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FAQs on Discus Social Disease

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,
FAQs on Discus Disease by Category:
Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, 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,

Help, Discus poorly.      6/20/16
<Hello Daniel>
I'm sorry to bother you but I don't know what is happening to my discus.
I tried your article on poorly fish, self diagnosis, but the link isn't working.
I have 2 discus in a community tank, it's 240l.
<Mmm; well... Discus aren't really "community" fishes... Can be kept with some other species... best w/ others hailing from the same soft, acidic, hot water habitats... but... Best in a group mainly of their own...
Symphysodon spp.>

One seems perfectly fine, the other is always at the back of the tank hiding and is always sitting on either the floor/ the heater or ornaments.
His head seems to be angled up a lot and his fins are always down.
<Bad signs>
Temp is 28deg C
PH is 6.5

Ammonia is 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10ppm
Planted tank with plenty of hiding places.
I do water changes once every 2 weeks and clean filter on alternate weeks.
Diet is frozen bloodworm, daphnia, mosquito larvae. Tropical flakes.
Please help!
Thanks you.
<What other species are present? Some/one may be badgering the hiding fish.
This may sound/seem strange, but if it was me/mine, I'd add another Discus... these are social animals, and best kept in odd numbers if only a few animals... that way one can't be beating up on the other solely. Bob Fenner>

Sick Discus... social...       6/15/12
I was talking to you guys about my discus with the Hex,
<... a six sided system? Hexamita?>
I received the Metronidazole and treated him. He recovered, so he's back in the big tank.
<... the system itself is infested. All fishes there need/ed to be treated>
After being put back into the big tank, i realized that he'd not grown much, and the other discus had.
She's quite the bully to him and he stays in the corner hiding in a plant most of the time,
<Very likely needs to be moved elsewhere
; particularly if this is a small/ish tank or hexagonally shaped>
But when he does come out to eat,
He has black lining the tops of his fins, very thin line, but as far as i know it's not supposed to be there.
<Common stress coloration... Move it, NOW>
And also his ventral fins are completely black and there's a black patch around that area that covers maybe a quarter size of his body.
I've got no idea what's happening to him,
>.... then you haven't been searching, reading on WWM>
I am happy that he's back to swimming happily and no longer sick like he was,
But I'm kind of worried about this new development.
Any ideas of what it is, and what i can do to get rid of it?
Or should I not worry at all?
<As above... move it or it will perish...  Be chatting, Bob Fenner> 
Re: Sick Discus    6/16/12

well today he came out in good color and the other discus is leaving him alone.
<Ah good>
the entire tank was treated for the Hex for a few days before putting him back in.
It's not a hexagon shaped tank, it's a rectangle 55 gallon.
<I see>
and i did search your website, and all i could find where questions about the entire body being black,
<Ahh, I see. Thank you>
not just that specific region.
<Is about the same... cause and effect>
Today he's out and about and only changes color like he was if he's back hiding, which he hasn't done for the past 4 hours I've been keeping an eye on him.
So do you think i should still move him?
<Not w/ your latest observations. I would just keep a close eye; a look-see each time you're by the tank; particularly during feedings>
He seems like a complete new fish today.
there is also a blue dwarf gourami that hangs out with him, not aggressive towards him or anything, but is the fact they're the same color a possibility why his color was strange?
<Mmm, don't think so>
seems like a long shot but maybe not.
<Thank you for this further report. BobF>
Re: Sick Discus

thank you for helping me.
at feeding he comes out and is fine, so I guess as long as he doesn't go back to what he was he's alright.
Thanks again. (:
<Welcome. B>

Discus... stress beh., hlth., incomp. with angels    12/12/08 Good afternoon, I am hoping you can help me out with a discus problem. Currently I have a 330 litre tank with a ph of 6.4 and temp at 28C as well as quite a few fishes, 20 Rummy nose 4 bristle nose 4 angel fish (paired, very territorial) 10 Zebra Danios 1 blue diamond discus 4 red melon discus (Is this too many for the tank?) <Sounds great. But Angels can be quite waspish, so I'd watch how the Discus behave. It's pretty common for Angels to bully Discus. There's also a risk of transmitting diseases that Angels don't seem too bothered by, but can cause real problems for Discus.> The red melons were added 6 days ago. On the 1st day they got "head butted" by the blue diamond a fair bit, I read up on a site and dismissed it as a greeting of some sort. <Well, Discus are hierarchical, but if you upped the group to six, I'd fully expect them to settle right down.> Now the 4 red melons are slowly showing black patches on their face. There is one that is particularly bad, his upper and lower fin has a dark shade around the edges while his back fin has gone from clear to black. I've read your previous posts about unhappy discus turning black, in my case it is only to their head and fins their body is still bright red. <Could well be stress; Discus when stressed typically show a series of dark vertical bars on the flanks. I'd carefully observe the interactions within the Discus group, as well as between the Discus and Angels. But as ever with Discus, do a quick check of water quality and especially water chemistry. In soft water tanks pH can drop rapidly, and as pH drops, biological filtration becomes less efficient, basically stopping altogether at around 6.0. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus  12/14/08
Thank you Neale, for the prompt reply, I will move the Angels out in the next couple of day and put in 2 more red melons. Will let you know how it goes. Regards, Leon <Sounds like you have a good plan there. Let me know if things still don't work out. Good luck! Neale.>

Fin nipping in all discus tank -- 04/1/08 Hi guys. It has been a while since I sought your sage advice, but I am back again with a new issue. First, I want to thank you for all of the extremely useful advice that you have given me in the past! <Cool.> I have a 55-gallon discus only tank that is home to 8 discus ranging in size from 3-6 inches or so. All of them have done well together from the beginning and we are starting our 3rd year now. Obviously, some of them eat a lot more than others-the size difference between the largest and smallest fish is staggering. And although they do chase each other around and have face-offs every day, there have been no injuries, and all of them have eaten well (some better than others!), and stayed healthy and active...until now. <Oh?> I recently noticed one of the medium-size discus hanging out in the corner by himself instead of with the rest of the group, but didn't think much of it at the time. Not long after that, I noticed some very obvious fin-nipping damage on the back edges of his dorsal and anal fins. I then realized that it had been a few days since I had seen him joining the community meals along with everyone else. That was about a week ago and I still have not see him eat. On top of that, the exterior cover to his gills looks kind of frayed, his color has become pale, and he is breathing faster than the other fish. <Discus are of course territorial once mature and in the mood for breeding. So it may well be you have one mated pair that are driving off the other fish. But if it is just the one fish showing signs of ill health, consider other factors, e.g., Finrot rather than nipping. Do a water quality test. Look over the fish for signs of eroded lateral line, hollow stomach, red patches on the body or fins, etc. Different symptoms will help pin down different diseases.> I have read that damaged fins will grow back, so although I found the damage to his fins very disturbing (especially after two years of harmony in the tank), I didn't immediately panic but maybe I should have. I thought perhaps that they were not getting enough food, so I increased the amount of food per feeding, but stayed on the same schedule. (morning and evening). After all, I have never seen my discus stop eating when they could still graze around and find any more morsels of food. Okay, so more food is going into the tank and mealtime lasts a little longer, but the guy with the fin damage still doesn't eat. All of the others eat ravenously, then graze until the food is all gone. They look really healthy and vibrant-like they could jump out of the tank and arm wrestle me! I see no obvious evidence of disease on any of the other fish. <Hmm... I'd tend to suspect this fish is otherwise ill rather than nipped. Check water, but also check the fish itself for signs of Hexamita or whatever.> I am afraid that I have waited too long now. There has been no improvement in the past week and I am afraid I am going to lose him now. Any advice will be gratefully accepted. <Would use an antibacterial/antibiotic medication now on the assumption that at least a secondary infection is likely. Quarantining the sick fish and observing carefully would be sensible.> Nothing changed before this happened-no new fish or decorations. Water changes 30-35% weekly as usual. What could have caused this? <Difficult to say without seeing the fish or knowing anything about the environment.> Thank you for reading my post and for any advice you can offer. <Cheers, Neale.>

Help... Discus sys., comp., hlth.  11/5/07 My partner has a large fish tank and in there is a variety of fish, but he had purchased 6 discus. The fist one over night had lost weight and just lost it's colour and died within the space of a day. Then the second one that died 3 days later had been swimming in the tank like it was mad and at extra high speed. This one the started to swim on its side and went within a day also. Then just 2 days ago, a week later from the other two, this 3rd one was swimming at high speed around the tank then it was on it's side and spinning upside down, then went to lie at bottom of tank and when we woke up it was also dead. Have you any ideas what this maybe as everyone I've asked seems to be stumped!! Many Thanks Peter <Hello Peter. Discus are not fish for the community tank. They need unusually high temperatures to last any length of time (28-30 degrees C). They also need very good water quality, in particular, low levels of nitrate. Soft, acidic water conditions are also helpful, especially with wild-caught fish. They don't like aggressive tankmates (even Angelfish) and don't like hyperactive or nippy fish either (such as Tiger Barbs). Big Suckermouth catfish can freak them out, because the catfish have tendency to rasp away at the mucous on their flanks. Any one of these issues could have caused the sudden deaths of your Discus. Tell us something about tankmates, aquarium size, nitrate concentration, water chemistry, and we can perhaps narrow things down. Cheers, Neale>
Re: HELP!! Dying Discus 11/07/07
Hi Neale <Hello Tony,> In the same tank as my discus are.. Moonlight Gourami x 2 Pearl Gourami x 2 Kissing Gourami x 3 Featherfin Catfish x 2 Clown Loach x 3 Clown Pleco x 1 Albino Pleco (large) x 1 Golden barbs Golden Algae eaters <Not a mix I'd put with Discus. The Golden Algae-eaters, presumably Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, are nasty fish that will put the fear of God into Discus. If nothing else, they latch onto their sides and eat their mucous. But they're also horribly aggressive animals when mature. There's also a problem with water temperature. Golden Barbs are subtropical fish, and above 25C will be stressed and distinctly short-lived; Discus, on the other hand, won't last long at 25C and really need 28-30C for good health. There's no happy medium here: the Golden Barbs will asphyxiate at high temperatures, and the Discus will die at low temperatures because their immune and digestive systems stop working. The only fish that would make obvious companions for Discus in your collection is the Clown Plec (Panaque sp. presumably); the Clown Loaches, and the Moonlight & Pearl Gouramis. The Kissing Gourami is a crap-shoot; some specimens are excellent community fish, but others are quite aggressive and territorial. Regardless, their large size will be apt to stress Discus.> The tanks holds 480 litres (approx 127 gal US), the ph is 6.2, nitrate/nitrite is monitored regularly as is ammonia and water changes happen weekly. I use a reverse osmosis machine to filter new water when doing water changes. The loss of discus has happened 1 at a time on almost a weekly basis. The first was a swim bladder problem as I told when I returned the discus back to the supplier before it died. <OK, one thing is carbonate hardness. Soft water with a low pH is great in many ways, but it isn't stable. Tank-bred Discus are tolerant of a wide range of pH values, but they still don't tolerate *rapid* changes in pH or hardness. So, the question here is how stable is the pH, and how different is the environments in your aquarium to the water chemistry at your retailer. Acclimating a Discus from, say, hard water at pH 7.6 to soft water at pH 6.2 would be a challenge, and something that I'd only recommend doing in stages across several days, if not weeks, using a quarantine tank. Simply dumping the fish from one set of conditions into the other will likely kill it.> What I am not understanding is that all the Discus were laying eggs and seemed to be doing so well and then literally overnight, this problem started. <Odd. Cichlids generally only breed when settled. Were they laying eggs in this community tank? Or in the other tank before they were installed into this community tank?> Any advice you can offer would be most grateful. Cheers Tony <Personally, I'd skip Discus for this collection of fish. I'd be looking at Severums maybe, or even Festivums if you can find them. They're both much more robust animals. Festivums are lovely pet fish with bags of personality, and Severums are available in a range of colour morphs including some really stunningly nicely marked ones. Cheers, Neale>

Discus Might Be Getting Sick   5/20/07 Hello Crew, I haven't been writing to you so please forgive me if anything wrong. May I discuss about my Discus? < Sure, they are still tropical fish.> Last Monday, I bought 2 Yellow Face and 2 Pigeon (pic. 1) (as the fish seller said) which around 1' each and I put them into 1'x1' tank with 28c Heater, 20Watt lamp and air pump. I feed Tetra Bits flakes for 4~5 flakes/ 3 times/ a day. I change 20% of water for every 3 days and also put 1 tsp of salt after water change. This morning, I realized one of my fish's color was turned lightly (pic. 2) and the other one's fins are turned black (pic. 3). Both of them didn't eat well. Fortunately, the rest of my Discus are normal. I haven't been breeding Discus as before; therefore, I don't know what's wrong with them. Please give me some advices. I don't want to loose them. Really thanks to you. KMMK < Some strains of discus are genetically hardier than others. At 1" all discus are susceptible to getting sick. In the wild they like soft, warm, clean, acidic water. I would do a 50% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrates. They should always be under 20 ppm, the lower the better. I would skip adding the salt. Discus are not big flake food eaters. Try to get them on to small sinking pellets. Some live brine or frozen food should get their appetite going. Discus turn dark when they are not happy. They could simply be the low fish on the pecking order and are not happy with the other tankmates.-Chuck>


Disappearing Discus  - 10/25/06 I have a 55 gallon tank. I had [at the time] 7 discus & 2 Plecos. About a month ago, I noticed my little 2-inch Yellow Siam Master had turned very dark. I was scared he would die. I changed the water almost 3/4 of it - all tests were good. Then a few days later - I just couldn't find him OR my little Pleco (2 inches)! I cleaned out the tank - took all plants (plastic), big rocks, etc. out & searched. Nothing. Just gone. Now it is 3 weeks later & I just got 3 new discus - all doing fine BUT now my 2-inch Blue is completely gone!! I have never found a body, bones, from ANY fish in my tank. I have also searched all around my tank in case they jumped out. I feed them 2 x day & change water 3-4 x month. Are my discus creepy little cannibals or what?? Does my tank have a wormhole? Alien abduction? This is completely freaking me out. PLEASE tell me what is happening (if you can.) < Your discus turn very dark and start to hide when they are sick. When they die the bacteria start to break them down and their bodies decompose very quickly in an aquarium. If your water is soft and acidic then the skeleton will dissolve pretty quickly too.  Remove some of the decor so you can watch them more closely.-Chuck><<RMF suspects the other Pleco>>

My Discus ... in trouble 10/2/05 Hi, I have a Juwel vision 180 tank with 5 discus in. I have a proven breeding pair of discus and 1 proved other female. The discus I have are 1 turquoise discus, 2 royal red discus, 1 Asian yellow discus and 1 orange discus (I don't know the name). what I wanted to ask you was my 2 royal red discus and my turquoise discus are black all of the time just lately but my other two discus are fine. What should I do?? <The dark coloration is a bad (warning) sign... that something is not right... water quality or social wise most especially... I'd be reading re these issues, correcting (making water soft, acidic, warm, low organics... providing plenty of space)... soon. Bob Fenner> Yours Sincerely Chris Griffiths

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