Hi guys, welcome back to the Jack Wattley Discus hatchery. I’m Gabe Posada, and this is a general overview of the most common ailments we see in the discus fish, and how to cure them.

The Most Common Ailments 

Today we are going to talk about five of the most common ailments a discus can get and how to cure them. We will also be looking at some of the symptoms and side effects of each ailment so that you can better identify and determine what it has, and how to treat it. Obviously, you’re not going to swallow an oxydoxycycline to cure a headache, so we want to give you the right information and medications so that you get it done properly and everything works right the first time.

Internal Parasites

The first one we’re going to talk about are internal parasites. Internal parasites are primarily cause by Hexamita, small intestinal parasitic diplomonads. hexamita can be caused by many factors, the main causes being stress or the fact that the fish ate something that was loaded internally with a hexamita. The most common symptoms and identifiers that your fish may have this parasite is when the discus is pooping white, they have a hole in their head or they’re thinning out even though they’re eating.

If you see any of these indicators, the best solution is metronidazole. There are many ways of treating with metronidazole, some will say do a treatment every eight hours for 3 days because the shelf life for metronidazole in water is exactly eight hours. After eight hours, there’s likely nothing in the water left to treat. Here at Wattley Discus we like to take it up 10 days rather than three days every eight hours to be on the safe side and ensure no parasites return. To administer this treatment, we use one gram of Metronidazole for every 20 gallons of water. You can mix it into a cup of water outside of the fish tank, and then pour it right in.

If your discus is eating, then what you want to do is hold some of it into the food and give it to them for 10 days straight. This will clean them out and it will prevent any hatchlings, or anything being born that is immune to the medication while it’s in the reproduction stages. It is important to be on the safe side when deciding how long you want to administer this treatment for because if you take it to five days and then the six day they started to hatch, then you’re back to square one.

 Very rarely do Discus fish get tape worms or capillaria, which are other forms of internal parasites. Those two must be treated with praziquantel, but we aren’t going to get into that here because hardly ever comes up.


Cloudy Eyes

Another of the most common ailments that we often hear about is cloudy eyes. The number one reason for this is that they experienced some sort of physical trauma to the eye. Maybe the fish were arguing and one attacked the others head, they scratch themselves on something, or got startled.

Furthermore, if your tanks Ph balance all the sudden crashes, this will also cloud the eyes. Luckily, the eye has a protective layer that will take the burden so the entire eye is not lost. In most cases, a little bit of salt and a tiny stress coat from API that has Aloe Vera in it will help get this resolved and you’ll start to see it heal and the white circle will start to disappear. If you don’t catch this early enough, however; it is possible that the fish may lose its eye.


Fin Rot

Next up is fin rot. Now, to preface this let’s consider a normal external bacterial infection on a human. If there’s an external bacterial infection, the first thing that’s going to be affected are the extremities, your fingers, hands, etc. It’s not going to go straight through your skin and hit your liver. It is the same for Discus fish and that’s why you start getting that fin rot. If that happens, it is usually caused by a high organic load.

The only way you’re truly going to be able to determine this is with a microscope, and for somebody to analyze your water. We’re not going to get that technical. If you see the fin rot coming on and the fish starts to look like a sunflower because it’s starting to lose its fins, it means that there’s a buildup of anaerobic bacteria in your gravel or somewhere that’s now coming out of the gravel and attaching itself to your fish.

In this case, we need to use Oxytetracycline. Keep an eye out for this on our website, as we are working on adding it to our selection soon. This is the best way to resolve cloudy eyes and keep your tanks clean. Make sure that if you’ve got any kind of wood or rocks in your tank, clean very well around it because these things are breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria.



The last ailment we are going to be talking about today is bloating. Bloating is a common ailment that happens even to us. What causes this is when you eat something and it spoils inside your stomach before your digestive system can break it down, and as a result fills up the stomach with gas.  The number one cure for this in discus fish is Epsom salts.

When administering, you need to use one tablespoon for every 40 gallons of water. Epsom salts do not go away once added to the tank and will stay in the water until you change it, so you don’t need to replace it unless you do a water change. Once you put the Epsom salts in you need to bring your temperature up to 86 or 88 degrees because this will speed up their metabolic rate and get everything out of them. Going back to our example of bloating in humans, Epsom salts is basically just ex-lax for fish. Be prepared after administering the salt to your tank because it will make the fish poop beyond recognition.

Now, the second thing you need to do after the Epsom salt, if you get them to relieve themselves, is you want to add a mild treatment of metronidazole just in case some hexamita developed from the fish’s excrement, so you don’t end up with internal parasites.



 These are some of the most common ailments you will find in discus fish. We experience these problems here at Wattley Discus daily and know what it is going to take to get the results you want. Hopefully you are maintaining your tank and you’re never going to see any of these, but if you do, reference this article for some quick remedies.

If you have any questions, just keep them coming the way you have been! I realized that we only go into general detail here, and that’s because we don’t want to make these articles too long. If you ever have any specific questions though, we are here to help. We truly appreciate the fact that so many of you are sending us thank you notes on Facebook, by email and are calling us up. We thank you and appreciate the fact that you’re reading our blog and we will continue to bring you even more helpful content in the future!

And once again, thank you for coming and joining us at the Jack Wattley Discus hatchery.

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