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Thread: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

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    Question Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Hi, first post here and hoping someone can help me sift through all the different info I have received.

    I have kept tropical fish for a while and now am going into specifically discus keeping. I have some discus in mind and the breeder has kept them in GH 3 with a Ph of 6.5. My water is Gh 13 KH 8 and PH 8 (stable). Do you think I would be able to acclimatise the discus to my natural tap water or should I consider mixing in RO water to help soften it. I am only asking I have read my water readings would be ok to keep discus in as long as I am not intending to breed (which I am not). Does anyone have any info that might help me decide on what to do?

    Thanks

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    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    What you have read here about keeping Discus in hard water is correct. When you receive your fish empty the water in the bag into a bucket and just drop and plop the fish in the tank. One large change in water parameters is not harmful. What is harmful is constant swings from WC being done with water that is not stable. It seems counter intuitive, but it's a fact.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy83 View Post
    Hi, first post here and hoping someone can help me sift through all the different info I have received.

    I have kept tropical fish for a while and now am going into specifically discus keeping. I have some discus in mind and the breeder has kept them in GH 3 with a Ph of 6.5. My water is Gh 13 KH 8 and PH 8 (stable). Do you think I would be able to acclimatise the discus to my natural tap water or should I consider mixing in RO water to help soften it. I am only asking I have read my water readings would be ok to keep discus in as long as I am not intending to breed (which I am not). Does anyone have any info that might help me decide on what to do?

    Thanks
    The first thing I do when receiving fish is check parameters especially ph ,if you go from your suppliers ph of 6.5 to your ph of 8 and just plop them in your tank your tank your gonna kill your fish you're gonna what to do a slow acclimation

    Jeanne

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    Administrator and MVP Dec.2015 Second Hand Pat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    I agree with Liz on the drop and plop. When fish are shipped overnight the ph in the bag water drops into the 6 range due to the ammonia in the water. The lower ph renders the 6 or lower ph harmless to the fish. When you receive the fish carefully cut open the bags without allowing air to enter the bag. If air enters the bag it allows the ph to raise and makes the ammonia harmful to the fish which could result to ammonia burns to the ends of the fins etc. Drain the bag water into a bucket and gently ease the fish into the QT.
    Pat
    Your discus are talking to you....are you listening


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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    The problem with slow acclimation from low pH to high pH is that the ammonia in the bag water becomes more and more toxic as the pH climbs. This toxic potential is amplified with fish that have been shipped and have been in a small amount of water for long periods of time. I copied this from a scholarly article online;
    Ammonia is toxic to aquatic life and toxicity is affected by pH. Ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) has a more toxic form at high pH and a less toxic form at low pH, un-ionized ammonia (NH3) and ionized ammonia (NH4+), respectively. In addition, ammonia toxicity increases as temperature rises.
    This is the reason Liz (and now Pat as well) suggests, as do many other very experienced discus keepers, to do the "drop and plop" method. A 1 time experience of potential pH shock is less harmful to the fish, especially the gills, than an ever increasing exposure to ammonia toxicity during a slow acclimation. Each to his own of course, but almost all of the peeps that have been around here for the long haul use the plop & drop method based in an educated assessment of the risks involved in acclimating new discus.
    Last edited by danotaylor; 05-31-2020 at 10:07 AM. Reason: Writing at same time as Pat

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy83 View Post
    ...I have kept tropical fish for a while and now am going into specifically discus keeping....
    Discus will readily acclimate to your water conditions. What you really need to think through is how to get set up for large, frequent water changes. Discus is not like most tropical fish. Without water changes, that fish is not going to survive.

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

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    Registered Member + MVP danotaylor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    To add to Pat's response Jeanne, Liz specifically mentioned that a "1 time" large change in pH is much less harmful than pH swings, which is why she ages her water for changes. After the initial plop and drop she dials it in so as not to stress her discus with her usual wc routine.
    You are hinting at hypocrisy, but are way off base.
    The excerpt I posted is from a scholars article in the subject of ammonia toxicity and pH...it is scientific fact, common knowledge even to those who have looked into. Many article confirming it as truth. Also confirmed by peoples real life experiences.
    You do what you do, no prob, even to share your thoughts and opinions is sweet as, that's what forum life is for, but when you question the motives of the people that make this site as great as it is because they agree with each other and not you, that's a bit out of line...

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Second Hand Pat View Post
    I agree with Liz on the drop and plop. When fish are shipped overnight the ph in the bag water drops into the 6 range due to the ammonia in the water. The lower ph renders the 6 or lower ph harmless to the fish. When you receive the fish carefully cut open the bags without allowing air to enter the bag. If air enters the bag it allows the ph to raise and makes the ammonia harmful to the fish which could result to ammonia burns to the ends of the fins etc. Drain the bag water into a bucket and gently ease the fish into the QT.
    Pat
    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for your reply, hope my question hasnít caused any friction here as that was not in any way my intention, I genuinely want to do things right and appreciate any advice. So what I seem to here is that in general my water parameters will be ok for discus with a ph of 8 and gh of 13, but obviously the initial change from the lower 6.5 to my ph of 8 is the trickier point. Although again from what I have learned from this discussion is going from a lower to higher is less of a problem that going high to low. So taking your advice placing them directly into my water with the Ďplop and dropí method is better than a slower acclimatisation. Then once acclimatised my water parameters will be ok going forward.

    That sound about right?

    Thanks
    Andy

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Discus will readily acclimate to your water conditions. What you really need to think through is how to get set up for large, frequent water changes. Discus is not like most tropical fish. Without water changes, that fish is not going to survive.

    Willie
    Hi Willie, thanks for your response. I have done quite a bit of research before making the decision to keep discus and yes frequent water changes are a must, a must I am happy to do as the reward will be great for keeping the discus in tip top condition. Could I ask what water change routine you have? All advice is appreciated.

    Thanks
    Andy

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy83 View Post
    Hi, first post here and hoping someone can help me sift through all the different info I have received.

    I have kept tropical fish for a while and now am going into specifically discus keeping. I have some discus in mind and the breeder has kept them in GH 3 with a Ph of 6.5. My water is Gh 13 KH 8 and PH 8 (stable). Do you think I would be able to acclimatise the discus to my natural tap water or should I consider mixing in RO water to help soften it. I am only asking I have read my water readings would be ok to keep discus in as long as I am not intending to breed (which I am not). Does anyone have any info that might help me decide on what to do?

    Thanks
    As you now see there are a lot of opinions about how to raise Discus. Here is logic. What no one knows is what the water conditions are at the breeder level. Said breeder sends to the seller fish in breeder water, which could be hard water. On arrival the seller immediately transfers to their holding tanks and to the water conditions of those tanks. There is a good chance that the breeder and the seller do not have exactly the same water but somehow the fish survive the sudden change. Next you buy a fish which is sent to you packaged in the seller's water which in turn does not march your water. Knowing this what I do is open the bag, pour the fish into a pan, net the fish, and then put it into the tank that it will call home. It works. I have done this 3 times. Most recent was yesterday. Hard water is okay for Discus just be sure about ammonia level.
    Last edited by peewee1; 05-31-2020 at 02:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    You got it Andy! There is numerous successful keepers of discus in the SD community that keep there fish in hard water, some even with pH >8!
    Breeding in hard water is different cause the hardness causes egg casing to be difficult for the sperm to penetrate/fertilize. People in hard water areas typically use RO or an RO mix to create the correct water for breeding.
    Are you planning to raise juvenile discus or buy adults? Some folks do 75%+ daily regardless of size, . Larger fish are more tolerant of higher nitrates, but the goal should be to keep your nitrates a max 10 before each water change. Understanding your bioload is a critical factor; stock density and feeding regime have a direct correlation to waste and increased bacterial loads...water changes should be routine to keep both in check for happy healthy discus!
    All the best to you sir. Keep us informed of your progress please

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by danotaylor View Post
    You got it Andy! There is numerous successful keepers of discus in the SD community that keep there fish in hard water, some even with pH >8!
    Breeding in hard water is different cause the hardness causes egg casing to be difficult for the sperm to penetrate/fertilize. People in hard water areas typically use RO or an RO mix to create the correct water for breeding.
    Are you planning to raise juvenile discus or buy adults? Some folks do 75%+ daily regardless of size, . Larger fish are more tolerant of higher nitrates, but the goal should be to keep your nitrates a max 10 before each water change. Understanding your bioload is a critical factor; stock density and feeding regime have a direct correlation to waste and increased bacterial loads...water changes should be routine to keep both in check for happy healthy discus!
    All the best to you sir. Keep us informed of your progress please
    Hi, thanks for you comments. The discus the breeder has currently are about 4Ē so about 10cm. I am used to keeping track of my ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels etc and will keep keeping a very close eye on them, especially at the beginning while I am settling them in. As for feeding regimes, I am continuing to read all about that as donít want to over feed and cause spikes. Quite a lot to take in but I am finding it very interesting and really looking forward to keeping these beautiful fish.

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    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    We don't usually fight here Andy. Sometimes it happens but rarely. It sounds like you're on your way to successful Discus keeping.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy83 View Post
    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for your reply, hope my question hasnít caused any friction here as that was not in any way my intention, I genuinely want to do things right and appreciate any advice. So what I seem to here is that in general my water parameters will be ok for discus with a ph of 8 and gh of 13, but obviously the initial change from the lower 6.5 to my ph of 8 is the trickier point. Although again from what I have learned from this discussion is going from a lower to higher is less of a problem that going high to low. So taking your advice placing them directly into my water with the Ďplop and dropí method is better than a slower acclimatisation. Then once acclimatised my water parameters will be ok going forward.

    That sound about right?

    Thanks
    Andy
    Look on the bright side of super hard water, Andy -- you don't have to worry about breeding aggression.

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    Default Re: Hard Water Question for Discus keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy83 View Post
    Hi Willie, thanks for your response. I have done quite a bit of research before making the decision to keep discus and yes frequent water changes are a must, a must I am happy to do as the reward will be great for keeping the discus in tip top condition. Could I ask what water change routine you have? All advice is appreciated.

    Thanks
    Andy
    Hi Andy;

    I make 100% W/C daily with conditioned water. I do this because my objective is to produce show quality discus for competition. This is the only method I know to get 7", sometimes 7"+, fish. My water must be conditioned because we have very long winters here (Minnesota) and tap water is supersaturated with gas in the winter. After 24 hours of conditioning (aeration), I've never had discus react badly to large water changes. I consider this approach absolutely critical with 3" - 4" fish to prevent stunting.

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

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