Are Discus Fish Freshwater? [What Are The Ideal Water Parameters?]

Discus fish swimming in freshwater

Discus are one of the most resplendent aquarium fish. But are discus fish freshwater?

Yes, discus fish are freshwater. They’re native to the Amazon river in South America. These fish are sensitive to water quality and need tank conditions that mimic their natural habitat. So a robust filtration system and regular tank maintenance are required to maintain adequate water parameters.

Let’s now understand more about the ideal water parameters for discus fish.

Can Discus Live In Saltwater?

Discus can’t live in saltwater as they’re freshwater fish. Freshwater fish regulate their body fluids by controlling the amount of water they take in and release. If placed in saltwater, they will lose water from their bodies because of the hypertonic environment and perish from dehydration.

Like other freshwater fish, discus fish regulate the water intake and release through various mechanisms like drinking less water and producing dilute urine.

If placed in saltwater tanks, the water inside their cells gets flushed out in the saline environment, and they can’t take outside water because of the higher salt concentrations.

This can be fatal to them.

However, small amounts of aquarium salt are believed to help the slime coats of fish.

It acts as preventive protection against external parasitic infections.

Dosage can vary from one tablespoon for every ten gallons to one tablespoon per gallon.

The recommended dose is between one tablespoon for 5 to 10 gallons.

However, overdosing on aquarium salt can be hazardous for freshwater fish.

You should also avoid table salt and marine salt for discus. They contain various additives that can be detrimental to their health.

Can Discus Survive In Lakes?

Yes, discuss can survive in lakes. These fish are found in Southeast Asia and South America around the Amazon. They live in the margins of the floodplains of the lowland Amazon basin, which consists of a few lakes and rivers.

Discus fish are found in tropical waters with dense vegetation and long periods of rainfall.

They can also flourish when they receive continuous freshwater flows.

However, discus can’t survive in most parts of the Amazon basin where the water isn’t clean or often flows too quickly.

Ideal Water Parameters For Discus

Discus is sometimes referred to as the “King of the Aquarium” because of its beautiful and regal colors.

However, this fish needs specific water parameters to stay healthy and thrive.

Maintaining adequate water quality is vital for the health and longevity of discus as it’s known to live for an average of 10 years or more in pristine water conditions.

Given below are the ideal water parameters required for discus.

1. Water Temperature

Discus prefers warm water temperatures. It struggles in colder water conditions.

So you must ensure it gets the stable water temperature that it needs to thrive.

Discus prefers water temperature in the range of 82°F to 88°F (28°C to 31°C).

You must note that the dissolved oxygen is lower at higher temperatures.

So be careful while choosing other tankmates for your discus.

Keeping the temperature in the higher range will keep the discus active, improve its metabolism, assist in growth, and help in developing brighter colors.

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2. Water pH Level

Another important factor to consider is the pH level of the water.

It’s a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of the water and must therefore be maintained accurately for the healthy development of your fish.

A discus tank requires the water pH to be between 6.0 to 7.8.

The ideal pH is 6.5, but captive discus can also thrive at a pH of 7.8 as long as there’s no variation.

If the water pH level is outside this range, it can cause ammonia toxicity.

If left untreated, it can cause serious harm to your pet fish.

3. Water Hardness

Discus fish in soft water

Water hardness is a crucial factor for breeding fish. Hard water has a high mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium.

The relative water hardness for the discus tank should be between 1 dH and 4 dH.

It will imitate the relatively soft and acidic water conditions prevalent in the freshwaters of the Amazon river.

Some captive discus species are known to survive higher water hardness.

Adding a piece of driftwood to the aquarium water can help soften the water’s hardness.

4. Tank Size

The size of the tank is equally vital in the case of discus fish.

Discus grow pretty big and need an aquarium of at least 10 gallons per fish when they’re fully grown.

Discuss fish eat quite a lot and produce a lot of waste due to their relatively short digestive tract.

So the impact on the water quality will be less in a large tank than in a small tank.

A tall aquarium is best for accommodating their body shape.

The tank must also include large broadleaf plants and driftwood arranged vertically to mimic fallen branches and maintain adequate water quality.

Is Tap Water Safe For Discus?

You can keep discus fish in tap water, but it depends on the filtration process used in your local water supply.

The contents of the tap water vary from place to place.

Discus are usually bred in soft water in captivity, then raised in tap water.

It’s a common practice that’s used to acclimate the fish.

However, it’s essential to maintain the perfect water parameters to ensure success.

Discus aren’t nearly as tolerant as most other aquarium fish.

So it’s essential to ensure that the water is treated with aquarium water conditioners to remove chlorine and chloramines.

Installing a robust filter and conducting regular water changes will also help to clean the water.

As discus are sensitive to changes in the water quality, it’s best to allow the tank and filter to cycle for a few weeks for the water conditions to settle and the filter bacteria to develop before introducing discus fish into the tank.

You must regularly check the water parameters with the help of test kits to ensure that the water conditions are adequately maintained for your fish.

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Can You Add Water Conditioner In A Discus Tank?

Yes, you can add a water conditioner to a discus tank. It will remove unwanted metals and chlorine responsible for water hardness and break down the chloramines. Depending on the tank size, it works instantly or takes approximately one day to complete if used as recommended.

It’s important to know that using too much water conditioner can be detrimental to fish health.

However, not using a water conditioner will likely be far more fatal to the fish than using too much conditioner.

Every time you perform a water exchange or top off your freshwater aquarium, you should add a water conditioner to your tap water before pouring it into your aquarium.

Don’t directly add a water conditioner to the tank water.

It can be hazardous as you’re simply dumping toxic chemicals into your aquarium.

To sum it up, adding a water conditioner will eliminate the unwanted metals and chlorine from the water.

A water conditioner is safe for your discus unless you grossly exceed the recommended dosage.

Can Discus Live In Well Water?

Yes, discus can live in well water if it’s pure or after it’s treated for any contaminants. Although well water is usually free of chlorine, it can present several other issues. Unlike tap water that’s filtered, well water is unregulated and can be contaminated depending on the place.

Some fish owners use well water directly without any treatment, thinking it’s pure enough to use in a tank.

However, it depends on the location of the well. Well water won’t be pure enough for an aquarium in most cases.

The surroundings of the well determine the number of contaminants.

So treat the water because untreated water can contain harmful chemicals.

The water needs to be softened by passing it through an inline softener and tested yearly to check for bacterial infestation.

You can also oxygenate the water by filtering it through the pump to maintain the oxygen levels.

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