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Last Updated: 11/3/22

Quick Information
Setup and Water Preferences
My Discus
Links and Pictures

I am new to these fish, so most of the sections below are empty until/unless I have time to fill them in.

Quick Information

Common names: Discus
Scientific/Latin name: Symphysodon aequifasciatus
Maximum length: 6 to 8 inches
Colors: Varies - combinations of black, blue, white, green, orange, yellow
Temperature preference: 82 to 90 degrees F
pH preference: 5.2 to 7.7
Hardness preference: Soft
Salinity preference: Low to medium
Compatibility: Poor
Life span: 10 to 15 years (if they survive)
Ease of keeping: Impossible
Ease of breeding: Difficult


Setup and Water Preferences



My Discus

I have wanted discus for years. I have studied up on them for a decade. In early 2020, my 26-year-old plecostomus died in my 65 gallon tank. After quarantining some other animals, I emptied the tank, disinfected it with bleach, soaked in dechlorinator, and let it go fallow, empty until early 2021 when I set the tank up with discus-compatible fish.

On 4/19/21, I bought my first two discus. I put them in a 20 gallon quarantine tank that was bare with some ornaments. I decided not to name them so as not to jinx it but then one started to go up to the other and bite/suck on her side, and I ended up naming the mean one Brutus and the victim Angelica. Brutus is a blue checkerboard discus, and Angelica was a golden pigeonblood discus. Angelica had been bullied in the store's tank per the sales girl who said that she and Brutus would be best buddies! She also said that Brutus was male, and Angelica was female even though they were only three inches long, and I have read that that is too young to tell! I had pulled the material off the Penguin Biowheel and had it in the filter of the 65 gallon tank for a month so it should have had good bacteria on it but maybe that did not work. The ammonia was up to 0.5 ppm on Thursday so I bailed half the water that night. Angelica died on Friday morning. By Saturday, the ammonia was up to 2 ppm despite the water change, Ammolock, and not overfeeding. I made the decision to drip acclimate Brutus into the 65 gallon tank that night. The congo tetras kind of flipped out over this huge new fish for a day but the two rams were like, "Hey, nice to meet you!" Brutus seemed like he had been there all along. He is confident and eating well. He does like to spit out half the food he sucks in, sometimes multiple times. Discus are finicky!

As of 5/12/21, Brutus is okay but has become a recluse, mostly hiding in the cave area I made. I went ahead and got two more discus slightly bigger than Brutus. These will be the last for the foreseeable future no matter the outcome. I wanted to get two more that were different varieties than Brutus but the store only had Brutus' variety and one pigeon blood who was not huge. Since she was in a tank with another blue checkerboard, and they seemed like friends, I got him too. The new checkerboard discus is named Caesar, of course. The pigeon blood is his wife, Calpurnia. Of course, I have no idea which are male and which are female. I finally got the 20 gallon quarantine tank to cycle the week before and moved it up a flight to the level with the water and tub drain because I cannot bail water up and down the stairs with my arthritis any more. So, Caesar and Calpurnia will be in quarantine at least two weeks unless there is some crisis.

I realeased Caesar and Calpurnia in to the 65 gallon tank after work on 5/26/21. They were drip acclimated. Brutus was excited but scared. Caesar chased him a bit.

As time passed, Caesar and Calpurnia kept beating up Brutus until he was small, black, and hiding most of the time but they were doing well.

Then, in early 2022, my three discus became more and more damaged. It looked like someone was biting and/or sucking on their sides and shredding their fins. I watched the fish off an on all weekend for weeks but never saw anyone harming them. I decided on 2/19/22 to move the two clown plecos and one ram to my 50 gallon aquarium out of desperation. I did not want to move the clown plecos and ram but, if there is a chance they harmed the discus, it was the better choice for the discus at least. The internet says that clown plecos and German rams never harm discus.

The discus seemed to stop having new damage after those fish were removed but Calpurnia and Caesar kept hiding 90% of the time and were not eating much. I found poor Calpurnia deceased on 3/10/22. She was 4.25 inches long. Brutus who is in the worst condition actually rarely hides. Caesar acts like someone is out to get him but who? The congo tetras stay away from the discus, and Calpurnia is gone. I do not know how to help the discus. Brutus is starting to regrow the support rays for his fins.

Brutus never thrived after I put in Caesar and Calpurnia. He finally gave up late on 4/5/22. He was only 2 7/8 inches. Caesar should be regrowing his fins and damaged areas but they have not really changed. On the plus side, he finally figured out how to eat floating cichlid pellets. I am hoping now I can cut back on feeding the messier foods that go all over which will improve the water quality, and Caesar can put on more weight with the dense pellet food.

Caesar died on 10/31/22. Discus want to kill all discus with them, and then, when there is one, they die of loneliness. After he helped kill the other discus, Caesar just hid all the time except to eat (when I was not looking), and he literally rotted with his scales shedding off even though nobody was bothering him, and he did not have any obvious disease. He just died from being alone and stressed. I measured him. He was 5.25" long and 5" high.

I will never have discus again so please do not chastise me. If someone with over 30 years of experience doing water chemistry and keeping fish cannot keep a few discus alive, I do not see how you can.

Links and Pictures

Photos of my Discus:

Photos are listed from newest to oldest.

I have not processed any photos as of yet.

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