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Discus Health

When it comes to keeping and breeding discus, whether you are going to be keeping a show tank, a breeding tank or a growout tank, the most important aspect is of course, making sure that your discus are healthy, and don’t spread pathogens, illnesses or parasites to other discus in the population.

You will want to keep new discus in the quarantine for a period of at least two to three weeks before introducing them to the rest of your discus population in your discus aquarium.

The Quarantine Tank:

When setting up a quarantine tank for your discus there are various steps to follow and things to consider.

Step 1: Deciding what size Quarantine Tank to Get

The first thing you are going to need when you are setting up a quarantine tank for your new discus is, of course, the tank. Most discus breeders and keepers simply buy a second tank the same size as their main tank, for the purposes of quarantining their new discus.

Step 2: Equipment and Materials you will need for Setup and Maintenance

To properly set up a quarantine tank for your discus you will need the following supplies and materials: An air system; a bottom drain; blue insulation foam, dechlorinator, a filter, a heater, netting, salt, support equipment, tape, tub thermometer, water pump, a water test kit, add-on bottom drains, a bead filter, a salt meter, and shop lights.

An Air System:

To properly set up a quarantine tank you are going to need an air system which consists of an air pump, tubing to distribute the air, and an airstone.

An airstone is a piece of limewood or a porous stone. The main purpose of the airstone is to diffuse oxygen into the quarantine tank water, to maintain a healthy supply of oxygen for your discus during their internment there.

A Bottom Drain:

A bottom drain is not really required, however, it does make the job of changing the water in the quarantine tank for your discus, just that much easier. You will need to bottom drain to be able to have somewhere for the filtration system to hook into, and also for quick drainage for easier cleaning when the quarantine tank is not in use.

Blue Insulation Foam:

Although blue insulation foam is not required, it will help you to maintain the water temperature just right for your discus, and as an added bonus, they won’t become disoriented by a clear bottom, as you really can’t use gravel or sand to cover it in a quarantine tank.

This blue insulation foam is the kind that you can get in almost any hardware store and comes in four foot by eight foot sheets. You will need one piece to go directly under the tank and enough to cover the outsides of the tank as well. Generally speaking, for a normal sized discus quarantine tank, you will most like only need one or at most two sheets to do the job.


Dechlorinator is an excellent thing to have on hand in terms of your quarantine tank. If you are filling your quarantine tank with municipal water, chances are the chlorine levels are too high for you to properly use the water in the quarantine tank. It is recommended to have at least one gallon of dechlorinator on hand at all times. The amount of dechlorinator you will need to use in your quarantine tank will vary depending on the size of tank you have, and the amount of water it holds.

If you are unsure about how much dechlorinator to use, ask the dealer or aquarium store where you bought your discus about the recommended dosage of dechlorinator for your size quarantine tank.

A Filter:

You will need a filter for your quarantine tank as well. It will not need to be a big or expensive filter, but it will need to be suitable for the size of the quarantine tank and number of discus fish you anticipate you may have in the quarantine tank at one time.

A Heater:

You will want to have a heater for your quarantine tank because you need to keep the temperature between 82 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit all the time, or possibly even warmer. This range is the best for discus health. While the discus are in the quarantine tank, try to keep the water temperature as close as possible to your discus aquarium, this will prevent your discus from going into shock when moving them.


You will want netting for your quarantine tank to prevent your new discus from jumping right out of the tank. Having the netting will also prevent predators such as household cats, and even some dogs from eating your discus right out of your quarantine tank.


You will want to have at least a couple of pounds of non-iodized salt on hand for your quarantine tank. It is even better if you can find kosher salt as kosher salt is a better option for your quarantine tank. Salt helps with skin conditions or parasites which the discus may be suffering from.

Support Equipment:

The support equipment you will require for your quarantine tank includes: nets, siphons and buckets. Most of these items can be bought from any local aquarium supply store.


You will need either masking tape, packing tape or duct tape for your quarantine tank set up. You will need it to install the blue insulation foam around the quarantine tank as well as to connect tubing together.

Tub Thermometer:

Seeings how you need to monitor the quarantine tank temperature frequently, to make the task easier, you should have a thermometer attached right to the inside of the tank for easy viewing. Small outdoor thermometers will work for the task, or any aquarium thermometer will work as well.

Water Pump:

As with your regular discus aquarium, you need to make sure that the water pump you have circulating the water in your quarantine tank is not moving a large amount of water, as discus need slow moving to still water.

Water Testing Kit:

For checking the pH, nitrate levels, salt levels, chlorine levels, and ammonia levels you will need to purchase a water testing kit for your quarantine tank. These water testing kits can be purchased at any aquarium supply store.

Add-On Bottom Drains:

The add-on drains are a nice added feature for draining your quarantine tank easily. They come with two inch PVC pipe which is easily installed over the edge of the quarantine tank. The add-on drains cut your quarantine tank emptying time in half, making them a wise investment.

A Bead Filter:

A bead filter is a filter that is designed to both remove floating debris and biological elements in the same machine. This filter is one of the best kinds you can buy for your quarantine tank as it is very easy to maintain.

A Salt Meter:

One of the most important aspects of the quarantine tank, is to keep the salinity at a constant three percent. Having a salt meter, takes all the guess work out of keeping this level of salinity in your quarantine tank.

Shop Lights:

If your quarantine tank is located inside where it doesn’t get any access to sunlight you will want to purchase a couple of full spectrum UVA and UVB fluorescent lights to hang above it. These lights will help to help the discus maintain their color for their extended stay in the quarantine tank.