Browsing All Comments By: DG
  1. Thanks for the great question… It’s inspired a new article!

    Specifically speaking about Discus I would say water changes in general are done to promote health and growth.

    The short answer is: The cleaner the water and the tank, the better opportunity you give your Discus to live a long happy life with huge growth and of course eventually multiply.

    The longer answer is a bit more envolved and I will cover a few points and save the rest for an article later on.

    The term “water change” can be a bit deceiving as it includes vacuuming gravel and removing built up waste and uneaten food. All of these factors contribute to a less than pristine environment that goes to promote longevity and optimal health for Discus.

    Most Discus hobbyist feed heavier than usual foods such as beef heart and other formulated foods including homemade. This can quickly muck up the water leading to spikes in ammonia and other less than desirable conditions.

    I will have to track it down but I recall listening to Discus expert Jack Wattley at a conference speak about an experiment where he had two tanks. He split a batch of new born fry into the two tanks. Both tanks were fed the same diet and since they were all born from the same parents, conditions were almost identical except for one thing. In one tank 100% of the water was changed twice a day and in the other tank it was much less frequent and not 100% (it was a long time ago, and I will have to dig up the notes). Anyhow as time progressed the tank that received the 100% twice daily water changes contained fry (now juvenile size) much larger than the tank that did not receive frequent water changes.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Hey Cory,

    If it were me, I would wait until the 75 gallon tank was established and cycled before introducing Discus. Even though I would be very eager to go and buy some awesome Discus it is best to cycle the tank with fish that wont hurt the pocket book as much if they do not survive the tank cycling. So in short… I would wait on buying new Discus for the 75 gallon and cycle the tank first.

    I would then move the Discus from the 46 gallon tank into the 75 gallon “cycled” tank and leave the 46 gallon as a quarantine tank. This way when new Discus are purchased they would go in the old 46 gallon where you could keep an eye on them for sickness, parasites, etc… If in a month or two they show no signs of sickness I would then introduce the new Discus into the 75 gallon tank.

    For the second question about the GH… GH is only one property of a several that keep water balanced. Costly and deadly mistakes are made when trying to adjust one property without understanding how that adjustment affects the others. Unless you are ready to break out a piece of paper or and excel spreadsheet to do some calculations I would suggest to keep it simple.

    Ask your breeder or Discus supplier what their water parameters are and take a look at yours. The goal is to make a smooth as possible transition, if needed, from your Discus old home to its new home. Discus will adjust to your water so long as you make the transition slowly.

    I like doing this by having a 5 gallon bucket with me when I purchase Discus. I then ask the breeder or seller to fill the bucket half way with their water. The Discus are placed in this water and when they arrive at home, every 15 to 30 minutes I remove some water from the bucket and introduce water from the tank. This way the acclimation to the new water is a transition versus a shock.


  3. Hi Liz,

    Discus do well in groups ( and its great to read you have 2 discus.

    Many factors go into shy and skittish behavior. The easiest way to ease your Discus in to the new tank is to lower stressful triggers such as:

    – Bright overhead lights
    – Constant face in the glass plus tapping on the tank
    – Not enough places to hide
    – To much foot traffic near tank
    – Trying to make it eat

    Discus fish are prey in the wild and years of instinctual behavior for survival kicks in when stressed. My suggestion would be to lay back a bit, maybe turn down the tank lights a bit and avoid showing off your new Discus to friends.

    One other thing, be mindful of sharp rocks or ornaments in your tank. Sometimes when doing maintenance cleaning, skittish Discus can freak out and slam into objects trying to swim away. This can lead to injury and death of your Discus.

    Enjoy your Discus but give them some space. If they came from a reputable source I have no doubt they will come around in a few days. They just need a bit more time to get used to their new home.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Tom,

    I have never used rain water before but have heard of it being done. It would be a matter of collecting the water and testing it to make sure it could be used for Discus. If not I am sure you could collect it and run it through an RO filter to clean it up a bit.

    Hope this helps!

  5. Great question, here are some tips:

    – Looks like you have a variety of foods you feed. I would stay away from tubifex worms. I have used blackworms with success in the past. I only trust California Blackworms. Just keep rinsing and keeping the blackworms clean.

    – I wouldn’t setup a scheduled treatment plan. Medicating Discus on a routine basis will take its toll on the internal organs. I would treat as needed after identifying the cause. It is important to treat the cause not the symptoms. Scheduled treatments will only shorten the lifespan of your Discus. Drugs are the last resource not the first.

    Hope this helps

  6. I don’t have anyone to recommend in Louisiana. But a quick search in google for “Louisiana discus” returned several possible options for you.

    Hope this helps!

  7. HI Paul,

    Yes, Discus are jumpers. I would put some sort of covering over the top of the tank. What you use depends on the size of your Discus and the size of your tank. Bigger Discus given enough space to get a head start can push off the cover.

    Not sure why the jump. Aside from getting spooked. I have found Discus on the floor that jumped out sometime during the night. No sounds, people or lights.

    Hope this helps!

  8. We are currently writing a guide on “How to breed Discus” that will be available on this site. Sign up for our newsletter. Our newsletter group will be the first to know when it is released.

    Hope this helps!

  9. Hi Greg,

    Even the most established of pairs can have their bond broken when introduced to a new environment. Not saying this is what is going to happen to you, just saying it happens.

    Unless I was setting up a breeding tank I would not buy a breeding pair for a community tank. Mostly because other fish in the tank would eat the fry. And if I was not protective of the fry and wanting to raise them to juvenile or adult stage, why pay the price for a pair?

    If it were me I would purchase six or eight young juvenile Discus and raise them up to adult stage. I might get a pair to form over time as they became adults. And of course I could sell off the other adults for much more $$$.

    Both will work, just know that you will be paying a premium for two adult Discus that may or may not raise fry again.

    Hope this helps,

  10. Hi Kathaleen,

    I have a few questions:

    Is this the first batch of fry?
    Are the fry feeding of the side of the parents body?
    Do you have other fish in the tank other than the fry and the two Discus parents?

    I would not attempt to move the fry or the parents at this point. In most cases if this is the first batch of fry they have a big chance of not making it. Sorry to provide the bad news.

    Also if there is other fish like tetras or anything larger, the fry will become snack food. Not much you can do about that.

    If you wanted to explore breeding Discus I would setup a new tank and move the two Discus to the new tank before they breed again.

    Feel free to post your questions…


  11. Hi Willie,

    Great questions! Fill the buckets a quarter full with water from the breeder or fish store. If they are delivered it might be a little tougher. Here is what we would do. Pour the bag water and Discus into the bucket. When we order Discus it is on a larger scale and have plenty of bag water. If you do not have enough water in the bucket to at least cover the Discus. Introduce a bit of tank water into the bucket to allow some room to breath.


  12. Hi Shafi,

    Do NOT use a heater in the car! Simply put a lid on the bucket and wrap it with blankets or towels to keep the water warm on the ride home.

    For really long trips you can purchase heat packs at outdoor or sports stores. Activate the packs and place on the outside of the bucket then wrap with towels to keep the bucket warm.


  13. Hi Camicov,

    For shipping in airplanes and such I agree bags work best. For transporting from the local fish store or breeder I still like my buckets.

    They are safe and re-usable so no more plastic bags to the landfills. Plus unless you drive like a crazy person you will not knock your Discus around.

    If they do get spooked they will not get out of a bucket with a lid on it.

    If they get spooked in a bag and they puncture it (this has happened to me many times) then water leaks out and its a race to make it home before the fish dies.

    In my experience buckets work best.


  14. Hi Timmy,

    When Discus are on their sides it usually means death or sickness. In reference to the article above, Discus will try to right themselves to a vertical position. If stuck this way in a plastic bag it can tossle around causing damage to itself and puncturing the bag.

    Fighting is natural especially when purchasing in three’s. Read this:


  15. Hi Andy,

    Over thinking and over stressing yourself can lead to Discus death as well as your own! 🙂

    If you have done salt water then you have the chops to keep DIscus. It’s just a matter mastering the nuances and requirements of Discus.

    125 gallons would be a tremendous Discus tank. Just keep cleaning and water changes in mind. With that big of a tank there is many places for waste to build up. Also changing 20% of water daily on a 125 gallon is a huge difference from a 60 gallon.

    With Discus it’s all about consistency. Consistent water changes, quality food and stable environment.


  16. Hi Alison,

    Hardness of the water (a.k.a. GH) can vary and Discus can thrive in both highs and lows.

    My question to you is have you introduced a new water source such as bottled water or RO water? Drops with GH from the same water source is pretty rare so my concern is not so much on the GH but everything else. If your municipal water is fluctuating or you are introducing a new water source, the swings (if any) in parameters is what can cause damage or death to Discus.

    So, its not the range that is bad for Discus it is the constant up and down that is bad.


  17. Hi Michael,

    I have seen many creative “auto” water changing systems. Some of them do very well and are low maintenance. Weekly tank wipe down and daily feeding… but then again there are also auto feeders! 🙂


  18. Hmmm… IME Mardel products work best… I have not had much success treating Discus with Melafix…

    Glad to read everything is stable now…


  19. Hmm… can you provide your water parameters?

    Turning dark is due to stress either external or internal… without more information it is hard to “guess” what is going on with your Discus.

    Discus will go to the surface for only three reasons… To eat… Its warmer up there… or to get Oxygen… You say they are eating… what temp is the water? do you have airstones in the tank?

    Keep us updated…

  20. Hi Adhi,

    You can post a picture in our forum!

  21. Oops! 🙂



  22. Hi Gerald,

    Discus over a long period of time will get to know who you are… Mostly because they learn through repetition to recognize the person who feeds them every day, month after month and year after year… LOTS OF REPETITION!

    Discus are fish and not pets… they have not been domesticated like dogs and cats… even dogs and cats will show their wild side… They cannot be “tamed” nor should they be…

    The purpose of keeping Discus is to observe them and appreciate how they behave as close to their real natural state as possible… Replicate their natural environment and feed them well so they can breed…

    Sorry but if you are looking to “tame” Discus… then maybe Discus is not for you?

  23. Hi Tizzie,

    You know I noticed that blue colored discus will turn a bit darker based on the backdrop of the tank or gravel color… Mostly in Blue Diamond Discus…

    Im sure the darker color may also be caused by stress of the move…

    Just keep an eye on them and eventually behavior will let you know if it is stress or just some sort of survival camouflage…


  24. Hi Elisabeth,

    In my opinion, no, it is not true…

    What you do want to avoid is flicking lights on to often as this will eventually cause your Discus to freak out and crash into something in the tank, the tank walls or worse yet jump right out of the tank…


  25. Hello Willie,

    I will give you the quick version of how to tell Male from Female. First it is just about impossible to tell Male from Female until about the adult stage. The Male has a fertilization tube that is shaped like a pencil tip. The Female has a egg laying tube that is larger and shaped like a curved tube. A post about this will soon be available on Discus Guide.

    As far as temperature, mid 80’s is perfect for Discus.


  26. Hi Irene,

    What I would do is just wait and let the tank complete cycling. Continuing to alter the state of the water for better or worse, it keeps a solid base of bacteria to form that would handle excess nitrates and ammonia.

    Sounds like you are doing the right things so far. Just take your foot off the gas pedal a bit and slow down. Tank water can take a while to cycle especially with 9 Discus!


  27. Hi Willie,

    Yes, perfectly fine to have live plants in your Discus aquarium.

    Look for wide leafed plants like the Amazon Sword that provide enough hiding area for Discus.


  28. Hi Phil,

    Yes Discus can eat bloodworms and several other pre-packaged frozen foods. I like using Hikari brand bloodworms and also feed Krill and a veggie mix.

    If you want to try live foods I would suggest California Black Worms:

    California Blackworms will make your Discus grow super fast but it is more work keeping the worms clean and alive versus using frozen pre-packaged food.

    Hope this helps!

  29. Hey Adrian,

    I have seen sand used and sand like substrate used in planted tanks that contained Discus. I don’t think it would be recommended to use Marine Live sand in a freshwater setup as I am sure it’s for salt water purposes only.

    The ideal setup for Discus if you are interested in breeding and showing is a bare tank with no substrate. If you are to use substrate and want a sand like appearance look for planted tank substrate. In my experience though I will warn you that planted tank substrate contains fertilizers and properties specifically to induce plant growth. If you are not going to have a heavily planted tank you may induce the growth of algae, and lots of it.