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Aqua Jon
01-20-2014, 02:13 PM
Hello Simply Discus. I'm Jon and I've always wanted to show off a pair or tank of discus! (Who hasn't...) I have been keeping fish for about 6-7 years now. I've learned a lot in that time, but hardly anything as it seems at times. My dad got me into the hobby with a salt water FOWLR tank that I helped him with. The world within the tank was magical to me. I took on the hobby myself with a 30G freshwater, I liked the idea of plants. I started with mollies, swordtails, neons, otos, and cherry barbs - which began to breed for me for several generations. My success in plants was algae and crypts. I then discovered aquascaping and high tech tanks. I pushed in this direction from that point on. It was an art outlet for my brain. From what I've read it may be my downfall with discus, more on that later. Algae took the 30G, so I went to a 10G with otos, zebra danio, and a beautiful red betta. I even tried my very own micro 2.5G seiyru that was cursed by algae and may it rest on shelf peacefully, for now.
I now have a 50 that a coworker wanted to get rid of. Elbow grease - and it was new. I started from scratch and made a beautiful display tank. I wont lie here, I have had more fish die in this tank than I have kept to date. There has been no sign of ammonia poisoning or nitrate or anything - I've debated with myself and others online for the past 6 months if I should even keep fish anymore. It has come down to the quality of fish you buy. A hard lesson learned 6 years into the hobby. I had such good luck with the corporate chain stores in my 30 & 10 gallon that I figured everything else they sold was now up to par. Pure luck. It took me 6 angelfish, 4 german blue rams, 15 neon tetras, and 3 guppies (really... THE hardy fish... dead in a week, where I began to question myself...) to figure it out. But yet the danios, RCS, Amano, SAE, and CAE all thrived. That's because they were from a higher quality LFS. I also found the danios to be aggressive from all their time in a species tank so back to their 10 they went.

Today that 50 has an SAE, CAE, 11 neon tetra, 1 guppy (my wifes favorite), and some shrimp and an apocalyptic army of MTS. I want to add to the tank. I want it to be discus. But it may not be the right time. I've read through all the stickies and small bits of information on forums and books here and there. It sounds like planted tanks are not the best way to house discus for beginners. My discus resume includes: Reading about them, staring at them for hours, and deep desire to see and show them everyday in my own tank. I have no real experience. I dont have the time to dedicate to 90% daily water changes either. At best, right now, I could to 10% every other day with a 25% each weekend. But I'm here to learn for the future when I have room and money for the proper set up where the water changes are done by plumbing instead of buckets.

I'd consider a pair of discus in my current 50 as a striking display, one would be great honestly. So I turn to you experts for you opinion on housing 1-2 in my 50.

50 Gallons. 48"L x 12"W x 20"H. Display. 7 months running.
Black substrate bottom from AP.com. Heavily planted with hygro, blyxa, reinickii, java, crypts, sprite and of course algae. Hardscape is red lava rock and manzanita tree.
Current WC is 25% each week. Use prime on RO and let sit for 24-48 hours.
Fluval 405, low-moderate flow. Intake wrapped in old fish net for a weak prefilter - this gets cleaned weekly with WC. Temp is 80-84. 216 Watts of T5 HO, various temps.
Hagen DIY CO2, currently not running, but I have 2 of these which keep the drop checker green when running. Run O2 pump at night for about 4 hours which maintains the O2/CO2 balance at or just below green.

- temp 80-84

- tank ph ~6.4

- Ph of the water straight out of your tap ~6.6

- ammonia reading 0

- nitrite reading 0

- nitrate reading 0

- municipal water 7.8

Stocking is an SAE, CAE, 11 neon tetra, 1 guppy (my wifes favorite), and some shrimp and an apocalyptic army of MTS. I'd like to have 2-4 GBRs too and my wife would like more guppies. I've heard to get them from Kenny. If I can house 1-2 now, probably kenny or other decent (more affordable?) stock.

Algae wafers 2x/ week, plus algae in tank. 2 types dry food -a "color" flake that i grind and a optimum tropical micro. Morning and evening, enough so they are full (1-2 pinches). 10% hits bottom and they pick/hunt for it after or MTS zombies swarm.

Ideally I'd like to keep the discus in my 50 planted community. Here is a (old) picture of it with the danio still in there. I'll get a new one soon, its much more grown out now.


01-20-2014, 02:26 PM
Hello Jon,

Welcome to SD. If you get a chance to read some of the "stickies" in the beginners section, you can gain a lot of knowledge in setting up and maintaining your first discus tank.

The only advice I would offer right now is, discus prefer groups of 5 or more (shoaling fish). You can growout some juvies in a 50 gal tank but for discus, bigger tanks are better, like a 75 gal to start with.

If you can't find the answers to any of your questions, always feel free to ask.

01-20-2014, 11:32 PM
Hi Jon,

Welcome to SD.

You want to start out with the links provided. It has good information from Al himself on quarantine, etc. Will help prevent potential headaches and save you time and money. The experts here will soon jump in and provide more info. I'm a novice myself, but just wanted to help you get started.


Good luck,


01-20-2014, 11:37 PM

With the little water change you're doing, you're better off with adults, and might want to go bigger than 50gal so you can keep group of six or more...it's gonna add up- Cha-ching!!!:)

Aqua Jon
01-21-2014, 12:19 AM
I've been doing my homework. Always do. A bit discouraging though in the immediate future. Think it will be best till I can grab a large tank.

Not discouraged though, been talking with discuspaul over on The Planted Tank. Better to wait then to hate your experience. I wanted to badly to just plop an adult discus or two to drool over, but wont be best for all involved, for now :) and yes sortsay2003, CHA CHING!

01-21-2014, 01:12 AM
Yes Jon.....I've learned from personal experience back in 1998 about "just plopping them in...LOL. Of course the guy at the LFS will say is okay to do so. Because he needed a repeat customer (stupid me<<<<<LOL). You're right. Take your time and enjoy the experience. The discus will always be around, maybe you'll even find some that will really grab you then. Good luck Jon.

01-21-2014, 01:20 AM
Hi jon, we're in the exact same situation pretty much. I have a 50 gallon low tech planted. I bought the 50 gallon specifically because I wanted to keep discus and was going by the 10 gallon per fish rule i thought I could keep 5. As soon as i got the tank I fully planted it. I wanted to keep discus in a planted tank but I also wanted to experience the joy of seeing them grow. Now I hear that it's quite difficult to raise discus in a planted tank. I realized I had several options:

1. Go along with my plans and raise them in the planted tank despite the difficult discus raising maintenance.
2. Stock my tank with adults
3. Get a bare bottomed growout tank.

I've decided to borrow a 30 gallon to grow out a few discus, then pick my favorite 4 oncethey hit 4-5" to keep in my tank.
Dont be discouraged, you can definitely keep discus in that tank! Just be mindful of the difficulty of growing them out in a planted tank if you decide to go with young fish. If you can afford a mated adult pair however, they would do just great in that setting, and will add instant beauty! Or you can go with 4-5 4" fish and see which ones pair up. I wanna watch mine grow though :)

01-21-2014, 01:22 AM
Although if you do keep discus, you MUST remove your chinese algae eater. Definitely not good for discus. Also your neon tetras will die in at discus tempseventually

Aqua Jon
01-29-2014, 12:28 AM
Aeon, I know it is possible, yes. I haven't entirely ruled out buying an adult pair. I suppose there is a chance for luck, but this is an expensive gamble. I keep the tank at 82 at the fringe of the neon tetra habitable limit. I know that higher temperatures will increase stress on the fish and speed metabolism and shorten lifespan. However from observation the neon stress is mitigated by the layout of the tank. Plenty of hiding and breaks in visual lines and spaces that give smaller fish advantages in a chase. Not that they need them as they are so comfortable they often are not in a shoal and are instead exploring the tank individually.

The CAE will likely be moved out regardless as he is the most aggressive fish in the tank even now habitually chasing. Luckily only chasing. I do have an open cycled 10 gallon on hand should an emergency arise.

BEST of luck to you! I will hope to see some pictures of your discus as they grow.

01-29-2014, 03:28 AM
CAE must be moved, mine killed the guppy I had previously :(

Aqua Jon
01-31-2014, 03:50 PM
Thanks for the heads up jamon! The guppy would have been the last one I'd suspect to be a victim, as they are on opposite end of the water column. I've never seen them interact in any way yet. But now I know better.