View Full Version : First Time Possible Discus Owner, Is it possible?

03-08-2014, 03:27 AM
Hey Everyone,

I maybe trading a stand and canopy from a 210 gallon tank for a drilled overflow 120 gallon tank. Im thinking of what should I do with it as I would like it to look great. I have done freshwater for years as well as a reef set up for a few years and always wondered about keeping discus. Wondered if it is really that difficult as most people say. I have done research before of discus when I came close to purchasing a few but I decided against it.

Now I feel like Im ready...if the trade takes place!

-120 Gallon Tank 48 x 24 x 25 with overflow
- Haven't yet got the sump together but most likely it will be the biggest sump able to fit under the stand, most likely a 65 gallon tank
-Sump will have the traditional 100 micron filter sock leading to a section of k1 moving bed filter than return to the top
-Temp will be around 85 degrees
-Substrate thinking of pool filter sand, any recommendations I appreciate it.
-Decor unsure most likely rocks as the background theme will be the look of an island
Here are some questions:

1. If a discus is provided a proper diet, lifestyle and purchased from a reliable source what would there growth rate be at around 2-3inches? Really would like to purchase discus from Discus-Hans because they seem to be cost effective as well have many great responses.
2. What do you think is best starting of with a group of discus at around 2-3 inches or purchase a large pair or save money and attempt be buy a variety of large adults?
3. Is a ph of 7 ok? Heard some members using low ph...high ph. Around 7 would be the best for me to maintain.
4. As for water changes what do you recommend if starting with a group of 3 inch discus vs a group of large discus? I was thinking if maybe I can get away with one water change a week if they are really small or one water change every two weeks if they are larger. Most likely the % of water taken will be anywhere from 50-80% at one time. Also will use prime as that is what I read was best and I have used it for long time.
5. Whats a good size quarantine tank? I have a 40 breeder currently set up.
6. Is there a list here where I can see the best meds used for discus that will be great in case anything was to happen.

Thanks think these 6 questions will help me a lot as I look through old threads on here as well as stickies.

Most importantly, Im not going to get the discus and set up the tank right away...going to be a month or two after setting up the 120 to insure proper cycling as well as peace of mind lol. Tips or threads recommended to read is greatly appreciated, thanks!

03-08-2014, 11:41 PM

It's definitely possible. I'm relatively new to the discus scene. Really glad your thinking of trying out discus. I love them! I'm just speaking from my personal experience here. Some of my opinion would change based on whether your getting juvies or adults. I'm going to base my answers on juvies, because that's what I've had experience with.

Temp - I keep mine between 84-84.5.
Substrate - Best if there is none until they get 5" or more. Feeding juvies 4-6x a day can create a lot of detritus and waste even if your careful not to overfeed. I'm always amazed at how many tiny particles there are.
Décor - Mine is BB right now with no décor other than sponge filters and air stone disk.

1. They're growth rate varies, but the most I've had so far is .5" in about a month.
2. Depends on your level of commitment and finances. Juvies need daily water changes to reach their best potential and lots of feedings. Adults are less work, but cost way more.
3. Ph should be fine, just be sure to acclimate. I don't mess with my ph. (Follow your suppliers recommendations for acclimating.)
4. Personally, I do a 90% water change 6 days a week for my juvies. One day a week I get lazy lol. I use Seachem Safe, which is the dry version of Prime. I recommend getting it because it's much more cost effective. Lots of different opinions about water changes that can vary based on # of discus, tank size, size of discus, etc.
5. I started with a 55g quarantine, but I upgraded to 75g a month later. 75g is MUCH better. My discus were more comfortable and enjoyed the extra width. A 40g could work for quarantine in a pinch, but I wouldn't try to raise them in there more than the 4-6 wk quarantine period unless you had to. The length of a tank is a factor.
6. For me I like to go the all natural route if possible. I use Melafix for torn fins, etc. and Pimafix for any fungus or bacterial issues. I've also used both together. Works great for me! The only other thing I have on hand is solar salt for ich among other things. Also I would have the API Master Freshwater Test kit for checking water parameters.

There are lots of stickies at the top of this section "Discus Basics for Beginners" that would be great reading. Reading all you can is a good idea. Good luck on your journey with discus!

03-09-2014, 04:48 AM

Im a relative newbie with Discus myself, but here are some comments based on my limited experience:

1. If you are going to keep juvies and want them to grow and be healthy, be prepared for lots of feeding and consequently lots of water changes. Would have loved to do daily changes, but have finally converged at 60% wc alternate days and feeding 2-3 times daily. My temp is 84f.

2. Started with planted tank but eventually went bare bottom few months back and I love it. Learnt the hard way like other newbies that if you want to have juvies and want to see them grow, priority goes to feeding and keeping water clean. With substrate, this is quite hard. With bare bottom I can vaccum the bottom in a breeze, but tank doesnt look anywhere close to what my planted tank did. However, you decide whats your priority ;-)

3. I used to adjust my PH down from about 7.8 to 7 using Seachem discus buffer and neutral regulator with every wc. Stopped doing that and just use Prime with each wc. Dont mess with Ph. My discus are doing just as fine with PH 7.8 as they did with the adjusted PH of 7. So why bother... Keep it simple and stick with the natural ph from your tap water.

4. On meds, I have used following and have in my fishy medicine cabinet
Furan-2 for bacterial infections
Metronidazole powder for flagellates (I get it from rocky mountain discus)
PraziPro for flukes (I have also used a pottasium permanganate treatment for dire conditions of flukes in one case)
( I also keep medicated flakes for deworm/antiprotozoans from AngelsPlus)

Good luck with your Discus and try not to get addicted like most of us on simplydiscus ;-). If you are trying discus for first time, I would rather start with 3.5-4" discus if you can. 2" can get more unforgiving...


03-10-2014, 11:40 PM
Thanks for all of your info! I will keep an eye out for larger discus from good sources and will do more research and figure out away for easy water changes

03-15-2014, 02:14 AM
Is there harmful effects of doing a normal water change with prime vs using water that was held for a day?

03-15-2014, 04:42 AM
I work a lot of hours every wk and it's difficult to do massive water changes everyday! Is a 30-40% change twice a wk enough?
I have 5 discus in a 55g tank, they are about 3-3.5inch and I have sand substrate and plastic plants for decor.

03-15-2014, 01:47 PM
Is there harmful effects of doing a normal water change with prime vs using water that was held for a day?

I believe the thought behind aging water is it allows ph, water params, and temp to stabilize (if your heating and aerating the aged water). The dissolved CO2 in tap water can lower the ph, then it will rise after the CO2 dissipates. You could test your water by placing the water in a container and testing the ph, then wait the 24 hour period and test ph again. If there's a big change in ph, then you might consider aging. I have extremely hard water so I don't worry about ph swing.

I use a 3/4" garden hose to empty my tank, then a python to fill so that I can get the water temp to match. I use a digital thermometer in the tank. I plan on adding a submerged water pump attached to the garden hose to empty the tank even faster.

03-15-2014, 01:54 PM
I work a lot of hours every wk and it's difficult to do massive water changes everyday! Is a 30-40% change twice a wk enough?
I have 5 discus in a 55g tank, they are about 3-3.5inch and I have sand substrate and plastic plants for decor.

People do all different sorts of things. Look at the grow out challenge threads on this forum. For me I don't think with the number of discus in your tank at that size that the water changes your doing are enough for max growth. I would try to do at least 50% water change daily or 6 days a week. Get the water pump it will make the tank drain a lot faster. Other things you can do are feed them foods that don't leave lots of waste, vacuum the poop and detritus daily, have pre-filters on your main filter that you take out and rinse daily, etc. You could also look into getting a bigger tank say a 125g. Then maybe you could get away with every other day if you had to. My water changes are actually what I call my "zen time" so I don't mind it. It's also a good time to really scrutinize your fish and make sure everything is ok.

03-19-2014, 04:31 PM
I work a lot of hours every wk and it's difficult to do massive water changes everyday! Is a 30-40% change twice a wk enough?
I have 5 discus in a 55g tank, they are about 3-3.5inch and I have sand substrate and plastic plants for decor.

Best investment I ever made in the fish hobby was getting a Mag Drive pump, 3/4" tubing (get a good quality like Lee's, not the hardware stuff that kinks) and a "hook" outlet.
I now pump the used water directly into the toilet. I use a 75 gallon aquarium for aging and have a pump in there for filling. I can empty one tank while filling another. Both pumps on the same power switch, so I can quickly turn off the pump. If can run a hose or tap into your water line to fill up the aging container, so much the better.

No discus now, but last night, I changed a bunch of 20 gallons.. Probably about 60 gallons of water changing in maybe 15-20 minutes?

That's just an example, but if you are willing to spend the money on Discus, please spend whatever money necessary to make water changes as easy as possible.
Not having to lug buckets anymore has turned water changes from a chore to actually being kind of fun.