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FAQs on Discus Nutritional Disease

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,
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Diagnosis, Environmental, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments  

Related Articles: Plants + Discus = Wow! by Alesia Benedict, Planted Aquariums: Plants and Discus: What They Need To Thrive  By Alesia Benedict, Discus Divas, Glitz, Glam and Lots of Demands by Alesia Benedict, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Discus 1, Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, Discus Compatibility, Discus Behavior, Discus Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,


discus fish treatment   7/25/11
Dear Sir,
I am having blue diamond breeding pair.
from past 15 days the male discus is pointing downward. he is healthy and even eating Too much. while eating he get straight. I have putted Epsom salt for 5 times but no effect. please give treatment for this problem.
<Difficult to give an answer here. I need more information. How big is the aquarium? What is the water chemistry? What is the water temperature? What food do you use? Inbreeding and constipation are both possibilities, particularly if the fish is otherwise healthy: i.e., it eats well, has bright eyes, normal colours, and has interest in its companion. Diet can be cause problems if lacking fibre or if it contains too much fat. Parasites shouldn't be a problem if you have been using dry and/or wet-frozen foods, but some live foods can introduce parasites such as intestinal worms, particularly Tubifex, a known carrier of "Whirling Disease". Cheers, Neale.>
Re: discus fish treatment
tank size is 2ft x 2ft x 2ft.
<A bit over 200 litres/50 gallons. Should be acceptable for a pair of Discus.>
I feed them beef heart.
<Do need more variety than this.>

color and eyes are perfect.
the female is too active.
<Really? Are you sure it's active, or does it look stressed, nervous or alarmed? Check the water quality. Cichlids often get jumpy if nitrite and ammonia levels rise, or if there's something else wrong with the system.>
temperature id 30 degree c.
<A bit warm for routine maintenance. Keep them at 28 C most of the time, and up to 30 C only for spawning. Don't try and spawn them until they're a good size and only after proper feeding. As for why your male can't swim, you still haven't said anything that seems obviously wrong. The diet could be at fault though. Review constipation in cichlids, and vary the diet accordingly. Good high-fibre foods for Discus include brine shrimps and daphnia. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: discus fish treatment   7/25/11
<You're welcome.>
can you suggest some medicine for them.
<Not really. Unless you know what is wrong with your fish, you cannot safely add medication. Random use of medicines will cause more problems than it will solve. Review the things I've mentioned, and act accordingly.
Try contacting a local or international Discus club, perhaps via an online forum, to see if anyone else has seen this particular set of symptoms. Do be open minded: most sickness is caused by problems with maintenance rather than disease, and inbreeding can complicate things even further.>
I am doing treatment for my leopard male discus fish. at start he was doing white poo shit.
<We do prefer family-friendly language here! But clear, slimy faeces that lack colour are a common symptom of Hexamita infection. This is normally treated using Metronidazole; nothing else works.
Hexamita infection is common among farmed Discus. It is probably latent in most farmed cichlids, but if the fish is stressed, the parasite multiplies wildly, and that's what causes problems. Other symptoms include lethargy, odd swimming, loss of colour or dark colour, and ultimately death. Remember to remove carbon when medicating. Calculating the correct dosage is difficult to do, and advice from a vet is very, VERY useful.>
I put Epsom salt for 5 times. then on 4 day I saw fins are darker & got fungus.
I put Tetracycline 500mg capsule. after 3days I saw his stomach is swollen. I put Epsom salt 5 times after every 4 hours & metrogyl 400mg 2 tablet. but still the stomach is swollen and fish is not eating.
please guide me sir
<Do see above. Cheers, Neale.>

Male adult discus constantly swims head down
Discus Stays Head Down In Tank Corner   11/22/10

Hello Crew, I have been keeping discus for a few years now in a 100gal tank, pH 6.8; dGH 0.5; dKH 0; temp 30 C; nitrites / ammonia/ nitrates all 0.
< Hard to believe zero nitrates unless the resin you mention is specifically for nitrogenous waste..>
I do about a 12% water change most weeks using RO water with carbon, resin, micro and membrane filters adding Pro Discus Mineral.
I run two external filters and clean them out alternately monthly using RO water and rinse the filter media in the RO water I have used to rinse out the sponges and discard half the sponges at each clean out.
One of a pair of breeding discus I think developed TB and just slowly wasted away despite continuing to eat well. Her partner became reclusive and adopted a head down position so I put them both into quarantine. This male had been responsible for killing a rival male previously and in the process severely damaged one eye resulting in the lens hanging outside the eyeball for a few weeks which gradually seemed to resolve and his eye now looks normal. I tried all forms of remedies including worming, Hexamita etc.
none of which made any difference so I just kept them in the quarantine tank.
Eventually the wasting discus died. Her partner remains in head down position, eats well (though I'm not sure his vision is all that it should be as although he can clearly see he does tend to bump in to things, such as the filter or artificial plants, easily) and loves any live food I put in, swimming around actively chasing it, but resumes head down as soon as he is finished. He tends to reside in one small area of the tank unless
This situation has been maintained for several months and I am reluctant to put him back into the main tank for fear of infecting my other discus which seem perfectly healthy.
Do you have any thoughts? Many thanks Mike
< The tank conditions, and maintenance procedures seem fine. I would start to look at the diet. You mentioned live food but did not mention the diet. Live foods like worms may contain parasites. Live adult brine shrimp has almost no nutritional value. I would recommend trying to feed a high quality pellet or flake food. It will be difficult at first since they will probably hold out for live food since they have you trained to feed that to them. Place the food in the tank for 5 minutes. Remove any uneaten food after that. After a few days they will get hungry enough to at least try the food. Once they accept it then you will probably see a difference in the behavior.-Chuck>
Re: Male adult discus constantly swims head down
Discus Stays Head Down In Tank Corner II   11/22/10

Hello Chuck, I use Zeolite in the filter media to get rid of nitrogenous compounds.
Thanks for the advice however I always feed with a mixture of frozen bloodworm, TetraMin crisps, and Tetra Prima Discus. I only occasionally give them live food such as bloodworm or daphnia or enhanced brine shrimp to get them chasing their meals. The fish feeds avidly and will swim up to the surface to feed if there's anything floating but when finished resorts to head down. I did worm him with Mebendazole but that made no difference.
Regards Mike
< Blood worms may absorb toxins from the mud they are found in. I would stay away from the bloodworms for a couple of weeks and see if that makes any difference in the behavior.-Chuck>
Re: Male adult discus constantly swims head down
Discus Stays Head Down In Tank Corner III   11/24/10

OK I'll see what happens and let you know. All the others (15 of them) are fine on the same diet however. Best wishes Mike
< Stress is a big factor in diseases. This fish may be at the bottom of the pecking order and that could play a major roll. Move some of the decorations around so the fish need to set up new territories and then see if that helps too.-Chuck>
Re: Male adult discus constantly swims head down
Discus With Head down In Corner IV  11/24/10

I moved the fish from the main tank into my quarantine tank several months ago with his partner who subsequently died (I think from TB) by just wasting away despite continuing to feed. He was already head down when I moved them both. He used to be the largest and most vigorous of my fish at the top of the pecking order and as previously mentioned had killed a rival who was trying to move in on his partner one evening in a huge battle when his eye was damaged. He still feeds avidly and looks expectantly when I approach with the feed tub but is still head down. V Strange!
< If he is alone in a hospital tank with his head down then I still am thinking internal infection and sticking with my recommendation of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole.-Chuck>
Re: Male adult discus constantly swims head down  11/27/10
Finding Nitrofuranace

Hello Chuck I've never heard of Nitrofuranace. Do you mean Nitrofurantoin and do you have any dosage guideline? Mike
< At drsfostersmiths.com it is listed as Furan-2.-Chuck>
Finding Nitrofuranace For Head Down Discus  11/28/10

< Go to dersfostersmith.com . It is listed under Furan-2. Follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Discus with I believe with HLLE (yep!)  11/05/08 Hi I have a 75 gal tank with 8 Discus four are the size of the picture I am sending and the remaining being silver dollar in size. Filtration is a Penguin BioWheel 350 filtered with Bio ceramic filter balls and filter cartridges w/activated carbon, second one is a whisper filter 60 gal that I use filter cartridges with. 1 airstone. Gravel1-1 1/2" deep. Artificial silk plants. Feeding is as follows: San Fran Bay Frozen Spirulina Brine shrimp, San Fran Bay frozen beef heart, Beef heart flakes, Hikari bio encapsulated w/vitamins bloodworms, Hikari microwafers, frozen plankton, omega one color flakes, omega one vitamin flakes, Tetra cichlid sticks. I dose the water with VitaChem once a week and add to frozen food. I vary the food giving flakes and frozen everyday and feed 4-5 times a day. Water parameters today are: AMM- 0, Nitrite- 0.3, PH- 7.5, temp- 85 degrees. Water changes are done once a week at 75% change with Kordon NovAqua Plus. I want to make sure this is HLLE I noticed Sunday clear matter floating around like poop but totally transparent note all fish have normal poo.  This was discovered on fish yesterday added salt and this morning it is worse can you let me if I am correct in HLLE and I've read the threads metro is what I should use. The first picture is yesterday, next two are today. <Greetings. This does indeed look very much like Head-and-Lateral-Line-Erosion, or HLLE. This disease is "caused" by one of two things, possibly working in combination, though the precise details are obscure. The Hexamita parasite is at least partially involved, and while normally associated with problems with the digestive tract (commonly observed as white, stringy feces due the excess mucous production) the parasites somehow can spread to the surface of the fish under certain situations. Once that happens they cause the sensory pits on the head and flanks to become infected and ultimately the pits decay, causing the tell-tale wounds we call Hole-in-the-Head (HITH) or HLLE, depending on where the wounds are seen. It is possible Hexamita is latent in many fish, and only under specific situations does it become a problem, and both diet and water quality seem to be extremely probable triggering factors. With cichlids, any nitrate level about 20 mg/l seems to lead to a, elevated risk of HLLE/HITH. Every cichlid I have ever seen with the disease was in an overcrowded tank or one with infrequent water changes, and this is based partly on observations of my own mistakes! Bob Fenner has also written convincingly about the appearance of HLLE/HITH in marine fish as being closely related to lack of vitamins. Herbivorous fish are particularly prone to receiving inadequate diets, and cichlids are overwhelmingly at least partially herbivorous in the wild. Even fish-eating cichlids will be consuming herbivorous fish, and in that way consuming the plant material in the guts of their prey. Tinned peas, Spirulina flake and cooked spinach are usually taken by even the most carnivorous cichlids. So while the immediate treatment is Metronidazole, long term you need to review water quality and diet, and see if there's anything there you can improve. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick discus- Discus Not Eating 06/15/08 I have an 8 month old discus that was very healthy last week no it is not eating and is pooping clear I read it could be internal parasites but what can cure it ? Please don't say metro because I've been reading that it don't really solve the problem? Please I don't him to die Thanks < Check the water quality of the tank. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm for domesticated discus and under 10 ppm for wild discus. The water temp should be around 80 to 82 F. If these look OK then do a 50-30% water change and vacuum the gravel. Clean the filter too. Now that the environmental factors have been addressed we can look at some of the others. In the wild discus actually eat algae and very small aquatic invertebrates. Sometimes commercial foods are too rich for their long intestinal tracks. These foods may cause a blockage. Now the bacteria in the gut start to break down the food instead of the fish's body absorbing it. As the bacteria grow and multiply it extends the gut of the fish and stresses the rest of the body. Not too many medications can be absorbed into the fish's body. If too much time goes by then no medication will work because the infection has gotten too large. The bacteria or other parasites grow faster than the medication can kill it. Other factors include organics in the water. Many medications are absorbed by the activated carbon in the filter or by the mulm found in the gravel. When not treated effectively the bacteria and other parasites can build up a resistance to any medication and will make it totally ineffective. Metronidazole is a reasonable treatment. It needs to be done early and often. You may have already waited too long for any treatment to work at this time. If you want to believe the other source that Metronidazole doesn't work, then I have heard that Clout or a triple dose of Furanace has worked on occasion.-Chuck>

Strange Discus illness... nutr., algal/env...?   2/27/07 Hello <Hi there> I have a 75gallon Discus tank. I have it fairly heavily planted, with Co2 injection and a PH controller. I also have 260watts of compact fluorescent lighting. I change the water once a week, about 15 to 25% each time and once a month I do a more in depth cleaning and 30% - 40% water change. I have only had these fish in the tank for about two months now. The tank itself has been running for about 6 months or more now. I did a 25 or 30% water change yesterday afternoon, and trimmed some planted that had some bad algae growth and cleaned the Fluval filter pads and trays. <All sounds good thus far... but the algae...> Then fed the fish about an hour later. Everyone was fine when I went to bed last night. I woke up this morning, and found one of my larger discus floating upside down in the corner. When I looked in at him he moved back out of the corner and got upright, and then swam down to the bottom with the others. Then I realized he was swollen or bulging around is stomach area, and had difficulty swimming, and once floated rig ht to the top of the tank. When I left for work, he was back in the corner, but right side up this time. <Mmmm> I have no idea what this could be or how I caused this. I did recently started feed live black worms, as I have one smaller discus in there that won't eat anything but live food and small amounts of flake foods. All the discus eat the worms. <Usually... with gusto!> Yesterday though, I did have a problem with the worms, but it didn't seem to be an issue. I took the out of the fridge, and found that they had gotten frozen solid. I thought they were dead for sure. But I rinsed them with cold water a few times, and the ice melted away slowly, and to my surprise the worms were in fact alive and moving. so I rinsed them a few more times and let them sit. they looked totally normal and healthy, so I fed them to my discus and my angels and rams in another tank. The other tank is doing just fine, and so are all the other discus, including the one that doesn't eat much. Any ideas what this is and how I can treat the discus and hopefully not lose him? more tank info incase its needed... PH - 6.80 Ammonia - 0ppm Nitrite - 0ppm Nitrate - 0ppm to 5ppm GH - about 6 KH - about 3 or 4 <This all looks good as well> I have eco complete as my substrate with a very small amount of gravel on the top of that mainly for color. Filtration is a Fluval 405 filter, with one tray full of bio media, another with zeolite and peat, and another with lava grains. also have co2 injection on a PH controller and 260watts of light. The only thing I am not using is RO water. I do plan to use this ASAP, as soon as I can afford one. <Mmm, depends on whatever else may be in your tap... but the measures you give are fine... esp. for tank-bred specimens (vs. wild-caught)> Thanks for any help you may offer!!!! <Mmm... well, I suspect the blackworms... as you appear to as well... Maybe the one fish "got a tummy-ache" from these being "not quite right"... But more so, I am wondering re the algae that you mention on the plants... there are a few types that are quite toxic to aquatic life... in particular in new/er set-ups... I do encourage you to add a bit of GAC (granulated activated carbon) in a Dacron bag... in your canister filter, AND I do encourage you to add something more/else in the way of filtration... another canister or hang-on power filter... You need more, redundant bio-filtration here... Bob Fenner>

Discus with Dropsy Hello, I only recently discovered your website and have been avidly reading many articles on both fresh and saltwater topics. Coincidentally I have a sick  Pigeonblood Discus that I fear I will lose shortly. I have a very mature 45 gallon tank (10 years plus) using RO water. I currently have 4 discus, 2 clown loaches and a Gold Nugget Pleco that have been friends for years. I feed them bloodworms every other day and on alternate days feed flake and Cichlid Stable by Hikari. I noticed a white sting coming from the Pigeonblood about 1" long. It broke off but he/she continued expelling this the next day or so.  I was told this was likely a parasite and to treat with Metro + (although the container says it treats Hole in head and lateral line). I decided to soak the Cichlid staple in water that had dissolved Metro+ in it. All the fish readily ate this each day for three days. White stuff cleared up for about a week when it returned, this time worse. Once the Discus bulged up and later I found a large mass of white mucus on the gravel and the bulge was gone.   The discus stopped eating and became recluse. I set up a hospital tank and applied the Metro+ as a bath according to the instructions for 4 days. I offered bloodworms each day which were ignored. I removed the uneaten worms each  afternoon. I now put him back in the tank with his friends hoping he would begin eating but he has returned to the corner and is looking droopy and listless. Any ideas? < In the wild discus eat very small invertebrates and algae. I think your problem comes from the bloodworms. I would discontinue the use of the bloodworms. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. Treat on day one as prescribed and ad some rid-ich to the tank too. On the second day do a 50% water change. On the third day apply the medication as you did on day one. Repeat this cycle for a total of three treatments. Stay off the blood worms and try to get them on to brine shrimp and then over to spectrum discus pellets.-Chuck> 

Discus help please Hi, I hope that you can help.  I have 4 Wattley Discus. Two of them are about 5 inches and the other two are about 2 1/2 inches.  I got them  7 months ago and all would eat fine till now. Now one of the 2 1/2 ones is not eating and is getting rather skinny and losing its color and breathing heavy.  The other 3 are looking great and seem to be doing and eating fine, begging and all. The thing is, nothing that I have done has changed.  I have not added any fish or have I done anything differently than I have for the past 7 months. I have a 60 gal with an Eheim 2226 and a UV light on it. I still do my water changes once a week (about 15-20 gal) with r/o water and just a hint of tap water.  The temp is at 86.  I also have some Rummy nose in with them and they all look great too.  He used to be the only one eating all-the-time.  From the top, middle or bottom.  And very aggressive at feeding time.  When they all would be eating, he was the boss, which was kind of funny because he was much smaller than two of them, but was getting some nice size to him. He has been like this now for about 2 weeks and he looks worse every day.  I would like to see what you have to say about what could be the cause and what I could be doing to help it.  It is the one that my 6 year old daughter picked out and if it goes.....well you know.  Please help and advise.  Thanks. <I would suggest isolating this fish and seeing if he'll eat while on his own. If so, keep him isolated and well fed until he is healthy again before returning him to your main tank. Ronni>
Response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6
<This was sent to me by another one of our crew members so I wanted to pass it on to you. He's got more experience in Discus keeping than I do.> They didn't mention what foods were being offered, I feed mine a variety of meaty foods such as beef heart, Wattley's Discus formula by ocean nutrition, live brine shrimp (when hunger strikes set in), red worms, etc.... Make sure something didn't cause a drastic change in PH, I've had Discus turn really dark and act like they're dying just by sneezing in front of the tank! Discus can be a tricky fish to keep!
Re: response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6
Hi again.  There was/is no problem with the ph, I do check that all the time, at-least every other day.  I feed them mostly Omega One (red bottle) flakes and also give them Wattley frozen Discus formula, Hikari frozen blood worms and frozen krill, San Francisco's frozen brine shrimp and frozen mosquito larvae and live brine shrimp about once a month.  The other three are doing great like I said.  He was once the (king) of the tank at feeding time, even being the smallest by more than double his size.  He would also be the only one to be seen eating all day long.  Going through every nook and cranny he could find while the others would just be swimming around.  At first I thought that he might have eaten some old food that I might have missed cleaning up.  If that is the case, will it just pass? <Likely so> Or is that even probable to happen?  I clean the tank at least once a week and try to do at least a 20% water change mid week also. <Hopefully with water of high quality. You might try twice weekly changes of ten percent to see if this improves their behavior>   Thanks for your fast reply and I'll be waiting to hear what you have to say.  He is not looking very good at all now and is very, very pail in color.  He is a Wattley's Marlboro Red and was a VERY good looking fish as they all are.  But he just had something about him, very, very thick and such a great round shape.  I don't know who will take the loss of him worse, my daughter or me.  He never showed any symptoms other than not eating.  I mean his poop was always fine and his color was excellent as was his eyes and fins.  The first couple of days he wasn't eating, I just thought he wasn't feeling good and I continued to do my tank cleaning and water changes thinking that he would soon come around.  But he is not coming around and looking bad.  The others are still looking and acting great.   Please advise.  Thank you much for your time. <Do try elevating your water temperature... if you haven't already. To the mid to upper eighties F. if the rest of your livestock can handle this raise. Bob Fenner>

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