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75G Discus tank

1370 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  turbosaurus
Ok, now that I've got your attention, I need some pointers as to what exactly I might be getting myself into. I've got an All-Glass 75G tank currently housing my Oscar, a Jack Dempsey and a few dithers. They've been there for 4 years. I'm so enthralled with this new planted tank world that I've decided to re-do that tank with plants. I've got 100# of SMS, picked it up yesterday. Got a 200 watt in-line heater on order along with a UV Sterilizer, should be here tomorrow. I've decided to go with Coralife 260W light, undecided on the K values but gonna do a dawn till dusk pattern, probably run 260 watts only around 4 hours per day. I'll either move my auto pH CO2 from my 30G to the 75G or buy a second rig (if I move it from the 30, I'll buy a simple regulator to replace it on the 30). Not sure of the flaura but I'll get there.

Now, the important stuff. From the tap, my water is:

pH 5.95 (from health dept test)
dKH .80 (from liquid test kit)

I'm really taken with the appearance of Discus fish and am seriously considering stocking the tank with 4 or 5 of them along with a nice sized school (maybe 15 or 20) true Rummy nose Tetras. I've assumed from my reading that Discus are overly sensitive and lot of work to keep. I need some input from folks that have kept em'. I'm probably about 3 or 4 weeks away from amassing all of the equipment I need to make the switch (CO2 eq, lighting, new stand, driftwood, etc) so I have some time but I'd like to get a true picture of what I'm getting into. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and btw, the Discus will not be wild, they will be farm raised.

So, there you have it. I'd love some input please!
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Sounds like you have a great plan there. Discus have a bad rep about being hard to keep. Most of the tank breed discus are not that bad to keep now days. But Im not saying everyone that has never keep a fish before run out and get them. But by the ways thing sound and you know this is read up and get to know much about them as you can. Best of luck and keep us posted on your projeck I cant wait to see it in progress.
Anything in particular you would suggest I be especially cautious about? How often do you do water changes in your planted tank? I've read about as much as 25% every other day because of their sensitivity to Nitrate. Or do you just dose on the slight side of EI? And do I need to buy the entire school of Discus all at once or can I add them 2 at a time, assuming similar sizes? I'm probably gonna need to look at 2-3" fish because of my budget. How fast do they grow? If I add 2 2" fish, how big will they be in one month when I add the next 2 2" fish. Boy oh boy do I have so many questions! Thanks for the reply BTW.
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Hey no prob I do a 50% WC once a week. I EI my firts keeping them the same as anyother tank. As for adding just a couple of them at a time Im not really sure about that. It would be best to add all them at once but if you could cut it down to every two weeks it would be better. If not they well always be doing there little whos in charge fight untill your done adding them. I know some people say dont grow you discus out in a planted tank if your going to put discus in a planted tank use fully grown ones. I have grown alot of them in a planted tank. The big problem with getting smaller ones is the feeding them all the time to get them to grow out nice. Well in a planted tank its not wise to clean out your tank that much so what I done was get the clean up crew from hell. I think I have close to 12 corycats in my 120 plus three yoyo loaches. Then I also have around 12 ghost shrimp, 12 Amano shrmip, 12 cherry shrimp to help out. It just takes time to find out what works for you and your discus for me it has almost been a year. And I think I have things figured out but everytime I think I have something under control something else happens. Its a challenge but I really enjoy it. If you have anymore questions feel free to contact me and I will have a answer for you or well beable to tell you where to go to get one. Best of luck to you.
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Discus really are not that hard to keep as long as you use some sense. My filtration is so good I only have to do a 25% water change every other week. Two main lessons I have learned though is 1) invest in a quarentine tank and 2) the sooner you treat a sick fish the better. I thought I would save a buck and not get a quarentine tank but after almost lossing my big discus a few times I learned my lesson. Also pay close attention to your fish and notice any changes from in anything from color to breathing rate. These could be sings of a problem with the water or an on coming infection you can head off before you lose a fish. Keep these two lessons I learned in mind when heading into getting discus and you wont have much else to worry about other than just making sure the water is right for them.
I've assumed from my reading that Discus are overly sensitive and lot of work to keep.
And this sort of thing is what really peeves me. Wild-caught probably but not captive-bred ones. Not hard at all. You'd think a slight touch on them will kill them.:drool: Negligence could have drove them to claim it anyway. All you need to do is research, research, research all the basics before you buy. Ask for people's experiences around and you'll eventually discover there are a lot of things to learn more than read articles saying 'Care: Difficult, Moderate and blah blah'.

On that note, I can't wait to see pics of your discus.:cool:
My advice would be to buy the biggest discus you can possibly afford. If you can't afford adult ones, grow some smaller ones out in a barebottom tank. From experience I have found that it can be hard to feed smaller ones enough to get them to grow nice and big and still keep good water quality.

Also, if you haven't already, check out Great source of info on their forums and also a great place to find reputable breeders with high quality fish.
I would agree that discus are not that hard to keep- IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, and don't mind committing to the required maintenance. There is a difference between keeping healthy big long lived discus and keeping them alive for a while in less than ideal conditions.

I do weekly 50% water changes, and I dose the tanks really lean. I have difficulty with some plants showing deficiencies with water that soft, make sure you plan accordingly. Ammania Gracilis, R. Macranda and L. Cuba are some that I had to pull because that often show deficiencies in my tank.

If I don't do the weekly water change the discus show their displeasure by turning dark on me- you can tell they are not happy. You also have to keep the water warm, 84 degrees so mosses grow really stringy and ugly. I have also been exceptionally unsuccessfully with java ferns because of the low nitrates and high temps.

Your tap water will be fine for discus, nice and soft, but with a pH in the high fives out of the tap, its likely you have a lot of dissolved CO2 in the water. Let it outgas for a couple hours and test again to see if the assumption I am making is correct (ie the pH rises after the water sits for a while). If so, you might have issues with 50% water changes right out of the tap, its something to think about. You may want to do 2x25% or let the water sit for a while before adding it to the tank if possible, run an airstone, etc.

Its not just nitrates that you have to worry about. If that were the case, we could plant the tank to the hilt, and not worry about it, but Discus are sensitive to other dissolved organic compounds that naturally occur in the tank, so the water changes are a must.

You don't want to add different sized discus to the same tank. The big guys will beat up on the little guys and discus are sensitive to stress.

Growing out discus in a planted tank is not that easy. I have two sets of discus. One little bunch raised in a planted tank, who are only about 4" definitely stunted. I have another set that were raised in a bare bottomed 55 with daily water changes and fed 5x a day. The difference in the fish is NIGHT and DAY. I would invest in some nice big adult fish. If you have to go with 2" fish, and they have to go in a planted tank, I would suggest a sand foreground. They will pick up food from the sand, but aren't very successful when they try pulling food out from the gravel. They are messy eaters with bad aim, and they eat in mid water, so unless you are going to stand by the tank for 20 minutes 2-3x a day, dropping in a couple pellets at a time until they get their fill, I would recommend the sand foreground. With young fish you will have to feed more often to get them to grow to their fill potential, which also means you will have to water change more.

Keep the water warm, do your weekly water changes- every week, without fail, or more often if you want to raise young fish, feed them often and get plants that like to live in the right conditions for discus, and you should be fine.

I keep 4 discus in a 90. I think that is pretty close to max capacity. I have three females and one male. The pair spawns regularly in the tank, and the other two females are relatively docile, but they still pick on each other a bit. Be careful how many fish you add to the tank so they will have room to avoid too much conflict.
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Ok, so 3 Discus is probably the max for my 75? Will a nice size school of True Rummy Nose Tetras give me a bio overload? And if I can only afford 1 adult Discus at a time, will that cause me trouble? Add one, save, add another a month or 2 later, save, and add the last a month or 2 later?

Thanks everyone for all of the feedback. This EXACTLY what I was hoping would happen. You guys are awesome!:bounce:
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No max for a 75 would be around 7-8 but I would go for a nice even 6 for it. As for getting only one a month well if its a good healthy one and is full grown they you might be able to but Im sure someone will come on here and say that I dont know what Im talking about. I know alot of people that keep there discus in just tap water and they seem to be doing great. If you dont plan on breeding them that that sould work if they were brought up like that. In my 120 I belive I have a school of about 40 rummy nose tetras in there with 6 discus and alot of corys to clean up the bottom and I dont belive that I have my tank over stalked at all. On a side note I just ordered 4 wild royal blues that I should be getting next week I cant wait untill they get here I just love them they are the best looking discus out there next to the heckel. But that is just me everyone has there own likes and dislikes.
Actually, I think three is a really bad number for discus, you'll probably end up with a pair and an odd man out who will get picked on like crazy, unless you get three of the same sex, and even then you will probably end up with an underdog. I think that mad fish is on the high side with 7-8, but that's just my opinion. I would try to go with 4 or 5, maybe 6 at the outside- but you may have to re-home some of them if you don't get lucky and have harmony in the tank. I wouldn't add them one at a time, because the fish who was there first and more comfortable will pick on the new guy, but maybe you can start with two, then add two more later? That's probably how I would do it if I were in your shoes. I got lucky when a member here sold me the four I have for peanuts (I had to drive a hundred miles to pick them up), he grew them out from babies and needed the room once the fish got big.
I would go for 5 or 6 and add them all at once.

If your willing to setup a barebottom 55gal and grow out juveniles that would be a great way to do it. Small juveniles are pretty easy to find in the $10 to $15 range. You will end up with the best quality fish at the cheapest price this way.

Also, I would avoid your LFS discus. Find a good quality breeder that will be able to provide you with high quality fish. This will be your best chance for success.

Good luck. :thumbsup:
Yes, with a BB (bare bottom) 55 and juvies you will get the best quality for your dollar - IF you are willing to do water changes every day or ever other day. The good news is it only takes 8-10 months to grow a 2" discus to a 6" discus if you feed three to five times a day and water change daily. I don't know many people who can make that commitment
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