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15 Types of Discus Fish: Beautiful Options for Your Tank (With Pictures)

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

discus fish in the aquarium

The Discus is a colorful and medium-sized fish that adds unique variety to aquariums. They are found in a range of fascinating colors that has earned them the title of the “jewels of aquariums.” Not only can you find discus in an assortment of colors, but in many different patterns too. Since discus can be sensitive fish that need specific aquarium conditions to thrive, they probably aren’t the best option for beginner fish keepers.

So, if you are a more experienced fish keeper that is looking for a peaceful fish that makes a colorful addition to aquariums, then this article will discuss 12 types of discus you can choose for your tank.

About Discus Fish

Country Of Origin: South America
Size: 9–12 inches
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Colors: Red, blue, brown, yellow, white, green, orange, black, white
Minimum Tank Size: 60 gallons

Before we begin, let’s discuss these beautiful fish and their care requirements. The discus fish originates in South America where they inhabit the Amazon River. The name “discus” is used to describe a genus of cichlid fish, which are known for their aggressive behaviors. However, the discus is quite an angelic fish that has a peaceful and social temperament.

There are currently three recognized species of discus, the Symphysodon aequifasciatus, the Symphysodon heckel, and the Symphysodon tarzoo discus. They are then grouped in four different color strains, such as heckel, brown, blue, and green, and can either have solid, mildly, or strongly patterned bodies depending on the type of discus.

divider1- goldfishThe 15 Types of Discus Fish

1. Red Melon Discus

a red melon discus fish in the aquarium
Image Credit: mr_tigga, Shutterstock

The Red Melon Discus has a deep, solid red coloration that fades into an orange or yellow color. Their face usually has different colors that can be found on parts of their tail and dorsal fins. These fish don’t have any striking patterns like other discus, but they will be a great addition to your tank if you want to add variety.

2. Brilliant Turquoise Discus

brilliant turquoise discus fish in the aquarium
Image Credit: Christina Stromberg, Shutterstock

A Brilliant Turquoise Discus has a blue body color with reddish-orange lines and shading. Some of these fish may have a shade of orange in the middle of their bodies and at the ends of their fins. Most of the fish’s body is covered with a dominant blue pattern, and there can be faint vertical stripes along the middle of their bodies as seen in S. aequifasciatus.

3. Green Snakeskin Discus

Green Snakeskin Discus fish
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This is a type of greenish-blue colored discus with a mottled pattern. They have a series of fine red lines or dots covering their bodies, and dark red eyes. Green Snakeskin Discus have a type of fine-lined snakeskin pattern that was created by two Malaysian discus breeders in 1994.

4. Checkerboard Red Panda Discus

checkerboard red panda discus fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

One of the more common types of discus is the Red Panda with a checkerboard pattern. These fish have lines that intersect with one another to create a fascinating red pattern. The body of these discus is white, but the red lines are dominant and are responsible for most of their color. In some cases, a Checkerboard Red Panda Discus will have shades of light blue at the start of their fins.

5. White Butterfly Discus

white butterfly discus fish in black background
Image Credit: Itsanan, Shutterstock

The White Butterfly Discus has a solid creamy body color, with mild patterns on their dorsal and anal fins. These types of discus are quite attractive in aquariums with a dark background or substrate, which allows them to stand out. The White Butterfly Discus may also have a yellowish hue to their cream-colored bodies, and orange-colored eyes.

6. Tangerine Discus

The Tangerine Discus has a striking orange or white body mixed in with a blood-red color. Certain Tangerine Discus may have a predominantly orange and red shaded body, while others have a red color with a white head. Splotches of white usually break up the solid red and orange color, giving this discus an interesting appearance.

7. Cobalt Discus

cobalt discus fish in the aquarium
Image Credit: PAUL ATKINSON, Shutterstock

The Cobalt Discus is a solid blue color that was created between the 1970s and the 1980s. They are considered to be one of the original color strains of discus and can either have a dark or light blue appearance. Some Cobalt Discus may have slight patterns on their dorsal and anal fins, along with orange hues on these fins. Dark vertical lines may appear down the middle of the fish’s body, which is common in S. aequifasciatus.

8. Pineapple Heckel Discus

If you are looking for a brightly colored discus that will add a pop of color to your discus tank, then the Pineapple Heckel Discus is a good choice. These fish are more sensitive to water conditions and sudden changes than other types of discus, so they are best for experienced fish keepers. The Pineapple Heckel Discus has a bright yellow and orange coloration, with a thick dark band that runs vertically from the dorsal to the anal fin.

9. Pigeon Blood Discus

pigeon blood discus fish
Image Credit: Dennis Jacobsen, Shutterstock

This strain of discus was developed in 1991 and is a result of a color mutation from breeding in Thailand. They have a type of creamy yellow body color that is patterned with black peppering or stripes. The tail of a Pigeon Blood Discus is usually black, and the combination of black peppering and stripes makes this discus a great addition to aquariums.

10. Tiger Turkish Discus

tiger turkish discus fish
Image Credit: Mulevich, Shutterstock

One of the most sought-after discus fish is the Tiger Turkish Discus with its striking blue coloration and red fins. Their red-tinged fins have an interesting pattern of lines and dots, which gives this discus a unique appearance.

11. Yellow Panda Discus

yellow panda discus fish
Image Credit by: M. Fakhrurrazy, Shutterstock

The vibrantly colored Yellow Panda Discus is guaranteed to add color to your discus tank. This type of discus has a distinct bright yellow body that looks incredible under bright artificial lighting. The fins are usually a separate color, with a mixture of turquoise and orange highlighting the ends of their fins. The body is usually a solid yellow color, although faint blue markings may appear on the fish’s head.

12. Millennium Golden Discus

millennium golden discus fish
Image Credit by: Mulevich, Shutterstock

If you are a fan of the Golden Discus, then this solid-colored discus will interest you. The Millennium Golden Discus has a solid dark yellow color with shades of cream on their heads and at the ends of their fins. They are not as brightly colored as the Yellow Panda Discus, but they are just as colorful.

13. White Calico Discus

One of the more uncommon discus varieties would be the White Calico Discus. These fish have a white body that has an orange or pink hue. Their pattern consists of orange mottling on their bodies, which isn’t much of a distinct pattern that can be found in other types of discus. The blotchy mottling may take up most of their bodies, or it can be found in small patches at the base of the fish’s tail fin.

14. Ghost Discus Fish

In comparison to other types of discus fish, the Ghost Discus is quite plain looking. However, they can still make an interesting addition to your tank. The Ghost Discus fish has a white body with a greenish-blue hue.

This can make them appear gray and it can be difficult to distinguish the rest of their colors, hence their name “Ghost” Discus. The edge of their fins is nearly transparent and typically combined with dark blues and reds.

15. Blue Mercury Discus

Mercury Discus fish are considered a solid variety, with celestial scales. The tail of a Mercury Discus fish is transparent, with the rest of the fins being a bright blue color. The head of the Blue Mercury Discus is cream-colored, and their body is covered in shiny blue and white scales that seem to glow under artificial lighting.


There’s no doubt that the discus is a beautifully-colored fish with impressive colors and patterns. You can choose to keep different varieties of discus together if you want to add color to your tank, or you can choose a discus variety that impresses you the most.

Even though discus aren’t the easiest species of fish to keep, when kept in a good environment and fed a healthy diet, they make long-lived additions to freshwater aquariums.

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