How to keep Discus in a Community Tank?

Keeping a Discus Fish can be challenging; a lot of research needs to be put into understanding your fish and the tank in synchrony.

So, how to keep discus in a community tank? Discus are social fish that can live with other peaceful fish like neon tetras, bleeding heart, glowlight tetras, and corydoras catfish. It needs to be kept in a school of 6 adults or 20 to 12 juveniles.

Keeping Discus in a tank needs research and knowledge of your fish’s personality and characteristics. This article aims to guide you in the proper direction; be it their tank needs, diet or breeding.

Keeping Discus Fish in a Community Tank

Discus are social fish that love to stay in a community of their own kind and others. An ideal way of keeping Discus Fish is in a school of 6 adults or 10-12 juveniles. They would also do well with other peaceful fish that can survive in similar tank conditions as them.

Being a community fish is a basic characteristic of Discus fish that can be observed in their place of origins, too. Thus, it can be said that placing them in a community helps them grow to their true potential.

What fish to keep with Discus?

Discus Fish are generally simple home-loving fish that are passive in nature. The only challenge that comes when stocking your tank is to pair fish that adjust well to the tank conditions of Discus.

Adding in fish that match their behavior acts as a win-win for both you and your fish. An ideal tank companion would be a fish from the Characin group. These include various Tetras that do well in the tank requirements of Discus. Some ideal Tetras would be neon tetras, bleeding heart, and glowlight tetras.

While adding schooling fish help grows diversity in your tank, adding bottom feeders to your community tank is greatly advised.

Discus Fish are very specific when it comes to the cleanliness of their tank. They are prone to catch infections if kept in an unhygienic environment.

An ideal bottom feeder for your Discus community tank would be Corydoras Catfish. Corydoras also come from the same origin as Discus, making them ideal tank companions. Adding Bottom Feeders help keep your tank clean as they eat away solid waste and help maintain tank hygiene.

55 Gallon Community Fish Tank | Discus | Plants | DIY co2 (Video)

What Fish To avoid when Placing Discus in Community Tank

Discus Fish are friendly, however, when placing them in a community tank, make sure you avoid the following fish:

  • Large size Tropical Fish: These fish might get aggressive towards your Discus, bullying them into a corner.
  • Angelfish: A very aggressive and territorial fish that would cause harm to your Discus in order to get hold of the entire tank.
  • Avoid fish that live in alkaline water as Discus fish like their water warm and acidic.
  • Tiger Barbs: These fish along with other fin nipping fish like Danios or Tinfoil are a big no-no. They may end up damaging your Discus’s fin that may cause them to die eventually.

Water parameters

A very important aspect of keeping a Discus is that of cycling your tank. It is advised to cycle your tank for 4 weeks. Ensure that the ammonium and nitrate content of your tank is zero. Discus Fish likes the water temperature at 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Originating in the Amazon River, they tend to swim in circles and hide beneath the plant roots. When setting up an aquarium it is advised to keep plants with driftwood roots so as to replicate their home surroundings.

Breeding Discus in Community Tank

Even though Discus Fish are peaceful in nature, they may depict aggressive behaviour when breeding which can cause concern for other breeds in the community tank. When you place a group of Discus Fish, it is very likely that they pair off and start breeding. Upon breeding, your Discus will need a flat clean surface to spawn. This is the time when they become more territorial and start showing aggression towards others.

When it comes to other breed, Discus may spawn with other species but the fry almost never survive. It is thus advised to separate the breeding pair right away so that they may breed in peace while protect their fry easily.

Cycling Your Community Tank

The most talked about topic when keeping a Discus is that of the Nitrogen Cycle. Nitrogen cycle comprises of three most important chemicals: Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite. Out of these three, ammonia and nitrite, be it in very small quantity, can be toxic for your fish. Nitrate, on the other hand, becomes toxic only when present in higher concentration.

When placing a Discus in community tank make sure you have the right cycling setup so as to avoid any mishaps.

You can easily get products that help detoxify your water from nitrite and ammonia. Make sure you stock some of these products for emergency situations; for example, if one of your fish die spiking the ammonia content.

These products can not be used for waste management, on the contrary they bind the ammonia to be fish friendly and less toxic.

Tank Size

As juveniles, Discus Fish measure upto 3 inches, however when they grow into adults, they can reach upto 10 inches in size. Thus, when placing them in a tank, make sure you keep their future size into consideration. Size being out of the way, another important information regarding Discus is that for each Discus Fish you will need 10 gallons of water.

Required Equipment for Keeping Discus in Community Tanks

As discussed, Discus Fish is a very sensitive fish that needs its tank to be cleaned regularly. They are extremely delicate when it comes to water consistency and temperature, this creates a need for special equipment so as to maintain the right environment for the tank.

One of the most important equipment that is needed for Discus community tank is the heater. Discus can absolutely not tolerate cold water and would soon start falling sick. Installing an in-line heater is highly advised. After heating comes filtration, Discus Fish require high quality water thus making a filtration tool highly important. If you install a sponge filter, it will not only help collect all of the solid waste but will maintain your tank’s nitrogen cycle.

Sensitive as they are, Discus Fish is prone to catching bacteria. This is why providing them with the right aquarium is essential. When in community tanks, they tend to catch diseases and infections. It is therefore advised to install a UV sterilizer which will help control the spread of algae. This sterilizer can be connected to the filter and its installation is pretty simple.

Feeding Discus in Community Tanks

Feeding a pair of Discus is one thing, but feeding a whole community tank is completely different. First comes the diet, it is important to give your fish a mixture of fresh foods and commercial off-the-rack food. Discus Fish likes to consume variety of food items, they can be fed with flakes or pellets along with some live food, ensuring that their dietary needs are met. Discus also likes to nibble on algae wafers or fresh vegetables. If their dietary need is met, they bloom and their colors become more vibrant.

After their diet comes the feeding ritual, Discus fish do not like to eat from the floating food or the one that settles in the ground. You might try feeding them right off your hand in the middle of the aquarium instead of just throwing the food. Another important fact is that they love to eat and snack around. It is advised to feed them for 5 minutes each time and that too, thrice a day.

While feeding just ensures that you do not overfeed them because it will greatly affect the quality of your water; over-feeding means, more waste and accumulation of food debris in the bottom, that will in turn, make your tank dirty.

Some Tips and Tricks for Keeping Discus Community tank

Keeping a Discus community can be a lot of work. Starting off with stocking the right community to setting up an ideal tank, Community tanks are not a beginner aquarist’s piece of cake. When setting up your tank, it is highly advisable that you have set up some hiding places for your Discus. Even though they are not aggressive, they tend to like some places where they can hide.

Ideally, Discus community tank should be large with plantation that provides them with sufficient hiding places. Arrange your plants in a way that it does not crowd the tank but still fulfills its purpose.

While you focus on making your tank aesthetically appealing, make sure you stick as close to nature as possible. Replicate their place of origin which is the Amazon river, and you would be good to go. When placing your tank’s gravel, chose the one that has neutral colors so that it creates a contrast with your Discus’s colors.

Ensure that your tank is fully cycled so as to take the load of your community. Start off with Discus first and then slowly and gradually introduce other species one at a time.


Discus Fish are an amazing breed to keep, they often come in a variety of colors and patterns thus making them a must have for your tanks. These fish are a bit challenging to keep as they are sensitive towards their environment. However, they are very social in nature and adjust well with various other fish too. Their friendly nature and beautiful patterns that often makes them the first choice when setting up community tanks.

Whilst you plan to keep them in a community tank, just make sure that you have to choose breeds that have the same tank requirement and can be placed in the same tank as Discus. A little research is all you need to gain the knowledge required for keeping your Discus in a community tank. Stocking a variety of Discus would help them breed and creating different colors and patterns. Just make sure you feed them with proper nutrition as a proper diet is what gives their body its vibrant colors.

Related questions

What is the origin of Discus Fish? Discus Fish is originally found in the Amazon river of Peru and Colombia. They are often seen in lowland waters that turns black in color due to the leaves and wood residues. These fish are Diurnal which means they slow down activity in night or when the light is turned off.

How to differentiate between male and female Discus? Differentiating male and female Discus is not a very simple task. Firstly, they can not be accurately differentiated when they are juveniles as the main differentiating factor which is the Dorsal fin only develops when they have reached adulthood. Secondly, there are certain instances when the fin is not sufficient enough when sexing your Discus. That being said, the most agreed upon way of sexing your Discus is by observing their Dorsal fin; males have a pointed fin while females maintain a round-shaped one.

How to breed discus fish? Breeding discus does not require any intervention from the aquarist as such, all you need to do is place a pair and provide them a clean and flat surface that can be used for spawning. Once your fish start to spawn, they will get aggressive and territorial in nature so as to protect their spawning place. When they mate, it is advised to separate them from other fish.

Should we separate the fry from adult fish? It is not advised to separate the fry from parents for at least the first 48 hours after their birth. This is because the baby discus feed on a secretions released by their mother. However, you should isolate them after this time period as they tend to cause harm to their mother after a while.

Can we keep single Discus in a community tank? As discussed in the article, Discus Fish are very social in nature and love to stay in communities. It is thus advised to at least keep a pair of Discus in a community tank.

What age Discus should be bought? If you plan to purchase Discus for breeding, there is no accurate way of telling their gender when they are juveniles. Therefore, it is advised to buy them in adulthood so they would start breeding away for you.

What is the lifespan of Discus?  If kept in the right way, a Discus can live upto 10 years. Just make sure they are given the desired environment and they would not only thrive but also grow in number too.


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