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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's my work in progress, Marineland Extra High 120 Dimensions 60" x 18" x 26" High
Low Tech, Root Tabs from Planted Aquarium Fertilizer. (Which are due to be replenished.) Pool Filter Sand substrate;

Alternanthera reineckii; Ammannia gracilis; Anubias barteri var. nana; Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite'; Aponogeton sp. unknow; Bacopa caroliniana (Lemon Bacopa); Bacopa monnieri (Moneywort); (Water Sprite); Ceratopteris thalictroides (Water Sprite); Cryptocoryne species unknown ~ Possibly C. wendtii; Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Green Gecko’; Cryptocoryne spiralis; Cyperus helferi; Echinodorus argentinensis or Possibly E. uruguayensis ~ Labeled with both names! (Argentine Sword); Hemianthus micranthemoides (Pearl Grass); Heteranthera zosterifolia (Star Grass); Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort); Hygrophila corymbosa stricta ‘Kompacta’; Hygrophila corymbosa 'Angustifolia'; Hygrophila difformis (Water Wisteria); Hygrophila polysperma 'Rosanervig'; Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (Micro Sword); *Ludwigia repens (Broadleaf Ludwigia); Marsilea sp. (Four Leaf Clover); Microsorum pteropus (Java Fern); Nymphaea stellata rubra (Dwarf Red Lily); Rotala rotundifolia (a.k.a. Rotala Indica); Sagittaria subulata; Taxiphyllum sp. ’Peacock Moss’

7 Discus (3 Blue Turks; 3 Red Turks; 1 Blue Diamond)
3 SAE, 1 Otto; 2 Ammano Shrimp; Dwindling schools of Cardinals (5) and Rasboras (5)

Sun Sun 304 B (525 gph model with UV) I don't run the UV except occasionally after water changes and then I noticed the Discus acting funny... coincidence? maybe..
Aquaclear 70
2 - 300 watt heaters (although 1 Hydor Theo was keeping the tank just fine)

Still using my Odyssea 48" Quad with timer from my old 55 gallon. Only 3 bulbs work, the moonlights burnt out the first time I ran them and the replacements did the same, so I added 4 True Lumen Blue Moonlights on a timer.
On the Odyssea, I run 2 of the 3 bulbs from 10 am to 7 pm with a noon burst from the 3rd. I am using 1 Wave Point 6500K (Tropical Wave) & 1 Wave Point Color Wave (formally Red Wave) http://www.wave-point.com/images/LampMain2_enlarge.jpg The noon burst is from a Flora Sun 5000K bulb.
I also run some Hidden LEDs from Marineland on a timer. An hour before and after the Odyssea runs. This is just to extend my viewing period as the LEDs are fish only strength.

I have found it very hard to get pictures with the pool filter sand substrate. I finally got a decent camera and here are my first shots at playing with the semi manual settings.



 

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Nice fish and tank! Beautiful discus.

The scape needs a little work. How about leaving an open area and plant/scape what you have more densely? It looks a bit to spread out an flat as is.
 

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Lookin' sweet! I agree, a re-scape wouldn't be a bad idea, but beautiful discus! Subbed!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sorry, I dropped off the face of the earth for a while. Just kidding, I do 50% water changes a week but I had them in a 55 gallon bare bottom and did 2 - 50% water changes a week until they were all at least 3 inches. (Not counting the fins.) The fish are all still healthy but they are no where near the monsters people on Simply Discus show. I also got the BD from Petco on a whim and the Turks a month later from a hobbyist (Not the big name Discus breeders) so who knows if that plays in to how big they can get. The BD was probably stunted when I got it. I've noticed as it's grow, It has a crooked spine.

I have some updated pics, the Wisteria is pretty much dead. I only have good luck with it in new set ups. I also have only used root tabs.

 

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Your setup is well designed for adult discus and plants. Discus do better in low tech planted tanks with little ferts and no co2, and large weekly WCs. You could add some hygrophila polysperma which is one of the easiest plants and it would fill in nicely.

To grow out younger discus in a bare-bottom tank, it's a lot of work, but you'd have to basically change half the water daily, feed them with high protein like 4-6 times a day and keep them in at least 82 degrees F. Most juvies will grow to their potential in these conditions.

Nice setup!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks!
Lighting ~ I already had an Odysea 48" 4 bulb HO Fixture sitting right on top of the glass top. I only run 2 bulbs, one wave point tropical wave (65ooK) and one Red Wave. I was thinking of upgrading but it seems like the right amount of light for this tank being low tech. I actually still have some algae.
I had the Hygro Polysperma and it all died out. It did well in my old set up but not this one. I found one tiny piece floating and threw it in my little 6 gal to see if it would come back. I had the temps at about 84 or 85, now it's about 83. I think they need to be lower and I am more interested in my Discus health than keeping certain plants. I can always set up a different tank with lower temps. for other plants. I am planning to do a 4o gallon high tech sometime in the near future.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just finished a complete re do of this tank. The (2013) 120 XH silicone let go in the front bottom. I had water all over the living area floor. (Pergo type so it did a number on it) It only lost a few inches when my husband was leaving for work at 5:20 am I had a rude awakening of shouting from the other room. (Why couldn't it happen when I was sitting right next to it? - always at night or when your away - Murphy's law right?) Had to drain the whole thing to get it to stop leaking since it was on the bottom. Marineland honored the warranty thankfully. I was going to buy a new one but the sales person at Petsmart (the only place I knew had that size in stock) was saying they would just re silicone it personally so I talked hubby into doing it for me. It took a while but he finally did it and just to be sure I filled the tank and let it sit for a while to be sure it wouldn't leak. (Plus it is a ton of work to tear down and re do a big tank, so I had to be in the mood) Meanwhile the plants that pretty much filled the back of the tank all shoved into a 10 gallon with a double T12 shop light in my garage. Poor Discus in a 20 gallon since I gave my old 55 gallon to my sister in law when she broke her tank. Then I friggin forgot to turn the heater back on after a water change a few days in and lost one of the Discus. I guess I am lucky I didn't lose more. Anyways I finally just finished scraping through what survived in the 10 gallon which looks to be the Java Ferns (of course) Anubias, Echinodorus, Crypts, Rotala, Red Lily and Val or Sag (I never did figure out which it was I had) everything is pitiful looking except the java fern. Basically just sticking everything in to get it to start growing right way up and so it is not like the pitiful tiny plants you first get. Anyways just thought I'd share here. I am thinking about getting some new plants since I'm starting over. I have tried lots of different ones in the past but the same survivors here are the only plants that survived the transition back when I went from my 55 gal to the 120. I don't run CO2 and stopped dosing ferts since getting Discus. I wanted them healthy more than I wanted high maintenance plants. I am thinking on trying some Chain Sword or Crypt parva in the front. Maybe some other Crypts and Anubias for something interesting. Any suggestions are welcome.
 

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Maybe it's the lack of direct comparison, but I think your discuss are beautiful. I would suggest some large pieces for your hard scape to add some contrast for the plants. I've got almost 200 pounds of Obsidian in my 120 that I got for less than $50 from a local landscape place. I even got to pick my rocks. I don't know how much work you're willing to do, but in my 120 I have 3 DIY C02 bottles going into a Hagen mini filter and I dose 10ml of metricide daily. How many Discus do you have remaining?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Maybe it's the lack of direct comparison, but I think your discuss are beautiful. I would suggest some large pieces for your hard scape to add some contrast for the plants. I've got almost 200 pounds of Obsidian in my 120 that I got for less than $50 from a local landscape place. I even got to pick my rocks. I don't know how much work you're willing to do, but in my 120 I have 3 DIY C02 bottles going into a Hagen mini filter and I dose 10ml of metricide daily. How many Discus do you have remaining?
Wow, I must not have the settings to get an email from a reply set up. I thought I did and didn't think any one had commented. Google auto filled me to here and I saw your comment. I am so nervous about the weight of the tank that I think I would always be living in fear after adding 200 lbs of anything to the tank! Especially after having a leak for no apparent reason. I never had a larger tank than a 55 gallon before this and that 55 gallon as far as I know still holds water, never had a leak and it is over 12 years old. So I am suspicious of the integrity of the larger tank now. I would love some branchy manzita but it is way overpriced and I don't live somewhere that I can go find it myself. So I live without it. I actually broke down and got pressurized CO2 set up. I am thankful for this forum and all the helpful info on it because that is the only reason I had any idea of what to do! I have been reading up on it here for a long time, just never took the plunge and did it until now. I am currently running it, it took me a few days but I think I have it dialed in. At first after reading about what people think of ph controllers here, I opted not to go with one, but then I got worried and decided I'd be safer having one with Discus in there. So once that comes in the mail I am planning on shutting the CO2 down, and adding the Discus back in and slowly bringing it up again. As they allow any ways. Even if I have to keep it low it has to better than none at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I got my Milwaukee Ph controller delivered today. I calibrated it and set it up on the tank. I totally forgot it has an ugly yellow probe! Why can't they make if black? What an eye sore!
I already had the CO2 off today (long story) so tomorrow I am planning on seeing what ph the tank is when the drop checker turns green and set the ph controller there. I looked at Tropica's chart and it looks like I only need to set it at 7.0.
The other day when I had the CO2 running at about 4 BPS (I think. It is hard to count when it's going that fast.) The ph was 6.0. That's what it took to get my drop checker to turn green. The Ammania senegalensis is responding well. It's new growth has a reddish color.
 

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Looks promising. I also have a 120 gallon tank (though the 4' x 2' footprint) but no discus. I know you just redid the whole tank, but a suggestion if I may - replace the inert sand for a nutritive substrate like Aquasoil. An inert substrate means you will have to dose very frequently and in higher amounts. Meanwhile Aquasoil already provides many nutrients, and any that you do dose will quickly be bound by the soil particles out of the water column. This leads to much lower nutrient levels in the water column, which is presumably better for the discus.

4 bps is a good starting point for a new tank that volume. As the plants get more acclimated and begin growing more vigorously you can gradually increase it. You shouldn't need to go much higher than 8 bps or so.

As for fish acclimation, I don't think turning off the CO2 completely is necessary - this is a sudden shock to the system and may lead to algae issues. Instead, have the discus in a holding tank with identical source water and get them acclimated to these parameters. Once they're doing well they can be added to the main tank at night or early in the morning, while the lights and CO2 are off. Run an airstone during lights off for extra oxygenation. As long as your CO2 level isn't too high already then they should adjust fine as it gradually increases that day.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks! I am very nervous about adding the Discus with CO2. So your help is much appreciated! :) When I had my 55 gal. planted I used Eco Complete. It was recommended to me by experienced Discus keepers that PFS was the best for the Discus. I put my very first Discus - a Blue Diamond in the 55 gallon with the black Eco Complete for a short time before I got my larger tank and I did notice it darkened itself a lot when moved from the bare bottom to the Black substrate. The black background isn't as bad as the black bottom when it comes to the Discus darkening although if I could do it over I think I would prefer that grayish color you see a lot in nature aquariums. Also I think it helps me keep the tank cleaner having the sand. The dark substrate allows rotting things that lower water quality to go unnoticed. I need that visual to help me keep the tank clean. I made sure to put root tabs under any plants that will need them. I am more concerned of the Discus health so if the plants I have chosen can't hack it then they are goners! I won't bat an eyelash. I have tried many of plants and lost many! :) I made my choices partly from warm water lists and partly just from what looked fairly easy to grow and could stand the higher temps. I keep my tank at 84, that is what the Discus seem the healthiest at and what the breeder I got them from recommends. I think temp. alone is what kills a lot of the plants I have tried.
Also I am not sure of other substrates but Eco Complete made my PH very high. It was always an 8 and right out of the tap (aged and aerated over night my water is 7.5) I didn't like that since it seemed many plants couldn't cope with it and would melt away. Although I think Aquasoil is the one that makes it lower, correct? I looked around for something light colored but couldn't find anything that wasn't orangish. Not my style. Also big $ to do a tank this large. PFS price is right. $10 a bag and I didn't even use 2 bags. My husband brought me home a free 5 gallon bucket full and then I used 1/2 a bag I bought. I tried planting in just the amount from the 5 gallon bucket but there was not enough to cover the roots and keep the stems down.
 

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Don't let my avatar fool you - I've never kept discus in CO2 tanks. But have kept other 'sensitive' fish like Otocinclus and chocolate gouramis.

I understand your priorities regarding the fish and plants. Just be sure to keep a careful eye on the plants then - unhealthy, decaying plants are an absolutely huge source of organics, which leads to many problems in planted tanks (almost all of the most hated algaes have their root in this).

Aquasoil does lower pH, to around 6.5. It is a bit pricey, but to me the results are worth it. I'd try it on a smaller tank if you get a chance and see what you think. If color is a concern, you can have a scape with both planted and bare sand areas - there are many nature aquarium layouts like this.
 
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