Discus Stop Eating

Discus Stop Eating



By Jim E. Quarles

This seems to be a fairly common problem we all run into now and then. Exactly why discus do this is unknown. But a good guess would be something has changed in the water parameters, or food supply or maybe you have the onset of a disease waiting to make its self known.

Now let me make a generalized statement about this condition. I have never known of a discus fish that died because of a lack of food. Not if the fish is in normal health to begin with. I have seen what is known as WASTING disease become a factor in non eating discus. But this is a parasitic condition that could have been controlled or prevented with early treatment of the disease.

  1. What is the causative factor, was it lack of food that weakened the fish to the disease?
  2. Was it the disease that caused the fish to quit eating? My guess would be the second condition.

Sometimes a simple change in the water can cause a discus to stop eating, moving a fish in or out of the tank can start the problem. What ever the cause the fish will not starve to death if it does not eat like a pig or even at all for a couple of weeks. I have seen far more discus killed by over feeding than lack of eating.


The very first thing to do is check the water parameters, make sure the water is clean and pure. The pH should be between 5.8 and 6.8 without rapid changes. Make sure the bio filter is working and in good order. And check for toxic chemicals in the water.

Then you might consider adding a few fish that are big eaters to the tank, this has proven effective for me lots of times. I use young angelfish that I know to be disease free.

The non-eating fish will generally join in the feeding after a short while.

If this does not work, check carefully for any specific problem you may note with the fish it
self. Cloudy eyes, swollen gut area, any sign of fin rot, or external parasites! Is or has the fish been dropping white stringy waste? If so you can be sure it has internal parasites that will need to be controlled, and if the fish has stopped taking in food, that just about wipes out any chance of getting medicated food into the fish.


It is far better to prevent a problem than to try to cure one. Keep your water in tip top shape, keep the tanks at 82 to 86 degrees F. Don't suddenly change food, if you must make major changes do so slowly over a long period of time.

I recommend treatment with Metronidazole, at regular intervals. This will help keep internal parasites in check, and this in turn will keep the fish eating normally.

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