Just how hard are discus to keep?

Lund

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I am currently cycling my 110g tall tank (fishless cycle). And I am exploring possible fish to put into it. And after looking through the thread of angel, and discus pics I decided that some discus and angels would look trully awsome in my tank. So, is all the info I've been able to find true? Are discus really as hard to keep, do to low tollerance of unclean water?
What are some tips on keeping discus for a new, and potential discus keeper.
 

Vitaliy

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People tend to make things up to make themselves look good, if you talk to Discus keepers they will make it sound like it is impossible; you have to maintain very low pH, do water changes twice a day, and do this and that. Discus that you find in your local store are not wild caught and are most likely kept in your regular tap water and should not be much harder to keep than any other fish.

Get some driftwood for the tank, keep up with your water changes, and feed them a good/varied diet, and nothing else to it. Go for it!
 

Oddball

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...and keep the temp up at 84 to 86 degrees. This is higher than what you'd find with wild discus. But, breeders have been keeping the temp up to stave off disease and the fish are adjusted to higher temps. Twice daily water changes is a little rediculous. However, discus do require frequent water changes as they are intolerant of nitrites. So test often and do a change when nitrites go above trace level. They also need a good amount of aeration to meet their higher DO requirements.
 

Dkarc

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Discus arent that hard to keep at all...not even wild ones. The basics are warm water (mid 80's) and frequent water changes. Everyone will say something different regarding water changes...but in all honesty, the amount of water changes you need to do will vary on several things. #1: bare bottom or fully planted. In a bare bottom tank, you will need to do more water changes than in a fully planted tank. BUT, discus dont do as well in a planted tank than they would in a bare bottom one. #2: Stocking density. For discus, the general rule of thumb is 1 fish per 10-15 gallons. 110 gallon tank you could easily keep 8-10 discus in there and get by with water changes less frequently (1-2x a week). #3: Filtration. I am a HUGE advocate to using wet/dry filters on all discus tanks because it makes things so much easier and they can handle the bio load much better than a typcial HOB or canister style filter. Biological capacity is key with discus. Discus will get stressed very easily, so having a filter than will process all the ammonia and nitrite very efficiently is a good thing. Lets say that the tank will be fully planted, 10 fish in the tank and you are using a wet/dry filter. With that setup, I would recommend a 35-50% water change atleast once a week. More frequently if you plan on keeping more discus/other fish in the tank as well (due to increased bioload). Yes, discus can be very intolerant of less than ideal water quality. And do not get water quality and water clarity mixed up. I hear everyone saying that they havent done a water change in a month and their water quality is still very good. I call BS!! They're water isnt of very good quality...maybe good water clarity, but not good quality. There is a HUGE difference and dont let anyone try to tell you different. And with discus, it's all that more important. Also, pH stability is MUCH more important than the actual pH level itself. I dont care what the books say, or your LFS says to you regarding pH levels with discus...they will do perfectly fine in the pH that comes out of your tap (once aged/aerated and pH has settled of course). I know people who keep discus in a pH of 8.2 and they are breeding them!! Trying to keep the pH at like 6.5 or lower is very challenging at times and the fluctuation of the pH will stress the fish to no end and will eventually kill them. Dont worry about the pH. Just focus on warm water, frequent water changes and good stock to start off with (also very important...stay away from LFS discus...).

-Ryan
Orlando Discus
 

JuanTamad

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Jan 8, 2006
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Dkarc;471853; said:
Discus arent that hard to keep at all...not even wild ones. The basics are warm water (mid 80's) and frequent water changes. Everyone will say something different regarding water changes...but in all honesty, the amount of water changes you need to do will vary on several things. #1: bare bottom or fully planted. In a bare bottom tank, you will need to do more water changes than in a fully planted tank. BUT, discus dont do as well in a planted tank than they would in a bare bottom one. #2: Stocking density. For discus, the general rule of thumb is 1 fish per 10-15 gallons. 110 gallon tank you could easily keep 8-10 discus in there and get by with water changes less frequently (1-2x a week). #3: Filtration. I am a HUGE advocate to using wet/dry filters on all discus tanks because it makes things so much easier and they can handle the bio load much better than a typcial HOB or canister style filter. Biological capacity is key with discus. Discus will get stressed very easily, so having a filter than will process all the ammonia and nitrite very efficiently is a good thing. Lets say that the tank will be fully planted, 10 fish in the tank and you are using a wet/dry filter. With that setup, I would recommend a 35-50% water change atleast once a week. More frequently if you plan on keeping more discus/other fish in the tank as well (due to increased bioload). Yes, discus can be very intolerant of less than ideal water quality. And do not get water quality and water clarity mixed up. I hear everyone saying that they havent done a water change in a month and their water quality is still very good. I call BS!! They're water isnt of very good quality...maybe good water clarity, but not good quality. There is a HUGE difference and dont let anyone try to tell you different. And with discus, it's all that more important. Also, pH stability is MUCH more important than the actual pH level itself. I dont care what the books say, or your LFS says to you regarding pH levels with discus...they will do perfectly fine in the pH that comes out of your tap (once aged/aerated and pH has settled of course). I know people who keep discus in a pH of 8.2 and they are breeding them!! Trying to keep the pH at like 6.5 or lower is very challenging at times and the fluctuation of the pH will stress the fish to no end and will eventually kill them. Dont worry about the pH. Just focus on warm water, frequent water changes and good stock to start off with (also very important...stay away from LFS discus...).

-Ryan
Orlando Discus
:iagree:

I've been adventurous when it comes to keeping fish. I've heard and saw the reports from the breeders and self proclaimed experts on the need for the always constant water change and other difficult requirements. I went ahead anyway and brought in Wild Discus and mixed them with my Domestic bred Angels and kept them the same way I kept the Angels, which were on what I considered excessive twice a week 20 to 30 % water change using tap water that was tested to be hard as rock and Alkaline.

They are still alive and healthy. Keeping them is not that hard. Breeding them is another story. However, I don't breed Discus.
 

carpediem

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Lund;471697; said:
I am currently cycling my 110g tall tank (fishless cycle). And I am exploring possible fish to put into it. And after looking through the thread of angel, and discus pics I decided that some discus and angels would look trully awsome in my tank. So, is all the info I've been able to find true? Are discus really as hard to keep, do to low tollerance of unclean water?
What are some tips on keeping discus for a new, and potential discus keeper.
For whatever reason, a lot of people on this forum claim to ignore water chemistry, particularly over in the rift lake cichlid forum.

For discus, and all other fish for that matter, consistency is the key. That being the case, I think it also pays to present soft acidic conditions as this is what discus are bred in. Driftwood and peat moss work very well. You really can't go wrong with investing in a good RO system and a couple rubbermaid stock tanks. I mix pure RO water with about 10% tap. I use a mag-drive pump to circulate the water within the stock tank and I heat it to 85 degrees. I also float a bag of peat. This is my change water for the discus tanks and it maintains a pH of 6.3 to 6.4.

This method works for me but I'm not saying that is what you need to do in order to keep discus. I prefer to have the change water waiting before I do water changes, which I do about once a week. The water is clean (RO) acidic (peat) and the same temp as the tank water.

The other issue you will deal with is the source of the fish. I have learned the hard way that it is best to pay the extra money and buy fish that you can observe before buying. Discus are notorious for having parasites and, in my experience, it's difficult to treat them without losing some of the fish. Buy clean, bright fish with (most important IMO) good body weight. Discus should be frisky anxious feeders when kept in a group, not shy hesitant fish.
 

Lund

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I am considering 2-4 discus, around 4 angels, 4 clown loaches, 1 pleco, and one black ghost knife. The pleco and black ghost knife are the reasons I bought the bigger tank, and are my favorites. I do weekly water changes, and frequently check my parameters for nitrites and the like. Does anyone see any potential problems with the fish coexisting that I have listed?
 

carpediem

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Lund;472833; said:
I am considering 2-4 discus, around 4 angels, 4 clown loaches, 1 pleco, and one black ghost knife. The pleco and black ghost knife are the reasons I bought the bigger tank, and are my favorites. I do weekly water changes, and frequently check my parameters for nitrites and the like. Does anyone see any potential problems with the fish coexisting that I have listed?
I'm somewhat of a purist and I may stir up some arguments here but I'm still going to go with the generally kept philosophies.

Angels and Clown Loaches are probably not the best tank mates for discus. Discus are the best tank mates for discus. I keep a few cory cats with mine. Many people keep various soft/acidic water tetras. Discus feel the most secure with several other discus.

Just my .02
 

chat

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Jul 8, 2006
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THAILAND
The secret of keeping Discus Fishes;

1. Start with The Healty Fishes.
2. Do not feed them with Live Tubifex.
3. Change water everyweek. Or install the best water filter.

Note:
- Do not buy the fishes which show black or darker color, So big eyes, rot fin
or any white spotted on fins and tail.
- In fact the discus's so easy to keep them.

Hope this help you starting with the good impression with Lovely Discus Fishes.
 
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