Animal of the Month
December 2021


Class: Actinopterygli
Order: Cicjliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Tribe: Heroni
Genus: Symphysodon
  • S. discus
  • S. tarzoo
  • S. aequifasciatus
  • Size: 4.8-6 inches long.
    Weight: 5.3-8.8oz.

    Flat, disc-shaped body, small mouth, large rounded dorsal and ventral fins, small tail; large red eyes, one on each side of the body.
    Color(s): Varies wildly, often displays colorful stripes.
    Behavior: Aquatic, lives in social groups.
    Preferred Habitat: Tropical lakes and rivers.
    Range: Northern Brazil.
    Diet: Algae, plants, detritus and small invertebrates .
    Lifespan: About 10-15 years, particularly in captivity.

    Status: Not Evaluated t Concern

    When you think of the Amazon, you might think of animals like jaguars, squirrel monkeys and sloths. When you're talking about the Amazon, it's important to remember that fish are a critical part of the ecosystem! One fishy denizen of the Amazon is the discus, a fish with more colors than the rainbow!

    There are three species of discus: red discus or heckel discus (Symphysodon discus), blue discus or brown discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) and green discus (Symphysodon tarzoo). Discus are fresh-water fish, sticking to the rivers and lakes of northern Brazil. Red discus in particular prefer blackwater habitats. Green and Blue discus can be found in blackwater, whitewater or clearwater habitats.

    Discus are a type of cichlid. Cichlids are a group of fish that come in many sizes and shapes. One thing that they all have in common is their unusual jaws. The lower jaws of cichlids possess fused bones that act as a second row of "teeth"! Discus are no exception, and they use their bizarre jaws to snack on algae, plants and detritus, as well as small invertebrates.

    Discus are known for having a wild variation in their color. Sometimes they're so varied that it's hard to tell which species is which! A common discus color pattern is red, blue or black stripes. Some are more yellow, red, green, or even purple! Many of the more brilliant discus varieties are a result of selective breeding and are not found in the wild.

    Discus typically grow to be about 4.8-6 inches long, though there have been reports of specimens reaching 9 inches. Unlike most North American cichlids, discus live in social groups. A single group of discus can include dozens of individuals! Discus only leave their groups when they pair off to lay eggs. Discus work hard to raise and protect their young. They even help to feed them; after the babies hatch, the parents produce a secretion from their skin that the babies eat! After two weeks, baby discus will start to become more independent, and by four weeks they swim on their own.

    The conservation status of discus is not currently evaluated. To this day they are commonly found in the wild, though these fish face pressures from deforestation and pollution. As mentioned earlier, they are popular among aquarium enthusiasts and can be found in fish stores around the world. Sometimes wild fish are caught and sold in the aquarium trade, which stresses the wild populations. If you want to have a discus for a pet (or any fish, for that matter!), never purchase one that was taken from the wild!

    To learn more about freshwater ecosystems in the Amazon, follow the link below!

    Amazon Conservation, Water - Here is a look at the mighty Amazon River, its importance, and what is being done to protect it!


    Contact Us
    Taproot Guru © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED