Top 5 Discus Myths


So many fake stories are told about keeping Discus, mostly from people who don’t have a clue or have never kept Discus.

We will put to rest 5 popular myths about keeping Discus that have been around too long!

Ready? Here we go!

If you are new to Discus, hopefully you are not listening to all those negative Nancy’s who are trying to convince you that Discus are the wrong fish for you. Discus are great and pretty easy to keep alive for a very long time.

Top 5 Myths in no specific order:

  • You must do daily water changes
  • Discus belong in a species tank
  • You need to be a water chemistry expert
  • Discus require super industrial equipment to filter water
  • You need to feed your Discus very special food

So let’s take out these Myth’s one by one.

Daily Water Changes

It’s true, Discus LOVE clean water, but it doesn’t have to be a museum in your tank for your Discus to be happy.

I know people who do 100% water changes twice daily! Now that is crazy!

Keep it simple, 20% to 25% water changes a few times a week is just fine. Even you miss one, it’s not the end of the world. The whole point is to not allow waste to build up in your tank. Obviously, someone with only a sponge filter will have to do more water changes than someone with two canister filters.

Discus Species Tank

You don’t NEED to keep Discus in a species tank, unless that is what you really want. Choosing Discus tankmates is pretty easy, just follow this rule:

“As long as the tankmate does not try to eat all the food or the Discus, then you probably have a good tank mate.”

Here are a few:

  • Cardinal Tetra
  • Lamp Eye Tetra
  • Rummynose Tetra
  • Corydoras (Cory Cat)
  • Ghost Shrimp

Water Chemistry Expert

This myth bothers me more than others and here is why. Most local fish stores that I have gone to gladly test my water for FREE! That is right FREE! You know why? Because I spend so much MONEY in their store! If you are spending money weekly or monthly at your local fish store and they do not offer free water testing, find a new store that does. There is no reason why your local fish store cannot test your water for you.

Now, if you don’t have a local fish store near you and you are dependent on the internet, get some test strips. They are color coded and offer a huge spectrum of tests on one strip. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

If you want to actually learn about Ph, Kh, Gh, etc… there are endless resources online. Electronic meters to take super accurate results are also available but could be a bit costly. They are not necessary but are great for those who WANT to be super accurate and know exactly what their water parameters are.

Also, test your water BEFORE you buy Discus to see if your tap water is naturally within acceptable levels. If so, then you just saved yourself a ton of money on water treating equipment.

Super Filters

It does not take super filters, reverse osmosis filtration or chemicals to have perfect Discus water!

You just might have perfect Discus water coming out of your faucet! Have you ever tested your faucet water? Don’t worry, most people don’t, but you should. In fact, aside from the dechlorination and aeration that you should be doing on all water going into your tank, you may not have to do much at all to have great Discus water.

What’s that you say? Your faucet water is no good? Ok, did you know you could use the water from a Water Store? I use it all the time, especially when I have several breeding pairs going at the same time. The Water Store has already invested a ton of money into a massive water filtration system that would dwarf any dinky use at home R.O. filter system.

So why fight it? Go with it! Leverage someone else’s massive filter system to give you great Discus water. Not sure if your local water store has good water? Test it! You should, after all you might already be drinking it!

Special Food

This one is all up to you. Discus will eat just about anything they like but here is what you have to keep in mind.

Genetically, Discus are programmed to be big fish and that growth requires a good balance of carbs and protein. This is why you hear so much of beefheart, shrimp and worm based recipes.

You can easily spot Discus that haven’t receive a good balanced diet. Typically they are stunted or runts, most of the time never growing to their full potential.

Im not going to say that every Discus owner has to feed their Discus like it’s destined to be a prize winning show fish. That’s up to you and not for me to say. What I will say is to keep in mind that, like other larger fish, your Discus requires a balanced meal with more protein to support growth and healthy overall appearance.

And you have a wide assortment of food to choose from:

  • Bloodworms
  • Blackworms
  • Beefheart
  • Shrimp
  • White Fish
  • Tetrabits
  • Krill
  • Earthworms

Questions For You?

Know of other myths you want to share?

Would you suggest anything else on the myths above?

7 thoughts on “Top 5 Discus Myths

  1. Back before I got my Fire Dragon discount I was really checking into EVERYTHING Discus related…filters, food, water parameters, etc. I remember reading that Discus preferred soft water BUT I also remember reading someone in a forum saying that you SHOULDN’T run their water through a softener system (we use potassium) but run it just through r/o and possibly d/i. Not really understanding why, I bypassed the softener and went straight into the garage to their own r/o -d/i system, which is hooked to a 55 gallon drum with a shut off valve (for a swamp cooler). As long as the drum is full, no water flows through the system. (I have a recirc. pump, a heater and two air lines with airstones in the barrel)
    My questions are…
    1) Why shouldn’t the water run through the softener? Wouldn’t it be basically a pre-filter that’d make the r/o membrane last longer?
    2) By filling the barrel then automatically shutting flow off, wouldn’t this make filters and membranes last LONGER time-wise than manufacturer reccomendations? Or is it a Time thing and
    not a gallon thing?
    3) I’ve seen it stated several times in several places that I shouldn’t use CARBON filtration for Discus… is this true and WHY?
    That’s it for now. I’ll think of more later.

  2. Just like the Forum speaker stated, you really don’t have to try too hard to keep Discus. I have a 30 gallon tank with three Discus and two long tail bristlenose. They are all doing great! I change my water once a week and I have a digital thermometer to keep an eye on the temp. I also check the chemistry a couple of times a week. I have had my Discus tank for over a year now. I have one Pigeon Blood and two Amazon all full grown now and they are thriving very well and are beautiful. My tap water happens to be soft and I have a vacumm so I hook up my vacumm and put water in straight from my tap. The only treatment I use is a little bit of stress coat after each cleaning. I feed them bloodworms, brine shrimp and beefheart once a day. I do want to make a comment about tank mates. I personally found that my Discus did not do well with any middle living tankmates. I tried Cardinal tetras, Rummy nose and Corys all. The Cardinal tetras were too active, the Rummy nose were stressed out and stayed at the bottom of the tank and didn’t school or move hardly and the Cory’s were too active due to the fact they come to the top of the tank for air some of the time. So, they all ended up in my big freshwater tank and are doing well there. I did find however, that the long tail Bristlenose makes an excellent tankmate for Discus. I have two in my Discus tank and they are one of the few algea eaters that do not attach themselves to the Discus slime. They do well in higher heat and are thriving in my Discus tank. I keep my Discus tank temp between 84.6 and 85.0 degrees and everyone does great. My filtration system is Marineland biofilter on the top. I have two 200 bios on this tank with two cartridges each filter. It keeps the water pristine and clear. I use two cartridges each week. I rinse out the back cartridge and place it in the back and throw away the front cartridge. I rinse out a new cartridge and place it in the back and keep that rotation each week. It works beautifully and you can get the filters and cartridges at any pet store or online. I use Fluval heaters and they are extremely consistent. I will say though that if you start out with the smaller Discus do to price, you may loose a couple of them first. The smaller Discus seem to get stressed easier and don’t eat and therefore pass. It is worth it to pay a little extra and get the medium size in my opinion. I hope this helps. The Discus don’t really require any more care than you give your other fish. They just require TLC like any tank.

  3. Sorry, I need to correct the comment about the cartridges. I meant to say that I clean the back cartridge and place it in the front and rinse out a new cartridge and place it in the back and rotate them. Thanks

  4. well well, all these myths are not true!!!

    1. i had 12 discus fish and i followed all the rules to the book, FINALLY they all died. I was so disappointed, since i had put a lot of money and effort into it, so i finally decided to buy just four baby discus, which i did. i decided to put them into the same tank, no water change no nothing, i practically just dumped them in direct from the store.

    2. my discus are now full grown, beautiful ,a sight to behold!!!and lay eggs. unfortunately they are all ladies, no man.

    3. i change the water when i think i should sometimes once in three weeks.

    4. i use TAP water, no filtering or osmosis!!!

    5. i feed them every three days.

    6. i never ever put any medicine in my tank, sometimes just a packet of salt if anything which is rare.

    DISCUS can grow and produce in any water as long as they get acclimatised from when they are young.

    enjoy stress free discus like a do, dont rush to treat them with all these medicines , it makes them weak

  5. I do know for sure that I have very hard water. I can’t give you exact numbers because my well water seems to fluctuate. This is the reason I chose to have cichlids. However, I’m determined to have a “show” discus tank. Should I just go ahead and invest in reverse osmosis filter? Or, if I buy very young discus could they adjust?

  6. I thought I already posted this somewhere but I can’t find it. My question… I know I have very hard water. Hard enough that I have several tanks of cichlids that thrive in it. However, I would like to have a “show” discus tank. My water is from a well so the numbers fluctuate. Should I just go ahead and invest in a reverse osmosis filter? Or could very small discus gradually adjust to such water. If so, how would I do this?

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