Discus, Symphysodon discus

Nicknamed the “pompadour fish,” for their distinctive look, discus have a round, flat body similar in shape to a disk. They vary in color, donning hues of green, red, brown and blue and have dark vertical stripes. These stripes serve a dual purpose: to aid communication within a school of discus and to camouflage the fish from predators.

To reproduce, male and female discus together choose and clean a spot where the female will lay between 80 and 400 eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs, and both parents guard the eggs until they hatch. After hatching, the fry eat the slime off their parents’ skin until they’re old enough to eat larger pieces of food. Juvenile discus can live in groups but as they age will start to form bonded pairs and become territorial against other couples.

Did You Know?

Young discus fish feed on the mucus from their parents' skin after hatching.


A discus’ diet includes worms, small crustaceans, insects, insect larvae and plant matter.


This fish grows approximately 6 to 8 inches in height and length.


Found in slow-moving freshwater, discus live in tributaries in the Amazon River Basin. Schools of discus hide in underwater debris away from predators.

Population Status

Their population is believed to be stable.


Fish, turtles, birds and bats are among those that prey on discus.

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A Note From the Caretaker

These fish are great parents. Both mom and dad will guard the eggs, fanning them with their fins and picking off any that go bad to keep the clutch from growing fungus.