Black peppering on discus fish

Black Peppering on Discus Fish – Causes and Treatment

A common question I get from customers is “What causes the black peppering on Discus fish? Is it something I should be worried about or need to treat?”

The black peppering on discus fish is normal. Usually discus fish that have a pigeon blood gene in them are prone to black peppering spots. The black peppering spots are not to be confused with Black Spot Disease also known as diplopstomiasis or fluke disease. Black Spot Disease is actually a disease caused by flatworms. It appears as small black spots on the skin and fins of fish. Black Spot Disease is common in Salmon and is usually not found in Discus Fish. Here is what a fish with Black Spot Disease looks like:

black spot disease

Black peppering spots are a natural way for discus to adapt and camouflage themselves into their environment. If your aquarium has a dark colored background with dark colored gravel your discus fish will adapt to the colors. Any discus with a pigeon blood gene will start to develop back peppering spots. Any discus fish that does not have a pigeon blood gene will just darken in color. Here is what a fish with black peppering looks like:

black spots on discus fish

How do you treat or get rid of the black peppering spots?

In order to reduce the amount of black spots on discus fish you need to change the colors inside your aquarium. With discus the best color gravel or sand should be bright white. Stay away from dark gravel and dark backgrounds. Usually white gravel with light blue background is the best colors to make your fish look really bright and reduces the black peppering.

Will the black peppering eventually go away as the discus get older?

It all depends on the colors of your aquarium. If you have dark colors in the aquarium the peppering will only increase with time. If you have bright colors in the aquarium eventually the peppering will fade away but usually not 100%.

Depending on the environment that the fish were raised will determine if the black peppering on discus fish will eventually fade away or not. In my personal experience I have never seen the black peppering disappear completely but I have seen it fade drastically. Also feeding your discus a high quality food will help to reduce the black peppering.

Discus Fish


  • Larry
    Posted May 10, 2017 3:21 pm 0Likes

    Nice explanation thanks for the info and it all makes sense.

  • Bob
    Posted May 11, 2017 7:51 pm 1Likes

    More great information.. Thanks and keep them coming!

  • Joshua
    Posted May 30, 2017 5:22 pm 1Likes

    Thank you for the information. Very informative! Have read all your articles.

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