Discus Fish Information

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Discus fish, also know as Pompadour fish, are among the most popular ornamental tank species in the United States, because they are generally hardy and can adapt to life in a tank easily once a few environmental criteria are met. Below are some information on the essentials of keeping and caring for discus fish in a freshwater tank that you should know before purchasing these stunning underwater beauties:

1. Discus fish come from waters in the Amazon Basin that are naturally hard, and slightly alkaline. Though these still pools in the Amazon contain some level of humic acid that leaches from it's soil, the water is buffered naturally, and therefore is able to maintain a fairly stable pH level throughout the year. Aquatic peat is recommended during the cycling process as an added provision for discus fish. Peat balances pH and water hardness, and also introduces naturally-occurring tannins, which will change the water’s color slightly. Discus fish live in naturally brownish water that is so clear you can still see the bottom of the pool. These still pools can be found near riverbanks.

2. Discus fish do not fare well if their tank is placed in a location where there is a lot of traffic, this is because discus fish generally prefer quiet, semi-dark areas that mimic their natural habitat. This, hallways and game rooms are definitely not good places for a new tank, because there is just too much activity for the likings of the discus fishes. They generally become stressed when exposed to too much traffic or human activities and this stress will shorten their lifespan. Similar to humans, stressed fish can become prone to disease, and tank-borne pathogens literally swim alongside your discus, waiting for an opportunity to infect new hosts.

3. The minimum tank size for discus fish is 24”. If you can go big for your new discus fish, opt for the larger tank. More water is always better for your fish.

4. Tap water may be used if there is no other water source for your new tank. However, tap water must be de-chlorinated and buffered to meet the water hardness and pH requirement of your new fish. Aquarium peat can make tank water slightly acidic, and can also be used to soften water. Buffers can also be purchased from pet stores to make water more alkaline if you get a pH reading that is too low. Discus fish need a water pH level of 7 (the most ideal pH level for discus fish) and will encourage optimum growth.

5. As discus fish strive at 28 to 30 degrees Celsius, it is necessary to purchase a submersible tank heater before buying new fishes if you live in a temperate country. Submersible heaters may be installed near the tubes of the built-in under-gravel filter. Before installing your heater, make sure that you perform any required calibrations and set the heater to a precise temperature, so that the tank water will not be under-heated or over-heated.