Why Is My Discus Losing Color? {How To Enhance The Color of Discus Fish}

Are you worried about your Discus fish turning pale in color? Is this a sign of illness or stress and can it be reversed? In this article, we’ll discuss why your discus fish is losing color.

Why Is My Discus Losing Color? Stress, poor water chemistry, old age, disease and poor diet are the main reasons why sensitive fish like your Discus lose their color. A varied diet enriched with protein, vitamins, and minerals and a clean, spacious tank over 75 gallons are required to enhance the colors of discus fish. 

Why Did My Discus Fish Lose Color?

New discus fish need time to adapt to the environment that you have created in your tank. Sometimes discus fish lose color temporarily due to stress or fear.

Stress can result from the following ways:

  • Tank size is too small
  • Aggressive tankmates
  • Bullying
  • Poor diet
  • Water chemistry is off
  • Tank is not cycled properly
  • There are parasitic, fungal or bacterial infections present

If this color change is prolonged,  then you must act on it to make necessary improvements.

Top 5 Tips To Prevent A Discus Fish From Losing Color

  1. Try to quarantine new fish before placing them in the main tank.
  2. Use drip acclimation methods to slowly introduce them to their new home.
  3. Check water parameters to ensure that the nitrogen cycle is healthy with beneficial bacteria present to absorb ammonia and nitrites.
  4. Feed a varied diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Consider dipping food in liquid vitamin solutions.
  5. Make sure the tank is 75 gallons of larger with taller sized tanks being preferred to suit the size and dimensions of your discus fish.

What Are The Water Parameters For Discus Fish?

If you would like to make sure that your Discus fish are vibrant and healthy in a stress-free state, you must ensure that the water parameters do not fluctuate often.

The tank must be cycled properly with plenty of beneficial bacteria to fight off ammonia spikes. Here the water parameters that we find work well with Discus fish:

  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Temperature: 82-89°F
  • Water hardness: 18 ppm to 70 ppm
  • Chlorine: 0.001 ppm to 0.003 ppm
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite level: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: less than 10 ppm
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Top 4 Ways Diet Tips To Enhance Discus Fish Colors

  1. Let the food soak up beet juice.
  2. Feed more shrimp (brine, mysis, etc.).
  3. Try astaxanthin supplements.
  4. Give them bloodworms.

Beet juice can be absorbed by fish flakes or pellets then given to your discus fish to enhance coloration. Brine shrimp and bloodworms contain healthy amounts of astaxanthin that are used by breeders to enhance colors in many species of fish.

Alternatively, you can get astaxanthin powder and supplement your discus fish with it on your own. Follow instructions on packages that are purchased from reputable aquarist retailers.

Do Discus Fish Lose Color As They Age?

When a discus fish becomes older than five years, slight changes may occur to the vibrancy of its color.

You may have already seen your discus fish reach a certain peak in color and at this point you may have to surrender to the aging process taking away the vibrancy of your discus fish.

Younger discus fish have bodies that are more pale in color. After about a year or so, the color begins to come out and reach its full potential.

After about 5 or 6 years it is natural for a discus fish to begin losing the color and shine that you are used to seeing.

Why Do Discus Lose Color When Scared?

A discus fish is considered peaceful, but also sensitive to changes in its environment. The tank will have to be safe, comfortable, tall and spacious.

There is a misconception that you will have to perform daily water changes but this is simply incorrect. Nevertheless, you should have to change the water up to 30 to 50% each week.

The tank should not be overcrowded with a hectic atmosphere where too many top to mid-level swimmers are taking up the same space as your discus fish.

It’s better to introduce tankmates that swim at the bottom of the substrate where discus fish do not usually roam. This type of fish is great to keep in a species-specific tank.

The more relaxed your discus fish is, the better it will be at maintaining its vibrant and beautiful colors.

Do Bright Lights Make Discus Fish Pale?

Lighting in a tank can affect the coloration of your discus fish as well. If the tank lights are too bright or are on for more than 12 hours a day, this can make your discus fish turn pale.

Keep low-level wattage lighting or turn your light levels to a dimmer setting. Calmer LED lights that are blue can create a more relaxing environment as well.

The actual type of lighting is not as important as the brightness setting and duration of lighting per day.

When Will Young Discus Fish Color Up?

It’s true that young discus fish that are juveniles under a year of age are not as colorful as their adult counterparts. You may actually need up to two years before you see the best and brightest colors in your discus fish.

You have to wait patiently until this period arrives, but you can help to enhance the colors by feeding more protein-rich foods packed with vitamins and minerals. Young discus fish also require more frequent water changes.


We hope the stress levels are low and so is the lighting for your discus fish to be relaxed. There should be plenty of room and varied foods that make discus fish comfortable, healthy and vibrant for 5-6 years.

After his time, you may notice color changes where your discus fish becomes more pale. A juvenile discus will need up to 2 yeas to reach full vibrancy.


Thanks for stopping at HelpUsFish.com today for this article on Discus Fish. We have plenty more articles on this particular fish along with many other aquatic life. We hope you visit us again soon. Bye for now! 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

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