Is it a Male or a Female Discus Fish?

Wondering how to tell your Discus Fish gender? Knowing the sex of a Discus fish is not a very simple task.

So, is your discus fish a male or a female? Sexing Discus Fish is not so simple, a male Discus Fish has a pointed dorsal fin, while female Discus has a shorter and rounder fin. Additionally, male Discus has a larger forehead and lips and is bigger in overall size, too.

This article will walk you through the overall upbringing of your Discus fish along with highlighting facts about them which will make your fish keeping interesting and fun.

Sexing Discus Fish

Discus are a complex fish when it comes to sexing. There are so many views and opinions on sexing Discus Fish that you may get boggled at first. Firstly, it is impossible to tell whether Discus fish is a male or female during its initial phases. When the Discus Fish is smaller in size (lesser than 4 inches) their dorsal fin is rounded regardless of their gender.

As they grow, the shape of the dorsal fin changes. Female Discus have a rounded Dorsal fin while the male Discus has a pointed fin. Even though this seems like a pretty simple thing, the shape of the fin is not 100% accurate when determining the sex of your Discus fish. However, a juvenile Discus has not yet developed the final shape of its dorsal fin thus making it difficult to identify their gender.

Another differentiating physical feature of male and female Discus is that of size. Male Discus is bigger in size and has a bigger forehead and lips. You can also differentiate the sex of your Discus by observing their color and patterns. Theoretically speaking, male Discus are duller in color and have more patterns on them than the female.

An accurate way of determining their sex, however, is when they spawn. As evident, the fish that lays eggs is the female, while the one that goes over the eggs to fertilize them is the male. It is also important to note that if you see your Discus laying eggs, but they do not hatch, this means you have no male Discus in your tank.

Top 10 ways to identify the gender of Discus Fish (Video)

General Behavior of Discus Fish

Discus Fish are extremely social fish that love to hang out in their community. When in freshwater rivers, they tend to stay together in big groups. However, as they grow old and are looking for partners to mate, they can become quite aggressive.

This friendly and social fish can become ferocious when it comes to seeking partners. Male Discus may bully other males to get hold of their breeding partners. In freshwater rivers, the extent of bullying can be so extreme that the other males may even swim away.

Another important point that is worthy of noting is that when breeding Discus, make sure you have the same age Discus in your tank. Age plays an important factor when it comes to keeping your Discus happy. If you have baby fish along with adults, Discus fish being territorial in nature, may eat away all the food of the younger ones which can starve the latter to death.

Discus Fish Diet

Discus Fish have a certain way of living and they tend to grow healthier if their needs are met. Maintaining a nutritious diet for your Discus is highly recommended. To ensure that their dietary needs are met, while feeding them mix blood worms along with vegetable shreds, prevent feeding them live foods as they may carry harmful bacteria which may cause sickness to your Discus.

Another recommendation is that of high-quality tropical flakes that will provide them with desired vitamins. Feeding Discus with granules is also a good option as it is a high source of nutrition. Granule diet is by far the best form of processed food that you can feed your Discus.

A very important aspect of feeding Discus is that of taking care of the feeding routine. These fish do not like feeding off the water surface or food stuck on the walls of the aquarium. Thus, they should be fed in the middle of the tank. As for blood worms, they can be fed through feeder cones.

Breeding Discus Fish

Breeding Discus fish isn’t the hardest thing in the world if you are able to create a breeding pair in your tank. You may buy a breeding pair of young and healthy Discus or a few juveniles that may pair up later for breeding. All you need to do is place the pair in the tank and when they start mating, separate them from the community.

When breeding Discus, there are two important pointers to take into consideration. Firstly, the diet; when breeding Discus make sure to give your fish a protein rich diet.

Secondly, separate your mating pair immediately. Discus males tend to get aggressive when it comes to claiming a partner. Once they have a partner, they showcase a territorial behavior so as to protect the female from other males.

Ideal Aquarium Setting for Discus

Keeping Discus Fish is not a simple task as they require a good amount of space to swim. Ideal pH for their tank is between 6.0-7.0 and the ideal temperature for them is a little over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Discus Fish are very sensitive and need a clean tank.

Make sure you change 25-50% of the tank water every week. Additionally, remove any uneaten food so as to avoid it from settling down in the gravel and then polluting the tank.

If you plan to breed your Discus then an ideal tank for you will be a “Bare Bottomed Tank” which does not contain any gravel, sand, or other types of substrate. This tank will help your fry stay alive and avoid any sort of accidents of them getting stuck and suffocating to death. Also, it makes the cleaning process so much easier which is a major plus for keeping sensitive fish like the Discus.

Spawning and After-Hatch Care

It is highly recommended to keep a hard, spawning area for the fish. This medium has to be placed in the center of the aquarium and can be something like an upturned cone or bowl. Once the Discus lays eggs, it will clean the area and the fish will mate. Your female Discus will lay eggs every week or in 15 days.

Discus’s eggs are small in size, smaller than that of the usual fish. They are opaque in shape and often stick to the surface where they are laid. Both the Discus parents will prevent the eggs from being infected by fanning them, creating a source of ventilation. Once the eggs hatch, the fry are intelligent enough to feed themselves, this is why it is advised to keep them in a separate tank.

Discus fish, as mentioned earlier, are very social. If they find the right breeding partner, they will stick together, making them breeding mates forever.


Discus fish maybe choosy about their conditions, but they are a fun pet to keep that will not only brighten your tank, but increase the tank population fast if you are able to pair the fish. A little research and study is all you need to ensure perfect health of your Discus. If you plan to buy a Discus or already have one, just make sure you understand their nature well. They are sensitive creatures that are very reactive to unhygienic water.

Here is a checklist for you to follow:

  • Keep your tank clean
  • Be cautious while feeding your Discus live food as it might be infected
  • Separate the fry from adults to avoid any form of contamination
  • Maintain a pH of 6.0-7.0
  • Feed them a complete diet that is full of nutritional value
  • Change 25-50% water on a weekly basis
  • Make sure to place same-aged Discus in one tank

Related questions

How to pair up Discus Fish for breeding? The first important step when breeding your Discus is to get a pair of opposite genders. Once you have a couple, you will soon see them spawning. Make sure to separate other fish at spawning time because the fish will show aggression and may injure one another in order to save their spawning space.

What is the life span of Discus fish? Discus fish live up to 10 years and grow to about 9 inches in total length. As juveniles, they may not have their full color and patterns; the true shades of your Discus will be visible only in adulthood.

What fish are ideal tank companions for Discus? The Discus fish is often referred to as the “King of Aquariums”. They can share tank with many species, some of these include: Cardinal Tetras, Clown Loaches, Corydoras catfish and Peacock Gudgeon. However, make sure you avoid placing them with Oscars, Severums, and Flowerhorns.

What is the ideal number of Discus that can be placed in the tank? Discus fish love to swim slowly around the tank; ideally for every 10 gallon of water there should be one Discus Fish. This means if you have a 50-gallon tank, you can keep 5 Discus fish.

How many times do you need to feed Discus? Discus fish loves to snack. Feeding them on and off is good for them. Ideally, you should feed the adults thrice a day, though the younger ones require to be fed 5 times daily. Feeding time should be around 5 minutes. Make sure you give them proper attention because keeping a Discus is a full-time job.


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