How long do Discus Live?

I was quite curious to know the lifespan of a discus fish, so I divulged deeper. I am now going to share what I have learnt so far.

So, how long do discus live? The average lifespan of a discus fish in the wild is around ten years. In captivity, your discus fish can live up to 15 years if provided with proper nutrition and adequate care. However, special attention will have to be paid to the tank conditions to make this happen.

Let us now elaborate on the lifespan of the discus fish along with the care that you can provide them to make sure that they thrive optimally.

Lifespan of discus fish and their care

Discus fish are large, colorful and peaceful species that are amongst the most popular choices that people have when it comes to setting up an aquarium. No one likes their pet to die early and thus, it is quite natural to ponder how long your fish would survive if you provide it with optimal care.

Discus fish, in the wild, has an average lifespan of around ten years. The same is true for the fish in captivity if proper care is provided to them.

Two main factors contribute to their overall health and thus their lifespan.

  • Tank conditions
  • Diet

Tank conditions

It is essential to keep in mind that discus fish should not be the choice of those who are not passionate about their pets. They have an extremely specific set of requirements for water conditions for their optimal health. Therefore, you should only opt for the fish if you are serious about learning what you need to do for them.

It is advisable to keep a shoal of 5-6 discus fish in a 50 to 60-gallon tank with adequate depth since an adult discus fish can grow up to 9 inches in both height and length.  It will be a good idea to keep them in a planted tank with a carbon dioxide injection which will serve to lower the pH.

The suitable temperature for discus fish is between 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. While the pH should be maintained at around 6.5. The hardness of the water can be kept between 1-4 DH. The fish is sensitive to even low nitrite levels so you will need to change the water weekly.


Discus fish are not very picky about their diet. They are omnivores and eat small insects and their larvae in nature as well as some algae.

They can also feast on other invertebrates like bloodworms. You should make sure that their diet is supplemented with all their required nutrients so that they are able to grow optimally.

If you are using dry, frozen food, make sure that it is of profound quality. They usually do not eat tank plants, but you can include vegetables in their diet as well.

How can I acclimatize my discus fish properly?

Any fish, when taken out of its wild habitat takes a while to get accustomed to new surroundings.

Discus fish are very sensitive to water changes, and thus you need to ensure that the process of acclimatizing them is done thoroughly.

The first thing that you need to make sure is that the tank conditions are adequately maintained. It is also advisable to include a deworming medication before you transfer them to the aquarium. This step will prevent infestations and thus will limit the chances of your fish incurring a disease.

A siphon from the aquarium should be created with the help of air-line tubing. Kink the tube, using a rubber band for the purpose. The kink can be adjusted such that few drops of water exit the tube at a very slow rate into the bucket with the discus. Allow this dripping to occur for around half an hour and monitor the fish closely for any changes.

After half an hour, you can transfer the fish into the aquarium, using a soft mesh net, monitoring it carefully all the while. You will need to act quickly if any problem arises.

What are the diseases related to discus fish that I should be cautious about?

One of the major causes of a discus fish facing an early death is that they contract a disease. A lot of diseases can be avoided if you keep your aquarium clean and well-maintained. However, clean water does not imply that there is no chance of your fish incurring a disease. Certain diseases can affect a discus fish owing to unhygienic conditions. These include:

  • Flicking and moving about with clamped fins
  • Loss of balance
  • Fin Rot
  • Shallow breathing
  • Protuberant abdomen
  • Ick
  • Flukes
  • Leaches can occur on their body
  • They can develop skin ulcers

Prompt action can ensure that the diseases do not go out of hand and do not endanger the life of your beloved pet.

You should seek medical attention at the earliest if you notice any abnormality. Changing 25-50% of the water every week should be a top priority for you but make sure that the water parameters are kept the same. Pay attention to cleaning the tank properly from the biomass. It will also be a good idea to de-worm your fish regularly to protect them from diseases.

Is a discus fish under any danger during breeding?

If you want your discus fish to breed, you will need to provide it with optimal conditions. Breeding can be a stressful time for the fish and thus can be harmful to its health if proper care is not given to it.

These fish do not spawn if the aquarium is shallow owing to their tallness. The depth of the tank should be around 15 inches and it also needs to be spacious. The discus fish mate in warmer conditions and thus the temperature should be above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be nearly 6.5 and it needs to be consistent. The hardness of the water should be down to less than 4 DH. During breeding, they should be provided with a protein-enriched diet including bloodworms and vegetable matter. It will also be a good idea to use tropical granules for the purpose.

You can place an upturned clay pot on the tank since the discus fish need a hard surface for laying eggs.  Make sure that the fish is adequately fed during breeding.

What is the most common cause of harm for discus fish?

One of the most important things that you need to be cautious about when it comes to discus fish is that they often end up overeating. Discus fish have a compressed body structure, and thus they do not respond well to large portions of a meal which can be detrimental for them. They need to be provided with small portions of food throughout the day.

While providing them with food, make sure that you only add a quantity which they would be able to finish off in five minutes. An adult discus fish needs to be provided with meals at least thrice a day while the young ones have to be fed around five times.

Discus Fish Care Guide FOR BEGINNERS (Video)

Related questions

How long does it take for discus fish to reach their full size? With proper care, discus fish can reach up to the size of 20cm (8 inches) of diameter. They attain their maximum growth at around 2 to 2.5 years of age.  However, it is essential to provide them with proper food for them to grow optimally. A female discus fish can start mating at around nine months of age, while the males start mating at the age of 13 months.

How many discus fish can be kept in one tank? Usually, it is safe to have one discus fish for ten gallons of water. The number of discus fish you can keep depends on the size of your tank and its capacity. However, if you have a large tank with a water capacity of around a 100 gallons, you can have as many as ten adult discus fish in it with ease.

Are discus fish aggressive? Fish do not respond well to stress, and it reduces their lifespan to a large extent. Aggressive behavior of a single fish can lead to a great deal of stress on its tank mates. Discus fish are quite calm. However, when paired with other tropical fish in the tank, they can exhibit aggressive behavior to mark their territory. Therefore, you need to be careful about the tank mates you choose for your discus fish.

How long can a discus fish survive without food? This is something that tends to worry people when they are going on a trip. No one likes the idea of coming back from a trip, only to find their beloved pet dead. Discus fish can survive very well without food for some days, and thus you will not have to entrust the responsibility to someone else. Semi-grown discus fish can survive without food for as many as three weeks while older fish do not have a problem with no food for as long as two months!


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