Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Brachychalcinus orbicularis

Discus tetra

Kissing gourami, Helostoma temminckiiKissing gourami, Helostoma temminckii
Photos by Andy Rapson


Brachychalcinus: Greek, brachys, eia = short + Greek, chalkos = brass

General Notes:

Discus tetras have jaws like mini piranhas but they are entirely peaceful. They need to be kept in a shoal numbering at least five individuals of their own kind. Discus tetras are quite large by tetra standards and they are also very active so they need quite a bit of open swimming space. Other than that they are very easy undemanding fish to keep. Juvenile Discus tetras (video above) bare a striking resemblance to black widow tetras Gymnocorymbus ternetzi but as they grow they become more disc shaped and much larger than black widows.


Discus tetras are true omnivores with an equal preference for plants and small prey. In the wild they eat aquatic plants, worms, crustaceans and insects. In captivity they are easy to please and will accept flake, pellets, live or frozen food. Their diet should include some fresh greens.


There are no external differences between the sexes.

Discus tetras are quite rare within the hobby with most specimens coming from the wild. There are no records of this fish being bred by hobbyists.

Wild status

Wild populations have never been studied and so the size and health of the wild population is unknown.

Information at a glance

pH: 5.5 - 7.5
dGH: 4 - 25
Temperature: 18 - 24°C (65 - 75°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 9cm (3.5in)
Min tank size: 100 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Discus tetras, Brachychalcinus orbicularis

Origin: South America, Guyana and Suriname

Habitat: Coastal rivers


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Brachychalcinus
Species: B. orbicularis, (Valenciennes, 1850)

Common name:
Discus tetra

Synonyms: Tetragonopterus orbicularis, Poptella orbicularis, Ephippicharax orbicularis, Brachychalcinus guianensis