Double strip T5 HO 36 inch lighting.
Eheim 2217 ---
Fluval U2 (underwater filter for 20 gal), for extra filtration and water flow ---
2 150 watt heaters
Eco Complete, and Flourite mixture.
Nitrates: 20ppm or less
Amonnia/Nitrites: Always 0
1/2 dose of Flourish Excel Liquid fert, 1x/week.
Flourish tabs in the substrate, 1x/month (the plants have really taken off, since Ive started to use these).
Vals, Swords, Anubias, Aponogeton Ulvaceus, 1 unidentified plant
4 Discus, 6 Sterbi Cory, 3 Panda Cory, 2 Bolivian rams, 20 Cardinal Tetras, 6 rummy nose, 2 unidentified tetras (hitchhikers with the cardinals), 2 UFO Loaches
I have 4 Discus in a 55 gal, low tech (no CO2) planted tank; 3 adults and 1 adolescent (not quite an adult). I have had the 3 adults since they were 2 inches, and have successfully grown them out to 5-6 inches in 4 months in my planted tank with substrate (feeding 3 to 4 times a day, live California Black worms they refuse eat anything else).
2 of the adults have paired up, and started spawning 5 weeks ago, and have spawned 2 times since (but they must have had a craving for caviar, since they ate the eggs after 1-3 days -typical for a new pair). I have a 3rd batch of eggs sitting on the driftwood as I type this.
Water Changes: I do water changes of 5-10 gallons, 1-2 times a week (depending on my nitrate level); keeping my nitrates in the 5-20ppm range. My PH is 7.0-7.2 (easier to keep stable than a PH in the 6 range), Temp at 82 degrees.
I use RO water for water changes (My tap water has a PH above 8.0), per 5 gallons of RO water, I add 1/8 tsp of baking soda (to elevate PH to 7.0), 2 tsp of RO right (to elevate GH).
For each water change I add 1 tsp Discus Essentials, and 1 tsp Blackwater Extract, ½ tsp Flourish Excel (I use tabs in the substrate).
I also keep about 3 tablespoons of crushed coral in my filter to maintain a PH of 7.0, and make slight adjustments as needed if the PH shifts.
It is essential for water changes, that the new water matches the PH, and closely matches the temp of the tank. Sometimes a go a little cooler in temp to simulate the rainy season, but overall only lowering the temp of the tank down to 79-80 degrees.
The water is aerated while being heated, to ensure all the additives mix well and there is plenty of Oxygen.
For top offs, I use straight RO water.
Filtration: I have 1 Eheim 2217, and a Fluval U2 (underwater filter rated for 20 gal).
I have one air stone in the corner of the tank, to provide additional Oxygen (that was added when the discus were at the top of the tank one day looking like they needed some extra air).
I find Discus are easy keepers (not for beginners though), as long as the PH and Temp are stable, and the nitrates are under 20ppm (of course with 0 Ammonia or nitrites).
I monitor PH twice weekly (at minimum), or twice daily whenever I add additional plants or fish, to adjust the crushed coral or add aeration/oxygen if need be.
I keep 2 150 watt heaters, so if one goes out, I can at least maintain 78 degrees until I get a replacement.
For tank mates, I have about 7 Sterbi Cory (I find of all the different Corys, the Sterbis survive the best in the water parameters the discus like), about 20 Cardinal Tetras, 6 rummy nose tetras, 2 Bolivian Rams (I had a pair once that spawned, but they were so aggressive they had my discus hiding in the corner, so they went back to the fish store for 2 same sex rams).
I have had in the past, and would like again: Bumble Bee Goby, Cherry Shrimp.
I have had, and now avoid: Ottos (Discus slime suckers), Plecs (too large, and big waste producers, and dont eat algae), electric blue rams and yellow rams (found them to be too aggressive), Panda Corys (stay small and slightly skinny, they arent as compatible with the Discus parameters).
I have an empty 90gal tank and stand sitting outside, waiting for additional funds to purchase proper substrate and lighting.
Im excited to give them a larger home soon, and get them 2 more roomies (totaling 6 discus).