These species were discovered in 1840, by Dr. Johann Jacob Heckel in the freshwaters of the Amazon and its tributaries. These great looking small fish are known for their flat disc shaped body and they exist in groups, taking cover in underwater plants, where they get indirect sunlight and solitude they need. Because of their flat shape, they make unrestricted movements playing hide and seek in the aquatic vegetation. These fish are found in Amazon stretches of Brazil, Columbia and Peru.
The freshwater Discus can be found in three colors Green, Blue and Brown. Their colored appearance depends upon the geographic location of their natural habitat, which is usually deep and still backwater, where the submerged trees and plants gives a very flourishing place to these pretty fish.
The most preferable conditions are offered by gently acidic and warm water areas, since these fish are a bit shy and peaceful, so they prefer to have a secluded territory, where they don’t have to face unwanted enemies and predators.
These are average sized fish, with a round and flat body and out-stretched fins making it look like a disk. It is characterized by a small mouth, tiny bright red eyes, vibrant green, blue or brown colors and nine vertical, dark stripes. The pet Discus is available in other colors too, after crossing color varied species. The stripes are a shield for protection and a way of communication within the members of a Discus school.
Discus fish are about 2 inches long when they are born and can grow up to 6-8 inches in diameter. They grow at a rate of about half to one inch every two months. Pet Discus fish when given proper care and nutrition, may live for 15 years and it attains diameter of 8 inches at an age of 2 to 2.5 years!
Discus Fish Keeping And Care
These are not an easy pet, since they require certain water conditions that may not be provided in fish tanks by an inexperienced caretaker. The Discus fish as a pet must be handled by those who are passionate enough to learn how to properly breed and care them.
These fishes, are usually kept in a planted tank with CO2 injection, to maintain slightly lower pH that is around 6.8. Other options for housing these type of fish are bare bottomed tank, although this may not appeal to many as it is not as aesthetically pleasing as the previous tank.
The bare bottomed tank is considered by many, as an easier tank to keep them, since the feces of the fish and other debris can be cleaned easily. If you are planning to breed them, you should get a bare bottomed tank for your fish, so that the fry do not get trapped in the gravel and die subsequently.
Water temperature, pH and Ammonia levels
The Discus fish breed thrives in soft water with low mineral content and pH value between 4.0 and 7.0. The water temperature must be a bit higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Regularly check pH levels by using a water test kit.
Bio load and bio mass
Discus fish are a very sensitive breed, which can be highly affected by an unclean aquarium. Proper care must be taken to avoid bio-debris being collected in the aquarium. This debris can be due to the remains of the food offered to the fish, like live worms, beef heart, feed flakes and vegetable shreds. In addition to these, excreta of the fish can also accumulate to create this unwanted biomass.
For proper breeding, you must ensure that if some food is not consumed by the fish, it must be immediately removed from the tank with the help of a net, before it deposits at the bottom of the tank and dissolve and disappear in the gravel. If you fail to do this, bacteria, viruses, and other parasites may multiply on the organic matter and make them sick.
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The checkpoints for Discus fish care are
- Clean tank placed in a quiet place,
- Isolation of new fish to protect the older ones from infection,
- Maintaining water temperature between 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit,
- Fish tank must have foliage to give them a feeling of their natural habitat,
- Feeding right food in the right quantity,
- Maintaining pH level between 4.0 to 7.0 using a filter
- Changing water weekly.