 90 gallons minumum.

People think that because discus aren't the largest fish in the world by a long shot, they don't need large tanks, but because of the shape of the discus' body, they need height in their tank. Two feet at least, and more if you can manage it. They also need length. In spite of the fact that they do not dart about the way some other fish do, discus love free swimming space. Keeping a large tank lightly stocked with a group of discus (perhaps 5 or 6,) is the perfect way to enjoy these beautiful fish and keep them comfortable.

Discus are best kept in groups where they will feel safer and where any aggression will be reduced by sheer numbers. For this reason, and the fact that they need a tall tank, discus fish require much larger tanks than many fish keepers may think. Minimum tank size is around four feet, or 120 centimeters. A tank this size will allow you to keep several discus in it and it will also allow any breeding pairs (should you be so lucky,) to pick a territory and defend it easily. Keep this in mind if you do keep several discus, they are very gentle, except when they are breeding, at which time they will become just as territorial as any other kind of fish. They will need space at this point, which means having a tank which is not too overstocked.

The tank should be lightly planted to give them somewhere to hide. All fish like to be able to get away from the glare of fame and publicity once in a while.

Still keen to keep Discus Fish? Read Part Two, which contains information on must have medications, tank mates, and other important discus keeping information.


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