These fish like it hot

With its narrow, disc-like shape and variety of different colours and patterns, the majestic discus is often called the “king of the freshwater fish”. The discus is originally from the tropics, well-known for their diverse animal and plant life. His majesty is very demanding, as the aquarium experts from Maxi Zoo know.

Where do they come from?

Discus fish belong to the cichlid family and take their name from the Greek word for their shape. Discus fish are widespread in the wild and live in schools in the Amazonian region of South America. Their habitat is predominantly tropical rainforest where water and river beds are typically low in nutrients. The water is soft, relatively acidic, extremely clean and boasts a temperature of 29 to 30°C, as it is hot and humid all year round in the tropics.

Growing in popularity!

Over the last few years, the discus fish has overtaken the angelfish in terms of popularity. The discus comes in a variety of colour variations, from solid cobalt to red, red turquoise, green and brown right through to royal blue. This tropical fish is however less suited to inexperienced aquarists as caring for them is quite complex.


The following points are particularly important:


–       Discus fish need plenty of room because of their size (up to 20 cm). They are also group animals who should live in groups of at least three. Each fully-grown fish needs 50 litres of water. Aquariums should be at least 50 cm high, 50 cm deep and around 100 cm long to reach the minimum 250 litres plus.

–       Water quality must be particularly good and requires the use of a large filter, ideally a biological filter. Discus can tolerate a water hardness of up to 15, and pH should be neutral. To breed discus fish, softer (water hardness level 4) and more acidic (pH between 5 and 6) water is recommended. A third of the water must be changed every week to keep nitrates under 50 mg.

–       Aquarium setup can be quite sparse, as in the Amazon, discus swim amongst branches and tree roots, not aquatic plants. Roots and stones are good as long as they don’t leach any harmful substances. If you want, you can plant echinodorus, water trumpet or anubias, all of which tolerate temperatures of around 28°C.

–       Discus fish also have several requirements when it comes to diet – this should be varied and high in quality. A variation of frozen food and flakes is ideal. They should be fed at least three times daily and more frequently for young fish. Long gaps between feeding or an imbalanced diet can lead to disease.


Experienced fish-keepers can enjoy the calm and composed nature of these cichlids for up to 15 years. Ideally, they should be the only carnivorous fish in the tank. Suitable cohabitants are catfish and characids, who are also at home in the tropics.

Call into your local store today to discuss your pet’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts