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Discus
(Symphysodon aequiafasciata & S. discus)


discus, S. aequiafasciata, S. discus

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The discus is quite possibly the most popular fish among large freshwater aquarium owners in the world today. They belong to the genus Symphysodon. They are members of the family Cichlidae more commonly known as cichlids. This family also includes another extremely popular species the angelfish. Both are native to the Amazon River system.


There are two individual species collectively referred to as Discus; S. aequiafasciata and S. discus. These two species are further divided into five different subspecies. But this in not a science lecture. Suffice it to say that these wonderfully exotic species are distinguished by their color palettes. They are available in brown, green, blue, red and yellow. Both species have been selectively bred to further enhance their natural coloration. The end result is some of the most beautiful fish you will ever see in a home aquarium.

The Discus is a rather expensive fish as far as freshwater varieties go. You can expect to pay anywhere form $35 to upwards of $200. The price is determined by the size and coloration of the fish. The good news is that they are relatively long lived. Under premium conditions they may live in excess of 10 years. So you will get your money’s worth in the long run.

These are among one of the larger freshwater varieties. They can reach eight to ten inches in length. It is quite possible to raise a single discus in an aquarium. A pair is even better. But a group of six or more allows them to interact as they would in nature. They must be kept with other large species or in mono-species tanks. They will eat smaller fish.

Take all this into account when determining if they are appropriate for your aquarium needs. You will require a minimum tank size of 75 gallons if you intend the raise a group.

You should also be aware they are not recommended for amateur aquarist. They are not as tolerant to diverse water conditions as many freshwater fish are. The ideal environment for your discus is soft, slightly acid water ranging from pH 6.0-6.5 and a temperature range of 77-86 degrees. Between the monetary investment and the Discus’ intolerance to less than ideal water conditions, beginners should avoid the temptation to raise them.

When keeping Discus it is advisable to start with bottled or reverse-osmosis filtered water. The water can then be filtered through peat or a thin layer of peat can be added to the substrate. Peat releases humic acid into the water which naturally raises acidity levels. This will help further mimic their native environment. Make sure the peat contains no chemical additives or fertilizers.

The Discus is primarily a carnivore. Aquarium specialty stores sale food especially formulated them. It is a good decision to trust in fish care specialist given the investment involved. They will eat brine shrimp, tubifex and bloodworms.

Discus Breeding

It is difficult to distinguish the male form the female Discus. Fortunately they will save you the trouble. They will pair up instinctively. Paired discus should be placed in a breeding tank. Discus will clean a leaf or other flat object to deposit their eggs on prior to spawning. These fish are very protective of their unborn fry. They will stand guard over the fry, and clean them regularly. The fry will hatch about two days after fertilization.

The fry will be free swimming about three days. Once they are they will derive their nutriment by eating by eating a mucous secretion off the skin of their parents. The parents and fry should be left together for the first few weeks. But after two or three days you can start feeding the fry newly hatched brine shrimp.

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Fish Care & Breeding Guide
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