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10 Reasons Why Your Discus Not Eating

Did you just purchase a discus fishes and are concerned because it is not eating? Or has your discus fry stopped eating and you don’t know why? Believe me, I know the feeling!

Sometimes you might do everything right, and your fish still might not eat. As frustrating as it may be, there are several reasons this could be happening.

Before you start to panic, I’ve done the research for you! In this article, I will cover the most common reasons why your discus fry might not be eating and what you can do to fix the problem.

Your New Discus Is Trying to Adapt to Its New Home

Can you feel how excited you are when you finally get to bring your new discus fry home? After all, you have been waiting for this moment for weeks!

Your new discus fishes are probably feeling a little bit overwhelmed too. It’s just been taken out of its natural environment and placed in a completely new one.

This process can be stressful for your fish and it might take a couple of days to about two weeks for it to adjust. While your discus fishes are trying to adapt, it might not have much of an appetite.

This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t be too concerned. Just give your discus some time to settle in and it will start eating again when it feels more comfortable.

Your Discus Fry Is Small Compared to Other Tank mates

Like in the jungles, the bigger and the stronger animal usually dominates the smaller and weaker ones. The same goes for your discus fry tank.

If your discus firy is small compared to its tank mates, they might be bullying it and not allowing it to eat. This is especially true if you have other aggressive fish in the tank like cichlids.

To fix this problem, you can either remove the aggressive fish from the tank or increase the number of discus fry so they can form a group. This way, they will be able to stand up for themselves and get their fair share of food.

Your Discus Is Feeling Lonely

The mental well-being of your discus fry is just as important as the physical. This social fish needs to feel happy and content in order to have a good appetite.

One of the main reasons your fish might not be eating is because it’s feeling lonely. They will start to lose their appetite and eventually become sick if they don’t have any companions.

Therefore, it’s important to have at least five discus fry in the tank. This way, they can swim together like a small family and build a close bond with each other.

Transferring Your Discus from a Tank to Another

In case you didn’t know, discus fry are very sensitive to changes in their environment. So it’s no surprise that they might not eat when you transfer them from one tank to another.

This sudden change can be stressful for your fish and it will take 3-4 days for them to get used to the new tank. During this adjustment period, your discus might not have much of an appetite.

To make the transition easier for your fish, you can try to match the water parameters as closely as possible to their previous tank.

Also, you should add a piece of driftwood or plants from the old tank to the new one so they have something familiar to help them feel more comfortable.

Bad Feeding Habits

Usually, we might think that the reason our discus fish is not eating is that there’s something wrong with them. But in reality, it might just be our bad feeding habits that are to blame.

Overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes new discus owners make. They think that since their fish is not eating much, they should just keep feeding them until they eat.

But this will only make the problem worse because your discus will start to get fat and might even develop health problems like swim bladder fish disease.

Aside from that, the uneaten food will sink to the bottom of the tank and rot. This will pollute the water and make it toxic for your fish.

Therefore, it’s important to only feed your discus 2-3 times a day and give them only as much food as they can eat in 5 minutes. For baby discus, you should feed them 10-12 times a day.

To get rid of the uneaten food, you can install a bottom feeder or just remove it with a net. Further, you can use garlic to encourage your fish to accept any new food.

You Just Added New Plants to the Aquarium

Discus fish don’t know the difference between edible plants and poisonous ones. So when you add new plants to the aquarium, they might eat them out of curiosity and end up getting sick.

Thus, they will lose their appetite and might even stop eating altogether. To avoid this, you should only add plants that are known to be safe for discus fish.

Some examples include Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus), African Bolbitus, Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus (Swords), and Bucephalandra.

Improper Water Parameters

When it comes to discus fish, water-quality is everything. These creatures are very sensitive to changes in their environment and even the slightest fluctuation can make them uninterested in food.

Therefore, you should never neglect your water-quality and make sure to do regular water changes. The general rule of thumb is to change 20-25% of the water every week.

Additionally, you should test your water parameters regularly and make sure they are within the ideal range.

For water temperature, the ideal range is 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit. To easily adjust this temperature, you can use an aquarium heater.

As for the pH level, the ideal range is 6.5-7.5. To test it, you can use a pH test kit or you can ask your local fish store to test it for you.

Finally, always try as possible as you can to keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates at bay. These are all toxic to discus fish and can make them very sick.

To do this, you should vacuum the gravel to remove any built-up waste. You can also add live plants to your aquarium as they help to absorb these toxins.

Lack of Dissolved Oxygen in the Water

Discus fish are known to be “oxygen hogs” because they need a lot of dissolved oxygen in their water to stay healthy.

If the water doesn’t have enough dissolved oxygen, your discus will start to gasp for air at the surface of the water. This will develop into losing their ability to come out for food and might even die.

To avoid this, you should install an air stone in your aquarium and make sure the water is well-aerated. Also, you can add more live plants as they help to produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

A Breeding Behavior

When your little lady discus fish are ready to breed, they will stop eating to focus on their impending babies.

To help them through this difficult time, you should provide them with plenty of hiding places and make sure the water-quality is pristine.

Also, you should refrain from disturbing them too much as this can stress them out even more. If everything goes well, your fish will start to eat again once they have successfully spawned.

Your Discus Fish Is Sick

It’s not uncommon for discus fish to get sick from time to time. After all, they are very sensitive creatures and even the slightest change in their environment can make them ill.

Some common illnesses that can affect wild discus fish include:

White Spot Infection/ Ich

White spot disease is a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This highly contagious infection can be deadly to your fish if left untreated.


  • White blister-like spots on the skin & gills
  • Lethargy
  • Pale and swollen gills
  • Low appetite


Depending on the severity, treatments can be as simple as changing the temperature or adding aquarium salt. In severe cases, medication is necessary.

Fish Tuberculosis

This is a mycobacterium that may be found in everything from food scraps to debris and bottom gravel. Over time, it can build up in your aquarium and make your fish very sick.

Once your discus fish’s skin begins to sore and chunks appear with bleeding edges, it is already at a critical stage. Sadly, it is very rare for fish to recover from this stage.


  • Emaciation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Open skin sores
  • Bloating
  • Staying in the corner of the tank


  • Quarantine the fish in a smaller tank with properly tested water to avoid circulating the disease to other fish and make it easier to treat
  • The best cure to give your Fish is Kanamycin + Vitamin B-6 for 30 days. The baby Vitamin is a great source of this vitamin B-6, which you can find in any pharmaceutical store
  • For every 5 gallons of aquarium water, add one drop of this vitamin. If you change the amount of water in your tank during treatment, make sure to replace the vitamins accordingly

Future Prevention Tips

Discus fish are known to be resilient, so it’s tricky to tell when they’re unwell. This is because mycobacteria can reside in their bodies for a while before any symptoms show up.

Consequently, it’s important to take preventive action even if your discus doesn’t have any outward signs of illness.

Some tips to prevent your discus from getting sick include:

  • Keeping a well-maintained aquarium with regular water changes
  • Avoiding overfeeding
  • Never add new fish to your tank before quarantining them first
  • Regularly clean your filter media and vacuum the gravel
  • Never use old/ dirty decorations and gravel in your tank

Fin &Tail Rot

Fin and tail rot is a common bacterial infection that is usually caused by poor water-quality or physical damage to the fins and tail.

In its early stages, you might notice your discus’s fins starting to fray at the edges. If left untreated, the infection will spread and eventually eat away at the whole fin. In severe cases, it can even lead to death.


  • White coloration at the edge of the fish
  • The fins appear ragged and split
  • Inflaming of the base of the fins
  • Rotting away from a part of the fin


  • Quickly quarantine the fish in a smaller tank with properly tested water.
  • Treat the water to remove any chlorine or ammonia
  • Remove the activated carbon from the aquarium filter since it removes medications that you add to the water


Dropsy is a condition where your fish’s internal organs swell up with fluid and start to push against the skin. It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, and it can be deadly if you don’t catch it early.


  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the fish’s stomach and most times the whole body
  • Bulgy eyes
  • Behavioral changes


  • Place the sick discus in a quarantine tank
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt per 10 gallons of water to create a salt bath. This will help reduce the amount of water in the body that is causing the discus fish to swell
  • Feed your sick discus fish with anti-bacterial fish food that contains antibiotics such as chloromycetin and tetracycline, or you can prepare it yourself
  • Keep the water pH at 6.0 to stop the ammonia from being poisonous
  • Add Discomed medicine to your discus food when it starts eating
  • If the swelling does not go down after 7-10 days, or if there is no improvement in the discus’s condition, treat it with Maracyn 2


Hexamita disease is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the discus fish’s internal organs. Your fish can get this disease through contaminated food or water. Also, contacting other sick fish can lead to this fish disease.


  • Loss of appetite
  • White pooping
  • Hole in the head

Future Prevention

  • Isolate new fish before adding them to your tank
  • Clean your hands after every handling of the fish
  • Don’t overfeed the fish
  • Change 25% of the water every week
  • Test the water-quality frequently
  • Install an air pump
  • Do not feed them frozen worms
  • Clean your filter


How Do I Know That My Discus Fish Is Sick?

There are a few outward signs that can indicate that your discus fish is sick. These include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling
  • Bulgy eyes
  • White pooping
  • Behavioral changes

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action quickly and isolate the fish in a quarantine tank.

How Can I Prevent My Discus Fish from Getting Sick?

There are a few things you can do to prevent your discus fish from getting sick. These include:

  • Keeping a well-maintained aquarium with regular water changes
  • Avoiding overfeeding
  • Never add new fish to your tank before quarantining them first
  • Regularly clean your filter media and vacuum the gravel
  • Never use old/ dirty decorations and gravel in your tank

What Can I Feed My Sick Discus Fish?

There are a few things you can feed your sick discus fish to help them recover. These include:

  • Anti-bacterial dry foods that contain antibiotics such as chloromycetin and tetracycline
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Maracyn 2
  • Discomed medicine

How Often Should I Change the Water in My Discus Tank?

You should aim to change 25% of the water every week. Otherwise, you can do a large water change (50-75%) every 2 weeks.

How Do I Clean My Discus Fish Tank?

To clean your discus fish tank, you should:

  1. Empty the tank completely and rinse all decorations and gravel with hot water
  2. Wash the filter media in hot water (do not use soap)
  3. Rinse the tank with hot water
  4. Fill the tank with clean, treated water and let it sit for 24 hours before adding your fish back in

When Should I Perform a Water Change?

You should perform a water change when:

  • The water-quality starts to decline
  • The nitrate levels start to rise
  • There is an ammonia spike
  • The pH starts to fluctuate
  • You notice a change in your fish’s behavior or appearance
  • Your tank is starting to look dirty

How Often Should I Vacuum the Gravel?

You should vacuum the gravel every time you do a water change. This will help remove any uneaten food, waste, and debris from the tank.

How Do I Test the Water Quality?

You can test the water-quality using a variety of different kits. These include:

  • pH Test Kit
  • Ammonia Test Kit
  • Nitrate Test Kit

These kits will help you keep an eye on the water-quality and make sure it is within the correct range for your fish.

Why Is My Discus Fish Swimming Strangely?

There are a few reasons why your discus fish might be swimming strangely. These include:

  • The water-quality is poor
  • The tank is too small
  • There is not enough oxygen in the water
  • The temperature is too high or too low
  • The fish is sick

If you notice your discus fish swimming strangely, it’s important to check the water-quality and make sure the tank is the correct size.

Also, you should check the temperature and make sure it is within the ideal range. If the fish is still swimming strangely, it’s best to take it to a vet for a check-up.

My Discus Fish Hasn’t Moved in a While, Is It Dead?

If your discus fish hasn’t moved in a while, try to tap on the glass or make a noise near the tank. If the fish doesn’t move, it is likely dead.

My Discus Fish Is Floating at the Top of the Tank, Is It Dead?

If your discus fish is floating at the top of the tank, it is likely gasping for air and is in distress. Also, they might be just sleeping but you can check by gently tapping the glass. If the fish doesn’t move, it is likely dead.

I Think My Discus Fish Is Dying, What Should I Do?

If you think your discus fish is dying, it’s important to take action quickly. These are a few things you can do:

  • Change the water immediately
  • Perform a large water change (50-75%)
  • Add an air stone to the tank
  • Turn up the filter
  • Check the temperature and make sure it is within the ideal range

When Should I Call a Vet?

If you think your discus fish is dying, it’s important to call a vet immediately. They will be able to help you diagnose the problem and recommend treatment options.

What Is the Best Way to Prevent My Discus Fish from Getting Sick?

To prevent your discus fish from getting sick, you should:

  • Regularly test the water-quality
  • Perform regular water changes
  • Keep the tank clean
  • Avoid overfeeding
  • Use a high-quality filter
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank

How to Feed My Discus Fish?

To feed your discus fish, you should only give them as much food as they can eat in 5 minutes. Also, give them foods that stimulate their appetites such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

Why Is My Discus Hiding?

There are a few reasons why your discus fish might be hiding. These include:

  • They receive bullies from other fish
  • The water quality is poor
  • They are sick or injured
  • There are no hiding places in the tank

Last Words

Discus fish are beautiful and sensitive creatures that require special care. I know that sometimes it gets tough and you feel like giving up but don’t.

With the proper care, your discus fish will thrive and you will be able to enjoy their company for years to come.

I hope I made your journey with your discus fish a little bit easier. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be more than happy to help in any way I can.

Take care!