What Do You Feed Discus Fish?

Discus are big eaters. You should feed your fish three to five times a day. Some discus owners have automatic feeders that release the food at prescribed intervals.

Discus fish food may consist of a variety of foods, including flakes and pellets, as well as live brine shrimp and black or white worms.

Of course there are also frozen foods available at your fish store.

What to feed your discus fish to keep it nice and healthy.

So, which kind of food is best? A mixture of food types works well to give them all the nutrients they need. The simplest and easiest feeding routine would be to stick with dried flakes and pellets (make sure you soak the pellets before introducing them into the tank for your fish so that the pellets don’t expand inside the discus’s stomach). Add some frozen or live food occasionally for variety.

Discus are grazers. They don’t always gobble the food as it drifts to the bottom of the tank. They eat slowly, but often, so they will eat the food that makes it to the bottom of the tank. Therefore, it is important to make sure you keep your aquarium clean, changing out the water on a regular basis. This will remove rotted or decaying food wastes as well as the fecal matter from your discus fish.

Younger fish will need more frequent feedings to grow properly, because their stomach is not as large as the more mature fish.

Beef heart is a common food mentioned around discus discussions. Basically, it’s cheap, and many hobbyists make their own food using beef heart. They simply grind up the beef heart with a mixture of other ingredients, then freeze it in a ziplock bag. At feeding time, a small piece of the frozen mixture is broken off and put into the tank. This mixture may include vegetables and vitamins as well as the necessary protein. It is important to mention that pure protein is not a healthy diet for discus. Beef heart, if used, should be a mixture, not just pure meat.

Live white worms and black worms are also used by some as a food in their tank. These can be obtained from your fish store, or, if you are really ambitious, you can breed them yourself. But this is probably something done by only very dedicated discus keepers.

You do want to be careful not to make your fish sick. Live worms can carry bacteria, heavy metals, and parasites that will wreck havoc in your tank.

Until you are really well acquainted with your discus fish and their requirements, you should stick with food from the fish store. As you become more familiar with the fish, you can experiment with adding different foods to their daily diet.

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How To Breed Discus Fish

Interesting Observations About Spawning Discus Fish

Discus are quite interesting in many aspects, not the least of which are their spawning instincts. Having seen “Finding Nemo”, you will recognize that some of these behaviors were characterized in the movie quite accurately. Now, I know that Nemo was a Clown Fish, and a salt water fish as well, however, there are similarities none the less.

All about how you breed different types of discus fish.First and most interesting is the fact that parent discus care for their young. When first hatched, the young fry are not able to eat anything except a secretion from the parents. This secretion is on the body of the adult discus, so the fry “attach” themselves to the adults for their nourishment. This is the duty of both parents, and they will share the feeding duties 50-50. Within about 5 days, the fry will be able to dine on newly hatched brine shrimp, and at that point they will eat both the parent secretion and the brine shrimp. Parents continue to provide nourishment for up to two weeks after birth.

Also interesting is that the adults will watch over the eggs until they are hatched. Other adult discus enjoy a nice meal of eggs if they have a chance to get to them, but the parents will ward off other discus to protect their eggs. Pretty cool!

Discus Parents

In a home tank, the optimal situation is that you raise a group of discus and as the fish mature, they will form couples. These couples will first practice their spawning behavior before actually performing for real. Then the female will produce a small batch of eggs, which the male will fertilize immediately. She will lay several batches of eggs and the male does his thing, while all the time either one or the other of the discus pair will be guarding the brood. They switch off the guard post as their mate is doing their part of the breeding process. Eggs hatch in 2 or 3 days.

Now, as already mentioned above, parents continue to have an active part in the care and development of the fry.

The Breeder’s Part

Even though the discus parents take care of the “personal” parts of the breeding process, the breeder can not be just a causal observer. There are some things to do to ensure successful young discus in your tank.

Sometimes your aquarium will have discus that are more dominant than the parental couple, and they may need some “help” fending off the more aggressive adults. If this is the case, it is not a good idea to remove the other discus to another tank. Instead, you should perhaps place a plexiglass divider in the existing tank to keep your new family safe. This is so that the new parents will still think they are carrying out their parental protection duties. It’s a psychological thing in development of fish families.

Make sure you keep the tank clean. The new fry are avid eaters, and they will need to be fed more often than the adults, 5 times a day will work. This results in the necessity to change out the water much more often. Consider a 50% water change daily so that the tank stays clean and free of harmful bacteria.

Some breeders move their young discus to a separate tank while they develop. Two reasons – first, they can have a bare bottom environment which is so much easier to “vacuum”, and second, adult discus normally have parasites that do not bother the adults, but they can be fatal to the fry, so a separate tank keeps the young fish free from these harmful parasites.

As you can see, breeding discus is not for the “faint of heart”. Consider the commitment and energy necessary before you decide to become a discus fish breeder. If you do take the step, however, you will be rewarded with a very satisfying outcome as you see your new little ones develop and flourish.
Different breeds of discus fish.

The Spawning Process

Below is a video of discus spawning. You will notice that they lay their eggs on a vertical surface. Most breeders provide objects similar to the one in the video.

The female takes a pass or two before beginning to lay the eggs. Once she starts laying, the male will come right behind and deposit the sperm.

This continues for several passes, and with each one, more eggs are deposited and fertilized.

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Freshwater Aquarium Plants For Your Discus Fish Tank

Freshwater aquarium plants are a worthwhile addition to your discus fish tank. In a well planted tank, fish have better habitat, live a more natural life, and appear more comfortable than in an unplanted tank or a tank with less habitat. Though live plants need more care than plastic artificial ones, live plants can be kept with few problems as long as there is plenty of light. Real plants do wonders for aquariums, providing fish with oxygen and habitat. They can keep the water chemistry more balanced, and provide scenery for you, and hiding places for discus fish and other tank inhabitants.
Popular plants for your discus tank.

Aquarium plants make a beautiful well balanced discus fish tank, as well as a natural home for happy fish. This will make the tank healthier, more stable, and more beautiful. The benefits to aquarium stability and balance are numerous. Aquatic plants produce oxygen through a process called photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide, and they breakdown waste materials. In so many ways, aquatic aquarium plants can increase enjoyment of your fish tank. Live plants can serve as food for aquatic life and also provide fish and fish fry places for retreat. Sometimes plants are not compatible with some fish that will tear them up. Adding aquarium plants is not difficult. Once your tank is set up, you will need to provide plant food, usually a tablet or liquid fertilizer. Ongoing plant care will include some maintenance and keeping an eye out for anything hurting your plants like aquarium snails and other browsers, or plant diseases. With good aquarium design and plant care, you will be rewarded with a lush, beautiful, well balanced aquarium with beautiful plant growth.

Before adding aquarium plants there are a couple of things to keep in mind before beginning. One of which is water chemistry. Different aquarium plants require various water conditions. Required water conditions for the plants you want must be attained. You need to be aware of things like ph, hardness levels and lighting levels for each plant. Good substrate is also required in order for the plants to survive. There are clay planters you can get to place your plants in or you can even place some plants directly into the gravel. Experiment a little, and you will find what works. Lightning for aquarium plants requires different levels, usually measured in watts per gallon. If you want your plants to thrive you must pay attention to this measurement in order for photosynthesis to be optimal for plant survival. Carbon dioxide is also required for photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide can come from the fishes respiration process going on in your tank. However, if you have a heavily planted tank, you may want to get a carbon dioxide injector for your aquarium because you won’t be getting enough carbon dioxide from your discus fish. A very important thing to keep in mind before adding plants is to consider fish compatibility. Certain discus fish are not compatible with live plants.

Save yourself some money by researching the plants you want to get before buying them so that you can determine their exact needs and whether or not you can meet those needs.

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Discus Fish Water – Is Yours Safe?

How to Process Discus Fish Water

Generally, we use public water to change the tank water (remember that a 25% water change is recommended… no more). The water  from your public company can be your friend or your enemy.

As a discus aquarium owner, you really need to invest in a few tools to assist you in keeping your fish alive and healthy. One of those is a testing kit. They are available at any fish supply store or online.

Many water suppliers add chlorine or chloramine as a matter of routine in order to make the water drinkable for humans. Do you know if your water supply has been treated with these chemicals? A simple color test kit will determine the presence and concentration of either.

If your water does contain chlorine or chloramine, the removal of these water additives should be part of the water conditioning process before you use it to replace the water in your tank.

How to Prepare Your Discus Fish Water

There is more than one way to condition your tap water. (Conditioning is the process of adjusting the chemistry of the water so that it is suitable and meets the requirements of your discus fish.)
  1. You can remove chlorine from your public water by using an activated carbon pre-filter system.
  2. You can remove chlorine by “aging” the water or using a sprayer that mists the water in the air.
  3. There are commercial chlorine removers that can be purchased at your local fish store.
  4. Use reverse osmosis filters to remove the chlorine, but be warned that there are other chemicals and minerals that are necessary for your discus that will need to be replenished after running your water through a reverse osmosis filter.
Water companies also use chloramine additive to disinfect public water for consumption. If you think chlorine is bad for discus, chloramine is much more destructive. If your pretest shows that there is chloramine in the water supply, the good news is that there are chemicals to neutralize the harmful effects. When buying the chemicals for conditioning your water, be sure to purchase one that is specific to chloramine. Aging and aeration will not do the trick on this one.

Changing out your discus fish water should be done no less than once per week, and using good water that is safe for your fish is really important. In fact it is the one thing that will add life and happiness to your discus fish above all others.

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Discus Fish Tank Setup

The habitat setup and maintenance is most important to the success of your discus aquarium. You must monitor your tank constantly to assure the correct water temperature and pH level so that your discus family remains happy and healthy.

Discus are happiest when they are together in a group of at least 6 fish.  You can add other fish to your aquarium tank, but mixing the wrong species can have a devastating effect on your discus population.

For instance, angelfish, in spite of their angelic name, are very aggressive when it comes to feeding. Discus are much more shy. So it is not recommended that you mix these two types of fish. The discus will suffer from being underfed and will hide from more aggressive tank-mates.

On the other hand, schooling fish such as tetras or characins can have a calming effect on your discus population and result in a happier “society” of fish.

Can you have less than 6 discus? Absolutely, just remember that each adult discus requires 10-15 gallons of “space” to maintain optimum conditions. And, as already mentioned, discus are social and they will be happier if there is a group rather than just one or two of them.

Tank Size

As a rule of thumb, you should plan for 10-15 gallons per adult discus. That means that a minimum of 55 gallon tank would be needed for a group of 6 adults (I know, the math says 60 gallons, but 55 is a common sized aquarium).

Water Conditions

Monitoring the water in your aquarium is very important.  Important aspects of tank water include the pH, temperature, and softness. While most folks are now buying their discus from dealers who have raised them on discus “farms”, if you get wild discus, they will have come from very different surroundings. The water in the Amazon River (their natural habitat) is quite muddy, making it much darker than a clean, open aquarium.

Discus which are spawned in captivity are not used to dark water, so you can use a more “regular” tank setup with lights, artificial substrate, and filters.

But even domestic raised discus will need tank water kept at the right temperature, 77-85°F (25-29°C), and pH, between 6.0 and 6.5.

Changing the water is also quite important as you maintain your tank conditions. Do not make the mistake of changing ALL the water at one time. Beginning aquarists are prone to this mistake. Frequent water change includes replacing about 25% of the water at least once per week. If you have spawning fish, water changes should be more frequent.

Plants in your Aquarium?

Breeders always have bare-bottom tanks to raise their fish, and there are many who claim that the best habitat for discus is a bare tank. However, there is no reason, other than convenience for cleaning, that you can’t have a planted aquarium. Plants do help with the nitrate level, and, of course, they are part of the discus natural habitat. Just make sure you get your plants from a reliable source so that they are free from contaminants. Here again, you will want to steer clear of general, all-purpose pet stores that do not specialize in aquarium fish.

A Successful Discus Fish Tank

Here is a little video that shows how your tank can look with a bit of attention to detail and some healthy discus fish! Notice how beautiful healthy discus are. It is so relaxing to sit and watch these gorgeous creatures with some music playing in the background.

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Discus Fish Diseases

It turns out that discus fish can “catch” something and get sick. Discus Fish diseases?

It’s true; it is basic biology. Living organisms (discus fish) can be infected with disease.

You get sick, you go to the doctor. Your dog or cat gets sick, you carry them to the vet. What about fish? Where do they go when they get sick? Unfortunately, there is not a Fish Hospital in most neighborhoods. You will need to educate yourself on treatment procedures.

Discus Fish Diseases

Pathogens are usually the cause of discus disease. They are the itty bitty critters that infect things. In the case of fish, these pathogens can reside in the tank water. Or, the pathogens can infect the fish by living in and under the scales and slime coat that is supposed to protect the fish.

Reasons for discus fish disease are varied. Fish are actually natural homes to disease carrying pathogens. So it is possible that a disease comes into the tank when you introduce a new discuss into the community.

Other reasons that discuss may fall prey to pathogens may be one of the following:
  • When they become stressed – this can happen from other fish species that are too aggressive, or (believe it or not) when humans are too aggressive with the fish, such as continuously tapping on the tank glass.
  • If there is a water quality problem that goes untreated, such as improper water pH or temperature.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
Discus DiseasesIt is a good idea to have a resource manual (or an Internet connection) handy to diagnose your discus fish disease. If your discus is in need of medication, make sure you know the proper dosage. It may be a good idea to contact a professional before administering the medication.

NEVER mix medications without being instructed to do so. It is true that some medications can actually cause fatal results when mixed together. Yes, it is possible to overanalyze the problem and over medicate, causing more problems than your had originally. Just as in humans, the right dosage is critical. Don’t think that if 1 drop is good, 2 drops will be twice as good… follow the instructions.

And again, just as in humans or human pets, discus treatment may take time. Do not expect an overnight cure. If an antibiotic is indicated to treat a bacterial infection, make sure you treat the fish for at least 10 days. Otherwise, you will run the risk of creating a much stronger bacteria strain that is resistant to the antibiotic you first tried. Make sure you kill the pathogen with proper treatment for the proper length of time.

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Discus Fish Information

Discus fish have been kept in aquariums since the 1920′s. For many, they are considered the “kings and queens” of the tank. Their unique shape and bright patterns and colors have brought the spotlight of attention to wherever they might find themselves.

Species, Appearance and Cichlids: All about Discus Fish.Discus fish are part of a large group of fish know as cichlids. In general,  cichlids are freshwater fish that come from the Cichlidae family. Approximately 1,500 or so cichlid species have been identified. That makes the Cichlidae the largest family of vertebrates. And, it is possible that there could be many more cichlid species in the world, some of which have not yet been discovered and identified.

It is quite interesting to note that cichlid sizes range from as small as one inch to as large as 36 inches. Their shapes also vary: some are laterally compressed while others are elongated and cylindrical. They are mostly found in freshwater, although some can tolerate short periods of being in brackish or saltwater.

Three Species of Discus

Discus happen to be just one of the 1500 cichlid species. Their scientific designation is the genus Symphysodon. There are three know species of discus. They are Symphysodon aequifasciatus (common discus, also identified as green discus), the Heckel discus (Symphysodon discus), and Symphysodon haraldi (the blue/brown/common discus).

Appearance of Discus

Discus are somewhat similar in appearance to the genus Pterophyllum, which includes angelfish, because they have a round, laterally compressed body shape (hence the name “discus”). But the discus does not have extended fins like you find in angelfish, and the shape of the discus is definitely more rounded.

Discus are usually quite colorful, sporting shades of red, green, brown and blue. There are also frequently patterns of stripes or spots, leading to names such as “leopard” or “snakeskin”.

Normally, you will purchase discus that are about 2.5″ in height and width, however, full grown discus can be 6″ to 8″ in height and width.

Discus Origins

Discus fish call South America home. Unless they are in an aquarium, you will not find them in any other part of the world. Specifically, they populate the Amazon River basin and its tributaries. Now, that may seem like a limited habitat, but remember that the Amazon is the longest river in the world. So there is plenty of area for discus habitation. In their original surroundings, they live in very muddy water with lots of vegetation.

Discus Difficulties – maybe, maybe not

Over the years, discus fish have gotten some bad press. This may or may not be deserved.

One camp suggests that discus fish are very difficult to keep, while another says that they are not.
Truth be told, discus fish are not any more difficult than other species if you have the knowledge of what will make them happy and healthy.

If you are thinking about adopting discus fish, make sure you know enough BEFORE you bring them home… later may be too late.

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