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Thread: Gearing up for Discus

  1. #1
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    Default Gearing up for Discus

    Greetings!

    I'm new to the site and have been planning on getting into the Discus hobby seriously since last summer. I've been interested in them since seeing some at That Fish Place in Lancaster Pa. Being new to the hobby at the time I felt I should get wet behind the ears first with some tropicals which I did for almost 10yrs. I had a number of fish that lived pretty long in my 120 - Rainbow shark lived about 8 years, Denison barbs were over 6, Boesmans over 5 etc. We moved to RI in the Spring of 2017 and I had to adopt them out. I figured this would be the time to give Discus a shot.

    I've been going by advice of a LFS but started digging further into YouTube videos and forums lately so I registered here. Some of what I've been reading in the stickys has contradicted what I've been told so I'll go over where I'm at in the process.

    I don't have a set timeframe since I wanted to get the tank up and running for a couple months first, get the biofilter established, work out any kinks. I'm glad I did because I've changed out the heater and after 8yrs and decided to change over to an FX6 to avoid any possible issue or failures.

    Tank - 120gallon Marineland
    Filter - Fluval FX6 (I'm transitioning from my FX5 so both are hooked up for now since I swapped media into my new FX).
    Heater - 250w Enheim
    Fluval air pump
    1 power head (forget the specs)
    Lighting - Fluval Pro LED 7500k

    Tank was started in October 2017 as a planted tank. I'm not going super heavy on the plants since the focus was always to have discus in there. I have 2 large Amazon swords, Anubis etc. I'm attempting to add a pic of the tank. I am keeping open swimming room and can still vacuum over the fine gravel substrate.

    Fish: 10 Neon Tetras; 8 High Fin Tetras; 3 Spotted Raphaels 2"; 1 Featherfin Cat 2" (apparently got mixed in with the Raphaels). Small population of nuisance snails; pond and some trumpet.

    Water:
    Temp - 83.5
    Ammonia and Nitrite have been steady 0, PH 7.2; Nitrates keep coming up 0ppm on my API. LFS gave me a reading of 2 but I only get yellow on the API vial with vigorous shaking as directed. TH measures maybe 100, color is a bit lighter but not at the 0.

    Current water change regimen is about 40% every 7 days. Water comes from the Tap. The PH right out of the tap is around 8; comes down to about 7.4 overnight. I'm currently not aging but having read about that here I'm figuring I probably will need to do so. I was figuring that I could do 50% water changes 2x/week with adult Discus. Sound ok?

    Stocking goals - about 10 discus. I've been told I can have more even with what's in the tank now but I don't want to overcrowd. I've always stocked on the lighter side with my tropicals. I'm open to advice on this topic.

    I'll keep reading on and watching the intro video posted but I'll list below the areas I'm looking for some input.

    Starting Size and stocking - Since I'm not doing bare bottom I was figuring on 4"+ discus. My LFS also told me this way I'd see what they actually look like - color, size etc.
    Feeding frequency is not an issue but I'm reading that growing out in a planted tank would create cleanliness issues. I wasn't planning on buying 8 or 10 adult discus at once; I was thinking start with 3 or 4 adults and then I could add in twos. Partly the reason is dropping $1200ish at once but also seeing how they look in the tank and then picking out what's next is fun.

    I could hook up my FX5 to an empty 60gallon I was going to use as a quarantine tank and grow them out in there. The quarantine was going to be in the basement (heated) though so wouldn't really be on display. I could also use a SunSun canister filter with a built in UV sterilizer. It's more awkward than the FX but new.

    Water water everywhere...
    So after reading about it here and testing my water out of the tap v overnight it seems I should age the water for discus since the PH is so varied. My plan (I just came up with) would be to have q 96 gallon trash can in the laundry room (bathroom is right next door to hook up to the sink). My question is what to use to pump the water up to the tank since this would be basement level and the tank is 1st floor. I have a Little Giant pump I used to use to pump water off the pool cover at our old house, no longer needed for that use. I'm not sure if that would be overkill since you hook a garden hose up to it.

    I think that's a good intro summary...Again any advice on stocking size/number and water change regimen is appreciated and I'll keep on reading and watching. Just started reading How to Care for Discus Fish like an Expert by David Chipperfield. Thanks!!!
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gearing up for Discus

    A lot of people on here will probably tell you to:

    Step 1: Read all of the sticky threads in the beginners section of this forumn.
    Step 2: It looks like you have something swimming around in that tank....get rid of it and start with a fresh cycle...STRONGLY consider going bare bottom with no plants. You might know plants but you dont know discus so its not a good place to start.

    Step 3: Buy all you discus at once, if you cant afford it just dont do it, because cross contamination is a big deal.

    I'm sure you will get plenty more good input but thats something to chew on for awhile. A lot of people fail hard with discus and you've got a few of the common denominators going on.

  3. #3
    Silver Member Willie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gearing up for Discus

    A discus tank is a model of simplicity - bare bottom, lots of water changes, just discus. It's not because we dislike decor or are anti-plants. It's because discus are really, really hard to keep unless you do it this way. This is the only aquarium fish where bare tanks are what the majority of people keep. We do it because we have all poured a ton of money into raising discus in planted tanks before. So that's my advice.

    To stock your tank, do not buy from That Fish Place or local fish stores. The quality of discus from the sellers on Simply are so much better. I don't get any benefits from promoting these guys, but I've bought a lot of discus from a lot of different places in the last 20 years. I also used to sell my discus fry to LFS and stopped doing it because the discus are treated so badly there. The sellers here are specialists and they will hold your hands through the process. As for 50% water changes twice a week in a planted tank, they'll keep your discus alive - but don't expect a lot of growth.

    Willie
    Whenever you feel stupid, remember that there are people out there looking for Pokemon.

  4. #4
    Silver Member kalawai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gearing up for Discus

    Welcome to SimplyDiscus! The tank looks great....but how deep is the substrate?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Gearing up for Discus

    The substrate is 2.5' in the back, slopes to 2' in front with some peaks and valleys.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gearing up for Discus

    Thanks for the input! I've learned a lot already and quite frankly been feeling a bit defeated since the path I was guided on seems at odds with a lot of what I've read (although the Planted Tank threads give me hope).
    My revised plan is to get about 6 discus to start - 4.5-5" - was looking at ChicagoDiscus and Hans. There is a LFS I was going to buy from but I looked at the pics in the Beginners Thread and saw the same What Not Top Buy.
    I have an empty 60 gallon I was going to home them in to finish growing out. This tank would be bare bottom with sponge filters and I could do massive water changes every day during this period (with aged water). Once full grown I can to move the planted with the neons and tetras.
    After reading some of the sticky I've scaled back my stocking scheme in the planted tank to 6...maybe 8 discus. I was also thinking of adding a Pothos on top.

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