How hard are Discus to care for?

gmgpk(IL)August 26, 2005

Hi all,

I currently have a 40-gallon aquarium that has been established for about 2 years. I have 3 Angel Fish, 3 cory cats, and a grouping of 10 tetras(which includes Prestillas, Black Widows and Lemon Tetras). I am going to start a 65-gallon one soon and transfer my current fish over and was thinking about Discus. How many Discus is good to start with? Are they really much harder than Angel Fish to care for? Are they really such a fussy fish that you have to drain a aquarium DAILY like I've read? Should I worry about my PH? I know that they like really low PH(about 6.0). My PH is at about 7.5, I use a Marineland Magnum 350 canister filter, I drain 25% every week, and have not had any unusual trouble since my aquarium has cycled. I currently use plastic and silk plants, but plan to have real plants in the new aquarium. I feel that I keep my aquarium clean and disease free.

They are such a beautiful, graceful fish and I am just fascinated by them. But I do have several concerns that I hope can get settled by other aquarists. My main concern after reading various books, magazines, and the internet is caring for them and cost. I have been reading conflicting information. I know discus cost about $35 apiece and would hate to lose them after spending so much on them due to my lack of skill in caring for them. Some say that they are really easy, then it goes to the other extreme, that only a experienced aquarist should keep them.

Thanks for any information! Shelley

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Hi Shelly. I'e found that Discus do better in a dedicated tank with no other fish. Possible exceptions would be maybe a few cory cats. The water temp needs to be warmer than most other fish are really comfortable with. Also Discus can carry the same viral diease that angel fish do so you have to be very careful in purchasing them. Better to buy some that have been locally raised if at all possible. Feed a good variety of food, keep them warm and frequent water changes.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 9:52PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

There much harder than angels to keep. There usually fussy eaters and need good water quality. They may also dominate the angels to the point of them starving them to death. The tetras and cats would be OK companions. If there eating flake foods in the store you may have a good chance. Like Lisa said a varied diet, warm water and check water parameters.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 11:28PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

From what I have read (because some day I will get around to them) they prefer smaller tank mates like tetras, Hatchets,rasboras etc. Below is a link to a profile-besure to read the comments below the profile as they conflict with the "general" profile. I think a 40 may be slightly small for them. It is reccomended a 55 or larger, so maybe the 65 would be a better choice and you can use some of your tetras. The pH thing might be a factor. I have well water that comes out of the tap

Here is a link that might be useful: Discus Profile

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 10:55AM
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Hey woeisme,

Thank's for that info. I see you are just like me, I really like the idea of Discus and a planted aquarium, but the cost is a big OUCH. Like you, I am on well water. However mine comes out of the tap at 7.9 PH. BUT, I have been "squemish" about trying to play with my PH, I don't want to kill the fish I have by taking it down too much at once.

I really like the Magnum 350 Canister Filter, but I don't use the Bio-Wheel and I haven't tried the Micron Filter yet. I haven't had it that long.

There is a Cichlid forum that I have looked at but it seems really specialized. So, I thought I would try this forum to see if anyone has kept Discus and clear up some of the confusing info I've found from books and other forums. I have found that when I ask at the aquarium stores, even the small neighborhood ones, that they will tell you anything you want to hear just to get you to buy the fish.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 3:31PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Unfortunately that is true about some pet shops, I was even told that unless I had alot of trouble with the cycle the first tank I set up with well water. It would just stall and never complete. If you are handy or have have a freind that is, I can reccomend some DIY lighting, CO2 sites I found usefull. For most tropicals the 7.9 is fine, but the Discus seem to be a little fragile. I dont know for sure. As far as a pH crash when I first installed the CO2 mine went from 7.8 to 6.2 in about 4 hours. No Ill effects on the fish. I would imagine that instant change is the real harm as well as constant fluctuation. Since it is gradual,but steady with the CO2, if done correctly it will be safe. I have a DIY system that I am ever improveing and it will soon be published on another forum. Afew people have tried it with good sucess so far. Is the 65 gal 48" long? If so shoplights with bulbs can be modified under a canopy for about $12 per 80w so that could be about $24 for 2 1/2 watt per gal. perfect for beggining low to moderate lighted plants. Gotta go crying baby

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 4:19PM
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