Why are Discus Fish so Expensive?

While the beautiful discus fish are a popular choice for aquariums, it is also one of the most expensive fish to keep in a fish tank.

Why are discus fish so expensive? The discus fish are expensive because it requires a lot of time and labor to nurture and grow the fish. While there are other reasons, these seem to be the most significant.

The discus fish are quite popular because of their beauty and fascinate every fish lover. While it is expensive to keep them, one can’t deny that it is totally worth it.

Why are Discus fish Expensive?

Discus fish are so beautiful and unique that they catch the attention of every person. Its various colors and majestic shape make the discus fish an interesting choice for an aquarium.

While beauty is one benefit among others, there are some problems in keeping this fish as well. Most importantly, it should be noted that the discus fish is quite expensive. We will now explore the various reasons behind the high price of this lovely and gorgeous fish.

Top 10 Costly Discus Fish Varieties (Video)

Warm Temperature

Generally, the discuss fish require a higher temperature of water compared to other tropical fish. The ideal water temperature is between the range of 82 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a result, they need additional heaters in the aquarium to keep the temperature high. In colder climates, the seller must purchase heaters to ensure that the aquarium water is warm enough for the discus fish.

The breeding facilities cost a lot, and this results in higher expenses for the seller. Due to this fact, the discus fish that are imported from Asia are much cheaper because the temperature is already warm over there and the seller does not have to make additional arrangements to keep the water warm for the discus fish.

Food & Water

We have just mentioned that the discus fish needs high temperature of water to thrive, but it is worth noting that discus also needs good-quality water. You need to monitor quite a lot of water parameters to ensure they are appropriate for the discus fish. These parameters include temperature, pH, KH, GH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and phosphates. All these parameters can complicate the situation which is why many fish owners find it difficult to maintain all these parameters.

Since dietary requirements are important, you will have to purchase the packets of food from stores or prepare the food on your own. Either way, the food is expensive as compared to other fish’s food. You can feed your discus fish the following list of items:

  • Prepared foods – pellets and flakes
  • Brine shrimps
  • White worms
  • Glass worms
  • Earthworms
  • Frozen foods

Most of these food items are expensive and if they aren’t, then it takes a lot of time for their preparation. For example, frozen foods are a good addition to their diet. However, it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare this food before you can feed it to the discus fish.

For this, you will first need to blend the meat in the blender. Then add ingredients such as liver, shrimp, etc. into the meat. Once all the ingredients are blended in the meat, make packets of the resulting mixture and keep them in the freezer. Finally, when the mixture is set, you can feed them to the fish. As you can see, this is a time-consuming process that also requires a lot of effort on your part. Due to this, many people just prefer to buy off the shelf food packets, but then again, they are expensive and do not meet all dietary requirements of discus fish.

Whichever choice you make, you will inevitably put yourself under some sort of pressure.

Time to Grow

Discus fish take a lot of time to grow to their full size. Compared to other aquarium fish, the discuss will take almost 2 years to grow to 6.5 inches, which is the maximum size for this fish. Time is important for everybody and the longer it takes to grow the fish, the higher the price gets.

While it is a great journey to watch the discus fry grow into an adult, it is also a hectic one. Maintaining specific water requirements and feeding them properly requires a lot of time and money. Therefore, many fish lovers directly go for the adult discus as they require less care than the fry.

The Game of Demand and Supply

While there are other reasons behind the high price of discus, there is one reason that is not understood by many people. This is a technical reason and involves the market demand and supply. However, it is easy to understand why the discus fish is so expensive.

Basically, it is all about demand and supply. While there is a lot of demand for the fascinating discus fish, there aren’t as many suppliers. Only a handful number of people grow the discus fish as it is difficult to maintain their high standards. As a result, there is a definite shortage of discus in the market which has led to its increase in price. So, when people want to purchase their favorite discus fish, they will pay huge sums willingly.

People also try to import this fish but that involves another set of problems. The suppliers need to pay certain import taxes, treat the diseases and bear any losses during transportation. All these factors drive up the price of the discus fish.


We cannot stress more on the fact that the discus is one of those fish that require a lot of effort. These fish require constant care and special conditions to thrive properly. Most importantly, this fish takes a lot of time to grow and this means the owner has to put in more hours and make sure the fish stays happy. Unlike other fish, you cannot just plop discus into a tank, thinking that you’ll return after a few weeks to see the fully-grown discus fish with babies. The water conditions need to be met, dietary requirements need to be kept in mind, and proper care needs to be given. Only then, you will be successful in growing a discus fish to a healthy size.

What is the Best Way to Keep Discus Fish?

While there are difficulties in keeping discus fish, it is an absolute treat to see them grow into beautiful creatures. To make things simple, we have compiled a list of things that should be done to take care of discus fish:

  • The discus fish belongs to the shoaling species, so they should be kept in a group of 5-6
  • Change at least 25-50% of their tank water weekly
  • Ensure the discus fish have chemically clean water
  • Maintain the temperature from 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit and pH from 6.0-7.0
  • Place a proper biological filter to remove waste
  • Feed a variety of items to the discus fish
  • Join different forums for discus keeping. Discuss your issues over there and keep in touch with the supplier to ask them any additional questions that you might have


Known as the king of aquarium, the discus fish deserves all of this royal treatment. While the fish is beautiful and pleases the eye, it does need special care and becomes expensive because of high food and water quality, increased growth time, high demand and low supply, and labor-intensive practices. But all things said, the discus fish are totally worth keeping in aquariums at homes and offices.

Related Questions

What tank size does the discus fish require? The bigger the tank size, the better it is. More water in the tank means it will be easy to maintain water quality. The waste will not get clustered and there will be enough room for cleaning. Generally, a group of 5-6 discus fish should be kept in a tank with a minimum capacity of 50 gallons. Try to keep one fish for every 10 gallons of water.

What is the nature of the discus fish? Can I keep it with other fish? The discus fish observe a pecking order to maintain a hierarchy system. As a result of this, there is less aggression among the fish. However, if another fish is added in the tank that disturbs the hierarchy, then there might be some problems. To solve these issues, remove that fish from the aquarium which causes the problem. The tank definitely needs rearrangement in this case so be vigilant. You can keep discus with other fish such as rosy tetras. Both have a peaceful nature and will live in harmony.

Why does my discus fish spit out food? The discus fish do not have teeth. Instead, as the scientific name, ‘symphysodon’ means, the discus fish have grinders. While eating food, they will take the food into the mouth, grind it up, then spit it out. After that, you will see them eating that food again because now it is easier to swallow. These steps may be repeated in succession if the food does not become soft enough to be swallowed. Many a time, when the food sinks down to the bottom of the tank, the discus fish will expel water on that and eat it when it floats up.


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