Why Do My Discus Have Black Spots? – Black Peppering Spots Cure


Pigeon blood discus is known for black peppering spots, which is a normal skin coloration found on discus fish with a pigeon blood gene in them. These black peppering spots also could be taken from a disease or caused by stress. Hence, mostly the black peppering spots aid the discus fish for adaptation and camouflaging in their environment.

Table of Contents

Discus Peppering Symptoms

Since there are several causes for the black peppering on Discus fish, the symptoms vary based on the real cause as below:

Natural Reaction Symptoms

The symptoms of black peppering spots on Discus fish are readily seen on the body of the Discus fish. This is a natural phenomenon associated with pigeon blood gene Discus fish. It is in no way a sickness that affects them negatively.

Stress Symptoms

If the symptoms are stress-related, here are some of the symptoms when the Discus being stressed:

  • Loss of Appetite.
  • Gasping of air at the surface.
  • Discus color changed to a lighter color.
  • Discus hiding and doesn’t swim with other fishes.

Disease Or Viral Infection

If the black spot is disease-related, then most probably it is the Discus black disease (Discus plague), and below are some notable symptoms to look out for.

  • Increased breathing rate: approximately 3 breaths per second.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Black spots dispersed all over.
  • Isolation towards the corner of the aquarium.
  • Increased mucus/slime production.
  • Constant scratching against hard objects in the aquarium.
  • Lower immunity.

Future Symptoms:

Vulnerability to Secondary pathogens like:

  • Parasites: Spironucleus spp etc.
  • Fungus: Fusarium solani, F. oxysporum and F. moniliform.
  • Black fins on Discus as fins start to rot.
  • Patches of white all over the body.
  • The water begins to smell bad.
  • Bacteria: Aeromonas hydrophilia.
  • Death begins.

Discus Black Spots Disease Details and Cause

Discus black peppering spots is a normal skin coloration found on Discus fish with a pigeon blood gene in them.

What Causes Peppering In Discus?

There are four reasons behind the peppering in a discus fish:

  • Pigeon Blood Gene: Non-fatal
  • Dark Background of Aquarium: Non-fatal
  • Discus Being Stressed: Non-fatal
  • Viral Infection: fatal

The Pigeon Blood Gene

This is a natural phenomenon as some Discus fish possesses the pigeon blood gene, which primarily causes the peppering black spots in them.

The Black Background Of An Aquarium

The Discus fish has so many attributes, which include camouflaging. Their camouflaging ability is enabled by their environment. They adjust themselves to the current state of their environment with respect to color and light effects. If the aquarium has a black background and bottom, they tend to have a peppering black spot. This is mainly common in Discus fish, which has a pigeon blood gene.

Discus Being Stressed

When your Discus become stressed for a long while like days or weeks, they might start generating black spots (peppering) and these black spots are the same that was explained for the pigeon blood genre, so nothing to worry about.

Most times the Discus fish experience so much discomfort leading to stress primarily due to improper water conditions. Also, stress can come as a result of long shipping procedures or processes. Anything that the Discuss hasn’t been used to or any task that is strange to it, or being bullied by other fishes can cause stress.

Viral Infection

Just like humans who are susceptible to viral attacks, animals too aren’t left out. A typical virus gets to weaken its host. The black disease, which is a viral infection, attacks the Discus fish and thereby weakens the fish’s immune system and causing the fish to be open to other infections, which could have been prevented by its immune system.

The black disease does not often kill the fish directly but causes its immune system to grow weak daily and thereby leading to its death and the death of other Discus fish since it is transmittable.

NOTE: The virus cannot be eliminated by you, but with proper boosting of the fish’s immune system, it can be eradicated by its immune system.

How To Treat Black Spots On Discus Fish

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

Treatment Steps

There are two ways to teat the Discus black spots or peppering either:

  1. Non-Medical Treatment.
  2. Medical Treatment
NOTE: You can use both of them at the same time to increase the possibility of reducing or getting rid of the black peppering.

Discus Black Spots – Non-Medical Treatment

[1] – Keeping The Aquarium Background And Bottom Light

The aquarium background and bottom light are highly needed and important if you want your Discus fish free from so much deep black spots. You will have to brighten the bottom and background of the aquarium. The less dark the aquarium. The fewer freckles or peppering black spots, the pigeon blood Discus will show. This is the same for other Discus fish. If you desire them to display their brighter colors, keep them in an aquarium with brighter surroundings.

[2] – Unstress Your Discus

Due to the fact that Discus might have black peppering because of stress, then the treatment should be removing any stress causes in your aquarium.

[STEP1] – Eliminate Any Stress Causes

Things might cause your Discus to stress to be avoided or treated:

  • Unhealthy water quality.
  • Very high or low water temperature.
  • A lot of medications used in the aquarium.
  • Discus being bullied by other fishes.
  • Discus being alone with other fish species.
  • Discus has just put the first time in the tank.
  • Discus being scared by children’s sudden interaction with the tank.
  • Discus being scared by sudden light changes in the room.
  • Heavy water changes within short periods.

[STEP2] – Use Stress Guard

This is the perfect treatment for the Discus stress made by Seachem, after you’ve eliminated all stress causes mentioned in step1, now it’s the time to apply the Seachem Stress Guard following the instructions attached to the bottle.

Discus Black Spots – Medical Treatment

Medical treatment will be related to the discus Plague disease as this is the only viral infection that might be the cause of Discus black spots peppering, so if you identify the reason is this disease, then better to follow the treatment instructions.

IMPORTANT: To have full deep details step by step guide on how to cure the Discus Plague disease, then better to visit my other specified article 15 Steps To Cure Discus Plague aka Black Death Disease.

[3] – Discus Plague Medication To Treat The Black Peppering

Viral infections cannot be eradicated, yet we cannot let our Discus fish suffer and eventually die due to Discus plagues such as black spot disease. We can help to eradicate these viral infections by boosting the immune system of the Discus fish simultaneously in order to help them fight off the plague disease.

Here’s some advice to help the infected Discus.

[STEP1] – Salt Treatment Method

Discus salt treatment is an aquarium fluke treatment that mainly takes care of the pathogen, but not the fluke.

[STEP2] – Increasing The Temperature Of The Water

An increase in the overall temperature of the water up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33.3º degrees Celsius) can enhance Discus metabolism and increase the immune system of the Discus fish. The more active the immune system of the Discus fish, the healthier they are and are less prone to Discus plague such as black spot disease.

[STEP3] – External Parasite And Fungal Treatment

General Cure Api powder

A general treatment against many external parasites and fungal infections can be used to control secondary infections. Medical treatment such as API general cure powder and AZOO magic disease treatment are among the best treatment formula out there.

Bacterial infections are another reason for death among plague-infected Discus which will result in black peppering.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics like Tetracyclines, Kanamycin, Neomycin Sulfate, Nitrofurazone, and etc., are just some of the often-used antibiotics among aquarium specialists, can be used to prevent, control, or even treat many types of (secondary) bacterial infections that lead to Discus black spots and peppering.

Api tetracycline

The difficult task here is making the right choice in the selection which antibiotic to use for controlling secondary bacterial infections during Discus black disease, is to isolate the bacteria and then test for antibiotic susceptibility, which should be done in a lab by a technician. As this is a time-consuming process, perhaps the best way is trial and error, along with experience.

[STEP4] – Treatment Using Potassium Permanganate

Potassium Permanganate is a powerful oxidizer that eradicates most (if not all) external parasites, as well as bacterial and fungal infections. Use potassium permanganate to treat the Discus plague only if you know what you do as a small overdose can result in fish death, in this way, you will cure the black peppering accordingly.

Black Peppering Future Prevention Tips

  • Always conduct a water test to check for oxygen levels, ph levels e.t.c to enhance water properties.
  • By changing the dark-colored environment to a white-colored environment. Best color of the environment: Light blue background and whitish bottom.
NOTE: With the blackish environment, the peppering effect in fish will increase with time, however, black peppering effect may fade with corrective measures but may not go completely
  • Feeding with high-quality feed will help prevent black spot.
  • Change water weekly (25 -30%).
  • Give them quality feed and remove excess feed immediately.
  • Increase temperature to (30ᵒ – 33º c).
  • Reduction in fish overcrowding.
  • Overpopulation in the aquarium can promote gill flukes, skin flukes. If these flukes can reproduce, it is transmissible from one fish to another by the method of contact.

Does Peppering On Discus Go Away?

No, however, over a long period of time, it fades away with the good managerial practice, such as increasing the brightness of the aquarium background and balance and proper nutrition.

It has become a frequently asked question whether there is a permanent cure for the peppering black spot found on Discus fish, I can confidently answer that, the answer is no. Why? Because it is a naturally occurring trait due to the pigeon blood gene present in them. A well-established fact has been known overtime on the environmental effect on Discus fish. If the aquarium has a dark color, there is going to be an increase in the peppering black spot on Discus with a black background.

Why Do Discus Fishes Use To Camouflage In Accordance With Its Background?

Camouflage helps them in avoiding predatorial attacks, showing off their black bars helps them hide properly with the reeds and grasses.

The Discus fish are brighter when the peppering black spot is reduced. Through captive breeding methods, stains have been brought out over time.


The peppering black spot found on Discus fish is not mainly a disease but a natural phenomenon to help them camouflage against predators. These black spots can be enhanced by brightening up their aquarium surroundings and bottom. There is also a similar black spot, which is a disease known as black spot disease and other viral infections. So be quick to observe if it is the natural peppering black spot or the viral black spot disease.


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 “Why Do My Discus Have Black Spots? – Black Peppering Spots Cure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts