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Best Discus Fish Food for Growth, Breeding, and Health

When feeding your discus, you want to make sure you provide adequate nutrition to allow for growth and health. Several options are available to you, but first, you must learn and understand what your feeding your discus. Not all food is created equal and not all food can be used as a singular source of nutrition. This discus fish food guide is to help you better understand how to feed your discus a variety of foods to ensure optimal discus growth and health.

discus fish food guide

Quick Guide:
What do Discus Fish Eat?
Types of Discus Fish Food
|--> Flake Food
|--> Granular Food
|--> Freeze Dried Food
|--> Frozen Food
|--> Home Made Food
|----> Example Beef Heart Recipe
|--> Live Food
Best Discus Food for Growth
Best Discus Food for Breeding
Final Thoughts

What do Discus fish eat?

In the wild, Discus fish eat live food, such as worms, bugs and perhaps even other smaller fish. In your tank, you have a greater variety of food to select from. In general, you discus are best suited being feed live foods, as it is very close to what they would eat in nature. Below we will show you how you can vary all available foods for best growth, health and even preparing your discus fish for breeding.

Types of Discus Food

Discus fish food comes in several variations, including flake, granules, frozen and live food. You can find direct sources of protein as well as proprietary blends that include vitamins and color enhancers.

Ultimately, you want your discus to live long and grow to their fullest potential. Not one food can do that alone, just like you can't eat only one food source and be healthy, neither can your discus. Below are the major categories of discus fish foods and a breakdown of how to use them.

Flake Food

Feeding Discus flake food can provide nutritional value when given as a snack or blended into homemade food. Flake food alone will prove to be difficult for your discus to live off alone.

Cobalt Aquatics Discus Hans Flake 12 oz

Great nutrition and your discus will love it. Easy to feed and full of the daily nutrition your discus needs for long term health. Discus Hans has been around a long time and is well respected in the discus community.

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Like your daily multi-vitamin, most flake food contains essential macronutrients. This can include vitamins and color-enhancers that you may or may not want.

Flake food has a negative side in that if overfed, can muck up your water quality quickly. As you can imagine, your discus will need to eat quite a bit of flake food to get full.

Flake food is a great supplemental snack or ingredient for blending into your own homemade fish food. Your discus could experience stunted growth or poor nutrition if fed flake food alone. For these reasons, use flake food sparingly and from high protein foods as a daily meal source for your discus.

Granular Food

Feeding granular food can provide your discus with further nutritional enhancements. Granular food is a bit heftier and can be a bit more filling than flake food. Some are specifically formulated for discus to enhance color.

Tetra Tropical XL Color Granules with Natural Color Enhancer 1058Ounce TetraColor

TetraColor bits are a great food to feed for color either on its own or mixed into your favorite discus fish food recipe. Known to help enhance color in discus fish, Tetra is a trusted brand in tropical fish keeping.

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Unfortunately, if all you do is feed your discus granular food, you will find the same problems as with flake food. Granular food can cause water quality issues if too much is left over and not cleaned up after meals. Granular food tends to fall into crevices, ornaments, and the gravel surface, making complete clean up difficult.

Mixing granular food into your own homemade discus fish food can be a great way to supplement food given to your discus. Otherwise, use granular food as a treat or snack, make sure to clean up any leftovers right away.

Freeze Dried Food

In instances where frozen food is not possible, freeze-dried food can provide your discus with optional food varieties. Several companies offer an assortment of beef heart and worms that have been freeze dried.

San Francisco Bay Brand Freeze Dried Bloodworms 1 oz

San Francisco Bay brand has been producing high-quality tropical fish food for a long time. A large variety of freeze-dried food is available to provide a healthy balance for your discus fish diet.

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To feed freeze dried food, it is best to pre-soak the food before feeding to your discus. Pre-soaking will allow water absorption and expansion before you discus eats the food. It will keep the food from creating intestinal blockages and much easier for your discus to eat.

Freeze dried food is a great source of protein, right behind frozen and live foods as a preferred protein source. Daily feeding of freeze dried food is not recommended, instead, use freeze-dried food to vary daily feedings.

Frozen Food

Frozen food is a great way to get high protein to your discus. Frozen beef heart and bloodworms are available in most pet stores. Packaged in small frozen cubes, you can find a variety of companies offering several frozen food options.

Hikari BioPure 18597 Frozen Blood Worms Cubes

Hikari BioPure is found in every pet store for a reason, it's high-quality food. Always a discus fish favorite, the frozen cubes provide a convenient and quick food option for feeding our discus fish.

Some great options for frozen food include beef heart, krill, shrimp and blood worms. Enabling you to provide several variations for daily feedings to your discus.

The trick to feeding frozen food is to first thaw it out. Many hobbyists plop a frozen cube in the water and watch their discus chase the cube around trying to eat it.

Imagine if your dinner was in a frozen block of ice and you were trying to eat it as it melted. Instead, drop the cubes in a container with warm water and thaw them out completely. You can then feed your discus ready to eat meals.

You can even find green foods that are frozen in gelatin. If you want to feed your discus vegetables or green leafy foods, frozen is a great source.

Home Made Food

Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and do things yourself. This can include the making of your very own discus fish food. This by no means is an easy task, taking several hours and creating a bit of mess in your kitchen.

If you decide to make your discus food, it will consist of a protein source. Several sources are used such as beef heart, chicken, turkey fish, and shrimp. DIY discus food recipes can be found scattered around the internet.

Most of the recipes will call for the protein to be cleaned, removing connective tissues and fats. Then the protein is ground up to provide a smoother consistency easier to ingest. At this point, flake food, granular food as well as leafy greens or secondary proteins can be mixed in. Sometimes a secondary grounding of the protein is required. Some hobbyist mix in liquid vitamins at this point.

Then a binder is often used, such as flavorless gelatin to keep the food together and from falling apart when placed in your tank. All of this food is mixed up and then placed into molds or zip lock bags then frozen. Then you simply take out a cube or break off a piece, thaw it out and feed it to your discus.

It is a lot of work, you may even end up spending more making your own food. If you like knowing what you feed your discus and don't mind rolling up your sleeves, make your own discus food. It will give you new insights and control over what your discus eats.

Example Beef Heart Recipe

1 pound of ground Beef Heart
1 pound of ground Shrimp ( without shell )
3 ground Garlic cloves
1/2 cup of Flake Food
1/2 cup of TetraColor bits

1 box of One Gallon ZipLock Bags or Sandwich Sized Ziplock Bags


  1. Mix ingredients into a paste in a large bowl.
  2. Scoop small amounts into a ziplock bag, flattening it out. For best results, fill in the entire bag and flatten to about a quarter of an inch thickness.
  3. Repeat this until all the mixture is used.
  4. Place bags in the freezer and allow them to become fully hardened.
  5. When it's time for feeding, open the bag and break off a piece, drop it in the tank and watch your discus fish gobble it up. Vacuum out any leftovers that are not eaten to avoid mucking up your water.

Live Food

Probably the closest your discus fish will come to eat what they find in nature, live foods are an amazing source of nutrition. If you ever get an opportunity, observe discus eating live foods, you will never want to feed anything else again.

Live blackworms are the most popular live food given to discus. Often a fork full of live worms are placed in a worm feeder, then stand back as discus begin to go into a feeding frenzy. Something about live food drives discus fish into a frenzy, gobbling up live worms as fast as possible.

Many will try to tell you live food is dangerous, due to parasites found in live food sources. Although it is a challenge to keep live food alive, if purchased from a reputable source, live food is a great option for your discus.

Live food will arrive in a sealed bag and must immediately be placed in a plastic container. You will have to rinse out your worms to remove dead worms once or twice a day. You will also need a mini refrigerator to keep your worms cool with just enough water in the container to keep them from drying out. The cool dark refrigerator mimics their environment and helps keep them alive.

It is HIGHLY recommended you use a separate mini refrigerator and not your main home refrigerator. Worms have been known to crawl up the sides of containers if too shallow, at times, even up and over. So the last thing you want is to find worms all over inside your home fridge.

Best Discus Food for Growth

Discus growth is all about high protein diet and small but frequent feedings. You can break down a growth diet plan into three parts, staple foods, live foods, and frozen foods. Frozen foods include homemade recipes of beef heart, shrimp or white fish.

Live Foods

The best live food for your growing discus is going to be California Blackworms. Nothing drives discus to eat more than live food. Maybe it's the wiggly motion of the live food that sends them into a frenzy. Hard to imagine a discus in a feeding frenzy, feed them California Blackworms and stand back. You will need a floating or fixed plastic worm feeder to help keep the worms in front of the discus. Adding California Blackworms as your live food will help tremendously in your growth efforts.

Frozen Foods

Second best is going to be your frozen food varieties often found at your local pet store and your homemade recipes. Frozen food probably taste about the same to discus fish as frozen chicken tastes to us. Yes, it's still chicken, but you can tell it's not fresh and it was frozen, how long, who knows?

Frozen bloodworms from Hikari is great to feed as well as frozen shrimp and krill. Using frozen food to create a variety will help with growth. Some frozen foods will also come fortified with vitamins that will help with discus general health.

Homemade recipes can be super beneficial, as you control the protein and vitamin sources. Growth is about protein and carbs but also overall health, and providing foods with excellent sources of vitamins goes a long way. Especially when you enhance with flake foods to help boost vitamin and mineral content. Adding crushed garlic provides help against internal parasites, again, you can control all of these factors when you make your own discus growth food.

Flake Food

Not use exclusively, but mixed in with homemade recipes as mentioned above, flake food can contribute significantly to the overall diet. Keeping your discus fish diet balanced with needed vitamins and minerals contributes to overall health and growth. Your discus can't grow if it's not healthy. You could sprinkle flake food into your discus tank every once in a while, you will see that your discus will show very little if any interest. Flake should be used and mixed in if making your own discus food.

Best Discus Food for Breeding

Hands down, the best food for preparing your discus for breeding is going to be live food, like California Blackworms. Will discus lay eggs and pair up on beef heart, yes they will. In my experience, live foods work best for both water quality and health leading up to mating. The cleaner the water, the more frequent the spawning. Discus fish engorge themselves with blackworms, they can't get enough, that is why small but frequent feedings are recommended. An overabundance of food, especially live food, gets your discus fish ready for spawning. Mimicking what would happen in nature, clean water, an abundance of food and good health, in my experience, leads to faster pairing and more successful spawning.

Final Thoughts

With so many options available for discus food, it can be overwhelming to make a choice. Discus fish always do best when you get back to basics. Clean water and live foods work best for discus fish. If you decide to venture into making your own food, mix in flake food and high-quality protein for best results. Frozen foods should be used only to supplement an already balanced diet. Although it takes a bit of work, live foods is the way to go, plus you didn't get into keeping discus fish because it was easy. Do the work and your discus will grow, breed and have amazing healthy long lives.

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