What is the Best Size of Aquarium for Discus Fish?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

A happy fish is one that is comfortable in its tank. There is a lot that goes into making an aquarium feel like home. Discus need a homely environment to be as healthy as possible.

What is the best size of the aquarium for discus? A 50-gallon tank will be ideal for 5 fully grown discus fish. As a rule of thumb, one adult discus fish can survive in 10 gallons of water.

Keeping around 5-6 discus is the suggested option. Following are the suggested tank sizes for other situations.

Whats The Best Tank Size For Discus? (Video)

Aquarium sizes

There are 4 suitable options. One thing you must understand is that discus take some time to get friendly with their tank mates. Fellow discus that they have established a bond with become their companions. Companion discus are usually of the same age and size.

  • If you keep a pair of breeding discus, you’ll need a 40-gallon tank. The dimensions are suggested to be 24” x 20” x 20”.
  • If you keep a pair of companions with plants, then you require a 65-gallon tank. Recommended dimensions are 40” x 20” x 20”. The two fish should be of the same size and at least 14 cm long.
  • Rearing group of discus will need a 50 gallon tank for 10 fish. If the fish are fully grown, the tank must be as big as 80 gallons. The dimensions should be 40” x 16” x 18”.
  • Group of 10 companion discus with plants will require a 105-gallon tank fully grown discus. The dimensions should be 63” x 20” x 20”.

Types of discus fish

The aquarium requirements depend majorly on the type of fish you own. Discus is a species with a wide range of fish types within its category. You’ll have to provide differently for different types.

Discus fish originates from the Amazon basin of South America. There are three sub-species of discus. These are Green Discus, Brown Discus, and Blue Discus. You’ll also hear of a Heckel Discus. Similarly, depending on the originating area, these fish are classified as Asian, Wild, and European.

Today, you’ll find a number of other types of discus too. This is because of mutation and cross-breeding. Originally, discus was a single type of fish. But these days, you’ll get to see them in different colors, shapes, and they’ll have varying habitat requirements too!

Best aquarium plants for discus

Filling up a big tank requires some beautiful additions. Since discus live in warm, slightly acidic water, not all plants can survive in the aquarium. Addition of plants is highly important since they maintain oxygen levels. Plants also help in getting rid of the toxins in the water. They provide shade which is a must for discus since they like their privacy.

Brazilian Pennywort and Java Fern are both easy to maintain plants. Ozelot and Amazon Broadleaf are good underwater plants too. Saggitaria Subulata (Narrow Leaf), Jungle Vallisneria, and Italian Vallisneria will also be suitable in an aquarium with discus. Other options include Water Sprite, Banana Plant, Anubias, and Bacopa. Other than that, any plant that can survive warm water, acidic pH, and low light while growing dense leaves can be considered.

Lighting setup

Light plays a major role in a fish’s life. In the natural habitat, the sunlight seeps through the river. You have to mimic something similar in your aquarium so that the discus can continue with a regular routine.

Lighting will determine eating routines. When you first turn on the lights of the aquarium in the morning, that is when the fish’s day will start. Give them around 10 to 15 minutes before you give them their breakfast. Similarly, at the end of the day, turning off the lights will begin their night. Feed them their dinner at least 15 to 20 minutes before you turn off the lights in the room.

Generally, discus prefer dim lights. In rivers, they live amid dense plants. Not a lot of sunlight gets there. You must also keep the lights dim instead of super bright.

You can also distribute light per gallon. Experts recommend 1 to 1.5 watt light per gallon. You can calculate the rest according to the size of your own tank. A healthy discus will need exposure to light for at least 10 to 12 hours every day.

Reverse osmosis water

Providing a big tank isn’t all you need to do. Filling it up with the right water is also necessary. Fish experts claim that reverse osmosis water is the best for tanks in which discus have to live. However, you’ll have to confirm this by asking your fish supplier of the water conditions that were being provided to the fish previously.

Reverse osmosis (RO) is conducted on regular tap water. A semi-permeable membrane is used to filter out any unwanted chemicals. The membrane only allows molecules of water or something smaller to pass through. This purifies the water by 90%. Heavy metals, pesticides, and a lot of other impurities are removed in this process.

RO also cleans the water by removing nitrates and phosphates. This reduces the risk of algae formation in the tank. This water is easier to maintain the pH of. Without any unwanted GH or KH, the set pH remains unchanged. Hence, Reverse Osmosis keeps the aquarium comfortable for discus all the time.

You can purchase an RO unit to purify your tap water easily and quickly. Replacing the membrane and carbon block regularly will keep your RO unit in good condition for a long time. You will also have to change the sediment pre-filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. If the tap water in your area is not too unclean, your RO unit will stay strong for years. However, in case of high levels of impurities, the RO unit will need more maintenance. You can get a TDS meter to check the condition of your RO membrane.

How to ensure maximum growth of discus

You can provide a big tank but if you don’t maintain it properly, your fish won’t be happy. Other than plants and the light setup, you’ll need to take a few more steps too.

Add a filtration system. This needs to be something effective but calm. Discus like water that is calm or has slow currents. A heavy filter will be too chaotic for them. Using a sponge is a great technique. It soaks up heavy metals and impurities while providing a feeding ground for young fry. If you’re expecting your discus to breed, a sponge will be a very useful filter.

If the temperature is very low where you live, you’ll need a heater to keep the aquarium warm. 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit is the average range recommended for discus.

However, Heckel discus prefers up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperature is a very important factor to maintain. Slightest changes in the temperature can disturb discus, leading to stress.

Moreover, a clean tank is a necessity. Weekly changes of 25% of the water are a must. On top of that, if there is a sick fish in the aquarium, 50% water change is recommended. If algae starts gathering inside the tank, you’ll have to empty the aquarium and scrape the algae off. When doing so, also wipe the bottom surface to remove dirt that may have gathered over time.

Related questions

What is fish rearing? Fish rearing is another name for fish farming. It is a profit-based business in which owners raise a group of fish so that they reproduce on a large scale. It involves artificial methods of reproduction for profit maximization.

Are discus difficult to keep? If you find your way around all their needs, discus won’t be that hard to manage. Yet, this is quite a difficult task for newbie fish enthusiasts. The peaceful and calm behavior of discus fish makes them good pets. But it is necessary that you fulfill their tank requirements to ensure a comfortable environment for them.

How often to discus fish lay eggs? Every 2 years, discus go through a stage of spawn. This stage lasts for 15 weeks. During this time, the female fish lays eggs every week. Of course, the external conditions do affect this number and process. The better the aquarium’s environment, the healthier the fry will be. On the contrary, if the tank isn’t a suitable habitat, there is a possibility that the fish won’t lay eggs at all!

How long does discus fish live? The average life span of a discus is 10 years. Inside a tank, this number may come down if the fish aren’t being kept in ideal situations. A fully-grown discus is as big as 9 inches. If you want to keep your discus alive for the longest possible time, keep a group of at least 3 discus with origin from the same tank.

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