You are hereDiscus, Symphysodon ssp.

Discus, Symphysodon ssp.

DiscusIntroduction Discus are a large cichlid, reaching diameters of 5-6 inches. They are native to South America and occur in much of the Amazon River and it's tributaries. Discus are a shoaling fish with intricate social behavior. They live in large groups in their natural habitat.

The Aquarium As you decide on the size aquarium you will purchase, you must keep in mind the ultimate size of the fish you are purchasing and the size of the fish at the time of purchase. For this species of cichlid, it will be best to attain a large tank from the beginning. This will keep you from needing to purchase and set up another tank as your fish grows. It will also alleviate stress on the fish as it would otherwise get moved from tank A to tank B to tank C. These fish can grow to a descent size in their first year. Be sure that the tank's width is long enough to allow the animal to turn around as well. For a shoal of four to six adults, no tank smaller than a 100 gallons will do. For an individual adult or two, we would suggest a 75 gallon tank.

Decorating the tank is personal preference. Your gravel bed should be 1-2 inches deep. For the most part, one pound per gallon will give you a substrate depth of one inch. An array of decor can be used ranging from drift wood, rock and live plants to castles, sunken boats and plastic plants. However you decide to decorate your aquarium, your goal is to provide shelter and security for the fish while keeping the tank easy to maintain.

Keep your water soft and acidic with a pH between 6.4 and 6.8 ideally. They will tolerate a pH as high as 7.0, but their otherwise intense color will suffer and will look dull and faded. For breeding, your pH should be between 5.5 and 6.0.

Filtration For the size tank that these fish require, your standard hang on the back filters will not be efficient enough to properly filter the water if you keep a shoal of these fish. We recommend using a sump design with wet/dry filtration. Sumps are capable of moving water through the filter media at rapid rates, ensuring that the tank's water is turned over several times an hour. By incorporating wet/dry or trickle filtration into your sump, you will be increasing the efficiency of breaking down nitrites. It will also increase the total amount of dissolved oxygen in the water which is vital to keeping large fish alive. Chemical filtration is also very important in the long term keeping of large fish. This is easily accomplished by placing a bag of aquarium carbon in an area of high water flow within the sump. Carbon will aid in removing impurities from the water such as fats, acids, proteins and dissolved wastes as well as giving the water a polished look by removing discoloration. If you choose to use driftwood in your tank, you will notice some yellowing of the water. This is due to tannins being released from the wood. It is harmless to the fish, but may not be very visually appealing. Carbon will aid in removing this discoloration as well. Other types of filtration that you may choose to utilize in your filtration system are fluidized sand beds, diatom filters and U.V sterilization. Fluidized sand beds are no more than an enclosed cylinder filled with fine sand in which water is pumped through the bottom and flows up though the sand and back out. As the water flows through the sand, it keeps the sand suspended and fluidized, therefore allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize each and every grain of sand, greatly increasing the surface area for denitrification to occur. Diatom filters are not as popular as they once were and have been replaced with micron filters. The function is still the same while the design differs. For diatom filters, diatomaceous earth is used to cover a filter bag creating a mechanical filter that allows only the absolute smallest of particles to pass through it. These filters are not intended for prolonged use, as they quickly become exhausted and need constant maintenance. Instead they are normally used for short increments of time, such as one day a week for example. The benefit of these filters is that they produce crystal clear water. They also filter such small particles that they may be useful in eradicating parasites such as ich from the water column. U.V sterilizers are normally, as are the previously mentioned filters, used in conjunction with a main filter. U.V sterilizers pump water though a cylinder and by a light that emits strong U.V radiation. This dose of U.V will kill a number of organisms ranging from various parasites to types of algae. They are very useful in preventing green water in your aquarium.

Heating and Lighting Ideally, you should maintain your discus aquarium between 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming that your tank's temperature does not fluctuate more than 2-3 degrees in a 12 hour period, you should not have any temperature related issues. Keeping your aquarium's temperature as constant as possible is absolutely essential to the well being of your discus. A standard aquarium heater of appropriate wattage (approximately 2-3 watts per gallon) placed either in the tank itself or in the sump should be sufficient.

Standard T-12 florescent lights will work fine to properly illuminate your aquarium. The aquarium lights should be on for 12-14 hours daily.

Feeding Discus are mostly carnivorous. Their diet should consist of chopped krill, brine shrimp, blood worms, chopped red worms and earth worms, spirulina, cichlid flake, cichlid pellet and other animal protein foods.