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When does Discus Aggression or Discus Bullying take place and what can you do to reduce it?

There is a “King Of The Hill” behavior that’s going to happen immediately when people receive our discus and place them into the tank. Once the fish calms down, relaxes, and once they relieve themselves from the stress of the trip, they immediately start creating their own pecking order.

Identifying Discus Bullying

The king of the tank behavior manifests itself in such a way as to say to the other discus “You can’t come near my area” and so on and so forth. Normally, it’s just a one-time incident where the rules are being laid. Meaning “I’m the king, you are the colonel, you are the sergeant, you are the captain and so on. It might not be in that order, but everybody knows what their rank is at the beginning. It’s very aggressive at first and a lot of our clients get very, very worried. Once this initial behavior is over, and the pecking order is established, the only time you’ll see aggression again is during feeding time. During feeding time is when you may notice the top dogs go up to eat first and then the rest of the discus will afterward.

Reduce Discus Bullying During Feeding Time

Now you have to be smarter than them. Don’t just put the food in one area, spread the food around the tank. Once you spread the food around it’s impossible for the biggest discus in the tank to patrol the whole area, so everybody gets a chance to eat. If he decides to go to the left of the tank and attack the food, the other discus will eat from the opposite side. If you just throw one lump of food in the tank, the king is going to guard it. He’s not even going to eat and he’s definitely not going let anybody else eat either. So plan it out accordingly and be the psychologist. Be the one in control during feeding times.

Changing Environment To Reduce Discus Bullying

Aggression can also happen during breeding times and when you’re tank is underpopulated. An example of an underpopulated tank is a 30-gallon tank with only two discus in it. Naturally, one discus is going to bully the other one. There’s nowhere for the smaller discus to run, so the smaller discus has a bullseye on it all day long in that particular case. But with three discus the aggressive one is going to try to go after both of them and wear himself out. The same thing is going to happen in a bigger tank. If you give the big discus fish too much space to patrol, he will only guard a portion of the tank and not chase the others continuously. Another strategy is to move stuff around in your tank to break up the monotony and territory.

Adding More Fish To Reduce Discus Bullying

Another solution is to add more discus to your tank. I don’t want you to overcrowd the tank but having a number of discus the same size will eliminate a lot of the bullying. Sometimes one discus becomes so aggressive you have no choice other than to separate that particular fish. This will often reset the pecking order and relieve some of the bullying in the tank.

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