To get healthy discus you should try to provide a nourishing and varied diet for them.
An example would be to feed them homemade discus food mixes,
frozen adult artemia (preferably nutrient enriched),
frozen black mosquito larvae, frozen white mosquito larvae,
frozen daphnia, fresh chopped earthworms and different types
of dry foods, especially Tetra Discus Bits and Aquatic Nature Discus Excel Granules,
but also a few other flake, pelleted and granulated foods can be used.
Compared to "ordinary" aquarium fish species, discus need more protein in
their diet to grow well. Discus should be kept in a tank with higher
temperature than normal fish and this will increase their metabolism.
You should feed them more often than normal aquarium fishes, especially when they are
young. It is good to have as a rule of thumb to try to make sure that the
discus always have their bellies filled with food during daytime.
Also make sure that the discus get enough fibre so that they don't
When you feed a lot it also means a lot of feces and waste
substances in the aquarium. Because discus are sensitive to this
you should make water changes often, and during the water
changes you should vacuum out the dirt and any food leftovers
that there may be (but try to not overfeed, then there won't be
any food leftovers). One other way of
getting rid of food leftovers is to have, for example, Corydoras or
Bristlenose Catfishes in the discus aquarium that eat the food
leftovers on the bottom of the aquarium.
Some foods that I DON'T recommend for discus are:
- Aquatic worms, for example tubifex or blackworms.
Discus like to eat them, but these worms usually live in dirty waters
and can contain parasites, heavy metals, toxins and so on, that can be
harmful to the discus. This also applies to the frozen and freeze dried
types. The aquatic worms usually also have a very high fat content.
But if you have a safe contagiousfree source I can't deny that they
could be a good treat for the discus.
- Bloodworms, also known as red mosquito larvae. Even though discus
usually love to eat bloodworms these bloodworms are not even half as nourishing as most of
the types of food mentioned earlier in this article. The bloodworms can
also contain parasites and heavy metals, etc. (Hikari's triple
sterilized bloodworms are the only ones that are said to be "safe"
regarding parasites). The exoskeleton of the bloodworms can also get
stuck in the intestines of small discus. Personally I also have
another reason not to feed my discus bloodworms since I'm allergic
to bloodworms. If I get in physical contact with them I get rashes
and a horrible itching for several hours, and if I happen to have
been in contact with bloodworms with my hands and then rub my eyes
with my hand it hurts like #"@$¤* for several hours and I can hardly
see anything during that time. In my opinion the only time when it
is adviseable to feed bloodworms is if the discus won't eat anything
else you give them, and then you should try to wean them off the bloodworms.
Discus (especially older individuals) can be hard to convince to
eat new types of food that they are not used to, because they seem
to prefer to stick to what they know and don't like to try
anything new. I have some different tricks to make the discus eat
new foods without starving them as some people do.
- Feed small amounts of the new food as the first meal of the day
every morning until they accept it. In the morning (after they have
been given time to wake up) they are most hungry since they haven't
eaten anything for the whole night. (Later in the day and in the evening
you can feed them the foods that they are already used to.)
- If the new food sinks, give some of a sinking food that they already
accept, so that the discus pick at the
bottom and that way also discover and try the new food. The same goes
for new floating foods, try feeding it together with a floating food
that they already accept. The same thing goes for foods that circle
around in the water, move, have a specific colour, size, etc. Just
try to feed them the new food together with some similar food that
they already know.
- If they are used to a type of food mix you can mix some of the new
food into some of the food mix. When the discus eat the mix that also
contains the new food, they more easily learn to accept the taste of
- The younger the discus are, the easier it is to get them to accept
new foods. That is, if you buy discus, it's an advantage if they have
been fed a varied diet with several types of foods, because then they
are already accustomed to these types of foods and also variation.