Aquarium Tank Basic Setup

Setting up your discus aquarium tank is fairly simple. Most aspiring aquarist has been deterred by choices of tanks, heaters and other equipment. However, the basic simple requirements to start are: 1) aquarium tank, 2) aeration equipment, 3) filtration systems, 4) heating and 5) suitable lighting.

For more advanced aquarist, they will design their plumbing system to ease on water changes. There are plenty of resources in the web, you can find by doing a search with keywords “aquarium setup”.

Aquarium Tank Size

What size should your aquarium tank be? Often we get questions from hobbyist how large their aquarium should be in order to ensure the discus grows well. There are no fixed answers for this, but as a general guideline to ensure a healthy environment without causing stress to the fishes.

General guideline for aquarium tank sizes and number of discus supported without causing stress.

(US Gallon)
Size 2in
(# of pcs)
Size 3in
(# of pcs)
Size 4in
(# of pcs)
Size 5in
(# of pcs)
(30″ X 12″ X 18″)
56 18 8 2
(36″ x 18″ x 16″)
70 24 12 4
(36″ x 18″ x 19″)
100 30 16 5 to 10

How can i find out how many gallons my fish tank is?
Multiply Length X Width X Depth (in inches) divide by 231 = US Gallons

We would normally recommend discus hobbyist to start with a 29 gallon tank. At a later stage, most likely you would need another community tank to display your discus. You can get a 40 gallon or 50 gallon tank depends on your budget. When a pair starts to mate, your 29 gallon tank would be a prefect size for your breeding pair.

“Nice Site and nice photos of discus…I have 4 discus in a 15-gallon aquarium. I’m new in taking care of discus and i like to find out how to properly feed them. I bought discus bits and they don’t seem to like it. Please advise me on these..thanks. ”


  1. A tank of 15 gallons of water is too small to raise discus. It’s about 24″x12″x16″, 1 inch of fish to a gallon of water. (Maximum) 4 fishes of 3″ is the maximum. They are staying in the flat. Fish tank sizes information
  2. Why don’t you offer them a better environment. The water quality changes very much as you have little water. The water easily polluted. With this water they feel not comfortable. How you expect them to eat?
  3. The fish easily gets frightened. They live in fear. Most of the time they hide at the end cover. They refuse to eat
  4. Check the water quality. Change water daily
  5. Feed the live food after water changed. Little bit at a time
  6. Feeding dry food you need to train them at their top form

Aeration Equipment

Do always try to buy a pump that is able to serve more than one tank. All pumps will wear down over period of time, causing weak aeration, getting a stronger one will allow longer usage. Good pumps can be used for several tanks and cost less than several smaller pumps.

Note: When placing your pump, ensure it is higher than the water level in the tank. Electricity blackout will cause water to be siphoned into the pump causing possible damage, especially to diaphragm pumps.


Fluorescent lightning provides the most popular and effective illumination for aquarium tanks. Benefits are:

  • displaying the brilliant colors of discus
  • enhancing the growth of tropical aquarium plants
  • cost effective in terms of daily usage

Different lighting tubes will provide different usage:

Reddish glow lighting tubes will enhance discus colors dramatically. Recommended for aquarium tanks that do not have tropical aquarium plants as they are not the best tube type for encouraging plant growth.

Natural daylight lighting tubes will closely match natural daylight and are the best choice for plants. They will illuminate the aquarium tank but does not enhance the discus colors as much as the reddish glow type.

If you have discus and tropical aquarium plants in your tank, do consider having both lighting tubes installed. Keep your tank illuminated about 10 hours daily in order for health growth of plants. Too much light will promote algae, too little the plants will die and decay.

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