trying to make a planted discus tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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trying to make a planted discus tank

Hi everyone
I have been putting alot of time into my project of making a planted tank to hold Discus.
I have 135 gal. tank with . with a canister filter and a power on the side filter. I have a feel spectrum led lights hanging over the tank, which i pulled out the 14k - 10k chips and added 6.5k chips instead.
I started about 2 months ago, put live gravel in the tank. maybe a week or too later, I put driftwood and and some rocks from another well established tank.
I seem to be having a big problem with algee covering over all the plants and driftwood. I did a 50% water change, and about 3 days later did another water change, and cleaned all the filters more than normal.
A few days ago, the algae came back, at this point I had added 9 corys and 4 other schooling fish.
Last night I started to take out all the the rocks and driftwood and rinse them off, and with the plants, the taller ones I shook and pushed off the and caught the algae in a fish net.
I forgot to tell you, once I saw algae, I put on one of the 5 tray canister, I put in phosban in a mesh bag and placed it in a tray. The one tray did not help my algae problem at all I cleaned the canister and added another tray of phosban. I don't know if the algae will have an effect on Discus, but I don't like seeing it.
I did make a test yeaterday on phosphates in the tank and I was a little over .5.
I am hoping fo suggestion, or telling me what I should do, or what I am doing is not proper.
Thanks in advance
Mark
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 04:47 PM
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Algae is an indication that something is out of balance. Typically its caused by too much light, not enough co2, an imbalance of fertilizers or a combination of it all. How long are your lights on?

Worth noting that a planted discus tank is a beautiful sight to behold. However, most with experience keeping discus would recommend that you only keep adult discus in a planted setup. Not sure if that's your plan going forward with this? Also wondering what temperature you keep this tank at? Discus prefer it rather warm and typically most cory cats would rather it a bit cooler than what discus need.

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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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I have the all spectrum on for 8 hours and the blue/purple lights on for 12 hours.
I would not call myself an experienced fish person, but, i do have 6 display . My oldest is 4 years old, and this hopeful discus tank is my newest.
I do have other planted tanks one, had a terible problem with algae, I put a reactor on it, and now my plants are thriving in that tank.
I do know it's best to start off with adult discus, and i do know they like around 85f.
Right now I am at 79, and planning on slowly bringing the temperature up before i purchase the discus.
I am trying to go ahead and get 3 1/2" discus, I hear that it will not be easy keeping them alive at that size.
I am very diligent on water changes and filter cleaning.
I want to try this, I know i am not ready to add the discus yet, no problem for me as far as time goes
I do not have co2 in any of my planted tanks. I'm not saying i am doing the right thing, it might be totally wrong what i am doing. The 2 other planted tanks, the plants are growing very well
In my original post i said I am using phosban, that was a mistake, I am using Phos guard
thanks
mark
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by maybemark View Post
I have the all spectrum on for 8 hours and the blue/purple lights on for 12 hours.
I would not call myself an experienced fish person, but, i do have 6 display . My oldest is 4 years old, and this hopeful discus tank is my newest.
I do have other planted tanks one, had a terible problem with algae, I put a reactor on it, and now my plants are thriving in that tank.
I do know it's best to start off with adult discus, and i do know they like around 85f.
Right now I am at 79, and planning on slowly bringing the temperature up before i purchase the discus.
I am trying to go ahead and get 3 1/2" discus, I hear that it will not be easy keeping them alive at that size.
I am very diligent on water changes and filter cleaning.
I want to try this, I know i am not ready to add the discus yet, no problem for me as far as time goes
I do not have co2 in any of my planted tanks. I'm not saying i am doing the right thing, it might be totally wrong what i am doing. The 2 other planted tanks, the plants are growing very well
In my original post i said I am using phosban, that was a mistake, I am using Phos guard
thanks
mark
Thats a lot of light for a long time. Likely the cause of your algae.

Keeping 3.5 inch discus alive shouldn't be any more difficult than keeping any other fish alive. You only need the basics for that....a tank, a cycled filter and the ability to change water when needed. The tricky part with discus is being able to grow them out to their full potential. This can be difficult in a planted tank. Ideally, young discus are typically grown out in a bare bottom tank and require heavy feedings multiple times a day of very high protein foods. This results in lots of waste and uneaten food, which leads most breeders to do very large water changes (think at least 50%) sometimes after every feeding (think multiple times every day). Having a bare bottom tank ensures you can do a thorough cleaning and are not missing any waste trapped in the substrate.

Being diligent with water changes and filter cleanings in a typical planted tank usually means once a week (sometimes little more or a little less). Being diligent with water changes on a discus growout tank usually means more than once a day. Not impossible, but this is often overlooked and can be a daunting task for some.

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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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For me, time is is not a problem, daily water changes can be done.
I have an RO filter in the basement, I pump the water into a 55 gal plastic garbage can. I heat the water in the basement until a level i want, depending on what tank i an changing the water on. At this point I pump the water up to the fish room, and also have a drain in the fish room to change the water. This way I don't have to carry around 5 gal buckets for changes.
I can easily change the amount of time on the lighting, what would you suggest? And am I doing right by adding phos gaurd to the canister? Also, for to mention, I checked this tank for phosphate levels, it came out to be a little over .5
What do you think?
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by maybemark View Post
For me, time is is not a problem, daily water changes can be done.
I have an RO filter in the basement, I pump the water into a 55 gal plastic garbage can. I heat the water in the basement until a level i want, depending on what tank i an changing the water on. At this point I pump the water up to the fish room, and also have a drain in the fish room to change the water. This way I don't have to carry around 5 gal buckets for changes.
I can easily change the amount of time on the lighting, what would you suggest? And am I doing right by adding phos gaurd to the canister? Also, for to mention, I checked this tank for phosphate levels, it came out to be a little over .5
What do you think?

You're using straight RO water in your tanks? Usually need to be buffered first.

As far as the lights go, I'd try no more than 8 hours total in a day. Even that is usually too much for me.

Sounds like you've got the right idea as far as increasing those water changes for the discus. Best of luck!

I try not to use things like phosguard so I cant really comment about that one.

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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 06:19 PM
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Here's one of my discus articles for you to read, which may help you obtain some insight on being successful keeping discus.

As has already been said, starting out with discus in a planted tank is far from the easiest path to success, but it can be done if you get quality adult, or near adult, discus to begin with, do large, frequent water changes, and follow a thorough tank cleansing routine. Discus size should be not less than 4", and preferably larger.

In your case and given what you're planning, you're on the right track, except for one very important thing - and that's the substrate you want to use. Discus are very intolerant of poor water quality, and gravel is one of the worst substrates to use for maintaining high water quality in a planted discus tank. It's a recipe for failure over the long term due to the difficulty involved in keeping it squeaky clean on an ongoing basis.

My strong suggestion would be to consider using a moderate level of quality sand (no more than 3" depth)- pool filter sand is the ideal substrate for maintaining very clean conditions, and thus ensuring high water quality. Use root tab ferts with it for your plants.
If you can, get PFS from a pool supply store, of # 20 or 30 grade, quartz-based inert silica sand.

Best of luck to you.

And remember, get your discus only from a known reputable, highly reliable source for supplying good quality, healthy, and well-shaped discus. This too is critically important for success with discus. Avoid getting them from any LFS.
You're in Chicago - there is one supplier there that is one of best suppliers of high quality discus in all the U.S.
Check out Chicago Discus ( contact Josie or Miranda).






D-I-S-C-U-S - 6 CARDINAL RULES FOR NEWBIES 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 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 !
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Paul
I did go to chicago Discus, and i was very impressed.
I saw both Josie and Maranda, I was there for almost an hour asking questions.
They use tap water over there, with Prime, they do 100% water changes, with bare bottom, reason for the 100% daily is because they over crowd the fish.
When i asked something, they said it's up to you, never did they say not to use gravel, but my ears are open when you mentioned it.
By the way, they are importing fish from asia now, I think at one time, they just bred the fish
From other breaders and other people i talked too, they suggest acidic water, not high levels of ph.
What put a bad taste in my mouth about Miranda was, I called the next day with some question, I was very polite, and asked her if she had a moment to talk, or if she's busy, she can call me back.
She mentioned she talked to me just yesterday, and she has a customer, WHAT DO YOU WANT, came from her mouth. I don't want to bother you now it can wait.
After that, I didn't feel comfortable, but i do have to say, I was very impressed with how they deal with the fish, not at all impressed on how she dealt with me

I think i talked to you a few months ago, when this was an idea. I am going very slowly, and reading and hearing what people have to say. I've been told, very low ph, very hot water 85f
I was also told 8 ph with less degree of water.
My research has come to a point, that there are different ways to keep discus, some might say the other person is wrong, others will say, yes, this is the good way.
To be honest, I have read, it's best to start bare bottom, but others said you can go with plants, but your the 1st person to say, not use gravel. I do hear you, and it will be a big task, but if you feel I will fail using gravel, I'll look for the sand.
None of what is said, would solve my problem with the algae, which I started off my post with.

I deal alot with Pet soloutions and dr foster and smith
thanks Paul
Mark
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 07:17 PM
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Go with what is said above, how long is this tank been setup?
You start with the lights and see if you need to change your maintenance.
What kind of algae ?
Take it slow if you want to keep discus.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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David
The tank has been set up a couple of months now. the lights i have on there now, is only about a month
I don't know what kind of algae, but it's like the read slime, but it's green
I am not rushing at all, before i get the discus
Mark

Bump: Am I wrong in thinking, the blue/purple lights don't have a factor on the plants, algae and fish?
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 07:53 PM
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You must have caught Miranda on a bad day, Mark. I've read numerous reports on how well she has treated clients of Chicago discus, and how happy they are with her service.

Final words on gravel as substrate for discus - it can, & usually does, harbor very high levels of toxic, or potentially toxic, 'nasties', and in my view it's the worst substrate to use in a discus tank - I won't say any more. With PFS, all the wastes stay right on top, and are easily vacuumed up before any decomposition & resulting harmful bacteria has a chance to develop - that's what you need to maintain good water quality & conditions.

Two more points:
- Don't concern yourself with pH - so long as it's relatively stable, or maintainable at a fairly stable level with ageing, anything from 5.0 to over 8.0 will be just fine for raising/keeping discus, except when breeding, where a pH of less than 8.0 is highly preferable.-
Temperature for discus: In my experience, 85 F is too high for keeping discus, except for raising quite young juveniles. Best temp for most discus of any reasonable size is 82-83, and that temp accommodates many plants far better than 85 as a bonus.

As for algae - usually no trouble keeping this well under control by keeping things simple, i.e. low tech, low lighting density,
(I don't exceed approx. 1 watt per gallon as a rule, with NO or HO bulbs) - moderate planting density - no CO2 use & no heavy duty regular use of dry or liquid ferts - lighting period not exceeding 6 or 7 hours daily.

Something like this:
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 08:27 PM
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Mark post a picture of what you think the Algae is.

Don't forget you are in a planted forum, but if you are keeping discus they come first.
You just will have to find a balance.
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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I will find the sand, and replace the gravel with the sand, if this will give me a better chance, this is what i'll do.
When you say lighting , you use florescent lights for your discus? I have led 18" over them and i have 3 fixtures dimmed to the lowest light. When you say 6 to 7 hours of light, is that just for the white light, or include the blue light at night?
I appreciate all your information, this is something the Miranda did not do with me. She would say, how every you want to do it. We do it this way, because we over crowd are fish. But no suggestion came from her, how I should do it
you might have heard alot of good things about her, she didn't know who you were, but Josie said she heard of you, if not even talked to you.
Now you have one bad report on them
I was very impressed with their operation, but they do not breed all the fish, alot of fish come from this guy in Malaysia
Mark

Bump: David
I would post a photo, But I cleaned all the algae off today
tonight i will give it close to a 50% water change
Mark
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by maybemark View Post
Paul
I will find the sand, and replace the gravel with the sand, if this will give me a better chance, this is what i'll do.
When you say lighting , you use florescent lights for your discus? I have led 18" over them and i have 3 fixtures dimmed to the lowest light. When you say 6 to 7 hours of light, is that just for the white light, or include the blue light at night?
I appreciate all your information, this is something the Miranda did not do with me. She would say, how every you want to do it. We do it this way, because we over crowd are fish. But no suggestion came from her, how I should do it
you might have heard alot of good things about her, she didn't know who you were, but Josie said she heard of you, if not even talked to you.
Now you have one bad report on them
I was very impressed with their operation, but they do not breed all the fish, alot of fish come from this guy in Malaysia
Mark

Bump: David
I would post a photo, But I cleaned all the algae off today
tonight i will give it close to a 50% water change
Mark

Mark, I've never used LED's, but there should be no problem with that - go right ahead.
I don't use blue night lights, but again, no problem there - just limit your day lights to 6 or 7 hours/day.
I've never spoken to Miranda, but I have talked with Josie quite a few times - on the phone, and by email & forum PM's. A number of commercial discus sellers prefer not to give any of their opinions on what you, as a buyer of their fish, should do, or not do, to keep them once you get them home. That's likely how Josie & Miranda maybe prefer not to express any biases - that's up to them.
Yes, they used to breed, but now also import from an excellent breeder/exporter in Malaysia. Keep in mind that Malaysia is arguably one of the best discus breeding areas in the world. No need to shy away from buying their imported discus - they are of excellent quality & healthy. In fact, I would generally prefer getting imported Malaysian discus than fish from most of the discus breeders here in North America.
All the discus I buy are imported from Forrest, a well-known Malaysian breeder/exporter of high quality discus. I've always obtained excellent fish by buying his discus.
Kenny Cheung of Kenny's Discus in Daly City, Ca. imports nothing but Forrest Discus, and he is one of the top 2 or 3 commercial discus suppliers in North America - I believe he's the best.
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by maybemark View Post
Paul
I will find the sand, and replace the gravel with the sand, if this will give me a better chance, this is what i'll do.
When you say lighting , you use florescent lights for your discus? I have led 18" over them and i have 3 fixtures dimmed to the lowest light. When you say 6 to 7 hours of light, is that just for the white light, or include the blue light at night?
I appreciate all your information, this is something the Miranda did not do with me. She would say, how every you want to do it. We do it this way, because we over crowd are fish. But no suggestion came from her, how I should do it
you might have heard alot of good things about her, she didn't know who you were, but Josie said she heard of you, if not even talked to you.
Now you have one bad report on them
I was very impressed with their operation, but they do not breed all the fish, alot of fish come from this guy in Malaysia
Mark

Bump: David
I would post a photo, But I cleaned all the algae off today
tonight i will give it close to a 50% water change
Mark

I dont have any experience with them personally, but dont forget that whenever you're asking questions of someone selling something, they're not too likely to give you information that might lead to you never buying that something! Thats why forums like this one are vital to the process as well as general research about whatever it is you're interested in. Their daily 100% water changes are done only in part because of their overcrowded tanks. The other part is that discus really only thrive in pristine conditions. If she recommended to every potential customer that they must do daily 100% water changes, they'd probably never make a sale! Similarly, if she bothered telling each customer about how their choice of substrate is wrong, then again they'd have no sales!

Paul has given you great advice; but keep researching as theres always more to learn....especially with discus. My only other thought is that if you're going to go out of your way to change out your gravel substrate, then just leave the tank barebottom for the time being; get the discus and grow them out a bit in this barebottom tank, and add in substrate and plants later. I know it does not sound like the ideal scenario in your head, but I can almost guarantee a better outcome for the discus in the end that way!

Go check out other sites that focus on discus (simply discus forums are a great start). You'll quickly see a trend with the people who seem to be able to keep quality looking, large, round, disease free discus.....they likely all start them out in a bare bottom tank and do religious water changes. Its not a fad or a trend and its certainly not the fun cool thing to do. They've all learned it produces the best results.

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