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Thread: Advice for planned discus tank

  1. #1
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    Default Advice wanted for planned discus tank

    I'm currently in the planning for a new discus tank (2 year timeline till actual creation - i plan ahead).
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    Background - i have a couple of tanks now - a 30 with guppies; another 30 with a pair of gbr (1m/1f); and a 120 community tank (loaches, angels, cardinals, ...).
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    All my tanks have plants but none of them have co2 injection (not sure i would do that on a discus tank).
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    The 30's have matten filters and the 120 4x2x25 have a pair of 2217 eheim filters.
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    Now the details for the tank I am thinking of for discus:
    Size could be one of the following: 8x2 (or 3)x22; or 6x6x22 or 4x4x22 (depends on it fits in the final design) - i limit the height to 22 so i can easily reach the bottom. The thought is I would use glass canopy with fluval lights but that is subject to change.
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    Part that is much more iffy and need feedback: For filtration I am thinking of have a large sump under the stand (100ish gallon depending on tank dimension). It would have a series of matten burg filter with fine floss between each one (4 or 5); then bioballs after the final filter - followed by a section that could be used for frys (should i end up with frys) followed by a overflow exit to drain and return to tank (that passes through uv filter - or should that be on the drain to the sump??). For water change I was thinking (this might not work well - never really seen one of these) something where water flow into the sump at a set-able rate but probably 1gph - and fed into the tank - if necessary it would be ro+tap de-chlorined or just tap (my gh/kh in current tank run around 6.5 which might be ok for discus - depends on source and how they are raised - i think people say 4 is perfect so maybe mix in 1/3 ro water - the target is to minimize tank maintenance.
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    For tank population a bit depends on size but I was thinking something along the following if tank ends up being 4x4x22 (do discus prefer fat or long tanks?):
    4 or 6 discus
    22-30 cardinal tetra
    6 to 10 kubati loach (if i can find them)
    10 to 20 kuhli loach
    2 flash pleco
    some type of cory - i think 84 is too warm for sterbi - not sure any cory really likes 84 - so maybe no cory
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    plants - jungle or italia val; amazon swords; various anubia; dwarf chain sword or dwarf Sagittaria; dwarf lily (for some red) and a few aponogeton (uclves, cripus, ?); there was a good article that hard recommendations I might look through it again for something else.
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    for substrate I'll probalby go with stony river black - i like white moonshine sand by carib but i don' tthink it would work well with the discus.
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    I might add one mystery snail - though the kubtai might chase it - and maybe a couple of siam. algae eaters or whiptail cat.
    That's my general thought so things might change a little over the next couple of years - will it work?
    Last edited by jake37; 09-03-2019 at 02:31 PM. Reason: clarify title

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice wanted for planned discus tank

    Sounds like you're planning and that's the good thing! You came to the right place to get an idea and tips to make your plan work out! Welcome to the forum!

    For your sump questions, I have no recommendations since I haven't messed with them (yet!), but I'll be sure to follow along this thread to pick up some tips as well.

    Tank size really depends on your overall goals. I'd suggest getting a little taller tank for your discus, but too tall and it'll be harder to get enough light to some plants (if you were to want a carpeted tank you'd need a stronger light or pair of lights to ensure there is enough to promote growth). I have Fluval 3.0s and they are freaking awesome but expensive.

    As for water parameters go, in my honest opinion, consistency is more key than hitting a certain number. Both of my discus tanks (125 gallon domestic and 75 gallon wild) both survive and thrive on my tap water (treated or aged of course). My water is slightly hard but pH is around 7.4 to 7.8. Depending on the size of the discus you purchase, regular water changes are absolutely a must for optimal growth so I'm weary when new discus keepers plan to "minimize maintenance" because water quality is everything to discus keeping.

    As for stocking, I haven't kept loaches with my discus, but I'm sure it can be done though I wouldn't add any snails as your loaches will just eat them in my experience with my other tanks (I have 11 operating and a few on stand by). I keep corydoras, the sterbias and the albino corydoras seem to fair better than other types in warmer water. SAEs are awesome to get rid of algae, I love them and they even swim in schools with my rummynose tetras which is awesome to watch.

    Since you are planning on planting, make sure you are choosing plants that will be fine in your sand substrate, you may have to consider root fertilizer tabs and other liquid fertilizers to help them thrive. Also note, with dark substrate or backgrounds, your discus can lead to peppering if they are pigeons which is a turn off for some. I have a sand substrate and I have a dwarf sag carpet growing. With a carpet, you will have to syphon vac consistently because the carpet of dwarf sag gets thick and will trap in debris. Corydoras and wave makers can help, but they are not the answer like a good vac is. So skip the carpeting plants if you are not up for the challenge.

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    For the sump I have a similar system with no fine floss inbetween. I have 3" pads of 10, 20 and 30 ppi poret foam and that is it. I never clean them (remove and squeeze) but I periodically remove the mulm that sheds off them. I don't think the fine floss is necessary you'll just be changing it out all the time. gh/kh of 6 is fine, your fish will be happy.

    Echoing Phil's comments I don't think loaches and snails will play nice.

    1gph isn't that much particularly if you are looking at a 8x2x2 fish tank.

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Hi Jake, one opening question, have you kept discus before?
    Pat
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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Yea - i noted the loach would probably go after the snail. The 1gph was just an idea - it could just as easily be 2 gph (which works out 336 gallons a week). The real question is if this would eliminate or significantly reduce the need to vacuum the tank. I suppose i could also reduce the bio load a bit and that would help.

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    I have not previously kept discus hence the original question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    Hi Jake, one opening question, have you kept discus before?
    Pat

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Quote Originally Posted by jake37 View Post
    I have not previously kept discus hence the original question.
    Sorry Jake, I did not see where you have not kept discus before. While you plan your tank I would suggest researching discus care. It is best to have experience in both planted tank and discus (separately) prior to mixing them together. Since this is long term project prehaps consider keeping discus in a BB tank has part of the learning curve.
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening


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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Realisitically the only way I could do that is to start the tank bare bottom and then add gravel and plants later. I just won't have a tank large enough for the discus with the support avaiable (support being sump et all). I might have a spare 120 in the basement (4x2x2) with a cansiter filter but because it would be in the basement i wouldn't be able to give them much dedicated care.

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    Sorry Jake, I did not see where you have not kept discus before. While you plan your tank I would suggest researching discus care. It is best to have experience in both planted tank and discus (separately) prior to mixing them together. Since this is long term project prehaps consider keeping discus in a BB tank has part of the learning curve.
    Pat

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Keep in mind the level of stocking also depends on the foot print of the tank. The bigger the foot print the more stock you will be able to keep, due to surface area and gas exchange caused by barometric pressure. Wider and longer is better than higher for over stocked tanks. From what you said about plants, substrate and community fish; looks like you'll be buying discus alredy grown out.

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    oops! Ok, I see post # 8. Bare bottom would be best.

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Quote Originally Posted by jake37 View Post
    Realisitically the only way I could do that is to start the tank bare bottom and then add gravel and plants later. I just won't have a tank large enough for the discus with the support avaiable (support being sump et all). I might have a spare 120 in the basement (4x2x2) with a cansiter filter but because it would be in the basement i wouldn't be able to give them much dedicated care.
    Hi Jake, so no plans for a hospital tank?
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening


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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    There are no explicit plans but I will likely have a spare 29 (here are pictures of my current 29) or I could put a sick fish in the basement and visit it once or twice a day while it is healing. There is a bit of difference in having a temporary fish in the basement and a full-time tank.
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    As to an earlier question I would probably start with young (but not tiny) discus - I was thinking 3ish inches but need to research this aspect. As a general rule I like to start with young fishes in most cases (my current angels were between nickel and quarter size when I purchased them; clowns were about 1.5 inches and so forth). I like to see how the behavior change over-time.
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    Can you explain why it is more important to start with bare bottom tank? Are discus that much more problematic than angels and rams?
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    My hope was to end up with something like the white tank but with a more open middle section for free swimming.
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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Growing out discus is different then rams and angels. First discus grow into large and beefy fish and they require lots of food and clean water as juvies to grow them out well. With all the food they generate lots of poop etc. All that poop/food etc become trapped in the plants and substrate and fouls the water making the effort to grow out the fish well 100 times harder. This is why it is recommended to growout discus in a bare bottom tank as it is way easy to clean the tank and maintain good water quality.
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening


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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    So if the fishes are purchased as adults it is less important to have a bare bottom tank ?

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    Default Re: Advice for planned discus tank

    Quote Originally Posted by jake37 View Post
    So if the fishes are purchased as adults it is less important to have a bare bottom tank ?
    Typically yes.

    You can grow out 3" discus in 12-18 months so if this is long term you can go with BB and add substrate later. Adding stony river sand (Estes'?) won't cause a problem if you have discus already in the tank.

    One nice thing about the sump is you can have a small sponge filter running in there and if/when you need to use a hospital tank you can just take it out of the main tank and put it the hospital tank and you now have a fully functioning filter.

    The reason for bb is easy vacuuming up the leftover food and poop while you are growing the fish out. That doesn't prevent you from having driftwood and plants attached to that while you do the grow out.

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