Alright, ive posted on the forum a few times trying to figure out one issue or another. Im hoping that presenting 3 months worth of events and data, i'll get a bigger picture perspective from some of you. Had some heartbreak along the way and started documenting tank parameters about half way though. Ive got a lot of data in a google slideshow link i'll attach below. When i got the first batch of discus 3 months ago, i had given the tanks a couple weeks to cycle/age, did hours and hours of research for weeks on how to best prepare for the discus and what they need. I'll be the first to admit i made a lot of mistakes along the way. The saying that you dont know what you dont know definitely holds true! With that in mind, here we go!

Within the first 24 hours 15 of the 16 juvies died. 7 golden leopards all survived with seemingly no issues in a separate tank. I followed all the best practices for introducing new discus; dont use the bag water, remove them quickly after opening, acclimate the bag in the tank, etc. My best guess to the die off is a lack of oxygen in the water for that many fish. It was very much an underpowered system. They were gasping at the top and then drifting around the tank and dying. Im aware there are a few other causes of that symptom, but cant settle on any 1 cause.

In the beginning i didnt really understand the nitrogen cycle and had read from a discus breeder that if you do enough water changes per day you never need to worry about your tank cycling, eventually it would get there and your discus would be happy and healthy. Having contacted my city about water treatments and being reassured there were none, and not being able to detect any with my own testing, i decided to go straight tap water and shortly after started aging it. Day 1 was a catastrophe obviously but with 8 survivors i kept up 80% water changes twice a day for another month.

I came across a local guy who was getting out of the hobby and sold us a beautiful breeding pair, still young and eating eggs but a pair nonetheless, and generations of about 50 fry each all for a really good price. It didnt take long for the pair to lay their first batch of eggs, nearly 200 on the cone! Slowly but surely the eggs started dying and turning white. After presenting the issue on a facebook group it was decided that the still un-cycled tank was killing off the eggs.

Immediately i tried figuring out why the tanks werent cycled after nearly 2 months. I had never gotten nitrate or nitrite readings and figured that was a good thing, just kept an eye on the ammonia every day. The first thought from the community was that we were doing too many water changes and the tank never had a chance to cycle so i cut back to 1-50% WC every other day. Nothing happened other than the ammonia going out of control and starting a small die off in the older juveniles. I upped the water changes again to two a day and everything stabilized. The die off stopped. Through trial and error i eventually realized that something in the water was killing off the bacteria before it ever had a chance to develop. In spite of the water departments insistence that nothing was in the water, fresh spring water from the mountains, so clean it doesnt need to be treated and my own testing, something was in fact in the water. I still dont know what. But i started treating the water with Seachem Prime and Stabilize after it was suggested i try it. Immediately i started to get nitrite readings for the first time and a lot of them.

Thinking our discus were safe thanks to the prime, i let the readings build. Nitrites shot up. Nitrates shot up. And we lost the beautiful male in the breeding pair along with over half of the fry from each generation. Up until this point, i hadnt lost a single fish since day 1. Two WCs a day had them all growing like crazy, eating like crazy and very active. Frustrated and heartbroken i kept at it until i found a balance of water changes and let the bacteria do its thing. We even bought a bunch of sponge filters from the LFS and had him keep them in his tank for a week. Added them into the tanks and havent really noticed much. Currently doing between 1 and 2 water changes of 50% and dosing with prime on EVERY water change directly into the tanks.

That was roughly 2 to 3 weeks ago and i havent lost any fish since. Nitrites are still spiked, but whats really frustrating me know is that i was getting big nitrate spikes and thinking my tanks would cycle fast and the fish would be healthier and happier than ever. The nitrate slowly dropped though until there was one day where i had no nitrate at all register. Since then its slowly gone up and down, usually hovering around 5ppm as you'll see in the slides. I know it can take weeks so if i just need to be patient thats fine, i just want to make sure im not missing anything.

The tank 3 juvies have not been well for weeks, slow eaters, often dark, ever since the big die off... The younger generation is passing them up quickly. All of the fish show signs of stress except for the younger generation and the golden leopards, although they are not eating as aggressively as they did in the beginning and occasionally have their fins pinned. I could go back to bigger water changes since i know the nitrites are through the roof but i dont want to set back the cycle anymore than i have to. Its a grind but i want to get them through it quickly and minimize the amount of time they have to be stressed.

Well thats that. If you made it this far i really appreciate it. The slides should tell the rest of the story. My pride is not at stake here so im very open to constructive criticism! The fish are the priority here. Id love to hear your thoughts!