Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Dustin

Discus cichlids, with their mesmerizing patterns and gentle demeanor, reign supreme in the freshwater aquarium world. But these delicate beauties demand specific care to thrive. Choosing the right aquarium is the cornerstone of their well-being, and it’s a decision brimming with exciting possibilities! Let’s dive into the key considerations to create a discus paradise that reflects your unique style and nurtures these finned jewels.

Tank Size and Shape:

  • Spacious Sanctuary: Discus crave room to navigate and establish territories. Aim for a minimum of 75 gallons for a small group (4-6) and scale up as your fin family grows. Remember, larger tanks are more stable and forgiving of environmental fluctuations.
  • Vertical Advantage: Discus appreciate the height! Opt for taller tanks (at least 18 inches) to accommodate their vertical swimming style and provide ample space for plants and décor.

Water Symphony:

  • Tepid Paradise: Discus love a warm bath! Maintain a constant temperature between 82°F and 86°F. Invest in a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer to ensure their comfort.
  • Soft Serenade: Discus gills like soft, slightly acidic water (pH 6.0-7.0). Consider using reverse osmosis or deionized water, especially if your tap water is hard or alkaline. Regular water changes and testing are crucial.
  • Crystal Clarity: Impeccable water quality is non-negotiable. Invest in a robust filtration system that caters to the biological needs of your discus and efficiently removes waste. Regular maintenance is key!

Furnishing Finesse:

  • Subdued Substratum: Opt for fine sand or smooth gravel as the substrate. These are gentle on discus’ delicate barbels and facilitate foraging, their favorite pastime. Avoid sharp rocks or decorations that could injure them.
  • Botanical Bonanza: Live plants not only create a stunning natural ambiance but also help stabilize water parameters and provide hiding spots for discus. Choose low-light, soft-leaved plants like Amazon swords, crypts, and Anubias that thrive in warm, acidic water.
  • Driftwood Delights: Driftwood adds a touch of old-world charm and serves as a valuable hiding spot and spawning ground for discus. Choose pre-soaked driftwood to avoid affecting water chemistry.

Lighting Harmony:

  • Gentle Glow: Discus prefer subdued lighting. Opt for LED lights with adjustable intensity and avoid harsh overhead lighting. Aim for 10-12 hours of daylight per day to mimic their natural cycle.
  • Dappled Delights: Floating plants like water lettuce or Amazon frogbit can diffuse light further, creating dappled areas for discus to relax and feel secure.

Tank Mates with Manners:

  • Peaceful Pals: Discus are best paired with tranquil tank mates like tetras, corydoras catfish, or ramshorn snails. Avoid boisterous or aggressive fish that could stress them out.
  • School Days: Discus thrive in small groups (4-6) of the same species. This spreads dominance and reduces aggression. Introducing new fish should be done gradually and carefully.


  • Research is Key: Before welcoming discus into your home, delve deep into their care requirements. Numerous online resources and experienced aquarists can guide you every step of the way.
  • Patience is a Virtue: Setting up a discus aquarium takes time and dedication. Don’t rush the process and allow your tank to mature before introducing your finned friends.
  • Love is the Best Filter: Providing your discus with a meticulously maintained environment, a nutritious diet, and a stress-free haven is the ultimate expression of love for these mesmerizing creatures.

By following these considerations and dedicating your passion, you can create a stunning discus aquarium that’s not just a tank, but a thriving underwater oasis where these magnificent fish can flourish and bring you endless joy.

By Dustin

Dustin is an aquarium fish enthusiast and owner of an African cichlid tank. He is a third generation aquarist and has been keeping tropical aquarium fish for over two decades. When Dustin was young, his older brother got into the aqurium fish hobby by setting up seperate tanks for his Oscars and a breeding par of Convict cichlids. His brother later set up an Angelfish tank and moved his Oscars to a 90 gallon tank in his basement. From a young age, Dustin has studied aquarium fish through books and popular television shows. He owns a large library of books on keeping aquarium fish and continues to find reliable reading material to add to his growing collection.