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Thread: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

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    Default Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Obligatory "first time posting here". A little back ground, I'm not new to fish keeping and have several well established, prosperous, mid size (50, 60 gallon range) community tanks. Ive kept a broad range of different fish, but like we all know Discus are the tip top of fresh water fish keeping. I'll be moving to a larger house within the coming weeks which will allow me to finally have to room to expand into a much larger tank, and I have my eye on a Pro star 200 gallon setup to be my center piece display tank. I've leaned towards jumping into starting a reef tank, but the cost to gather everything has really turned me away, plus dealing with the even pickier water parameters needed for keeping coral really burst my bubble. Now I want it to be clear I have done my research into keeping discus, between youtube, reading around the internet, and browsing the forums here, I've got a good grasp on keeping them.

    Some of the questions that have been raised: Why is it some of the more well known Discus breeders (jack Wattley for example) on youtube are saying you can get by with one water change a week? but yet on here im seeing multiple post of people doing the Discus dance of multiple water changes a week if not daily water changes? Is there anyone on here that has a less stringent water change schedule and gets by just fine? My next question, does anyone use a sump for filtration on their tank? I know sumps arnt exactly common for fresh water, but the tank I'm eyeing comes with a fully plumbed sump, which I don't see would be an issue. At the end of the day as much as I want Discus, I refuse to play the game of an extreme maintenance schedule, with daily, or even every other day water changes. I mean, if I could get an auto change system set up, id definitely give it a shot, but I feel like that's kind of unheard in keeping discus. I understand that tank size, and stocking amount all play a part in a water change routine. If someone says it cant be done, again id have to retort with why are well known breeders even saying you don't have to have some crazy water change schedule? Also once Ive moved, my new house will be getting a whole house filtration system installed, not ro/di, but a good carbon filter, and maybe even a water softener (haven't decided yet), is anyone using a setup like that?

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    So Jack Wattley was a huge proponent of large, frequent water changes to raise good discus. He talked about water changes long before most of us understand its importance. You may be confusing that with Gabe Posada, who owns Jack Wattley Discus. Jack passed away a while ago. Gabe is an importer of discus, not a breeder. They bring in fish and turn them over as quickly as possible. Most, but not all, discus suppliers typically fall into this category.

    Discus are the "tip top" of fish keeping precisely because they have stringent requirements. They're also very expensive. You may want to consider keeping fish that requires lower maintenance.

    Willie
    Why don't I read Harry Potter novels? Because I'm an adult.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Well many try the once a week water change. But they don’t post very long. Thing is you will need young discus and to grow young discus you need to feed a lot and keep them in clean water. So the first year is the hardest. But if you succeed in growing them out than you can try for your once a week water change. You reduce water changes slowly and watch the fish. It will take time but you may be able to get down to once a week. Maybe once a month you’ll do it twice. But there’s no guarantee. I tried every three days and the fish showed stress. So now it every 2 days and mine are just about a year old.

    Discus are not and never were an easy fish to keep. Only easy if your committed to the work . Great fish,beautiful fish but not easy.

    Yes you can use a sump. Many do many say its mandatory. So your good there. 200g is a great size. You could keep 15+. But there is so much more you will need to know. What type of discus? Where will You get them? What to feed them...is your tank going to be bare bottom(much easier to care for and probably the best chance to get to that once a week water change) or do you want a substrate. Sorry I’ve never read about these once a week water changes. I do three a week and my fish are healthy. My tank has substrate and is planted and has other fish. All of this just means more work. Water still has to be clean. You really have to enjoy the work. You can’t be just looking to make it easier. You have to be committed. A salt water reef may be easier .

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Universally all fish live in fresh and clean water. Your goal is to provide it for them. Trial and error may be your direction to begin with. Anyone has an opinion and most are generally correct, what is right for them and their fish. I think some over do the water changes and some under do it. I don't understand those that change 50% per day as much as I don't understand those that change once a month. But there is a middle ground. Number of fish per gallon would be your clue. More fish in a confined space produces more waste faster which in turn would suggest more frequent changes. I am at the opposite end of normal water changes. I keep 1 fish per 5 gallons while changing 100% per week spread over 7 days. What I get for that is not a lot of work and a tank full of large, colorful, and healthy fish that even attempt to spawn from time to time. Play with it and see what works best for you.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    To better understand what is needed in the way of water changes with discus you must first divide them into three distinct groups. Juvies under the age of 4 to 5 months, juvies age 5 months to 1 year and adults. IMO, each of these three groups have very different requirements when it comes to water change

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    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...er-Change-Myth
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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    I am about 3 months in to keeping discus. I have a reef tank background and currently have a successful 300g reef. I have videos of my reef on YouTube and my user name there is Adam Giles if you want to check it out. Here Are the highlights experience thus far.


    -75g tank, 2 canister filters, large HOB filter. Started with 6 almost adult discus in the 5 to 5.5” range from Dennis’s discus.
    -2 different sets of fish paired up and currently lay eggs, massive aggression in this process and they all beat the smallest fish almost to death, fish later died in quarantine.
    -5 remaining fish doing great, added 6 Rams from Tom, added very thin sand substrate, added some plants in movable pots.
    -adding 2 more adults in the future.
    -did see signs of Hex in the beginning, treated with Metro for 10 days and all good since.
    -feed Sera Discus pellets, freeze dried black worms, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp.

    Conclusion/advice:

    Water changes are your friend. I do 60% daily. Sometimes skip a day. I have it all set up so that I just run a couple of hoses and turn a couple of valves. Thought I would slowly reduce waterchanges as time went on and if I stayed bare bottom I might have gotten away with it. With substrate and plants I figure daily waterchanges are a good idea. The amount of poop I siphon out on a daily basis is incredible. These guys are big, fat, and messy.

    It is not nitrates that are a factor, I can go days with less than 10ppm and very rarely see any measurable ammonia or nitrites. With the plants now I am sure I could go longer with minimal nitrates. I don’t know what it is that builds up in the water but suspect it has to do with their slime coat. There must be some kind of biological material that is a byproduct of discus. I have no proof but something in the water affects the fish and when you change water they come alive and look happier and are more vibrant. If I skip a day of waterchange they hang out in the back of the tank and are more subdued. They still eat and they don’t get sick but I can see a difference. So to ensure success I just change water in the evening. It takes 25 minutes and I feed my other tanks and trim plants while doing the waterchange.

    So my newbie advice is don’t do a big discus tank if you will not enjoy waterchanges. No point in doing something that you will not enjoy. There are reports of people having success with once a week waterchanges and if this is your goal it can be done. However, seeing how my fish react to fresh clean water tells me that these fish thrive in clean water. I just can’t see keeping Discus with a goal of how long can I go without doing what makes them thrive. Instead my focus has been how can I minimize the effort it takes to change water and that in itself has been fun. Faster pumps, bigger hoses, perfect size water aging tank, I have waterchanges so effortless now that I almost feel like I am cheating.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    So Jack Wattley was a huge proponent of large, frequent water changes to raise good discus. He talked about water changes long before most of us understand its importance. You may be confusing that with Gabe Posada, who owns Jack Wattley Discus. Jack passed away a while ago. Gabe is an importer of discus, not a breeder. They bring in fish and turn them over as quickly as possible. Most, but not all, discus suppliers typically fall into this category.

    Discus are the "tip top" of fish keeping precisely because they have stringent requirements. They're also very expensive. You may want to consider keeping fish that requires lower maintenance.

    Willie
    I would be interested to know if the breeders Gabe gets his fish from perform the same maintenance routine.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Anyone who makes a full time living selling Discus is going to do what they can to make it sound easy. Take what they say with a grain of salt. Discus do not do well long term with just one weekly WC. I hate to see someone spend a lot of time and money setting up a Discus tank and get discouraged and quit once the fish get sick after a few months of this treatment.

    If you set up your WC system to make the job an enjoyment rather than a chore you will come to look forward to doing WC. I get to give my fish a good hard look while my tanks are filling and enjoy seeing how much they seem to enjoy the good clean water. Some folks are lucky enough to have an outdoor pond they can run their used water to. I run mine down to the woods behind the fish room.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by TankerEasy View Post
    Why is it some of the more well known Discus breeders (jack Wattley for example) on youtube are saying you can get by with one water change a week?
    Not defending Gabe but this is not the only comment he has made on WC. If I remember, the tank he commented on was with adult discus, large volume tank for few adult discus and angels, no overfeeding, and planted. He has also said that the greater the bioload (number of discus and feedings) the more WC necessary.

    If you are looking to have a discus tank(s), you will have to "play the game" of maintenance. Tanks are a closed system. You can invest the money for an automated WC or just use a python, pump, and aging barrel (what I do). The joy and beauty of discus keeping far outweigh the small amount overall of daily time maintaining the aquarium(s). BTW, it's also a learning process. As Secondhand Pat said in her mantra, "Your discus are talking to you....are you listening." If you don't listen, there are consequences. I have learned to listen to the collected advice of those on this forum. They are very helpful.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    So Jack Wattley was a huge proponent of large, frequent water changes to raise good discus. He talked about water changes long before most of us understand its importance. You may be confusing that with Gabe Posada, who owns Jack Wattley Discus. Jack passed away a while ago. Gabe is an importer of discus, not a breeder. They bring in fish and turn them over as quickly as possible. Most, but not all, discus suppliers typically fall into this category.

    Discus are the "tip top" of fish keeping precisely because they have stringent requirements. They're also very expensive. You may want to consider keeping fish that requires lower maintenance.

    Willie
    Can't agree more with you Willie. Gabe is more interested in the sale numbers of fish in a month than everything. The more he sale, the happiest he will be lol.

    Actually if you can keep up with the daily W/C and feed them with good food, discus are pretty easy to take care off. If you ask me, the tip top of fish keeping is German Blue RAM.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by eugenefish View Post
    Can't agree more with you Willie. Gabe is more interested in the sale numbers of fish in a month than everything. The more he sale, the happiest he will be lol.

    Actually if you can keep up with the daily W/C and feed them with good food, discus are pretty easy to take care off. If you ask me, the tip top of fish keeping is German Blue RAM.
    That is very true, Eugene. I call Rams the canary in the coal mine.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iminit View Post
    Well many try the once a week water change. But they don’t post very long. Thing is you will need young discus and to grow young discus you need to feed a lot and keep them in clean water. So the first year is the hardest. But if you succeed in growing them out than you can try for your once a week water change. You reduce water changes slowly and watch the fish. It will take time but you may be able to get down to once a week. Maybe once a month you’ll do it twice. But there’s no guarantee. I tried every three days and the fish showed stress. So now it every 2 days and mine are just about a year old.

    Discus are not and never were an easy fish to keep. Only easy if your committed to the work . Great fish,beautiful fish but not easy.

    Yes you can use a sump. Many do many say its mandatory. So your good there. 200g is a great size. You could keep 15+. But there is so much more you will need to know. What type of discus? Where will You get them? What to feed them...is your tank going to be bare bottom(much easier to care for and probably the best chance to get to that once a week water change) or do you want a substrate. Sorry I’ve never read about these once a week water changes. I do three a week and my fish are healthy. My tank has substrate and is planted and has other fish. All of this just means more work. Water still has to be clean. You really have to enjoy the work. You can’t be just looking to make it easier. You have to be committed. A salt water reef may be easier .
    Excellent advice Tom I like you said "You have to committed" It happen to everything in our daily life. Nothing come easy lol

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by seanyuki View Post
    To better understand what is needed in the way of water changes with discus you must first divide them into three distinct groups. Juvies under the age of 4 to 5 months, juvies age 5 months to 1 year and adults. IMO, each of these three groups have very different requirements when it comes to water change

    Post #5

    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...er-Change-Myth
    That is very true too

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam G View Post
    I am about 3 months in to keeping discus. I have a reef tank background and currently have a successful 300g reef. I have videos of my reef on YouTube and my user name there is Adam Giles if you want to check it out. Here Are the highlights experience thus far.


    -75g tank, 2 canister filters, large HOB filter. Started with 6 almost adult discus in the 5 to 5.5” range from Dennis’s discus.
    -2 different sets of fish paired up and currently lay eggs, massive aggression in this process and they all beat the smallest fish almost to death, fish later died in quarantine.
    -5 remaining fish doing great, added 6 Rams from Tom, added very thin sand substrate, added some plants in movable pots.
    -adding 2 more adults in the future.
    -did see signs of Hex in the beginning, treated with Metro for 10 days and all good since.
    -feed Sera Discus pellets, freeze dried black worms, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp.

    Conclusion/advice:

    Water changes are your friend. I do 60% daily. Sometimes skip a day. I have it all set up so that I just run a couple of hoses and turn a couple of valves. Thought I would slowly reduce waterchanges as time went on and if I stayed bare bottom I might have gotten away with it. With substrate and plants I figure daily waterchanges are a good idea. The amount of poop I siphon out on a daily basis is incredible. These guys are big, fat, and messy.

    It is not nitrates that are a factor, I can go days with less than 10ppm and very rarely see any measurable ammonia or nitrites. With the plants now I am sure I could go longer with minimal nitrates. I don’t know what it is that builds up in the water but suspect it has to do with their slime coat. There must be some kind of biological material that is a byproduct of discus. I have no proof but something in the water affects the fish and when you change water they come alive and look happier and are more vibrant. If I skip a day of waterchange they hang out in the back of the tank and are more subdued. They still eat and they don’t get sick but I can see a difference. So to ensure success I just change water in the evening. It takes 25 minutes and I feed my other tanks and trim plants while doing the waterchange.

    So my newbie advice is don’t do a big discus tank if you will not enjoy waterchanges. No point in doing something that you will not enjoy. There are reports of people having success with once a week waterchanges and if this is your goal it can be done. However, seeing how my fish react to fresh clean water tells me that these fish thrive in clean water. I just can’t see keeping Discus with a goal of how long can I go without doing what makes them thrive. Instead my focus has been how can I minimize the effort it takes to change water and that in itself has been fun. Faster pumps, bigger hoses, perfect size water aging tank, I have waterchanges so effortless now that I almost feel like I am cheating.
    Same behaviour with my discus too Adam. If I skip a day of W/C, I can tell the discus are behave differently.

    And you are right about W/C on big tank. I myself own a 210 gal discus and I do daily ~ 170 gal W/C. It take a while to get all the muscles memories trained with the help of electric water pumps. It can be done but you have to commit yourself to doing it.

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    Default Re: Discus tank maintenance truth and myths?

    Quote Originally Posted by LizStreithorst View Post
    That is very true, Eugene. I call Rams the canary in the coal mine.
    They just go to heaven without any reason. I couldn't keep them alive for more than 6 months.

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