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dkreef 04-06-2013 06:42 AM

keeping discus in lowtech community tank
has anyone done this before?
what are the challenges in this setting?

rusty1760 04-06-2013 11:37 AM

Discus are for the most part very timid and slow eaters, mine will take 30 min or so to slowly pick away at any food I put in the tank, with that in mind your other community fish cant be too aggressive or they will out compete the discus.

Paxx 04-06-2013 01:52 PM

On the other hand some discus are pigs to the trough. Two taps on the hood cause mine to break out into a glorious rendition of Food, Glorious Food! from the musical Oliver.

Discus are like that. Different.

My own Discus community tank includes the typical small Amazon tropicals (Neons, Cory cats, Octos, Bleeding Hearts, Serpas, etc.). Restricting other territorially aggressive Amazon cichlids from these types of tanks seem to be the norm. Ditto large Amazon cats. African/Far East species are mostly out because the ideal water conditions for most are vastly different than the soft water loving discus. Basically choose community fish that like the same water conditions (PH, KH, GH, Temp, etc.) and that won't pester the discus.

Be aware that Discus love small fish. They love to eat 'em. Fatten those neons up before you introduce them and have plenty of plants so hiding is easier for the smaller fish.

Your frequent water changes that discus thrive under will be most appreciated by the rest of the tank community.

dkreef 04-06-2013 03:20 PM

Is it true that choices of plants are limited since discus needs to kept at higher temp like above 82?

Can u feed 4" size discus just once a day like the rest of the fish and still not get stunted growth?

discuspaul 04-06-2013 05:14 PM

Keeping discus in a low tech community tank is not at all difficult, if you get reasonably good-sized discus to begin with, carefully select their tankmates which are compatable, non-aggressive, slow-moving fish that can handle the higher discus temps, and don't grow too large.
And you need to maintain a good tank cleansing routine, ensure you're maintaining good water quality and conditions and do large, frequent water changes.
Many plants can do well in the higher discus temps too - in the 82-83 F range.
I could name many varieties if you wish.

It might help you to have a read of my 'Beginner's Guide to Getting Started with Discus' - click on the first/only Sticky in the 'Fish' section here.

I've been keeping discus in planted, low-tech community tanks for years - have a look at a couple of my albums:

I'd be glad to help you out in any way I can - don't hesitate to PM me if you have any questions.
Best of luck to you,

discuspaul 04-06-2013 05:24 PM

P.S. And you need to make sure you have a large enough tank to handle the bio-load of your combined group of fish.
And yes, 4" discus are the size you should be planning on - and you can feed them only once a day without running much risk of stunting them.
Hope this helps.

dkreef 04-06-2013 06:28 PM

I have 265 gal tank. Plan to keep cardinals. Rimmynose. And maybe 10-15 discus.
It will be heavily planted. 200plus pieces in day 1. But i hate doing water changes. More once a month (maybe once every 2 weeks) wc guy. Thats my concern.

discuspaul 04-06-2013 07:18 PM

Unfortunately dkreef, one wc every 2 weeks will not likely cut it, and once a month will certainly not do. It will make it very difficult to maintain the needed water quality and conditions for discus, in addition to raising nitrates to an uncomfortable level for successful discus-keeping.
Using a python for more frequent wcs will not be troublesome or time-consuming, and you could get by with say 2, or 3 reasonably large, say 25-30%, wcs a week if your bio-load is not borderline high.

Paxx 04-06-2013 08:04 PM


Originally Posted by dkreef (Post 3051066)
I have 265 gal tank. Plan to keep cardinals. Rimmynose. And maybe 10-15 discus.
It will be heavily planted. 200plus pieces in day 1. But i hate doing water changes. More once a month (maybe once every 2 weeks) wc guy. Thats my concern.

With that many Discus you will need to water change as advised above.

Discus are slimy. ;)
Among other features :)

P.S - For water changes a decent water pump (with a reasonable head rating for your setup), a mixing/reservoir bin (if you are using RO/DI/or otherwise prepared water) large enough for your water changes and some long 1/2" or 3/4" tubing (long enough to reach a drain and reach from the water change bin to the tank) - all help with semi-automating the water change process for larger tanks.

Simply gravity drain or pump the water out of the tank, and refill (pump) from your water change reservoir.

nikonD70s 04-06-2013 09:07 PM

just get adult discus, make sure u get them from a good reliable source that sells healthy one..thats the key. u can feed adults 1-3 times a day. if u have some bomb ass filtration u dont need to do waterchange often. when i kept my discus i would do waterchange once every 7-10 days. but thats cuz i feed my discus a lot haha. discus are easy. just make sure u get healthy ones to start with and ur already a big step ahead. depending on the temp u want them in. certain plants are limited. but healthy discus do NOT need that high temp. 80-82 is perfect in my opinion. if its gonna be planted. its wise to get adults and not juvies. and whats so hard about waterchange. just use a hose to suck out water...and turn the hose back on and let the water back in. waterchange takes only a few mins of my time. while the rest is just chilling and waiting for it to fill the tank

extrame 04-07-2013 01:14 PM

Hi discuspaul,
Pls list plants we can use in a discus tank? Can we use soil + gravel for cap?


discuspaul 04-07-2013 05:48 PM

Yes, you can use soil and a gravel cap, but it's far from ideal for keeping discus because it's quite difficult to maintain an above average tank cleansing routine, and to maintain the high quality water conditions that discus need - particularly if you're new to keeping discus. Most experienced discus-keepers would recommend a barebottom tank for discus newbies to get started, or if you want a planted tank - keep it simple & go with pool filter sand, and use root tab ferts in a low-tech environment, as I do.

Among others, plants that do well in that type of situation, and at the higher discus temps, are Jumbo Vals or Grasses, all types of Echinodorus (amazon swords), Anubias, Java Ferns, Hygrophilas, Crypts, Rotalas, Bacopas, Ludwigias, Lotuses (nymphaea), Crinums, Sags, &bsome others.
Hope this helps.

GlennR 04-09-2013 12:16 PM

The key thing I learned from keeping Discus is they do best in groups of 5 or more. It seems that there's often a runt, and the rest always stay strong & healthy. So the goal is to keep your eye on the runt and make sure he's keeping up, and not getting to weak & sad looking.

Everyone says don't get juvies, but I'd rather get a nice group of 2.5" siblings an watch them grow. If you begin with a largish group you can remove a bully and/or a really weak runt and still have a nice size healthy group.

Warlock 04-09-2013 12:33 PM


Originally Posted by dkreef (Post 3051066)
I have 265 gal tank. Plan to keep cardinals. Rimmynose. And maybe 10-15 discus.
It will be heavily planted. 200plus pieces in day 1. But i hate doing water changes. More once a month (maybe once every 2 weeks) wc guy. Thats my concern.

discus not for you.. get Africans..

tomfromstlouis 04-09-2013 02:13 PM

Keeping advanced level fish is really not that complicated or difficult. Discus and (in my case) altum angels simply require frequent water changes. This is the primary difference between advanced fishkeeping (should be called "waterkeeping") and easier species. It requires an attitude adjustment, the idea that you are willing to do what is necessary to keep this species in health. I drive to my office twice a week to change 50 gallons and I do it with pride because I enjoy those fish that much. There is plenty of other tank maintenance you can do while the water goes out and in, so it is not like you are watching paint dry. The real problem is vacations.

You either embrace what is required or go with another species.

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