Although the discus is a peaceful, schooling species, it is best kept in a species tank because its temperature needs are much higher than most other species can stand. However, the discus will also do quite well when kept with other peaceful, heat-loving species, such as cardinal tetras, clown loaches and T-bone rasboras. It should not be kept with angelfish, which are prone to parasitic infestations/diseases that may be fatal to the discus.
The discus should be housed in a large, tall tank (i.e., 35 gallons or more) with a soft substrate and a layer of floating plants to produce subdued lighting. An occasional rock can be provided as long as it does not obstruct its large, open swimming area in the center of the tank. Strict attention must be paid to water quality. Frequent partial water changes are a must.
The discus is best fed on a diet that includes frozen or live bloodworms, mosquito larvae, earthworms, white worms, shrimp meat, and Spirulina to enhance color. Beef heart or commercial foods containing beef heart can be fed occasionally. The discus often accepts flake foods, but this should not be the main component of its diets.
Because it is difficult to differentiate the sexes it is best to obtain four to six small fish and let them pair up. If they are kept in favorable conditions (slightly acidic, soft water with frequent water changes) discus will breed readily in the aquarium. The fry will feed on a mucus layer secreted on the parents' bodies for the first week after hatching.