D-I-S-C-U-S 6 Cardinal Rules For Newbies to Follow - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-07-2018, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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D-I-S-C-U-S 6 Cardinal Rules For Newbies to Follow

D-I-S-C-U-S - 6 CARDINAL RULES FORNEWBIES TO FOLLOW


First I'd just like to mention once again that discus are hardier than many people think, and are not difficult to keep, so long as one is prepared to accept and adhere to a few key practices that will provide the best chances of success with discus.

This listing is recorded more or less in order of importance:

1) - D - Do your homework well before delving into discus. Read and research all you can beforehand. Googling will certainly help, as well as spending a good deal of time reading the posts and threads on the simplydiscus.com forum, particularly the stickies in the 'Discus Basics for Beginners' section, which will provide you with much of the material you need to digest.

2) - I - Investigate and learn of the best sources to get your discus stock. Find those breeders &/or importers that are long time, well-experienced, responsible, reputable, and known to supply high quality, healthy, and well-shaped discus. Buy your discus from one of these sources in order to insure that you get off on the best footing possible.
This is the single, most important factor in succeeding with discus.



The simplydiscus.com forum has a sponsors section which lists a good number of high quality discus suppliers in North America. Check it out.

3) - S - Set up and plan to follow a strict regular routine of fresh water changes, tank wipe-downs and cleansing, vacuuming of wastes, and regular filter and media cleaning, changes, replacements, and maintenance. Be fully prepared for the kind of commitment it takes to produce and maintain the highest water quality and conditions that you can.

4) - C - Carefully consider the type of tank set up you start with. Make sure the tank size is ample enough to start with 5 or 6 discus. Don't be tempted to begin with a tank of less than 55 or 60 gallons, and don't try to justify going smaller by just getting 1, 2, 3, or 4 discus for cost or other reasons.


Wait till you have sufficient resources to get a proper-sized tank, and the suitable size and number of fish to insure continuing good health and harmonious discus sociability.
Do not start with small, undersized, very juvenile fish which have not yet developed a more mature immune system, are more demanding to raise properly, and much more prone to health problems and other issues. Get fish of at least 3.0" in size, preferably larger.

5) - U - Undertake to start off with a bare bottom tank, unless you're getting fully adult fish and have previous good experience with fish-keeping generally, and maintaining a planted tank in particular.

If you must have some decor, limit yourself to a very thin sand substrate layer, and perhaps a piece of driftwood with just a couple of small plants attached, or one or two potted plants.

Once you gain several months' of experience getting to know your discus' traits & behavior, and your discus get larger, then you may proceed to an aqua-scaped environment, to possibly include some other species of compatible discus tank-mates.

Feed a varied diet, several times a day, and learn which foods will achieve a nutritious diet, by researching.

6) - S - Simplify. Keep things as simple as you can to start. Don't complicate your start with discus, at least at first, by placing them in a heavily planted environment, using CO2 and a strict fertilization regime.

Make sure your tank is fully cycled before adding the fish, and don't be tempted to alter or change the pH of your water, or modify your water conditions and parameters by using chemicals of any kind. No need to use RO water or adopt any other procedures that would tend to complicate what should be a simple start to your discus launch.
If you plan on eventually having a community tank set-up, carefully research the species of other fish you'd like to keep with the discus, to insure they are able to withstand the higher discus temp of at least 82 F, and that they are fully compatible with discus.


And do a complete and proper quarantine before adding any such tank-mates to your discus tank.

Follow these 'rules', and there's little doubt you will succeed with discus !

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Last edited by discuspaul; 11-08-2018 at 12:01 AM. Reason: Fix spacing of words
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2018, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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If you have any questions about these 'rules', or anything to do with discus - please don't be shy about asking - I'm always here to help....
I want to make sure you don't make any of the many usual start-up discus-keeping mistakes !

Nobody wants to lose one or more $75. fish 3-4 months after getting them, but that's what often happens to newbies if they don't follow these advices.

They're not hard to keep healthy, folks, they just can't handle poor water quality, so you simply have to accept that, & take steps to avoid that condition.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2018, 07:49 PM
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Good post.

I bought some discus a few weeks back. I'm now having an issue feeding then. I've tried flakes, pellets, some other food for discus, and they are just so picky. They will destroy blood worms within 20 seconds.

I've tried to soak the food too.

I do have other tank mates, 2 dension barbs, and 5 other tetras.

Any advice?

PS I run a sump system, and when I feed I turn off.


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2018, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Some discus simply will not take to dry or dried foods, at least at times, or perhaps temporarily, especially if they've become accustomed to a steady daily diet of bloodworms. Almost all discus like bloodworms - however they have a high water content and much lower protein count than a lot of other foods. So not a good food for discus on a regular basis.

I suggest you try freeze-dried Australian blackworms. If your local LFS supplier doesn't carry them, you can get them from Aquatic Suppliers -not expensive & will be mailed to you quickly & be received anywhere in the U.S. within 2-4 days. Look up Aquatic Suppliers in the "Sponsors" section of simplydiscus.com/forum for contact info, amounts & prices. Almost all discus will go crazy over them and they have a good protein content.

You could also try frozen brine shrimp or frozen Mysis shrimp - all my discus loved these foods.

Another thing you can do is mix some flakes or pellets in with a food your discus like - whether that be bloodworms, blackworms, or shrimp - eventually the fish should start taking in some of the dry foods you've incorporated with the stuff they like.

You can also finely dice some fresh garlic in with either flakes or pellets or both. Like humans, many discus love garlic aroma & flavor.
Finally, you could try some frozen beef heart mix - it's available from a number of sources, or you can get a recipe and make some yourself at home. Google should direct you to some sources for beef heart mixes.

Hope this helps.

Good luck to you.

P.S.
One more thing you can try - don't feed them at all for a couple of days to wean them off the bloodworms for a bit.
And turn the temp up some, temporarily, to say 86 F. They'll already be hungry and this will heighten their appetite.

Then try some dried food - can you get some small red-colored pellets like 'tetra bits' or some other similarly called food. My discus loved them, but I don't have any left over and the name escapes me for the moment.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-13-2018 at 12:34 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2018, 10:12 PM
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Will try.

So I mixed all the foods together, I think it helped a bit, but one off my blue guys decided to fill his face, then proceeded to barf it back up.


Looks like i adopted my kids in fish format...


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2018, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Keep trying different approaches - something will eventually work.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-22-2018, 03:16 PM
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Hi all,

So I went to an auction a few months back, and picked up 2 3.5 " discus. Both of them didn't have their full color. I brought them home, put them in with my 2 other discus. One of them regained their full color, but the other one did not.

Here's what I found: the healthy one bullies the crap out of the almost color less one. The small guy eats a tiny bit of food until the bully chases him back into his hiding spot. He is not growing much.

My tank has quite a few hiding spots for him. He usually hangs around the heater. I'm running the tank at 30c.
There are other tank mates, but they don't seem to bother any of the discus.

It is a bare bottom tank, 90 gal with a 75 gal sump system, and sea swirl return. I have a heater in the top and in the sump. The light isn't that bright.

Question, do I suclude the bullied discus in a 12g fluval tank until he regains his color and gets bigger? He would be alone for now.

I feed them flaked food, blood warms, mysis shrimp, and brine shrimp. I feed them once a day.

I have a total of 4 discus, and will be purchasing at least 3 more in the next few days. I have very limited options where I live. Could I fit 3 or 4 discus in the 12 gal for a quarantine period? This is assuming the size of the discus would be below "4.

I have another 30 gal planted tank that I tried to put the bullied fish in, but he didn't take to well either because of the low temp 25c or the high nitrates 120ppm. (This is a planted tank) with bright lights and 12 harlequin rasborsa and some shrimp.

Thanks!



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Btw I also change up to %50 water on my 90 every 6 days, sometimes %70 depending on my health.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-23-2018 at 07:45 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 10:23 PM
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I know this is probably re-iterating one of the 6 rules that were posted, but I'll ask anyway. I live in an area where the water is hard. Do I need to use RO water?

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-25-2018, 12:10 AM
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I'll let OP reply but my opinion is that you don't need to use RO water. Your Discus would prefer it and it might be necessary to get them to breed, but I've kept Discus without RO water before with no issues. You just need to make sure to keep there parameters stable, that's what's most important to them.


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FreshwaterCentral View Post
I'll let OP reply but my opinion is that you don't need to use RO water. Your Discus would prefer it and it might be necessary to get them to breed, but I've kept Discus without RO water before with no issues. You just need to make sure to keep there parameters stable, that's what's most important to them.

Good answer.
Discus very seldom need RO water, or a mix of RO & tap water., as most tap water provided by cities & municipalities is quite adequate for keeping discus,
How hard is you water , enquirer ?
Even water up to pH of 8.5 is ok for discus so long as it's relatively stable, (and not highly variable and fluctuating widely), which is usually the case in almost all areas of north America.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2018, 04:34 PM
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Good answer.
Discus very seldom need RO water, or a mix of RO & tap water., as most tap water provided by cities & municipalities is quite adequate for keeping discus,
How hard is you water , enquirer ?
Even water up to pH of 8.5 is ok for discus so long as it's relatively stable, (and not highly variable and fluctuating widely), which is usually the case in almost all areas of north America.
The hardness in calcium carbonate is about 10 - 20 grains per gallon here.

pH is around 7.8.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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The hardness in calcium carbonate is about 10 - 20 grains per gallon here.

pH is around 7.8.

That should be fine for discus -not an issue.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-11-2019, 01:09 AM
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Sorry for my delayed response.

That would certainly make discus keeping a lot easier. Will keep this in mind. Thanks for the information.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-11-2019, 03:41 PM
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In my experience with breeding Discus, they are no more or less hardy than most any other Cichlids, with exceptions being some of the wild varieties that are little removed from their habitat. Buy from a reputable supplier, and preferably local when you can.

My most important suggestions for success-

Bigger is better. Definitely don't keep them in too small of a tank. I would consider a 40 breeder minimum for a pair (although I don't really recommend it) and wouldn't consider anything smaller than a 55 for several pairs. They only "crowd" well in larger setups. Lightly stocked is the best way to go.

Frequent water changes. If you aren't willing to do weekly water changes (at least in the beginning until they are very well established) these aren't necessarily the fish for you.

Filtration- don't get too crazy. Some of the healthiest fish and most prolific breeders rely on basic air driven sponge filters, and they work phenomenally well when well established. HOB and canister filters work well, just keep the flow from being too turbulent. A spraybar with larger holes for more diffuse flow is a great way to get a ton of flow into the tank without disturbing things too much.

Sand substrate, medium tone to darker is better. I don't like gravel or bare bottom for them, as the fish never seemed as comfortable, even in an otherwise bare tank. This may go against other advice from those who keep them, but, well, that's a different opinion I like a nice heavy, dense substrate if given a choice, as it can easily be vacuumed and is less likely to trap detritus. Pool filter sand in a "natural" color tone looks great, is cheap, and works very well, as does black diamond blasting sand, although it is lighter and a bit harder to vacuum.

High quality food is absolutely essential! I prefer frozen, but at the bare minimum you would want to use a high quality pellet food. Verified clean live foods such as Daphnia and scuds from a reputable source are also lovely additions to their diet, especially if breeding is your goal.

Lower lighting is often better, at least at first. Heavily planted tanks will work well, but newer fish may not adapt very well at first, and will need the lighting to be adjusted in brightness gradually until they become accustomed to the tank. I'm a big fan of hardscape-only setups with limited use of lower-light plants, such as java fern, in addition to floating plants such as Salvinia, Red root floaters, or even duckweed. This will make the tank relatively low maintenance, while still allowing for nutrient export and cover from the lighting for the fish in times where they want it. Lean some slate or flat stone in the back corners to hide equipment, and often they will commandeer it for an egglaying surface.

Watch the tankmates, fast moving neurotic fish aren't well tolerated, except in very large setups. I found that they did well with medium to larger benign fish such as sailfin mollies, who on their own provided a steady supply of quality live food as they were pretty prolific on their own, and they doubled as algae control They also seemed to do well with fish such as rainbows, Corydoras, larger barbs/danios, larger tetras, and more mellow loaches, although any Loricariids tended to get picked at incessantly for whatever reason.


I have had excellent success breeding them in very hard/alkaline water in the 7.8~8.2 PH range, and found with the proper care taken to frequent water changes, quality foods, and a minimalist style that they were incredibly prolific fish, with a ton of healthy, fast growing offspring, and minimal loss of eggs before hatching. Individual water parameters aren't important so long as the water itself is quite clean, don't obsess over trying for a specific lower PH unless you are working with finicky strains or wild types.
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