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Wattley discus

Discussion in 'Fish for Planted Tanks' started by Gerryd, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hey all,

    I realized that it has been almost 2 years since I was thinking of getting some discus and I still don't have any :) Time really does fly.....

    Anyhoo, I contacted Gabe at Wattley's discus in Miami and I will see him in the next week or so and hand pick some discus...

    I am thinking of 6 of the 5cm red leopard discus....but we'll see when I get there...I also like the blue and green strains.....all very nice regardless of strain actually....

    He suggested that 14 would fit in the 180 but that is too many for me. What about when/if they get big?

    6-8 should do it depending on if I can keep to one strain or not :)

    Little nervous as I want to do well by them.

    Plenty of info out there that you folks have provide to me already so not too worried...

    Should be plenty of fun picking them out though...

    I will feel like the little kid in front of the feeder tank at the LFS going 'I want THAT one' lol

    Later.
     
    #1 Gerryd, Aug 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2010
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Have Fun!

    Hi Gerry,

    You were just making sure the tank was appropriately mature and stable by waiting two years! :D

    I think you are wise to stick to eight Discus. Though highly domesticated Discus as Wattley's are not particularly sensitive, still, low light, overhangs territorial markers help. :)

    You cannot overdo filtration. :eek:

    A couple dozen Panda Cory’s and Kuhli loaches, a few dozen Silver Hatchetfish and a couple of hundred Cardinal tetras aren't too bad either... :cool:

    Biollante
     
  3. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Gerry,

    I had six, but I'm only keeping one couple now. This couple made the whole tank their territory, the others lived between the plants. The chasing all day got me kind of irritated. Discus have a social order. There's a number one fish, a number two fish and so on. Fish number six has a bad life, as all other five pick on him/her. Sometimes they were chasing each other so much that they forgot to eat. Since I've kept only the dominant couple things have calmed down.

    I don't want to give you a disillusion or maybe my experience is an exception, but it's something to take into account when you buy six expensive fish.

    The nice thing is that you create an eye-catcher in your tank and your cardinals will show very nice schooling behaviour.

    regards,
    dutchy
     
  4. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    A lot of the older discus books mentioned the runt factor. To paraphrase - "If you want 6 nice looking discus, buy 7. The 7th will end up stunted as it will be abused the whole time." My experiences with them also bears this out. 4 discus in a 60" x 18" tank seems to be just about the right amount. They'll shoal at times and it's just BARELY enough space for them to chase each other around the tank and get away from each other. They're also far less cowardly in this tank and don't immediately dive for cover behind things when something walks by the tank now. Length really seems to be the key here. 18 - 24" width really doesn't seem to matter much to them. They seem to need to "chase" the intruder for some unknown distance before they chill out.

    They're nice fish overall, but probably not an experiment I will repeat.

    -
    S

     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    You Will Do Well

    Hi Gerry,

    While I recommend eight or so Discus fish, in a healthy 180-gallon tank well populated with other species. The fact is many honestly and legitimately could easily recommend as many as 18 Discus. :)

    I suspect you could with a lot of work, keep 30 or so Discus reasonably healthy. :eek:

    Both Dutchy and Shoggoth raise legitimate issues of the basic social nature of Discus.

    I reject on ethical grounds the keeping of odd numbers of Discus so that one becomes the runt and takes the brunt of the aggressive behavior. :(

    A practice of crowding so aggressive behavior is diffused, so no one fish takes the brunt of the aggression. It also allows for more than one “alpha” or dominant member in a confined space. This is common practice with Cichlids in general. I use this method with my African Cichlids.

    Over the years, I have noticed fewer problems in tanks with lower light and dark backgrounds along one long (the back) side and at least one end, both is better. An overhang along the back also helps. Having three or four territorial markers dividing the tank makes life easier.

    Adding all of the Discus of the same size/age at the same time is ideal. :)

    I think you will do well. :cool:

    Biollante
     
  6. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Some additional info you might find useful, but I suspect you already know...

    For discus a common number is 1 fish for 15-20 gallons. That puts you anywhere from 9-12 fish, but you've already got other fish in there. Shoaling fish will generally do better with at least 6 individuals or more to help diffuse agression. New arrivals will take abuse no matter what unless you have at least one more "territory" than fish. This isn't always practical and what you deem a territorial marker may not "qualify" as such to the fish. As another rule of thumb any schooling fish I get usually start out with a dozen individuals.

    For pigeon blood related stock in particular, a light colored substrate is recommended to avoid "peppering". Background especially does not seem to matter much, but what's under the fish does. Light colored sand, or at least a white painted bottom seems to help prevent this. Darker sand will darken the discus no matter the color they started with. This is pretty common in most fish and inverts as well. They really just don't seem to care too much about what they're in front of, just how easily they stand out when viewed from above by potential predators.

    I fully agree with Biollante on the ethics of deliberately setting one up for stunting. However, it happens pretty often from all I've read on the various discus forums and unless you can somehow intervene on their behalf is tough to avoid unless you've got a really good setup, or crowd them a bit. I've got one small one and no amount of intervention helped regardless of whether he was moved to another tank, fed separately, etc. I suspect having more than 6 would have helped and/or more territories might have assisted. At this point I'm down to 4 which certainly doesn't help the aggression. Starting with better stock vs. the LFS might have been a better idea as well but live and learn....

    If anything is off with your discus, dump the tank and refill. A WC is probably your first option in most cases when something starts to go bad. You can figure what's going on after that. Many discus keepers will do 50% or more water changes twice a week. Wattley is on record as suggesting more changes more often will give much better growth.

    I've heard nothing but good things about Wattley's Discus so you're off to an excellent start. I'm sure you'll do fine. :)

    -
    S
     
  7. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I had six, and anyway one was the runt. I don't really think Discusfish can count ;)

    regards,
    dutchy
     
  8. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    Many thanks for the thoughts and comments..

    I will address them in summary:

    1) I do know about the social pecking order and the bully syndrome.
    2) I will buy 8 MAX in hopes that this will 'crowd' them just a bit.
    3) I will do my best to buy the same size as possible.
    4) I have black flourite and that is NOT changing :) Noted about the coloration and substrate.
    5) Not sure I want to 'scare' my cards into a tight school, but I am aware this will occur. Same thing when I had large angels years ago.
    6) Hopefully they can reduce the number of platy fry and keep them in check...

    I will ask Gabe about the social behavior and his thoughts. I see tank pics where they all 'SEEM' to get along, but is that just at the moment of the pic?

    I am very like Dutchy in that it will annoy me no end if a lot of chasing and bullying is going on. At breeding time I understand but if 24/7 look for some nice Wattley discus on the swap/trade forum LOL

    Appreciate all the assistance. I will keep you posted.
     
  9. The Rockster

    The Rockster Guru Class Expert

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    Hey neighbor,

    If its not to late say hi to Gabe from me.

    I told him you were gonna stop in two years ago.

    General rule of thumb is 10 gallons of water per adult fish.

    An extremely intelligent person convinced me that over filtration was a must for these "bio pigs". :gw
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Can't Help Myself, I Apologize In Advance…

    Hi Gerry, All,

    While I do not think the Discus fish or any other count as such, I do believe the fish with higher social orders have a sense of total size and in some cases odd and even numbers. I believe that Discus fish do better in a minimum group of six, even numbers. :eek:

    (Note: Obviously, this does not apply to employees, especially grad-students. :p)

    • As an evil plant monster of conscience, I believe, among other things, I am obligated to understand the needs of the living things I keep and to meet those needs. That means even if I really desire something, I cannot and will not obtain a living thing until I am convinced that I can meet its physical, social and psychological needs.
    • This goes for all creatures in my care including those I produce for food. This goes for creatures used in research; I try never to induce suffering unnecessarily.
    • To meet the needs of one creature may necessarily mean the demise of another.
    Discus fish are a substantial investment in time money and effort, Discus fish can live 15 to 18 years. Purchasing the best available critters and introducing them together, same size/age is still one of the best methods for developing a healthy social order.

    Darkening the back and ends of Discus fish tanks as well as keeping the lines of sight relatively calm is just something I have observed over the years. Keeping the room dimmer than the tank is a good technique. Having a cover available when the activity level is unavoidably high is one of our tricks.

    The issue in keeping large messy fish as Discus really comes down to your ability to handle waste. Many folks, including me believe replacing about a third of the water in tanks containing Discus fish each day is the surest method. For some, we effectively change around a third of the water three or four times a day (yeah, we cheat :D).

    When introducing an individual to established groups rearrange the tank drastically, plants in pots are great for this. Should the individual being introduced, be smaller or for that matter should you have a runt it may be desirable to remove the established group to other quarters for a week to a month then return the group once the newcomer(s) has had an opportunity to settle in. :)

    Chasing, pecking and nipping are relatively harmless methods of establishing social order, unless a single individual is a constant target or continues for a week or more. As juveniles mature and figure out who the boys and girls are, expect ordering and reordering during this time.

    Odd as it may seem raising the temperature a single degree Fahrenheit, (half a degree Celsius) can have a calming effect.


    • Body slapping is the dangerous behavior, this is serious, and this is where irreparable damage can be done.
    • I suspect body slapping is one of the principle causes of mysterious ailments deaths among Discus fish often attributed to some indefinable mystery disease said to effect Discus fish.

    One of the advantages of multiple territorial markers is that it gives more opportunity for “negotiated” settlements. You are also in a position to rearrange their world decisively if and when necessary.


    • It does not hurt to have places ready in advance to place crates or screens to protect and or isolate members of the group.
    • Particularly in the first round or two of attempted mating and/or rearing young, the screens can reduce the stress considerably.
    • In some cases, it may even be necessary to screen Mom and Dad (material needs to be porous enough to allow the kids through). Sometimes it takes a couple of spawning to let the happy couple get the knack of things.
    :gw
    Biollante
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    Many thanks for the thoughtful replies..

    I am now concerned with the following:

    1). Many manzy branches in my hardscape. Nor many (any) stems to cushion in the event of chasing or fright response.
    2). Carpet plant of stauro preventing them from natural type bottom feeding?

    I want to ensure they will do well with the scape goals I have...I don't want them to be stressed as the back wall is clear glass, and no stems, and many pointy branches to hurt themselves on.
     
  12. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nothing Mystical

    Hi Gerry,

    Sometimes I am caught up in the conversation; I do not mean to make the keeping of Discus fish sound mystical, dangerous or difficult. :eek:

    Modern domesticated Discus fish ethically and responsibly bred (as the Wattley Discus fish are) adapt well to a wide range of conditions, they are intelligent, generally calm, highly social, personable and utterly fascinating creatures. :cool:

    I would not worry too much about the branches, Discus fish live in tangles of sharp pointy rocks and branches. The critters are incredibly adept and well designed for life in the weeds, rocks and roots along cut out portions of riverbanks. Obviously if there are any daggers, razor sharp edges, rounding them over would be a good idea. ;)

    I would not worry about the plants, Discus fish root around in debris and such routinely. Again obviously keep an eye on them, but they are adaptable.

    I also recommend culturing live food, varying the diet. You should be able to inoculate the tank various tasty critters as well. Your Sunburst Platys will also contribute to their care and feeding. :eek:

    One of the major reasons for keeping large groups of small fish is to let the Discus fish feel comfortable. Discus fish are very aware of things above them. Small fish acting in this case as dither fish provide a sense of security.

    Choose your fish based on the color palette you like, the most important thing is that they be as close in age and size as possible.

    I recommend you cover the back with a blanket, dark sheet or something until everyone gets settled.

    Have fun, you will do well. :cool:

    Biollante
     
  13. Htomassini

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    Hi there, I have 9 discus (eight from Gabe) and I can give you a few tips. Depending on the size you buy them, devote yourself to changing the water every 2 days and feeding live black worms *california") if you want them to grow large. Discus release chemicals in the water to stunt the other members, so the water changes will remove that and not inhibit their growth. My largest guy is almost 7" with the others 6, 5 and 4 inches. They are very smart and some of them will be very docile with you. I have 2 of them that i can "pet" them. But, they can startle very easily, so no sharp points in the tank or they will get hurt. They seem to like 83F temp. The bottom on my tank is fully of dwarf saggitaria, they can eat w/o a problem. I do have 2 runts who are at 2-3 inches. One of them kept getting hexamita, so now I am keeping him in a hospital tank and have been curing him and fattening him up.

    They are the reason for my insanity of getting a 210.

    BTW, the blue ones, almost always move towards the side of the tank closest to the door when I come home at night.
     
  14. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    Early mention was made of panda corys and platy's as possible tankmates for Discus tank.
    In my view,both would be poor choices due to their lack of tolerance of warm water conditions that Discus enjoy.
    Rummy nose or cardinal tetras and perhaps Sterbai corydoras would be better choices.
     
  15. Htomassini

    Htomassini Guest

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    I agree. I keep cardinals. Rummy nose tetras bosemani rainbows clown loaches and rams. They all do well with the lower ph and 83f water. Have not had success with corys. Got to be careful of suckerfish that will like the discus slime coat.
     
  16. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    In a large tank, clown loaches would be fine (100 gallons) .In smaller tanks,the antics of the loaches during the dark evening hours can sometimes stress the Discus who don't always appreciate intrusions into the areas that they rest at during lights off.
    I kept five juvenile clown loaches with a group of five Discus in a 75 gallon tank ,but as the loaches became larger, and more adventurous, the Discus clearly became more agitated and I removed them.
    Perhaps I just had a skittish group of Discus.
     
  17. Htomassini

    Htomassini Guest

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    ive had 3 of them grow up with my discus in the 90 and they are fine. My biggest loach is about 7inches and they all get along just fine.
     
  18. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    Am pleased indeed that yours are doing well with your Discus.
    Others I have spoke with who care for Discus expressed similar expieriences that I had with mine.
    Guess it all depends on particular fishes.
    I replaced my clown loaches with sterbai cory's and the clown loaches currently share another tank with fishes more tolerable .
     
  19. Htomassini

    Htomassini Guest

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    Just so you know, my breeder keeps in his own tank a large group of loaches with his discus. I think it has to do with the size of the tank. Loaches and discus are both very territorial. The loaches hang out behind a large amazon sword that reaches the top of the tank. The discus hang out in front. In a smaller tank they have to compete for room. One time I saw with a sick discus that was hiding ( they do that when ill) behind the sword the loaches kept nudging at him with their snouts.
     
  20. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sterbai corys seem to do well and breed. Paleatus also seem to survive but I have not had them breed yet in that tank so the temps may be too high. I have had pandas in there with them, but I don't know if that's really a long term sustainable goal.

    I also noticed that once I threw in some small angelfish the discus calmed down dramatically to movements and such outside the tank. It may be that the shape of the angels are close enough to the discus to qualify as additional members of their shoal and thus they feel more secure. I have no idea really. It also does make the discus more "energetic" at feeding time so less food is left lying around for the corys and tetras.

    -
    S
     
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