The Ultimate Guide to Discus Fish

Find the leading variety of discus fish for sale at The iFISH Store! Discus fish are the stunningly beautiful freshwater fish originating from the waters of the Amazon in South America. The discus will not only add a vibrant color to your aquarium but charisma and elegance. They are thought to get their spirited coloring as a result of the murky and dense plant life beneath the waters in the Amazon river — because it’s a dark and difficult to navigate, the coloring can help them locate each other, thus find a mate. We’ll dive much deeper into the waters of discus fish care, but for now, here are some key points to keep in mind before your discus fish purchase.

Discus fish for sale at The iFISH Store!

Why buy discus fish online from The iFISH Store? If discus fishkeeping is a newly found hobby, you may have noticed that there are a host of online stores where you can buy fish. Does this seem odd? In the past, the only place you could purchase discus fish was at a brick and mortar pet store. Here you had to cross your fingers that they had a discus fish that you liked, that it was healthy, and that it was properly cared for. You’ll find the premier discus fish for sale at The iFISH Store online. With a broad realm of online fish stores, where do you even begin to choose where you buy your discus from? Embarking on online fish shopping can be overwhelming — you want the best discus fish, yet every online fish emporium seems relatively the same. The only logical online fish store to purchase discus fish for sale is with The iFISH Store! Let’s explore the value you’ll receive when you choose us.


For further information on potential tank mates for Discus Fish, check out our detailed Freshwater Fish Compatibility Charts.


What You Need to Know about Discus Fish

The discus fish is considered "The King of the Aquarium" because they’ve been gracing aquariums since the early 1930s. They are a choice freshwater fish, but with their beauty and charm comes great responsibility — they are some of the more challenging fish to keep and care for, giving the badge of honor to those who can manage a couple of discus fish in their freshwater fish aquarium.

Keeping a discus fish may take a little extra TLC, but don’t let that scare you away from these regal fish!

We’re here to guide you and give you exactly what you need to know to care for the king of your aquarium — your discus fish!

Follow along below and take notes or print out these guides — they’ll come in very handy!

Before Your Discus Fish Are Shipped

At The iFISH Store, your discus fish are our priority and we don’t skimp on any of the details, so we’ve employed a process to guarantee live arrival.

Choosing live aquarium fish online is a preferable experience for most because you are able to click and choose a specific fish and know that that is exactly what you’ll receive.

Once you select a discus fish, it will be quarantined anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. The fish are not fed in this window of time to better clear out their systems and keep them from soiling the water. This practice alone improves their survival because it keeps their water fresh and clean during transit.

We have implemented flat rate shipping and your fish will be transported Monday through Wednesday and sometimes Thursday. We avoid shipping on Friday and Saturdays and very rarely impart this practice because of the high volume of delivery on weekends risking your discus delivery will not be on time.

We Make the Difference in Discus Transport

Step 1:

Reduce stress on the discus! To keep your newly picked discus fish happy and healthy, we place your fish in a separate container.

Step 2:

We keep your fish thriving during transport. As we assemble your order, we’ll double bag your fish and fill it with roughly 25 percent aquarium water combined with methylene blue to prevent contaminants and deter bacterial growth.

The remainder is filled with oxygen and tightly sealed with a rubber band.

Step 3:

Premier protection. Your discus is kept safe, as we gently and cautiously turn the bag upside down and into a third bag. This third bag ensures leakage protection, longevity, and durability during transport.

Step 4:

Stability! If your order contains more than one fish, this step is reserved to secure contents of separately bagged fish.  We secure the bags together with plastic wrap to improve the stability during transport.

Step 5:

Optimal temperature. The fish are then placed inside a styrofoam container that provides insulation and further wrapped in newspaper for better support.

Step 6:

Weather check. Right before your fish goes out for transport, we check the temperature of its destination and add a hot or cold pack to accommodate your discus’ journey.

Step 7:

Final preparations. Once everything is double checked and secure, we’ll seal the box and your discus fish is on its way!

What To Do Before Your Fish Arrive

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for your discus fish arrival — it’s like bringing home a new baby — you want to make sure everything is just right and that they’ll be able to thrive in their new home aquarium.

Pro tip: Set up your tank properly!

Prepare your tank for your new discus fish. Equip it with all the basic aquarium necessities such as a filter, a heater, and a power head.

Formulate the optimal pH that accommodates the discus (more on that below). Ensure your new discus has the appropriate space according to its size

If cleaning and filling the tank prior to receiving your Discus.

Clean the tank with hot water and avoid using soap — this can be toxic and possibly harm the discus.

Place the tank in a quiet, dark space to better keep your discus fish calm.

Help welcome the discus to its new fish tank by adding a couple of elements where they can find refuge and acclimate to their new environment. 

Setting Up Your Discus Habitat

Discus fish pair beautifully with aquascapes because discus’ thrive in a lower pH which is typically found in CO2 aquascapes. Keep in mind that dicus fish can grow very large, so if you want to add them to your aquascape, ensure it’s a large tank around 100 gallons. Below are the best tips for setting up your discus habitat.

The discus will experience home sweet home with long-stemmed and flowing plants and plants that are situated in the foreground. Discus fish can also be in a bare bottom tank, but many fish enthusiasts steer clear from this because it’s less aesthetically pleasing, but there are advantages in doing this. You can easily clean rotting debris and feces and it helps balance the water and keep it stable for the discus to thrive.

pH and Water Hardness

Discus fish are notorious for being sensitive to rapid changes in the water, so it’s vital to perfect the pH of your tank. The pH should vary between six and seven, with the optimal pH being 6.5. If the aquarium peaks over seven it could begin to harm and cause stress to the discus.

The water hardness should be right around 1dh—8dh — this mimics the waters of the Amazon. Consider adding driftwood if your water needs to be softened.

Other Important Water Recommendations

  • Nitrite - Keep nitrates at 0ppm. Discus fish cannot tolerate even the lowest levels and are susceptible to any fluctuations.
  • Nitrate - Different than nitrites, this also needs to be as close to 0ppm when possible. Anything under 20ppm will be okay for a discus — keep the nitrates low by adding plants and removing anything that is dead or decaying.
  • Ammonia - Ammonia levels also need to be kept at 0ppm. If the ammonia levels rise, you’ll notice your discus will lose color and rapid breathing will occur. If you notice this, change the water immediately.

Aquarium Water

Changing out the aquarium water can be hotly contested in the community as to how often it should be done, but at least half of the water should be changed out each week to discourage nitrate buildup, and always be sure to dechlorinate the water before changing it.

Water temperature - Discus fish prefer warmer waters that range from 82 F to 86 F. Keep this in mind when you are choosing plants, as some may not do so well in the warmer water.

Water temperature consistency is also crucial because discus’ don’t fair well in drastic changes, so when you’re doing water changes ensure it’s the same temperature or a very minor difference.

Prepare for the transfer with these Acclimation Steps.

Why should you acclimate your new arrivals?

You've invested valuable time and money researching the habitat requirements of the fish you wish to house. Naturally, you want to protect this investment by executing a proper acclimation process once your fish arrive at your door. The water that your fish arrive in may have different water parameters than your fish tank including different temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite or nitrate. Fish are very sensitive to even minor changes in these parameters, so proper acclimation is the key to ensuring their successful relocation.

Follow these simple steps to acclimate your new arrivals:

  1. Never open the shipping box in a brightly lit area.  Sudden bright light, after being in a dark box, can be stressful to your new fish. Turn the light off in your fish tank and float the bag in the tank for 15 minutes. This is to start adjusting the temperature.

  2. After 15 minutes, open the bag and place the fish, with the water it arrived in into a clean bucket or container (Note: this means the bucket or container has never contained any soap or chemicals which may be harmful to your fish.)

  3. Add half a cup of water from the tank your new arrivals will be placed in into the bucket or container. Repeat this step every 5 minutes for 15 minutes.

  4. Next discard half of the water, from the bucket or container, and continue adding half a cup every 5 minutes for another 15 minutes.

  5. Carefully net the fish from the container and release them into their new home. Discard all of the acclimation water. DO NOT add it to your tank.

  6. Always follow this acclimation procedure, even if your new fish appear dead. They will normally be revived when the above procedure is correctly followed.

  7. After your new fish are introduced to your tank, leave the lights off for a few hours. Do not be alarmed if your new fish don’t start eating right away. Most fish will take a day or so to feel comfortable to eat.

Practical Discus Care: Getting Started

Discus fish do require more care and attention, some may even describe them as a bit fussy, but once you understand and accommodate their needs, they are a wonderful freshwater fish to house in your aquarium.

Discus fish, when not in search of a mate, are very social fish. They stay in large groups when found in freshwater rivers, it’s when they reach maturity and looking for a mate that they can become aggressive.

Who makes the best tank mate for a discus fish?

Discus fish enjoy the company of others so if you just have a few, they may feel disoriented or get bored and lonely — give them some friends to socialize with. It’s finding friends that can be an interesting endeavor.

Great tank mates include:

  • Other Discus
  • Cory Catfish
  • Platies
  • Plecostomus
  • Rasboras
  • Rainbow Fish
  • Tetras
  • Barbs
  • Loaches

Partner With The iFISH Store For Guaranteed Live Arrival Discus Fish!

When it comes to adding discus fish to your aquarium, the best practice going into it is to have patience and take the time, care, and attention to all the needs of a discus to ensure the best quality of life for them.

Discus fish are not for the impulsive — there is time needed to prepare for them even before their arrival, and then once they arrive.

If you’re ready to embark on a journey full of colorful discus, choose The iFISH Store — shop online today!

Discus fish for sale at The iFISH Store!
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