View Full Version : I need help ASAP!!!! Water problems.

02-22-2003, 05:09 AM
How do I get my water ok and QUICKLY!!!!!
I am concerned now that I have a better idea of what to do (thats to this site!!!!) that I have made too many mistakes and need to make too many corrections which will be just as damaging.
Please see tank specs. at bottom of post.
I have now come to understand that consistency is more important than anything else for my fish. Currently I have a 30 gallon with 4 discus and various other tank mates. My main concern is for the discus right now. The discus came from a lfs (TODAY) with a pH of 8.7. I drip acclimated them to a pH of 6 over a 3 hour time span. Now after reading, I understand that filtering my water over peat and using RO could cause too many complications and I really should just use my tap water, and be sure to do consistent water changes. This gives me a decreased chance of deaths and chemical bounce backs, etc.

Here are my questions….
-How do I effectively go from peat filtered RO/tap water to just tap water with out harming the fish?
-How can I do this quickly? Because the fish were purchased today, and I think they really need to get back to there normal pH before they get pH shock and get sick.
-Should I continue the use of peat granules in my canister filter, or is the potential side effects going to cause to drastic of a pH / GH/ KH swing?
-How do I keep my fish healthy while doing this in a planted tank?
-Any other general advice????


Tank Specs.- My primary goal is the enjoyment of watching adult discus in a beautiful display, NOT breeding (if it happens, great!)
30 gallon planted tank up about since last November. Set up specifically so I could house Discus.
Filter: HOT Magnum canister with peat granules, Tetra 30-60 gallon Whisper, one side with carbon media, the other side with Bio-Chem Zorb media to polish out black water
DIY CO2 injector, ran into canister for diffusion
Lights: 130W pc (2 X 65W 64K each), 12 hours on timed
Water: 90% RO/DI water, 10% tap drained over a bail of peat. Always prepared at least a week in advance. 30 % Water changes every Sunday. Water tests done on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Temp: 85 F
NH3/NH4 = 0
NO3 = >0.25
Ph = 6.0
Cl2= 0
KH = 5 GH=8
Fe = 0.5
K+ = 20
PO4 = 0.2
O2 = 8
CO2 = 16
Décor = live plants, drift wood, slate rock
Population = 4 Discus (1 has been in the tank for 2 weeks, 3 were purchased today 2/21/03), 3 serape tetra, 3 black neon tetra, 1 bubble bee goby, 4 black Kuli loaches, 2 panda Cory cats, 3 bronze Cory cats, 1 Chinese butterfly loach, 1 gold nugget pleco. All except the Discus have been in there for a long time, transferred over from a 20 gallon I have had for 2 years. I plan on transferring the discus into a 100 gallon next January when I move into my new house. They are about 2” now.
Diet: AM = Flake PM = Different protein every day, rotating blood worms, brine shrimp, and discus delight

larry lob
02-22-2003, 06:18 AM

Take a deep breath! your going blue LOL.

Ok the very first thing is get rid of that carbon JMO. after 5 - 7 days carbon throws back all the bad it took out of the tank with intrest, so in my oppinion that is a no no.

now with the GH and \KHgiven ph crash shouldn't be a problem and i think your ph is low for the GH/ Kh given so i would try not running your tap water over peat just to see what happens, also you said peat granules in the filter? what is the ph of the aged water b4 adding in the tank?
try mixin ro with tap 50/50 and see what the perams are.

As to your question what to do now Raising perams is not a shocking to discus as lowering them so don't worry do it over a couple of water changes.

my approach would be..... get your water correct for the changes trying what i suggested if you like and then just keep changing water as per normal after a couple of quick changes.

Sorry if i didn't type this out methodicaly ask questions if you like.


Good luck and welcome.


02-22-2003, 06:35 AM
Hi VNVixen,

"How do I effectively go from peat filtered RO/tap water to just tap water with out harming the fish."

If you know how to use RO/Tap mix or R/O reconditioned you might as well stick to it. As you mentioned it is a broad understanding that consistency is a major key. You might want to consider of buying a R/O (someone on this board sells for a pretty decent price) unit because in the long run it will be cheaper then buying RO water from anyone.
For keeping you would not have to use Peat with a R/O mixed water.

Running a planted Discus tank is possible.
If you have juvenals though, it is also a broad understanding to go BB. (growth factor and better possibility to keep tank clean)

Having 30 gal, IMO a daily W/C is necessary. I will go out on a limb here and say if you have Hugh amount of tank water (140 gal. and up) you could go with a W/C schedule of 1-2 per week in a planted tank. It would be absolute necessary to keep the amount of fish under the recommendation to accomplish that(1 per 10 gal, as ex. I would go with max of 10-12 Adults in 140 gal.)
Small fish also count!! (well I guess not 1 per 10 ;D)
Proper filtration would also be a absolute must. I have done this in the past for several years.

You might also find out which other fish and plants are compatible with Discus.

And last: :book::book::book::book::book:

HTH Ronald

02-22-2003, 06:45 AM
My suggestions are

Discus are best by themselves. The other fish bother discus and can give them diseases.

Consistancy is best. You can start to change the water parameters with each water change. Slow is best since they are still acclimating.

Daily wc's are best . 30 to 50%. Weekly is not good IMO.

CO2 can be tricky and deadly. Be very careful if you want to use it.


Good food, lots of wc's,

02-22-2003, 07:21 AM
Thank you everyone for such a quick reply!!!

I can remove the carbon NP. Consider it done.
I will start doing a daily wc with straight tap water, given 1 thing… I don’t know what my tap water is straight aged. All my tanks require some sort of premixing before water can go in. I tested my tap straight just a few minutes ago and pH 8 – 8.5, also NH3/NH4/NO2/PO4 are all 0, so that is good. I will have to test the tap water tomorrow after the stuff has some time to sit.
So long as I don’t have to lug 20 gallons of water home a day, I can do daily wc no prob. Originally, there would have been a time issue for me to have to go buy my water so frequently, but if I end up using tap, it’s alllll good. I am moving into my new house this fall, and the house will have a water filtration system put in. I am in the process of researching whole house systems to see what the best bang for my buck is.
Would a good game plan be going all tap, or tap for the 30% water changes during the week, and 50/50 on the weekends? I am kinda thinking pick something and stick to it.
Since I don’t know what my aged tap is, should I postpone the question about weather or not to continue peat granules in the canister filter? I know my tap kh and gh are too high to test on my kits, and I don’t have a water report for my tap. (The sky high kh and gh is why I have never used tap before in any of my tanks)

If someone could convince me to continue using tap over peat moss (ph = 6.8), I will, it’s just that somehow I have been lead to believe that this is not the best thing going. My pH drops to 6 in the tank because of the peat granules. Prior to using peat granules, it would go up to 7.4. Either way, when using peat water, the pH swings one way or the other. I am now thinking that if my tap water stays 8-8.5 all the time that may be the best bet (again, I just want pets, no intensions of breeding).

I plan on de-stocking the tank of tank mates. I can prob have them cleared out inside a day or two.

I have a canister big enough for 100gallons, and a whisper big enough for and 80, and a sponge. If this isn’t enough, please let me know. I am a big filtration geek and have tons of stuff lying around the house.

02-22-2003, 07:37 AM
SOunds like you're on the right track. I only will mess with peat to attempt breeding. I use to use it all the time, but it got to be a bit of a hassle.

Straight aged tap should be fine. I would use the same thing all the time. Skip the 50/50 on the weekends. It will not be a stable constant. Just pick one method and stick to it, unless the fish don't do well.

Canisters can trap unseen debris. Keep it clean if you use it.

I like air driven sponges and aquaclears. Whisper can be cleaned, but sponges are easiest.

Keep and eye on ammonia nitrites as you will change the bioload when you move the fish. Keep the filters constant or change slowly (if you switch to different ones)


steve s
02-22-2003, 11:32 AM
Looks like you are already doing some good things!
Remove other fish, too many and too mean for small
Water changes in planted tank with gravel is more
important than super filters. Change 30-50% per day
in 30 gal should be quick. Use a gravel vac that attachs
to the sink to clean gravel and take out old water.
Set up holding tank for water changes, plastic rubber
maid. Heat water in holding tank to match tank, put in air stone , age water 24 hours. Test water it will have diff. PH
than tap. Heater in holding tank, be carefull it does not touch plastic ,and you turn off when you remove water.
If your PH is still to high in holdin tank after aging , you
can adjust in holding tank. Only adjust if PH is too high.
you can go to water works at simply discus and see good
ideas for correct levels of Ph and stuff to use if you still
need to lower.
If you do use something to lower PH , make sure it
will not hurt plants.


02-22-2003, 11:59 AM
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Unless I'm mistaken, I think we're forgetting the original intent was to keep a discus community show tank. This means other fish, plants, driftwood, etc. A pattern I see on this forum is to quickly influence folks to go: barebottom, discus only, daily W/C, sponge filter, etc. ???

A pervasive attitude exists that anything else is wrong. Although there are people here that prefer the look of the BB, most fish folks & non-hobbyists agree that a planted tank is more aesthetically pleasing as a show piece.

I think the original poster has every intention of keeping healthy discus. I applaud her wanting to learn how to do it. It IS possible to keep nice discus w/other fish, plants, gravel. Will she successfully breed & raise fry in that sort of environment? Probably not. The fish will probably spawn, but the chances of the fry making it to adulthood is slim. BUT that wasn't her primary goal (see original post).

IMO, keep the fish you have (unless they pick at/on the discus). Keep the gravel, plants, wood. Increase the W/C to 2x/week minimum. Change over to regular tap water. Discontinue water treatments that may drastically alter the chemistry. As stated, stable water conditions are of utmost importance.

Most of the advice was solid, but may not apply to the VNV's goals. Good luck w/the fish & tank. :D

02-22-2003, 07:40 PM
And here is my Whoa. . . .

You have been buying RO water from the store - not making your own.

Have you tested a cup of your tap water after it has set on the counter overnight? Before you do anything get test kits to test GH and pH.

Water doesn't get better if it sits for a week - it breeds bacteria. We age water to off gas CO2 - which you are adding to your tank. CO2 will lower pH on it's own.

If you want a planted tank fine. Get it stable and under control without discus. A 30 gallon is too small for what you are trying to do. With all the fish, plants, gravel, etc. you already have there is no room to add 4 discus. All those tank mates will stress the discus and out compete them for food. A 30 gallon planted is big enough for an adult pair only.

If you want the best chance to grow out healthy, full size baby discus bare bottom is the way to go. I'm sorry, but I think you are setting yourself up to fail.

02-22-2003, 08:38 PM
Hi chiro,

A pattern I see on this forum is to quickly influence folks to go: barebottom, discus only, daily W/C, sponge filter, etc. this is found on many forums. The reason for it is because it is the most effective way of raising discus without worrying about too many other parameters. Its not the only way to raise ...but for some one new to discus, it may be the safest way to Start.

This is just my opinion... but its easier to learn things step at a time. I have always found that when I help get someone started with Discus, they do better when they first learn about the needs of the fish, then expand to the planted tank. Some will no doubt be able to work with both, but the safest bet is the one with least variables.

I have many bare glass tanks. I have one planted that I have had from time to time. I do not believe that Bare glass tanks are the only way to go... I do believe though that planted Discus tanks are not right for everyone.... or they not the best first step for everyone. To me , the beautiful planted/display tank is the ultimate achievement for a discus hobbyist.... and the reason I believe that is tied to its level of difficulty.

Thats just my view,

02-22-2003, 09:55 PM
A 30 gallon is too small for what you are trying to do.
A 30 gallon planted is big enough for an adult pair only.

Carol has said it more directly then I did ;D

I also believe if you are new to Discus you might setup a 30 or 50gal. BB and learn the needs for them. Getting a planted Discus tank could be the next step then.
As I started I did not know about BB and it was tough then to learn both at the same time. But in the end a nice Planted, responsible stocked Discus tank is something very beautiful, as is a BB tank with the main focus on Discus only.

However you decide to go I wish you the best.


02-22-2003, 11:10 PM
ditto :)

larry lob
02-23-2003, 05:44 PM
Oh Dear, Looks like i am going to get shot in the head again............. this thread started with i want a show tank i am not looking to breed and i need some help with water (or something close to this) Well can you custom build your discus for the tank you have? can you have 4 Adult STUNTED fish in a community 30g? so you put 4 discus, some other tank mates, some plants, gravel and rock ( bare with me for a moment) you keep your water clean filtered and healthy. Then your discus only make it to 4" fully grown but perfect in shape size and colour the only thing is they are small due to thier surrounding tank size.

Is it wrong that you have a stunning tank with fish that are proportionate to thier surrounding?
Ok they won't win a competition but they give thier owners years of fun, the fish are healthy and happy but small................ So What?

we was told....... My primary goal is the enjoyment of watching adult discus in a beautiful display, NOT breeding

Sorry if i am out of order here no offence to anyone on this thread i think you all have the hobby at heart.


02-23-2003, 06:50 PM
Hi Larry,
I won't shoot you I promise.
you said: can you have 4 Adult STUNTED fish in a community 30g?

It was my understanding that the question was if I could have 4 Discus with other tank mates in a planted 30gal. tank and what would be the best solution to do so.
Referring to the W/C schedule of 1-2 per week it might not be possible. If he could do a daily W/C there might be a possibility to do it with the side effects that you mentioned.
The risk for crashing the water would be high though.
No Overfeeding, careful watching of feeding, daily siphoning would be necessary in my opinion. Having a larger Tank with the stocking here presented would make it far more easier on the Discus as on the Fish keeper.

And that’s the decision VNVixen has to make.
As many go the easy way or go the hard way. Both ways result in nice and joyful tanks.

Now I have setup my self for a few bullets ;D


larry lob
02-23-2003, 06:55 PM
wana share the flack jacket????? ;D ;D ;D

02-23-2003, 06:55 PM
Hi Larry,
What you are proposing is fine within your parameters. It's been my experience here and on other discus boards over the years that your scenario isn't the outcome in most cases with inexperienced discus keepers. Perhaps the successful ones don't post. ;)

What I respond to daily is " my discus are having problems". Many times these are people who have done just fine with other tropical fish and planted tanks, but have experienced problems when discus are added to the mix.

For example VN has been posting all over Simply with water problems. I was telling VN to get the tank figured out first and get discus figured out seperately before she tried to combine the two. Still good advice in my opinion for this particular case.

I know I sound like a broken record at times . . . . . but this is still the best way I've found to help newcomers learn to keep discus.

02-23-2003, 07:00 PM
Let's dig a trench ;D Larry.


larry lob
02-23-2003, 07:35 PM

I bow to you humbly, your are the queen in my eyes and will never knock you, i was also unaware that there were multi posts and do agree with you that it IS better BB i was meerly stating that SHE SAID this is what she wanted and tryed my best to help her try it out.

my proposition of the setup was just an oppinion on how a tank can be and it does look nice.

Ronald i started digging when i commenting.... jump in and help make it deeper bro! lol


02-23-2003, 08:43 PM
one thing though..no one mentioned is.... its safe to go up in ph and hardness quicker than down. so as someone said..just start doing daily wc with your water without additives and it will gradually climb to your natural ph and hardness of your water. if you did everyday..it should stay stable.
it takes no time at all to change 1/2 a 30 gallon tank. your fish will thank you.
the fish may not just stay small..they may runt and be out of shape. big eyes and pointy head. i have one.i rescued..its well and lively .but clearly didnt grow well. the owner passed away.and they were thrown flake food and no wc for a month and a half. undergravel filter and all. nevertheless....we all started about the same...and when you do get your 100 gallon tank next january..and the discus bug has taken effect..then you will have learnt to care for these ones..and you can get a nice group for that nice new tank. and be experienced with your water and requirements by then..
let us know how it goes either way you decide. most importantly is to enjoy those fish and keep them healthy.
keep reading and learning. and dont be afraid to ask more questions.