Advice from Discus owners. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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Advice from Discus owners.

Hello, I am looking for some advice and tips from those of you who have these beautiful fish.

I have a 75gal planted tank that I am looking to populate with fish. I had 50 neon tetras but then bought 5 more from a national chain pet store who apparently were sick with a plague that killed nearly every fish in my tank

So It's time to repopulate and I was thinking discus. I have no reasonable access to RO water. I have been told that RO water makes it easier but is not necessary as long as the PH is below 7. I have a large piece of drift wood and use Co2 as well.

What are some tips/suggestions for these beautiful but difficult fish?

Thank you, Andrew.

Last edited by Pb4life2; 08-28-2014 at 01:03 AM. Reason: typo
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 02:48 AM
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The wild caught are the tricky ones. The ones that have been bred in captivity are much more tolerant of aquarium conditions.
They still want the best possible conditions, so soft water, tannic acid, very low NO3 and so on.
If you are raising juveniles they will still grow better with plenty of water changes, but it is not necessary to do daily very large water changes.

They do not eat plants. I have seen several very nice planted tanks with Discus.

If you know the GH of your tap water that would help to know if it is worth buying a RO unit. They do need soft water.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 02:00 PM
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I would also ask around to stores/discus owners in your area and see what their water conditions are and if they use RO.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 03:17 PM
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No need to use RO water - tap water will do. Discus can thrive in pH ranging from 5.0 to over 8.0, so long as it remains fairly steady. (i.e. no rapid, very large swings.)

Age your tap water overnite, if need be, to maintain relative
pH stability between tap & tank for wcs.

Here's a listing of advices for the discus novice - follow these 'rules' if you wish to do it 'right'.


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 forum, particularly the stickies in their 'Discus Basics'
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.

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 maintaining a planted tank. 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 aquascaped environment. 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 params 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.

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

May I also suggest you have a read of my "Beginner's Guide to Getting Started with Discus", located here in the Fish section - click on the first & only Sticky for the Article.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 03:29 PM
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There may be a slight hiccup in the water- St. Pete has super hard water- as high as a ph of 8.4 with 250 ppm total hardness.

Additionally, they're also drawing water from a desal plant, which may cause even more problems.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-28-2014, 09:06 PM
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According to posts on the forum, many discus-keepers have successfully kept them in pH of 8.0 to 8.4.
However, there are several safe approaches to softening water for discus if need be, i.e. water ageing, the use of peat, keeping driftwood in the tank, mixing RO water with tap, or moderate buffering.
Proper de-salination plant water should pose no problem.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-29-2014, 12:26 AM
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I have a 65-gallon heavily-planted tank with 6 discus.

I can answer any more questions later (don't have a lot of time now), but you want to buy medium-size (at least) fish, since they don't grow all that well in a planted tank. I've had mine for about 6 months, and they've grown some, but they will probably never become "full size." That's fine for me as long as they are healthy, and mine are, but this is something to keep in mind.

They can also be picky eaters. Some will eat pellets, some will strongly prefer frozen blood worms. I have 5 that will eat both and 1 that will only ever eat FBW, even after 2 weeks of starving itself when I would only feed pellets.

The extra bioload on my tank means I now change the water every 4-5 days, whereas before it was every 7-10 days. Also, discus really like really clean water, so I think every 4-5 days is perfect in a planted tank with medium discus.

They get along fine with other fish. People will tell you that they aren't compatible with shrimp, but I have a ton of Amano and RCS shrimp, and the discus haven't bugged them at all.
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