Symphysodon Discus: Discus fish (types, breeding, complete guide of discus fish)
Discus fish are aquarium fish that originate from the Amazon region and are considered the most beautiful freshwater fish globally. They have beautiful patterns and can have a whole palette of colors.
Discus fish are beautiful tropical fish that are now commercially available in many colors and a wide variety of patterns. The original discus lives in the countries of origin (Brazil, Colombia, and Peru) in soft, slightly acidic to neutral phosphate and nitrate-free water.
They feel most at home in large groups, where they all create a colorful and graceful spectacle. Discus fish make high demands on their bathing water, so it is a real challenge for those interested in aquarium technology.
In this blog, you can read essential backgrounds of Discus fish, types of discus fish, the breeding of Discus fish, how many Discus fish you can keep, nutrition, and the right filter system; we can say this is the complete guide of discus fish.
The genus name of all discus fish is Symphysodon, divided into two groups:
1. Symphysodon discus
True Discus – Heckel
with 1 Subspecies:
Symphysodon discus willischwartzi
2. Symphysodon aequifasciatus
with 3 subspecies:
Symphysodon aequifasciatus axelrodi (brown discus)
Symphysodon aequifasciatus aequifasciatus (green discus)
Symphysodon aequifasciatus haraldi (blue discus)
Top four most beautiful types of discus fish!
Discus fish with beautiful colors, their palette of stripes, and unique shape, As with most aquarium fish, there are many discus fish varieties.
We will explain the four most common families of discus fish for inspiration. Not for nothing, because discus fish are breathtaking to watch.
1. The Heckel Discus Fish (Symphysodon discus)
The Heckel discus fish has a vertical black band. Heckel already described in 1840 the fish known as Symphysodon discus or the Heckel Discus. An essential feature of this discus fish is the broad fifth band that runs across its body.
Horizontally, this discus fish has light blue wavy stripes. Its length is about 20cm high. The Heckel discus has beautiful primary colors that vary from red to turquoise blue.
This is one of the aquarium fish you must have seen swimming in your aquarium.
2. Green Discus Fish (Symphysodon aequifasciatus aequifasciatus)
After the Heckel fish, a second species was described in 1903, namely the Symphysodon aequifasciatus aequifasciatus or the green Discus fish. The green discus fish has a green base color.
Green stripes run both over the back and the belly. A breeding variant of these discus fish is also called Pellegrin discus or the Royal green discus.
The green discus fish are remarkable because the color green is not often seen in tropical fish.
Green should be interpreted broadly, and it is more like a visible green haze. However, as the picture shows, the result may be there!
3. The blue Discus fish (Symphysodon aequifasciatus haraldi)
Another species of the Symphysodon aequifasciatus was later described, the aequifasciatus haraldi or the blue Discus fish.
Personally, this is a beautiful fish, the blue color is very striking. Reddish colors and blue stripes can be seen around the head. Blue horizontal stripes also run across the body and abdomen.
Blue discus fish can carry a very special pattern. And that looks gorgeous!
4. Brown Discus Fish (Symphysodon aequifasciata axelrodi)
Another Symphysodon aequifasciatus was later described, the Symphysodon aequifasciatus axelrodi, or the brown Discusfish. The brown discus fish is actually the primal mother of the discus fish.
Some find these tropical fish a bit boring and they are therefore sold in limited quantities. This tropical aquarium fish has blue stripes on its head, but also on the pelvic fins.
However, the basic color of discus fish is a brownish reddish color. Sometimes artificial color food is used in this species. As soon as you stop doing that, the (often) red color will return to the base color.
Are Discus fish often caught in the wild?
It is often doubted which species of wild-caught discus fish is dealing with. In lovers of one particular species of discus, you regularly discover that they unconsciously have two or more species swimming together.
It doesn’t matter which species swim in your aquarium, as long as you like them!
The demand for wild-caught discus fish is not very significant because they are more challenging to keep, and the color shades are too limited.
In addition, it isn’t easy to obtain good wild-caught specimens. Add up all the disadvantages, and you quickly conclude that this is only for the real experts and wild-caught discus enthusiasts.
What kind of Discus fish should you buy now?
That’s a matter of taste. If you want to go back to the source, the wild-caught discus is the best choice. These fish also have the most natural behavior, but they are not the ideal fish for a beginner to start with.
Now a choice of 22 variations is not very limited, but the Asians can deliver many variations. The Asians are masters in inventing new cultivation methods and have elevated cultivation to true art.
This also gives rise to other problems because not all ‘bad’ characteristics have been bred out of these new variations.
How many Discus fish should there be together?
Discus fish are group animals and must therefore be kept in a group. The result is that there is enough swimming space left to prevent problems. In general, the 50-liter water guideline per discus fish is recommended.
When we talk about a group, I am talking about at least eight (adult) discus fish. Attention: small discus fish grow up! So you have to consider the future.
If you want to start keeping discus fish, the discus fish should be between 10 and 12 cm in size.
Buying smaller discus fish is strongly discouraged because you must feed at least five times a day, and the water values must be optimal!
(a daily 50% water change is not an unnecessary luxury during the growth phase).
Discus fish between 10 and 12 cm are satisfied with feeding three times a day and a 50% water change twice a week is really the minimum (provided the water values remain within the standards!).
What can I feed my Discus fish and how often should I feed?
Provide proper nutrition for Discus fish. For example, always buy the right food for Discus fish to maintain the fish’s resistance so that the colors come out extra nicely. It also prevents the unnecessary death of your Discus fish.
It is a joy to feed the discus fish. If you pay close attention, you quickly conclude that there is a pecking order with these fish.
The most dominant fish are, of course, the first to claim the food. They still have to fight for the rest, but if you feed well, there is enough for everyone.
Feeding young discus fish is a task that requires a lot of discipline. It would be best to feed the smallest discus fish every two hours, from sunrise to sunset.
The main food consists of: live Artemia, Cyclops, Bosmiden, Daphnia, Mysis and as usual this depends on the size of the fry.
Eating older discus fish, Mussels, Krill, Red Mosquito larvae, White Mosquito larvae, Black Mosquito larvae, Spirulina and discus mix based on beef heart or turkey heart and frozen food based on fish is also possible.
Of course, you can also give the older discus fish flake food or granulate, as long as it is suitable for discus fish.
A combination of frozen food and dry food is the best option. What is important is that you feed as varied as possible daily.
The aquarium and filter system for discus fish
A 350-liter aquarium is not an extra luxury if you do not want any problems with the growing discus fish. Due to a large amount of feeding, the size of the discus fish, and the number of secondary fish.
A large canister filter is theoretically sufficient if you change a lot of water. Most discus enthusiasts have two large canister filters or a prominent biologist under their tank.
If a biologist does not fit under your aquarium cabinet, you can keep the maintenance frequency within limits with two canister filters.
Specifications of Discus fish
Size: 10-20 cm
Water: PH 6-6.5, soft water
Heating 28-30 degrees
Growing: Difficult but possible
Harem: No, couples
Age: Up to 10 years old
Nutrition: Varied, water fleas are a plus
Remark: Discus fish feed their young with a secretion product from their skin
Fact: keep 100 liters of water per adult Discus fish!
The layout of a Discus fish aquarium
A specially equipped aquarium for these types of fish is a gem for the living room.
However, they do have some requirements that must be met when designing them. Especially for you, a list with the most critical needs and wishes.
Note that discus fish do not belong in a typical community aquarium but in an aquarium specially set up for them.
The natural environment contains many dark banks with a sandy bottom, covered with leaves and especially wood. Try to mimic that in your aquarium as well.
For example, lay down lava rocks and driftwood so that there are sufficient hiding places. That benefits the color of the fish!
Provide a not too brightly lit aquarium because they don’t like that, and it stresses them out, which makes the colors duller, and of course, you don’t want that.
Always Keep an eye on the aquarium temperature; 27 degrees is appreciated. You should not go higher, because that means they live shorter!
Also, pay attention to the bottom of your aquarium. It must not have sharp points caused by stones or other causes.
Follow the above tips, and you will prevent these aquarium fish from becoming shy and dull creatures.
What Plants that suitable for discus fish
Plants from South America are preferred, especially if you keep wild-caught or captive-bred discus fish.
South American floating plants such as the Brazilian water ivy ( Hydrocotyle leucocephala ) and the floating oak leaf fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides) can replace the vegetation floating in nature. They provide shade in the aquarium, which the fish much appreciate.
If the fish tank is equipped with a large amount of driftwood, it will benefit the naturalness if only floating plants are used.
Of course, you can also place some Amazon sword plants in the aquarium. Place them under the light source to receive enough light because if floating plants are also used, they block a lot of light so that the underlying vegetation tends to wither.
If you plan to care for a group of colored discus fish, then the choice of plants is less critical than if you want to stick to the discus area. It doesn’t matter Whether you choose Echinodorus bleheri, Anubias congensis, or Vallisneria gigantea.
Every now and then, you’ll have an aquarium with different colored discus fish and decorated with many other plants, which require good light.
If the plants look fresh and healthy and the other factors are in order, there is nothing wrong with that because tastes differ. Still, I would like to advise, don’t make it too colorful.
How to keep discus fish
Discus fish feel at home in an environment with slow-flowing clear soft, and acidic water. Preferably with tree roots and branches around them.
Aquarium plants are essential but make sure there is plenty of room for the discus fish to swim in a group.
They are peace-loving fish, although they prefer not to tolerate aquarium fish that move very quickly. Discus fish must have a lot of space in the aquarium.
The discus fish are a group fish, so keep at least five or six together, and the water quality also plays an essential role in the well-being of these particular aquarium fish
Keeping wild-caught discus fish is already a very specialist affair, but breeding with these fish is even more difficult.
Because keeping wild-caught discus fish was too difficult for most aquarists, and offspring could no longer be qualified as wild-caught, more and more different variations arose.
What other fish best combine with Discus fish
If you want to keep your discus company with other fish from the same biotopes, that is entirely possible.
You can then choose from the characin species, but do not choose busy, restless swimming fish. Characins usually swim at the same height as the discus, and that can also irritate them.
Should you decide to keep other fish in your discus aquarium, choose fish from the armored catfish family (Corydoras species).
They spend their lives mainly on the bottom. Not all Corydoras species are suitable for a high aquarium with discus fish. All catfish in this family have some form of atmospheric respiration and need to surface from time to time for air, And they do that even in clear, oxygen-rich water.
The genus Brochis, closely related to the genus Corydoras, is also suitable for the discus aquarium. Species from the armor catfish family are also often kept in a discus aquarium. Angelfish and Apistogramma are also suitable to combine with discus fish.
There must be sufficient swimming space on the surface of your aquarium so not overgrown with floating plants.
Discus fish breeding and reproduction
Do you want to breed Discus fish fry or the Discus fish? Then you cannot do without the right tools. What works very well is a unit against which the discus fish can deposit its eggs.
Most captive-bred varieties have lost the typical wild-caught characteristics by now, but this generally only benefits the consumer.
Breeding discus fish is certainly not easy
It is best to keep a separate breeding tank for this fish. Perfect water quality is fundamental to have fry.
So make sure you have a good filter, change the water regularly (every or every day) and make sure there is space, through aquarium plants or leaves, so that the eggs can be deposited on it.
The water should be between 30-31 degrees, with a PH of 5.5-6.5 and a hardness of up to 4 DH. The water will, therefore, often have to be tested for the ideal values.
It isn’t easy to distinguish between the males and females in discus fish.
However, you can tell by a thickening of the vent: round and flat in the females and more pointed in the males.
Note that discus fish defend their territory if eggs have already been deposited.
They first prepare a piece of wood or leaves for this and then deposit the eggs. Around 150 eggs are laid and hatch after three days. They are sexually mature after more than a year.
Discus fish is a Small and cute fish but too small for the beginner!
Establishing a stable cultivation form takes 10 years, and most variations are not that old yet. Again, the best fish come from the best breeders. The battle between the breeders is undoubtedly far from over.
Buying the right kind of Discus fish is therefore not so easy. In any case, make sure that you purchase the Discus fish from specialized aquarium stores. Cheap is also really expensive in this case.
If you are going to buy anyway, then you have to know what you want!
Where and how to buy discus fish
It would be best if you never got fish from anywhere, and this not just applies to the discus fish, but all aquarium fish in general.
If you eventually decide to keep an aquarium full of these beautiful fish, pay particular attention to the following points.
Always go to a licensed fish store. Where will you buy the Discus fish? These are not the cheapest fish but believe me, cheap is expensive.
Once inside, ask yourself: what do the colors of the fish look like? It would be best if you did not buy fish that have a dull color. Chances are there’s something wrong with it, For example, a disease.
What does the swimming behavior of the discus fish look like? These fish are often very calm but move stably. Is the fish hanging a bit strange, or do you see other deviant behavior? Do not buy.
If you are buying anyway, buy the right food right away. Discus fish like a variety of foods. Sometimes fresh, sometimes dry flakes. So keep that in mind as well.
Now you can finally buy Discus fish with peace of mind and fully enjoy its beautiful colors afterward. A well-appointed Discus aquarium is truly a feast for the eyes. So I think you made a good choice. Make sure you buy enough pieces.
A single variant is very pathetic. Make sure you have at least four to six pieces.