Native to South America, Angelfish are beautifully colored cichlid species complimenting freshwater aquariums. Discus, one of the most alluring species of fish, boasting remarkable colors originate from the Amazon River basin.
Can Angelfish and Discus live together within the same habitat? We review temperaments, habitats, and diets of both species to ascertain whether they are compatible. Stay with us to learn more.
Fish species all behave differently, even within the same species; individual fish may behave differently towards each other. Fish temperaments range from either docile to semi-aggressive, or aggressive.
Peaceful fish are ideal for living together in the same habitat, while semi-aggressive and aggressive species may be problematic if placed together with other fish. Some careful thought is therefore required.
Angelfish, extraordinarily beautiful and generally peaceful, yet they are also known to be aggressive and territorial. They are best kept in groups of six or more to reduce aggression and bullying behavior.
As they are very territorial during breeding, they will aggressively pursue any fish who try to encroach on their territory. Angelfish are not social even amongst their own kind, but only interact when mating or competing calls for it.
Angelfish are surprisingly one of the few fish that protect their eggs, hatchlings, and fry from other predators, for up to two months or until they are able to swim freely.
Discus fish, King of the Aquarium, are peaceful and steer clear of conflict or being intimidated by fleeing. They are ideal for a community tank; however, they prefer living in a shoal with their own kind.
Discus are quite shy and hide when they are feeling threatened or apprehensive. Although Discus are timid and docile, they display aggressive and territorial behavior when they are protecting their young.
Discuss enjoy swimming freely and need spacious habitats that are not overcrowded with other fish.
Habitats and Tank Requirements
Natural habitats of fish species should be carefully considered when setting up a tank as this is fundamental to their health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Temperature requirements, substrates, and adorning the tank with beautiful décor, as well as sanitation, all play a role in supporting the psychological and physical wellbeing of all fish species.
If you cannot match the natural habitat, you risk your fish suffering from illness, including viral and bacterial infections, which will affect their temperament and even result in loss of fish.
Beautiful Angelfish originate from the Amazon River basin in South America. Residing in freshwater habitats with peacefully, slow-moving waters where vegetation is dense and minimal light shines through overhanging trees.
Angelfish can be seen feeding on small fishes, plant-life, insects, and invertebrates and prefer to hideout where lots of vegetation is available. They prefer fine particles of sandy substrate and can be found at levels where the water is clear and light hits them.
Angelfish Tank Requirements
Broad leaved plants such as Amazon Sword are ideal, offering spaces for hiding and providing both security and comfort to Angelfish.
Anacharis is also another good option to include in Angelfish tanks. Java Moss and Java Fern are great, too, if you cannot source Amazon Sword and Anacharis.
Duckweed and Pondweed should be avoided as they tend to cause congestion in a tank and also prevent light from reaching the tank.
As Angelfish enjoy digging, a fine sand or mud substrate should be placed in the tank to prevent injuring their fins and scales.
Tank sizes fit for keeping Freshwater Angelfish should, at the least, equate to 20 gallons for a pair of Angelfish and an 80-gallon tank, at minimum, to house a small-sized school of Angelfish. For every Freshwater Angelfish you intend on keeping, you will require at least 10 gallons.
The temperature required in an Angelfish tank ranges from 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH levels should be maintained between 6.8 and 7.
An aquarium light mimicking the sun is required to provide light for at least 8-12 hours per day.
(Neon tetras can also be a great choice for angelfish when all their needs are met!)
Beautifully colored Discus are inhabitants of the flood plains of the Amazon River basin where areas are shaded, and riverbeds are made up of soft sediment.
The levels of water rise by meters as a consequence of the flood pulses occurring across shallow flood plains of the Amazon, which provide more space for feeding and opportunities for breeding and growth.
Discus can be found amid fallen trees and small inlets where crevices exist, and water flow tends to break.
Discus Tank Requirements
Amazon Sword Plants and Dwarf Hairgrass are wonderful options for providing oxygen to Discus fish and improving and maintaining the quality of the water in a tank.
Discus search for food on substrate and, therefore, larger substrates are not ideal as they could cause injury while they are foraging for food. Softer sediment is thus preferred.
Weak water flow is required to simulate the natural habitat. Driftwood or vertical wood is great for breaking the flow in water. The wood should not pose any risk of injury to the sides of the body of fish when swimming by so carefully inspect for pieces that may be protruding from the wood.
Keeping higher temperatures for Discus fish are required to prevent illness or reduce the risk thereof. High temperatures ranging from 82-88 degrees Fahrenheit should be programmed for Discus fish to thrive. Heaters of superb quality should be used to maintain the temperature in the tank.
pH levels and temperature which Discus are raised in should be reviewed before purchasing so you can provide a similar environment in your home tank. In this way, you do not risk exposing the fish to excessive change, which may prove to be serious.
pH levels of water are between 6 and 7 in the Amazon, and the water also tends to be somewhat acidic and soft.
At least 7 gallons is required for every Discus you intend to keep. Discus operate in schools of 5 at the very least, so therefore a 50-gallon tank would be required. Anything smaller would promote failure to thrive. Large tanks at 100 gallons or larger are even more ideal as Discus will have the space they truly require, and changes to water are not too extreme.
Longevity, including the health and well being of fish, is enhanced if fed appropriate diets in adequate quantities. Poorly fed fish will suffer ill-health, disease, and potentially death.
Angelfish are omnivorous species that mostly feed on modest-sized prey. In the wild, plant matter is not usually consumed as they feed on small fish and rotifers, including larvae and bugs.
Live prey should be the main focus of the nutrition of Angelfish diets. Great options available for Angelfish diets range from brine shrimp, live water fleas, and tubifex worms and can be enhanced by blanched spinach and zucchini. High protein pellets or flakes are also good to offer Angelfish.
Angelfish should be fed twice per day, with mated pairs being fed up to four times per day.
(Another great tank mate for angelfish is mollies.)
Discus are carnivorous but can be raised omnivorous in an aquarium setting.
They sustain themselves by consuming a variety of different foods in the wild. Bugs and bug larvae are a common staple for Blue discus.
An abundance of plants, crustaceans along with worms are usually consumed by Red or Heckel Discus fish, while their diet also frequently makes room for the consumption of insects as their Blue discus equivalents.
In aquariums, Discus fish tend to eat more meat in the form of worms like earthworms and bloodworms and white worms. Brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are also included in the meat diet for Discus.
Spirulina can also be fed to Discus, as it is known to enhance their color.
Discus easily consume flakes; however, these should not be the main focus in a Discus diet. Discus are capable of consuming pellets as well.
Avoid overfeeding and offer what they can properly consume within several minutes a few times per day.
It is also good practice to alternate feeding Discus frozen food, live food, including exclusive granules and feed to provide a well-rounded diet.
How to Make it Work?
Both species of fish are similar, so you should be able to easily simulate their natural habitats in a tank for Angelfish and Discus alike.
Follow the checklist below for a few general rules to keep both species content:
- Keep your water temperature at 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a medium-powered water filter to keep the water flow slow
- Using driftwood or vertical wood can also create slow water flow.
- Water pH should be maintained at 6.8-7. Maintain soft water for both species of fish.
- Use any standard aquarium light for about 8-10 hours per day.
- A soft and fine substrate like fine sand or mud is suitable for both species.
- Angelfish and Discus alike will enjoy the Amazon Sword plant. Java ferns are also great alternatives.
- Brine shrimp can be fed to both species. Live and frozen foods, including vegetables and high protein flakes, can be offered for a well-balanced variety.
- Opting for a really large tank at 100 gallons would allow both species to thrive.
Angelfish and Discus can be housed together. They have similar diets, tank requirements, and get on quite well.
For more helpful advice on combining various species, check out our other articles.