Jump to content

Juvenile Discus Flashing/Scratching


Recommended Posts

My discus were doing good until about a week ago I noticed them occasionally flashing against plants and objects in the tank. I also noticed a few white spots on a few discus. The spots were barely visible though and seemed like ich or possibly velvet. I've been treating for a week with a formalin malachite green treatment. They seem better, most of them are still growing and brightening up, but a few of them seem paler than a week ago and like they aren't growing as fast as the others. The smallest palest one doesn't try to eat much. Some of them have had white poop segments and the smallest has had mostly white poop when it poops at all. I live in Canada and medicine is hard to get. Sometimes there are still white particles attached to them but more loosely like they may just be clinging sand or gas bubbles or tiny injuries maybe...and they come and go so I'm starting to wonder if they even matter

Most of the discus are flashing, the smallest one seems to have excess slime, any of them occasionally have tiny which particles or bubbles on their skin, fins or slime coat, white poop segments in most of them and white poop exclusively on the littlest one, smallest one not eating and pale and timid. I'm worried about the smallest one not eating and not looking great and I'm worried about the flashing all around. If it weren't for those two things I wouldn't really be worried about anything else.

I've been doing a 40% water change and then treating with Pond Microbe Lift Broad Spectrum Disease Treatment (formalin and malachite green) every night since Monday. I'm not planning to do it tonight since it seems to stress them out and if they had ich I think it should've been gone by now. They do seem a bit better, but it may have just been the ample water changes.  


It is a 65 gallon tank, current occupants are:
- 1 L204 Pleco >3years old, long term resident
- 1 Gold Nugget Pleco >3 years old, long term resident
- 6 Discus ~4 months old, added October 1st 

Water parameters are:
- temp ____84F

- ph _____ 7.6

- ammonia reading ____ 0ppm

- nitrite reading ____ 0ppm

- nitrate reading ____ 0-5ppm

I got my discus from a local breeder and they were raised in municipal water. 

I added new plants added a few days before they started flashing 

I started trying to feed them flake that contains metro - they don't want it, they are trying to eat black beard algae off the filter intake instead

Here is a link to videos I took today. Please let me know if you need anything else. The difference in their colours and sizes is bothering me. Up till the past week they've all been roughly the same size and colour. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. Plants, too, must be disinfected. I usually do a potassium permanganate soak on new plants for several hours at high doses. 

First, have you reached out to the breeder you purchased from? Are they open to suggesting treatment for you, if needed? They would be a good source of advice for what products you can get in canada to help, if you have an issue.

To me, your videos look like you have 6 healthy discus and I would not be medicating these. You might cause more stress & harm by medicating and water changing then help. BUT it's very possible to miss something in a video. In your videos, I see 6 discus who are inquisitive - picking at the filter intake shows they're hungry and active, two good things. Then they do a little bickering (also good, normal cichlid behavior). 

Does your tank have an airstone? They seem to be breathing slightly quickly. You may want to 1 or 2 air stones. Water at 84 doesn't hold as much oxygen. 

It's unlikely ich is the issue, discus rarely get it at their temps. 

Is this little squiggle of white underneath the fin what you're worried about? Looks like a little slime coat shedding, but nothing that would cause me to medicate.


But, it's easy to miss something in videos. If your breeder won't/can't help, and you think there is definitely something wrong that I didn't see, here's an idea for a salt/heat treatment.

  1. remove all the plants, or move the fish to a hospital tank (because the next steps will kill the plants) Plants can live in a 5 gal bucket for a week. 
  2. add airstones
  3. set temp to 88
  4. add salt, 1 tablespoon per 5 gals. 
  5. continue water changes as needed (daily, perhaps). Re-dose salt only to replace what is removed in a water change. 

This is what Discus Hans (the us Stendker importer) has recommended to me in the past for a juvenile who wouldn't eat, and I've seen him recommend it to others many times in the discus hans FB group. 

Heat is great for little discus, it gets their metabolisms going faster and makes them hungrier. But as we increase heat, we decrease the water's ability to hold gasses, so airstones are very critical if the temp is going to be raised. 

Here are some great resources for discus: 

The simply discus forum diseases and medications index:


Discus that have been exposed to diseases or that have been improperly cared for may fall victim to a number of problems. This portion of the library concentrates on disease diagnosis, treatment, and preventative...

The Stendker handbook: (good info, but they are a breeder and biased towards their own fish): 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you so much! This was great advice.  I turned up the temp to 86f and took a step back.  The stuff I was seeing was definitely just slime coat with some sand in it. They are doing well.  
The little one’s appetite didn’t improve at first, but I waited to make sure it wasn’t something I’d caused by fussing too much.  I did a round of dewormer and now it’s perked right up and is even challenging the others for food again.  I am hoping it’ll catch up in growth since they are still really young. The biggest one is almost twice the size of the average ones and the little one is smaller than them.  They’re all eating really well now so hopefully they’ll even out a bit.

I had posted on the simply discus forum, but I didn’t receive any replies there. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...