Discus are South American Cichlids. Given they are very sensitive fish, it’s important to pay special attention to their needs. In the wild, Discus thrive in rivers of South America with naturally soft, acidic water. While you would think that the key to raising Discus in captivity is matching these water conditions, the fact is almost all the Dicuss you would find in stores today are captive bred. And over generations, they are acclimatized to normal tap water levels.
High pH and hard water are not to be preferred, however, the key is consistency, rather than aspiring to create Amazonian water in your home tank. That said, Discus are very sensitive to ammonia, nitrite, and changes in water temperature and quality. Thus, it is important to keep their aquarium water exceptionally clean, and temperature constant in a tight range between 84- 90F. Discus like water that is on the higher range for most other fish, so that too needs to be kept in mind when choosing tank mates, if at all. To provide the stable conditions Discus need to thrive, their aquarium needs to be set up with the most efficient and reliable equipment available.
Provide a large aquarium with room to grow
While you may buy young Discus that are small and about 2 to 2.5 inches, they grow fast. In an ideal aquarium some varieties can reach 7 to 8 inches in length.As a rule of thumb, you should plan for 10-12 gallons per adult discus. That means that a minimum of 55 gallon tank would be needed for a group of 6 adults.Plants and substrate are optional. Most Discus keepers find it easiest to maintain an “empty” aquarium – the thinnest of possible substrate, or none at all, no plants, and minimal decorations. This places the emphasis on the beauty of the fish Breeders always have bare-bottom tanks to raise their fish, and there are many who claim that the best habitat for discus is a bare tank.
However, if you don’t like a barren aquarium, you can add plants and other species of fish. Non-aggressive, relatively slow moving species such as Cardinal or Neon Tetras make good mates. Plants do help with the nitrate level, and, of course, they are part of the Discus natural habitat. Just make sure you get your plants from a reliable source so that they are free from contaminants. High water temperature in your Discus tank will limit your plant options. Only a select number of plants will thrive in these conditions. Some of the plants you can use include Amazon Sword Plant, Anubias nana, Water Sprite, and Java Ferns.