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FAQs on Discus Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Discus fish not feeding properly.      10/8/16
Hi, Bob
I have been keeping discus since 2007, I believe i know quite about this fish.
Normally when fish eats it will pull in the food particle or pellet in their mouth back in 2008 I had one discus that had a problem with feeding, that Discus will try to peck at the food but was unable to pull or suck the food it into its mouths . fish will desperately try to keep mouthing on that pellet, FBW, Beef heart what ever I give but will have the same
difficulty in feeding.
That is for sure that fish is hungry, coz I can see how hard she is try to mouth that food particle to eat, but that particle moves away coz fish is pecking or mouthing on it not pulling or sucking on it.
So I use to throw in pellet by pellet of Tetra bits to feed that discus coz while the pellet slowly sinks down and fish keeps on trying somehow use to get hold of it and eat it and this thing use to take me 10-15 min.s to feed this fish.
Recently I bought my self a pair of turquoise Discus n i see this same problem in the female of that pair.
<How recently? Days, weeks ago?>
Fish is breathing Normal with both gills, I don't see any slimy poop, normal black poop.
I don't see any thing on web related to this problem, all I hear is common thoughts n views of internal parasite.
n I know this is not the case.
I would really Appreciate I you give me some thought on it.
What do you think it might be?
<My initial guesses are either unfamiliarity with the type of food... so the animal is spitting it back out, rotating it... or some sort of genetic defect in the buccal cavity of the specimen. I'd experiment with, use other softer kinds of foods>
Discus are Asian Discus.
Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Dear Crew I have few Question on CR6 & CR8... Searching for color-enhancing ingredients in fish food    9/16/13
Dear Crew,
                I am a discus lover and hobbyist. I have question on CR6 & CR8. those product manufactured by White Crane Aqua Thailand.
<Can't make out much that's useful on their site re: http://www.whitecranev88.com/en/shop/product/features/10
 But I want to know what Basic Color enhancer they use in those two product?
<They might tell you if you contact them; but I don't see MSDS sheets or such re their lines>
Carophyll Red & Carophyll Yellow these two Color enhancing Substance they used in their product or any other chemicalized formula or Hormone.
<Claim these are sex hormone free. Likely so... as powders... expensive>
Please let me know about the Product composition. And if there is any Other color enhancing element expt ASTAXANTHIN. CAROPHYLL. please let me know pn that too.
<Sorry; you'll have to contact the manufacturer re. Or better time spent, search (computer) out your own bibliography. Some notes re how here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
<I would search for Symphysodon color enhancers, foods>
Bob Fenner> 

Re: I need your help, please. Discus... comp./hlth.     4/28/14
Hello again,
Despite your wonderful advice my boyfriend got me discus and I was so happy,
I didn't have the nerve to take them back.
They're actually doing very well with my angels.
They've established their areas and can happily swim next to each other with no pecking or anything.
But I do have a question.
I have 2 discus now.
They're male and female.
Young, never mated.
And the male is just  slightly smaller.
My question is that he's been acting a little odd.
He's kind of hanging low to the sand and seems very lethargic.
He also hugs himself with his fins.
<Bad signs...>
I know they like dark places and such so at first I wasn't too worried, But then I noticed the fin thing.
I did a water change, about 30% roughly, and that helped the female come out a little, but no change in the male.
I do have a bubble wand and a powerhead running so could it be possible
that the current it too strong?
<Not likely, no... How large is this system? Water temp.? Hardness?>
I see no change when they're off too so that seems unlikely.
Thanks for your advice,
<.... Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: I need your help, please.  Discus fdg.    5/4/12

the tank is 55 gallons, temp sits around 80 degrees, all of the water parameters are fine.
<Specifically…? We do need numbers.
For a start, the water is too cool, with 28 C/82 F being optimal for Discus, up to 30 C/86 F for breeding. Water hardness must be low, at least no higher than 10-12 degrees dH for farmed Discus, and the pH needs to be slightly acidic to neutral, pH 6-7 being about right for farmed Discus. Ammonia and nitrite levels must be zero, and nitrate MUST be low, 20 mg/l at the absolute most.>
I tried reading up like you said, but that didn't offer me much help.
I did get to treat the discus separate from the tank, but medicate their food to get rid of any cross- contamination for the angels, which I've done. The Male Discus is now currently in a 10 gallon, with this "Rid all" medication and seems to be slowly getting better.
<Which "Rid All" medication? There's a variety, each for certain diseases. No one medication treats everything, and if used indiscriminately, most will do more harm than good.>
he's still not eating though, any advice of how I can entice him to eat?
<As with all, and I mean ALL, Cichlidae, Discus will eat like pigs when they're happy and healthy. If your Discus isn't feeding, it isn't about "enticing" him to eat, but about asking why he isn't hungry. Solve that riddle, and you're done. Environmental issues (water quality, temperature, lighting, tankmates) are usually at the heart of problems with Discus. Some farmed stock are susceptible to worm infections to be sure, but generally farmed Discus are otherwise adaptable, hearty fish given the right environment. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Discus fish feeding problem     7/23/12

Dear Neal,
Thank you so much for explaining me completely. You always been very helpful, thanks once again.
<Most welcome.>
Gob bless you
<I'm sure he does!>
Regards, Ail
<Likewise to you, Neale.>

Discus Food variety   10/20/11
I am a discus hobbyist and I do few business with discus fish, from the size of 0.5 to 1cm I start to grow discus fries, I start feeding Baby Brine Shrimp after one or two week start to feed them Decapsulated brine shrimp but when they get the size of 1inch or 3cm what I should feed them for best growth?
<There are a few formulations... I'd be using Spectrum pelleted... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/SpectrumFoodsF.htm
At a forum some experts advised me to start beef heart mixture
<Nah.... olde school... too many potential problems> |but I don't know any
process to make beef heart mixture which can be kept at air tight jar or a container, it should be kept in deep freezer.
Is there is any ingrediance which can be use as preservative that's my first question to you.
<... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; particularly Reproduction>
And 2nd question please let me know a way to sterilize or making diseases free Tubifex worm,
<Can't be done. I'd shy away from Tubificids as well... actually all live freshwater foods>
I have seen many Penag, Hong Kong Discus breeder using live Tubifex worm as a alternative diet of Discus babies, but they don't wish to share their trade secret, I do not have time and space to Harvesting, and reproduction of Tubifex worms, Here in India it can very easy to get at shop but those are full of Pathogen, Parasites and Bacterias.
Please let me know how to make that Tubifex worm complete diseases free for my discus babies?
Here I wish to tell you I change 200% of water regularly for 5 to 6 times as Mr. Jack Wattley told at a forum "water change is the one and only way to make huge discus"
<Jack is "the real thing". Bob Fenner>

Discus Feeding in Community Tank   9/15/11
Hi, all,
<Hello Jackie,>
Thanks for your extremely informative site! Your advice has helped me keep fish for several years now, but I've never written before. Now I do have a question that I don't see anywhere. 2 weeks ago I added six Discus (smallish, the biggest is maybe 3" total length, with the others a little under that. It's a 90 gallon tall tank, 25% weekly water changes, established tank, 82 degrees, ph 7.0, ammo0, nitrite0,nitrate maybe1. Kh2, Gh3. Other fish, 2 small electric blue rams that came with the Discus, 1 longfin albino Ancistrus (body length about 3"), 2 real SAE's about 2 1/2"(they dart around some--but stop when they see the Discus), a pair of Pearl Gourami's and 3 female Phantom Tetras.
<Sounds good, except that Phantom Tetras do really prefer cooler water than Discus, so that's not a mix I'd recommend. Do bear in mind Discus need warmish conditions to stay healthy, 28 C/82 F being about right for day-to-day living. Kept cooler than this their appetite and disease
resistance will be less than it should be. Yes, common farmed Discus are much tougher than their wild-caught kin, but you don't want to push your luck.>
My question is, if I don't need the Discus to grow rapidly, which seems to be such a concern for many owners, what is the minimum number of feedings a day I should be doing? I've been doing two, and making sure to put enough food in, in various tank areas, so the shyer smaller Discus get some. The bigger guy is of course a bully.
<Two meals per day is ample.>
But for my other fish, this is like manna from heaven! I'm actually afraid they're getting too much food, especially too much protein, since I fed pretty sparsely before the Discus arrived, to keep the water perfect. Does anyone anywhere feed young Discus just once a day, or is that going to stunt them?
<Would feed smaller meals, but 2-3 times. Do bear in mind fish have rather poor digestive systems, and much of what we give them comes out much the same way it went in! On the other hand, underfeeding will cause problems.
Healthy fish have slightly convex bellies when viewed from the front, but should always be alert and looking for the next meal. If your fish aren't starving, for example they have hollow bellies that look concave viewed from the front, then there's nothing to worry about.>
I certainly want them to thrive. (I'm feeding a variety of frozen Bloodworms, frozen prepackaged Discus food, small cichlid pellets, shrimp pellets, some Spectrum flake for tropicals, a couple different kinds of algae wafers, not all those things at once of course. It seems everyone eats everything! My Ancistrus isn't nocturnal at all, he comes out and eats so much his stomach looks enormous, then he lies on his back snoozing.
So much for eating algae off the walls!)
<Ancistrus are very omnivorous, and yours is in fact doing what comes natural! Few, if any fish, live solely on algae.>
Thanks in advance,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: urgent Discus fish laid eggs again.   8/11/11
Dear Sir,
One more discus fish stomach is swollen & eyes are bigger. I started treatment of metrogyl 400mg 3tablet.
but I find now result. can I dip discus fish in potassium permanganate water.
<Too toxic... I'd not use KMnO3 unless it was the only thing available>
I want to safe his life.
On internet 100 of homemade food recipes are available for discus fish.
I want you to suggest the best homemade food for discus fish.
can you please give me the recipes.
<You'll have to look about yourself here. There are quite a few formulations; many based in part on terrestrial animal meat. Bob Fenner>

discus question, fdg./nutr.     6/21/11
I am a beginner to the discuss fishkeeping. I would like to know whether I have to keep discus in odd or even numbers. I hope you will enlighten me on this query.
<Some argue odd numbers are best; I'd argue so long as you have six or more, they should be happy. In smaller groups, aggression is more common.>
Also my discus eat Tetrabits but every time I try to feed them Nutrafin max they are not ready to eat it. What could be the reason.,
<Discus often decide to eat just one thing! Try starving them for a few
days. Appetite makes the best sauce! Cheers, Neale.><<Actually, the NutraFin product is neither nutritious, nor palatable/attractive to Symphysodon. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfdgfaqs.htm
Get rid of the Hagen product.
Bob Fenner>>

Garlic juice (Symphysodon nutrition)   3/6/11
Hi crew,
<Hello Pat.>
I have a 2 1/2 to 3 " discus that was being bullied in my 240 g and has stopped eating. I've removed him to a 10 g hospital tank, hoping to get him to eat.
My other 17 discus eat like piranha. Since I moved him, I've added maybe 3/4 tsp. of salt, brought the temp. up to 86 degrees,
<Not necessary for long-term care; 28 C/82 F is the optimum.>
and prepared some fresh garlic juice.
I primarily feed Live Calif. Blackworms. I'm afraid if I soak the in the juice that they will die.
<Very likely.>
I was considering dosing the tank with so many drops per gallon, but have no idea what a proper dose might be. As always, I look forward to your advise, and direction
Thank you
<To be honest, I wouldn't use garlic in this way. If a cichlid of any sort stops feeding, it's a clue something isn't right. In this case, it looks like stress is to blame. Maintained on its own in a dark, gently-flowing
environment it should regain its confidence in time, and once happy, should eat whatever's offered. Discus are far from picky if offered foods they like, and the farmed specimens in particular are no more fussy than, say, Angels. Live brine shrimp, live daphnia and live mosquito larvae would all be viable foods in this situation, and the movement of midwater animals (as opposed to worms that sink) should elicit feeding behaviour naturally. Brine shrimp and daphnia also have the benefit of being high in indigestible matter, so they reduce bloating. Frozen bloodworms seem to go down well with Discus, and they're certainly "smelly" enough to get their attention, but some aquarists believe they're not a safe food because of
the environments where they're grown. So I'd use them sparingly rather than as a staple. In other words, let your Discus settle in, and when it's happy, it should eat anything you provide, without the need for garlic.
Also bear in mind that farmed Discus do not grow uniformly large, and runts are quite common. Discus are hierarchical, and if one specimen can't hold its own within the group, it'll likely be bullied much of the time.
Singletons can do quite well in community tanks, and "dwarf" specimens do especially well maintained that way. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Garlic juice (Symphysodon nutrition)   3/10/11

Hi crew,
I thought I'd give you an update. Just for the heck of it, I dosed garlic juice 1 drop per gallon, along with 3/4 tsp. of salt. The next day the little guy was acting like any of my other discus (swimming around, NOT
hanging in the corner on the bottom, fins fully extended, all darkness gone), but not eating. When I would introduce food, he would look at it but not eat any. Yesterday morning he began eating very timidly, and last night he ate more. Still not like my others, more like grazing, but it's a start.
I'll need to grow him out a bit before I try to put him back in with the others.
<I suspect so. Discus social behaviour is often less than helpful, and smaller specimens do tend to lose out in many ways.>
As always, thank you very much for your comments and advice.
<Thanks for the update, and good luck! Cheers, Neale.>

Discus fish feeding problem   7/3/10
Hey there Neale, I hope you will be fine there. Neale I got 9 discuss fish in my 90 gallon tank they all are small like average size would be 4 inch.
In the beginning they were very shy but now some of them are not. I used to give them frozen bloodworm they ate them like crazy except 2 discuss fish.
I got a major problem that they are not eating any other food like flakes and tetra bits. I am very much depressed that I do not know what to do so that they get along with other kinds of food. Is okay to feed frozen bloodworm in a day one time only? please help me what to do. Water condition, temperature, PH level and everything is normal.
Thank you, Ali
<Hello Ali. They do need more than bloodworms. If necessary, don't feed them for a few days, maybe a week. THEN offer them good quality flake or pellet food. Discus will eat a range of other foods, including beef heart
and small pieces of white fish fillet (e.g., Tilapia). Safe live foods include brine shrimp, daphnia and small earthworms. If you can collect mosquito or midge larvae from somewhere with NO fish, like a barrel of water, they are safe and Discus love them. It is normal for Discus to be shy, and the use of floating plants and dither fish (such as Hatchetfish or Rummynose tetras) will help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus fish feeding problem   7/5/10

Hey there Neale, thank you so much for your quick response.
<No problem.>
Firstly I will don give them anything at least for a week then I will give them tetra bits and high quality of flakes and high quality of pellets. I hope they eat them.
<I hope so too!>
After a week I will let you know about my discuss fish status.
Thank you, Ali
<Cool. Good luck, Neale.>

Discus Not Eating -- 06/9/10
Hi Crew, I've got eight discus in a 240 gallon tank. Nitrates are less than 20 ppm. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites. All other parameters are very good based on my test strips.
My dilemma is that 6 of the 8 are eating fine and the other 2 aren't. About 4 or 5 days ago I noticed something white (definitely not ich) on one of the discus. I kept a sharp eye on him over the next day or two and noticed
he wasn't eating, he would initially go up to the food like he was going to eat. Aside from not eating, and the white area, his appearance was fine, not pale, full color, not skinny.
I then quarantined him in a bare bottom 10 gallon. The white looked like some kind of fungus( I thought it might be fin rot, but after contacting you, I didn't see the symptoms you described). The next morning the white was completely gone.
I noticed one of the other discus not eating, so I quarantined him as well. So now I have 2 discus that appear totally fine with the exception that they aren't eating.
Any ideas? Thank you Pat
<I would recommend raising the water temp up to 82 F and do a 50% water change. Isolate the discus in the hospital tank and try to get them to eat in there. Offer the food for five minutes and then remove it. If they don't
eat then treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace to treat for a possible internal infection.-Chuck>

Re: Discus not eating
Discus Not Eating 6/10/2010

Hi crew, A friend of mine told me that he once had an angel fish that quit eating for a week. Then one day he noticed a larger than normal fish poo in the bottom of the tank, and the angel fish was eating. Do you think
constipation could be the problem? I also failed to mention that I feed live Blackworms.
< Feeding Blackworms is a double edged sword. The are very nutritious and high in protein but may carry parasites and pick up toxins from the mud they live in. I would try to get them to eat a high quality pellet food for a main diet and only feed the Blackworms occasionally as a treat. Not too much fiber in Blackworms. Exclusive feeding of worms is a problem.>
There is a certain level of bullying between all the discus during feeding time. I've been told this is normal.
< Yes it is.>
I'm expecting four 2" Siam Red Master Discus from Somethingphishy tomorrow.
I plan to quarantine them. How long do you suggest?
< At least 2 weeks.>
Do you suggest administering any preventative medications?
<No. I usually like to look them over an make sure they are eating and they are alert with erect fins. Adding medication when it is not needed may lead to additional stress.>
I'm told that they're captive bred.
< Captive bred fish bring on entirely different problems. If they have been raised on one kind of food then it may be difficult to get them to eat another.-Chuck>
Thank you Pat

Discus success story (stkg., fdg.) and lionfish treatment (hlth.)   11/21/09
Hello crew, today I am writing about a success story of mine, a question, and concerns about the treatment of my black volitans lionfish, Lucifer.
First of, I am now the proud owner of my first discus,
<Symphysodon spp. are social animals... really only do well in groups, mated pairs>
a fish I have always wanted to take a hand at. I am happy to report that the discus has oddly enough adapted quite well to my rather busy community aquarium and has been happily feeding off all dry/frozen foods
<Mmm, need more than this>
for the 5 weeks I have had it. I am now planning on saving for a 125 set up of maybe 6 discus and once those are nicely set up mature and established perhaps try adding 6 altum angels.
<Ahh, I wouldn't mix these. See the Net, library re>
My question is that on your site I have read angels and discus generally are not compatible, yet my discus is thriving alongside 3 angels that do not hassle it or out compete it.
<Perhaps you are/were lucky, but time will tell>
This leads me to believe that in certain circumstances the mix might not be so bad. Would it be safest to try adding angels or discus first to try to make sure everything goes along smoothly?
<Up to you, but I would not>
My last question is in regards to my lionfish. Not even a week ago my lion was eating healthily and all seemed well. Then over the course of 2 or 3 days his eyes clouded and he stopped eating. I at first thought it was blindness like you mentioned in your article on lions but I just have standard fluorescent light bulbs, nothing intense. Several employees at the LFS I work at agreed that it sounded like a bacterial infection and should be dosed with Maracyn.
I dosed the aquarium (125 gallons) with both Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 since we were not sure if it was internal or external. Now two days later, his eyes look a bit better but he is still not eating and appears to be covered in a fungus that my puffer had. It looks like marine ick I suppose and I added Maroxy to the water as well. Is there anything else I can do? I read that lions can last a while without being fed but I am really worried about losing him. -Thanks Ray
<Really only able to "tell" what this might be through microscopic examination... I might try pH-adjusted freshwater bathing this fish, moving it to other quarters if you have such. Please use the search tool on WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Question about food -- 10/22/09
I have 5 Discus and 1 Uaru and am seeking advice on what types of foods I could get for them at the local market.
<Well, Uaru are herbivores, so most any soft green foods are options. Curly lettuce, cooked or tinned peas, spinach, Sushi Nori, etc. Discus are carnivores, albeit on invertebrates for the most part. A bag of mixed from seafood (squid, mussel, prawn, and cockles for example) could be chopped up
and supplemented with fish vitamins (usually sold for marine fish). I would use just the seafood though, because prawns, mussels, and some squid contain high levels of thiaminase, and over time, that can cause severe health problems. Hence the need for the vitamin supplement. But still, this would be very inexpensive.>
The money I am spending on frozen food per month is getting ridiculous, and I am trying to find a cheaper, though equally nutritious, means of feeding my babies.
<Do see a couple of excellent articles on gel foods, here:
Thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question about food -- 10/22/09
Thank you.
<You are most welcome.>
You guys are the best!
<We really are, aren't we? 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>

Discus not eating... poor mix... no data re water quality or reading  -- 02/07/08 Hi there, I am Dan and I have a few questions. First off, I really like your website. It is very informative. Anyway, I recently bought a neon blue discus which is in a 40 gallon tank with a Firemouth, Pleco, tetras, tiger barbs, and a puffer. <Uhh... trouble with this mix> Everyone gets along great. <No> There is no aggression and they seem perfectly healthy. <The key word here, "seem"> However, my discus is not eating. I just got him 2 days ago and he is not eating. <Oh! Two days is not much time to settle in...> I tried feeding him bloodworms, flakes, and pellets, none which he seemed interested in. What could be wrong? <Likely the company... though water quality could definitely be an issue...> He seems healthy and doesn't have any signs of illnesses except for not eating. The tank is fully cycled and I do 50 percent water changes weekly. <Mmm... this is more water changed... please see WWM re frequent partial water changes> Do discuses NEED other discuses or will they be fine alone? <Are social animals> I really only wanted one because I don't have much room and discus are really expensive! So what do you think the problem may be? None of the fishes seem to be bullying him and nitrite, nitrate, ammonia are all fine. Is he just getting settled in? If so, how long will it take for him to fully get used to the tank and start eating? Please help. Thanks, Daniel <Please read on WWM re the species you list. Obviously you have not. Symphysodon require higher temperature, perhaps softer, more acidic water than some of your other livestock. The mix you list can't be made to work... Bob Fenner>

http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm -- 02/07/08 Sorry, I sent the message by accident, I have one more question. Will my discus starve? Will he know he needs to eat? Or will he go on a hunger strike and not eat? Also, how do I make my water softer, and can you give me some species of cichlids that need hard water so I wont keep them together? Last, is there a way to test the ph without keep on buying test strips? Thanks again WetWebMedia. Sorry for the late message. Thanks again, Dan <All of this is posted. Please learn to/use the indices, search tool, as we instruct folks to before writing us. B>

Re: discus not eating      2/8/08 Sorry to bother you Mr.. Fenner, but wanted to know why my tank is a bad mix. Also what should I do?. Thanks again, Dan <Hi Daniel. The problem with your selection of fish is that you picked species you like, rather than ones that get along together. Just like you can't keep cats, dogs, and mice all cooped up in one cage, you can't expect a random selection of fish to automatically get along. Just because they're all on sale in the shop doesn't mean they're all suitable for the one aquarium. So let's take this step by step. A 40-gallon tank is a nice size, but it isn't huge. It's perfect for a school of Tiger Barbs, for example. But Tiger Barbs need to be kept in groups of six (at least) or they become aggressive towards other fish. Not always, but often enough for them to have a "bad" reputation among experienced hobbyists. They're also fin-nippers. This means that sometimes (not always) they bite the fins of other fish, maybe for food, maybe because they're bored. In either case, you wouldn't mix them with slow moving fish. Which brings us to the Firemouth. The Firemouth cichlid is a big, slow moving fish with long fins. It is a sitting target for Tiger Barbs, literally a moving buffer they can nibble on whenever they want. Firemouth cichlids also have very specific water chemistry requirements: they need moderately to very hard water with a basic pH; 10-15 degrees dH and pH 7.5 is about right for them. But Discus want the complete opposite. They want water that is quite soft and slightly acidic. There's not really any overlap between what these two fish need, so if you make one of them happy, you'll make the other sick. Moreover, there's a big difference in temperament. Discus are shy, sociable fish that do best in big tanks that allow them to swim about in groups of half a dozen. Firemouth cichlids, on the other hand, are territorial and somewhat aggressive once mature. Again, this is a disaster waiting to happen. As for the Neons, Neons want quite cool water, around 22-25C, and when kept too warm don't live for very long. They simply burn out. Discus, on the other hand, want the reverse: they need water around 28C, and if kept any colder get sick very easily because their digestive and immune systems aren't working properly. So any temperature warm enough for the Discus will be dangerously hot for the Neons. Now, saying you have a "pufferfish" covers a lot of ground. The most common species sold in the hobby are the Green Spotted Puffer (actually two different species) and the Figure-8 Puffer. Both of these are brackish water fish, and do not do well in freshwater aquaria. By the time you'd added enough marine salt mix to the tank to keep these puffers healthy, you'd have killed most of the rest of your fish. So again, there's no overlap here between what these different fishes need. So what you basically have is a bunch of fish that can't be kept together. They're all lovely fish in their way, and excellent additions to tanks set up for their needs, but put together -- they're a disaster! So what can you do? The simplest solution is usually to ask your retailer if you can return the fish and change them for some others. Some stores will do this. Some stores will even take back fish they didn't sell you, giving your a certain amount of credit against new fishes. Now, once you've done that -- don't buy any fish! Visit a library or bookstore and find a nice aquarium book with lots of fishes. Read up on what different fishes need. For example, if you wanted to keep the Firemouth cichlid, you could keep it alongside Platies or Swordtails, for example, which thrive in the same hard water conditions. Australian Rainbowfish would be good, too. If you like the Tiger Barbs best, then good companions for these are other fast-moving fish. Loaches, Glassfish, Bleeding Heart Tetras, and Rainbowfish would work well with them. Avoid anything slow with long fins. So no gouramis, Angelfish, etc. There's really no magic to this, it's simply a case of sitting down with a book and reading up on water chemistry and social behaviour. If all else fails, send us an e-mail and say "Hi Guys, I saw this fish X and want to know if it'll go with my existing fish Y." We'll give you an honest Yea or Nay, and of you go! Simple as that. Good luck, Neale.> <<Thank you for this Neale! RMF>>

Re: discus not eating    2/8/08 Thank you. Dan <No probs. Now, just read some more and try and fix the mess you made. Your poor old fishes are rather depending on you! Neale.>

Discus feeding habits   9/25/07 I am curious. Why do some discus (or fish in general) repeatedly inhale then spit out their food? Is it because they don't like it, or is it caused by a physical problem? I bought five juvenile discus from live aquaria; they arrived two weeks ago. They are active and show no sign of illness. Three began to feed after a few days. One more began to feed after about 10. The fifth however tries furiously to eat, but will not hold anything down. It turns it's nose up to most foods but frozen bloodworms. When I feed with bloodworms, it will inhale three to four times, then just give up and go after another one. Process repeats until the other fish have eaten all the food. I have had the same thing happen to me in the past, and unfortunately the fish starved to death. I tried to feed it everything you can imagine. I had to throw out all my people food in my freezer to make room for fish food. Not really, but I'm sure you know what I mean! Anyhow, it also tried furiously to eat, but couldn't seem to hold anything down. I am only curious; knowledge is a powerful tool. If you can tell me why they do this, that would be great. If you could suggest a solution, that's even better. Thanks for your time, effort, and love of a fabulous hobby. - Tommy <Greetings. Because fish don't have hands (obviously) they can't explore or manipulate food items in the same way as animals with hands can. If you think about how you eat a piece of seafood like a shrimp, you'll understand the different. You'll grab hold of the shrimp, pull off the head, peel off the shell, twist off the tail, and then pop the meaty part into your mouth. A fish can't do that. If it eats a shrimp, it has to either swallow it hole (as some fish do) or else process it with its jaws, spitting out the inedible parts (as other fish do) If the prey item is particularly difficult to eat, the chewing and spitting part may be repeated many times. The water around the fish stops the prey item sinking too fast, so the fish can spit the food out and then have time to swallow it up again from a different angle if it needs to, or perhaps select only the meaty part while rejecting the shell. When fish repeatedly chew and then spit out the same food item, but never swallow it, it usually means they don't like the taste or it is too heavily armoured or too large for them to swallow safely. The solution is simply to try alternative food items. Bloodworms are usually accepted by most freshwater fish, but not all fish will eat them. Sometimes, my fish will eat one brand but not another! So experimentation is the key. Discus, at least tank-bred ones, are fairly amenable when it comes to food. They should accept good quality pellet food as well as bloodworms. Live foods such as daphnia are also a good choice. For fish that refuse to eat, live Tubifex often work remarkably well, but there is a health risk associated with them because of where they may be collected, so sterilising them beforehand is a good idea, if you choose to use them. Very few fish are happy to eat the same thing day in, day out. Varying the menu is always important. Spending a little time at Fishbase researching a particular fish is a good way to get tips on diet. Wild discus, for example, eat plants, algae, crustaceans, insects, and worms. So picking from that menu would be the best way forward. The value of plant material is often overlooked by cichlid-keepers, yet virtually all cichlids eat some plant matter. Sushi Nori, cooked spinach, and tinned peas are usually good choices here, since few cichlids will reject them, especially if they're hungry! Hope this helps, Neale>

Discussing Discus... Systems, Feeding,    7/10/06 Hello fish keeping friends, <Hi Jarryd, Pufferpunk here> I currently have 6 discus: one brilliant turquoise, one red turquoise, one German purple, one blue pigeon, one pigeon snakeskin and one solid white metallic blue fin. <Sounds like my tank!> All are getting on well I would just like to make sure that I'm doing everything properly. The tank is 68 gallon planted, temp 28.5 degrees Celsius, all ammonia, nitrates, nitrites at zero, pH at 6.5. <I would give them at least 15g each.  I have 5 in my 90g.  I was told by the breeder I could keep 6 but 5 look comfortable in there.  Remember, they can grow as large as your hand.> My fishy friends get fed a high quality flake food called Nutrifin mixed with a discus formula from O.S.I. in the morning, then brine shrimp at about 3 in the afternoon and then a feeding of frozen blood worms and Mysis shrimp for tea. Does this feeding schedule seem ok in your opinion?? <3x/day is perfect.  Their metabolism is high due to the high temps.  I keep my temp at 84-86F degrees.  Brine shrimp aren't very nutritious--mostly water.  For my 3rd feeding I use freeze-dried plankton.> I carry out two 30% water changes per week, using ready made water heated to 30 degrees then pH adjusted. In terms of water changing is this too much??? <I do 70% weekly.  Here is some info on differences between several smaller WC compared to a single large WC: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/waterchangemath.html  I find no reason to adjust pH.  Especially if it goes back up after the adjustment product dissipates (unless you're running peat).  That fluctuation can be more harmful than good.  Tank-bred discus are used to any pH.> Thank you for your time, I also have one more query, I've noticed that some discus are more rounded and thicker than others?? Is this just part of their genetics??? <Could be...> And as discus mature do they fatten up and become more rounded????? <Not sure what you're asking--definately a "flat" fish.  Enjoy those discus, I find them quite friendly, beautiful & rewarding to keep!  ~PP>> Thank you so much for helping, Jarryd

Discus On Hunger Strike   2/3/06 Hi, I'm in need of your help. I have 2 Discus in my tank, everything was fine for about 2 months but all of a sudden one just stops eating. The other Discus is fine but the one that is not eating likes to hide during the day and comes out during the evening and at night but only if no one is around. I also checked for white string poop but never found any hanging off of the discus. The color is good and everything looks good but it's just not eating. It's been about 10 days now and I'm starting to get worried. I have a 55g tank with 2 angels (not bothering the discus) 2 Clown loach, 2 Cory cats, 15 cardinal tetras, and the two discus. The water is fine I just checked it and I keep the temp. around 85-86f. What could i do to resolve this problem? Thanks, Dany < Discus are cichlids and can be very territorial. The one discus may be dominate and chases the other discus away from the food. Usually they should be kept in groups so that one cannot continue to push the other one around. When you feed the tank you can add a little food in the corner where the other discus hides. If he still doesn't eat then there could be an interior bacterial problem.-Chuck>

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 Growth  9/5/05 I'm a fairly new discus keeper and was wondering if you could help me? I would like to increase the growth rate and improve the colours of my discus and was wondering if you could help me with a nutritional plan for my discus, they are still fairly young and vary from about 2 to 5 inches. I have two tanks each with 6 fish in them. <Your Discus color will improve as they get older.  Frequent water changes are a great place to start, mix up clean water in a separate container, heat it to match that of the tank water and perform frequent water changes.  If you are really into it small daily water changes are good.  Warmer temperatures will increase their metabolism making them eat more and grow faster.  Check out this link for a good article on Discus Diet http://www.rockymountaindiscus.com/Discus_Fish_Diet.htm -Gage>

Fat discus? (06/28/03) um I may have a problem..... <Hopefully, we have a suggestion for a solution... Ananda here tonight!> I have a 75 planted aquarium with a bunch of schooling fish and a discus a fed them today and I noticed that they all seem much fatter! <Did you feed them something different from their usual fare? Or more than usual? I found out that one particular type of dry food that I have makes my clown loaches bloat...so now that tank doesn't get that particular food any more.> more fat than usual I'm scared something's wrong with them but there all like this so I took out my DIY Co2 injector cuz I recently added that in there. <I don't *think* that would have an effect on the fish looking bloated...> Is there anything wrong with my fish or are they just full? Thank you, Chris <They might be bloated -- aka, your fish have gas! -- or possibly constipated. In either case, the solution is the same. Add some Epsom salts to your tank. The usual dose is one tablespoon per five gallons of tank water. But since you have discus and a planted tank, you might want to add it at the rate of one teaspoon of Epsom salts per five gallons of water each day over three days. (That's what I did for my clown loaches.) Also, try feeding your fish frozen and thawed peas. The bulk in them can help clear out their digestive tract. If the bloating doesn't go away after a couple of days, you can give them another round of Epsom salts. --Ananda>

Discus Dilemma Hi, I've been keeping a 250 gal discus tank for about 3 years, I've suffered losses, but everyone seems to be doing fine.  About a year ago I purchased three cobalts.  They are all eating well, greet me at the tank and in general seem fine.  One of the three (Sam) has tripled in size, another (Merry) has doubled, but my concern is with (Pippin), he has not grown one bit.  He is still the size of a 50 cent piece. (if that)  He eats with the others, I make sure of that, and he's very friendly with everyone.  My question is why isn't he growing? <Could just be a runt. Your discus are many generations away from wild fish and may carry a gene toward recessive growth>   I've added a garlic vitamin suggested by my pet store in Phoenix, which specializes in Discus. < When I see stuff like this I always wonder where discus encounter garlic in the rivers of the Amazon.> The tank temp is at 86 deg, ph is around 7.2.  It's hard to get the ph lower, because my tank is directly plumbed in to my water line.  We have very hard water here.  It's convenient for me, as my water level is always constant, but I can't control the ph like I would like to.  I change out about 40 gallons every two weeks. I have a 15 gal tank set up for emergencies.  It has a ph of 6.0 and the temp is at 86 deg.   Should I move Pip to the other tank maybe with another smaller discus, I have 11 altogether?  I'm wondering if he would grow in a more controllable environment. < Young fish seem to have periods of rapid growth when the are small. Sometimes these windows are missed due to environmental conditions. Your fish may have been too scared to eat and compete with the other larger fishes> How long does it take a discus to achieve it's full size? < In the wild probably about 2 years . Quicker in the aquarium because of the optimum feeding regimes of their owners. I doubt discus get all this choice food a couple times a day while swimming around not doing much.> Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. <I would classify your small discus as a dwarf and would not anticipate the little guy getting much bigger any time soon. He may get along better in a smaller tank with smaller fish so he will not get too bullied around. Your water conditions are fine for discus and you are to be commended for working so hard to get the water conditions as good as they are. Get a nitrate test kit an see what they are. Discus do not like high nitrates and you may need to do a little bigger water change as your discus grow and require more space and food.-Chuck> Joni Savage

What's up with their appetite? I have a 165 gallon tank with 10 discus of various sizes in it.  We have a 29 gallon set up with some discus that are just about ready size wise to go into the 165 gallon.  It seems that there is a definite head honcho in the 165.  For a few weeks he was chasing everybody terribly, we weren't sure if anybody ever got to eat except him.   We moved all the decorations around in hopes of it making it a little less territorial and it seems to have worked somewhat he isn't chasing much anymore but they still aren't eating that much.  We normally feed frozen food in the morning and black worms at night.  We have noticed that the fish eat like pigs in the 29 gallon but when they get to the 165 it's a different story.  We moved 2 over to the 165 a couple of weeks ago from the 29 gallon and now we hardly see them eat, before they were practically eating from our hands.  I don't know if it's because of that dominant fish or possible something else. The conditions in the 165 should be good.  The temp is at 86 and I do a partial water change every 2 days, sand bottom not many decorations.... Any ideas?    < At that temperature their metabolism is probably running pretty high with a pretty good appetite to go with it. I would lower the temp to about 80 and switch the dominant fish to the 29 for awhile with the others that are ready to be moved to the 165 anyway and see if it makes a difference. I think after a couple of weeks the other fish may be more confident and better fed. Reintroduce the dominant fish and see how they sort things out. Depending on the size of the fish they may have been getting ready to spawn.-Chuck>
Re: What's up with their appetite?
Is 86 degrees the best temperature to keep a discus tank normally at? <I think that 86 degrees is a little too high for long term maintenance. At that temperature they will grow quickly if well fed. But it will also probably shorten their lifespan too> What will reducing the temperature do and how long should we keep it at that temperature for? <By reducing the water temperature the fish will also be at a reduced temperature. They will not breathe as hard. Their metabolism will slow down. They may develop eggs and breed if they get a chance to develop some fat reserves. Overall I think it stresses the fish. I would drop it to 82 or 80 for long term success.-Chuck>Thanks so much for your advice!! 

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