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Old 10-22-2007, 04:11 PM   #1
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Discus Experts: I have some Q's and Plans

Hello all,

I am currently planning a 46-48gallon bow front discus tank and have a good amount of questions. I've been doing my reading on just some simple beginners guide to keeping discus. I've read and found that Red Turquoise Discus seem to be the best discus to keep for beginners due to their heartyness (True? / False?). My plan is to keep 3-4 Discus in a 46-48gal tank with a possibilty of A school of cardinal tetra's or apisto's. Not sure if this would be considered overstock?

Filtration:
1 XP2 w/ spraybar and 1 AquaClear 50. This is more then enough filtration and would be turning over 300gph. I am not a fan of carbon because I sometimes tend to forget to change the carbon out so I would keep no carbon in any of these filters.

Heater(s):
2 Jager 75 watt heaters located on both ends of the tank to keep a solid temprature. I've read the discus are kept between tempratures of 82-88 degrees?

Lighting:
Since I will be keeping plants that are attached to driftwood (IE Java Fern and Fissidens Fontanus) I was going to use Coralife Freshwater Dual Compact Flourescent 6700K bulbs. Max watts 192. Would this be okay to use in a discus tank?

Decor / Plants:
I have lots of driftwood already soaking in a 100gallon rubbermaid which will probably be way too much for the tank. I'll be attaching Java Fern, and Fissidens Fontanus that I have growing in another tank. I will probably be putting about 60lbs of driftwood in the tank. Along with 30lbs of rounded river rock. I'll be also be putting in 2 36" fancy plant bamboo style plants on each end sides of the tank for some shade and cover. I'll be making small uinder caves with the driftwood for possible hiding spots.

Substrate:
I've always been real hesitant with having sand has a substrate. But has a hobbyist I love to simulate natural enviroment to an extent. Since discus never really a bottom dwelling fish more of medium column to upper dwelling would sand matter? I was thinking more on the gravel side. The gravel I was thinking about is about .5 in with some thicker based rock and more rounded. I think it would really set off the driftwood and river rock. Plus its on the dark brown side with some tan rock and maroon rock.

Water Parameters (pH/GH):
Here's the part the really concerns me and has turned me away from keeping Discus. My tap water's pH is always between 7.5-8.0 and stay's buffered at about between those levels. Now I've read that discus should be kept at 6.5-7.2 pH. I don't tend to breed discus so I am thinking thos pH numbers should be ideal? Now my pH on my tap is way to high for a discus tank. Now if I use "Seachem's Discus Buffer" which buffs the water to 5.0-6.0 and then add some baking soda to this my pH should buff out pretty nicely between 6.5 and neutral? This is the only matter that has been stoping me from having my discus tank. I've heard of using RO/DI water but never really read on how and what I need to do so. If anyone has some good articles on this I can read please post it.

I think thats about it, if you know of anything I missed please let me know. Thank you for reading!

J

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Old 10-22-2007, 06:10 PM   #2
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I'm not a discus expert but I see some things I would do differently if it were me.

First, discus like to be in schools, 5-6 is the minimum for a "school" but you could probably get away with 4. I don't think that is true about the Red Turqs, I'd just avoid any discus from Asia. Get ones locally if you can or on www.aquabid.com If you are looking for Red Turqs contact this guy here:http://www1.freewebs.com/discustrader/index.htm I was going to get some Red Turqs from him as his quality is amazing but I decided against discus.

Next, cardinals and neons are a natural source of food for discus in the wild. You can add them to your tank just don't be surprised if they get eaten. I was actually going to add some cardinals to my discus tank too in order to have a tighter schooling bunch.

Discus can be finniky. With that said I'd STRONGLY recommend running activated carbon in the XP2 because it will remove chemicals that may harm the discus and your other fish.

About your lighting...you have WAY too much. Do you plan on using CO2? You will run into massive problems with algae. I have a compact fluorescent strip on my 55 that is 130 watts (about 3.2 normal output watts per gallon) and I am seeing TONS of algae as a result of not having CO2. I think you want to be around 2.0 NO wpg to see no algae and have low-medium lighting. I believe you would have about 5.6 NO wpg with the setup you listed. You don't need it for java moss, which will grow in nearly no light. You can save TONS of money by cutting back on the lighting. Probably $100-150.

Your substrate should be okay but for plants something like Eco-Complete is preferred. The gravel won't have anything beneficial for your plants. You will most likely have to dose fertilizer often without a nutrient rich substrate.

As for the pH...use RO/DI water if you want to lower you pH. You can also add peat to your substrate and to your XP2. I don't have any experience with the discus buffer but most likely you will be fidgeting with your water often if you use it. The thing about buffers is that they can maintain that range when a little acid or a little base is added but it jumps sharply once it is out of it's buffering capacity. I advise against adding the sodium bicarbonate as it will only make the pH higher...stick with RO/DI if you want to lower the pH. You will want to do water changes 2 times a week at least so you may want to get an RO unit.
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for the great reply bs6749. I've read that discus prefer 4-6 and consider that as a school, but I am not sure if my resource is correct. I will most likely cut back on any tankmates considering the 4 discus in a 48gal is a lot. Thanks for the link on the Red Turqs. Only reasoning I want the red turqs is because of I read they're hardier then most discus.

I did NOT know that cardinals and neons where a natural food for discus. Maybe this would be a good thing? An alternative food source and something to chase?

On my other tank, which has an XP3 I use Chem-zorb (think thats what its called) and I change this 1-2 months. Would this be okay? One thing I am worried about is with carbon is it leaching off the chemicals that its collected and putting it back into the tank because it slipped my mind to change it. However, I am very good with doing gravel vacs and water changes. I change my 75gal every 4-5 days (50%) with no problem.

I don't plan on using CO2, just another thing to mess with (haha). Reason why I chose the lighting is mainly for a healthy growth for the fissidens fontanus. However, they do NOT need that much lighting for a good growth. I'll re-look the lighting, thanks. Any recommendations? I don't really plan on using lots of plants. Just mainly on the circus of driftwood I have. Love the look of java fern and other types of java growing on driftwood. NO plant will be planted in the substrate.

However, I did have a crazy Idea of dividing different substrates. For example, having eco-complete fert in the back with background plants growing and then making some sort of divider to divide the eco-complete to normal gravel and then having the driftwood in the front with java, and fissidens growing on them! Think that would look real good.

I'll start looking into RO/DI unit. Thanks again bs6749!

J
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:04 PM   #4
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I have a 75 gal planted tank with discus and cardinals and neons. The cardinals and neons have been in the tank for a year with the discus, not one has been eaten. I know of others that have kept the same combination so I can't say whether or not it poses a risk to the cardinals and neons. With that much light and discus, keep an eye on the amount of time the lights are on, discus are shy won't want a lot of light for lots of hours a day. I also must disagree with the carbon in the filter with discus, I don't use it at all and I find the discus to be fine without it, again, I have had the same discus for 2 + years. Mine are about 5-6". Regular water changes, stable ph and hiding places for the discus is a must. If you are getting the discus as juvies you will want to get 5-6 of them and then as they grow you will need to see if a pair forms and get rid of the other 3 as the tank will be too small to house more than 3 large discus IMO.

PH, mine is 7.4 and my discus thrive. When I look to spawn them I will lower the ph slowly and naturally although there are several people near me that have had success with spawning discus that have been acclimated for a long time to the ph we have here. I have rams that spawn regularily at that ph. I can't speak for the hardiness of the red turquoise over the other types of discus because I have some turquoise and some golden and some blue discus and I have had them all for a while.

Pristine water and temps are the best thing you can do for your discus. Cycle the tank very very well before adding discus. No ammonia or nitrite at all!!!!!

Discus are prone to parasitic infections so watch them carefully and have meds and QT on hand to treat as necessary.
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:19 PM   #5
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Zagz, thanks for the reply. Wow, 7.4 pH, thats what my Electric Blue Jack Dempsey tank usually sits after a couple days. I just called my LFS that carry a good quality discus and there pH that they're currently in vary from 6.4 to neutral. They carry Red turq, Colbolt Blue turq, Red/White, and Solid blue Discus. Ranging from $30-$70 bucks.

I will most likely being doing a fish less cycle with some media f added into the new filters. I will then add the neons or whatever small tank mate I decide before adding any discus into the tank. I will make sure that the tank is fully cycled before making the purchase

I forgot to mention that I will be adding a internal UV sterilizer to the tank (7 watt), just for an precaution. I know this isn't a 100% cure for pathogens and or parasitic infections. I have a 20 and a 10gal QT on hand as well.

Zagz what is your GH at? Just curious. Thanks again for you knowledge!

J
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:30 PM   #6
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If your discus are used to ph of 6.4 you should try and match that. Drip acclimation of the discus will be the best way to add them once the tank is well cycled. I haven't checked GH for a while but I will later and let you know.

I know angelfish will eat neons and cardinals so I imagine there is the potential for problems. I would advise a backup plan for the neons or cardinals just in case. I use filter floss in my filters for that clean look. For the prevention of illness, I would recommend the QT tank for 2-3 weeks before adding any new fish to your tank! Also plan on at least 2 water changes a week, possibly more depending on the water quality. Makes dosing ferts a royal pain btw.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:20 PM   #7
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I am currently looking at a RO unit for my water to get it down to the desired pH. Thats one thing I am real nervous about is simulating the correct pH, and it not bouncing up. Do you know of any Digital or Electronic pH readers? I will be using in the XP2 Micro Floss, and 30PPI foam and some biological rings. In the AC50 I will use two sponges and bio rings.

I know driftwood can help your water become more acidic, but is this before the releasing of the tannings and uncured wood? I've been soaking my current driftwood thats in a 100gal rubber maid in the garage for at least a couple months. The water is clear as glass.

J
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:49 PM   #8
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Believe it or not what I use for floss is walmart's brand of 100% pure polyester pillow batting, cut to fit. Not the hypo-allergenic stuff the regular stuff. Been using it for over 2 years on all my tanks. It is the same stuff just much cheaper. I am not familiar with any digital or electronic ph readers but will check around for you.

Driftwood has never made a substantial difference in my tanks. It may do some adjustment, but my tanks are generally larger and the driftwood is not as effective I find.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:50 PM   #9
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I were to get an RO unit what would you guys recommend? 2, 3, 4 Stage? What membrane type? Hi-S? TFC? Hi-Flow TFC? CTA ?

Thanks,
J
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:07 PM   #10
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http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/group/11117/product.web

Try these guys for PH Monitors and pres. CO2. I am working up to a 60 gln discus tank and have had this setup for about 6 months. Its a tremendous help! I can't imagine trying to maintain consistant PH/CO2 levels with just a test kit and ph chemicals! Look for the green Milwakee PH / Co2 monitor to hook this up to. A little more expensive with a CO2 tank etc, but better than dead fish & plants or loss of sanity.
edit: http://www.saltycritter.com/milwaukee.htm The SMS122 is what you want. This is a good price too. Maybe $85 is the lowest I found way-back-when. Just Google the model number.
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:48 PM   #11
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Thanks leadfoot for the links. My discus tank that I've already wanted it turning out to be pretty expensive. Haha, good thing the women doesn't know YET.

Can that Reg be hooked to you own DIY Co2? If so do you have a link buy any chance of a good DIY Co2? Thanks!

J
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Old 10-29-2007, 04:32 PM   #12
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I think the problem you will run into (from my research on this forum) is the volatility of the CO2 concentration due to the DIY CO2 generator's (just search for "DIY CO2" on this forum) variable output. Maybe someone has mated a controller with a DIY setup, but with a tank your size, two 2 liter bottles would have to be well maintained (weekly?) to avoid wild swings in PH. Discus can't handle that. Better to spend the money up-front or stay with hardier fish.

edit: High cost? $1,487 so far, got the tank kit in February. I keep all my receipts. No discus yet either...
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:08 AM   #13
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From what I'm reading J Aqua, you've got snippets of info that you haven't put together yet.

You don't need to worry about RO, CO2, or fancy lighting. Keep things as simple as possible when starting with discus. Get the discus acclimated to your water. The best equipment you can own for discus is a python. The more pwcs you do, the happier your discus will be.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:20 PM   #14
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Sorry haven't checked this thread in a while.

ledfoot,
Thats about how much I spent on my Electric Blue Jack Dempsey tank. 75gal show tank and I pay more attention to that thing I've ever have. Im really still not sure with using CO2 yet. I guess I am real hesistant about the pH flucuations i might come across. If I do go with CO2 I will most likely go with an automatic CO2. Might be over board but better safe then sorry. Im really thinking about doing a bare bottom tank with river rock and my lbs and lbs of driftwood that I got with moss growing on the wood. That way it easy to keep tract of waste.

Brian,
Thanks, thats what I was thinking. First I would like the tank to be established well for least 6 months before discus are added. Again going with a bare bottom tank would really help in that area.

Thanks again...
J
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ledfoot View Post
... to avoid wild swings in PH. Discus can't handle that....
Jack Wattley says you can raise Discus in fairly high Ph as long as it's consistent. As I recall, he says having a Ph in the low to mid 6s only becomes important as they begin to mature and you want to start breeding them. See his column in Jan 08 TFH. I'm working on setting up a Discus tank and my plan is to use tap water and automate it for 40-50% daily WCs as he recommends. I'm fortunate to have a deep well, so I don't have to worry about chlorine or any additives from city water. My well water is rock steady around Ph 7.5, so I'll be able to keep the constant Ph everyone says is so important for Discus.
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