View Full Version : Grow-out tank questions for a Discus newbie

01-14-2014, 08:46 PM
I知 new here, hi! Sorry to ask questions right out of the gate, but I messed up, and I知 trying to fix it. The quoted section of this is backstory that can be skipped. I値l introduce my questions below it.

A little over one month ago, my mom purchased a juvenile Discus under the advice of my LFS that it would be fine in my planted 55g Angelfish/community tank (600 GPH turnover heavily filtered. It was a goldfish tank for years.). She loved Discus when she was younger and wanted to gift it to me. While the advice from the employee was not wrong (I actually spoke to this guy on the phone after and he did echo many sentiments that I found online, but what he failed to mention was that his advice applied to ADULT Discus. I知 sure you致e read somewhere, 徹h Discus are EASY fish now!), it definitely led me down the wrong path. A common theme in the information I found was the failure to mention that young Discus require much different treatment. That night I bumped my temps up, and read that young discus should be in a group of at least 6 and this arrangement would be okay until they got older and started pairing off. My LFS would take any from me when that happened. After mulling over all of this, and dealing with tons of sudden aggression in my tank, I decided to switch to Discus. The black Angelfish hated the Discus, and the white one didn稚 want to let my lone Discus eat. I rehomed my Angelfish, and bought 5 more Discus from them. I believe one of them was mismarked, because when I got home I ended up with 4 <3 Discus, and one that was quite a bit larger (>4) than the rest.

Note: I chose fish that looked good to me, not necessarily perfect Discus specimens. They all need homes. :)

So, truly believing that I could continue my old regimen with these new fish, I did so! I did weekly 40% water changes, and fed twice a day - alternating between a freeze dried beef heart mix and frozen bloodworms. None of my Discus will take pellet food. My water parameters are always good, the tank never sees above 15ppm Nitrate. I thought I was doing good. (Groan)

Things were ok for a while, but unsurprisingly the large one became a bully, and I ended up with a pigeon blood that was too timid/emotional. I lost that pigeon blood after a month. The one that was gifted to me has bulging eyes and she痴 barely eating. The little bugger that started it all! Also, her football shape that she had to start with has become more pronounced. I started to panic and dug around the internet for more information. There痴 a funny thing that comes with this I can never prevent all problems starting out because I don稚 know exactly what to search for. Unfortunately for me, this resulted in figuring out my problem after a month and a half. My young Discus need to be in pristine water, eating several times a day.

So I知 off to setup a grow-out tank, hoping to prevent any more damage and give these little guys the best chance they can have. Unless advised otherwise (hint, guys!), I知 going to pull the one unwell Discus into the grow-out tank too, and my larger discus will remain in my display tank. I think he is confident enough to not need a school to survive, but I will be ready to make adjustments if I need to.

I have some questions about how this is supposed to work, and maybe critique on my setup?
I知 going to Petco tomorrow to take advantage of the $ per gallon sale. (It痴 on until the 21st, if anyone needs to splurge on tanks :))

I ordered a sponge filter (largest available), a heater, and air pump via Amazon prime this morning. I will be going to Petco to grab a 55g breeder any larger than 55 seems really hard to keep up with, and smaller might be too short-sighted.

Question 1: This tank will not be cycled, but it sounds like the frequent, massive water changes will ensure that this isn稚 a problem. Should I bring an extra filter in with some filter media from my established tank anyway? Could the waste on the media do more harm than good?

Question 2: For my biggest concern - while I致e done a lot of research on how often I should be cleaning the tank, I don稚 see much talk of 卜ethods-. I have horrible tap, it maxes out my high range pH test, has chloramines (we go through a LOT of Prime here), full of bubbles, and is also very cold during the winter as you壇 guess. I had to set up a 32 gallon aging can because my Discus would get a tiny breakout of ich after a mere 40% water change that would go away after a day or so. It seems like they would handle 90% daily changes much worse. Also should note that my tap pH drops down to ~8.2 after it has been in my tank.

How should I make my water changes, when I feel like I have to age the water first (at the VERY LEAST to get it to the right temperature)? I think my pH would fluctuate too much on top of this. I can稚 imagine that my situation is unique so I would love for anyone to share their experiences.

Whew, I think I致e shared everything important here. I greatly appreciate any insight, advise, and warm wishes as I try to get started on the right foot.

01-14-2014, 09:53 PM
Welcome Nausky. I'm new here as well but can tell you, the answers to every question you have asked can be found within this forum. Take a look around, do a few searches and enjoy the wealth of information. Chances are while you are looking for the answers to these questions, you will find answers to questions you have not thought to ask yet.

01-14-2014, 10:14 PM
I am reading my little heart out! I haven't found exactly what I'm looking for yet, but I'm learning so much. Thank you for the encouragement. :)

01-14-2014, 10:33 PM
Hey man, I went through something similar when I first started with discus. The football shape and bulging eyes means your discus is or is becoming stunted. For the tank I prefer a tall tank rather than a long one. It's recommended that you get 5 discus or more to spread out aggression. This way two don't beat up on one. Imo, it's preferable but not necessary. As long as the tank is big enough that a discus can get away, they should be fine.
You should definitely cycle the tank before introducing any fish. It's not about the the nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia. It's so the BB can colonize. As for the WC, I would do 2-3 per week. I don't use anything to change the pH because most of the time it's temporary. Sways in water parameters is what stresses out discus. If all your fish are from your area, they will get used to your water. Keep it simple.

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01-15-2014, 11:02 PM
You should not place discus in a tank that is not cycled even with "massive water changes" because ammonia spikes can occur quickly. Best not to take that chance. Tank should be matured for at least 3-4 months. You can use media from established filter, but only if it is coming from a tank that has been disease free. If not, don't use it. Waste on the media will not cause harm. The beneficial bacteria will multiply and grow to handle the bioload over time. Ich isn't too common in discus tanks because of the higher temps. What temp is tank water? If you are using cooler water for WCs, that would be the most likely reason for ich outbreaks. Most strains of ich will not survive in temperatures above 85-86 degrees. Age your water for at least 24 hours using an air stone or powerhead and heat the water to match tank temp as close as possible. Do at least 50% WCs daily for juvies. Don't worry too much about pH, stable, consistent water parameters are more important.