20 Best Tank Mates For Discus Fish

Many aquarists choose to keep discus fish as their solitary pet in the tank, but is this really the best decision?

What if there are other fish that can be kept with discus to make a more interesting and vibrant display?

Let me tell you that there are some good tankmates out there including other types of Cichlids, small schooling fish, and peaceful bottom dwellers.

However, it is important to do your research before adding any new fish to your tank, as some may not be compatible with the discus.

And to make your life much easier, we put together a list of the best tank mates for discus fish that can turn your aquarium into a tropical paradise.

But before we go deeper into this list, first, we need to understand how to choose your beloved discus tank mates.

What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Discus Fish?

If you want to school your Discus with other species, you need to keep in mind that not all fish get along. 

In fact, the majority of them don’t!

For this reason, it’s generally a better idea to start with the Discus and expand your collection around them rather than the other way around.

This is due to the fact that discus have their own special tank requirements that may or may not be suitable for other fish.

Here are a few guidelines:

1. Temperature

The first thing you need to consider before choosing your discus tank mate is the water parameters.

This is because each fish has its own water preferences which may not play well with your beloved discus.

Discus are naturally found in rather hot regions in the Amazon basin, and they prefer their aquarium water to be much hotter than most other popular species, generally between 82 to 86 degrees.

This can make it quite difficult to find a suitable tank mate, as most fish species can’t survive in such harsh environments.

So, make sure to get a fish that originally lives in high temperatures.

2. Water Hardness

Another important factor to take into consideration when choosing tank mates for your discus fish is the water hardness.

While most fish species prefer hard water, discus can only live in soft and acidic water.

So, when choosing your discus tank mates, you need to take into consideration that they prefer the same water conditions.

3. Characteristics

If you’ve kept Discus before, you know that they aren’t the most aggressive cichlids around.

They are very peaceful creatures that are known to share their tank with other fish types without any problems.

And due to the fact that peaceful species, like every other living thing, may be bullied, tank mates that are hyperactive, aggressive, or any species that is known to bother their tank mates might easily upset your discus.

Therefore, when it comes to picking fish to combine with your discus, you must choose the ones who share the same temperament.

4. Tank size

This is another crucial factor that you can’t afford to overlook.

Discus are big and active, they grow fast and become very demanding in terms of tank space after just a few months.

So, if you decide to make a discus school, make sure to get a large tank to house all of the fish you want to keep comfortably.

And don’t forget that crowded fish are unhappy fish!

5. Biotope

Keeping things as natural as possible is a popular choice among aquarists when it comes to creating an ideal Discus environment.

This entails constructing a biotope tank that closely resembles the Discus’ natural dark-watered Amazon habitat and only using tankmates from the same region or habitat.

Best Discus Tank Mate

1. Corydoras Sterbai

This species originates from South American sluggish waterways, which makes them ideal Discus tank companions in terms of water requirements.

Although all Corydoras types are suitable discus tank mates temperamentally, we prefer Sterba’s Corydoras (Corydoras sterbai) because it is a large species that can endure higher temperatures.

An Amazon biotope set-up is ideal for both Corydoras sterbai and Discus, so feel free to add leaf litter and driftwood!

Note: If you want to keep Corydoras Sterbai with your Discus, purchase at least a school of six fish.

2. German Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)

This dwarf cichlid comes from Venezuela and is known as microgeophagus.

It dwells in the slow-moving waters of the Orinoco river basin and shares territory with other calm animals.

Microgeophagus ramirezi are omnivores that eat insects, worms, larvae, crustaceans, and plants, which matches your Discus diet.

This beautiful species is not particularly aggressive unless it feels threatened, However, it can be a real bully when it is.

You’ll need a tank with at least 20 gallons (75 L) of water and lots of plants and driftwood to keep this fish comfortable.

3. Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)

The African Bullfrog is a distant relative of the German Ram, with many of its likes and dislikes in common.

The ram is a small fish that grows to be about three inches (7 cm) in length.

This species, like your discus, loves an adequately planted tank with plenty of swimming area.

They also like to be kept in a group of at least six individuals, so keep that in mind.

4. Golden Rams

The Golden Ram Cichlids (Papiliochromis/Microgeophagus ramirezi) are a tiny cichlid species that originate in the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and Colombia.

They require a large aquarium; the smallest size is 40 gallons (140 L), but the larger the better.

Additionally, like other shy Discus fish, they prefer soft, acidic water.

5. Stricterbai Cory (Corydoras Sterbai)

The Strict Cory is a South American fish that lives in fast-flowing streams. It has a peaceful disposition and spends most of its time scavenging along the tank bottom.

These fish are an old favorite among Discus keepers because of their tranquil dispositions that make them ideal candidates for a biotope-style aquarium with Discus.

Additionally, they’re bottom-dwellers that excel at keeping the floor clean, just like the other Corydoras species.

Because of their natural tendencies, they are accustomed to dealing with the strong biofilm that discus leaves behind.

6. Tetras (Characidae)

The tetras are a wonderful and popular choice to pair with discus.

The benefit of these fish is their passive schooling behavior.

Other fish see this and take it as a signal that no predators are around, which helps to alleviate stress.

Select a species large enough so that it will not be eaten by your discus.

Try lemons, Congo, cardinals, neon, rummy noses, emperors, or Buenos Aires tetras for your experiment.

7.  Marbled Hatchetfish (Carnegiella strigata)

The unusual shape of the hatchet fish lends its name.

Hatchetfish are generally kept as tankmates for Discus, although we’ll concentrate on the particularly popular marbled hatchetfish here.

They reside in a different water layer than Discu fish, making them ideal friends.

The hatchetfish like lots of hanging vegetation and hiding places, whereas discus fish want a lot of free swimming space, so you’ll have to come up with clever decorations to suit both.

Floating plants are an excellent way for the hatchetfish to feel secure and to encourage school behavior, to get a gaggle of 10 or more fish.

One thing about hatchetfish that needs to be mentioned is their acrobatic ability.

These fish are jumpers, particularly when startled. If your aquarium does not have a lid, this species should be avoided because it will most certainly leap out sooner or later.

8.  Apistogramma (genus)

Apistogramma is the genus name for a collection of over 90 cichlid species.

Adult sizes range from 0.8 to 3.1 inches (2-8 cm) in length, and they come from numerous areas in South America.

They have a variety of hues, with the males being more brightly colored.

Apistos are popular tank mates because they like the same temperature of the water as discus, and since they stay near the bottom of the tank and have close-by hiding areas, they will keep your discus away.

Keep in mind that these fish can be territorial, so provide numerous hiding places for them.

9. Pleco (small L-numbers)

The mating of L-number catfish (also known as Plecos) and Discus fish is a contentious issue.

The problem stems from the fact that certain types of Plecos perceive the discus’ thick slime coat as a delectable meal.

They attach to the relatively sluggish discus and attempt to rasp off the slime coat, injuring their target in the process.

However, many fish owners have had no difficulties integrating Plecos and Discus into their aquariums.

What’s the trick? Choose a dwarf Pleco instead of a larger one like the Common Pleco or Sailfin pleco.

Dristlenoses, Zebra Plecos, and Orange Spot Plecos are often kept in groups with Discus.

Despite the fact that Dristlenoses are frequently stated to prefer cooler surroundings, keepers have discovered them to withstand Discus temperatures as long as they don’t get too scorching.

10. Malaysian Trumpet Snail / MTS (Melanoides tuberculata)

The MTS consumes algae and detritus, and it will even dig into the substrate to get at food.

They are a beneficial part of a tank cleanup crew since their burrowing aerates the substrate and prevents the formation of deadly gasses.

They are a tiny species that grows up to 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) in length with an operculum, or trap door, that protects them from predators.

The discus and MTS pair well since they are in a different water level and need the same kinds of light flow water circumstances.

Make sure you don’t overstock them because doing so has a significant influence on the bioload and can result in higher nitrate and ammonia levels.

11. Assassin Snail (Clea helena)

Do you require assistance with cleaning up after your Discus tank? The meat-eating Assassin Snail isn’t just one who eats snails; it’s also a scavenger that will devour any other meaty bits it encounters.

A squad of these individuals can really assist in eliminating any leftovers that your Discus have overlooked, preventing water quality problems in the process.

It’s important to remember if you want to keep Assassin Snails in your discus tank that snails prefer a somewhat higher pH and harder water than Discus.

Why?

Because if the water is too soft, shell deterioration can occur.

Try to maintain a temperature level at or below the lower end of the preferred range for your Discus.

And then feed your Discus with calcium-rich foods as counterbalance (I recommend Hikari Crab Cuisine, but raw Zucchini will also suffice).

12.  Clown loaches

Clown loaches are amusing fish since they’re active during the day but hide from bright lights.

As a result, provide them with lots of hiding places in the aquarium and they’ll be an excellent Discus tank mate.

Because clown loaches may grow to be big individuals, you must ensure that your tank is large enough.

Clown loaches also enjoy snails, which can accumulate at the bottom of your tank and cause problems.

When you have clown loaches swimming about, there’s no need to worry about cleaning up those pesky little snails.

13. Yo-yo Loach (Botia almorhae)

The yo-yo loach is a species of northern Indian and Nepalese origin.

They have a beautiful pattern covering their body and are available in silver, blue, and gold hues.

Despite the fact that they have an average length of 2.5 inches (6 cm), they require a great deal of room for optimum health.

Discus and loaches are one of the most popular fish tank combinations, especially because they are both hardy and beautiful.

The loach’s curiosity may be too much for your discus, therefore, so pay close attention to their interaction.

14. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

The Amano shrimp is a tiny, transparent species native to Asia.

It is one of the biggest “dwarf” shrimp breeds, growing up to two inches (5 cm) in length as an adult.

These docile and energetic omnivores are extremely popular among hobbyists, who use them as part of a tank clean-up crew and readily consume any leftovers.

During their molt, the Amano is best kept in a heavily planted tank with lots of hiding places so that they may be safe while molting.

15. Beckford’s Pencilfish (Nannostomus beckfordi)

The less-frequently chosen Beckford’s Pencilfish (as well as other Pencilfish species) are also excellent choices because they are tranquil and should reach a reasonable size before being eaten.

They tend to prefer a somewhat higher water level than Discus, although the temperature shouldn’t be an issue as long as you stay near the lower end of the suggested range.

The Discus pencilfish, like the Discus, prefer dimly lit aquariums with plenty of driftwood and floating plants with long roots for concealment.

They might be skittish in larger groups, so go ahead and obtain as many of these bright little fish as possible.

16. Apisto Agassizi

Apisto agassizis come in red, gold, and blue, with bodies that are lengthy and have a dark horizontal line down them.

The apisto agassizi has the ability to alter color according to its mood.

So you’ll be able to tell when it’s happy and when it’s sad.

They’re low-maintenance pets that make excellent companions for Discus.

17. Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)

The silver arowana is a huge South American fish with an unusual upturned mouth and fins that run down the body to an undersized tail.

They have a distinct, downturned mouth and fins that run down the body to an undersized tail.

The arowana is a large, aggressive predator that grows to three feet in length when fully grown.

They have a fast growth rate, and keeping them in an under-sized tank can cause aggressiveness and developmental problems.

It’s very important to introduce the arowana to an established discus tank last, ensuring that it is very young. As with any hostile

18. Twig Catfish (Sturisoma Panamense)

If you want to add catfishes to your Discus aquarium, but would rather have a species that is more attractive in appearance than the Plecos, Royal Whiptail or Twig catfish are two good options.

It’s a great choice as a Discus tank companion since it has a tranquil and peaceful nature, so there will be very little conflict with Discus because these species like to attach themselves to surfaces in the aquarium, such as driftwood.

It’s advised that the Twig catfish be watched more carefully than other excellent Discus fish tank companions.

19. Rainbow Fish

The Rainbowfish is a kind of fish that is animated; they are quiet and get along well with Discus fish that are fearful and non-violent.

They prefer a huge aquarium with plenty of vegetation and gravel inlets, as well as plenty of room to swim.

Also, they require the same water as Discus fish, with a temperature of about 76 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, these species are fed a commercial-based blend of vegetables and meat, as well as flakes and pellets.

20. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

The harlequin rasbora is a popular aquarium fish with distinctive markings.

It originated in Southeast Asia and is resilient, easy to care for, and grows to be about two inches long as an adult (5 cm).

When combining harlequin rasboras with discus, keep the water temperature in the lower end of the discus’ range.

Rasboras in a large school are wonderful dither fish that can help calm down a tank.

Make sure there’s enough swimming room because rasboras and discus will swim at the same levels.

Plants that still live will provide hiding places for the rasboras as needed.

FAQS

Are Tank Mates Really Necessary?

While many aquarists choose to keep their Discus alongside other fish species, we’d like to clarify that tankmates are not required in your Discus tank.

In fact, a Discus-only aquarium may be the ideal way to begin – especially if you’re inexperienced. Fewer fish means fewer problems!

Keeping some well-chosen tankmates with your Discus, on the other hand, is advantageous.

Discus are often regarded as nervous and easily frightened.

Dither fish (tetras) for example, can provide a sense of security for your Discus and allow them to reveal themselves more.

Why?

If a school of prey fish like Tetras are swimming free, it’s an indication that there aren’t any immediate threats for the Discus which make them comfortable.

Where Do Discus Fish Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

They are free-swimming fish, so they enjoy the open water, but they need the option to hide as well, so plants or driftwood in their tank are necessary.

They will generally stay in the center of their tank, however, they may rise to the top or bottom of the tank to eat.

The Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Discus Fish in Your Aquarium

As we mentioned, Discus fish don’t need to be housed with other fish, but there are a few advantages that your Discus can get if they’re kept in groups.

  • Because Discus fish are notorious for being susceptible to stress, adding a calm species to their tank might help them relax.
  • Other aquarium fish, including the same type of fish that you already have, will look fantastic in the tank with your Discus. They’ll also contribute diversity to your tank, which will make it healthier and less prone to illness and bacteria.
  • Snails and bottom-feeding fish will consume the leftover food from your Discus, helping to keep your tank clean and healthy while also reducing the amount of cleaning you have to do.

Won’t Discus Fish Attack Their Tank Mates?

It’s possible, depending on the fish you choose to keep with them, but they will not typically attack other fish.

Discus fish are one of the most peaceful of all home aquarium fish even during breeding season!

Therefore, you shouldn’t have any issues as long as they’re matched with similarly peaceful species of fish.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Do not keep Discus with any other aggressive fish. These are some of the following species that should not be combined:

  • Piranhas
  • Oscars
  • Severums
  • Flowerhorns

Last Words

In general, it’s a good idea to do some research before you purchase your fish and get your tank ready.

So, when you’re in the market for a tankmate for your Discus, keep these things in mind and plan ahead.

We hope you have enjoyed this article as much as we did.

If you still have any questions, please share them with us in the comment section below.