View Full Version : Need advice on my readiness for either adult shoal or a pair of RTs

03-10-2014, 11:26 PM
Hello! I'm using the questionnaire provided (I want to be thorough) so sorry if this is long, but I wanted some thoughts on whether it would be best to buy a shoal of about 5 adults or find a bonded pair or RTs, however my goal is not to breed and not to have to cull. Thanks!

1) Please Introduce your self and tell us what your experience is with fishkeeping, give us as much information as possible as to how long in the hobby, what you have kept in the past and what you currently are working with.

Jennifer here. I've been keeping fish for 15 years, mostly FW, but have had SW as well. I hope to keep discus in my established 55-gallon (gravel, with a mixture of live and artificial plants and driftwood). Two HOB filters and one heater. (looking at changing this to two 200w for consistency).

2) If you have no previous experience with keeping discus, have you done any research to properly prepare yourself, e.g. have you read any Stickies in this section of SimplyDiscus, or other material?

No previous experience with discus, but have read many stickies here. Lots of info, thanks!

3) Describe your tank, its size and dimensions, breeding or display. Include how long it has been setup or if it is still being cycled.

55 gallon (4-ft long), set up for and running for 15 years. Display.

4) Describe the décor for the tank; type of substrate or bare bottom (BB), whether the tank will be planted or a biotope.

Mixture of gravel and flourite, mixed with artificial and live plants and driftwood.

5) Describe your water changes planned or practiced, percentage and how often. Include if you age your water and use of tap/RO or mix.

I do weekly 25% WCs using a python. I replace with water of same temperature from the tap (adding water conditioner that precedes the tap water before flowing into the tank from the python)

6) Describe the type of filtration planned/used for the tank; sponge, HOB and/or sump. Also include the other equipment you are, or will be, using in your tank, e.g. heater, lighting, etc.

Two HOB BIO wheel (Emperor 400 and Marineland 200) with sponge, and have replaced all carbon filters with media containers using cut-to-fit sponges. I have a T5 dual 6500K lighting. Currently running one heater (think it's 300w) but looking at going with two 200w instead on either side.

7) If the tank is already setup and running, include the water parameters;

- temp = 82
- tank ph= 6.8
- Ph of the water straight out of your tap= 7.0
- ammonia reading= 0
- nitrite reading= 0
- nitrate reading = 5-10
- well water = N/A
- municipal water = yes

8) Describe your current or planned stocking levels; number/size of discus and number/type of dither fish. Where did you get your discus from or do you have a proposed source for getting your discus?

Current stock includes:

6 Threadfin Rainbows (2males, 4 females)
7 Endler Guppies (all male)
5 Pepper Cories (who knows)
5 Nerite snails (arriving tomorrow)


Hoping to add discus. Either an adult pair or a shoal of adults. The goal is a display where everyone is healthy and happy, no intention to breed and not too much bickering.

9) Describe your planned or existing feeding regimen. Include what and how often you are feeding on a daily basis.

Depends on the size. Now I feed twice a day with current stock, but prepared for up to 4 feedings a day with recommended discus dietary needs with BH, and mix of frozen/fresh

10) What are your goals in this hobby? For example are you looking to keep discus in a planted community tank, or do you hope to become a hobby breeder of Discus? Do you want to raise Discus with the hopes of competing in shows?

I have the tank the way I like it, with plants, and desire to keep it that way. Not interested in becoming a breeder or competing in shows.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what, if any changes or recommendations. I appreciate ALL input.

03-11-2014, 08:48 AM
Lots of questions but that is good. First your tank is a little on the small size and your WC routine is a little lacking. If you are going to attempt discus I would suggest going with the 5 adults. It will give you the best chance of success in the long run. Whatever you do, do not get non-adult discus. They would not do well in your setup at all. Also buy from a source where you know the fish are healthy. For this situation I would suggest Hans. Once again you are going with a less than idea situation and so you need to take the safest route possible.

Good luck.


03-11-2014, 01:53 PM
Thanks John! What can I do to improve the WC routine? Increase in frequency and percent? Is it the tap water? Both? And when you say the tank is on the small side, is it because of the current inhabitants and decor? And when you say go with 5 adults, is it because of possible loss? Thanks again for your response!

03-11-2014, 02:00 PM
Discus will thrive in clean water. In marginal water they will do fine for a while and then normally crash. In the discus world the general rule is you cannot change water to often or too much...LOL. An adult discus in a large fish and 5 will fill it up. You could get by with 6 but that just means you need to change even more water. The recipe for discus is quite simple....Get healthy/quality fish, feed good foods, and keep the water clean and warm. Where most people mess up is they do not keep their eater clean. When they start they normally tell us how all us old timers were wrong because they have had discus for 2 months and they are still doing fine....then about 4 months later they just disappear off the forum....LOL.

Good luck.


03-11-2014, 02:11 PM
Hi Jennifer,
I think John recommends 5 to spread out potential bickering, not because you would expect to lose any. I think 4 might well be the worst possible number of discus in terms of injury due to aggression (along with depression, stress, and possible nutrition problems for the low-man), and 6 might be stressful to you because you would probably need to do more water changing than is practical.

I second the Hans recommendation.
Good luck! And post pictures once you get everything going!

**PS- if you're in Birmingham, AL, you should swing by. I'm definitely no Hans, but I have a bunch of fish here and would be willing to part with 5 adults.

03-11-2014, 02:16 PM
Thanks! I can do that. I've waited a long time to try these fish, and I want to do my best to provide a safe and healthy environment. That being said, my preference would be for two adult discus, provided they would be happy as well. But if they're simply happier in a shoal, period, then that's what I need to consider instead.

But, I DO plan to keep on top of the WCs either way. I just don't want the tank to be overcrowded. I tend to understock on purpose. 5 adults seem like a lot of bioload...at least for my usual stocking habits.

03-11-2014, 02:22 PM
Hi Lindsay! I visited your homestead last night! Awesome, and thanks for the invitation. I would really appreciate a visit. Again, I'm not looking for breeders, but a nice, happy and compatible pair, unless that's just not advisable for a newbie.

I can also gift you a 20 gallon and a 29 tall if you need them (sorry no stands). I've got to do some spring cleaning and I'm not going to be using them.

03-11-2014, 02:28 PM
Text me at 6015733733 if you want to visit the fish.

I have a couple hundred discus here (vast majority are little babies) including adults of a dozen different strains; I won't try to sell you fish, but you can see what the different strains look like in person and watch how pairs interact.

I also have 3 55gal planted tanks with 6 adult discus in each (70% WC every other day), so you can see what that looks like as well.

03-11-2014, 02:31 PM
BTW Lindsay, I live in Inverness, and I don't expect a "trade" of any kind with those tanks. Just a donation to your cause if you want them.

03-11-2014, 02:35 PM
Got it, thanks! Text sent.

OC Discus
03-11-2014, 07:28 PM
As one who transitioned from a community non discus tank to a discus tank, I've learned a few lessons the hard way. Discus are very susceptible to parasites and disease that other fish carry. These will be present in the tank, gravel, filter media, etc. Discus are also susceptible to sickness as a result of poor water quality. I would recommend a few things on the front end to save you some major headaches with disease later:

1) Empty the tank and sterilize it before adding discus
2) Remove all substrate, decorations, heaters, and media from the filter
3) Add 2 cups of bleach to the 55 gallon tank and run through filters over night (about 8 hours)
4) Drain the tank to sterilize your python
5) Soak heaters and any decorations in bleach/water solution for several hours in a 5g bucket, rinse, and soak in dechlorinated water for a few hours
6) Refill the tank with warm, dechlorinated water
7) Allow the tank to run over night again (or for several hours)
8) Drain the tank and refill with warm water and dechlorinator
9) Wipe out filters and add new filter media
10) Re-install heaters

Now you are ready to cycle your new tank before adding discus:
1) Most sd members recommend a fishless cycle- I've never done this, but you can do an advanced search above (or ask Pat)
2) I have used Tetra Safe Start to cycle tanks- It contains bio-spira- which is the beneficial bacteria needed to cycle the tank.
3) If you do 75% water changes daily and use prime, you can get by without cycling the tank (but this would be risky- if you miss one day you can lose fish)

I'll advise on using Tetra Safe Start, since I've done it, and let others advise on fishless cycle

1) Once tank is sterilized, filled, dechlorinated with Prime or safe, and heaters and filters are all working, set tank temperature at about 84 degrees
2) Obtain enough Tetra Safe Start to dose your tank at least 2 times, 4 is better
3) Order 5 or six adult fish from one source- Hans or Kenny
4) When the fish arrive, put them in the tank according to the seller's instructions
5) Pour 1/2 dose of Tetra Safe Start into each of your HOB filters
6) Don't feed the first day
7) Now you need to determine your water change schedule and feeding schedule
8) With adult fish (5 inches or more) you don't have to over feed- twice daily should be fine- more food=more water changes
9) Have a test kit ready on day 2 to check Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate/Seachem ammonia alert hangs in tank. 6 in 1 strips detect nitrite and nitrate
10) I would recommend at least twice per week changing 50%-90% of the water with adult discus, carefully vacuuming the bottom and rinsing the filter media in tank water (floss, not bio sponge)

These would be "minimum" recommendations. Others will recommend other plans (like daily water changes, bare bottom, no decorations, no plants, etc). There are many variables in filtration, etc. I'm not an expert, to the degree that many are, but I've never had a discus die from disease or any other cause. If I can help, let me know.

OC Discus
03-11-2014, 07:49 PM

I should add, please soak all nets, thermometers, buckets, anything that has had contact with the other fish, in bleach and rinse before using them for discus. Your fish will be much healthier and happier if they are not exposed to the common parasites and diseases carried by community fish (that may not even appear sick).
Also, a pair would only get along if they were a breeding pair. Since breeding is not your goal, a group of 5 or 6 is better. Also, starting out without any non discus tank mates would be better. Mixing fish requires extensive quarantine to prevent cross contamination. 5 or 6 healthy discus will grow and fill out a 55 g tank. Advanced filtration and knowledge are required to add other fish or plants to a discus tank.

03-12-2014, 07:59 PM
Wow OC! I consider myself duly warned, and really appreciate your post, especially before making this big leap into discus. Considering your previous experience with transitioning a non-discus community tank into a discus tank, I will take your advice to heart. That's why I'm here. While my tank is 15 years old, it was essentially broken down two years ago and re-cycled when we had to move. A lot of work, and a lot of shifting of fish from here to there, then back home. It's not something I take lightly or look forward to having to do again, which may mean my desire for discus needs to be put on hold until I can do species-only.

OC Discus
03-12-2014, 09:58 PM
I didn't mean to discourage you. I'm sure the equipment you have could accommodate 5-6 adult discus. Water changes can be simplified with a python or a pump. You can go simple on the decorations and grow into it- bare bottom or a thin layer of pool filter sand on the bottom. One or Two pieces of Real or artificial driftwood. I'm glad I transitioned to discus only. No other freshwater fish compares to their size, colors, beauty, and personality. Mine wait at the front of the tank for me to come and feed them every morning and watch me across the room while I'm watching tv.