View Full Version : Angelfish and Discus - what to know ...

01-26-2006, 09:56 AM
The following is my ANOCDOTAL and OBSERVATIONAL opinions regarding Angelfish with Discus.

I like to think of myself as an knowledgeable angelfish breeder and keeper ... my wife and I had a commercial hatchery for 11 years and we bred thousands of angelfish. And I learned from several masters ... most notably Steve Rybicki of Angels Plus. Sooo ...

1) Water Temperature - Angelfish GENERALLY do well in 76 to 80 degree temperature (most references support this). They PREFER breeding temperatures of 81-84 degrees. I keep my breeding and grow out stock at 82-85 ... breeding temperature ... I heated my hatchery centrally and all my fish are at the same temperature (may explain why I never did well with guppies ...). The higher temperature will grow angels faster, but it is believed that their lifespan may be shortened. I have had several dozen angelfish for more than 5 years at this temperature, so the effects of higher heat are inconclusive to me ... CONCLUSIONS - ANGELFISH TOLERATE DISCUS TEMPERATURES WELL

2) Water Chemistry - Angels PREFER soft acid water ... so do Discus! Domestic/hybridized angels will THRIVE in moderately hard and alkaline water. CONCLUSIONS - ANGELFISH WILL THRIVE IN DISCUS WATER

3) Water conditions - Angelfish are GENERAL more tolerant of excess nutrients and metabolic wastes (such as nitrate), but not by a lot. Despite the fact that many have kept angelfish in deplorable conditions (no water changes), these fish are not really happy. Discus require clean water (water changes) ... and angelfish THRIVE in clean water. CONCLUSIONS - ANGELFISH DO REAL WELL UNDER DISCUS CONDITIONS

4) Feeding - Angelfish can be aggressive feeders. They primarily eat insects, fish and crustaceans, similar to discus. In a community tank, angelfish will be at the top of the queue to get fed ... however, I've never observed their companions to go hungry ... this may be a matter of feeding enough for everybody and making sure there is a clean-up crew (catfish) to eat up the leftovers. With discus, I've observed situations where discus are more aggressive than angelfish, and other situations where angelfish are more aggressive feeders. I currently have 6 Altum angels with 3 scalare angels and 3 adult discus ... the discus will be the first to the food. CONCLUSIONS - ANGELS MAY BE MORE AGGRESSIVE FEEDERS THAN DISCUS, BUT NOT DETRIMENTALLY SO.

5) General Behavior - Both discus and angels are GENERALLY peaceful to there tank mates ... exceptions being toward small fish (ummm ... food!) and when breeding. Both Discus and Angels can keep there tank mates at bay if they decide to spawn in the community tank (happens frequently with my angels) - CONCLUSIONS ... NO GENERAL ISSUES BUT BE AWARE OF SPAWNING PAIRS

6) Disease (my favorite) - Both Discus and Angelfish are susceptible to diseases, and both may cause problems from whatever source they come from. I have observed the following ...

- Discus, especially fry, are susceptible to gill flukes. Angelfish seem to tolerate flukes better than discus
- Angelfish are highly susceptible to Hex/spiralnucleosis; discus seem better at handling this than angelfish
- My discus are susceptible to Cryptobia … a debilitating disease of the gut which can cause the fish waste away over a long period of time. I haven’t seen any symptoms in my angelfish
- Both can be decimated by “plague” … a series of highly contagious viral and bacteria infections that can decimate a population of either. I’ve experienced Angelfish Plague where I lost 80% of my fish and had to get rid of the other 20% … I didn’t have discus at the time so I’m not sure of any cross-over between the two.

- The MYSTERY DISCUS-KILLING Disease carried by Angelfish – I don’t doubt that more than a few discus keepers have experienced unexplained losses of discus when kept with angelfish. All the accounts I’ve seen of this problem lead me to this theory … sick angels to start with. It is my experience that Angelfish can do a reasonable job masking most problems … better than discus. When discus aren’t well, they darken up and generally look miserable. Where did the angelfish come from that were mixed with the discus? Well, if they came from a LFS, they likely carried problems. A really good QT process is required if the angels where not bred by the keeper. I submit that the angelfish did not go through the scrutiny of what a discus will go through … If you are going to keep them together, make sure the source of the angelfish is as good as the source of your discus, and QT them the same way.

CONCLUSIONS – Both fish are susceptible to disease; both require QT, neither are deadly to the other.


White Worm
01-26-2006, 12:05 PM
Sounds reasonable and also sounds like you have alot of experience in this area. Angels with discus has always been a myth around these parts. I havent really heard of anyone having any solid facts. You are the closest to having factual information that I have heard. Thanks for the info. There are many on here that do keep discus with angels and have no problems and the ones that do have problems......well, maybe they are trying to find something to blame their problems on? Mike

01-26-2006, 12:46 PM
Sounds reasonable and also sounds like you have alot of experience in this area. Angels with discus has always been a myth around these parts. I havent really heard of anyone having any solid facts. You are the closest to having factual information that I have heard. Thanks for the info. There are many on here that do keep discus with angels and have no problems and the ones that do have problems......well, maybe they are trying to find something to blame their problems on? Mike

If one want's to be successful with angelfish, you need to be as discriminating with angels as you are with discus ... I feel that many hobbyists
just don't pay enough attention to the "other" fish compared with discus ... whether it be because of cost (discus are one of the higher priced fish) or just personal preference ... so if you start with bad stock with angels, it can become a recipe for disaster for all your fish.

A truely healthy angelfish will not infect any other fish ...

White Worm
01-26-2006, 12:49 PM
I agree, I've always liked angels and have kept them in the past but never with discus because of the myths. I think also we should start with good stock and just pay attention to QT procedures for any fish and the outcome should be the same. Mike

01-26-2006, 01:21 PM
My Koi angelfish are actually the "grandchildren" of some of Steve Rybicki's Koi angels.

He is a great guy to do business with and really knows his angelfish! Also his online store is a great place to buy flake food for your discus! Mainly the earthworm flake...high in protein and my discus love it, too.

Maybe someday I will be brave enough to try keeping angels and discus together, ....Like after I've QT'd the angels for 3 years first. LOL!!!!


01-26-2006, 01:45 PM
I find what Jeff said is very true about being discriminating with angels. I notice that most people who keep angels don't really seem as picky about their quality as the discus hobbyists are with their discus. I think this is because angels are cheaper and more readily available, and also maybe because they hold up better in LFS than discus do.

Having said that, I am extremely picky about angelfish (just ask Al, lol). I don't like small angels, I don't like angels that have bad shape or misshapen fins... that may be why I've gone back to keeping wilds rather than domestics. But I have the same high expectations for them as I do for discus, and I treat them like discus. Same tank maintenance for the most part, same temp and water parameters, same quarantine. If you stick to that and you raise healthy angelfish, there should no reason why they'd spread any mysterious illness to your discus.


01-26-2006, 03:10 PM
An observation I'd like to make here is that ALL fish no matter what tank they are going into should be qt'd. Learnt through bitter experience.


03-20-2006, 10:04 AM
BUMP ... since the questions are coming up again

03-28-2006, 09:49 AM
Great post. As an angel breeder (very small time) it is true that many lfs carry poor quality angels. Most people don't know what makes up a good angel body shape etc. I've heard of people buying angels with missing ventrals (both of them) as the whole tank had none and they thought they were normal.

All you say is true...angels and discus do like very similar conditions. My juvie angels get daily w/c (high stock rates compared to community tanks) and they love them.

I'm very new to discus keeping (about 2 weeks) but have been practicing on angels and blue rams for a few years. I figure if I can raise rams and angels then I'm ready for discus. Not sure I will mix them together, unless it is the rams and discus.

I did put some small BN plecos in with the discus as clean up crew, but I rasied them as well so no worries about exposing the discus to diseases.

03-28-2006, 01:33 PM
While I can pretty much agree with what has been written I still wanted to add that I feel that it is a mistake for most people to try and raise discus and angelfish together. I have also raised thousands of both angels and discus. For the average individual it is tough enough to raise discus to their full potential so why make it harder by adding a fish that is very aggressive at feeding time? When I say aggressive I mean in terms of eating everything that hits the water in a very short amount of time. Discus like to eat over a much longer time frame. Angels are like a teenager coming from football practice and hitting the drive-in at McDonalds while a discus likes to sit back and listen to harp music while sipping wine and enjoying his meal.


03-28-2006, 05:53 PM
NIghtowl! Hey good to see another TAFII person here joining me on the DARK SIDE! :-)

I too am a former Angel fish breeder. Currently most of my tanks are empty, except for a 75 gallon tank full of young angels I got from Blacklace22, a breeding pair of gold marble/gold pearl scale from her as well and a planted 55 with 6 young discus and a pair of Bosemani rainbows that are spawning all over the place. Currently have about 20+ empty tanks I want to start filling. I took a break from the hobby for a couple years and am just getting back into it.

I am currently looking for some nice longfin bristlenoses at the right price and maybe if I can get a deal (not likley) on some zebra plecs too. I got burned out before because I was concentrating too much on just angels.

The Discus are a new challenge. I don't think I will be breeding them. My water is too hard and I just do not feel like dealing with RO water and managing PH. Tho it would be cool if I do get a pair out of the group.

I currently treat them just like I used to treat all my angels. Over filtration, 86 degree temps and plenty of water changes with aged water. They are doing well and growing fast. I learned the hard way not to used straight tap water. The angels seem to be able to handle it, but not the discus.