Discus fish are sought-after aquarium fish for several different reasons. Most people love them simply because of how pretty they look, but they’re also a lot of fun to observe.
You might be thinking of buying some discus fish for your home aquarium sometime soon. This could be a great choice, but there are many things to consider before moving forward.
For example, it’s best to learn about discus fish so you’ll know if they’ll make sense for your tank or not. If you plan to use the discus fish in a community tank setting, you might be worried about their level of aggression.
Are discus fish aggressive, or are they fairly peaceful fish? Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about these popular fish.
Discus Fish Aren’t Usually Aggressive
Aggression isn’t a normal thing for discus fish. Typically, these fish are a bit shy, and they’re known to hide a lot in fish tanks.
It’s more common to see discus fish hide than it is to see them act aggressively toward their tank mates. Of course, some occasions will cause these fish to be more aggressive than usual.
Even so, you shouldn’t expect aggression to be a problem when buying discus fish. They should do well in community fish tanks so long as you put them in tanks with compatible tank mates.
Why Is My Discus So Aggressive?
What if your discus fish is acting aggressively? Is there something that causes these fish to act more aggressively than normal?
A few things could be happening if your fish is being more aggressive than usual. One thing to know is that discus fish become more aggressive when they’re spawning.
When discus fish are getting ready to mate, they will become more aggressive toward other discus fish and their tank mates. They do this to try to keep the other fish away from the area where they’re going to lay their eggs.
So it could be that the fish are mating, and they will be less aggressive when that process is over. Try to look for signs of mating and see if you can spot any eggs in the tank.
Other things can cause discus fish to be aggressive as well. Below, you’ll learn a bit about some of the other reasons why discus fish become aggressive.
1 – Not Being Fed Enough
You should consider whether you’ve been feeding the fish enough. When you give discus fish an inadequate amount of food, it might cause them to become aggressive.
More fighting might occur simply because the fish are agitated and hungry. Also, you might notice the fish fighting to get to the food when you attempt to feed them.
It’s better to follow a schedule when feeding discus fish to keep things consistent. Generally, you feed adult discus fish twice per day.
You’ll have an easy time feeding them in the morning before work and then once more when you get home from work. Try to stick to a schedule that’s simple to remember like this, and you’ll get good results.
2 – Overcrowded Fish Tanks
Putting discus fish in tanks that are too small will work out poorly. These fish don’t do well in tanks that are tiny or crowded.
So you should pay close attention to the tank’s size and how many fish you’re putting into it. Never try to cram too many fish into a small tank.
Most people say that it’s best to put discus fish in rather large fish tanks. Many people even purchase huge tanks that offer 75 gallons of space.
The tank size that you’ll need will depend on how many fish you plan to put in the tank. If you’re setting up a community tank, it’s better to go with something larger so all of the fish will have more than enough room.
3 – Too Few Discus Fish in the Tank
Discus fish are schooling fish, and they need to be kept in groups. If you keep too few discus fish in the tank, they will act in an unusual manner.
For instance, putting just two discus fish in the tank won’t work out well. It’s said that the minimum number of discus fish that should be kept in a tank is between three and five.
Many enthusiasts say you should keep six or more discus in one tank, though. If you have enough room for a larger tank, it’d be good to go with six discus fish.
The discus fish will be more confident and will display normal behavior when kept in appropriately-sized groups. So do your best to make good choices.
4 – Poor Water Conditions
Poor water conditions can stress your fish and make them do strange things. When the water starts to get too dirty, it’ll be dangerous for the discus fish too.
Discus fish are delicate and can die when the water conditions get too far away from where they should be. If your fish are being aggressive, it could be due to water quality issues.
Test your water using pH balance testing kits often. This will allow you to make adjustments whenever something is a bit off.
Be a proactive fish tank owner who stays on top of things. This will protect your fish and make it less likely that they will be aggressive.
How to Reduce Discus Fish Aggression
To reduce discus fish aggression, you will need to identify and solve any of the problems mentioned above. Keep the fish in a tank that is more than big enough for the number of fish that you’re keeping.
Put many hiding spots in the tank so the fish can get away from each other and their tank mates. This helps to keep fights from breaking out in the aquarium.
Do your best to stick to a feeding schedule so your fish can have enough to eat. Adult discus fish should be fed twice per day, while juveniles need to eat three times per day.
Keep a close eye on the water parameters and clean the fish tank regularly. If you handle the basics well, aggression issues should be few and far between.
How to Stop Discus Fish Bullying
Earlier, you learned that discus fish are a bit shy. It’s a bit more common for these fish to get bullied than it is for them to do the bullying.
So you need to look out for them in community tanks. To stop discus fish bullying, ensure that community tanks have plenty of hiding spots for the fish.
This means placing little caves in the tank as well as live plants. Discus fish feel more comfortable living in planted aquariums.
Also, you must only put compatible tank mates in the community tank with the discus fish. Do your research ahead of time to avoid severe bullying problems.
Combine this with putting the fish in a fish tank that’s the right size, and bullying won’t be a problem. So long as you plan ahead, everything will go smoothly.
Why Do Discus Fish Chase Each Other?
Discus fish like to swim together, and sometimes it might appear that they’re chasing each other. It could simply be that the fish are playing.
It’s also true that some chasing activity is related to mating. So there might be a bit of chasing or “dancing” when two fish are pairing up for mating purposes.
Typically, it’s not something that you need to worry about. When keeping discus fish in groups of the right size, chasing shouldn’t be a problem.
Males might try to squabble here and there, but it isn’t a big deal. Chasing normally isn’t something that means a fight is about to occur.
You’ve learned a lot about discus fish and how aggressive you can expect them to be. It’s more common to have issues with discus fish being too shy than it is to deal with aggression problems.
There are things that can make discus fish a bit more aggressive than normal, though. You have to watch out for common issues such as poor water quality, overcrowded fish tanks, a lack of food, and more.
So long as you do the best job you can to care for the fish, everything will be fine. You just need to provide discus fish with an adequate environment.
When setting up a community tank, it’s best to plan things meticulously. You have to pick safe tank mates for these fish so they won’t be bullied.
Now that you know what to do, you can start preparing your discus fish tank. Buy a large enough tank and fill it with compatible fish so you can enjoy owning a beautiful community aquarium.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.