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Sounds like you have the experience to move onto discus!

I keep them, and here are a few suggestions:
1) PLan to have a lot of water prepared and ready. yOu will need to do changes of at least 30% - 50% twice a week. A lot people in the hobby change 50%/ day, which is great but not very practical.

2) Make sure that the water is treated to the right ph. You mentioned mbunas, so if you are using the same water source, plan on cutting it with RO water to get the ph to about 7 or so.

3) You are fine with a 55. I have and have grown discus in a 55 and even smaller tanks. You want to give them as much room as possible, but the 48" footprint will work fine.

4) I suggest buying adult or sub adult discus. they require fewer feedings and produce less waste. North of 3 - 3.5" is a good size.

5) I have purchased discus from all over - LFSs, online, etc - and the best place to purchase from is form some of the sponsors on simplydiscus.com/forum. The sponsors are super willing to help you select discus, and are ready to help with any questions long after the sale. You will get much more for your money. I am speaking form personal experience. I have purchased fish from Elite Aquaria, Central ohio discus, and Kenny's discus. they are all second to none! You will receive fully acclimated, disease free, and high quality fish. (sorry if i sound like a sales pitch - speaking from experience there are some top notch suppliers on simply. i have 0 financial relationship with any of them or simplydiscus.com.)

6) plan to spend the time with the fish. They will need to be fed at least 2x/ day and with a variety of feeds - not just flake. Plan on spending $ on their food - because you will need to buy frozen things and bc of the sheer volume of what they consume. They need a lot of water changes, so expect to carry a lot of buckets. You will want to monitor them closely to ensure that they do not look sick. if they get sick, you will want to have a Quartantine tank, and do everything you can to bring them back to health. so you will need to be ready to go to the forum or seek advise from trusted sources on what may be wrong with your fish and be prepared to purchase and treat with the appropriate medication. when they get sick, it usually takes a few weeks for them to bounce back - and that it a few weeks in which you are closely monitoring them. (Like any other fish, the BEST way top treat disease is to prevent it. But every discus keeper has some disease treatment experience, so plan on getting some of your own.)

7) I would not recommend your first discus tank to be a planted tank. difficult to vacuum the bottom, plus a lot of other variables with dosing. when you are getting used to discus, you want to simplify the variables - good water, good biological filtration, tons of water changes, and consistent water quality. PLus you will want to keep them in about 82-88 degree water-typically higher than most planted tanks. Most serious discus keepers have bare bottom painted (outside glass) tanks. much easier to siphon off the bottom and keep the tank water in good shape.

8) plan to spend some $ on the fish. Once you get your first tank and see how beautiful they are, you will probably get the discus bug and want to start a few more tanks. You will probably want to get a few smaller tanks for breeding as well, and before you know it you will be raising fry. Very cool, but expect that the bug is very easy to catch (it always is with fish, but I think discus more so) and once caught hard to shake. :)

So anyhow, I hope that this gives you some insight. PM me if you'd like to talk further. we can have a phone chat, and I can share my experience for what it's worth.

thx,
ant
 
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