29 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?

Discus fish are social species that need at least a school of five fish to feel comfortable and secure in their environment. Otherwise, they may become withdrawn, stressed, and fall prey to disease.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to find the best tank mates for your discus fish tank so you can create a healthy, happy, and thriving aquarium environment for all.

What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Discus Fish?

To make good tank mates for discus fish, look for species that have similar water requirements and temperament.

Here are a few guidelines:

1. Temperature

One of the biggest issues you’ll face when finding tank mates for discus fish is water temperature.

These fish come from the Amazon basin, and they prefer their aquarium water to be quite warm, usually between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

This can be difficult to maintain in a community tank, so it’s important to find fish that can tolerate similar water temperatures.

2. pH Level

When it comes to pH levels, discus fish can be really picky. The ideal pH level for their aquarium is between 6 and 7.

Consequently, always double-check the pH level your new fish need before adding them to your tank.

If you found out that the fish you intend to buy needs a different pH level, it’s best to look for another species.

3. Water Hardness

Another factor that will affect which fish can be a good tank mate for discus fish is water hardness.

Discus fish prefer soft acidic water with a hardness level between 1 and 8 dGH.

Therefore, you should take a look at the water hardness requirements for any potential tank mates before adding them to your aquarium.

4. Temperament

These guys are peaceful and love to share their space with other fish without causing any trouble.

As a result, any fish that is hyperactive, aggressive, or territorial is likely to stress out your discus fish.

Therefore, when considering tank mates for your discus fish, try to find fish that have a similar peaceful temperament.

5. Tank size

Discus are big species that like to swim in open spaces. They can grow up to 6.5 inches in length, so they need a pretty big tank.

Ideally, a group of discus fish requires at least 75 gallons. So, don’t ever consider adding a fish that is bigger than your discus or that requires a significantly different tank size.

Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a lot of problems down the road. For example, your discus fish will fight for space and food turning the tank into a chaotic environment.

6. Biotope

Discus fish come from the Amazon rainforest where they inhabit blackwater rivers.

To recreate their natural habitat, you should look for fish that come from similar biotopes, such as the Nanay river in Peru, or the Rio Negro in Brazil.

This will ensure that your fish are comfortable in their new environment and reduce the risk of stress and disease.

Best Discus Tank Mate

1. Corydoras Sterbai

This species is native to South American rivers and streams, making them well-suited for living with Discus fish.

Although all Corydoras species are suitable tank mates, Sterba’s Corydoras (Corydoras sterbai) is the best since it can endure higher temperatures.

Corydoras Sterbai Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 and 7.6.
  • Temperature: 73-79 F
  • Size: 2.6 inches
  • Tank Size: at least 20 gallons
  • Community Tank: Six fish

2. German Ram (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi)

This dwarf cichlid is native to Venezuela and typically lives in the slow-moving waters of the Orinoco river basin. They are peaceful fish and often share territory with other calm species.

German Ram Characteristics

  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (75 L)
  • Diet Type: Omnivores (which matches your Discus diet)

3. Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus Altispinosus)

The African Bullfrog is a distant relative of the German Ram that has many of the same likes and dislikes. Like your discus, they require an adequately planted tank with plenty of swimming area.

Bolivian Ram Characteristics

  • Size: 3 inches (7 cm) in length
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Community Tank: At least six individuals

4. Marbled Hatchetfish (Carnegiella Strigata)

These fish species dwell in different water layers from your discus fish which makes them perfect buddies.

To make them feel at home, you should provide them with a heavily planted tank with plenty of floating plants to lessen the light intensity.

In addition, marbled hatchetfish are active jumpers so you should keep a tight-fitting lid on your tank to prevent them from escaping.

Marbled Hatchetfish Characteristics

  • Care Level: Extremely easy
  • pH Level: 5.8-6.9
  • Temperature: 74 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1.4 inches on average
  • Tank Size: 20-gallon tank
  • Community Tank: 10 fish or more

5. Apistogramma (genus)

The Apistogramma is a genus of over 90 cichlid species. They come in an array of colors, with the males having more vivid colors.

However, they can be aggressive sometimes, so add plenty of hiding places to make them feel secure in their environment.

Apistogramma Characteristics

  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 0.8 to 3.1 inches (2-8 cm) in length
  • Temperature: 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit (the same as discus)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

6. Assassin Snail (Clea Helena)

Do you want help cleaning up after your Discus? The meat-eating Assassin Snail isn’t only a snipper, but it’s also a scavenger that will consume any other fleshy bits it discovers.

This will help keep your aquarium clean and reduce ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates that result from uneaten food and fish waste.

It’s critical to note that snails need higher pH and harder water than discus, because when the water is too soft, their shell may deteriorate.

In addition, you should provide them with calcium-rich foods as a counterbalance (I recommend Hikari Crab Cuisine, but raw Zucchini will also suffice).

Assassin Snail Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Levels: 7.5 and 8.0 pH
  • Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: Around an inch long
  • Tank Size: 10-gallon minimum is fine for them

7. Yo-yo Loach (Botia Almorhae)

Yo-yo loaches have a beautiful pattern covering their body that is available in silver, blue, and gold hues.

It is important to monitor their interaction carefully, as their curiosity can be detrimental to your discus.

Yo-yo Loach Characteristics

  • Origin: Northern Indian and Nepalese
  • Size: 2.5 inches (6 cm) in length
  • Color: Silver body and black patterns
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful

8. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

Amano shrimps are docile and energetic species, which hobbyists employ as part of a tank clean-up team that consumes any leftovers.

During their molt, they need to feel secure and undisturbed. Thus, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places in your aquarium.

Amano Shrimp Characteristics

  • Origin: Asia
  • Size: Two inches (5 cm) in length
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet Type: Omnivorous

9. Beckford’s Pencilfish (Nannostomus Beckfordi)

Beckford’s Pencilfish are peaceful and schooling fish, which do best in small groups but might be skittish in larger groups

To give them the perfect environment, provide them with dim lighting, plenty of driftwood, and floating plants with long roots that can serve as hiding places.

Beckford’s Pencilfish Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Level: 5.5-7.0
  • Temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches long
  • Tank Size:  29 gallons
  • Diet Type: Omnivorous

10. Apisto Agassizi

The Apistogramma agassizi comes in red, gold, and blue hues with long bodies and a dark horizontal line down them.

A plus, they have the capacity to change color based on their feelings. So you’ll be able to tell when it’s delighted and when it’s upset.

Apisto Agassizi Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH: 4.0 and 6.0 pH
  • Temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: A male grows to about 3.5 inches, while a female grows to around 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: At least 30 gallons

11. Rainbowfish

Rainbowfish are peaceful, docile fish that get along well with discus fish as if they are old friends!

For ideal living circumstances, you should offer them enough room to swim around with plenty of vegetation and gravel inlets.

Rainbowfish Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 76-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Diet Type: Omnivorous

12. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma Heteromorpha)

Harlequin rasbora is a popular aquarium fish with distinctive markings that can add beauty and elegance to your tank.

Also, they serve as a dither fish in larger schools, making your discus feel more secure and less stressed.

When you add harlequin rasboras to your tank, keep the water temperature in the lower end of the discus’ range.

To ensure they feel secure and comfortable, you can add plenty of hiding places and lots of vegetation.

Harlequin Rasboras Characteristics

  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Size: 2 inches long (5 cm)

13. Siamese Algae Eater

The Siamese Algae Eater is a quite peaceful fish that spend most of its time eating algae.

However, they can be quite skittish, so provide them with hiding places to make them feel more secure.

Siamese Algae Eater Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy to care for
  • pH Levels: 6.5 and 8
  • Temperature: 75-79 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1-2.5 inches when young and 5-6 inches as adults.
  • Tank Size:  A 20-gallon tank minimum is a solid size, with 10 additional gallons for each new Siamese Algae Eater you add

14. Long Fin Red White Cloud

Long Fin Red White Cloud are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Also, they are middle dwellers that stay out of the way of other tank mates.

Long Fin Red White Cloud Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 and 7.0
  • Temperature: 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: About an inch and a half
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons

15. Silver Tip Tetra

The Silver Tip Tetra is recognizable by its golden coloration and silver tipping on its fins. This fish is perfect for creating a shoal in your discus tank.

Silver Tip Tetra Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0-8.0
  • Temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches in its adulthood
  • Tank Size:  At least 30 gallons
  • Diet Type: Omnivorous

16. Rummy Nose Tetra

The Rummy nose tetra (red-nosed fish) is a freshwater fish that comes from the Amazon river basin.

This species does best in a warm aquarium with acidic water and plenty of plants to hide. Also, they are shoaling fish, so avoid keeping them alone as they may feel depressed and stressed.

Rummy Nose Tetra Characteristics

  • Care Level:  Easy
  • pH Levels:  6.4 and 7.0
  • Temperature: 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 and 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

17. Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra is a small, colorful fish that can really liven up your tank. They have a distinctive silvery-white color with a light blue back.

Just make sure they don’t get eaten by larger fish in the tank!

Neon Tetra Characteristics

  • Care Level: Easy
  • pH Level:  6.0-8.0
  • Temperature: 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Size: 1.2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

18. Ember Tetra

The Ember tetra is a small, orange-red fish with a mildly translucent body. They are peaceful and can easily coexist with many other types of fish, including Discus!

Additionally, their diet mostly consists of tiny invertebrates and plants, so they’re unlikely to bother your discus for food.

Ember Tetra Characteristics

  • Care Level:  Easy
  • pH Level:  6.6.
  • Temperature: 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 0.8 to 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

19. German Blue Ram

This brilliant blue fish is a wonderful color addition to your Discus tank and a fantastic tank companion due to their calm and peaceful temperament.

However, during mating season, they can be a bit more aggressive towards other tank mates.

German Blue Ram Characteristics

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • pH Level: 5.0 and 7.0 pH
  • Temperature:  74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 10-gallon tank for a single ram and 20 gallons for a pair

20. Cardinal tetra

The Cardinal tetra is probably the most popular and well-known species to swim alongside Discus.

Unfortunately, quality cardinals are a little bit expensive but believe me, they are worth the money.

For a healthy life, you should provide them with warm, neutral water, and a high protein diet.

In addition, these species only grow up to 4 cm, so you can add a large shoal of them without worrying about overstocking your tank.

21. Glowlight Tetra

The Glowlight Tetra has a bright neon red sweep down its body from the nose to the tail. Their name comes from the fact that this brilliant neon crimson Color gleams (glows) when the aquarium’s lights are dimmed.

Glowlight Tetra Characteristics

  • Origin: South America
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperature: 77º F.
  • Community Tank: Seven

22. Roseline Sharks (Sahyadria Denisonii)

Roseline Sharks (Denison barbs) are fast swimmers that prefer cooler and more turbulent waters, which may irritate your discus.

Therefore, you should introduce the Roseline group when they are small and ensure a large tank for better acclimation between the species.

Roseline Sharks Characteristics

  • Origin: Western India
  • Size: 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Tank Size: 55 gallons for a small group
  • Community Tank: Six species

23. Golden Rams

Golden Ram cichlids (Papiliochromis/Microgeophagus ramirezi) are small fish that come from the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and Colombia.

To thrive, they need a big aquarium of at least 40 gallons (140 L) with lots of hiding places and a soft, sandy substrate.

Like all discus fish, they prefer soft, acidic water which is why they make such great tank mates.

24. Malaysian Trumpet Snail / MTS (Melanoides Tuberculata)

The MTS shrimp is a scavenger that will consume algae and debris, and it can even burrow into the substrate to find food.

Also, they are beneficial for aquariums since their digging aerates the substrate and prevents the formation of dangerous gasses.

These tiny species only reach 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) in length. To protect themselves from predators, there is a trap door on their shell that they can close quickly whenever they feel threatened.

25. Twig Catfish (Sturisoma Panamense)

The twig catfish is a perfect Discus tank mate as it has a calm demeanor. Also, they stay close to the bottom of the aquarium so they won’t often conflict with your discus that are upper dwellers.

26. Cory Cats

Cory Cats are vibrant, patterned fish that provide endless entertainment, especially when swimming in large schools.

These aquarium fish are bottom dwellers that try to salvage uneaten food. This is good news for you because it means they help keep the tank clean!

27. Stingray

Stingrays mind their own business at the bottom of the tank and never bother your discus fish. Thus, they can be a perfect choice for your community tank.

Due to their enormous development potential, you should only add a few numbers of them.

28. Congo Tetras

The Congo Tetra has a similar shape to other tetras, except it is larger. As they mature, their colors shift from blue on top to red in the middle and then yellow-gold and back to blue above their belly.

Also, they have a tiny grayish violet feathery appendage tail fin with white edges.

The males can grow up to 3.0 inches (8.5 cm) while females can reach 2.75 inches (6 cm).

29. Bleeding Heart Tetra

The Bleeding Heart Tetra gets its name from the blushing red near the gills which makes it look as if it has a ‘bleeding heart.’

They are hardy fish and can be kept in a wide range of water conditions making them ideal for beginner aquarists.

To provide them with the best environment, you can offer them a densely planted tank of at least 20 gallons.

To mimic their natural habitats, you should add docks and driftwood. Also, these tetras need particularly suited to soft slightly acidic water with a high filtration system.

When it comes to their diet, these fish will accept many small foods such as:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms
  • Tubifex
  • Micro pellet food
  • High-quality flake food

FAQS

Do Discus Fish Need Tank Mates?

Discus will be happier if they share their tank with other fish. However, if you are a beginner aquarist, it is best to wait until you have some experience before adding other fish to your discus tank.

Where Do Discus Fish Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Discus fish are upper dwellers and prefer to live near the surface of the aquarium. They will often congregate at the top of the tank to eat.

What Are the Benefits of Keeping Discus Fish With Other Tank Mates?

Although Discus fish don’t need the company of other fish, there are a few benefits to keeping them in groups, including:

  • Adding a calm species to their tank can help them relax
  • This will boost their immune system. Thus, your discus will be less prone to diseases
  • Snails and other bottom feeders will consume the food leftovers helping to keep your tank clean and healthy

Can You Put Bettas With Discus?

You can keep discus with bettas but actually, I don’t recommend it. Male bettas sometimes can exhibit aggressive behavior that discus fish can’t handle.

What Fish to Avoid Keeping With Discus Fish?

These are some of the species you have to avoid:

  • Piranhas
  • Oscars
  • Severums
  • Flowerhorns

Will Discus Attack Their Tank Mates?

Discus fish are relatively docile, so they won’t bother others in the same tank. However, you should keep them away from aggressive or biting fish as discus can’t deal with that kind of stress.

Last Words

Discus fish are a beautiful, unique species that make a great addition to any freshwater aquarium.

When it comes to choosing tank mates for discus fish, it’s important to consider the size, temperament, and diet of the other fish.

We hope this article helped you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Happy Fish Keeping!