Max Size: 25cm

Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus, Symphysodon discus, Symphysodon)

Colourful, pretty, and charismatic, Discus, Symphysodon, are great tank inhabitants. Due to their intense colouring and elegant shape, they are highly regarded in the fish-keeping hobby.

The Discus differs from many other cichlid species by being peaceful and highly social and does not predate on other fish. It is best to keep Discus in groups of six or more as they are schooling fish and will not thrive if kept individually. However, keeping several Discus together with other peaceful tropical fish is no problem. They are slow feeders and need tankmates with a similar temperament.

There is a higher level of care required for Discus than for other aquarium fish. This is because Discus suffer from typical fish ailments, especially if the water is stale and poorly oxygenated. They are also vulnerable to illness when stressed, which is typically caused by the lack of hiding places. As a result, they are not recommended for beginning aquarists.

Many other fish species can be housed with Discus if they require the same water conditions. Their behaviour is not compatible with larger aggressive fish or smaller fin-nipping fish.

Discus belongs to the cichlid family and consists of three species. Symphysodon Tarzoo, which is the Green Discus. Among the Symphysodon species are the Red Discus or Heckel Discus and Symphysodon Aequifasciatus, which contains the blue and brown Discus.

Discus fish are characterised by their disc-shaped bodies and appearance. All variations are thin and flat, but some have a triangular or round shape. Their caudal and pelvic fins are pronounced, and their anal and dorsal fins are rounded.

Discus has many colour varieties, possibly due to natural hybridisation, although most varieties available today are tank-bred. Selective breeding produces a wide variety of body colours, including greens, bright blues, reds, browns and yellows, as well as different body patterns, such as spots, streaks and vertical or horizontal bars.


Discus fish
Discus fish
Discus fish
Discus fish
Quick Facts
Scientific NameSymphysodon aequifasciatus, Symphysodon discus, Symphysodon
Year Described1840
Other NamesBrown Discus, Red Spotted Green Discus, Green Discus, Red Discus, Blue Discus, Tefe Discus, Heckel Discus
OriginsBrazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespanup to 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 7.5
75 - 90℉
23.9 - 32.2℃


Because the Discus is a carnivore; it would be best if you aimed to feed your fish on a diet primarily of meaty foodstuffs such as live and/or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, lobster eggs, cyclops, Mysis shrimp and bloodworm. Bloodworm should be used sparingly as it is hard for your fish to digest.

You can also cut up earthworms from your garden or chop up shop brought mussels, prawns, krill and fresh fish (be sure only to use fresh or frozen fish and not fish canned in oil).

You can also try your fish with dried foods formulated for predatory fish and made up of insect material such as Fluval bug bites, which can also be used to supplement the diet.

Get to know your fish and test which foods they prefere and which they ignore but always be sure not to overfeed your fish and remove excessive uneaten food whenever possible.

Sexual Dimorphism

The sex of the Discus fish is relatively difficult to determine. The males are usually slightly larger; some have more pointed dorsal fins, thicker lips, and more pointed papillae during the breeding season. In contrast, the females are generally smaller, have a rounded dorsal fin and are more rounded in the body.

Other Cichlids of interest

African Butterfly Cichlid(Anomalochromis thomasi)
Banded Apistogramma(Apistogramma bitaeniata)
Blue Panda Apistogramma(Apistogramma panduro, Apistogramma pandurini)
Bolivian Ram Cichlid(Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
Checkerboard Cichlid(Dicrossus filamentosus)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid(Apistogramma cacatuoides)
View all Cichlids
Date Added: 05/11/2020 - Updated: 23/08/2022 17:59:22