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Discus Fish Color Guide

Discus Fish Color Guide

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Have you been looking into buying discus fish for your home aquarium? These fish are gorgeous and can add aesthetic appeal to your fish tank.

Of course, there are different types of discus fish. You can find these fish in many different colors.

You also might be curious about whether discus fish can change colors. The color of the fish might play a role in which ones you’ll want to purchase for your tank.

Below, you’ll learn more about discus fish color. Use this information to make good decisions so you can be happy with your fish purchases.

What Colors Can Discus Fish Be?

There are so many different color variants of discus fish out there that you can buy. When you look at discus fish being sold in online aquarium stores you’ll stumble upon many colors.

You’ll see many fish that have standard primary colors such as red, brown, green, and blue. The variations that you see are going to come from the major discus species.

Discus fish have been bred in such ways as to create special variations. These variations will have special colors, stripes, and patterns.

The main discus fish are Heckel discus, brown discus, blue discus, and green discus. All of the variations are the result of crossbreeding between the species.

The Heckel Discus

The Heckel discus has the distinction of being the first discus fish that was discovered. This fish is actually named after the individual that discovered the species.

There are two variants of this species that are popular. You’ll find both red and blue versions of these fish.

One of the biggest distinguishing features of the Heckel discus dish is that they have three prominent bold vertical bars. They also appear to be rather round and are much rounder than the other discus fish that you will find.

The Brown Discus

There are many different varieties of this fish, but the main brown discus fish will typically have a yellowish-brown body. They also have spots and stripes that stand out.

You’ll see that the brown discus fish has pelvic fins that are slim and notably long. The pectoral fins on these fish are transparent.

This fish is considered to be a subspecies of the green discus fish. So the two share some similarities.

The Blue Discus

Blue discus fish have a unique and colorful look. Their bodies are greenish-blue in some spots and yellowish-brown in other spots.

They have anal and dorsal fins that are either deep blue or red. Their blue markings help them to stand out in a fish tank.

As you might expect, many breeders have used blue discus fish as a base to create many variant fish. The unique markings and coloration of this fish help a lot when it comes to breeding colorful variations.

The Green Discus

Green discus fish have bodies that are yellowish-brown much like the brown discus fish mentioned earlier. They stand apart from these brown discus fish due to having greenish-blue lines going from their heads to the upper portions of their bodies.

The lower parts of the body will feature red spots as well. Both the anal and dorsal fin are greenish-blue in color, but they also have red lines.

These are very pretty fish that have been bred to make even more colorful variants. So green discus fish are quite useful.

Can Discus Change Color?

Discus fish can change color for several different reasons. It’s common for these fish to change color after water changes.

Since you’ll be doing water changes frequently for these fish, you’ll notice the color changes in the tank. They change colors because they’re very sensitive to even small changes in the water.

The fish can also change color when they become stressed in the tank. So fish that are dealing with stress might change color.

When these fish get darker it’s generally a sign that they’re stressed or sick. So you want to pay attention to how your fish looks so you can make decisions that will protect them.

Why Do Discus Fish Turn Black?

Several different things can cause discus fish to turn black. Typically, this is a negative sign that something is seriously wrong in the tank.

Sometimes the fish will turn totally black and this is truly bad. You might also see what is known as “black peppering.”

This occurs when the fish has black spots appear on the body. Both types of color changing shouldn’t be seen as positive.

Discus fish might turn black when they get very stressed. This could be happening due to there not being enough discus fish in the tank.

Sometimes this will happen due to poor water quality as well. It could even be related to overcrowding in the tank.

Sickness can cause these fish to turn black as well. So you should try to check to see if your fish is dealing with some type of illness or infection.

Note that there are some types of discus fish that have black spots or markings normally. For example, marbled discus will have a bit of a black appearance and that isn’t something to be alarmed with.

Marbled discus fish are relatively new and come from China. So not everyone knows these fish yet, but they have made their way to some Western aquariums.

Why Is My Discus Fish Losing Color?

Discus fish will lose color naturally as they age. Age will cause these fish to fade over time.

These fish live for an average of ten years in captivity. As the fish continues to age it might lose some of the vibrancy that it once had.

So aging is something that you can’t help. Some color loss is normal over the years.

Fish may also lose color when they get stressed or become sick, though. Water parameter issues can also make it so the fish will lose color.

Even issues such as not feeding the fish optimally can play a role. So basic care issues might be to blame if your discus fish isn’t all that old yet.

Will Different Colored Discus Breed With Each Other?

Yes, all colors and types of discus fish are capable of breeding. Different types of discus fish can breed and create healthy offspring.

This is how most of the variants that you see being sold in stores came into being. People breed the various types of discus fish to create new versions with discus fish colors.

You’ll also find that this is why most discus fish have similar care requirements. When you buy discus fish at the store you’re usually buying crossbreeds that have been bred to be colorful and pretty.

These fish all generally grow to be close to the same size. If you wish to attempt to breed these fish you should know that it isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can test your patience.

Most enthusiasts recommend not breeding discus fish unless you have experience. These fish grow to be large so figuring out what to do with all of the fish can be tough if you’re successful.

Final Thoughts

There are so many different types of discus fish that you can buy. There are only four main types, but there are so many crossbreed variants that come in different colors.

You can find many exotic-looking fish that have interesting patterns. It shouldn’t be that hard to find discus fish that are truly stunning for your tank.

No matter what discus fish you choose to purchase it’ll be important to care for them well. These fish are a bit delicate and don’t do well in tanks with poor water quality.

So be sure that you’re committed to giving the fish the best care. Otherwise, it’s not good to even buy these fish.

You also need to know that discus fish are large. There aren’t any discus fish that stay small so you need to have room for a large tank to keep these fish healthy.

Make good decisions and you can have a great time with discus fish. You’ll love how they look in your aquarium.

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