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the water that splashed me was warm and temporarily removed the chill from the cooling night air.

Discus live in water that is perpetually very warm. They can survive in cool water, but it proves stressful and makes them much more vulnerable to disease, including Hexamita. Young discus are especially vulnerable to chilling, but the cool water will slowly deteriorate the health of adults.

The Water's Fine

How warm is discus water? Heiko Bleher in his Bleher's Discus (volume 1, 2006) records the water parameters, including temperature, for all of the species of discus. He does this for various parts of the range. His data for the Río Ariáu averages 85.6 degrees. I was in the Río Ariáu and recorded an even higher temperature of 86.1 degrees during the day. At night, the temperature dropped to 85.3 degrees. The Río Ariáu is the home of the Heckel discus (Symphysodon discus).

Heating a discus tank is simple, but efficiently ensuring the heater operation requires some thought.

Bleher's average temperature for the Heckel discus from different parts of its range varies between 83.5 to 85.3 degrees.

Many stores keep discus in their fish rooms without supplying additional heat to their tank. The same can be said for most importers and wholesalers. This is because the temperature preferred by the discus is at the higher end of the threshold for many other tropical species and is simply too warm for many nontropical species. The dealers simply heat the entire room to a temperature that satisfies most species, or to between 74 to 78 degrees, which is tolerable by staff and customers. This range is unacceptable for discus.

Keep Them Heated

This high temperature requirement for discus means that they are best kept in a tank with a heater. Unless this is done they will slowly pine away and when acquired by the hobbyist may never recover. I always stress to dealers that they should heat their discus tanks.

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This sign demonstrates the commitment to proper discus husbandry that can be found at the Turkeys Aquarium in Brazil.

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DiscUs^ept in a suboptimal tem-ture tend to darken, are not as ive and if they are of the type that sport vertical bars, they will constantly display these. Such discus clearly do not behave as they should, though unless one has had extensive experience with discus they may not know the difference.

^ Heatingaldiscus tankis simpHybut efficiently ensuring the heater operation requires some thought. I have seen tanks that faced air conditioner ducts or that were located very close to windows, and the constant blowing cold air kept the heater constantly functioning and in one case could never keep the water at the required temperature. Tank placement is thus very important.

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