View Full Version : New 75 gallon tank setup

06-09-2005, 01:23 PM
This is my first post, but i have researched quite a bit about discus and read through most of the stickied posts. Here is my current plans for a setup and some questions I still have that I havent really seen yet. Any input would be greatly appreciated

on hand:
75 gallon tank, stand, glass top with 1 4' wide spectrum strip
rocks, driftwood, other decoration
air pump

yet to purchase:
marineland emperor 400 gph filter
300 watt heater (maybe 2x200 or something)
some airstone strip thingss
good decholorinator (the tank was used and had to be cleaned with bleach due to its bad condition and previous fish/lizard inhabitants, anyone know of a good brand?)
substrate, a must since look is very important for the tank, is small or large pebbles better?

5 neons (i read they live well with discus and i would like to cycle the tank before introducing expensive fish)
2 plecos (the cool spotted ones that dont grow into huge nasty catfish)
5-6 discus, can really only spend 100-150 on these so I cant be picky. Will have to find some place locally to get them. Illinois area.

Ok, I think thats just about everything I still need to buy, and I wont be purchasing any fish before mid august due to my wedding, but I would like to start purchasing equipment now so I can have the tank up and running and cycled by then.

As for some questions, most pertain to the drastic water changes that seem to be reccomended by everyone. I really dislike the idea of large daily changes, or even multiple changes per week. Im assuming the changes are to remove built up nitrates and dissolved waste from the water due to the constant feedings, but I havent seen much talk about the use of protein skimmers or nitrate reducing bacteria such as available at http://www.memory-doctor.com/rightnowfw.htm. These seem like viable alternatives to constant water changes and I was wondering if by using a combination of these I could get away with a weekly water change. I dont really want to go the plant route since I dont have a proper lighting setup for plants. If theres other reasons besides dead matter and nitrates for the water changes let me know.

The other thing I'm still unclear on is the water chemistry. Some claim 6-6.5 ph is required, while others claim that even 7.5 is fine. The same for hardness, some websites say soft-very soft is required while others say their moderately hard tap water is adequate. There seems to be a lot of information about this topic relating to discus (is the plural discus or is it discus'?) but so much of it seems to contradict, so I don't really know whats correct.

I think thats all the questions I have currently, any if anyone has fish for sale in or around Illinois (I live in west central Illinois) let me know. This is a great site and I want to say thanks in advance for all the expert help and information.


edited for some of my horrible spelling

06-09-2005, 02:42 PM
Hello, Joe.

I have a 75 gallon Discus Community (w/ Angels, Plecs, tetras) and I would recommend the following:

Get two low-powered heaters instead one high-powered heater. It is safer in case of failure and someone else said it was also economical.

I have never heard of the Right Now! Product, but you can test it for us :)

You could get away with weekly water changes, just be warned that your discus may be a little stunted, unless you buy them as adults. Get a 40 gallon trashcan, get a pump, and use that for your water changes. Once you have a system, changing water is a charm.

I am very interested in nitrate filters, but the best are plants, hands down. You could look into anaerobic filters, but I don't know if that's snake oil or not. Water change is the most effective way.

pH is not that important as long as it is stable. No fish likes to have pH swings; stability is key. I had maintained my pH for 5.5 for a long time, but that took too much work. Now I don't worry about it, and it is stable around 6.8. Fish are very happy now.

06-09-2005, 05:47 PM
Yes, you can get by with weekly water changes in a decorated, graveled community tank. You simply have to limit the fish. I would suggest two adult discus and 50% weekly water change with aged, pH stable water. (The discus may eat the neons and the plecos may suck on the the discus.)

Protein skimmers don't work well on freshwater tanks. In my experience nothing beats water changes to keep your discus healthy.

Hardness anad pH don't much matter unless you are trying to breed. Stable water with stable pH is more important than a "magic" number.
Emperor 400 is an OK filter - I like Aqua Clear better. I think the largest Aqua clear would do it - you can add a couple of sponge filters like hydro V too. No need for a bubbler.

06-09-2005, 11:03 PM

Welcome to Simply and the addiction :)

I'd give some serious thought to the substrate. I kept gravel in my upstairs tank for a long time for appearance purposes, but it's a royal PITA keeping the gravel clean enough to maintain good water quality.. especially if you're only going to do once weekly water changes.

I finally talked the wife into turning the tank into a BB and decorated it with driftwood only, and everyone.. bar none.. that has been by and seen the tank thinks it looks much more attractive now than it did with the gravel.. sooo much easier to keep clean too..

If you're going with gravel anyway.. smaller stones will allow less debris to fall thru to the bottom, larger stones create a more porous bottom and are more difficult to keep clean.

I like the bio wheels, but the Emperors are not as good as they were years ago. They lose syphon way to early in a water change whereas in the past they wouldn't. I think if I went to a back mounted power filter I'd go with Carol's favorite.. the AquaClear. Look into the Cell Pore media inserts on drsfostersmith.com, adds a lot more bio capacity to either one of the filters

Protein skimmers don't work in freshwater tanks, something to do with not enough specific gravity or something... otherwise, we'd ALL HAVE EM :D
Wish they did though.

And Shaun's right, once you get a WC system down, especially if you automate it, WC's are a charm, and very little effort.. and.. your fish will grow better and remain much healthier (meds are not cheap).

good luck and keep us posted :)


06-10-2005, 10:31 AM
Thanks for the quick replies, I'm glad I don't need to worry about water chemistry as much as I thought I would have to. The reason I'm not to thrilled about frequent water changes is my schedule very busy during the week and It would be more of a pain inside the apartment. I knew protein skimmers did not work well in freshwater, but had read articles about certain types working better then others and even some specifically designed for freshwater are available. Stocking lighter sounds good, but I wasnt sure how aggression would be with fewer discus since most things said to keep them alone, as a mated pair, or in groups of 5+. I am completely open to ideas for how to stock the tank, and the reason i chose to do a community tank was that I wanted to ensure that everything was up and functioning properly before investing in any expensive fish. I also found this cool synthetic that might help get through the week without a water change. http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/Purigen.html This seems great since it turns dark when it needs to be recharged and isnt terribly expensive. Unfortunately im a poor college grad student so my budget for fish is only about 150-200 tops so let me know if anyone has any really great ideas for the tank.


Greg Richardson
06-10-2005, 11:28 AM
Joe. No subsitute for water changes if you are looking for growth along with cutting down on disease.
Thing is when you cut back on wc you are setting yourself up for trouble.
I agree with the others that once you get routine down with the right equipment you'd be surprised how easy it becomes. I try to multitask during changes but that cost me once also. LOL!
I know room in an apartment is a factor but I think you'll enjoy the hobby much better if you work on a way to do more wc's.
One thing you might do is let everyone know the area you live in.
That way maybe some hobbyist around you might be able to help you out with cheaper fish as they may need the room.
If you can pick out your fish will save you shipping cost.
I'd then take that money and spend it on wc equipment to make it eaiser.

06-10-2005, 04:08 PM
OK, a few comments:

Forget the absorbents, anerobic denitrators, etc. Do the water changes.
You see, nitrates are only part of the problem. They can be easily measured so we tend to pay alot of attention to the, but they really are only markers for the dissolved organic compounds that fish waste, uneaten food, etc., break down into in the water. So, if you concentrate on removing nitrates, a bunch as with the nitrate absorbents) you will still have nasties in the water. If you use biozorb, or something like that that will remove more organics, you will also absorb out important trace elements and still weaken or kill your fish, over enough time. Just do the water changes! It's cheaper and will really work!

The only product that really contains denitrifying bacteria that will really cycle your tank is BioSpira. http://www.marineland.com/StoreLocator/StoreLocForm.asp

If you want to know why look here: http://www.marineland.com/science/nspira.asp

You will find all the other products to be a waste of money, and you will probably kill your fish.

Don't get the neons. They don't handle the higher temperatures the Discus like over long periods of time. Get Cardinal tetras if you can. But unless you get large tetras, or very small Discus, you will run the risk of having them eaten by the Discus.

Neons and Cardinals are terrible fish to cycle with. They are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrites. I highly recommend a fishless cycle using clear ammonia (a bunch of threads here describe it). It will do a better job than killing of some fish anyway, because you can beef up the bacteria to handle whatever new bioload you are going to add, instead of only having enough bacteria to handle the fish load you cycled with.

No one here has yet figured out how much ammonia Discus make, to try to determine how much to add each day to simulate a mid to adult sized Discus. The safest guess was 10 drops of clear ammonia per day per fish--almost certainly more than you need, but better to be using too much than too little.

If you must cycle with fish, use zebra danios. They are much hardier, and often survive cycling. You can take them back to your fish store after the tank is cycled.

There are a bunch of good chlorine removers, but you should be able to get rid of the chlorine from the cleaning by simply filling the tank, and waiting a few days. If you have chlorine or chloramine in your water supply, you will need amquel, prime, or some other product. These last two will get rid of chloramine as well as chlorine.

I think Gary at Great Lakes Discus has some of the best fish around. You should be able to get fish directly from him. You will find that buying from a breeder like him is not only much better, but also much less expensive than trying to find a retail store.