Aquarium Set Up

We have expert tips on how to set up your discus aquarium. Though setting up an aquarium requires effort, it is well worth that effort once you view your intelligent, majestic, energetic discus!

Marlboro Red and Red Panda Cross Discus with Other Fishes

How Should I Set Up My Discus Aquarium? 

Replicate the Discus' Amazon habitat.

When you set up your discus aquarium, you'll want to make your discus feel at home by replicating their natural Amazonian habitat as much as possible. Use warm, acidic water in a tank filled with natural plants and rocks. These items can help your discus feel safely sheltered. Just like the Amazon's water, maintain a pH between 6 and 7 and a temperature range between 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, or 26 to 31 degrees Celsius. Make sure the water is soft. If you have very hard water with a high pH, blend softened water with it, or use a reverse osmosis filter to soften it. A bonus is that the soft water makes it easier for you to adjust your tank's pH. 

Wild Brazilian Heckel Discus

Use a large tank with a lot of water.

When deciding on your tank's size, remember: the bigger, the better! While a 40 gallon tank is the smallest tank size that you should use, we strongly recommend that you use a larger tank. If you have medium or large discus, you should have at least twenty gallons of water in your tank. If you have extremely large discus, use thirty or more gallons of water. More water in your tank gives you a safety net in case anything contaminates the water. The more gallons of water that are in your tank, the more that metabolite build up is reduced. Since metabolites (organic molecules that discus produce), are detrimental to discus health, a tank with many gallons of water is especially useful. 

High-Body Blue Diamond Discus

Use very clean water.

Discus are delicate fish who need pristine water. Since many cities add ammonia and chlorine to water for sanitation purposes, be sure to test your water for these chloramines, which are toxic to discus. If you find these chemicals in your water, you can easily use a filter to remove them. 

Put your tank in an area with low levels of sunlight and commotion.

Put your tank on a surface that does not get direct sunlight and that is not near windows and drafty doorways. Since sudden movements frighten discus, put your aquarium in a location where they can see you coming. Block out unnecessary light by painting the bottom, back, and sides of your tank dark blue or black using a water-based latex paint.

Bring more fish to your tank.

Discus thrive when they are in a tank that holds six or more fish. Add more discus and other species to your aquarium.

Discus Aquarium with an Altum

After you set up your aquarium, we know you'll enjoy viewing your beautiful discus! To learn more about how to set up your tank, explore the rest of our Learning Center articles!

Blue Panda Discus


  • What do you look forward to seeing your discus doing?
  • How will you set up your discus aquarium?
  • What water conditions will you use? 
  • How will you make your aquarium a healthy home for your discus?
  • In what ways will you make your discus' tank similar to their natural habitat?