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Red Melon Discus

(Symphysodon aequifasciata)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 8"
• Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons   • Water Conditions: 78-86° F, KH 1-3, pH 6.0-7.5
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon, South America   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Discus   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Red Melon Discus native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Red Melon Discus is one of the many strains of discus that through genetic mutation have produced a reproducable color variation of the Discus fish. This breeding work was performed by breeders who over the course of decades were able to selectively breed the discus to achieve what we now call the Red Melon Discus, Melon Red Discus or Super Red Melon Discus, which features a solid reddish orange body and either a reddish orange face or a pale yellow face.

Their coloration is easily influenced by color enhancing foods or carotenoids present within the foods they are fed. Color enhancing foods that contain beta carotene will alter the color of the Discus and generally give it a deeper red or red/orange appearance.

Discus originate from the Amazon River Systems of South America, where they were first imported into the aquarium hobby in the early 1930s. Ever since their introduction into the hobby to this day, Discus are considered one of the most colorful, demanding, rewarding and expensive of all tropical freshwater aquarium fish species. Due to their popularity and the high price tag that they command, Discus are very popular with fish breeders.

Over the years breeders have not only raised enough tank-bred specimens to largely fulfill the demand from the aquarium hobby, but have developed completely new color strains and patterns as well. Discus are very popular amongst intermediate to advanced fish keepers, and are widely considered to be one of the most rewarding and challenging to keep of the freshwater tropical community fish species available within the hobby.

In the wild, Discus are found living in the upper tributaries of the Rio Negro and Rio Madiera along with the surrounding lakes and flood plains. The water is very low in mineral content, which makes it "soft" water with a low pH ranging from 4.0 to 7.0. The water also maintains very stable and consistent water parameters year round, including water temperatures that range between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit both during the day and night.

When keeping Red Melon Discus in the home aquarium, it is extremely important to replicate their natural surroundings and water parameters as closely as possible. It is also very important to maintain very consistent water parameters that have very little fluctuations in pH, temperature and dissolved minerals.

Many tank bred Discus are used to higher pH ranges from 6.0 to 7.0 and can thrive while being kept in a higher pH. The key is to keep water parameters that are consistent over time and do not high quick flucuations. Discus as with other fish can easily adjust to pH that flucuates naturally between day and night and with slight fluctuations caused by partial water changes.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Red Melon Discus in the home aquarium.

Red Melon Discus aquariums should closely resemble their natural Amazonian habitat with plenty of plants and branching root or driftwood. Water parameters should be very consistent with a pH near 6.5 to 7.2, temperature between 80° to 86° Fahrenheit with low to medium water currents. Discus can thrive in a wider range of water parameters as long as the changes are not sudden and the fish has adequate time to adjust to changing parameters. Red Melon Discus should not be housed with aggressive or boisterous fish species or in aquariums with intense lighting or strong water currents.

If strong aquarium lighting is used for plant growth, be sure that the density of the plant life is great enough to provide shaded areas for the Red Melon Discus to retreat to when needed. Strong biological and mechanical filtration along with weekly partial water changes are required to keep water quality high and water parameters consistent. Frequency of water changes can be lessened or avoided if some other form of nutrient export is present within the system. Aquaponics or an external vegetable filter (heavily planted sump using aquarium water for nutrients) is present on the system and able to keep dissolved nutrients very low.

When keeping Discus with live plants, it is best to keep the aquarium pH between 6.0 to 6.8 and a lower water hardness of 150 PPM or less. Lastly, be sure to maintain excellent water quality at all times as Discus do not leave a lot of room for error when it comes to water quality and consistency. Recommended tank mates include: most Tetra species, Loaches, Cory Catfish, smaller Plecostomus species, Siamese Algae Eaters, Ottocinclus, Rams, peaceful Rasbora species, Rainbow fish, Hatchet fish and Pencilfish.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Red Melon Discus and provide a healthy diet.

Red Melon Discus should be fed a variety of nutritional meaty foods including: white worms, blood worms, Tubifex worms, high protein pellet and flake foods. Juvenile Red Melon Discus should be fed at least 3 to 5 times per day, while adult specimens should be fed 2 to 3 times per day. Their overall diet should be higher in proteins and fats then the average tropical fish species.

The coloration of the Red Melon Discus is easily effected by the amount of carotenoids or color enhancing elements that are present in their food. Discus who are fed color enhancing foods or foods high in beta carotene will quickly develop deeper red and orange coloration.

As with most other fish species, they should be fed an amount of food that they will consume within 10 minutes, with leftover foods removed from the system by either a quality mechanical filter, manually if strong filtration is not present or through the presence of substrate scavenging fish or invertebrates.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Red Melon Discus in the aquarium environment.

Being closely related to the freshwater Amazonian Angelfish, it was assumed that Discus breeding requirements would be the same. Early hobbyists removed the eggs, attempted to hatch them in a separate tank and grow the fry on. We now know this is not possible with Discus because fry consume the mucus excreted from the sides of the parents. Discus were not successfully spawned until the late fifties with Jack Wattley in America and Eduard Schmidt-Focke in Germany doing the pioneering work.

During the 1970s breeders began to concentrate on producing more colorful Discus with a broader range of colors and patterns. They selectively bred specimens for their blue striations that eventually produced Turquoise and Cobalt Discus, while other breeders intensified the natural red striations that later produced Red Melon Discus and Red Melon Discus.

The 1980s and 1990s saw an explosion in new Discus mutations with the development of the Ghost, Snake Skin, Pigeon Blood, Blue Diamond, Snow White and Albino Discus variations. Through selective breeding, today's aquarium hobbyists can choose from a wide variety of brightly colored and varied patterned Discus now available within the hobby.

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