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Freshwater Angels and Discus

Freshwater Angels and Discus

includes freshwater angels and discus species

Almost all freshwater angelfish and discus for sale today are captive-bred and come in a wide variety of colors. Freshwater angelfish are relatively easy to care for and come in varying fin lengths. The body of a discus is round and laterally compressed, an unusual characteristic. Although beautiful, discus can be a challenge to care for

Freshwater AngelsDiscus

Freshwater Angels and Discus Facts

average adult size: 4-10 inches long, depending on species
average life span: depends on species
diet: omnivore
minimum aquarium size: 29+ gallons, depending on species
water temperature: 72-82°F


A well-balanced Freshwater Angelfish or Discus diet consists of:

  • Food may be flaked, pellets, frozen or live.
  • Freshwater angelfish enjoy the occasional treat of bloodworms, brine shrimp or mysis shrimp.
  • Vary diet between vegetables and meaty foods to ensure to ensure proper nutritional balance.


Things to remember when feeding your Freshwater Angelfish or Discus:

  • Depending on size and species, feed small amounts 2 to 3 times a day, no more than fish can eat in 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Thaw frozen foods before feeding.


  • Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium. Provide plenty of substrate, rocks and hiding places. Discus prefer soft water; use appropriate water conditioner.
  • Stable water quality and parameters are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, Petco provides free water testing.


Freshwater angelfish are taller than they are long; they like a well-planted tank with some open space in the middle for swimming. Discus are vibrantly colored and prefer the middle and lower areas of the aquarium; usually shy and peaceful.

Habitat Maintenance

Daily: check filter, water temperature and other equipment.
Weekly: check water quality at least once a week.
Monthly: change 10-25% of the total volume of water every 2-4 weeks or as needed.


Discus are usually kept in aquariums with schools of the same species. Freshwater angelfish may be aggressive to smaller fish such as guppies and neon tetras; can become territorial. Freshwater angelfish should not be kept with aggressive tank mates such as large cichlids or large barbs.


Signs of a Healthy Fish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged

Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration.

Red Flags

  • loss of color or appetite
  • spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • cloudy eyes or pop-eye
  • elevated scales
  • frayed or discolored fins
  • Labored respirations
  • Erratic swimming
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; commercial remedies may be effective.
Health IssueFungus Symptoms or CausesWhite cottony growth and/or discoloration of the eyes. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish; use a commercial antifungal remedy as directed.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed.
Health IssueIch Symptoms or CausesWhite spots appear on fins and body; fish rubs against hard objects or swims awkwardly. Rapid respirations. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately; use commercial ich remedy as directed.


Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on freshwater angelfish or discus and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Atypical Mycobacterium and Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to for more information about aquatic life and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note:The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.