Picking the perfect tank mates is super easy. Why? Because there are not many to select from! Discus require plenty of space to swim about and claim as there own territory. Avoiding naturally territorial tank mates goes a long way to keeping happy and healthy Discus.
In this article we talk about what fish make the perfect tank mates for Discus and some not so obvious choices to avoid.
If we ask this question from a Discus perspective the answer may sound something like, “A perfect tank mate is one that leaves me alone and doesn’t eat all my food.”
Almost all fish are aggressively territorial, I am not saying that they are all aggressive, but aggressively territorial. What I mean by that is most tropical fish will carve out a small section of the tank to claim as their own. For Discus this is not a good thing, especially because they tend to enjoy drifting through out the tank and hanging out where ever they choose.
Although most Discus have been bred in a controlled environment, long since removed from its natural origins, one must not forget them. Discus in the wild swim among many fish including a very colorful and harmless fish called Tetra!
Yes there are several varieties of Tetra’s and in my experience the best to be kept with Discus have been Cardinal and Lamp Eye Tetra’s. These two create stunning schools and keep a very low key type of presence in the tank. Most of the time, like the Discus they tend to drift from one side of the tank to the other. These Tetra’s are also not known to be veracious eaters and will not compete for food with your Discus.
One sure fire tank mate that never fails is the Cory Cat (aka Corydoras). Cory’s spend most of their time under the Discus radar in search of food between the gravel and under plants. When not looking for food they tend to settle in a spot and not move for some time, then before you know it they are scooting around again. Cory’s make great tank mates for Discus and help keep the tank a bit cleaner.
Fish of similar or greater size than your Discus: Any fish that will compete aggressively with your Discus for food or space is no good. Any fish that will grow larger and more demanding than your Discus is no good. This includes flower horns, African cichlids, angelfish, oscars, etc…
Fish that are aggressive eaters: Most Discus will compete for food to a degree, but for your Discus to thrive it must be the largest and most fed fish in the tank.
Any sucker mouthed fish: Although I have never experienced it, “discus pros” claim that sucker fish will develop a taste for Discus slime. In my experience sucker mouthed fish usually get introduced into a tank to clean up algae. What ends up happening is they enjoy eating the Discus food and will stop eating algae. Occasionally becoming aggressive and territorial about the food and space in the tank.
Loaches: The only reason I mention loaches is because I introduced on into my planted Discus tank. I had a huge snail problem and loaches I read where supposed to be good at bringing snail numbers down. Loaches though turned out to be really aggressive eaters and got super fat! Once I decided to remove the loaches I practically had to remove all the plants and dismantle the tank in order to catch them. As it turns out the fat lazy loaches can dart around and swim fast when they have to. This cause a huge mess and stressed out my Discus. Just sayin…
High energy fish that zig zag everywhere: Danios are the perfect example of this as well as some larger Tetras and even Rasboras to an extent. What these fish enjoy doing is fin nipping, why exactly they enjoy this is unknown to me. Fin nipping can lead to fin loss and eventually infection to fish that are not used to being nipped, in this case Discus.
What tank mates have you found perfect for your Discus?
What tank mates have turned out to be a nightmare for you and your Discus?
What do you think makes the perfect tank mate?