Discus Fish Lifespan: How Long Do They Live for?

Are you afraid your discus fish won’t live very long? Relax! With the proper care, your discus fish can live for a decade or more. So, how long do discus fish live?

In fact, the average lifespan of a well-cared-for discus fish is 10 years. But there are always exceptions to the rule. Some discus fish have been known to live for 15 years or more.

I’ve done a great deal of research on the subject of discus fish lifespan. Also, I’ve discovered some interesting facts that may surprise you! In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned about the lifespan of these beautiful fish.

What Is the Lifespan of Discus Fish in the Wild?

In the wild, discus fish only live for 5 to 8 years due to the harsh conditions they endure. Discus fish are native to the Amazon River Basin in South America. The water in this region is murky and filled with pollutants.

In addition, they are constantly under stress due to predation and competition for food. These conditions take a toll on their health and shorten their lifespan.

Besides, the human encroachment on their natural habitat also contributes to the decline of wild discus fish populations. Deforestation and water pollution are major threats to their survival.

How Can I Prolong Discus Fish Life Expectancy?

Stimulate Their Natural Habitat

When I say “stimulate their natural habitat,” I mean you should try to recreate the Amazon River Basin in your home aquarium. Discus fish are accustomed to living in warm, murky water with a lot of vegetation.

So, the first step is to adjust their water flow to make them feel comfortable. Discus fish like a slow water flow, so make sure the filter you use doesn’t create too much turbulence in the tank.

The second step is to add some plants to their habitat. Discus fish love to hide among the leaves, so choose plants that have large leaves. I recommend Amazon Sword Plants, Annubias, or Java Fern.

The third step is to put substrate at the bottom of their tank. Discus fish like to burrow in the substrate, so choose a material that won’t hurt their delicate fins. I recommend using sand, gravel, or small rocks.

The fourth and final step is to adjust the Lighting. Discus fish come from an area of the world that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. So, it’s important to recreate this environment in their tank. I recommend using a low-wattage fluorescent bulb.

By following these steps, these guys will never feel like they are in a foreign environment, and their stress levels will stay low.

Choose Quality Breeding Discus Fish

Breeding discus fish is recent history. The first Discus fish were bred in Germany in the early 1900s. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that Discus fish became widely available to the general public.

Since then, Discus fish have been bred in captivity all over the world. As a result, there are now many different strains of Discus fish. And each strain has its own unique characteristics.

Some Discus fish strains are more resistant to disease than others. And some other strains live longer than others. So, when you are choosing Discus fish for your tank, be sure to choose a high-quality strain.

To do this, you should only buy from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will have healthy fish that are free of disease. In addition, a reputable breeder will be able to tell you which Discus fish strains are the longest-lived.

Strive for Proper Water Conditions

Like any other living creature, Discus fish need clean water to thrive. So, it’s important to maintain proper water conditions in their tank.

These are the water temperature you should aim for:

Water Cycling

One of the most dangerous things you can do to your Discus fish is to leave them in stagnant water. Over time, the water will develop every kind of bacteria and fungus imaginable. Thus, your fish will be exposed to all of these dangerous pathogens.

Therefore, you should do a water change of at least 50% every week. This will remove the build-up of toxins in the water and give your fish a fresh start.

In addition, you should cycle your Discus fish tank. Cycling is the process of adding beneficial bacteria to your tank that will help to break down waste products.

To cycle your Discus fish tank, you will need to add a product that contains live bacteria. I recommend using a product like Tetra SafeStart Plus.

Water Temperature

Discus are native to Brazil, which is a very warm country. As a result, Discus are accustomed to living in water that is quite warm.

The ideal water temperature for Discus fish is between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain this water temperature, you will need to use an aquarium heater.

I recommend using an adjustable aquarium heater. That way, you can dial in the exact temperature you need. To monitor the water temperature, you can use an aquarium thermometer.

pH Level & Water Hardness

In the murky waters of the Amazon River, Discus fish are used to living in water with a low pH level. As a result, they are quite tolerant of changes in pH level.

The ideal pH level for them is between 6.0 and 7.0. To achieve this, you will need to use a water conditioner that lowers the pH level of your water.

As for water hardness, Discus fish are also quite tolerant. The ideal water hardness for Discus fish is between 1 and 4 dH.

Tank size

You might get fooled by their cute and small appearance, but Discus fish can actually grow quite large. The average Discus fish will reach a size of 7 to 9 inches.

For single Discus fish, I recommend a tank size of 10 gallons. However, these pals do better when they are in groups of at least 5-6 fish.

For example, if you start with six juvenile discus, you will need a Discus fish tank that is at least 55 gallons. As they grow, you will need to upgrade to a 75-gallon tank.

Aquarium Filter

The discus fish’s filthy nature demands a very efficient filtration system to maintain water quality and the health of your discus fish.

In my opinion, you should use an aquarium filter that is rated at least twice the size of your discus fish tank. For example, if you have a 50-gallon fish tank, you will need a filter that is rated for at least 100 gallons.

Provide Them with High-Quality Diet

Discus fish have a peculiar digestive system, and their diet should reflect that. They are not able to digest plant material very well, so a Discus fish diet should be mostly meat-based.

For optimum results, they require a diet high in protein, fat, and fiber. To meet their dietary needs, you should ensure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals.

Although vitamins have many benefits, they are not a source of energy. Instead, they support various bodily functions, including the immune system and reproduction.

Some options that will provide your fish with these essential nutrients include:

  • Bloodworms
  • Tubifex worms
  • White worms
  • Beef heart
  • Brine shrimp
  • Crustaceans
  • Vegetables and algae
  • Color flakes
  • Spirulina flakes
  • Tropical granules
  • Algae rounds
  • Shrimp pellets

Add Suitable Tank Mates 

These peaceful fish get along well with others and make good community tank mates. When you are stocking your fish tank, you should avoid any aggressive fish. Otherwise, your tank will turn into a war zone!

Also, these fish are quite sensitive to changes in water quality. So, you should avoid any fish that are known to be messy or produce a lot of waste.

Some good Discus fish tank mates include:

Monitor for Diseases

Once your Discus fish are acclimated to their new home, they will be quite hardy and resistant to disease. However, like all animals, they are still susceptible to illness.

Therefore you should watch for signs of disease, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gasping for air
  • White spots on the skin or fins
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Discoloration of the fins
  • Excessive mucus production

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action immediately. The sooner you catch and treat a disease, the better the chances are for a full recovery.

Last Words

Discus fish are some of the most beautiful freshwater fish available. They make a great addition to any aquarium and will provide you with hours of enjoyment.

With proper care, your Discus fish can live for many years, bringing beauty and joy to your home for many years to come.

Do you have Discus fish? What tips do you have for keeping them healthy and happy? Let us know in the comments below!