Discus Fish: Where to Buy
An absolute must is starting with healthy Discus. If you are lucky enough to have a reputable breeder in your area you are ahead of the game. If not, mail order is also an exciting option. There's a real rush and excitement to having Discus delivered to your front door. Make sure to research any online vendor you may want to order from. There are some great breeders out there with a great selection. On the downside shipping usually runs from $50-$75 depending on the service.
If mail order isn't an option and you are left with your local fish store you'll need to take some precautions and do your best to pick out healthy fish. If possible try to find a shop that specializes in higher end tropical fish and avoid chain stores. Find out what the shop's quarantine and guarantee policies are. Ask them how long the Discus should be quarantined once you get them home. If their answer is "you don't need to", this is a major red flag. Ask questions to get a feel for how well they support and care for their product.
At an average, you will also find shops that offer cheaper prices for Discus Fish. In fact, you can find adult Discus Fish for 70 dollars and around 40 dollars for a juvenile Discus Fish.
How to pick up a Healthy discus in the store:
You have to remember that a healthy Discus Fish should look healthy. Discus Fish that tends to stay on top of the tank or near the surface is a sure sign that they are sick. You should also look out for bloated gills as well as unusual spots.
When you walk by the tank, the fish should be active and come up to greet you. Avoid fish that are dark, hiding or hanging behind uplift tubes. The water in the tank and the tank itself should look clear and clean. If there are dead fish in the tank keep walking. Now, (if you haven't left the store) look at the fish, they should have a full body that doesn't look sunken and is free of scrapes, bumps, visible injuries and or parasites. Be on the lookout for parasites hanging from the fish. The body shape should have a nice round appearance void of bent, stubbed tails and flat foreheads. Check the skin and make sure it doesn't have a dull, matte, or slimy look to it.
The fins should look healthy and not have a cottony or milky appearance. The fins should be intact with no white specs or splits and not be clamped to the body. The Discus should be using both pectoral fins to move about. Watch for how the fish are breathing. An overly rapid gill rate or if the Discus looks to be gasping is a good sign of gill parasites. The fish’s movement should be fluent and have no problem with balance. You don't want to pick a fish that can't hold itself level.
The eyes of your Discus should have a healthy clean look to them. The eyes are a good indicator of how well it's been taken care of. You will want a fish with small eyes compared to its body with a centred pupil. Big or bulging eyes are usually a sign of neglect.
You should also test the alertness and responsiveness of the fish. To do this, have the breeder or the keeper feed the fish. Ask to see the Discus eat. Be wary if they feed live blood worms or tubiflex worms. Watch to make sure the fish are able to easily get the food into their mouth. Avoid fish that continually miss the food that is right in front of them or don't seem interested in eating. If the fish is passive and doesn’t take interest of the new food available, this may be a sign of unhealthy fish. The fish you buy should eat the food or at least take interest in them. If the keeper says that they just fed the fish, then you should look for another place to buy a Discus Fish.
You also have to know about the dealer quarantine. This is the time where the dealer obtained the fish and the time they decide to sell the fish. The longer the dealer quarantine is, the better it will be for you. Usually, the fish should be in quarantine for at least 2 weeks. This is to make sure that the fish is not spreading any diseases. Also, you need to make sure that the dealer tells you if the fish have been subjected to medicines or if they have been de-wormed. By asking these questions, you will be able to have a good idea about the background of the fish.
Lastly, you have to take a look at the aquarium chemistry. Make sure that you ask the dealer about the current water condition that the Discus Fish you plan on buying is currently living in. This will give you a good idea on how to set up your aquarium and also help you if the dealer of the fish knows what they’re doing.
You should also stay away from tanks that have a DNS label on them. DNS means “do not sell” and the fish here are most likely to have a disease.
When you get a new discus fish, you have to quarantine them before you place them on your main tank. This is to prevent them from introducing bacteria, parasites, as well as other types of diseases that can be transferred to other fishes inside the main tank.
If the quarantined fish do not show any signs of illness after two or three weeks in the quarantine tank, you can introduce them to the main tank.
As much as possible, you should buy an adult Discus Fish. This is highly recommended for first time owners of Discus Fish as adult Discus Fish costs lesser to maintain than juvenile ones. You need to remember that juvenile Discus Fish are far more sensitive to water quality and food quality than adult Discus Fish.