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Old 10-07-2006, 03:45 PM   #1
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Do cement and Discus mix?

I'm just following some DIY tutorial to create a rock like formation background using styrofoam and cement. I'm almost done with the proyect.

I was wondering if it was safe to have discus on this tank?

The tank where the cement/foam background is going to be installed is a 55Gls one. I plan to add sand as sustrate. I know that the cement and the sand are going to build up the PH parameters so I buyed some driftwood to make a balance.

What's your opinion on this?

Your help is much appreciated.
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Old 10-07-2006, 04:54 PM   #2
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what kind of sand?

How much driftwood is "some"?

i think it will take a lot a wood to "balance" out your ph if you are using ph raising sand.

what is the ph and Kh of your tap water?
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Old 10-07-2006, 06:04 PM   #3
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Cement is primarily limestone, which is primarily CaCO3. This is going to evenutally increase hardness (GH and KH) as well as increase the pH. I would have to go against keeping any fish that require soft, acidic water, as you're going to have a never-ending battle to keep it that way, let alone the cost for the treatments to soften and acidify the water. If you are using plain old sand, then it's made of fine granules of quartz, which is insoluble in water, thus not changing the GH, KH, or pH at all.

I've never kept discus myself, but I'm pretty sure they like soft, acidic water and they are a moderately difficult fish to care for. Someone else can certainly feel free to correct me, if necessary, on that.
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Old 10-07-2006, 07:43 PM   #4
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If you even try to give the discus the soft water they require, you will be met with:

1: Disintegrating, eroding cement from the acid water.

2: Poor rate of success with the discus staying alive.

I have 4 large pieces of bogwood in my tank, and it still barely made a dent in my high Ph... Discus like heavily planted tanks, and they should be so lush that you can't even see the background.

These cement backgrounds are usually made for hard water species, as these species usually dwell around areas filled with rocks like the backgrounds simulate. The benefit being that you don't have to have the ton of rock necessary to get the same look as the styro/cement gives you, usually at a fraction of the cost AND weight.
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Old 10-07-2006, 10:44 PM   #5
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I have not installed the background yet neither filled the tank with water. But the water parameter that I got from the plumb is 7.4. I just wanted to have some advice.

Regarding how much diftwood do I have on the tank. I buyed two driftwood pieces of about a foot long. They came from some kind of amazonic tree root.

The sand I got is from the company Super Naturals. It's super fine unbuffered white sand.

What do you think?
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Old 10-08-2006, 12:00 AM   #6
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If you can set the tank up with fast growing plants with fine leaves, they will help lower the KH.
Some people mix sphagnum moss (organic peat pellets) in with the substrate to help bind up heavy metals and lower the KH. The peat also releases humic/tannic acids that are a natural anti-fungal/anti-bacterial agent. Oh yeah, it also filters the light by discoloring the water; retarding algae growth.

As far as water chemistry is concerned, it can be worked out. As far as suitable environments, the 'crete will not be good. The surface is too rough, and the fish get spooked a lot. (Especially by nocturnal catfish. Limit their numbers.) They will awaken with a start and slam into anything in that given direction. They would stay scarred. Think soft, decaying wood and wide leathery leaves.
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Old 10-08-2006, 06:51 AM   #7
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Why not just cover the background with a water proof sealant? This should prevent the concrete from slowly dissolving in the tank.

As for spooking discus, they are at risk even in completely bare tanks. I let my discus adjust to room lighting before I turn the tank lights on or off. A sudden change in lighting is the only thing I've ever seen startle my discus. They don't even mind the cats pawing the glass.
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Old 10-08-2006, 07:08 AM   #8
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I know that KH and PH can be managed by a lot of things but think of a water change. I'm going to have a hard time trying to mimic the tank water to not impact the fishes at every water change.

This is something that is been bothering me for a while. But since I've been very motivated with the concrete/foam thing I had not much time to think about it until now. It is going to be a shame to throw out of the window my invested time and money in this background. I don't know what to do.

Recently I went to an aquarium and seeing a tank with discus and this type of background was what motivated me to do it. But now I don't know what to do.

Please help!
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Old 10-08-2006, 08:12 AM   #9
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I'm not sure I fully understand your dilemma. I would apply a clear waterproof sealant on all the background surfaces.

Although discus prefer soft slightly acidic water, they adapt well to most water. That is unless you are trying to breed them. Water changes shouldn't be a problem if you do no more than 30% at a time.
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Old 10-08-2006, 08:29 AM   #10
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Is the waterproof sealant the solution to keep away the concrete to buff the water? What about how safe is to use this sealant on a fish tank?
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