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Thread: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Hi everyone.

    My name is Rob, and I'm based in the South East of England, on the coast. I had a couple tanks about 3.5 years ago, but had to shut them down due to moving to a smaller house. I ran them successfully for about two years. Since we moved back into something bigger (me, my partner and two kids), I've been desperate to get back into fish keeping, and the fish I've always wanted, since I started up the hobby, are discus. I think it's fair to say I have the bug, on an untreatable level, except of course to get some discus. A sort of palliative care treatment.

    I have a decent size tank (166g with 34g sump), which will eventually be stocked with 8 6" discus, 10/15 cory's, 10/15 silver hatchets, and possibly a large school of rummies. This is my initial idea, which may well change over time, but for now that's what I'm aiming for. This tank will be planted, but mostly on wood and rock. I'll be putting a plenum in the sand substrate, and have a couple swords, and other easy level plants.

    This is my end game for my first attempt. I'll be buying 12 juveniles at around 2 to 3" and growing them out to 6" in a smaller, bare bottom tank with a sponge filter and daily water changes at 50%. Tank size around the 55g mark. Possibly a little bigger. Their diet will be a home made recipe I got from someone fairly familiar here. Joey (aka The King of DIY). I'll be weaning them off that before putting them in the main tank, because it'd be too messy for a tank with substrate. I've had this idea that I can dissolve the spirulina and carotenoids from that recipe into the main tank, so the discus can absorb it through their respiratory system. I think this might benefit them nutrition wise, on top of dry foods. Would this work?

    As a first attempt, I'm going for a local Stendker dealer, as they're well tuned to our water from the tap, and by discus standards, are a safe, sensible starting point. I think.... I'd love to go head first and get some wilds in there. The Iripixi's I find particularly beautiful, and seen some amazing pictures of those crossed with Trombetas on this forum. Just beautiful, beautiful fish, and perhaps one day I'll be ready to take on that challenge.

    For now though it's KISS all the way. I want to grow out some strong, beautiful Stendker discus, and get them in the display tank when they're ready.

    Please, please do offer advice a long the way. I've been reading and commenting in this forum for a few weeks now, and browsing the web for information. Something I've learned from this forum, among many things, is my tap pH is 7.4, and 8 after ageing it. So I'll be investing in a large butt, maybe 1000l for water changes. I have reasonably soft water at 7GH, and a reasonable buffer at 5KH. I think these parameters will suit locally bread Stendkers just fine.

    That's it for now. Updates will follow, and some pictures too.

    Rob

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    Administrator and MVP Dec.2015 Second Hand Pat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Hi Rob, your plan and tank sounds very thought out and glad you are starting your juvies in a BB tank. As you know starting with juvies will be a harder road then starting with adults but they will teach you alot. Also know that even thru you have keep fish before discus are different and sounds like you are ready for this.

    On another note I have not heard this...

    I've had this idea that I can dissolve the spirulina and carotenoids from that recipe into the main tank, so the discus can absorb it through their respiratory system. I think this might benefit them nutrition wise, on top of dry foods. Would this work?
    But perhaps if Al sees this he might comment. Looking forward to seeing you being successful with discus.
    Pat

    PS..need pictures
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening

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    Administrator and MVP Dec.2015 Second Hand Pat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Rob, do you have any experiences with a plenum. I did a search for it on the forum and only found this.

    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...ghlight=plenum

    This sounds like a high tech under gravel filter which use to be in common use and was known for trapping junk in the under the filter plate. I used them in early tanks and it was a mess when you removed the gravel and lifted the plate.

    I would suggest rethinking this. I suspect a thin sand bed with vacuuming is way easier to maintain then a plenum.
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    Rob, do you have any experiences with a plenum. I did a search for it on the forum and only found this.

    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...ghlight=plenum

    This sounds like a high tech under gravel filter which use to be in common use and was known for trapping junk in the under the filter plate. I used them in early tanks and it was a mess when you removed the gravel and lifted the plate.

    I would suggest rethinking this. I suspect a thin sand bed with vacuuming is way easier to maintain then a plenum.
    Pat
    Thanks for the link and advice. I haven't used a plenum before, but was going to DIY it. First bio balls, then covered with weed fabric, then the substrate. I think the weed fabric will act well as a filter. I'm only putting a plenum across the back of the tank, maybe 6 to 8" deep towards the front. It's just for the swords, and maybe other taller plants. I'll then use egg crate on a slope so the substraight can level off to a thinner majority of sand. I hope that makes sense....

    I'll have a look at that link though, and search out the negatives of plenums. It's funny how when you search something Google usually only returns positive results, unless you specifically ask for the negatives. I hadn't really considered the maintenance, because of the weed fabric. Food for thought though. Thanks again...

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    Hi Rob, your plan and tank sounds very thought out and glad you are starting your juvies in a BB tank. As you know starting with juvies will be a harder road then starting with adults but they will teach you alot. Also know that even thru you have keep fish before discus are different and sounds like you are ready for this.

    On another note I have not heard this...



    But perhaps if Al sees this he might comment. Looking forward to seeing you being successful with discus.
    Pat

    PS..need pictures
    Hi Pat. Yes, I was going to grow them out in a planted tank, but thanks to this forum I decided to avoid the inevitable. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm going to give it my best shot and actually listen to people, for a change. In fact, I think I'll pass on the plenum in the main tank and maybe try it in another first. I'm setting up a shrimp tank too, just a small one. Maybe that would be a good place to try out the plenum and see how the weed fabric works....

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    Registered Member Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Hi, having started to grow out my juvies 9 months ago I have found the advice given on this forum invaluable. I may be over-simplyfying things but the cardinal rules I have gathered are:
    1) Buy the best quality fish you can find (and don't mix fish from different provenence). As far as I have seen the Stendker fish (at least those imported here in Italy) are very average and sometimes outright uninspiring (maybe they send all the good ones to the States!). Should I return to the UK I would get mine from somebody like Francis Hu (Chen's discus).
    2) Get a decent number from the get go (12-15?)
    3) As much clean water as possible so big daily water changes (your tapwater seems reasonably good but measure the nitrate content), bare bottom tank helps but also put in place a system (hoses, taps, plumbing, water storage and heating, pumps) to make water changes as painless as possible. The easier it is the less you will resent doing it, I have been changing 60 gal a day and without a decent system it would soon get old!
    4) Good food, now there is a choice of quality granules (NLS, NorthFin), Frozen (Chen's sells their own), I don't know where you could get fdbw in the UK or you could make your own as per Joey's video, although I find home-made foods messy so I just use grated (from frozen with the thingy used to shred carrots) wild Alaska salmon fillets (plenty of protein, not as fatty as farmed and no thiaminase). Enjoy the ride!
    Last edited by Paul Sabucchi; 05-14-2018 at 03:47 PM.

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
    Hi, having started to grow out my juvies 9 months ago I have found the advice given on this forum invaluable. I may be over-simplyfying things but the cardinal rules I have gathered are:
    1) Buy the best quality fish you can find (and don't mix fish from different provenence). As far as I have seen the Stendker fish (at least those imported here in Italy) are very average and sometimes outright uninspiring (maybe they send all the good ones to the States!). Should I return to the UK I would get mine from somebody like Francis Hu (Chen's discus).
    2) Get a decent number from the get go (12-15?)
    3) As much clean water as possible so big daily water changes (your tapwater seems reasonably good but measure the nitrate content), bare bottom tank helps but also put in place a system (hoses, taps, plumbing, water storage and heating, pumps) to make water changes as painless as possible. The easier it is the less you will resent doing it, I have been changing 60 gal a day and without a decent system it would soon get old!
    4) Good food, now there is a choice of quality granules (NLS, NorthFin), Frozen (Chen's sells their own), I don't know where you could get fdbw in the UK or you could make your own as per Joey's video, although I find home-made foods messy so I just use grated (from frozen with the thingy used to shred carrots) wild Alaska salmon fillets (plenty of protein, not as fatty as farmed and no thiaminase). Enjoy the ride!
    Hi Paul, thanks for the tips

    How big were your juveniles when you got them, and how big after 9 months? Sounds like you achieved something very difficult for a first effort. Nice work!

    I'm very lucky to live 45mins drive from a very reputable Stendker dealer.... https://www.devotedly-discus.co.uk. I have looked at Chen's, but he's a bit further away, but I might just do that anyway, to have a comparison. I think he's about 1.5hrs away, which probably sounds like nothing to the people here, in the States. My plan was to buy 12 juveniles and maybe reduce them to around 8, depending how they turn out. My tap has 0 nitrates, so quite lucky there, but I'm also using anoxic filtration in the display, and from other accounts, this helps a lot with water quality by reducing nitrates on a large scale. For the grow tank though, I won't be taking chances and sticking to the tried and tested method.

    I have a decent size decking, and a garage for the grow tank, and planning to put a large water butt next to it, and will sort out some kind of system to make life easier. The grow tank will be smaller than the display though, so I reckon on maybe half an hour per day on water changes, an hour or so every 3 days for cleaning. Joey's recipe shouldn't be an issue as I'll have a bb, so just hoover up what's left after 10 minutes. I still need to look into feeding times, and that side of things a little further, but the grow tank isn't even bought yet, so plenty time. Not sure exactly what I'll be feeding in the display tank yet either, but needs to be nice and clean...

    Anyone know if disolving the spirulina and carotenoids in the display tank water would work?

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    Registered Member Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Hi, I got mine (driving 4 hours each way) when they were 3 months old and about the size of a (big old) 50 pence coin, now 8 months later the bigger ones are nudging 5". Here is a video from when I first got them
    https://youtu.be/l6G9b3KZvOk
    And here is one from last week
    https://youtu.be/bXEtfgRp91Q
    As the tank is 60 cm wide they still appear smaller than in real life, also as fed on a 100% natural diet they are not as red as fish fed on a high asthaxantin diet (I don't think desolving it or spurulina in the water would achieve much besides making a mess, I believe it is only electrolytes that can be exchanged through the gills).
    I have read good things about devotedly discus too, but probably I would like to have a peek at more than one retailer. I have some anoxic baskets in my tub ponds and an algae scrubber in one of my mbuna tanks so I am all for natural waste reducing methods but would not put a plenum in a display tank (and if it needs removing you will make the mother of all messes), just stick the anoxic baskets in the sump on some little spacers to make a plenum beneath them.

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    Registered Member Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    For the grow-out tank are you planning on an external canister filter? If so you may want to consider some simple modifications that, although less than aesthetically pleasing, I have found to be really practical.
    I have fitted a large filter sponge as a prefilter on the canister intake, this way it prevents all but the most minute particles of waste to get into the canister and also it is a doddle to rinse out daily during water changes.
    Also I have fitted some 3 way taps, one on the tank on the intake and two just before the canister filter; of these the one on the intake can send the tank-water out (to the veggie plot) while the one on the return is connected to the pump in the ageing bins.
    My daily routine is: turn filter off and turn off water flow to the canister, remove sponge from tank and put in a bucket, syphon bottom and fill said bucket (+ another one), open tap and let 240 liters of water out, in mean time wipe glass with "sponge on a stick" and Syphon some more with short hosepipe connected to 3 way taps in tank, turn off waste pipe and turn on return tap and pump to refill, rinse sponge in bucket and fit it back on, once full turn pump and tap off and turn filter taps and power back on

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    Registered Member Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Just to add that again Francis Hu swept most of the prizes at France Discus 2018 just 3 days ago: Best in show (PB), 1st and 2nd in solid blue, pigeon and spotted, 1st in solid red, turquoise and wild. Ok most of his fish are bred by others such as Daniel Indarta or caught by Hugo Quaresma but he sure knows how to pick them!
    Last edited by Paul Sabucchi; 05-15-2018 at 10:51 AM.

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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
    Just to add that again Francis Hu swept most of the prizes at France Discus 2018 just 3 days ago: Best in show (PB), 1st and 2nd in solid blue, pigeon and spotted, 1st in solid red, turquoise and wild. Ok most of his fish are bred by others such as Daniel Indarta or caught by Hugo Quaresma but he sure knows how to pick them!
    That's quite an impressive scoop. That's pretty lucky to live 1.5hrs from his shop.

    I was thinking just to use a sponge filter on the grow tank, and work on a method to make daily wc's easier direct from the butt. Pat's already turned me off the idea of a plenum, but I might try one in the shrimp tank I'll be building. I think I can make a clean one with weed fabric, so I guess I'll either find out the hard way or get a patent and earn millions of , lol....

    I'm no expert, but to me those discus are growing out nice. They look healthy.

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    Registered Member Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Hi again (or Buongiorno as we say around here), always wise to head Pat's advice. I think you can easily get away with a big sponge filter for the grow-out tank, with all the water changes you are planning. With a 55 gal tank you will be aiming to change at least 30 gal every day so you either have some sort of drain on your tank connected to some kind of semi-permanent plumbing or you can just plonk a pump (2000 l/h should be swift enough without it upsetting the fish) on a hose to scavenge the waste waste water to wherever you need.Yoy can even use the same pump to get the water back in from the ageing butt.
    For this purpose I use a cheapie pump (about 15, look up MH5036 on fleabay), in the ageing tanks I use Sunsun jvp100 wavemakers, again cheap as chips and frugal on the leccy. I recently even put a small wavemaker in the discus tank. As for heating I am very happy with the Schego titanium heater - Inkbird 308 temperature controller combination.

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Thanks, Paul. I was thinking the Schego for heating, two of them in case of failure. Not really something to go cheap on...

    So I have a little update, with some photos. Probably not the type you'd have wanted to see Pat. It's not really good news on the tank.

    Cracks and separations from the tank have started appearing along the top of the base unit. This isn't good. There is a slight, ever so slight tilt on the tank, lower on the right side. I'm wondering if the added pressure is causing this, but then the cracks are in between the two uprights on the left as well, where the pressure is lighter. I was going to address the tilt after cycling, but it now looks like the top of the base will need replacing.

    It might well be due to a leak and there's a condensation issue as well, which is dripping down the front of the tank, as the hood is not sealed in. I've ordered a reel of foam tape to address that, I don't think this is the cause. Just doesn't look nice to have water dripping down occasionally. More likely to be the leak I've discovered in the return gasket in the weir, and the water spreading across the top of the base, under the tank.

    So, quite a lot to sort out, once the tank is cycled, but nothing too serious.

    On a positive note, my 120l QT/hospital tank is here, and have painted three sides and the base. Also the smaller shrimp tank, which I've started cycling.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Administrator and MVP Dec.2015 Second Hand Pat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    In the one pic is the stand top made from a wood composite? If so perhaps getting wet is causing the top to fall apart? I would check the stand top and the underneath for wetness. Could be why you are seeing cracking (vs weight) Rob.
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening

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    Registered Member lastflea's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Discus Journey Begins Here.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    In the one pic is the stand top made from a wood composite? If so perhaps getting wet is causing the top to fall apart? I would check the stand top and the underneath for wetness. Could be why you are seeing cracking (vs weight) Rob.
    Pat
    Yes, I think the core is MDF, which is a bad choice for anything near water. There's also swelling, which is quite telling. There aren't any cracks in the tank bottom, and it's sealed into it's base with silicone. I'm pretty sure now it's from the leaky gasket in the weir. It's a bit of a drag, but I'm glad it's happened now, and not after I scaped it, or worse, when full of discus...

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