Discus in Planted Aquariums

TexMoHoosier

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Dec 7, 2015
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I'm curious as to what different set ups (low tech/high tech, low/high light, CO2 enriched, etc.) people are running for planted tanks with discus. I'm looking to grow out some 4" discus and put 6 or 7 them into a planted 65g aquarium once they're adults. I've done tons of homework on discus, but have never kept them. As far as plants go, I've dabbled for years, but got serious a few years ago with higher light and pressurized CO2, so I would consider my experience level intermediate.


"Conventional" discus wisdom says that planted aquariums are a bad fit for discus (which I don't buy, at least in the case of adult discus) because of their hypersensitivity to water perimeters (namely pH swings and higher nitrates). I'm looking into a relatively low-light set up, pressurized CO2 and EI dosing. My thinking is that lower light gives me more margin when it comes to keeping fert/CO2 concentrations lower while avoiding algae blooms. Is my thinking on the right track? What are other people doing with their discus set ups?
 

SwampGremlin

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Jun 1, 2015
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I was at my lfs today because i like discus as well he told me that discis do not like temperatures under 85 degrees and i know plants like cooler water also most good maintenence fish oto cats shrimp ect are liable targets of prey for discuss because that are in the cichlid family with those two variables it was a deal breaker for me. Plus they are expensive so if i were to buy an expensive fish i woild like to treat it the way it would be most comfortable wich doesnt seem to fit in with my hi tech regimen.
 

TexMoHoosier

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Dec 7, 2015
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Thanks for the response, Tom..those are some nice looking discus. I've seen so many pictures of beautifully aquascaped discus aquariums, especially from Europe, and figured there has to be a way to do it. Just wasn't sure if you need to keep ferts somewhat lower when dosing EI.
 

Pikez

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May 12, 2013
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I've kept Discus in fully planted tanks a few times. Temperature is rarely an issue. Some cool water plants like Hottonia may not thrive, but you have dozens of plants that will still thrive in 82 degree water. It is a myth that Discus need to be kept at 85 or higher. I go to the Amazon almost every year. I caught a bunch of Discus just 2 months ago. The water was rarely above 82 or 83. If it is a large river during rainy season, it may even be at 79 or 80 for a couple of months. It is also a myth that Discus only live in calm waters. Not true! They are happy in current that is sometimes too strong for me to snorkel in. So aquarium circulation pumps are fine.


The only thing I had to stay on top of was the messiness. Discus are not neat or aggressive when it comes to eating. A lot of stuff will fall to the substrate. Make sure you have Corys or large shrimp or other fish that act as clean up crew. This also means lots of filtration is required.


Secondarily, you may need to adjust your EI dosage depending on how much you feed them and how many fish you have. For the most part, nitrate and phosphate can be reduced in half or more. You will need to dose full potassium and trace/iron ferts. I have a friend with a planted Discus tank who doses just potassium sulfate powder and CSM+B.
 

TexMoHoosier

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Dec 7, 2015
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thanks, Pikez. What do you mean by large shrimp, amanos? Or is there something else? I love having shrimp in my aquariums but I don't know much about the less common ones. I just assumed something like amanos (and definitely caridinas like RCS), would become discus food if I put them in there.
 

Tom Barr

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TexMoHoosier said:
Thanks for the response, Tom..those are some nice looking discus. I've seen so many pictures of beautifully aquascaped discus aquariums, especially from Europe, and figured there has to be a way to do it. Just wasn't sure if you need to keep ferts somewhat lower when dosing EI.


Ferts have nothing to do with it.


CO2 does.


CO2 is much more toxic than any fert other than the trace metals like copper ppm to ppm.


Eg, NO3 is a few orders of magnitude less toxic, but people howl about it.


But often give little thought to O2, water changes and decent filtration.


Those discus in EU tanks, are they high grades? Are they full sized well developed adults?


Not typically.


Were they raised from 1-2" to 6-8" adults?


Not that I have ever seen, not saying it cannot be done, but it's a very tough road.


And their scapes suffer also..........so just raise them up in a nice hardscape only, then add plants later on.
 

TexMoHoosier

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Dec 7, 2015
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Thanks again. I definitely plan to grow them to 6+" with hardscape only and lots of water changes before adding plants.
 

1077

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Aug 19, 2010
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Having grown some babies out to adult size in bare tank with only thin layer of sand for corydoras that helped with bit's of food,I would not hesitate to add some floating plant's to help take up ammonia,nitrate's,and give the fish some comfort from lighting above.
 

Saverio

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Apr 9, 2007
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I keep discus in a CO2 injected, EI dosed tank with little issue. As stated already, adults work best. Mine is 240 gallons with 60g wet/dry sump.


 
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Adam Edmond

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Oct 25, 2016
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It is advisable to keep discus fish in a pH which ranges between 6.0 and 6.5.Ensure that the environment is soft and acidic for the species to thrive well.The water temperature should be maintained between 77 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit with water hardness between 0 and 3 degrees dH.
 

Adam Edmond

Junior Poster
Oct 25, 2016
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It is advisable to keep discus fish in a pH which ranges between 6.0 and 6.5.Ensure that the environment is soft and acidic for the species to thrive well.The water temperature should be maintained between 77 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit with water hardness between 0 and 3 degrees dH.