Keeping Discus is a great hobby and for some lucky few a profession. Success with Discus is simple, understanding where Discus come from answers so many questions. All who keep Discus can benefit greatly by learning the origins of Discus and their natural habitat.
In this article we explain a few key principles about the Discus native environment. Understanding these key principles will help in keeping healthy Discus for many years.
Discus And South America
Discus can be found in their natural home in the waters of the Amazon river in South America. The Amazon river crosses several borders that include Brazil, Colombia and Peru with immense tropical forests. Geographically this area naturally experiences tropical climates with long periods of rain.
The amount of rain introduced to the Amazon river directly correlates to water changes and Discus health. Discus seem to be naturally conditioned to consistent flows of fresh water that contributes to peak health conditions.
Although free to roam in the vastness of the Amazon river, Discus are typically found in a few areas including:
Natural Discus Water
On average water in the Amazon river where Discus are found is about 86F in temperature and a pH of 6 to 6.5. In some areas the pH level can be as low as 4!
As mentioned above constant movement of fresh oxygen rich water creates the optimal water conditions for Discus health.
Water is also naturally soft, meaning, very few dissolved solids are found in the water.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the minerals found in water in parts per million. A variety of minerals can be found in water depending on region. The fewer dissolved solids the lower the conductivity of the water or micro-Siemens. Replicating low TDS water is usually done when wanting to breed Discus and is accomplished by using an RO System. Although Discus will breed in several different water conditions, softer water helps improve the fertilization of the eggs and fry yield sizes.
Several reasons can explain the waters natural softness including the immense rain forests and rain. Most experienced hobbyist use RO systems to produce soft water in order to replicate the conditions found in nature.
Wild Discus Environment
In the wild Discus can be found along the shores where roots from the rain forest trees are strongly rooted into the Amazon river. Discus naturally hide under the roots to avoid predators and have developed vertical strips to help camouflage themselves.
The water is a dark tea like color where sunlight does not penetrate to deeply at all. Wild Discus are adapted to living in low light conditions. This again helps to avoid predators.
It is important to keep low light conditions in mind when keeping Discus. Although your Discus may be several generation removed from the wild, instinctively some Discus can be very skittish or frighten easily when left exposed in a tanks with crystal clear water and bright lights overhead.
The natural substrate is typically composed of a softer sand like gravel and decomposed tree leaves. Plants found including Amazon Swords help Discus not only hide better but provide natural breeding grounds.
Questions For You
Have you kept wild discus?
Have you ever visited Brazil, Peru or Colombia?
What questions do you have about Discus in the wild?