Substrate for discus: an age-old dilemma - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate for discus: an age-old dilemma

Hi all-

Ok, I've finally decided that I'm going to go for a discus tank this time around. It's only a 54g tank so I need to be careful, and it will take a while to establish the tank before I can even consider putting discus in there. With such a small tank, maybe just one pair could work, a a few juveniles and rearrange later.

I have kept/bred discus before, although it was 20 years ago

Now the substrate:

- ok, I keep hearing that dark substrate will cause the colors to darken/pepper/suffer in the discus. I always used black substrate in the past because it looks so striking, but this actually makes sense to me so I will consider something lighter

- using PFS or just something very white seems a little much to me, especially since this tank is going to be very lightly planted (some anubias and wood) and the background is a sort of light grey. With a white substrate, it's going to be quite bright in there.

I'm wondering about going for a 'middle of the road' solution. Maybe something light, but not TOO light. Like, the classic reddish Flourite which I've had good luck with. But, I'm not really going to plant stems or go for ground cover, so it doens't need to be a planted-friendly substrate.

I'm also not sure about the substrates that claim to stabilize or alter the water parameters. For whatever reason, the water here in Denver has always been stable right out of the tap and very cichlid friendly, so I'm tempted to go for stability (and low maintenance) instead of trying to get fancy.

Can anyone share any thoughts on what might fit the bill? Any thoughts much appreciated!

thanks, Dave
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 08:23 PM
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Yes, I agree you do need to be careful with a 54 gal tank, that being the smallest you should have in order to keep 5 or 6 discus, which is the minimum number recommended for reasonable discus sociability, and to dissipate pecking order aggression.
Don't be tempted to keep just 2, 3, or 4 discus in that tank, or you'll be inviting potentially much more serious aggression that you'd care to see. (Note: you could keep a proven mated pair, if you want to breed them.)

And yes, black is not a good substrate color for discus, for the reasons you've stated, and particularly if you get pigeon-based fish which are very prone to peppering in dark substrate. I keep discus in white pool filter sand with a dark blue background, and really like it. PFS is the best substrate for keeping discus, ime. No problem keeping it squeaky clean.
Here's a look:

I don't find it too bright, and it does well bringing out the fish and plant colors:



[URL=http://s1105.photobucket.com/user/discuspaul/media/FTS-Osaka260/CopyofFTS-saka260007.jpg.html][IMG]

Best of luck to you.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Paul,

Thanks for this input, I appreciate it. I have a light colored background (3d rock) so if I use straight pool sand it will just be so... white! So, I'm hoping to bring some color into the mix. I really l like a reddish tint because it looks so great with the wood/plants, so I am considering something like this:

CaribSea Super Naturals

I like the Rio Grande or maybe the Sunset color. That seems like it will add a bit of color but not be too bright or white - but I'm really not sure.

I haven't started considering the actual discus stock but I will probably go with the classic Red Turquoise or a bluish variant.

With a substrate that is not white, but ore of a gold or dull red do you think the coloration would suffer?

thanks!! Dave



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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 05:26 PM
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Don't know what the color of the linked substrate is called - but it looks awfully dark to me, and would likely have the effect of darkening the discus' coloration as you indicated in your opening post.
I feel it should be a lot lighter than that. Have you checked out the pool/spa supply stores near you ? Most pool stores stock a natural-looking beige/light brown pool filter sand, rather than white - and you may find that to be quite suitable.
PFS comes in several shades of beige/brown, as well as greyish, and pinkish, any one of which would nicely show up your fish & plant colors.

Alternatively, you might also consider getting & applying a darker background than what you now have, which you might find quite suitable to your tastes with a light substrate.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Paul - Was thinking this one might be best , it has a reddish color but still seems quite light. Would you still think it might be so dark as to cause the fish to darken? thanks!

-



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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 06:48 PM
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In reading this thread, I took note of one of the questions the IP asked regarding the effect of substrate color choice on the color of the discus themselves. Would a darker substrate also contribute to more"peppering" in the fish?

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 06:49 PM
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No - that one looks like it should be just fine, color-wise, Dave.
If you like it, go for it.
Is it inert though, or does it contain any other material(s) ?

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post
In reading this thread, I took note of one of the questions the IP asked regarding the effect of substrate color choice on the color of the discus themselves. Would a darker substrate also contribute to more"peppering" in the fish?

For those fish which are prone to peppering - pigeon-blood based mainly, and a small number of other light colored strains (but not albinos) - absolutely.
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