There are several other species in the Symphysodon genus and all share the same characteristics. Symphysodon is the closest relative of the genus Heros, within the tribe Heroini.
The first special characteristic of the species is its flattened body shape. It is compressed from the sides to a dish or discus shape. The coloring varies but in most species and variants include beautiful colors. The height and length of the grown fish are both about 20-25 cm (8-10 inches).
The second special thing about the discus is its care for the larvae. Like all cichlids, the parents care for the young but the discus has a unique way to improve the care: the parents give off a secretion through their skin, off which the larvae live during their first few days. The young can be seen grazing off their parents.
The discus are shy and peaceful aquarium inhabitants. They are sensitive to stress and disturbance or lack of protection. The best cohabitants may be angelfish and small characides like tetras. The Uaru is another preferred tank-mate of the discus.
The popularity of the discus has given it its second common name, the King.
See also: Freshwater aquarium fish species