Taking care of discus fish is going to require a bit of work. These fish are a bit fragile and they can die if you make certain mistakes.
This is true for many types of fish, but you need to be especially careful with discus fish. Since they have a reputation for being somewhat difficult to care for, you might be worried that they won’t live for long.
How long do discus fish usually live? Do these fish have long lifespans when you care for them well or are they short-lived fish?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about discus fish lifespans. This will help you to understand what to expect.
How Long Do Discus Fish Live?
Discus fish can live for a long time if they’re cared for well. What about discus fish that you find in the wild?
You’d expect the lifespan of these fish to be different in the wild. After all, wild discus have to deal with predators and other problems that can shorten their lifespans.
In the wild, discus fish live for an average of ten years. This is actually consistent with how long captive discus fish live.
So you’ve learned that these are relatively long-lived fish so long as they’re living in ideal conditions. Now it’s just up to you to provide them with a good environment in your home aquarium.
How Long Do Discus Fish Live in a Tank?
In a fish tank, discus fish will live for an average of ten years. This is the same amount of time that most wild discus fish will live.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that discus fish will drop dead once they turn ten years old. These fish have the potential to live for a lot longer than ten years.
When cared for optimally, discus fish have been known to live for up to fifteen years in captivity. So you can continue to enjoy your fish for well over a decade if you put in the work.
It’s also possible for these fish to die in the first few years that you have them. Everything depends on how well you care for them.
What Preys on Discus Fish in the Wild?
Earlier, you learned that wild discus fish have to worry about predators. Since discus fish are quite big you might be wondering what preys on them.
Well, there are a number of different discus fish predators out there. Turtles are known to feed on discus fish.
There are also many types of birds that swoop down and grab discus fish to make a meal out of them. Then you have other fish that are known to eat discus fish.
Larger and more aggressive fish will eat discus fish in the wild. So there are many predators out there that can cut a discus fish’s life short.
How to Help Discus Fish Live Longer
Getting discus fish to live longer is mostly about focusing on giving them quality care. The right care will make it more likely that the fish will live for a long time.
If you want the fish to live for close to fifteen years you’ll need to do a very good job. Continue reading to learn about some of the aspects of care that you need to focus on.
If you’re able to do the necessary work you’ll have a great chance of helping your discus fish to live long lives. This will allow you to enjoy the fish for as long as possible.
Pristine Water Quality Is Crucial
Water quality is the most important thing when you want to keep your fish in good health. If the water quality is low the fish might get stressed and then become sick.
You need to monitor the water parameters closely. Ensure that the water is warm enough for these fish so they can stay comfortable.
Since they’re tropical fish they need the water temperature to stay between 82 degrees Fahrenheit and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a good heater that will prevent water temperature fluctuations.
The pH balance should be tested regularly to keep everything in line. Keep the pH numbers between 6.0 and 7.0.
You also don’t want the water to be too hard. Water hardness between 1 and 4 dKH is best.
You must clean the fish tank regularly as well. Tank maintenance is a huge part of keeping the fish healthy.
Clean the tank regularly and do multiple water changes per week. Most people do two water changes per week when caring for discus fish.
If you put in the necessary effort it’ll be easier to keep the fish in good shape. Your fish can live for a long time if you’re committed to tank maintenance.
The Fish Need Enough Room
Discus fish grow to be quite large at maturity. Your discus fish will be seven inches long before you know it and it might even reach nine inches long.
Since discus fish are large, they’re going to need space. You’re also supposed to keep them in groups.
So it’s imperative to buy the fish a tank that is more than large enough. Most enthusiasts agree that a 75-gallon aquarium is a good place to start with these fish.
The fish will get stressed if they’re forced to live in a cramped space. Putting discus fish in a small space can stunt their growth and it’ll also potentially cause them to die.
Stress can kill these fish over time. If you want the fish to stay healthy and live for a long time you must consider the tank size.
Also, never cram too many fish into the tank. When keeping these fish in community fish tanks you must ensure that all fish have enough room to thrive.
Feed the Fish Well
Feeding the fish well will be another big area of focus when trying to help the fish live for a long time. You need to make sure that these fish get enough to eat.
Generally, you’re meant to feed adult discus fish twice per day. Juvenile discus fish should be fed three times per day.
Discus fish need to eat the right amount of nutrients. The common food that you’ll be giving these fish will be prepared foods such as discus granules.
You’ll then supplement the diet with live foods such as bloodworms and shrimp. This will ensure that the fish are getting the right nutrients to remain healthy for a long time.
Stick to a consistent feeding schedule for the fish. When you do things this way it helps the fish to stay healthy and keeps them from getting stressed.
Keep Enough Discus Fish in the Tank
You should know that discus fish are schooling fish. In the wild, these fish live in groups, and that’s how they should live in captivity as well.
If you want the fish to be comfortable, you must keep enough of them in the tank. Keeping the discus fish in groups that are too small will lead to stress.
It’s said that keeping discus fish in groups of three to five will be acceptable. For the best results, keep discus fish in groups of six or more.
Since discus fish can grow to be rather large you’ll need a bigger tank if you intend to keep more fish. So consider all of the factors when deciding how many discus fish you should buy for your home aquarium.
Just know that you shouldn’t keep fewer than three fish in the tank. It’s better to go with even more fish than this if you have enough room for a bigger tank.
Watch Out for Incompatible Tank Mates
It’s normal to want to put discus fish in community tanks. They can do well in community aquariums, but things can also go wrong if you pick incompatible tank mates for them.
You must research compatible tank mates for these fish. Putting them in tanks with more aggressive fish might cause them stress.
In some cases, the fish might even have to deal with bullying. This could easily cause discus fish to die earlier than they should due to excessive stress.
Whenever you set up a community tank it’s important to take your time and get it right. You need to pick good compatible tank mates for the discus fish while also ensuring that the aquarium isn’t overcrowded.
Monitor the Tank for Diseases
For the most part, your fish will be unlikely to get sick if the water quality in the tank is high. Even so, it’s wise to monitor your fish and look for signs of diseases.
You want to take notice when your fish are acting sluggish or when they have unusual symptoms. Discus fish are known to contract many diseases such as ich, hole in the head disease, velvet disease, and more.
Recognizing sicknesses before they get too bad will allow you to treat them. If you wait to act, the fish might die before you have a chance to provide treatment.
Proactive fish tank owners who pay attention to their fish have a better chance of catching these problems. So do your best to look out for your fish to keep them alive and healthy.
Quarantine Incoming Fish and Plants
As a precaution, you should quarantine incoming fish and plants. When adding new fish or aquatic plants to the tank it’s best to quarantine them in a separate tank for two weeks.
This ensures that you won’t be bringing fish diseases, parasites, or bacteria into the tank. Monitor the quarantined fish to ensure that all is well.
When it comes to quarantining aquatic plants, you should do so in a tank with no fish. This should make it very unlikely that harmful bacteria or diseases will get carried into the tank by the plants.
Doing this is merely a precaution, but it’s an important tip to keep in mind. It can help to keep your fish safe from diseases.
Put Hiding Spots in the Tank
Putting hiding spots in the tank will make your discus fish more comfortable. They’ll feel less stressed if they have plants and little caves that they can hide in.
Wild discus fish love to hide in plants. Having more hiding spots in the tank will actually help these fish feel bolder.
They’ll be more likely to swim around in the tank when they know they have many hiding spots they can retreat to. So it’s worthwhile to keep aquatic plants and little caves in the aquarium.
Remember that you need to use plants that can survive in high temperatures. Amazon sword plants, anubias plants, and java ferns are all good choices.
You should feel more comfortable about buying discus fish now. These fish can live for at least ten years in your aquarium if you care for them well.
If you don’t care for the fish well, they might not even last for two years. So you do need to be committed to caring for the fish to the best of your ability.
It’s even possible for discus fish to live for up to fifteen years in captivity. When you care for these fish really well you will be rewarded by being able to enjoy them for longer.
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.