How To Quarantine Discus

It is vital that you quarantine Discus after purchase. Parasites can invade and destroy your happy Discus environment in days. With just a few extra precautions you can avoid disaster.

Read how to quarantine your Discus and what to look for before you buy Discus. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Why Quarantine Discus

I am as guilty as the next person. I will admit that when I started out with Discus, I would take them from the bag and put them straight into my tank. After all the point of buying the Discus was to enjoy watching it in my tank, right?

All was well in the beginning until I changed my source of Discus. I went to a new place, all I wanted was more Discus! I lost all rational thinking, in fact, I didn’t look for signs of illness or care very much about the environment. I just wanted a new Discus.

I went home and placed the new Discus in my tank with all the others. Later that week, sometime after feeding, I noticed long string white waste coming from the new Discus. How long had this been going on? Is this Discus sick? Will my other Discus get sick as well?

Sure enough, after some time, the new Discus stopped eating. After a few more days it died. Then followed the others, with similar symptoms and not knowing what to do, they all died.

That is my story. I am sure countless others have experienced something similar. Back then I didn’t have the internet and books were scarce. Yep, no either! I tried going to the local fish store, they avoided the questions. They even got offended! I remember them saying that Discus were very delicate and difficult fish. Now I know better, Discus are neither delicate nor difficult, had I just taken a few extra steps. Here is what I learned.

How To Quarantine Discus

Quarantine means you are going to have another tank on standby for new fish to live in for a few weeks to observe for parasites or health issues. Here is the basic list of what you will need:

  • Spare tank with cycled water. 10 gallon or 20 gallon will do.
  • Tank hood to keep Discus from jumping out.
  • Submersible heater
  • Sponge filter
  • Air pump

This is a bare bones system. No fancy stuff, just simple.

No gravel in this tank at all! Keep the tank super clean. The point of this tank is to provide a simple way for you to observe the health of your new Discus.

What to observe:

  • Fish Waste must be observed for some time. You want to make sure no worms, tapeworms or other digestive issues exist.
  • Food consumption must be observed. If the Discus is not eating it may have problems.
  • Body fungus or injuries. Look for fin rot, cuts or scrapes and medicate if needed.

By keeping the new Discus in a separate tank you can also adjust parameters to help the new Discus heal or recover from infection, parasites or stress.

  • Raising the temperature a few degrees is known to stimulate appetite. Also some parasites are known to die off in warmer waters.
  • Adding aquarium salt also helps reduce Discus stress. A smaller tank means less salt and more direct impact.
  • Medicating is much easier and cost effective. Should you find parasites, treatment will be simpler in a quarantine tank than if you had to treat your main established tank.
  • Questions For You

    Do you have a Quarantine/Hospital tank setup?

    Have you ever found parasites in your Discus?

    What treatments have worked for you?

6 thoughts on “How To Quarantine Discus”

  1. Hi,

    Great information. As a vintage keeper (my first fish were Endlers guppies, aquired 1959, at the age of 6) the importance of quaranting any and all species of fish, cannot be understated. I have kept and bred many species of fish including Discus, and I still have that childlike impulse to buy a fish without careful planning. I might suggest, when at all possible using R/O water to start the quarantine tank, using a sponge filter that has been seasoned in a healthy tank (the one the Discus are going to join)
    and allow the bacteria in the sponge filter to season the water. Buying a 5 gallon bottle of R/O water can cost as much as $14.00 or more, but the pay off is a healthy start for the new fish, and a refill only costs about $1.50 here in Wisconsin. I am married to lovely little Native American girl, who refuses to drink city water, so we have invested in several bottles. I finally have an R/O unit connected to my house hold water supply(after a life time of dreaming), But one must remember to restore essential minerals to the water. That is a subject you may want to discuss in the future.
    The Discus Fish Guide is wonderful and I always look forward to an e-mail leading back here. I am sorry I have not responded earlier, but I have little free time with 2000gals of Discus and Angel fish to attend to. Again thanks for a great site, like you it has been a long road getting here.

    Have fun


    Gerard J. Stoeckert

    1. 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.


  2. Quarantine does make sense – however – is there a broad-spectrim medication that one can use “to make sure” what has not been observed is also treated along with any visable signs? How long does quarantine last? I use National Fish Pharmaceuticals -sp? and that brand is pure and it works in a few days.

  3. Hi,
    I was curious about a few things, I am starting my first discus tank soon. My water parameters are perfect. The tank is almost empty. There are three little guys living in there, one ram, one tiny angel, and one pleco. All of which will be moved except the ram. It is a fully planted and cycled tank,
    How do to introduce these guys? Do you medicate just in case? Raise the temp when introducing? I will be ordering online because there are no places I trust here, and they only carry one fish at a time. So any advice would be great. I have done so much research but little details like these I have not found.

    Thank you

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