Discus - Research and questions

Gerryd

Plant Guru Team
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Sep 23, 2007
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I think my other big questions are how they will adapt to a weekly pruning and such? My hands are in there at least a few times a week.

Other thing is a strong flow. Is less when c02 is off, but is more than the bare tanks they are kept in at the breeder seem to have......

There are plenty of plant thickets and places of less flow if that is an issue.

I have some heavy growth rates......:)

Any experiences are welcome.
 

The Rockster

Guru Class Expert
Aug 10, 2007
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Hi,
I have Jack Wattley Discus (6) for years. Gabriel Posada runs Wattleys. If you would like, I will forward you his cell phone number. He's a great guy!

He suggested to me that the ten gallon, a fish rule, was good for Discus.( However you already seem to have quite a bio load.) Also they use aged Miami tap water, and only use r/o for breeding. Gabe told me he hadn't checked the pH in years!
A lot of aquarists, believe that Discus and planted tanks are not a great combination, due to the high bio load. Others suggest growing the fish out prior to putting the fish in a planted tank.(Multiple daily feedings are easier to clean up in a bare bottom, plant less tank.)

I go semi monthly down to Miami for live black worms, the fish love them.
One of Gabe's favorite sayings.............Discus don't die.......you have to kill them!! (They can live up to 15 years, and are hardier than a lot of folks think.)
Lots of folks use uv sterilizers, and keep the water around 84 degrees to keep the fish's metabolism up.

Before going to Wattley's you need to call first. He doesn't always keep a large supply of worms on hand, and he spends lots of tme, shipping Discus at MIA.

Hope this helps.............I know your thread is a few months old.
 

cc_woman

Junior Poster
Apr 7, 2008
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I will give you all of my info and advice on discus keeping. I did things the wrong way when I first started out with discus, only to have little success. After a year in keeping them successfully hopefully I can offer some info that could help.

You don't absolutely need R/O water, unless your hardness is very high, and pH is above 8.0 then I would definitely recommend using it. I keep 7 discus in a 90 gallon with the following tank mates. About 25 cardinals, 4 BN plecos, 3 bolivian rams, and 3 clown loaches. Other suitable tank mates would be german blue rams, rummy nose tetras, apistogrammas (some species cannot be kept in the high temps though), and there are others. My pH is 7.6, and hardness is 12. I have never added R/O water, and I know others in the same city who don't and have successful spawns. However using R/O and softening your hard water would increase the egg count and lead to an even more successful spawn rate. I have my tank well planted with 3 large pieces of malaysian drfitwood, I use CO2 injection and dose it by EI. I also prune regularily, and they seem to get used to it, although most fish don't like you sticking your hands in their tanks.

If wanting to use R/O water I suggest not using straight 100% R/O, rather use about 25% R/O to 75% tap, it should soften your water enough, and you don't have to worry about adding back stuff to the water. But play around with it in a separate container until you get the perfect ratio for your water type.

Now feeding them is something else. I prefer not to feed my discus beef heart because it can pollute the water very fast. And they don't absolutely need it, that is just a myth. Young discus 4" and under I would strongly suggest feeding them 3-4 times a day with good quality flake/pellets, and some frozen or live foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp etc. High protein is good and very important for healthy growth of young discus. And one thing to keep in mind is that discus have small stomachs, therefore they can't consume as much food as many other fish. Which is another reason more feedings a day are required. The reason I say this is if you don't, the discus can grow up being football shaped instead of round like they should be. Discus 5" plus, 2 times a day should be sufficient, and don't require as much protein.

Wild caught discus can be very picky eaters, which is why I suggest only buying ones under 4" in size. It is much easier to train a younger wc discus than an older one. Domestic raised discus are definitely not as picky, and are usually more hardy. If purchasing wc discus I suggest slowly acclimatizing them to your water, by the drip method. Even obtaining discus from another state/province, I highly recommend finding out their water parameters, so that you will know if you need to acclimate them. They can be very sensitive to large pH changes so this is highly recommended. If you want to know more on how to slowly acclimate them just ask me.

Temp should be kept no lower than 82, at least I don't recommend it. 84 is actually a perfect temp, and if you have sick discus, raising it to even 88 could be done. When doing water changes, I highly recommend aging your water. Take a large container like a garbage can or whatever, and fill it with tap water. Keep a heater and an airstone in the water and try to match the temp as close as you can. I do a minimum of 50% every 3 days, and every 2 months I do a 90% water change. Good filtration is also good to have, but not with too strong of a current or flow. I have an eheim 2250 canister, as well as an eheim 2213 canister on my tank. You can choose to keep them in a bare bottom tank, but I only recommend this for younger discus so they can find food easier. Sand is a great substrate for them, I prefer not to use gravel.

Discus are really not that difficult to keep, as some people make it out to be, but they do require more time and attention than most other tropical fish. But in the end you will enjoy them greatly, they are definitely worth the work :) Good luck with your discus. Another great book on discus is BACK TO NATURE DISCUS by Dick Au and his other book called TROPHY DISCUS.
 

Dmaaaaax

Prolific Poster
Jan 9, 2009
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How do you handle your plants and Discus during a 90% water change? Even when I do 50% I have to watch out for plants overlapping and covering the whole surface. Do you actually remove plants and do a deep vacuuming or something?

What made you decide to add the 90% on top of 2 x 50% a week. It just seems excessive.:D
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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Depends, I can do 80% without issue, some like to flush and clean out the tank more than 50%, this is fine, and you get even better ranges of the nutrients this way. Might not be practical or that needed however.

50% 2x a week typically does fine for discus that are over stocked and over feed.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Dmaaaaax

Prolific Poster
Jan 9, 2009
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Well I got my 5 Discus in....minus 1 that was DOA. :(

The other 4 were very dark and their slime coat was showing in the bags. I acclimated them slowly with my tank water, turned off all but 24w of lights and watched them all yesterday. One sat on the bottom for 3hrs while the other sat up top. I added more Prime to the tank and eventually the 4th Discus joined the other 3. They stayed in the corner and did not eat anything.

Day 2

Lights came on and they were all still in the corner looking slimey, so I added some more Prime. I also turned off all but 48w of lights. During lunch I added 1/4 cup of salt to a fish net and let it melt into the tank.


Any suggestions? More salt?

Tank:
75g, 84F, CO2
pH 6.6 - 6.3 night to day fluctuation.
kH 3-4
GH 4
ammonia, nitrite 0
nitrate 5-10ppm (have stopped dosing for now since lights are low)
 

Tom Barr

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Is this a non planted tank?
Adding salt will kill most plants pretty quick, sounds like you need a quarantine tank.

Regards,
Tom barr
 

Dmaaaaax

Prolific Poster
Jan 9, 2009
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Tom Barr;33459 said:
Is this a non planted tank?
Adding salt will kill most plants pretty quick, sounds like you need a quarantine tank.

Regards,
Tom barr

HELP...

The salt I added was a fairly small amount compared to a normal treatment (2 cups). I used less due to plants in the tank but I felt the need to help the slimecoat on the Discus mildly. The Discus are still slimey and are not eating but seem ok however, 16 of my 20 cardinal tetras are dead! They were at the top breathing heavy like they had ammonia poisoning, but the test kits show 0 for ammonia and nitrite. I removed the 4 remaining and put them in a bucket with fresh tap water (Primed) and immediately they looked better. This leads me to believe that it is definately a chemical poisoning the fish in my tank, not a disease and the cardinals are just the most sensitive.

Could the salt cause some reverse osmotic conditions in a particular plant to release something toxic to fish? I do not own any exotic plants just your standard LFS types. The only other thing I could think of was that 2 days prior to my receiving the shipment of Discus I decided to clean my tank and move some plants around. I had an anubis nana that was covered in spot algae and some hair algae. I removed it from the tank and one end smelled rotten. I cut that end and dipped the leaves in a mixture of H202 and water for ~1hr. I rinsed it with water and placed it back in my tank. Since the incedent, I have removed this plant...just in case it was leeching something into the water.

I did a 50% water change after seeing the cardinals breathing up top, and another 50% change the next day after finding most of them dead. The 4 I moved to the bucket are all doing fine. No other fish seems to display any signs of stress.