12 Awesome Discus Tank Mates For Your Not-so-social Discus Fish – Compatibility List and Care Guide

In this post, we’ll share a few Discus Tank Mates that will be sure to create an awesome community tank as well as a few care tips and some fish to avoid.

The Discus fish is an exceptionally beautiful fish that comes in a variety of colors. It belongs to a family of fish known as cichlids and is characterized by its flat, disc-shaped body (thus the name), which helps it glide through the tank and any plant life that’s around it.

This large, bright fish is often referred to as the king of the freshwater tanks and rightly so. If you observe this fish, you’ll quickly see it takes its time swimming around the tank and lets all the other fish know who’s tops in the tank.

Both male and female discus fish can grow to a little more than six inches, so you need a good-sized tank to keep them comfy, especially if you throw in a couple of roommates. We’ll get down to who makes a good roomie in a bit.

Generally speaking, discus fish get along with many other fish just as long as they share the same required water temperature to thrive. Discus fishes are known to make great pets because they are interactive. Some owners even say they respond when they walk in the room or turn on the TV. Who knows, they may even have a favorite show!

What fish are compatible with Discus Fish?

The best tank mates would be small fast and active fish that don’t have long fins. Most Tetras like the cardinal or neon tetra as well as some bottom feeders like the corydoras catfish would work well. Ram Cichlids and Apistogramma can also be compatible with your Discus Fish.

Equipment For Your Discus Fish

Discus Quick Care Tips

Here are some other facts about the discus fish:

Care Level: Expert (A discus fish is not recommended for beginners because sometimes it gets stressed out when you move it and does have a tendency to get sick.)
Ideal tank size: Over three feet
Temperature range: around 82 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Range: 6-7

Because of the water temperature factor that we mentioned above, Discus can only be friends with other fish that require the same water temperature.

If you’re looking for some good Discus Tank Mates for your aquarium? Here’s our list of common fish species that will stand the test of time with your Discus. Avoid really small fish like neon tetras that might not grow big enough and become food.

Here’s a look at 12 that are tops:

12 Awesome Discus Tank Mates

#1 Cardinal Tetras

Paracheirodon axelrodi

Care level: Moderate
Max Size of fish: 2 inches
Temperature range: 73-81 degrees Fahrenheit
PH range: 5-6

Cardinal Tetras make good  because they not only share some common treatment characteristics but also are peaceful fish.

Cardinal tetras are dither fish. Since dither fish swim back and forth calmly, they are thought to bring a sense of tranquility to the tank, which the Discus can benefit from if it became stressed out, as we mentioned above. In my opinion it’s one of the best fish compatible with discus.

Check out this roundup list with 7 of the best tank mates for Cardinal Tetras

#2 Corydoras Catfish


Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 2.5 inches
Temperature range: 74-80 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 7-8

Corydoras Catfish are great tank mates for discus known to be a little worker fish in that helps to keep the tank clean by swimming around the aquarium looking for particles that have not been eaten. This will not only keep your Discus fish happy but will also keep you happy because that means less maintenance.

A little fun fact about Corydoras Catfish…it likes to be kept in groups of four. So if you’re planning on adding one to your Discus tank, you better rethink that and set the table for four guests!

#3 Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus)

Bristlenose Pleco

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 5 inches
Temperature range: 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 5-6

A Bristlenose Pleco is also a hard little worker fish. It eats the unwanted algae that can form on the bottom of your aquarium. But you should also give it other food and add a small piece of driftwood at the bottom of your tank to help it digest better.

After all of the work it is doing in the tank, that’s not too much to ask and a great Discus Tank Mate!

Read our care guide for the: Bristlenose Pleco

#4 Clown loaches

My clown loaches

Care level: Moderate
Max Size of fish: 1 foot
Temperature range: 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 6.5-7.5

Clown loaches are funny fish in that they’ll be active during the day but then hide from bright lights. So make sure there are plenty of little hiding places in the tank and they will be an ideal Discus Tank Mate.

Many people refer to this fish as a “must-have” tankmate because clown loaches are peaceful fish that get along with just about any other fish, including Discus. Since these fish can grow to become big boys and girls, you want to make sure you get a tank that’s big enough.

Clown loaches also love to eat pesky little snails that can form at the bottom of your tank. No worries about cleaning those up when you have clown loaches swimming around.

#5 German Blue Rams

German Blue Ram All Grown Up

Care level: Moderate
Max Size of fish: 2-3 inches
Temperature range: 78-85 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 6-7

As its name suggests, German Blue Rams are known for their beautiful, deep blue color. They are peaceful fish, so they share something in common with the Discus.

They also tend to thrive with other fish, although they do like to hide in the tank, so make sure you have some spots for them. They like moderate lighting, so if you have plants in the tank, it will help to bring the lighting to a level these fish-like.

Or, you can also try the Electric Blue Ram!

#6 Rummy Nose Tetras

Rummy Nose Tetra

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 2 inches
Temperature range: 72-77 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 6.4-7

If you’re wondering where the rummy nose tetra got its name, just look at the red coloring across its nose and face. These fish are beautiful with their sliver-body and jet-blacked tail.

They thrive with other peaceful fish like the Discus. These fish don’t really bother any other fish and just want to swim around and do their thing.

#7 Glowlight Tetras

Glowlight Tetra

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 2 inches
Temperature range: 72-77 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 5-7.5

The glowlight tetras have a glowing strip along their body, which gives them a beautiful look. They are popular Discus tank mates because they’re low maintenance and get along with a variety of fish.

They’re also small, so there’s plenty of room for other fishy friends in the tank. But they do like to remain in schools of 6-7, so keep that in mind if you’re planning on adding them to your discus tank. They’ll eat pretty much any small foods, so they’re not really picky!

#8 Rosy Tetras


Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 1.5 inches
Temperature range: 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 5.8-7.5

Rosy Tetras are active fish that make great Discus tank mates because they don’t require a high level of care. Like the Discus, they’re peaceful fish and can live in harmony with many other fish.

They’re also beautiful in color and often compliment the colors of their other tank mates. They eat a variety of food like fish flakes, brine shrimp, and tubifex.

#9 Apisto Agassizi

Apistogramma agassizii "jatapu"

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 3 inches
Temperature range: 79-84 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 6-6.5

These fish are among the most popular in aquariums. Many people are drawn to them because of their vibrant colors. You can find apisto agassizis in red, gold, and blue. They have a long body that often has a dark horizontal stripe.

A fun fact about the apisto agassizi is that it will change color depending on its mood. So you’ll be able to tell when it’s happy and when it’s sad. They are good companions for the Discus because they are low maintenance.

#10 Five Banded Barb (Pentazona Barb)

Care level: Moderate
Max Size of fish: 2 inches
Temperature range: 79-84 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 5-6

The Pentazona Barb is a great tank mate for the discus fish because, like the Discus, it is not an aggressive fish and will not fight for food. The Pentagonal Barb is also known as the five-banded barb because of the five dark bands that run across its body.

In order for these fish to thrive, the aquarium should have plenty of plant cover and enough circulating water to mimic its natural habitat. The Pentazona Barb fish usually travels in a group of six, which is important to remember when setting up the aquarium. They like to feed on flakes, micropellets, and small bits of frozen foods.

#11 Long Fin Red White Cloud

White cloud mountain minnow 003

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 2 inches
Temperature range: 64-72 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 6-8.5

The longfin red white cloud is a long-finned variation of the white cloud minnow fish. Like other fish that are compatible Discus tank mates for the Discus, these little guys are just peaceful little fish that co-exist with fish of the same feather…so to speak.

They are more colorful and become more active when they are in schools of 8 or more. Guess that’s peer pressure for you!

The longfin white cloud should get plenty of flakes for its food with plenty of vegetables. See, it’s even important for fish to have their veggies.

#12 Peacock Gudgeon

peacock gudgeon

Care level: Easy
Max Size of fish: 2.5 inches
Temperature range: 72-77 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range: 7.0-7.8

One look at the peacock gudgeon fish, and you’ll know right away how it got its name. Its beautiful array of colors looks like a peacock’s feathers, just on a much smaller scale.

If not, they wouldn’t make it onto the list of discus tank mates! The peacock gudgeon has neon red and blue stripes on its body as well as a distinctive eyespot, which is also where it clearly gets its name.

These fish are peaceful and don’t really strut their feathers or ruffle any feathers either, that’s why they’re a good match for the Discus. You won’t find them fighting for food or anything else for that matter. Just feed them and let them be.

Bad Discus Tank Mates

While the twelve fish above make excellent tank mates for the Discus, there is plenty of fish that don’t. Any type of large tropical fish that is aggressive does not mesh well with the Discus. As we’ve been telling you, the Discus comes in peace and wants to hang out with other fish that do the same.

Here are a few fish to avoid are:

  • Oscars
  • Piranhas
  • Severums
  • Flowerhorns

Another fish you should keep out of the tank is the angelfish. Don’t be fooled by its name. As these fish mature, they become aggressive, too aggressive for the Discus to handle. If you try to put an angelfish in with a discus, good luck finding your Discus because it is going to swim and hide any chance it gets.

Any fish that isn’t a warm-water loving fish should also be avoided. Hot and cold don’t mix, and the same goes for fish that prefer different water temperatures. African cichlids and neon tetras would fall into this category.

Further Reading: Cichlid Tank Mates

If you haven’t been able to tell, discus fish aren’t fighters, and they don’t particularly like to fight for their food or move very fast. Their speed is more like a Sunday morning rather than a Friday night rush hour. If you put in fish that are on the rush-hour speed, the Discus won’t be happy. Besides fast fish, keep fin nipping fish like tiger barbs danios and tinfoil barbs away as well.

Discus Fish Misconceptions

Just as there are misconceptions about people, there are also misconceptions about fish, including the Discus. Here is a look at a few that just aren’t true:

You need super filters. Wrong! You don’t need any fancy filters for your tank of discus fish. Of course, you need to keep the tank clean, but a fancy filter isn’t needed.

Discus need fancy food. Wrong! Just because they’re often referred to as the kings of the aquarium, it doesn’t mean they need to be fed like one. They’re not picky and will eat just about anything. But if you want your fish in tip-top shape, a protein-rich diet is best.

You need to change the water every day. Wrong! If this were true, no one would ever buy a discus fish because no one has time to change the water every day. With that said, it is a good idea to change the water at least once a week, if not twice. This will just keep the tank as clean as it can be and keep the Discus healthy. You just don’t want the waste to pile up on the bottom of the tank.

That’s the Discus, the whole Discus, and nothing but the Discus!

Remember, having fish and an aquarium is supposed to be a fun hobby. Keep it that way as you maintain your discus fish!

If you enjoyed my ideas for Discus Tank Mates for your Aquarium, please share this image on Pinterest so others can enjoy it as well and find the perfect Discus Tank Mate.

Learn More About Discus & Cichlids

Discus Tank Mates Fish That Are Compatible With Discus

Jack Dempsey
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