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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Planted discus community tank

OK... I'm getting excited about the possibility of turning my 100 gal corner reef into a planted tank. But I'm a little worried about what I read about keeping discus. Will I really have to do a 50% water change every day (or every other)? I don't think I can keep up with moving 50 gal of water more than once a week. What are the realities here? I am able to invest in some good filters as I will be selling off all my reef stuff that broke my bank (and heart).

I guess I'll be in the high tech group, as I have 2x150 MH that will light my tank.

Today's questions:

1. Can I have what I want with only weekly water changes?

2. What community fish can I have with 6 or so discus in a tank as described?

3. What i have read pu-pus substrate for discus keeping. What are the realities?

4. Could I keep three different kinds of discus i pairs of two or does that create aggression?

Thanks!

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 03:11 PM
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I do know a bit about reefs (10years reefkeeping) and I do know a bit about MH lighting with discus.

I have read, numberous times, that discus do not like (however these people know is beyond me) MH lighting. IMO, where they come from, you would get a slight shimmer but it would be diluted because of the amounts of tannins in the water.

that being said, for a planted tank, as long as the MH are mounted appropriately good deal just dont use a 20K, or 15K bulb, look for something more around the 6,500K - 10,000K range as plants use this wavelength to photosynthesize.

you may want to think about converting the lighting to T5s, as it saves on power expense and provides enough PAR .

to help you with your questions
1) No discus in planted tanks dont need daily water changes, that would be impossible to fertilize properly IMO. Your plants are obsorbing nutrients (NO3, PO4) that inhibit discus growth, so, this acts as a "water change" on a minute level.. however, yes you still need to do partial water changes.

2) There are tons of species of fish that can survive and are found naturally in the same areas discus are. Cardinal Tetras are often seen in tanks with Discus which are equally as beautiful IMO as many saltwater fish. Just pick fish that do well in the same water parameters discus do.

3) I have no idea.. cant comment

4) The best thing to do is get a school of juveniles and let them pair up naturally. Unless you are able to sex each individual which I dont know anything about.
I see no reason however why you could not say, keep pigeon bloods with turqoise, or snakeskins with ... cobalts... this shouldn't be a problem.... Same species, different color morph.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 03:40 PM
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I haven't kept discus but many people in my local club do and they do so in fully planted tanks. From what I've heard, daily water changes are needed because young discus release some sort of hormone or something that inhibits their growth so the water changes dilute this.

As for keeping them in a bare bottom tank, I think this is used mainly by the breeders to make it easier to clean out the tank
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 04:15 PM
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I have kept discus in my planted tank for about a year now, so I'm no expert, but in my experience daily water changes are not needed. Weekly 50% water changes that are recommended with EI fertilizing method works fine. Even every other week or once a month would probably be fine too, but the more often the better (IMO).

Discus like really warm, soft water so any fish that can deal with that work well. Rummynose or Cardinal Tetras, Blue Rams and many types of Corys and Plecos, work great with Discus.

Not sure what pu-pus substrate is....

I don't think that it matters what strains of discus you mix. Discus often pair up with different strains. Larger discus will usually pick on the smaller ones regardless of strain.

I would recommend buying the largest Discus you can afford from a high quality breeder. Juvenile discus require lots of feedings (2-3+ per day) and are harder to grow out properly in a planted tank. Larger Discus don't require as many feedings and can better compete with other fish for food. Larger discus are also hardier. Daily water changes ARE a necessity in bare-bottom juvenile grow out tanks that are getting 3+ feedings per day of beef heart.


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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 04:32 PM
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I would not do more than 5 discus in that size tank, and definitely go with LESS intense lighting. Discus do not like it too bright in my experience. You can use MH but then the discus will likely hide most of the time so what's the point? As for WC, yes, you can get away with 50% once or twice a week but only for more mature discus. If you get small ones and do ot change the WC but once a week they will not grow very well or too big.

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 04:38 PM
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I have a 75 gal Discus community tank that I've been running for about 15 months now with IMO pretty good success, so I'll give some feedback.

1. Discus definitely do better with cleaner, fresher water, but if you have a very well-filtered, fairly heavily planted tank, you could probably get by okay with only a weekly water change. If you do that, you should definitely stock the tank with adult Discus from the start. It's pretty much proven that discus grow better with more frequent water changes. Sure, there's always someone that'll tell you they've bucked the trend and had success, but go with the odds on this one. Discus are too expensive to take crazy chances. You can feed adult Discus less often, therefore, less waste means you can get away with less water changes. I run two XP2's on my 75g, and they have to be cleaned monthly because the waste starts slowing the flow. If you don't care about your discus stunting, then get younger smaller ones, and only do weekly water changes. You'll end up with some of your discus only growing to 3 inches or so. Personally, I do 2-3 40-50% water changes each week. I have a fairly heavy bioload and I have younger Discus that get fed plenty. Lighter bioload with adult Discus and you could probably could get by just fine with a single 40-50% water change. Keep an eye on your filter flow, too!

2. With a Discus community tank, for tankmates, the main thing to consider is which fish can tolerate the higher temps (82-85 degrees, depending on your Discus' age and whether or not you're trying to breed them). I currently have Cardinals, Rummynose, Marbled Hatchets, Sterbai cories, Otos, a Bolivian Ram (just added), a Florida Flagfish, and an albino BN pleco. I have also kept Black Neons, Lemon tetras, and German Blue Rams without problems. For a corner tank, I think I would forego the Rummynose, because they seem to like a longer tank, because they are great schoolers and constantly swim from side to side on mine. A corner tank might seem a little cramped for them. Don't forget invertebrates since your tank is going to be planted. I have Amano shrimp, Ghost shrimp and Nerite snails in my Discus tank (and every other planted tank I have, for that matter). The Amanos and Nerites (along with the Otos) make it so I NEVER have to use an algae scraper. The Ghost shrimp are excellent scavengers that eat any leftover food and along with good filtration make it so I see next to no detritus on the sand.

3. IMO, the no substrate thing is mainly for breeding tanks and tanks that have extremely young Discus. Other than a quarantine tank, I'd have no tank before I'd have a barebottom tank. They have no visual appeal to me in the least, regardless of what fish are in there. No doubt barebottoms are easier to clean, but sand is pretty easy too (especially if you have a solid cleanup crew like cories and shrimp), as detritus can't get too far down like it can with gravel. And too much detritus will definitely not be good for the good water quality that Discus like. Keep in mind that Discus do darken up some with darker substrates. This is not a myth. It depends on the strain, though, so do your homework. Most Discus keepers recommend a lighter substrate like white sand if you want your Discus to look their absolute best. I have Flourite Black Sand in my Discus tank. There are a couple in my tank that regularly darken up in an attempt to blend in with the environment.

4. Keep whatever color strains you like. They do like to be kept in larger groups (I have 6) but I've never seen any behavior based on color patterns. In my tank, there has always been one Discus that is like the oddball that the others try to bully (they are cichlids, afterall). This is usually the smallest one. I have lost a couple like this. They end up isolated and stressed and end up succumbing to disease. A few months ago I intoduced a couple of new ones about 2.5 inches each. One of them the others never bother at all, but the other one the larger ones occasionally try to bully. I know this one is going to be okay, though, because it doesn't back down at all. It stays in the group, eats as much as the others, and takes no crap. Just watch out if one of them starts to get isolated and constantly stays away from the group.

Discus in a planted tank is very do-able, just do your research and know your goals. If you want a planted display tank, with fewer water changes, go with bigger Discus from the start. If you want to get younger, smaller (and much less expensive, also) Discus, you are going to have to invest in more frequent water changes for good growth. If you want to successfully breed them and raise fry, you're better off going with something like a 20gal high barebottom tank for each pair.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 04:50 PM
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ycbs put into greater detail and context what I would have said (I was on a work conference call when I posted!).

>>>>Sure, there's always someone that'll tell you they've bucked the trend and had success, but go with the odds on this one. Discus are too expensive to take crazy chances.

Yup. Whenever I've heard that once I saw the discus that resulted it was at best, uh, not bad, worse, OMG those look awful.

Overfiltering (I have an Eheim 2028 and XP3 running on my 72 gal planted discus tank) and changing water 2x a week I've gotten a few of my discus from 3.5-4" to 6.5-7" in about an 18 month period.

Just keep in mind to do it right is a commitment. It's not the change 2-3x a day as many die-hard would tell you, but it's not change 50% a week and sometimes skip a week kind of thing either. But the results can be very much work the extra effort.

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 04:57 PM
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In my 135g planted discus tank, I did 20g changes every 2 days. Larger discus let out a hormone to inhibit young growth( keeps them from growing too fast to compete with breeding). No matter what size discus you get, you need to feed at least 3 times a day. With the higher heat (I run 85) the metabolism is increased, and higher levels of protein are needed as well. Blood worms, a staple pellet diet, aqua treasures OR PE Mysis shrimp( not the small Hikari stuff), and BEEFHEART(best home made with spirulina and other nutrients) will provide you with awesome shape and growth. A lot of people don't know how big discus can get, especially without a real good varied diet.

I kept 8 in a 125 with a ton of other fish. Pair of Pearl gouramis, 12 Congos, 30 Diamonds, 20 silvertips, 1 spotted raphael cat, 8 khulli loaches, 13 clown loaches, and 4 BN plecs, 2 L-213, 1 LDA-2, 1 L-204,1 LDA-31,1 L-007. I think that was it... Tons of Jungle val and other plants, lots of siphoning and my parameters were constantly amm-0 nitri-0 nitra-20 pH-6.4

Don't get wild discus and you can't mess up, now of days, they're almost as easy as angelfish.

Adam

Oh and my lighting is 4 36" t5HO bulbs(2 colormax, 2 6700k) 800w true temp heater, and a fluval FX5 with 3 litres of Matrix in it(I SWEAR BY THIS STUFF)

125g semi planted. 2 silver angels, 14 silver tips, 16 white fin ornatus tetras, pair of Nicaraguense, pair of nototus severums, trio of firemouth cichlids. 2 FX5s, 1 1500gph circ pump, 2 48" LED lighs, and a HUGE piece of driftwood.

650g fish room. 15 30g tanks, 150g sump.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 05:00 PM
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Weekly water changes are just fine. Bare bottom/daily water changes/20x a day feeding is for people who are trying to grow their discus to unnatural sizes (take that comment with a grain of sarcasm). I don't plan on selling mine for profit or entering them in any sort of competition so if they only reach 5" instead of 8", I won't be disappointed. They're still healthy, will still mate, and will still love you when you come near the tank with food.

I wish some breeders would start creating mini-discus. I love 'em at 2.5 - 3 inches .

65g planted tank - 200W heat - PC 192W/6700K - Eheim 2217 - Pressurized CO2 - EI Dosing
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Franzi View Post
Weekly water changes are just fine. Bare bottom/daily water changes/20x a day feeding is for people who are trying to grow their discus to unnatural sizes (take that comment with a grain of sarcasm). I don't plan on selling mine for profit or entering them in any sort of competition so if they only reach 5" instead of 8", I won't be disappointed. They're still healthy, will still mate, and will still love you when you come near the tank with food.

I wish some breeders would start creating mini-discus. I love 'em at 2.5 - 3 inches .
I agree. A lot of the information out there surrounding discus is MYTH. Captive bred discus are like any other tropical fish. Give them warm, clean water and good diet and they'll do just fine. Even moreso so you buy captive discus from a local fish store.

In fact, I know several people keeping WILDCAUGHT discus in tapwater and they're doing just fine. I just ordered 4 wild discus and they will be treated the same as my captive discus. If you want to breed discus for a living, you may need to get a little fancier with your routine. But if you're simply doing it to enjoy discus in your home aquarium, just keep up with your regular water change routine.

~ Jose


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Franzi View Post
I wish some breeders would start creating mini-discus. I love 'em at 2.5 - 3 inches .
A huge school of mini-discus would be amazing!
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 06:23 PM
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I was thinking about raising Discus, but decided on a "Species Tank" of Neolamprologus Brichardi instead, since I've always loved those ...

Anyways, in my searching I came across this Discus forum that may be helpful ... http://www.discusforums.com/

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. All the best !!!

Tim
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... including: Vallisneria Gigantea, Java Fern, Varied Anubias, Amazon Sword
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 08:14 PM
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http://forum.simplydiscus.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olliesshop View Post
Anyways, in my searching I came across this Discus forum that may be helpful ... http://www.discusforums.com/
This is a good discus forum as well: http://forum.simplydiscus.com


They have a great "Planted/Show Tanks and Biotopes" forum that I read alot.

I've got the same dream, but am working on running my planted tank at discus parameters for a full year before investing in the fish. So far, so good. I have rummynose, cardnals, amanos, and ottos (along with all the plants) all doing well at the high temps, low pH and soft water. *fingers crossed*

Good luck pursing that planted discus tank!

Will
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 07:27 PM
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YCBS great reply, agree!!!
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 07:34 PM
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A huge school of mini-discus would be amazing!
All stunted "mini" discus I've seen are quite poorly colored.

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