Dreaming about my first tank: large, planted, Discus fish | updated pics as of 6/28 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Dreaming about my first tank: large, planted, Discus fish | updated pics as of 6/28

Once upon a time...

On a cold day in February, I was browsing on craigslist.com, looking for houseplants. So I started clicking here and there, and eventually came across a 125g fish tank. Nothing but the stand, glass lids and [censored][censored][censored][censored]ty lighting fixtures came with it.

Let me tell you right now that planted aquariums with fish in them are addictive. I had space for the 5 ft monster tank in the living room, so I convinced my roommates that everything is going to work out well and we picked up the tank. Nevertheless, the guy who was selling it lived quite far and we managed to bring everything home in one piece in a pickup's trunk. I've never seen so many people staring at our load on the highway because we stuffed a bunch of old pillows on the bottom and in-between, so the glass and wooden stand won't break.

The tank got into the living room, I ordered the equipment and started setting up everything. I was very confused! The more people I spoke to (LFS staff, Petco, Petland, etc.) the more blurry the picture about my tank became. Nevertheless, these people's opinions weren't consistent at all. I almost gave up on it... In a desperate search for live plants, someone on craigslist told me about plantedtank.net and since then I didn't listen to my LFS guy anymore.

Looking back, what was I thinking with that white and black substrate?!? And rocks?? Some of them are ok, but these don't even match! This cannot work.
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post #2 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Anyhow, I filled up the tank and started cycling it. I added 10 small Zebra Danios the next day. The water was a bit cloudy and the lights I've ordered didn't arrive yet, so I had to stick with the old ones. The fish were lost in that large tank, too bad I forgot to take a pic while I had them.

After about a week my roommate convinced me to add some Angels, too. We picked those up, introduced 6 into the tank but soon after the Danios started picking on them, so the next day I took them back to the LFS.

Although very shy at the beginning (they didn't like the decorations either...), the Angels became more and more lively as days passed. Without knowing how many times they should be fed, I threw in food about 3-5 times a day. Every day. I had the water tested at the LFS, where the guy told me that I was making McDonald's fish out of poor angels. So I had to slow down and cut back feeding to once a day.
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post #3 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:35 PM
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Welcome to the site! Nothing like starting BIG! Actually easier than small too.


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post #4 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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I heard about a Cichlid Swap Meet, held in Arlington Heights, IL, today (Sunday) and I wanted to check it out. They said that I might find some good deals on plants and driftwood. By the way, that would be my next step: throwing out most of the rocks and filling up the bottom with plants and driftwood.

We arrived to the meet around 10:15 am and started looking for plants right away. I ended bringing home 3 Angels as well, frozen blood worms, brine shrimp eggs and a bunch of plants (I don't even remember their names) for $71. I feel like I made a good deal today, especially if I compare prices with the fish stores' around.

Planting has to wait till tomorrow or Tuesday. The only thing I couldn't find was driftwood. I mean they had driftwood, I just didn't like it that much. About a week ago I picked up some wood from the nearby Kankakee river. The small pieces were boiled and still soaking. The large pieces have been soaked in hot water for a day but I don't have that large of a container or bucket to soak it in. And I like taking showers, so the wood is currently sitting in the garage instead of the bath tub.
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post #5 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Welcome to the site! Nothing like starting BIG! Actually easier than small too.
Thank you! It might be easier but this is my very first tank ever. Thus I can't compare it with anything and the only 3 words that come to my mind are IT IS HARD. Oh, and one more thing: do not ever believe anyone who is telling you that setting up an aquarium is going to be easy both for you and your pocket. 'Cause it won't. But it's nothing like the feeling of satisfaction and happiness that you eventually succeeded!
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post #6 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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So I have 5 + 3 Angels in the tank right now. I was looking for tetras too today but couldn't find any since it was a cichlid swap. Dah! I found a vendor though who is a Discus breeder. He brought along this showpiece quality magnificent female Discus, obviously she wasn't for sale, and we agreed to keep in touch via email. I think he'll be my juvenile Discus supplier: prices are great and he looks like the kind of person who takes care of his fish. There was a bag with 6-7 juvis that were supposed to be picked up by someone who decided not to show up. I was very close to buy that bag. Can you see what addiction does to me?!?

Anyhow, my water conditions are not the best yet, the tank has only been cycling for 19 days and the nitrate test turned out very purple. I decided to wait another month (there's a convention coming up on Memorial Day) and I'll meet the seller then.

Till then I have lots of things to do: get rid of those ugly rocks, add driftwood and plants, perform another 50% water change. Water changes are fun. I did 1 so far, it took me half of a day. Remember it's a 125g.
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post #7 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, I forgot to mention that the day my nitrate test came back purple, the LFS guy recommended me to buy Stress Zyme (I might not spell it correctly), liquid bacteria that will boost the size of colonies in the filters. I have to use it every other day for a week.

I might have forgotten the type of equipment that I have in the tank right now. So I'll write a short list:

- Eheim 2217 canister and Emperor 400 power filters
- 2 Jager Ebo 250w/each heaters
- 2 power heads
- 5 ft power compact lighting fixture, that hasn't arrived yet, with 4x65w bulbs
- black plants substrate, white sand
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post #8 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 09:30 PM
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Love the angels!

I actually kinda like your current scape, it's different but unique. Would look even better though with driftwood and plants!

Nice start, and good luck!
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post #9 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Love the angels!

I actually kinda like your current scape, it's different but unique. Would look even better though with driftwood and plants!

Nice start, and good luck!
Thanks! I think the look could be described as sort of 'avant-garde': it's not your average but you shouldn't question it I've seen all these other aquariums on the forum and I'm not sure how to place driftwood and plants into my tank to make it look good. In your opinion, should I keep the black-and-white substrate, or should I throw half of it out? No worries, I have plenty of extra left in the garage to fill in the empty space. By the way, if anyone is interested in substrate, I'm ready to trade whatever I have left.
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post #10 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabriella View Post
Oh, I forgot to mention that the day my nitrate test came back purple, the LFS guy recommended me to buy Stress Zyme (I might not spell it correctly), liquid bacteria that will boost the size of colonies in the filters. I have to use it every other day for a week.

I might have forgotten the type of equipment that I have in the tank right now. So I'll write a short list:

- Eheim 2217 canister and Emperor 400 power filters
- 2 Jager Ebo 250w/each heaters
- 2 power heads
- 5 ft power compact lighting fixture, that hasn't arrived yet, with 4x65w bulbs
- black plants substrate, white sand
Yuu don't need Stress Zyme.
Plants carry lots of the good stuff to get started.
So just get lots of plants, and um wait awhile before you get more fish.
Anyways for a first timer you got yourself a nice start.


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post #11 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kayen View Post
Yuu don't need Stress Zyme.
Plants carry lots of the good stuff to get started.
So just get lots of plants, and um wait awhile before you get more fish.
Anyways for a first timer you got yourself a nice start.
I wish I knew it, I already used the Stress Zyme yesterday. Though I bought the largest bottle, it has pretty much 3 dosages, but I'll put it away I guess. As for the plants, how do you measure their quantity? I mean how much is a lot and what's a bare minimum there? What I've got today seems a lot to me considering that they will grow eventually and start spreading. Note: I don't have CO2 yet but it's part of the plan to get it.

Still learning the names of plants, so here's what I know for sure I have in the bucket (please don't ask me to be more specific ):

- 3 moss balls
- 4 swords
- 2 Anubias (2 stems each)
- 1 Ludwigia (3-4 stems)
- 1 onion plant
- 2 tall, pretty plants, 2-3 stems each
- 6"x3" Java fern mat

That's what I'll start out with. Thanks for the advice!
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post #12 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 02:10 AM
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Hello!
You said water changes are fun??? Well with a planted discus tank be prepared to do at least 3 large ones a week. I made the commitment to have a 180gal hi-tech discus tank and it is a PITA! On Sunday I do a 90% WC. On wed. I do a 60% WC and another one on friday. Discus need the best water conditions you can give them. I would also advise against getting juvies in a planted tank as they need even better water quality and even more WC's for them to grow properly and not be stunted etc. I spend around 25+ hours a week in cleaning etc.

I like where your head is at though, If you are prepared for the commitment dive in. I absolutely love looking at my tank and it is worth every penny I have spent. I would suggest if you havnt to read and read and read about discus and diseases, water parameters needed, plants that can handle 82-86 degree water and suitable tank mates. Also I would test your water for GH,PH,KH. I use 50/50 RO and tap/well water because my water is not how I want my discus to live.

I dont know if you have been to simply discus forums but I highly recommend it if you havnt.http://forum.simplydiscus.com/

I would also like to recommend Cory at Baylees fishees for plants. He is an excellent guy and you get more than what you pay for. And the quality is outstanding. http://www.bayleesfishees.com/store/

Good luck and never let this hobby discourage you!!
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post #13 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 02:17 AM
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Angels like clean water but Discus keeping is tough. Lotta work. Bigger is easier to balance but nobody ever said cheap.


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post #14 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 05:28 PM
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I have a 265 gallon Discus tank. I do a 30% water change every two or three weeks, and I have no water quality issues. Just plant dense and keep an eye out for strange behavior. Check out your tap water parameters and see if they meet discus requirements, I cut mine with one third RO water to keep my hardness reasonable.

The tank stays at 86 so you need to choose plants that can survive at that temp, do some research and you will be fine.

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post #15 of 81 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 05:53 PM
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Do discus jump? I've got an open-top 75 gal and I'm thinking of removing my 3-4 rainbows and getting 2-3 discus in there instead but I like it being rimless and topless. I do have the occasional suicide jump from penguin tetras, danios and rasboras but have learned now not to get notorious jumpers. Are discus generall ok in a topless tank?

(sorry for the hijack, but it's related, no?)

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