How To Select New Discus

Finding great Discus requires recognizing a few key details. By focusing on these key details that are described below, I have found, owned and re-sold exceptional Discus.

In this article we share what to look for when selecting and purchasing new Discus.

Selecting New Discus

If Discus cost $1, people could afford to purchase several and take their chances with those who survived. Discus do not sell for $1 and if someone tries to sell you some for $1, run away! Discus typically cost on average between $30 to $50 each, with rare or show quality going for much more.

Because Discus cost a bit more than the average freshwater fish, Discus hobbyist have developed several key factors to use in order to find the best of the best. Some of the following points I learned the hard way, most though have been taught to me from experienced hobbyist.

  • Discus should be round shaped not wedge shaped. Either bad genetics or stunted growth is to blame for odd shaped Discus. Poor diet also contributes to this.
  • Discus stomachs should not look like they are pinched. This could mean the Discus is not eating or is sick.
  • Discus stomachs should not look bloated. This could mean that the Discus has a digestive blockage or worm infestation.
  • Discus eyes should be smaller in proportion to their body. When the eyes are large for the body size of the Discus it means its growth was stunted by bad nutrition. There is no cure for this, no matter how much you feed it.
  • Discus eyes should be clear not cloudy or dark. Cloudy eyes can be a sign of poor health or stress.
  • Discus fins should be spread out and erect, not clamped down. Fins that are clamped down can be a sign of a stressed and sick Discus.
  • Discus body color should be vibrant and bright not dark or black. Dark or black Discus that are not carrying fry are either stressed or sick.
  • Discus should approach the glass of the tank when a hand is placed near the tank (not tapping). Approaching the tank glass is a sign of a happy Discus with a good appetite.
  • Discus fins should be intact, not torn. Torn fins can be a sign of nipping or poor health.
  • Discus should not have white or long stringy waste. This can mean internal parasites

Example of Bad Discus

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Below is a picture of two Discus that you should not buy. These Discus display several key indicators mentioned above. Take a look at the picture below and see how many “bad Discus” indicators you can spot.


  • Discus on the left has cloudy eyes.
  • Discus on the right has large eyes compared to rest of the body
  • Both Discus have wedge shaped bodies

Example of Great Discus

In comparison to the Discus in the picture above, you can see the Discus pictured below are exceptional examples of great Discus. Take a look at the picture below and see how many “great Discus” indicators you can spot.


  • Both Discus have erect extended fins
  • Both Discus are very round in shape
  • Discus on the left demonstrates a clear bright eye
  • Both Discus have small eyes in compared to its body
  • Both Discus show healthy fins with no tearing and full of color

Questions For You?

What are your rules for finding good Discus?

Do you see mostly “bad Discus” or “great Discus” at your local fish store?

13 thoughts on “How To Select New Discus”

  1. Are discus fish jumpers ? Do I need to keep the tank well & securely covered ? I have a Hagen Osaka 40+ gal. tank, with overhanging light in the middle, but no cover over most of the surface water area. Do I need to take extra precautions ?

  2. Great need for a distrubutor in Shreveport<Louisiana or knowledge of where to go in the surrounding area sorry I hit the wrong button on a message I sent earlier.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. Thanks for the invite to become a free member.
    I have downloaded the secret to healthy discus… thanks
    I absolutely love my 4 discus but find my heart is in my mouth every time something goes wrong so far I have been lucky.
    Can you help, when I purchased my discus the breeder told me to keep my GH at 180, it has stayed the same for over a year, now it has now dropped to 30 which is recommended. who is correct?

  6. 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.


  7. i have a rain water tank so that hasn’t changed, the only thing i have done differently is add Melafix and Pimafix as one of my discus is not doing well. she is dark in colour most of the time, still eating but not as much as the others. i say “she” as the 3 other discus seem to be aggressive amongst themselves but leave her alone. The tank seems to be stable now at 0.

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

    Glad to read everything is stable now…


  9. hi…i’m a new guy who’s gonna buy a discus for the first i need someone who knows wat beginners shud do gettin discus..need some good advice here..thanks in advance guys

  10. Hello,
    I have recently bought two Discus l. They are living in my 36g tank, my problem is I think one discus has become dominant and is starving the other! I understand that this is a common problem and probably doesn’t have a for sure “fix”, but does anyone have any tips for me? Also, two of my tetras in the same tank have ick, I have treated once and I thought it was gone but now it is back and spreading! Tips? Are quarantines nescisary?

    Thanks in advance!

  11. I have recently bought two young Discus. I have had them for about two weeks and as time goes on one seems to be starving the other. I know it was mentioned in an article about the “dominant Discus” and that their probably isn’t a for sure fix but does anyone have any tips? They get along fine with the other fish in my tank at feeding time, just not with each other. Also, some my tetras in the same tank have ick. I treated once and it seemed to be gone but is now back and spreading! I am treating again but should I quarantine the infected fish? Could I be using the wrong type of treatment? one more thing, I tried to become a member but it keeps saying “please enter the correct captcha” and I do not see an area to enter it.

    I know this is a long comment and I’ll say thanks in advance!

  12. I have purchased 4 discus about two months ago, three were domestically bred and one was wild caught – I was told. He is considerably larger and was bothering the other fish during feeding time, but now they seem to “get together” in a group and he bothers them no more – in fact, became rather shy. But all are doing well and growing like crazy. I did keep discus before – they did spawn and had a slew of babbies (Just a fluke, rather than any real effort on my part) and lived a long time – like 12 years and more..but old age did claim them in the end. As far as your infected fish, I would definitely remove these from your discus tank. Quarantine the fish and raise the temperature of the water for a while. Qick Cure seems to work fine for ick. Yes, I have the same issue with the membership – I get the same message – enter the correct captcha – what is this?

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