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FAQs on Discus Behavior

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 Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Disease, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

discus behavior    11/8/12
I have 70 gallon tank, with 2 discus in it (they were given to me) , as well as 3 angels. I'm in the process of building a 150 gallon tank, which I plan on obtaining 4 more discus at that point. My water parameters are:
Temp- 82F
nitrate 20 ppm (working on getting down- have live plants)
nitrite 0
GH- 75 ppm (also working on bringing down in case of breeding- ideas?)
KH- 40ppm
ph- 6.4
<All sounds fine.>
my question is about some behavior between the 2 I've noticed, I'm almost positive they are male and female,
<Given Discus are almost impossible to sex visually except by examining their spawning tubes (spawning papillae) I wouldn't be too sureā€¦>
But they've been pecking at each other, I've noticed some tail shaking when they're around each other, they stay at each others sides constantly like they're friends, so I thought perhaps it was breeding behaviour,
But at the same time I've noticed they start to go for a mouth grab and then back down, and also will swim next to each other and try to slap each other with their side. I've bred angels, and a few other kinds of fish, but I'm not really sure on how Discus courtship goes,
<Virtually identical to Angels, only with the added bit about Discus producing mucous from the flanks to feed the fry.>
I've searched for some kind of details on their breeding behavior, including your site, But it seems like no one really has any description of how they act, mostly just how they lay their eggs and raise the fry and what not. So could you help me, perhaps explain the behaviors of breeding discus?
<Discus will do much the same thing as Angels; pairs may spar a bit, flick their fins, but basically spend time together cleaning their favoured spawning places (typically more or less vertical objects). They're a bit more gentle than Angels though. The male shows his spawning tube within a day, and the female within a few hours of spawning.>
or do you think mine are just being aggressive because they're not in a school setting yet?
<Could easily be Only time will tell.>
Any help is appreciated,
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Bullying Problem!    2/10/12
Last year I purchased 5 discus from Chens discus.  When I bought them they were roughly sized; 1 being 2.5-3.5" and the other 4 being 3.5-4.5".  In hindsight this was a very bad choice as the smallest is 2.5" and the other 4 are just over 4"!!  Sadly I lost one of my larger discus rather quickly, so now there are 4 in my tank.  They're in a 3ft tank with 3 Siamese fighters, 8 guppy/endler hybrids, a Bristlenose and a whiptail catfish.
From the beginning the hierarchy was obvious.  My Alenquer Red ruled the roost, although it was not aggressive, it was never bothered by any other fish and would very occasionally peck them.  My Brilliant Turq was number 2, he would actively chase the other 3 a lot but particularly the one that sadly died, and the smallest one (my Leopard Spot).  He was also first to eat and would chase any that tried to steal some (except the Alenquer)!! 
The next in line is my Mosaic Turq who seemed to be able to stick up for himself, and of cause the little Leopard Spot was bottom rank.
Now I have to admit that I left my tank cleaning a little late on one occasion (just over a week), that may not be relevant?  But when cleaning it next, I done a large water change and moved some plants and re-arranged the ornaments to make it look tidier (I seem to struggle with keeping plants alive, even aquatic ones!!  And they were a little sparse)  I also added a small amount of salt to the tank as my little discus was looking a little fragile, he was dark and reclusive (he's now got all his colour back but is still a little shy of the others).  This new set up seemed to cause the Alenquer to turn almost immediately in to a bully.  Again he seems to leave the Brilliant Turq alone and will constantly chase the Mosaic and the Leopard Spot.  The new layout means that there are less hiding spots due to the plants being laid out thicker but all together at one end, they were previously along the back of the tank (there are more on their way to add hiding places) and the other 2 are getting harassed a lot!  The other odd thing is that the Brilliant Turq who was originally my problem is now completely placid and will pretty much leave the others alone?  The bullying gets quite bad at feeding time so I have come up with 2 options I would like your opinion on.
I was thinking of getting more discus to add to the group.  As my local fish store only sells small discus (around 2")  I was thinking of getting 2 and putting them in a separate tank with my Leopard Spot until they've grow a bit.  The other option is to put them in (after quarantine) to my big tank but as they're small, they may just end up being bullied.  I'd like to know if you think any of the above would work, or if you have any more suggestions?  I'm also curious as to what you think of the sudden change in character of the 2 top fish.  They don't seem to be making any signs of pairing (and I really hope they're not!) but these are my first discus.
Thanks for your time and help!
<Discus should be either kept singly, in pairs, or in groups of NOT LESS than six specimens. The fact you're keeping 5 of them, and then in an aquarium far too small for Discus, will practically ensure bullying! Six Discus need at least 60 gallons/275 litres of water, and preferably twice that much space, so your 36" tank is bound to be far too small for them.
Fix both these problems and you should find things improve. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus Bullying Problem! 2/13/12

Hi Neale,
Thanks for the response -
<Most welcome.>
That only really leaves me with the option to sell 2-3 of my Discus.  Would a pair or a single discus be okay in this sized tank??
It contains 200 litres.
<The tricky part if you keep two is ensuring they're a mated pair.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Fish   7/5/11
Thank you so much for your quick reply.
<Welcome Kaitlyn>
I will add three more of about the same size and see if that calms things down. If not I may try a tank divider or move the bully into my 40 gallon tank that just has 6 Bloodfin tetras and 3 Cory Cats in it. Once again, thank you.
<Do please follow up w/ how your situation goes. Cheers, BobF>

Controlling Discus Aggression 6/29/2011
Hi. WWM crew. I had 5 juvenile discus of approx 2 to 2.5 inch size housed in my tank. Recently I added a pair of Blue diamond discus of the same size. But to my surprise the new pair has got really a warm welcome from others, I mean they are all pecking them like hells broke loose. The new pair is just hiding in all sorts of places. I would like to know as to whether this behaviour of other discus towards the new pair will last for some days or will be forever? I am really worried about my blue diamond pair. Can you suggest me some tips to control the aggression? I will be really obliged. Thanks in advance Amit
<People sometimes forget that discus are in the cichlid family. Cichlids get very territorial and usually set up a pecking order for food and space in an aquarium. When you added the new fish the established fish felt threatened and wasted no time letting the new fish know who is the boss and that they are at the end of the line. Late in the afternoon you could rearrange the aquarium so the next day all the fish are busy trying to establish a new territory and they will then be more concerned with all the fish rather than just the new ones.-Chuck>

discus pecking order question  12/28/10
Hi! I have a 125 gallon planted aquarium and a couple of months ago I decided to make it a discus tank again (had a discus tank a few years ago before a big move). I purchased 8 juvenile discus from Jack Wattley. While at the facility buying my fish, it was mentioned that larger discus emit a hormone that inhibits the growth of other discus in the aquarium. Once made aware of this occurrence, I realized this was my problem previously when I would acquire a new smaller discus and add it to my tank with larger adults, as they just never really grew and never knew why. So, I thought I would avoid this problem by buying 8 all basically of the same age. However it seems that 4 of the discus are growing well but the other 4 are seemingly stagnating in their growth, even though they are all eating and should have plenty of room. I am assuming this is due to this growth inhibiting hormone? Is the only way to get the smaller 4's growth to pick up is to separate them? I am willing to set up another aquarium if necessary, but I would eventually like to put them all back together in my larger display tank. Is this a feasible goal? Thank you for your help!
<Hello Andrea. My understanding is that growth in cichlids depends on five key factors: diet, gender, genetics, dissolved metabolites, and social stress. Diet should be uniform among your cichlids and not an issue here.
Gender is simply that males grow faster than females in most cichlid species. Genetics is more of an issue with "fancy" varieties than the natural sorts -- the more different the cichlids are from the wild-type,
the more inbred they will be, and the more inbred they are, the less well they generally grow (among other handicaps). Dissolved metabolites are what some people refer to as "hormones" but really aren't. Dissolved metabolites cover all those things that come out of fish and accumulate in the water.
Ammonia, nitrite and eventually nitrate are well known, but there are others. As these build up in the water they tend to suppress the growth of fish, particularly those lower down the pecking order. Frequent water
changes will help dilute these metabolites, and under experimental conditions at least, 100% daily water changes have allowed quite large fish to grow rapidly even at high stocking densities. That leads us to factor five, social stress. Dominant fish can bully weaker fish, and in doing so, not only prevent weaker fish from eating as much, but also cause build up of stress hormones inside the weaker fish that slow down that fish's growth rate. Do remember that the growth rate of all fish is time dependent. In the case of medium-sized cichlids it will be very fast between ages 0 to about 6 months, somewhat slower for the next 6 months, and very much slower thereafter, likely imperceptible by the time the fish is 18 months old, and
slowing down all the time after that. So while fish grow their entire lives, the rate at which they grow is variable. In other words, if your Discus are a year old now and half of them are quite small compared to the other, you'll likely never get those smaller ones to catch up with the bigger ones. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus size - 8/1/10
<Hi there>
I have 6 2 - 2.5 inch discus in a lightly planted 72 gal. I've read so much about the water changes and feedings for young discus. I currently change the water weekly (about 10%-15% with gravel vac)
<I'd increase this volume to about a quarter of the tank's volume with time/growth>
and I feed twice a day (mix it up with flakes - regular and veggie, bloodworms, and pellets). They are eating well and appear to be comfortable - a little pecking here and there. I'm not trying to grow giant discus or max them out. I'm not trying to breed them either. I would like them to reach about six inches and be healthy. Would they reach that size with my current care and good water quality - no ammonia, nitrites, and below 10 nitrates?
<Yes... even larger... could be "forced" as you state, w/in a half year to this size, or more leisurely and recommended, to about a year from now>
<Welcome "my man"! Bob Fenner>

Discus hanging in corner, beh., hlth.  -- 5/17/10
Hi crew,
Last Monday that I moved my eight Turquoise Discus to my 240.
They all seem to be doing fine, but one hangs in one of the corners and I don't really see him eat even when the food passes right by his nose.
He seems to be the runt.
<Perhaps. But do be aware of the symptoms of worm infections, e.g., Camallanus, and also Discus Plague.>
He doesn't seem to be getting skinny, but he also doesn't seem to be growing like the rest. I also thought I saw white poop coming out of him soon after the move.
<A common symptom of Hexamita infections, treated using Metronidazole.
Prompt treatment is essential. Although contagious, it's likely latent in all farmed cichlids, and only becomes problematic under certain circumstances, typically stress, non-zero nitrate levels and/or the use of a poor quality diet. I wouldn't treat the other Discus unless they were obviously sickly. Note that Metronidazole needs a clean aquarium to work well, so remove as much organic detritus from the aquarium and filter as possible.>
Any ideas?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus hanging in corner -- 5/18/10

Hi crew,
I've isolated the discus in a ten gallon bare bottom quarantine tank with a product called Parasite Clear.
<Never used this, so can't comment from personal experience.>
After I contacted you, I noticed 2 more not eating so I've included them in with the first one. The remaining 5 are really eating aggressively. The package lists the following ingredients:
The package does not state quantities.
The directions say to add one tablet per 10 gallons of water.
My question is:
How long do I need to treat these fish?
<Follow the instructions on the packaging. Doing otherwise rarely helps.>
Again, the only symptoms are not eating. Their fins are erect, not held close to their body, respiration seems normal. I mentioned that I saw white poop, perhaps I should watch for poop in the ten gallon. It shouldn't be
too difficult since it's bare bottom.
Thank you very much for your help!
<Do read the articles linked to last time. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus hanging in corner  5/24/10
Hi crew,
I'm happy to report that my sick discus are eating today after just 24 hours after being treated with API General Cure which contains 250mg of Metronidazole!
<Ah, good>
After 4 days treatment of Parasite Clear, I wasn't seeing any improvement.
I found another LFS about 90 miles away that still didn't have exactly what I was looking for, but better than what I was using.
I changed out all the water from the ten gallon quarantine tank, refilled with fresh water from my 240 gallon tank, added the medicine and fish at about 11:30 AM yesterday. As of 2:00 PM today all 3 fish are eating. There is still 3 more days of treatment based on the directions, but I was so excite, I wanted to share the good news!
<Thank you for doing so... and do continue to monitor water quality, do such change-outs. Cheers, BobF> 

Re: Discus hanging in corner, now FW quarantine   5/25/10
Hi crew,
I can't remember ever having fish survive a quarantine procedure. When its complete, do I just remove them from the quarantine tank and reintroduce them to the display?
<Is the standard method for freshwater fishes... Though some folks use the opportunity to run them through prophylactic dips/baths...>
Or should I do a 100% water change on the quarantine tank (using display tank water), and allow them more Time?
Thank you!
<Welcome. BobF>

nervous discus?  5/18/10
Dear All,
Really hope you can give me some suggestions as to what may be bothering my discus. I have a group of 5 juveniles (approximately 3.5 inches) in a 550l heavily planted tank.
<Five isn't the magic number with Symphysodon, six is. Discus are best kept in either mated pairs or groups of 6 or more.>
Ammonia, nitrite both 0, nitrate barely detectable and temperature is 82.4F (28C). Lighting was originally using LED solid state lighting however as I was concerned about the brightness for the discus I reduced the lighting so
now the tank is lit with two fluorescent T8 lights.
<Floating plants will help a lot, or at least tall vegetation with leaves that cover the surface. Discus come from dark, gloomy conditions and don't like bright light. They can settle into planted aquaria, but a lot depends on their tankmates, the size of the tank, water current, etc. Do read:
The tank has 20% water changes twice a week and all parameters have been stable for at least a year. The discus were bought from a breeder about 4-5 months ago and since then have grown but are rarely seen.
<Is their wont.>
They tend to stick to the very back of the tank and only come away from the back if no-one is around and there's no movement near the tank.
<Very typical. Check for things like noise levels in the room and vibrations. Discus aren't happy in "busy" rooms.>
As soon as you approach it they all dive for cover and look fairly dark a lot of the time which makes me concerned that somethings stressing them.
The other fish in the tank are a mixed shoal of tetras (Neons, head-and-tail-light, Congo and Pristellas), hatchet fish and a small group of juvenile Bristlenose catfish.
<Congo tetras could easily be too large and active for Discus, and I wonder if removing them would help. Discus expect to be "top dogs" in their aquaria, and anything larger than Cardinals are often viewed with suspicion.>
I've kept discus previously so know they can be skittish fish, but they've always settled down after about one month or so and come to recognise me as the food provider... these fish just don't seem at all happy and I'm at a loss as to what could be the problem? The only thing I can think of is that at the breeder they were in bare tanks with lots of other discus - however, I'm loathed to add more discus due to the potential aggression problems.
the last thing I want to do is stress these poor creatures even more!
<Indeed. If you haven't already, do real Paul Loiselle's 'Cichlid Aquarium' book, especially his sections on dither fish and the requirements of Symphysodon spp.>
Any suggestions would be gratefully received,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus care   3/12/10
Hi Crew,
I just purchased 8 juvenile turquoise discus 3 to 4 months old.
I was wondering what your feeding and food recommendations are.
<Posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfdgfaqs.htm>
Also, how long do they grow?
<Mmm, most growth occurs in the first year, but does continue through out life>
I've heard 12 months, 18 months.
How big should they be now?
<2-3 or so inches overall length. Bob Fenner>

Discus help... sys., beh.    2/5/10
Hi there, (it would be great if Neale could get this!) I really need some help with my discus.
I have one discus in a 30 gallon tank, with nothing but gravel.
I have been on tons of sites and spoken to a good amount of breeders and they all suggest keeping discus in an empty tank.
<Yes. Breeders often maintain their fish in a different way to people keeping them as pets. There are pluses and minuses to the "no gravel" approach. On the plus side, removing gravel makes the tank easier to clean. This is important because eggs and fry are very sensitive to poor water quality, and gravel can also hide egg-eating animals like snails and flatworms. However, glass reflects light, and that terrifies most fish, including cichlids. Breeders keep their fish in dark rooms so this is less of an issue, but you can't keep them like that as pets in a living room or den. So if you're going to make the tank look pretty, gravel is a must. I'd also make a general point that breeders aren't necessarily keeping their fish in the best way in terms of psychology. Yes, the fish are breeding, but then farm animals breed and that doesn't mean they're enjoying the same quality of life they'd have in the wild. At least some breeders keep their fish primarily as "cash cows", constantly breeding fry they can rear and sell. I'm closer to the other kind of breeder who keeps their fish in nice, planted tanks most of the time, but will remove them to a breeding tank once a year if I feel like rearing some baby fish.>
Well, just a few minutes ago my fishy friend started freaking out for no apparent reason, striking himself on the glass sides of the tank and even jumping out of the water to strike the glass top!
<Discus will do this if alarmed. Adding floating plants such as Indian Fern will help a great deal.>
Now he is swimming at a 45° angle.
<Fish will adjust their swimming angle if light comes from the side of the tank rather than the top. In a nutshell, they use both gravity (which pulls from below) and light (which is normally right above them) to determine up and down. If you move the light to the side of the tank, they try to adjust themselves as a compromise.>
I called a fish store that prides itself on their expertise and they told me that it was because he has no where to hide, so he got spooked.
<Yes, certainly possible. It's important to remember wild Discus are fish that live among tree roots in the flooded forest. Their flat shape evolved so they can slot into gaps between those tree roots. Under aquarium conditions floating plants work almost as well, particularly if you add a few big bogwood roots and tall plastic plants into the mix.>
I am not sure that I believe this. His tank has been empty since we have had him (5 weeks) and he has had no problems before this, and he is located in a fairly busy room (not saying that we run all over and startle him).
<Not ideal.>
I have since placed a few objects in the tank to give him opportunity to hide and he avoids them completely.
<Discus don't use caves or really anything at the bottom of the tank. You need tall, vertical hiding places and above all shade at the top of the tank. Indian Fern is cheap and cheerful, but some folks find giant Vallisneria just as good.>
Some advice on this would be great! I need to know whether or not to keep him in an empty tank again or create some places to hide, and also what could have caused his temporary confusion?
<Depends what you're after. An empty tank may be okay for breeding in a dark, quiet fish room; a thickly planted, shady tank is essential in the house.>
But please do not just send me links, as I was highly disappointed the last time I wrote to this site looking for help and all I was sent was a bunch of links to pages that did not answer my questions.
<Well, not sure what you're referring to here, but do remember we're volunteers, so your "disappointment" should be balanced against the fact we're free!>
Thank you so much, Lena
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus -- 2/5/10
Hi there, and thanks for the advice. I am definitely going to add some plants and bogwood to his aquarium. He seems a lot happier today, and is eating again. Thanks again for the great advice, Lena
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Not Growing   7/23/09
Hi, I have a 75-gallon tank with 5 Discus, a Uaru, a Rummynose, and a small assortment of various Cory catfish. The Discus and, especially, the Uaru, are growing nicely; however, one of the two Cobalt Blue Discus I have is as small as he was when I got him and the others about 9 months ago. Even the one that is growing is doing so at a very slow pace, but at least he's growing. The runt, or "little guy," which is what I tend to refer to him as, seems to be eating his fair share of food, which consists primarily of frozen blood worms (mosquito larvae), brine shrimp, and plankton, during every feeding. Also, the water is always crystal clear and kept at a steady 82 degrees, at times, 83 or even 84 on the really hot days of Summer. 30% water changes are done once a week as well. All things considered, in addition to him acting healthy and his colors being so vibrant, I am stumped as to why the "little guy" is not growing. I say, "little guy," but, for all I know, he could very well be a she. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Regards, Gregg
< Three things could be the cause. The first is nutrition. With a varied diet like that, nutrition should not be the problem unless he is being chased away from the food and actually getting less food than the other
fish.. The second is water quality. High nitrogenous wastes interfere with the growth of young fish. High protein diets do produce lots of this waste. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. <<Much lower. RMF>>  The last is genetics. In the wild small fish are removed from the gene pool by predators. No such predators are usually found in an aquarium. Most commercial discus breeders sell everything they produce with little concern for long term results. I'm afraid you just may have a runt.-Chuck>

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.>

Discus aggression and 'dither' fish  7/19/08 Hi Crew, <John,> Thinking that more than two juvenile discus in a planted 29-gallon tank would be too many, I didn't take seriously enough the thought that the 'pecking order' really would be an issue -- my new (in the tank for a week) Santarem is preventing his Snakeskin tankmate from settling in. The snakeskin is eating very little, and is chased whenever it strays from hiding. I have installed a divider in the tank, but I want the discus ultimately to coexist. <Discus do indeed work best in fairly large groups when young, since they're schooling fish and when kept in insufficient numbers you run the risk of all the usual social problems with hierarchical fish. It's easier to maintain pairs once they've paired off by themselves.> My question is this: would adding some dither fish (or something like dither fish -- not sure if this is exactly the term for what I have in mind) be expected to partially or totally relieve this aggression? <Not really; if you have fish picking on each other, that's likely because the dominant fish is already considering the whole tank his domain. Dither fish serve to help fish feel less frightened. Cichlids (and many other benthic fish) decide whether it is safe to leave their hiding places to feed by observing surface fish. Because surface fish can see predators above the waterline first, they act as a kind of "early warning system".> I've read (on WWM and elsewhere) infrequent comments on the possibility of discus picking on such fishes as rams, Apistos, or checkerboard cichlids; could this fact be exploited to reduce the aggression of the Santarem on the Snakeskin? <Unlikely. What you're describing are called "Targetfish", the idea being that territorial cichlids need to focus their aggression on something, and if you put something in the tank for them to "have a go at", it helps the pair form a stronger bond. This approach works great if you use super-fast, semi-aggressive things like Gyrinocheilus aymonieri or sturdy Synodontis.> If so, are there better choices than others here? <Additional Discus.> Or would the distraction of other tankmates such as tetras be sufficient to distract the aggressor? (I currently have nine marble hatchetfish in QT waiting to go in with the discus...perhaps even these would help?) <Hatchets are great dither fish for Discus, but I don't think they will have the effect you're after.> I don't want to add fishes that will cause further problems -- I had planned only the discus and hatchets for this tank, but would be happy to add any others to make the discus more comfortable. Your experienced advice would be greatly appreciated. <I'd go with an odd numbered group, at least three, ideally 5+.> --John in Minneapolis <Neale in Berkhamsted.>

Question- Carbon Stunting Fish 06/15/08 A discus breeder I know, who appears quite knowledgeable, told me that activated carbon in filters stunts the growth of fish. Is there any truth to this? < I have never seen any scientific documentation validating this claim. If this breeder set up six tanks of baby discus with activated carbon in their filters and then set up an additional six tanks of baby discus without activated carbon, then raised them together with all the other factors being the same, then we can compare both the tanks to see if the carbon made a difference. Carbon removes organics from the water. A good example would be tannins from driftwood. What does affect fish grow is nitrogenous wastes. If the filter is not cleaned then the organics in the filter begin to decompose and these waste products inhibit the grow of fish. This is why water changes are so heavily stressed in raising baby fish.-Chuck>

Discus Behavior, was stand adjusting Q     5/29/08 Hello Bob, <Eric> Thanks again for the help and website. <Welcome> I ended up going with the 75 gallon and am very happy I did so. I used (2) 4ft long 2x10inch boards to support the weight evenly... There's tons more room for my livestock. As for my specific Discus related question, the five I have are all in their juvenile stages (2.25-3inches) and are starting to display a bit of aggression towards each other. Nothing 'too crazy' but it's enough to make the smaller one (or two) hide more than the others. I'm concerned it will start to inhibit their eating and with the subsequent health problems this will cause. <At least a stunting effect on growth...> I have read and heard that a similar, less aggressive yet more sturdy 'durable' fish can help with this issue. If I were to purchase a smaller (1.5 inches or so) Uaru, do you think this will help the issue here? <Possibly... but I would opt for small "ditherfish" at least as well> As in, they won't pick on the smallest Discus quite as much? I could also try some other middle dwellers such as appropriate Tetras/other similar fish in an attempt to 'distract' the 5 Discus, but I'm not sure this will work. <Ahh! Actually am confident this will work> The only other loop to throw in here is that I've only had the Discus for about a month or so and they're all still very skittish around me. Thank you for the website Eric <Try feeding more frequently, smaller amounts... Symphysodon are indeed train-able. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Re: Discus Behavior 5/29/08 Bob, <Eric> Thanks again! Another real quick question. Do you think the Penguin Tetras (Thayeria boehlkei) would be an all right mix for fish? I'd probably buy about 6-10 of these guys. I read on this site and searched but didn't come up with anything. Thanks! Eric <I do think this/they are an excellent choice... particularly if, as I suspect, your Discus are captive-bred/produced (so the Penguins behavior won't be too much for them). More here re: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=10716&genusname=Thayeria&speciesname=boehlkei Similar water quality range... Bob Fenner>

Discus Behavior  4/1/08 Good Day Crew: I have a few questions about my Discus' behavior. First, here are the tank specs: -55 gallon, 4 ft. long tank. -1 AquaClear 70 filter w/ extra Biomedia (all is rinsed out on a bi-weekly basis, will increase this regimen when it becomes necessary.) -1 Marineland 170- BioWheel filter (same as above, rinsed) -Temp: 82 degrees - constant. -pH. 7.1 -- constant, very little fluctuation (night/day cycle a bit) -Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, all Zero. (Nitrates between zero and 5 ppm, but that's due to the test card.. I'm not sure which it is, either zero or 5ppm).. this is largely because I do water changes of about 30 gallons/week (10 gallons each time, 3x per week with water that is the same pH, temp, and is treated for chlorine, chloramines, etc.) I may switch this to 2x per week, 15 gallons each time instead. -LFS testing of water confirms the above. (second opinion) <Good.> The rest may be too much information, but I'm trying to be as specific as possible: -I have 2 medium sized pieces of driftwood (made esp. for aquariums) about 10-12 inches long, 3-4 inch diameter each. -the substrate is a natural (ex: non painted) brownish colored stone (smaller sized) -I have 5 small sized (about 5-6 inches tall, each.) live plants (mostly of the Anubias variety) -3 med sized plastic plants -3 tall plastic plants (reach top of aquarium) - a few med-large sized aquarium safe rocks/stones/pebbles. -The lighting is about 1 watt/gallon -I have a bubble-wand thing in the back that's about 1ft wide, in the middle, attached to the lower back wall for aeration. The pump is rated for a 30 gallon tank. -All the plants, stones, etc. are arranged throughout the aquarium so they're not 'just along the back' as to provide more hiding places for my fish. <Sounds nice.> Livestock: Each round was added at least 1 week after the previous round, sometimes closer to two weeks. The tank was previously cycled (fishless for 2 weeks, then I added a few of my healthy, disease free fish from my other tank to be sure they were doing well and to boost the bacteria, then waited 2 weeks or more, then tested (again)'¦ Then removed them). 1st Round: (1) 2.5 inch Discus, (1) 2.5 Inch Gold Nugget Pleco 2nd: (2) 2.5 inch Discus 3rd: (10) Cardinal Tetras, (10) Ghost Shrimp For all the livestock, I made sure they were in the LFS'stank for at least two weeks, that they looked exceedingly healthy, acted the same, and ate in front of me. After which point, I brought them home and all livestock was quarantined for 1 week prior (in my QT tank). <Good.> I feed a variety of foods, including frozen bloodworms, flake, Cyclop-Eeze Micro Crabs, and other very small pellet foods. For my Gold Nugget Pleco, I also feed ½ of an Algae-wafer tab that he devours every day. <I think you can risk a whole wafer here, but perhaps only 5 nights a week. Baryancistrus aren't really algae eaters as you probably know, but are adapted to eating small invertebrates and a certain amount of carrion. So bloodworms, chopped shellfish, and the occasional piece of white fish will all make good supplements to its diet. Plant matter (rather than algae) is also eaten; try cucumber and courgette.> Here's my question: My Cardinals, shrimp, and Pleco all are doing exceedingly well. They're eating, swimming and behaving absolutely normal. However, my three discus are always hiding in the corner behind a number of plants that I've arranged for them. <That's what they do. Let them settle in and become "tame", i.e., accustomed to their new home.> Their colors are great, and they don't lie on the ground. <Good.> However, they're not all that active. (I know these fish resemble hot air balloons and won't ever be constantly swimming and active like Cardinals or other Tetras, but....) <Do try adding Hatchetfish or some other peaceful surface dwellers. These convey an "all clear" signal to Discus that encourages them to swim about. Such fish are called Dither Fish are widely used with other Cichlids.> It looks like they're scared and very timid. They spend probably 90% of the time (that I'm around anyway) behind the plants or driftwood'¦ A few times when I come home from work I'll notice they're out, but then I approach (very slowly) and they've BOLTED from one side of the tank to the other. Further, they only eat about 1x every other day. I've tried to get rid of all the excess food afterward. I let them 'graze' while observing from a distance of about 10 ft or so, but have only seen them eat every other day. <Discus aren't big eaters to be sure, but do try using wet frozen or live foods. These sometimes encourage reticent fish to more outgoing. I guess because they taste so yummy!> There was a goldfish (who was in there in the beginning to make sure my tank was completely cycled, and I could NOT catch. until yesterday) that beat them to the punch (eating wise) for the first few days, and it looked like the goldfish was intimidating the Discus a bit.. but not 'too much'. <Hmm... will take Discus a time to get over this.> It wasn't acting aggressively, just beating the Discus to the food. <Still... it's enough.> I have been doing a lot of reading about Discus on your site and many others (for months.. before I bought the substrate for my tank even), and from what I've read, I think they're just 'acclimating' to the new surroundings and getting used to me, but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. <Yes, they will need some settling. Increasing their numbers might also help. Typically people keep 6 Discus, as this seems to be the magic number for getting groups to settle down.> So, to 'remedy this', should I wait for a few more weeks so they'll be able to get more comfortable? <Yep.> Keep the lights off? <Nope.> Try purchasing more dither fish? (one reason I bought the Cardinals, but..) <Ah, you see Dither Fish need to be at the top of the tank. The idea is that Cichlids look for surface swimming fish as an "early warning system" that terrestrial predators aren't about. Cardinals swim close to the bottom, and frankly are just as nervous as Discus. You need something bold and swimming at the top. Silver Hatchets are ideal, but I've even seen people use things like White Cloud Mountain Minnows (though these don't really like very warm water). Danios might work, but some species are simply so aggressively active themselves they might have the reverse effect.> Add 1-2 more Discus of approximately the same size so they'd be more comfortable in a somewhat larger school? <Quite possibly.> As a precautionary, I'll read up on the general disease and treatment articles again, but let's hope it doesn't come to that. Sorry for the long e-mail. Thank you (as always) for the exceptional help and assistance. E <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Behavior  4/3/08 Neale, Thank you for all the help. I've been watching the fish and the Discus are starting to get out a bit more.. Hopefully this will continue! I'll buy Hatchet fish tonight, and add them to the QT tank. I'm thinking 1/2 a dozen should be sufficient, right? <I'd go with a few more than that, if you can. Partly because Hatchets can be difficult to settle in, and you may lose a few. Depends a lot on how well they've been looked after by your retailer. But also because they're quite "flighty" -- in more ways that one! So if you can stretch to 8 or 10, so much the better. There are two sorts in the trade, the smaller Marbled Hatchets (Carnegiella spp.) and the bigger Silver Hatchets (Gasteropelecus spp.). The latter are bigger and easier to keep.> Also, if I buy one additional discus, would this actually be enough? <Difficult to say. Depends on the fish, environment.> Thanks again! E <Cheers, Neale.>

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>

Dashing Discus  7/14/06 Hey guys! I have a few things that I wanted an opinion on. Let me give you my tank and fish specs first. I have a 55 gal, a couple medium sized plants, sponge filter and eight discus under 3 1/2". My problem is three different fish who all display different symptoms. 1.) I have a blue snakeskin who was breathing through one gill for long periods of time. He would use both if agitated by a tank cleaning, or during feeding (I assumed just from the activity). I consulted my local fish store and was told to let the fish ride it out as long as he was eating properly and not getting any worse as medication can be pretty intense for fish. So that's what I've done. I came home from work tonight and he is at the bottom of the tank bobbing up and down hitting the gravel bottom each time. He seems to be breathing heavily (using both gills) and one of his fins (right side) is torn up pretty bad in the webbing. I gave him some stimuli by turning on the tank lights and stirring him with my hand. He was completely unresponsive until I touched him, at which point he darted around aimlessly hitting every decoration and wall in the tank multiple time, often swimming upside down and on his side. He came to rest in a corner of the tank on his side and resumed the bobbing behavior. Is this later stages of a gill problem I should have taken care of earlier? < Probably should have treated for gill flukes with Fluke-Tabs but hind-site is always 20/20.> 2.) My red snakeskin has always been a good and healthy fish (still young though) at the time that I came home tonight, he was swimming around the tank, upright, and running into anything in his direct line of swim. Almost the way a blind person would walk if they couldn't spot to avoid objects. He has no outer signs of abuse from the others, or anything that would look like disease. Could this be related to the fish I mentioned in #1? Or is this a part of night time discus unresponsive behavior? < Internal parasites or trauma like a blow to the head may be the problem. Fish sleep when it is dark and it could take a few moments to let his eyes get adjusted to the lights and shadows.> 3.) I know this is getting long, but thank you so much for anything you can help me with. Lastly, I have a brilliant turquoise that is kinda beat up looking. Again, all the fish looked fine today (except for the one with the gill problem) and when I came home tonight I noticed that there were white scratch marks along his sides and towards the back of his body. No other symptoms though. Is this just normal pecking order battle scarring? < The fish could have  been  startled and inadvertently scratched himself against an object. Fish do not do this kind of damage to each other.-Chuck> The only other thing I can say is that I performed a water change today, but I tested the water right before I emailed this and everything checks out fine. Very consistent with previous water conditions. I love my fish and I would hate to lose one to something I should have prevented a while ago. Thanks again for what you guys do. I'll look forward to hearing back from you. Ryan Discus Being Aggressive  5/14/06 Hello, I recently purchased two discus (one brilliant turquoise and one red turquoise). They are the most exquisite fish I have ever seen. They acclimatized really well, much better than expected. So, the tank is a 70 gallon heavily planted and going swell with my first two fishies. The next day I brought a German purple discus and a solid white discus. Again acclimation was very good. Now here's the problem: the brilliant turquoise constantly chases the German into the back corner even though the German is 1 and a half  times bigger!!! I was told that in order to reduce this aggression the brilliant is showing I should add a couple more, is this a wise idea? < The idea is to create a tank with many targets so the most aggressive discus picks on all the others and not just one. You could use angelfish or festivums too.>  I really am starting to get upset as I knew discus were cichlids but have never seen them this bad. The German is still eating and is happy but the brilliant is not making his life overly happy. Your advice would be highly valued!!! If you think I should add more discus how many? < Sometimes people get by with just two discus in a tank. It all depends on how territorial the most aggressive one wants to be. Sometimes you can just rearrange the tank but this is not practical with a planted tank. I would stock the tank with a total of at least 6 discus since they like to be in schools anyway.> Do the discus get better as they mature??? < They will get a pecking order established and things may ease up a bit.> How soon should I add more discus? < If you planned on adding more discus anyway then I would do it sooner rather than later. If you want to keep it as is then you could wait and see if things settle down.> Thank you very much for your precious time, and happy fish keeping. Jarryd.

Discus Help!!  11/19/05 I'm such a moron! Ok, I always QT new animals before I put them in the 150 gal show tank. I leave them in QT for at least 2 wks... normally 4+. I add animals carefully and slowly... until this week. I ordered 8 discus that weren't supposed to be shipped until after Thanksgiving... but there was a mix-up and they got here Tues. My QT is a 20 gal and I just moved some loaches, an angel, and a Farlowella into the main tank. I didn't put the discus into the QT because a week ago I lost an angel in it to fin rot and the dealer who sold me the discus said that it would be better to just put them into the main tank instead of risk picking something up from the QT. <Possibly the better route> My wife noticed a little fungus on one of the dorsal fin rays of one of the larger discus (about 2.5" sv) Wednesday and from what we'd read in the FAQs we left it alone. Thursday evening we noticed that the condition had worsened on the fin and moved to the sides as well...a white, cottony patch about the size of a lima bean on the side and another the size of a pinto on the dorsal fin. I have always had success treating fungus with Melafix, <...> so I dosed the tank per the directions (5ml/10 gal) as a preventative and did a separate dip for the affected fish of 1 drop Quickcure <Too toxic... malachite and formalin...> and .5 ml Melafix in 1 gal system water for 5 min. The fish was returned to the system and seamed much improved that night. This morning all of the discus are cowering in the corners and black as pitch. <Bad...> The treated fish doesn't show signs of the fungus, but instead has two streaks along his lateral line that looks kind of like hard water stains on glass. Another of the larger discus also has the same condition. Other discus are laying on their sides and generally acting miserable. I haven't tried to feed them yet, but they were taking flake and frozen bloodworm just fine since Tuesday. My water parameters are 0 nitrates (yes, I check everything I possibly can), 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, 0 ammonium, pH 7.6, <Better below 7.0> 3dKH, .5dGH (yes, that's 1/2dGH) 82 degrees F, though when I went to raise the temps to assist their immunity, I accidentally dropped it to 79. (turned the knob the wrong way!) <Argggghhh!> I've fixed the heater (300w Theo Hydor) so the temps are slowly on the rise, I also have a 250w MH lamp that will do the same... slowly. Conspecifics are 1 - 1" angel, <I would not mix angels and Symphysodon... reasons posted on WWM> 3 -2.5" reticulated loaches, 1 - 2.5" clown loach, 1 - 6" Farlowella sp., and 2 - Otocinclus. None of the other fish are showing any problems at all. I had to take back a 2.5" angel, 6 - lg. giant danios, 1 - 3" Severum, and 2 - 5" Plecos because of stress/aggression concerns. All but the lg. angel were removed from the system Monday. The lg angel was removed Tues. night due to bullying. I've got 40gal of water aerating to do a water change this afternoon... but I'm leaving town tomorrow morning for a week! That's one of the reasons I didn't want the fish shipped until then! What do I do!?!? Thank you. Branon. <I would not have bright light on these fish (turn off the MH), I would lower the pH (slowly), raise temperature as you're doing... and hope. The fish are stressed... from being transported, handled, dosed... no more of these "med.s", please. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Discus Help!! addendum  11/19/05 I forgot to tell you about the rest of the system... JIK. I have a 250 GPH return from a 200 gal rated wet dry filter. I have a Whisper 60 gal OTB power filter at the same end as the return. I have a 600gph closed loop to Under Gravel Jets for flow and to keep detritus off the substrate. I also have a Maxi-Jet 900 by the surface skimmer box to increase gas exchange and about a 12" wall of bubbles in the middle of the back for oxygenation/gas exchange/circulation...is there too much flow for them? <Should be fine> Is it too bright?...I have 250w 10000k MH on left side, 1 - 25w. 6500k CFL in middle, and 2 40w 6500k standard t-12 bulbs on the right. I have a good amount of plastic plants and 3 pieces of med. bogwood and some rock-work as well. For a 72x18x28" tall tank, that shouldn't be too much light, should it...I mean to add live plants soon...mostly under the MH....I think I'll kill the lights to give them a break....any other suggestions/questions to help with this? I really appreciate all the help you give. Branon Rochelle. <I would turn off the MH for now. Bob Fenner> 

Discus stocking/Aggression  11/10/05 Hello <Howdy> I have read a lot of your FAQ pages and find them to be one of the best resources for aquarists that I have come across in a long time. Thank you for your obvious love and dedication to what you do. It's nice to see other people get upset about abuses of the Piscean kind as I do. I thought I was alone in being concerned about goldfish in bowls and jam jar sized "tanks" for Bettas. <Oh, no... there are many of "us"> At the moment I have a 3 foot, 120 litre (I think in feet and litres, my only defense is that I'm Australian and they changed it on me in 1966) fairly heavily planted tank with 9 cardinals 3 small Cory cats and 2 1.5 inch Discus. Water parameters are spot on. One of my Discus seems to be quite aggressive toward the other, <Happens> they have been in the tank for 5 days. I can't determine if they are of the same sex or not at the moment, I thought they would be to immature to breed <Correct> and it does look like one is nipping the other. I think it may have something to do with feeding as it seems to be worse in the areas near where I feed from. They get a commercial flake food in the morning and I usually give them frozen blood worms or brine shrimp (I was surprised they eat it, the cardinals love them) or discus mix at night. I have read that they may be better off in odd numbers, <Yes... gives the "odd fish out" some rest...> I think I can probably squeeze one more in although I am not overly fond of stocking to my limits. Would you think that the addition of another fish may ease the situation at all?  <Yes, this is what I would do> I'm in a bit of a dilemma as to the best way to handle this, and the quick skim through the archive didn't really cover my question. Maybe I missed it? <It will be added thanks to your thoughtful query, under FAQs About Discus Behavior> Thanks for your help Nita <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Discus stocking/Aggression  11/11/05 Hi Bob Thank you for the quick reply and valuable advice.   Adding another was where I was leaning towards, but seeing they are my first foray in to Discus I thought I'd check with someone who has more experience with these fish. Now all I have to do is convince the long suffering "fish tank widower" husband of mine that another $75 fish is a good investment! Cheers Nita <Understood... and glad to share. Thank you for yours. Bob Fenner>

First Discus, Lonely Discus, Finicky Eater? - 10/22/2005 Hi again guys. <Hello.> I have a couple saltwater tanks, but decided to try discus. I tried as my first fish, not a wise idea.  <Not a terribly bad idea, if done correctly.> I have a 55g with a penguin Bio-wheel and a Mag 350. PH 7.0, 0am, 0 nitrates, and nitrites, and ammonia. We bought a discus online last Tuesday, <One? Just one?> 14 days ago, and cannot ever see him eat. However his color is good, and he is semi- active sometimes, and not too active other times (mostly hangs out in a corner, and sometimes swims). We feed him bloodworms, but never see him eat.  <These fish are mostly only comfortable in groups.... Unless you are breeding a pair, a group of four is almost a minimum; they really feel/act/look better if there are a few of them.> It looks as though a lot is gone, and he looks fine, but no matter how much we watch, he won't eat. Is it possible he is eating while we are not watching?  <Possible, but not highly likely.> If he hasn't eaten in this much time, seems as though he would look bad. I am doing daily water changes, 5G. The only other fish we have in there is a golden nugget Pleco. I have a piece of driftwood and a white arrowhead plant, and a gravel bed.  <In all honesty, he's likely not eating because he's too insecure to do so, without some buddies around. One good idea would be to call the breeder from whom you purchased and ask what they were feeding him.> One more thing. If we have success, and want to add more fish, how many total discus can we put in there? <Four or six until they're close to adult size.... then a pair, if you wish to breed.> Your have helped me out in a lot of my saltwater questions, and I do appreciate it a lot!!!!!! <Glad we could be of service.> Thanks, Jon <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

First Discus, Finicky Eater? - 10/24/2005 Thanks a lot!! I just ordered 3 more.  -Jon, discus newb <Hope he perks up some with some friends around. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Discus Pecking Order - 8/10/03 I have 5 discus that I was expecting to be a happy little shoal from everything I have read about them. This is not the case, all they do is chase each other around and fight. <they simply have to establish a pecking order as they mature. The chasing can be brisk... but you will notice they are not murderous... and rarely cause wounds. No worries> I have had them about three weeks and was wondering if they are just establishing pecking orders and this will stop or are they going to kill each other. <actually continues until they are over a year old... but still no worries> They are in a 90 gallon aquarium. <a fine size to rear all to adulthood. Do weekly water changes or better for best growth here> I have tried rearranging driftwood and plants and such to no avail. Please advise as I am at my wits end. <wits end... after just 3 weeks. Yikes! Relax bubba. Do get some of the many fine books on discus husbandry too. You will be reassured and better prepared. Jack Wattley's book is a classic> Thank you <best regards, Anthony>

My Discus pair I have a pair, a couple, so to speak. The were happily in love, until my filtration system died a slow death. Anyway, to make a long story short. All is well now with the tank, everyone seems to have recovered. The water is perfect. But, the male is now beating on the female. He is chasing her non-stop, batting her. Why?? < You may have stimulated spawning with a large water change simulating the year rainy season in the Amazon. The male is ready to mate but the female is not. She needs some TLC to build up her reserves and generate some eggs. In the wild she would swim away until she had fattened up with eggs. She would then approach the male and they would spawn and raise the fry. As long as the male continues to chase her around she may be utilizing all of her energy swimming away and not making eggs. I would recommend separating the two until she has had a chance to catch up with the male. Fatten her up with some washed earthworms for about a week. and try to put them together again.> What happened to change the love nest they had?? <If your filter was slowly dieing then it probably wasn't working very well. High waste build up in the aquarium is a sure way to prevent fish from spawning.> Will he kill her?? <Discus aren't the meanest fish around but over time he might inflict enough damage to kill her. More likely she will find a hiding place and stay there afraid to come out, even to eat and may waste away or get sick and die from a disease brought on by stress and malnutrition. -Chuck>.  A worried fishy mom. Thanks in advance. Janet Discus Disaccord Hi Crew, Before my questions, I wanted to thank you for all the valuable information you put out there for all of us Discus lovers.  After searching your sitd I did not find a similar Q & A so I hope my question will help others. I'll try to sum this up, I have a 250 gal tank with 11 harmonious discus.  I had two (blue and snakeskin) in a quarantine tank, (20 gal) the blue one was constantly picking on the snakeskin, so after a safe amount of quarantine I moved the blue one to my display tank.  He's about 4" and seemed to fit in fine with everyone but by the end of the day my 5" pair of wild discus began bullying him.  The tank is 8' long with plenty of hiding spaces and although I felt sorry for him I figured he'd be O.K. He kept himself in hiding most of the time and came out for feeding avoiding the wild pair. (I've added 2 1/2" discus in the past and the wild ones didn't even notice them.)  A few days later I added the 4" snakeskin assuming he would be treated the same way.  Everything was calm and I had to run out for a few hours.  On my return I was horrified, the pair of wild discus had the beautiful snakeskin in a corner and they were taking turns sucking off his slime coat.  He didn't try to get away from them. ( Is beauty a trade off for stupidity?)  I put him back in the quarantine tank and 4 days later he seems to have recovered.  I put two smaller discus with him and the three of them are all doing fine together. 1) How do I introduce him back into my 250 gal tank? <Before turning off the lights you should rearrange all the decorations in the tank. This is not easy in a large planted tank. Add the fish and then turn off the lights. In the morning all the fish will be busy establishing their new territories and less likely to pick on the new guy. 2) Would the attacks from the pair of wild discus eventually have killed him? < Although discus are not well known for their aggressiveness, you must keep in mind that they are cichlids. I think it would have taken a little while for them to kill the discus but over time it is definite possible. 3) Should I consider moving the wild discus to a different aquarium and how big would it need to be? <You might have to move the wild discus because of question #4> Would  55 gal be O.K for just the two of them and some companions? < That would be fine> 4) Could the pair of wild discus be preparing to spawn? <Absolutely! In fact this is probably the main cause for all of your problems. Separate the pair to the 55 gallon. They like to spawn on a vertical surface an keep the water at 80 degrees. Discus like all cichlids guard their eggs and fry from all intruders. When they frt become free swimming they will eat the slime off the parents. Very amusing to watch. Good luck.-Chuck> Any and all answers will be greatly appreciated. Joni

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