Discus Twirling (Parasite Infection Cause)

Twirling in discus fish is a chronic disease caused by a parasitic protozoan known as cerebrali Myxobolus and it feeds on live tubifex worms. Research has shown this disease to be common in aquariums and some other report says it has never been found in any warm waters in the Southern United States.

Symptoms of Twirling

A very common symptom this disease is:

  1. Spinning.
  2. Whirling.

Video showing how Discus fish seems twirling

Hobbyists sometimes may mistake these twirling symptoms with some other disease symptoms like Swim Bladder disease.

NOTE: In Swim Bladder disease there is always an abnormal posture, while in Twirling, there is no specific posture at all.

It is very important for hobbyists to observe these fishes and the symptoms they exhibit thoroughly in other to be sure of the disease affecting them.

Causes of Twirling

  1. Feeding Live Tubifex Worms: This disease is basically caused by feeding Discus fishes with live tubifex worms. These warms have about 60% to 90% mortality rate. And this eventually becomes poisonous to the fishes.

    NOTE: Mad dashing about in water is a sign the fish has been infected, and most of the common poison by far is chlorine. Very high levels of ammonia also give these symptoms.
  2. Discus TB (Mycobacterium): Another common cause of twirling is Discus fish TB (Mycobacterium). There are some spinal deformities related to fish TB and are often present in Discus with twirling. It sometimes affects virtually all the fishes in the aquarium, till it kills them all. Fish like discus don’t always stand a chance of survival.


Treating twirling in discus fish is so challenging since there is no specific medication that can cure your Discus of this infection, however, I could suggest going with a Metronidazole or eSha – Hexamita medication in a medicated food prepared and fed to the affected Discus fishes, hopefully, to cure your infected Discus.

NOTE: Prevention is easier than the treatment.

It is easy to make medicated food. The steps below can put you through:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of water in the microwave.
  2. Blend one quarter ounce of plain animal-derived gelatin into the heated water and vigorously stir it.
  3. Take two tablespoons of dry commercial fish food and blend it with a little quantity the gelatin mixture or the heated water.
  4. Add the heated water or the gelatin blend until you attain a pastry like mixture. If it gets too watery, you can just add more food.
  5. Then add more or less 1/16 teaspoon of the medication. Mix and then mash the whole mixture thoroughly. 
  6. To get it dry, the mixture needs to be spread out into a plate or a plastic film.
  7. To preserve it, keep it in a refrigerator, and if you want to preserve it for one or  two weeks, put it in a small plastic pack then freeze.
NOTE: Treatment ought to be in the food as fish don’t drink, but should be watched and should not be in excess.

If the treatment above did not sure your Discus, you may try the deworming treatment.

Discus Fish Twirling Prevention

  1. Do not feed your Discus fish tubifex and tubifex-like worms.
  2. Quarantining any newly imported Discus fish for several days in a hospital tank because these are potential sources of bringing myxozoans to your tank.
  3. Remove any source of Discus stress.


In the long run, in treating aquarium fishes (Discus fish), try not to overfeed them and make sure you don’t stock up your tank.

Learn how to Keep a healthy Discus tank with healthy Discus.


This is me Firas Sameer, the founder of DiscusRescue.com, I am an aquarist guy with a passion and love for Discus fishes, I am learning every day with my hobby at home and sharing the things I am learning from my experience with you.

2 thoughts on “Discus Twirling (Parasite Infection Cause)

  1. What medication that you used to treat the Discus Twirling, sir? Is it metrodinazole?

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