Compatible Species Image

Compatible Discus Species

Discus keepers fall into a number of categories. Amongst these there is the out and out enthusiast who will not entertain anything other than a bare bottomed, sterilised environment and the Tropical fish-keeper who wants to keep Discus in his living room, but also wants to create a living picture, plants, tank mates, decor etc.

It is of course perfectly understandable that anything in the home has to look good, however it is essential that the basic requirements of the Discus are never overlooked and that any additional fish, or plants cannot just survive but thrive in these conditions.

For the purpose of this article we are going to assume you have an established fifty-gallon aquarium and want to add some Discus to it. I am also assuming you have some form of water preparation filter, RO, HMA, deioniser etc and that you have an understanding of a Discus's basic needs as far as water quality goes. I would recommend that a pH 7, dGh 10, dKh 6, conductivity 500ms and 30C temperature is a good compromise of all the opinions available. The golden rule being, match your water to that of the Discus supplier.

How Many Discus Can I Have?

Well this is where the first debate starts; many people will quote various fish to gallons ratios, one Discus per eight gallons etc. I personally don't actually agree. I would suggest adding six 10cm Discus and if all goes well then if you wish by all means add a few more, and you can mix the various strains with out fear. I would however advise buying your Discus from a single source and to avoid "the plague" don't mix fish from Europe with Asian Discus. Choose one or the other.

Discus are of course by and largely tank bred these days but originate from the Amazon tributaries in South America. Various companies advertising in this magazine sell a range of plants as a package for this type of aquarium.

The classic Discus aquarium will have a large 50 - 100 shoal of Cardinal Tetras, some Cory Dora catfish, one or two Algae eaters such as Bristle nosed Plecos. You can add basically anything that is non aggressive especially at feeding time and will thrive in the warmer water. This will include fish not necessarily from the Amazon region. I have seen allsorts of both compatible and non-compatible tank mates over the years.


Cardinal Tetras, Congo Tetras, Red Nosed Tetras, Clown Loach, Rams, Clown Pleco, Bristle Nosed Pleco and Corydoras (although some consider the water too warm).

Not Compatible

Barbs, Neon Tetras, Common and Gibicep Plecos, most livebearers such as Guppies, Swords etc. large fish such as Oscars.

Grey Area

Angels. I have never kept Angels with Discus for any length of time, and when I did I had no visible problems at all, but that said the general consensus of opinion is that Discus and angels should be kept apart. But there is always the exception to the rule!

Whats Discus Owners Say

I have asked some of my customers and Discus forum members what they keep in their Discus aquariums, here are some of the responses:

Sye Davis - Hystrix Sting Ray.

Peter Griffiths - Bristlenose, Loaches, Rams.

Ivan Gibson - Corydoras and Bristlenose.

Sid Adam - I keep Australian rainbows and fetherfin rainbows with mine, even the occasional fighter too........done gouramis aswell..........oh and of course angels and even some gardneri killi fish (with fish at the lower end of the temp scale).

Melanie from Scotland - Nothing at the moment as my discus seem to pick on anything that moves. I have even had to remove the cory strebai as they had no fins left. The only other living things in with them now is MT snails but I do have a snowball plec and apistos in a separate tank that I hope when bigger will be able to go in with the discus. I've got two breeding pairs and looks like another pair forming so I presume that's why they give everybody else such a hard time.

Mike OS - Usual mix, neons, cardinals, rummy nose, lemon tetra, corries, ansistrus spp, small plecs, hatchets, more Discus, various botia spp.

Kenliz - Cardinals, Gold Bristlenoses, Clown Loaches, Bolivians Rams that's it nothing to unusual I'm afraid. I forgot to add the cory Sterbia's and bronze corries.

Plecostomus - 1 Betta(female), 2 Angelfish, 1 Skunk Lunch, 1 Clown Loach, 1 Plecostomus Grape - Carinals, Bristlenose, Albino Corys.

Skippy - Corydoras, Neon Tetras.

Milton - Cardinals, Lemon Tetra, Pencil Fish, Corydoras, Glass Catfish.

Power Cuts - Glass Catfish.

King Borris - Cardinals, cory duplicareus, ancistrus timmenkii, and just recently added a pair of Apisto Trifsciata.

Whatever you want to add to your aquarium be sure to read up on the subject first and keep on top of water quality!!

Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association