Keep in mind that your tank should be a Discus tank first – make sure the other fish you intend to keep conform to Discus conditions,
and not vice-versa!
Always quarantine any fish for at least two to four weeks before mixing them in with Discus.
The list below is what we have experienced to be suitable as Discus companions, information is based on temperament, size and water parameters.
The Apisto Agassizi is known in the hobby as the Double Full Red Agassizi Cichlid which originates within the Amazon Basin of South America. The body of these fish is elongated with a dark horizontal stripe. The dorsal fin extends almost the entire length of the body and is held low on the body with red outlines. These fish will change coloration depending on its mood. The Double Full Red Agassizi Cichlid should be kept in an aquarium that is 30 gallons minimum, with densely planted groupings. They require plenty of open swimming areas but also need hiding places.
The Pentazona Barb, is a golden color with six black bars running vertically on each side of the body. The Pentazona Barb prefers a well-planted tank of at least 30 gallons with soft, slightly acidic water. Rocks and driftwood can be added to the aquarium, but leave plenty of space for swimming. The Pentazona Barb is a schooling fish and will do best in a small group of 5 or more individuals. If given a large enough school, they will typically not bother any other fish in the aquarium. The Hexazon Barb needs to be fed a variety of foods including vegetable-based as well as meaty foods. Feed a quality flake food as well as freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp.
Siamese Algae Eater – This fish is a very good algae eater and scavenger. I’ve rarely seen them cause any trouble with discus. Sometimes these fish are a bit skittish and that can frighten a discus. The only fault with keeping this fish with discus is that they would rather eat the food instead of ‘working’ for algae and will eat the buds of soft plants.
Long Fin Red White Cloud – This easy-to-keep Long Fin Red White Cloud will do well in the community aquarium with other peaceful fish and Discus. The hardy and colorful Red White Cloud adapts well to less-than-perfect water conditions, making it an ideal choice for beginning aquarists. If kept in a school of eight or more, the Red White Cloud will be more active and colorful. A school of Red White Cloud Minnows gives you a burst of radiant Red color to the upper and middle levels of your aquarium.
Peacock Gudgeon – This very colorful Goby-like fish doesn’t really belong to the Gobiidae family but to Eleotridae. It originates from New Guinea. Males grow to about 7 cm while females stay smaller, about 5 cm. The Peacock Gudgeon is a very peaceful fish and can be kept with other peaceful species (ex. Rainbow fishes).
Red Honey Gourami (Dwarf) – A peaceful species that benefits from a fairly large aquaria. The tank should be densely planted and also contain some floating plants, a peaceful tank-mate that will do well with Discus. Feeding is not a problem as they take prepared staple food along with supplements of live and frozen food.
Dwarf Red Fire Gourami – A peaceful species that benefits from a fairly large aquaria. The tank should be densely planted and also contain some floating plants, a peaceful tank-mate that will do well with Discus. Feeding is not a problem as they take prepared staple food along with supplements of live and frozen food.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail – You can have hundreds of these helpful little Malaysian Trumpet Snails in your tank and never see one, unless you look at your tank an hour or two after you turn out your lights. Use a flashlight, and you’ll notice these guys and gals sliding up the walls of your tank.
Harlequin Rasbora – There are several varieties that you can choose from,all of them will do well with Discus. The Harlequin Rasbora (our favorite) is one of the most popular aquarium fish. These fish have a black triangle-shaped patch starting near the dorsal fin. The male’s patch is slightly rounded at the bottom with an extended tip while the female’s is straight. Females are larger than the males.
Purple Rasbora – These fish are one of the many beautiful fish in the Rasbora family. These have a purplish hue and will add a new color to your aquarium. They like to be in a school of 6 or more. They like to have a medium planted tank for hiding when they sleep. They enjoy flake food; they will also pick the algae off of your plants.
Amber Tetra – The amber tetra is native to the Araguaia River basin of Brazil and was discovered around fifteen years ago and named in honor of the fish explorer Heiko Bleher’s mother (Amanda Bleher). This species is of typical tetra shape but grows to a maximum overall length of approximately 2 cm (0.8 in).; Most exhibit striking orange and reddish coloration with mild translucency near the pelvic fin. The eye frequently mirrors the color of the fish and is outlined in black.
Silver Tip Tetra – The Silver Tip Tetra is named for the shimmering white/silver tips of its fins. This sleek and agile member of the Characidae family creates a gorgeous and active shoal in nearly any freshwater aquarium. Though its body is mostly golden in color, the base of the tail has a black color that extends into the tail.
Rummy Nose Tetra – The name of this fish can be easily distinguished by is red nose. The caudal fin is also colored as it has three black stripes, which are fainter in juvenile fish. Found in the lower stretches of the Amazon river soft, acid conditions are preferred. This species is used in Discus aquaria, or as part of a typical ‘blackwater’ selection incorporating Cardinal Tetras, small cichlids like the Checkerboard, or Rio Negro Apisto species, Pencilfishes, e.g., Nannostomus eques. As a shoaling species, it requires open swimming space and planted thickets.
Serpae Tetras – The Serpae Tetra is a usually peaceful, schooling fish that comes from the regions of South America. It can be a minor fin nipper, so other species with delicate fins are best kept separate. Hiding spaces such as rocks, plants, and driftwood are recommended to give this fish a sense of security. Taller plants should be used to coincide with its mid-level swimming habits along with plenty of rock formed cave structures.
Black Emperor Tetra – This strain of the Emperor Tetras is nicest looking of them all. They have a black velvety body and white noses. The difference between male and female is that the males have blue eyes and the females green. A good group size would be eight to ten of them. This will prevent bullying amongst the group. They enjoy having a nice hiding spot for breeding and just for hiding from larger fish. A good thing to have on the bottom of your tank would be java moss but again this is not needed regular plastic plants work too.
Gold Tetra – The Gold tetra is easily spotted by the gold scales that reflect the light back to your eyes. These fish like to be in a school of 8 or more and enjoy planted aquariums though this is not needed. They can be sexed by looking at the “hooks” and white tips on the males and the females are just a smaller version. These fish are omnivores so they will eat flake food as well as freeze dried bloodworms.
Congo Tetras – The Congo Tetra has a typical full-bodied tetra shape with rather large scales. When mature, the iridescent colors of the Congo Tetra run through the fish from front to back, starting with blue on top changing to red through the middle, to yellow-gold, and back to blue just above the belly. It is not its fluorescent colors that make this Tetra so distinct, but rather its tail fin, which develops into a most beautiful grayish violet feathery appendage with white edges. The males get up to 3.0 inches (8.5 cm). Females up to 2.75 inches (6 cm).
Yellow Tail Congo Tetra – The Yellow Tail Tetra grows to about 7 cm in aquariums. It is probably of similar size in the wild. The Yellow Tail Tetra comes from the Congo (Zaire) River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and possibly also the Republic of the Congo.
Black Neon Tetra – A very popular freshwater tetra, which originally came from the clear water streams of South America. This fish has markings that are similar to the Neon Tetra, except the bottom half of the fish is black with a bright yellowish green stripe running horizontally across the fish. They are a great addition to any soft water Discus aquarium.
Yellow Emperor Tetra – The emperor tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri) is found the streams and rivers of western Colombia including the Rio Atrata and the Rio San Juan.
Penguin Tetra – The Penguin Tetra comes from the tributaries and rivers of South America and makes a wonderful addition to any community aquarium. They are pale to golden in color, and have a black vertical stripe that extends down the bottom half of the tail, giving an appearance similar to a penguin.
Cardinal Tetra, Neon Tetra – This species is of typical elongated tetra appearance; it is of plain basic coloration but with two distinct, adjacent longitudinal stripes, white above black. The eye has two thin but distinctive color bands across the top, red above yellow. Despite its common name, it does not particularly resemble the neon tetra, which belongs to a different genus.
Glowlight Tetra – A very popular freshwater tetra, which came from the clear water streams of South America. This fish has a clear body with a bright neon red stripe running from the nose into the tail. When the lights on the aquarium are dimmed, the red stripe on the fish can be clearly seen which lends to its name. They are a great addition to any soft water Discus aquarium.
Bleeding Heart Tetra – The Bleeding Heart Tetra gets its name from the markings on its body. The blushing red near the gills gives this South American fish a “bleeding heart” look. Perfect for the community aquarium, this hardy tetra will be a great choice for the beginner to the expert aquarist. A planted tank of at least 20 gallons will be the ideal environment for this tetra. Rocks and driftwood help mirror its natural habitat and will help to reduce stress on the fish. The Bleeding Heart Tetra does best will soft slightly acidic water with high filtration. The Bleeding Heart Tetra will accept many small foods such as brine shrimp or daphnia, freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex, micro pellet food, and a high quality flake food.
Pencil Fish – All of the species in this genus are known as pencil fish or pencilfish, several of which have become popular aquarium fish due to their attractive coloration, unique shape and interesting demeanor.
There are many different varieties, all of them generally do well with discus and are good to keep as bottom feeders. Try to keep at least two in your tank. I’ve found that Clown loaches are a lot larger than the other varieties, these loaches can scare the discus during feeding, so its best to avoid them once above 5 inches.
Gold Nugget Pleco
The Golden Nugget Loach is one of the more popular and often seen suckermouth catfishes. As with other fish in this group, accurate identification can be difficult and there are several similar looking species, usually with variations in spot size. Golden Nuggets are peaceful and can be kept with most fishes without difficulty. The fish is party nocturnal and should be provided with hiding spots amongst wood.
Neon Hatchet Fish
Neon Hatchet fish, is one of the plainest members of the Chela genus. Its name comes from the colors that reflect off it in sunlight. Like most danionins, this fish has a tendency to jump. A tight-fitting lid with no gaps is recommended for keeping them captive.
Long Fin Pepper Cory
Corydoras paleatus is a species of catfish of the family Callichthyidae. Its common names include peppered cat, pepper cory or salt & pepper cory. It originates from the lower ParanÃ¡ River basin and coastal rivers in Uruguay and Brazil.
The Panda Cory Cat comes from the tributaries of larger river systems in Central and South America, and is a peaceful bottom dwelling scavenger. The Panda is gold with black patches covering the eyes, dorsal fin, and at the base of the tail. The Panda Cory Cat requires a well planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places that provide relief from the light. A smooth sand or gravel substrate is needed because of the easily damaged barbels. They enjoy being in numbers, so a small school of six or more is ideal for these cats.
The Julii Cory is known for the spots along its body that adds a new style to the bottom of your tank. They are very friendly and they love to dance around the tank for you. They do like to have places to hide for when it needs relief from the light. They also like a well planted environment and a smooth sand or gravel substrate because of their fragile barbels. They like being in a small group of 4 or more, and when feeding them you are in for a energetic dance that will be fun to watch each time.
The rainbow shark has an elongated, dark-black and greenish body, or also can have a light-orange body with dark-red fins. The snout is pointed. The abdominal area is flat. The fins possess red to orange-red coloration. The linear area from the gill cover, the eye, and the mouth has a characteristic brief stripe. Compared to females, male rainbow sharks have thinner bodies with black lines along the tailfins. Males also have brighter coloration. They can grow up to 7 inches long but in rare cases, they reach 8 or 9 inches.
German Blue Rams
Social fish that will form pairs and often remains “faithful” to each other. German Blue Rams have an orange face, a red/yellow belly, and neon blue towards the back half of the body. Being a peaceful fish, the German Blue Ram makes a wonderful addition to the Discus tank. However, if kept in an aquarium that lacks hiding places for this fish, they may become aggressive toward each other.
The Golden Ram Cichlid, (Papiliochromis/Microgeophagus ramirezi), is a dwarf species of freshwater Cichlid native to the Orinoco River basin, in the llanos of Venezuela and Colombia in South America
Also called the Butterfly Ram and the Red Ram, is a social fish that will form pairs and often remains “faithful” to each other. Bolivian Rams are golden brown in color with reddish highlights on the dorsal and caudal fins and pearly turquoise-blue highlights on the pelvic and anal fins. A black ‘spot’ is in the center of the body and a black line runs from the top of the eye to the bottom of the head.
Angelfish belong to the Cichlidae family, and come in a variety of color forms, and fin lengths. Through selective breeding programs, both standard fin varieties as well as veil fin varieties are available in many different color forms.
The Betta is a real treat for the eyes. What splendid colors, what foliage and what variety! There is hardly anyone who would not find this species a truly mesmerizing sight to behold. The fish thrives in fresh water and has come to be as a result of a lot of experimentation in breeding with the different Bettas. The first Betta was a fish named R39 and it is he who has been responsible for the continuing race of this fish.
New Guinea Rainbow Fish
The peaceful New Guinea Rainbow is a schooling fish that does best in a planted aquarium with plenty of room to swim. The aquarium should have a gravel substrate that may aid in intensifying the colors of the fish if a dark gravel is used. Very good companion for Discus but only if kept in large aquariums (75 gallons and up) as they can be very aggressive eaters and can spook your Discus at feeding time.
Turquoise Rainbow Fish
The Turquoise or Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish have striking colors, with males having an intense blue color, that make for a great centerpiece in the aquarium. Rainbowfish are known for the characteristic large eyes, black or silver band that runs through the middle scale rows, deeply forked mouth, and two dorsal fins. This peaceful fish is a schooling fish that should be housed in a planted aquarium with plenty of swimming room. A gravel substrate will add to a good environment and, if dark enough, may intensify the colors of the fish. Although Turquoise Rainbows have large mouths, their throats tend to be narrow. Foods fed should be small in size. Their omnivorous diet should include prepared flake, frozen, and live foods.
Fork Tail Rainbow Fish
The Fork Tail Rainbow is a schooling fish that should be kept with other peaceful fish. The colorful males have an extended second dorsal and anal fin. Natural lighting intensifies their colors. The aquarium for this peaceful Rainbow should have plants but also needs large open spaces for swimming. Water conditions should remain stable, as the Celebes is sensitive to changes. Although these Rainbows have large mouths, their throats tend to be narrow. Small pieces of an omnivore diet of prepared flakes, algae, or live foods should be fed.
Bushy Nose Pleco
The Bushy Nose Plecostomus, also known as the Bristlenose Plecostomus, comes from the rivers and tributaries of South America. It is mainly brown, with a mottling of lighter areas. The mouth area and nose are covered in short, whisker-like appendages, which are used for detecting food. There are also many color and fin variations available. Bushy Nose Plecos make good additions to any community or Discus aquarium.
I’ve had good luck keeping this catfish with my discus. Unlike most other plecos the zebra is more of a carnivore. There are several different varieties of plecos, some stay small, others will outgrow small tanks. Some will develop a “taste” for the mucus on the discus’ skin, so we only suggest two Plecos.