I have this Dream!!!! 150 gallon Aquascaped discus tank
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:41 AM   #1
Richie88
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I have this Dream!!!! 150 gallon Aquascaped discus tank


Let me start off by saying I've been reading this forum on tapatalk for over a week and there seem to be a lot of very knowledgable individuals on here. That being said Could anyone help me please create this idea I have.

So here is my idea I want to basically create a natural environment that is heavily planted with a sump system for a lot of good bacteria build up a place to hide heater and a lot of lighting in sump to give a place for the algae to grow away from the tank. Combined with fluval 5x canister filter to help with bacteria and good filtration.

I want to make this environment to minimize my water changes since discus are parameter prone and require water changes almost everyday. I would set up a drip system but can't due to restrictions of my apartment. Want I'm really unsure of is where to begin with the whole planted part such as what type of soil to use the plants to use with the species o fish I'm suggesting they require a pretty warm tank between 82 and 86.

The need to knows:

1. Substrate?
2. Plants recommended for this adventure
3. Any specialty lighting for said plants.
4.driftwood or rock ? Discus like places to hide
5. Tank mates? I'm thinking like 8 , 4" discus and some dither fish to put the discus at ease. Any other fish to help clean tank and clear excess food?


I have never done live tank but have been researching for Long time now. I'm just looking for some ideas to get me started.

Last edited by Richie88; 07-04-2013 at 11:02 AM.. Reason: Just wanted to add a note
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
discuspaul
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Proceed with your dream - it could work out very well for you.

I would urge you though, before beginning, to do a good deal of homework on discus-keeping to set you off on the right foot.

As for your questions, here's my suggestions:

1. Substrate: For the sake of being able to maintain as near ideal tank cleanliness as possible to ensure continuing discus health, suggest you consider pool filter sand.

2. You can readily grow many types of plants in PFS, using root tab ferts, such as many species of Amazon swords, Jumbo grasses, Crypts, Hygros, Rotalas, Bacopas, Lotuses, Vals & Sags, Anubias, Java Ferns, and a number of others.
As a concession to the plants, consider maintaining temp no higher than 83-84 F.

3. Assuming you go low-tech, lighting need not be more than low to medium intensity.
No particular specialty lighting - I like T5 HO.

4. Driftwood or rocks - suit yourself - but be cautious about any hardscape not having many sharp ends/edges so that the discus don't injure themselves. Leave the discus a good amount of swimming space no matter how & with what you set up.

5. Compatible tankmates are many - Several types of Tetras, e.g. Cardinals, Rummy-Noses, Bloodfins, Bleeding Hearts, Head & Tail Lights, Glo-Lights, etc.
Cories for bottom-dwelling clean-up crew; German Blue Rams; Rasboras; Hatchet Fish; BNP's - there are many other species too - just research their compatability for keeping with discus. Avoid any fish that can grow quite large and may show aggression, which can intimidate and stress discus - as well as very active, fast moving fish which tend to startle discus, or any 'nippers' - along with fish that are small enough to temp discus for lunch, e.g. immature neons.

With near adult discus in your intended set-up, you should be fine with not doing large, frequent wcs, but in order to thrive discus do nonetheless need occasional dosages of fresh, clean water, and good tank cleansing husbandry, so you'll want to build in some reasonable routine to accommodate this.
Hope this helps.
Best of luck to you !
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:04 PM   #3
discuspaul
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P.S.
With pics being worth a thousand words, here's a couple of low-tech planted discus tank set-ups that are by no means dramatic nor very inspiring, but are quite functional in terms of allowing for a more than adequate tank cleansing regimen, and maintenance of good water quality & conditions.
It may give you some ideas for your much larger tank, which can be made to look outstanding:

http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...spaul/Sept2011
http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...3RedSnakeSkins
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:04 AM   #4
Richie88
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Default Thank you

I just wanted to thank you for the reply you gave me pretty much exactly what I was looking for just an idea of what plants I need to be looking into and I'm not quite sure I understand the substrate yet but I heard people talking about capping it I think this refers to laying a different layer over the other.

Would these plants being low tech requiring dosing if so can you explain more as to what that is?
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:18 AM   #5
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With discus the main scare is that because they are very dirty fish the tank will eventually get dirty enough to where algae will eat you alive. That means one thing - you must setup the tank in such a way that it helps you keep everything clean.

- Install the largest sump you can. Both the mechanical and biological filtration needs to be top notch. Funny enough you will not find a "Filtration" section on this forum. In short - your biofiltration needs to be 10% of the tank volume. The water needs to be crystal clear at all times (meaning great mechanical filtration too). But remember that no mechanical filtration beats a well established and healthy biofilter.

- Establish very good water flow pattern (no stagnant areas anywhere in the tank). That does not mean you need huge flow rates. It means that you need to have a smooth flow that goes uninterrupted from the outflow pipe to the inflow pipe. No pumps shooting water across the main flow.

- Discus feel best in tanks with lots of open space and one hiding area. If the tank ends up densely planted the group will break up into a few small groups and they will get territorial too.

- High fertilizers in the water are not a good idea. Both because with a risk of the tank getting dirty algae can take over literally overnight and because discus react very positively to lowering the high fertilizers in the water.

- Hope you know that - without daily water changes and lots of food the discus will not grow. Don't by 1" fish and expect them to grow in your tank if you don't do the above two.

- There are about two truly beautiful planted discus tank on the net. You can be #3!

- Here's a video of a planted discus tank that is done with AquaSoil (at least partly). I tend to agree with Discuspaul about using pool filter sand. But as you can see you can use the best planted tank substrate available too. And remember - that substrate has been engineered to suck certain fertilizers out of the water and provide great plant growth with pristinely clean water without detectable fertilizers. That can only help in a discus tank. Also note - his filter is 30% of the size of the tank, his flow is strong, 10-20% daily water change, and he does not add fertilizers to the water.

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Old 07-05-2013, 03:15 AM   #6
discuspaul
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie88 View Post
I just wanted to thank you for the reply you gave me pretty much exactly what I was looking for just an idea of what plants I need to be looking into and I'm not quite sure I understand the substrate yet but I heard people talking about capping it I think this refers to laying a different layer over the other.

Would these plants being low tech requiring dosing if so can you explain more as to what that is?

Richie, it may help you to have a read through my 'Beginner's Guide to Getting Started with Discus' - it's within the first & only Sticky in the 'Fish' section, titled - articles & faq. Click on that sticky for my guide.

As to substrate, please do yourself a favor & don't do any double-layering of different substrates (i.e. capping- not good for a discus tank) - use only straight pool filter sand obtained from a pool supply store - you'll need at least 3 bags X 50 lbs. each costing about $30.-$40. in total, to layer your tank with approx. 1"- 1.5" at the front, to no more than 3" at the rear.

This will provide the necessary basis to grow those plants I outlined, with low/medium lighting over an 8 hour/day lighting period, and using nothing but root tab fertilizers ( Seachem Flourish tabs is a good brand, as is API tabs), replaced about every 4-5 months. This should be supplemented with weekly dosing of liquid or dry NPK (macro ferts) and some occasional micro ferts. All are readily available in liquid form by Seachem (Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement comes to mind) and other brand names, or in less expensive dry form by a number of on-line outlets.

To conclude, Richie, I would be more than happy to help you out, step by step if need be, so please don't hesitate to PM me anytime if you feel I can be of any assistance at all.
Once again, all the best of luck to you.
Regards,
Paul
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:25 AM   #7
Richie88
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Default Thank you

Thank you very much niko and discus Paul I appreciate all the help and don't worry I will pm you if I need help.

I do have 1 question though I'm making this tank to reduce the water changes I'm doing currently will this natural environment not basically cut my water changes down some due to the plants using the nitrates and the large amount of good bacteria removing nitrites and ammonia other small bottom feeders to help clean up after the messy discus?

Or will all this be in vain I'm trying to get 2 birds with 1 stone a pretty tank compare to bare bottom and some less work water change wise like instead of daily maybe like every 3 days or so? Or maybe if it was really good once a week I can dream
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:22 AM   #8
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I keep goldfish in a 90 gallon with built in overflow and a 29 gal sump. They have to be as messy as discus, and I do 50% water changes once a week. I use a filter sock where the water inputs the sump. Then there are 4X large media bags with eheim media, then a bulkhead on the side of the sump that leads to an external return pump.
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Old 07-05-2013, 04:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie88 View Post
Thank you very much niko and discus Paul I appreciate all the help and don't worry I will pm you if I need help.

I do have 1 question though I'm making this tank to reduce the water changes I'm doing currently will this natural environment not basically cut my water changes down some due to the plants using the nitrates and the large amount of good bacteria removing nitrites and ammonia other small bottom feeders to help clean up after the messy discus?

Or will all this be in vain I'm trying to get 2 birds with 1 stone a pretty tank compare to bare bottom and some less work water change wise like instead of daily maybe like every 3 days or so? Or maybe if it was really good once a week I can dream

There is no question that if you follow your plans for maintaining a low bio-load, with ample sump system, and getting discus of at least 4" in size, you will definitely reduce the need for frequent wcs. I would suggest you could (likely) readily get away with one large wc per week, if you also
undertake some reasonable substrate vacuuming/cleansing while doing that.

Depending on how well you are able to maintain high water quality and conditions, your discus' growth should not be limited to any serious extent, although their development to full maturity/size potential may be slowed up beyond the norm.
If you see your way clear to doing 2 wcs per week, I believe you could easily produce a pretty much ideal environment for the discus.
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:40 AM   #10
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Paul, why pool filter sand and not something like Seachem Fluorite or Fluorite sand or the two mixed together to give plant roots something to grab onto? How bout Eco-Complete?
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Old 07-06-2013, 02:03 AM   #11
discuspaul
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Those substrates are excellent tank-bottom mediums and should definitely be considered for use in many, if not most, planted tank set-ups with a variety of fish species.

In fact, some of those, in my view, are just a shade less desirable than PFS, primarily due to their generally being more expensive.

With discus however, and as you may know, one of the most important measures of success is to maintain the highest water quality and conditions possible, which is achievable largely through fastidious tank cleansing husbandry.

To make a long story very short, over many years of keeping discus, and after having used many different types of substrates in planted environments, I've found that pool filter sand is the easiest medium in which to produce & maintain squeaky clean conditions in a planted discus tank.

It's clean, dust and grit-free, dense enough not to get sucked up when vacuuming, and will not get free-floating into the water column to clog filtration systems when disturbed. It looks good too, and will grow plants very well with the ongoing regular use of root tab ferts.
And you won't get the same optimum results at maintaining high quality tank bottom conditions by mixing anything with PFS, or topping some other substrate with PFS.
Hope that explains to a degree.
In any event, that's my view, and I'll stick to it. LOL
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:32 AM   #12
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It does, Paul. Thank you. After being out of the hobby for I don't want to say how long, I'm looking to do something similar to Richie, but likely even bigger. I do have one other question for a Discus expert though. The one thing that would keep me from Discus is the temperature requirements because I think it cuts down on the variety of co-inhabitants you can choose from. What would you say is the lowest safe temp you can keep Discus at? Oh and I lied, one last question on substrate. I tended to want to go black because I thought it's the best to show off the color of fish. Do you think white works for that too? --Mike
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:09 AM   #13
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Your questions are very good, Mike, but could have a range of different answers which might all have some merit.
I'm no discus expert, but I'll give you some answers based on what I believe is quite acceptable.
- Temp: For near adult, or adult discus, (4" or larger) I believe the temp to be maintained on a relatively constant basis should not be lower than 82 F.
For juvenile discus, say 2" to 4" in size, I'd say up that by 2 degrees, to minimum 84 F.

But you need not consider those temps to affect the choice of compatible tank-mates for discus - there are quite a number of species of compatible discus tank-mates that can readily handle any temp you may wish to keep for discus, from 82 up to 86, or even higher for temporary periods.
If, for example, Cardinals, Rummy-noses, Lemons or other Tetras can do well in 80 F, then they can also do just as well in 85 F. Same goes for most Cories, GBR's, and Rasboras, to name a few - no need to be overly concerned in this area. Although I will say that the lower range of temp will likely somewhat prolong the lives of many discus tank-mates.

As for substrate color - in many ways that's simply a matter of personal choice. Many people swear by lighter shades, while many others prefer black or darker colors. There seems to be an even split between those who say that black substrate makes fish and plant colors really pop and doesn't show the 'dirt' as easily, and the proponents of white, who will say the same thing about a pastel shade making fish & plant colors look more pronounced, and that it gives a tank a more 'natural' look.
I prefer white, because I've found that black, or dark shades, will tend to cause discus' colorations to darken overall, in sympathy with their surroundings, and definitely will enhance peppering in pigeon-based fish - something that is considered undesirable in discus.
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:32 AM   #14
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So much great info. When I broke down my sw 90 gal tank, I considered discus. I think I have the perfect set up for them. I believe it was the frequent water changes that scared me off. I keep fancy goldfish, and once a week wc's is enough for me.
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Old 07-07-2013, 06:46 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the info, Paul. Very helpful.
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