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Thread: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

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    Registered Member GrillMaster's Avatar
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    Default So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    It is the ultimate goal for a show tank. There is nothing IMO more satisfying than peering into a densely planted Discus inhabited aquarium.

    That being said, I have a couple of questions for you...

    1. Have you ever had a planted tank before?
    2. Have you ever successfully raised Discus?

    I ask these questions for the simple fact that each of them by themselves is a little bit of a challenge for the novice. At least one of these should have been tried, an a decent amount of success should have been accomplished before trying the other. I am not at all saying that the novice cant try both. Trying both at the same time will give a novice a definate perspective for what direction he or she really wants to take. Growing plants successfully, but having a hard time raising discus or growing discus, but having a hard time with the plants an algae issues.

    Since this a discus forum, I will address the planted tank. There are high tech planted tanks as well as low tech planted tanks. I have been on both sides of the spectrum. Having a high tech planted tank is definitely alot more of a challenge than a low tech planted tank for several reasons.

    1. High light (2.5 wpg or higher)
    2. C02 system (regulator an solenoid)
    3. A steady fertilizing regime (EI method)

    A high tech planted tank evolves around the plants, an aquascape more than the fish. The goal is to achieve an award winning aquascape. There are exceptions, but very few. These tanks usually support small schooling fish such as tetras along with a clean up crew to keep any debris or algae cleaned up as much as possible. For more info on this philosophy check out this site. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/

    The low tech planted tanks are easier, less time consuming for a few reasons.

    1. Low lighted tanks (less than 2 wpg)
    2. No C02 or DIY C02.
    3. Very little to no ferts at all.

    The plants grow slower and this setup is a little more user friendly. The low tech setup is geared more toward the discus friendly atmophere. I would say biotope, but not many plants grow in a natural discus biotope.I will go into how to set up a planted discus tank a little later. I want to address a couple of issues first.

    1. What size tank
    2. How many discus

    First...I would like to point out for the sake of this write up, Having a tank with discus an a few potted plants, does not come under the same circumstances as a low tech tank.

    The bigger the tank the better for the fish. Plants will grow in any size tank, but the fish unfortunately wont. The rule of thumb is 1 Discus for every 10 gallons. Put in substrate an fill the tank half full of plants an that number decreases substantially. You can keep 5 discus in a 55G bare bottom with 50% WC's everyday, an grow them out to thier full potential. A 55G with 3" of substrate an heavily planted, the number of fish has reduced to a pair, or 3at the most. Three discus wont thrive in this environment. Most all know Discus are social schooling fish, an 3 is a recipe for disaster for 2 of them, unless one of them happens to pair with the other.

    Personally I wouldn't have a planted discus tank with anything less than a 75G. This gives elbow room for the Discus in the tank to start a pecking order an establish their territories.5-6 discus would do fine in this environment if they were adults when introduced into the tank. Six being on the high end.

    There are many people who dont really care to much about what the discus look like as long as they are healthy. Big eyes, football shaped, stunted, runted etc...doesn't matter. Thats fine, but this is a Discus forum. To these people I say, a lil bigger tank an let em thrive!

    All this being said, I would like to address the way a low tech planted tank should be set up to accept the Discus you have grown out to highlight this show tank.

    Growing out discus to their potential is great! Growing out discus to there potential to transfer them into a show tank is just that much better.

    Lets say we start with a 75G tank. Whatever substrate you desire, it needs to be at least 3" deep. At least 2" in the front to 4" in the rear. This will give room for the long roots of background plants in the rear, an the 2" for foreground plants not needing the root depth.

    Canister filters are better equipped to handle the larger size tanks, an deliver a better circulation than HOB's. Canister filters have come down in price lately, an give a much better bang for the buck sorta speaking.

    The next step is to buy plants. When purchasing plants, buy alot!! The more you can plant in the tank the better. To start, the tank should be densely planted. Not just a few here an there but dense!

    The reason is simple. The more plants you have sucking up nutrients, the less the algae will have to suck up.

    This is an example of how I would initially plant a 75G tank.

    12-20 various sword plants. (fert tabs under the roots)
    12-20 crytps.
    40 dwarf sags.
    12 vals. (fert tabs)
    12-20 hygro polysperma

    These are extremely fast growing plants, an fair well in Discus temps. It is alot easier to take plants out, than to try an add plants to out compete the algae. The best part about these planted tanks are they are cycled as soon as you plant them if densely planted. The plants will actually thrive on the ammonia an nitrites. They need nitrates to thrive.

    Once the tank has been planted, put in cardinals, black neons, or any compatible fish, an a clean up crew. Whatever you like, just compatible with Discus. Let it go for a couple of months. Grow out your discus in a different tank, or buy adults when the time comes. See how the tank is doing. If everything is growing great, an you dont see algae, it is time to move the Discus to their new home.

    Take everything slow, an by no means rush putting discus into your new planted tank. Of course quarantine any new fish prior to introducing them into your planted tank.

    HTH

    -Mark-
    Mark

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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    sticky? nice writeup!

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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    I agree. Great writeup Mark! Not a point in it that I would disagree with (kind of a backhanded compliment I know - but it IS a compliment!)

    The only thing I would add is an opinion... potentially unpopular here, but I do believe is true...

    Try your hand at plants BEFORE you try discus and plants. If you think you have discus down, and are ready to try both - I'll wager you will have a pretty hard time. Discus and plants is a challenge. If you are on this forum because you already have discus keeping down pat - great! Now try your hand at a simple, discus free (little tiny fish instead) planted tank. If you can pull that off, and learn the ropes in the process, then you are ready to try both.

    And good luck! IMO a planted discus tank is a beautiful thing to behold. We need more of them!
    Steve -
    Discus novice. Planted tank pilgrim.

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    Post Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Just a great article.I am one of those who have planted high tech tanks for many years. As in anything I have made my errors and learned from them. It just becomes a game of balance. It is true when you first start you cant put enough plants in and I feel this were people get off to a bad start. I am one of those who has joined here to learn about discus so I can add them to my 90 gallon planted tank. I just feel the plants and discus (adults) make a great combination. thanks Ed

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    Registered Member GrillMaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Thank You kingsfan! I was bored.

    Quote Originally Posted by scolley View Post
    I agree. Great writeup Mark! Not a point in it that I would disagree with (kind of a backhanded compliment I know - but it IS a compliment!)

    The only thing I would add is an opinion... potentially unpopular here, but I do believe is true...

    Try your hand at plants BEFORE you try discus and plants. If you think you have discus down, and are ready to try both - I'll wager you will have a pretty hard time. Discus and plants is a challenge. If you are on this forum because you already have discus keeping down pat - great! Now try your hand at a simple, discus free (little tiny fish instead) planted tank. If you can pull that off, and learn the ropes in the process, then you are ready to try both.

    And good luck! IMO a planted discus tank is a beautiful thing to behold. We need more of them!
    Thanks Steve. IMO though, a planted tank can be as complicated as anyone wants to make it. Just because you have plants in a tank, it doesn't have to he hard. Low tech planted tanks pretty much take care of themselves if planted densely enough and light is minimized to 8 hours or less.

    Quote Originally Posted by tacks
    Just a great article.I am one of those who have planted high tech tanks for many years. As in anything I have made my errors and learned from them. It just becomes a game of balance. It is true when you first start you cant put enough plants in and I feel this were people get off to a bad start. I am one of those who has joined here to learn about discus so I can add them to my 90 gallon planted tank. I just feel the plants and discus (adults) make a great combination.
    Thanks Ed.

    Lighting is also an issue alot of people over look. They keep the lights on to long cause they just cant tear their eyes away from the tank long enough. People just setting up a planted tank shouldn't really leave their lights on longer than 6-8 hours.

    I hear it from my wife all the time when the lights go off on my tank at 6:30 each day. She thinks its a living room lamp!
    Mark

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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    I totally agree with what Mark said, as well. I've been struggling with a high light, high tech 55 gallon Discus tank, now for more than a year. Only slowly have I begun to win the algae battle. That Clado will do anyone in! The rest of the algae species are a piece of cake, compared to that stuff!

    I raised and bred Discus for more than 40 years, and I have to say that the planted tank is the hardest thing I've done, by far! Much more work than the routine Discus tank cleaning and water change.

    I do think it took me longer than a year to learn Discus (can't remember anymore--something that happens with old age I guess), so I figure that a year into the planted tank, and I'm almost there, isn't all that bad. Of course, I didn't have the internet when I started keeping Discus!!

    I'm almost ready to take pics and show people the result of my battle. Just a week more for my latest additions to "take" and then, the end of my wild algae journey.

    Al Light

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    Registered Member GrillMaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alight View Post
    I totally agree with what Mark said, as well. I've been struggling with a high light, high tech 55 gallon Discus tank, now for more than a year. Only slowly have I begun to win the algae battle. That Clado will do anyone in! The rest of the algae species are a piece of cake, compared to that stuff!

    I raised and bred Discus for more than 40 years, and I have to say that the planted tank is the hardest thing I've done, by far! Much more work than the routine Discus tank cleaning and water change.

    I do think it took me longer than a year to learn Discus (can't remember anymore--something that happens with old age I guess), so I figure that a year into the planted tank, and I'm almost there, isn't all that bad. Of course, I didn't have the internet when I started keeping Discus!!

    I'm almost ready to take pics and show people the result of my battle. Just a week more for my latest additions to "take" and then, the end of my wild algae journey.

    Al Light
    Cant wait to see the pics Al!!
    Mark

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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Well I suppose its a good write up of sorts (ok j/k)

    Been trying to convert a few to the dark (green) side now for a year or so, posts like this can only help Feel the force etc.. etc...

    One comment here is that many people when starting out seem terrified at putting more than one or two plants in. I cannot stress enough that its almost impossible to put too many in when first starting out. I often put loads of stem plants in and "harvest" them as the tank settles, allowing the real plants to take over in time. This way it keeps algae probs to a minimum ime.

    Good job Mark.
    Paul

    Comfortably numb.

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    Registered Member GrillMaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcsb23 View Post
    Well I suppose its a good write up of sorts (ok j/k)

    Been trying to convert a few to the dark (green) side now for a year or so, posts like this can only help Feel the force etc.. etc...

    One comment here is that many people when starting out seem terrified at putting more than one or two plants in. I cannot stress enough that its almost impossible to put too many in when first starting out. I often put loads of stem plants in and "harvest" them as the tank settles, allowing the real plants to take over in time. This way it keeps algae probs to a minimum ime.

    Good job Mark.
    Thank you Paul. That means alot coming from you!

    I dont want to convert anyone. Maybe give my .02 on the subject an everyone can take it for whats its worth.

    Ditto on the stem plants, an a lot of them. I have had fish (not discus) pressed up against the glass there were so many plants in there.

    Mark



    Thats
    Mark

  10. #10
    senso
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Great write-up and good advice above.

    A low tech set-up i.e non CO2, is not necessarily the easier option. One thing that is somewhat of a misconception, is that with added CO2, it it is more difficult. Yes there are some 'high-tech' elements that are readily available. One typically has greater control over the plant growth requirements, and is able to provide plants with the necessary CO2 that allow them to grow and out compete algae.

    Often one thinks CO2 is merely an added complication and large expense, but if one considers a planted tank, by ensuring you get healthy growth from the start will ensure you save in the long run. Plants can get expensive, treating for algae is a pain - so do it properly from the start.


    PATIENCE - allow the plants to stabilize prior to adding any Discus. Give it 2 months at least.

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    Registered Member GrillMaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by senso View Post
    Great write-up and good advice above.

    A low tech set-up i.e non CO2, is not necessarily the easier option. One thing that is somewhat of a misconception, is that with added CO2, it it is more difficult. Yes there are some 'high-tech' elements that are readily available. One typically has greater control over the plant growth requirements, and is able to provide plants with the necessary CO2 that allow them to grow and out compete algae.

    Often one thinks CO2 is merely an added complication and large expense, but if one considers a planted tank, by ensuring you get healthy growth from the start will ensure you save in the long run. Plants can get expensive, treating for algae is a pain - so do it properly from the start.


    PATIENCE - allow the plants to stabilize prior to adding any Discus. Give it 2 months at least.
    Hey senso... I agree with you 100%. Having c02 is a great tool for controling algae.

    It was not my intention when I wrote this thread to push c02 on anyone. Its was SIMPLY to give the members here a guideline to start a "low tech" planted Discus tank.
    Mark

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    senso
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    The article does not push CO2. I think I am suggesting based upon my own experiences and that of many others, if you are concerned about adding CO2 - don't be. It can only be a major asset and avoid many weeks of algae issues. On the other hand low-tech (non CO2) works too, it just requires one to do things more slowly as the plants take longer to establish

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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by senso View Post
    The article does not push CO2. I think I am suggesting based upon my own experiences and that of many others, if you are concerned about adding CO2 - don't be. It can only be a major asset and avoid many weeks of algae issues. On the other hand low-tech (non CO2) works too, it just requires one to do things more slowly as the plants take longer to establish
    I am fixin to swap over to to a low tech planted tank in the next few weeks, an I will include the c02 as a suppliment as well just for the reason you just mentioned.

    I am getting tired of fertilizing an having to trim plants every week!!
    Mark

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    Registered Member tpl*co's Avatar
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcsb23 View Post

    One comment here is that many people when starting out seem terrified at putting more than one or two plants in. I cannot stress enough that its almost impossible to put too many in when first starting out.
    Ummm, Paul...

    As long as you don't put in so many plants that there isn't any more water for the fish to swim through .

    Tina

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    senso
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    Default Re: So ya wanna planted Discus tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by bastalker View Post
    I am fixin to swap over to to a low tech planted tank in the next few weeks, an I will include the c02 as a suppliment as well just for the reason you just mentioned.

    I am getting tired of fertilizing an having to trim plants every week!!
    That could be an interesting option for set-up, the thing is once you stop CO2, the entire system will need to adjust.

    Another option would be
    - plant tank HEAVILY (as Paul advises) lights about 6 hours, at about 1.5wpg No WC,
    - week 2 begin to add clean up crew (ottos), Add floating plants, No Wc only top up
    - - week 3 add some shrimp, NO WC
    - week 4 more clean up crew, NO WC begin to increase lights to 6hrs
    - week 6 add some schooling fish if desired (continue topping up only and increase lights to 8 hrs)
    - week 8 add any other fish you are planning to add and do a 20% WC
    - week 12 add the large inhabitants (try lights at 8hrs per day going fwd)

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