Angels & Discus

Angels & Discus



Jim E. Quarles
Jan. 18, 2000

I keep getting questions asking is it safe to keep angelfish in my discus tank setup! The answer to that is very subjective and confused in the hobby. To write this article, I went through all my back issues of Freshwater Marine Aquarium Magazine and the issues of T.F.H. plus consulted all the text books about angels and discus that I have.

In the many issues I have going back years, I found no information that has linked a problem to angelfish that directly effected the death of discus fish.

As far as I can tell, what information that is offered if you care to call it information, is floated from hobbyist to hobbyist with no real evidence to support it one way or the other. (In other words unsupported rumor). It seems to me this is not the best way to base judgments on the subject.

Without some concrete information to rely on, your guess about this is as good as the next person's. What I find strange is that both are found in the same waters and general areas together in nature. Both have extensive slime coats, and fry have been seen feeding off the sides of angels but are not dependent on it as a first food.

To say that one species or the other are carriers of any given disease that they are themselves immune to, yet have deadly affects on discus, without the slightest proof, such a statement only points to the total lack of knowledge on the part of the person offering such information.

Based upon what I have seen and done with regard to mixing the two species over many years is that when you add more individuals to a given volume of water the chances of diseases increase, regardless of what species you are using.

Another factor is the question of quarantine. Those of us who have learned the hard way have made arrangements to quarantine all fish before adding them into any new tank that already contains fish. In countless cases I have seen people who claim to be aquarium smart, just buy new fish and dump them into their tanks that may or may not contain discus. When such an event occurs and the tank develops disease vectors it is not the fault of the fish, it is the stupidness of the keeper that caused the problem.

After reading all I could find (which was not much) about this subject I e-mailed four experts who specialize in angelfish breeding.

I asked the following question:

What, if any disease are angels carriers of that they themselves are immune to, that might affect discus if kept together? The answer may surprise you. No one could name even one disease or parasite that could be considered in this light, assuming that the fish started out in a healthy condition before the two species were mixed in the same tank.

In general, angelfish are no more carriers of any given parasite or disease than the discus themselves or at least it has never been documented if they are.

So if some half knowing (instant discus expert,) tells you not to keep angels with discus ask them to document their claims with some facts not just their personal say so.

I am not saying it is a good idea to mix the two species. It may not be for reasons other then disease vectors. For instance. Angels are pigs when it comes to food. They may push the slower discus to one side and grab the best bits of food. But that has nothing to do with causing diseases. Also, angels are a lot more forceful when they spawn and could do damage to the shy discus at spawning time. But once again that is another point and is not disease related.

So make up your own mind about this and if you want angels in with your discus go ahead with the points considered here and observe for yourself the results. And if you can, document the facts and submit them. BE A LEADER NOT A FOLLOWER.!

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