All discus have the typical almost circular, discus-shape. They have strong lateral compression and large anal and dorsal fins. The Discus has a steep forehead and a small mouth. The iris of the eye is usually blood-red in color. The body and fin color and pattern varies greatly of the species, habitat, and diet. For instance, the red tones are enhanced when the fish is fed brine shrimp. In the vast Amazon basin, separate populations have developed and originally created the differential of color and markings.
Discus are found in calm parts of small, blackwater rivers, lakes, and deep pools. They are usually found in small groups around submerged, fallen trees; decaying wood and vegetation; and aquatic grasses. Discus tend to stay in shaded areas during the day. The water is usually very clean with little or no pollutants. Discus are widely distributed throughout the Amazon Basin. The water in the natural habitat of Discus is acidic, around a pH of 6.0-6.5; and is very soft, 0-3 dH. Discus are found in warm water with a temperature of 77-84°F (25-29°C).
In Southeast Asia, Discus are raised in soft to medium hard, alkaline water (3-9 dH, pH 7.0-8.0) with temperatures ranging from 81-91°F (27-33°C).
Provide a large variety of live, dry, and frozen foods. Try to feed Discus as many nutritional foods as possible such as fortified flake foods, water insects, and brine shrimp. Some Discus are very picky eaters and will only take live foods like Tubifex , bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and beef heart. These foods are not especially healthy and should only be used sparingly. Tubifex worms usually come from polluted waterways and thus must be kept clean or the Discus may develop hole-in-the-head disease. Foods formulated for discus are available.