By Sunil Dcosta*
Discus fish (Symphysodon spp.) are a popular and highly valued species of freshwater tropical fish that are native to the Amazon Basin in South America. They are known for their distinctive disc-shaped bodies and vibrant colours, making them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts around the world.
There are several different types or species of Discus fish, which can be distinguished by their colours, patterns and other physical characteristics. Some of the most common types of Discus fish include:
- Blue Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) – characterised by a blue-green body with vertical stripes.
- Brown Discus (Symphysodon discus) – often called the “Royal” or “Heckel” Discus, these fish have a distinctive pattern of horizontal stripes on their body.
- Green Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) – these Discus have a greenish body with a red eye and can have horizontal or vertical stripes.
- Red Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) – these Discus have a deep red body with a yellow-orange face.
- Snakeskin Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) – these Discus have a unique pattern of interconnected lines on their body, resembling a snakeskin pattern.
- Turquoise Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) – these Discus have a bright blue-green body with red eyes.
Discus fish are highly prized by aquarium enthusiasts for their beauty and unique personalities, but they require careful attention to water quality and temperature to thrive in captivity. They are native to slow-moving, acidic waters in the Amazon Basin, so maintaining appropriate water conditions in an aquarium can be challenging.
Discus Popularity in India
Discus fish are quite popular in India among aquarium hobbyists and fish collectors. In recent years, the popularity of Discus fish has grown significantly in India, with many dedicated breeders and hobbyists across the country.
There are several factors that contribute to the popularity of Discus fish in India. One reason is their striking beauty, with their vibrant colours and unique patterns making them a favourite among aquarium enthusiasts. Additionally, Discus fish are known for their interesting behaviour and intelligence, which can make them an engaging and entertaining addition to any aquarium.
Furthermore, India has a thriving aquarium industry with a wide range of aquarium shops and suppliers, making it easy for hobbyists to find and acquire high-quality Discus fish. Overall, the popularity of Discus fish in India is expected to continue growing as more people discover the joys of keeping and breeding these beautiful and fascinating fish.
Minimum Size of a Discus Tank
Discus fish require a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (208 litres) for a pair of adult fish, with additional gallons required for each additional fish. However, a larger tank is always better for Discus fish as they appreciate swimming space and need ample room to move around comfortably.
A larger tank also helps to maintain stable water conditions, which is critical for the health and well-being of Discus fish. The water in the tank should be kept clean and well-filtered, and the temperature should be maintained between 82°F and 86°F (28–30°C) to mimic the warm, acidic waters of their natural habitat in the Amazon Basin.
It’s also important to provide hiding places and plenty of plants or other decor in the tank. This provides a sense of security and also creates a natural-looking environment for the fish.
While a 55-gallon tank is a minimum size for a pair of adult Discus fish, a larger tank is always recommended to ensure their health and well-being.
Diet Requirement Needed by the Discus
Discus fish require a balanced diet that is high in protein and other essential nutrients to maintain their health and vibrant colours. A variety of food sources should be provided to ensure that Discus fish receive a well-rounded diet. Here are some of the most commonly recommended food sources for Discus fish:
- High-quality pellets: High-quality pellets designed specifically for Discus fish should make up the bulk of their diet. Look for pellets that contain a high percentage of protein, vitamins and minerals. Some brands to consider include Hikari, Omega One, and New Life Spectrum.
- Frozen or live foods: Discus fish also require a variety of live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, krill and daphnia. These foods should be offered as a supplement to their regular pellet diet.
- Vegetables: While Discus fish are primarily carnivorous, they can also benefit from the occasional vegetable supplement. Blanched spinach or lettuce can be offered as a treat to provide additional fiber and nutrients.
- Insect-based diet: Insect-based fish food with added vitamins and minerals is also catching up with fish enthusiasts in India. The insect protein in Fluval Bug Bites is derived from black soldier fly larvae, which is a sustainable and environmental-friendly source of protein for fish. In addition to the high-quality protein, Fluval Bug Bites also contains a variety of other nutrients that are important for the health of Discus fish, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This can help to support the immune system, promote healthy growth and enhance the vibrant colours of the fish.
It’s important to feed Discus fish small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than one or two large feedings. This helps to maintain stable water conditions and prevent overfeeding, which can lead to health problems.
However, it’s important to ensure that the majority of their diet comes from a high-quality pellet food that is specifically designed for Discus fish, as this will provide all of the necessary nutrients for optimal health and growth.
Precaution: It’s essential to avoid feeding Discus fish any food that is spoiled, expired or otherwise low-grade and unsuitable for their diet. This can cause digestive problems and other health issues. Wastage of uneaten food in the tank will lead to a spike in Ammonia and nitrite and will eventually affect the health of Discus.
Caring for Discus
Discus fish are known for their striking beauty and interesting behaviour, but they require specific care to thrive in an aquarium environment. Here are some key factors to consider when caring for Discus fish:
- Water quality: Discus fish are sensitive to changes in water chemistry and require clean, well-filtered water. The pH should be maintained between 6.0 and 7.5, and the water temperature should be kept between 82°F and 86°F (28–30°C) to mimic their natural habitat in the Amazon Basin.
- Tank size: Discus fish require a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (208 litres) for a pair of adult fish, with additional gallons required for each additional fish. A larger tank is always better for Discus fish as they appreciate swimming space and need ample room to move around comfortably.
- Diet: Discus fish require a balanced diet that is high in protein and other essential nutrients to maintain their health and vibrant colours. A variety of food sources should be provided, including high-quality pellets and frozen or live foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, krill and daphnia.
- Water changes: Regular water changes are essential for maintaining the health of Discus fish. A 30% water change should be done weekly to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish.
- Tank decor: Discus fish appreciate hiding places and plenty of plants or other decor in the tank to provide a sense of security and create a natural-looking environment for the fish.
- Tankmates: Discus fish are generally peaceful, but can be territorial towards other fish. They should be kept with other peaceful, non-aggressive fish that share similar water chemistry requirements.
By providing clean water, a well-balanced diet and a comfortable environment, you can help ensure that your Discus fish thrive in your aquarium. Regular monitoring and maintenance are also essential to catch any issues early and keep your fish healthy and happy.
Most common disease of Discus and treatment
Discus fish are susceptible to several diseases, and proper care and maintenance of their aquarium can help prevent many of these health issues. However, some of the most common diseases of Discus fish include:
- Hole-in-the-head disease: This is a bacterial infection that causes small holes to develop in the head of the fish. It is often caused by poor water quality and can be treated with antibiotics and regular water changes. This disease can be treated with antibiotics such as metronidazole and regular water changes to maintain good water quality.
- Ich: Ich is a parasitic infection that causes small white spots to appear on the fish’s body. It can be treated with medication and regular water changes. This disease can be treated with medications that contain Malachite green or formalin, as well as raising the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for several days.
- Fin rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins of the fish to deteriorate. It can be caused by poor water quality or injuries and can be treated with antibiotics and regular water changes. This disease can be treated with antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin and regular water changes.
- Velvet disease: Velvet disease is a parasitic infection that causes a yellowish-golden film to appear on the fish’s body. It can be treated with medication and regular water changes. This disease can be treated with medications that contain copper or formalin, as well as regular water changes.
- Dropsy: Dropsy is a symptom of several underlying health issues, including bacterial infections or organ failure. It causes the fish to become bloated and swollen, and it can be very difficult to treat. Treatment for dropsy will depend on the underlying cause of the symptom. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed, and it’s important to maintain good water quality and monitor the fish closely.
Preventing these diseases and other health issues in Discus fish requires regular monitoring of water quality, maintaining proper nutrition and feeding habits, and prompt treatment of any health issues that do arise. It’s also essential to quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main aquarium to prevent the spreading of diseases.
In conclusion, Discus fish are a beautiful and interesting species that require specific care to thrive in an aquarium environment. Proper water quality, tank size, diet and decor are essential for maintaining the health and well-being of Discus fish. By providing a well-rounded diet, regular water changes and a comfortable environment, you can help ensure that your Discus fish remain healthy and vibrant in your aquarium.
It’s also important to monitor their behaviour and health regularly to catch any issues early and provide prompt care as needed. With proper care and attention, Discus fish can make a stunning addition to any aquarium.
Mr. Sunil Dcosta is a Proprietor (www.aquafishcare.com). Mob.: +91-9821798612