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Newbie Looking for Discus Advice

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Doc_Polit, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Doc_Polit

    Doc_Polit Junior Poster

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    Hi Gang,

    I just signed up for the forum this morning and I can't believe the volume of information and the level of expertise here. :cool:

    I am picking up a saltwater set up in 2 weeks and plan to sell the marine components and retain the tank itself. The tank is a 5' long (90 gallon) acrylic with molded front corners and a small built-in sump.

    I would love to convert this to a planted Discus tank and could use any suggestions that you would like to offer.

    I am open to drilling for filtration/water flow if required and hope to nail down the BEST approach for such a tank.

    Your thoughts please.....
     
    #1 Doc_Polit, Feb 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2011
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi and welcome,

    Please try a forum search on discus and see what you get...

    Also, if you listed some of your goals that would be helpful. Do you want lots of plants, a few, using c02 or not, do you plan to breed the discus, etc. Low tech or high tech tank? Do you want a lasting scape or do you want stem plants? Are you good at do it yourself stuff? On a budget?

    Many of my answers will change based on the parameters provided or your goals.

    Sorry but it is not as straightforward to provide advice on a 'planted discus tank' as that can run the gamut of configurations...

    There is not really a one size fits all model.

    That being said here are a few areas to think about:

    1) Adequate filtration for the discus is imperative. Overfilter if possible.
    2) Lights - lower lighting will have slower growth but less maintenance. What light fixtures do you have now if any?
    3) Substrate - what type, etc
    4) C02 - in or out?
    5) Maintenance schedule - are you limited in time or patience?
    6) Plant nutrient dosing - is this in your plans at all

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Doc_Polit

    Doc_Polit Junior Poster

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    Sorry.....I never to thought to add more detail.

    What I am looking to accomplish is a show tank with adult Discus and moderate to heavy planting. While not a huge fan of stem plants, they do have their benefits.

    I am good at DIY and not $$ restricted.

    In addition to your other questions:

    1) I tend to overfilter as a rule. I like wet/dry but I am concerned about off-gassing if I do use CO2.
    2) I have a 48" Jebo Odyssea 4x54 watt T5 at my disposal. I can easily run only 2 bulbs, raise the fixture or use shade screen if desired.
    3) Substrate - Thinking Seachem Flourite Black Sand topped with Tahitian Moon Aquarium Sand
    4) CO2 - Undecided. Not partial at present.
    5) Open to whatever maintenance schedule is most beneficial. I have 20 years experience with fishkeeping (including wild-caught and firat generation specimens).
    6) I will likely dose. I am thinking an Aqua Medic dosing pump depending on which ferts I choose to use.

    Any further feedback?
     
  4. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Wet Dry is good. Overfilter where possible. Where discus are concerned, if in doubt, dump the tank. i.e. ( very large Water Change ) This is a good idea in general for any situation with any fish that are acting "weird" or if you have some sort of sickness. This will buy you time to figure out what's going on in the event of problems.

    Wet Dry will keep the O2 levels up. CO2 is cheap in comparison even with the outgassing caused by the surgace movement. If discus are stressed with CO2 issues they'll darken up a bit. Any major stress will cause them to darken so you'll have a visual cue when something is off with them.

    Seachem is pretty inert. You'll need to keep up on the dosing. If you have the Seachem sand, it will "float" for a while until the air comes out of it and it settles and packs down. Corys are good for this as they'll root around.

    For maintenance, until they grow out I'm partial to dumping the tank daily or every other day. Once they're grown, follow the usual EI and use a 50% change weekly. Obviously if you aren't dosing CO2 then you'll want to cut back on the dosing.

    -
    S
     
  5. gmartins

    gmartins Junior Poster

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  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Do not be, the trick is to have a small over flow spill height and then seal the wet/dry section up, no gas/in-out, not CO2 degassed, do not worry, you still get plenty of O2 either way, since it is independent of CO2 addition.
    I TAPE up the top of the dry chamber and any air vents on the side, 3" drop in the over flow, you are done.

    This was verified independently by 3 people(I was one of them) back about 15 years ago now.......the myth however still lives on.
    Hard to kill those myths, you know?
    Little suckers keep popping up.

    Either way, but consider ADA AS, you have nutrients in there, and this means less critical dosing for the water column.
    The lighting is plenty, you likely will end up with 2 bulbs depending on the layout.

    This is the biggest issue that you will wnat to resolve.
    Water changes will be easier if you use it and lush growth for any species you chose.
    This means more fish loading and feeding, but non CO2? Not so much. Some trade offs will ensure and you can still have a somewhat high fish load etc, but the plants will be more out of the top of the tank, emergent, floating etc.
    If that is not the goal, then it will be tougher to run a non CO2 tank full of discus.
    External Plant filter etc might be a 3rd option.

    With 20 years, you know how to do water changes and doign them weekly will work fine with CO2 and the light you plan.
    Some discus folks do 2x a week, 30-50%. If I am hassled into doing a water change, I go big, you get the most efficacy out a large vs a small one, and they do not take much more time to do a 25 % vs say 70%.

    If you do 2x a week, then you need no dosing, you simply dose after the water change only.......feed the fish daily etc.
    Nutrients, build up ferts etc........all easy and no testing or other issues.

    I use something like this:
    [​IMG]

    Goes onto the shower to fill, run the other end outside to drain or down the tub.
    I add Seachem Prime etc as I start the refill.
    then the ferts.......

    Simple, becomes "old hat" after 2-3 x.

    CO2 is the hardest thing to have folks learn and get correct.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This is a client's tank, you'll note the plants are attached to the wood in the back and few stem plants are in here.
    This makes it easy to care for and has the fish out swimming in the open area.
    The white sand is easy toc are for and provides space for the fish to eat.
    It also helps the color and looks more natural.
    Light is low and CO2 is added.

    These are all wild caughts, the angels are to be removed, they are all F1's and have never seen any other tank, Discus have breed in this tank at leats a dozen times.
    CO2 is about 40ppm.
     
  7. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Tom as usual has provided great advice.

    Now that I know more about your goals, I offer this approach:

    Filtration:

    1) Replace the small sump with a nice large sump with a good wet/dry trickle filter. I had one with TWO trickle towers so extra room for bio-material. Heater and c02 (if desired) can also go in the sump.
    2) Up to you whether to drill or not. Optionally you can get the CPR overflows that do not require drilling and are much better than the u tube siphons..drilling and using a sump can totally hide all intakes/outlets and no visibile hose/tubing. Something to think about.
    3) Get a decent sized pump from the sump along with an extra outlet or two to provide directional control of flow into the tank. You can always throttle the pump back if too powerful, but if you plumb with mult outlets, this will not be an issue.

    Lighting:

    1) I would go two bulbs for now just to get the tank up and running esp as you are not using c02 right off the bat. You can always increase later. Higher light drives plants to have a higher DEMAND for c02 and ferts, so keep this in mind.

    C02:

    1) Given your goals of a show tank, I would use it as it provide much more flexibility in terms of plant species/choices. Adding surface ripple will ensure less risk to the discus and other critters.

    Many ways to diffuse c02 based on your other configuration details.

    Fish:

    Last but not least. I would get no more than 6-7 in a 90 gal and perhaps less. Full grown 6 discus in a 5' tank will look tight eventually :)

    Hope this provides some ideas.
     
    #7 Gerryd, Feb 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2011
  8. Doc_Polit

    Doc_Polit Junior Poster

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    Thank you SO much for the link and the input. I am really looking forward to this project.

    To me, there is nothing nicer than planted tank with lush growth and colorful inhabitants.

    Tom.......That client's tank is FANTASTIC. I would not mind something like that at all.

    One more question if I may....

    With low light and CO2, do I need to plant really heavy in the beginning like non CO2 tanks? I have seen some more minimalist designs that caught my eye as well.
     
  9. Htomassini

    Htomassini Guest

    The other thing with discus is that if you buy them small and want them to grow 3 x week wc At 40 to 50 perceb. Is a must. At keep temp at 84. The reason is that growing discus release a growth inhibiting hormone in water to dwarf the other discus. Thats why in the first year major w/ c are a must. Thats how I grew mine from 2 inch to almost 10 ". Feed frozen mysis and blood worms during day and at night live California Blackworms. Also algea wafers. Hard water is good for growout. U only need very soft water for breeding.
    [​IMG]
    Year and a half

    To now:

    [​IMG]
     
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