Proper Diet for the Discus Fish
The Discus fish has its habitat in the South American waters of
Brazil and Peru. Discus fish are classified as grazers, and in
the wild constantly forage for food. Discus are tall, and have a
laterally compressed body. Their swim bladder is located on top
of the stomach. They have small stomachs, and short digestive
tracts, and with these small stomachs designed to hold small
amounts of food, over feeding the Discus can be a problem. Even a
minor case of constipation can cause serious problems for the
Diet for the Discus should be varied and contain the nutritional
value that they need to survive. In a discussion with our
breeder, Nick Lockhart of Perfection Discus, I asked him what he
would recommend for the daily diet.
Nick feeds our Discus twice a day. He feeds live white worms
generally twice per week. The white worms are cultured on site,
and are kept refrigerated in a small apartment sized fridge, and
temperature controlled by a device that uses a probe to maintain
a temperature of approximately 55 to 65 degrees for best results.
Nick also uses bloodworms, plankton, white worms, Emerald Entree,
mysis shrimp, and white mosquito larvae to give a varied diet.
Emerald Entree is a good choice for Discus fish. Although
originally formulated for marine fish, it has proven to be an
excellent diet for freshwater fish. Emerald Entrée is fortified
with omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are proven to
be important for optimal growth and disease prevention.
Discus fish and a lot of African cichlids eat a lot of blue green
algae in the wild. Spirulina is a blue green algae, and has a
special protein called Phycocyanin not found in another algae or
terrestrial plants. Spirulina powder is readily available through
most pet shops. Japanese scientists have linked Phycocyanin to
improved kidney and liver function. Japanese fish farmers make
extensive use of Spirulina, due to its positive effects on their
Because good hygiene is of the utmost importance in the Discus
tank, one should never feed more than the Discus can consume in
approximately five minutes. As they are grazers, they tend to eat
a bit slowly, so a little more time is needed to allow them to
get their fill. I have read that it is good to allow a Discus to
"fast" on occasion for up to two days, allowing them to get
toxins flushed from the system. Nick has also stated that a fish
can go two weeks without food, so skipping a day here and there
is not really detrimental to the fish. Of course, you will not
want to drive them to the point of starvation, but it will never
harm the Discus to go for a day or two without food. It is much
better to underfeed them a little than to over feed.
If care is taken, the discus will thrive in the aquarium. Much
information is available for the potential Discus breeder, and a
little common sense thrown in along the way wouldn't hurt either.
As Discus are long-lived, the aquarist can have the enjoyment of
these friendly fish for ten to twelve years.
Alden has been marketing on the internet for 7 years. His
website, King Discus, is an active gathering place for discus
breeders and lovers of discus fish. His wife Betsy is the
administrator of All The Best Recipes a site rich in online
recipes and cookbooks www.kingdiscus.com/