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How hard are Discus to care for?

Posted by gmgpk IL (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 21:07

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

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How hard are Discus to care for?

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.


RE: How hard are Discus to care for?

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.

RE: How hard are Discus to care for?

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<6.0ppm and will spike up to 7.8ppm once aerated (tons of trapped CO2). In my experiance with pH down buffers a waste of money and time. It is a constant battle that you will never win. 2 choices that are more consistant and reliable 1) Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) system, this removes minerals, metals and contaminates along with other crap- problem is price and a PITA(IMO) you have to first filter the tap water through it which takes alot of time deppending on RO system and quality of tap water. Then you have to replace trace eliments and adjust to specifications for species, in this case Discus. 2) CO2 injection- again expenssive unless you attemp a DIY model, for a larger tank compressed CO2 is reccomended, however I have been "experimenting" with the more inexpenssive DIY (yeast mixture)model that can do the job, maybe. You just have to get used to getting the appropriate "recipe" of yeast mixture and quanity to get a consistant pH and KH. The benefit of CO2 is the live plants will thrive and the Discus will appreciate that enviroment. The more expensive Compressed CO2 can come with a system that is fully automatic with a pH controller that will dispence CO2 and maintain a preset level. Downfall about $400 (YIKES), and haveing a compressed airtank inside the home. Theese are just suggestions for maintaining consistant pH, not gospel. If you do the Discus I would Use the 65gal with good substrate mix (a planted specialty type trace iron along with any other type of inert, or 100% planted type), Proper lighting for planted tank of 65 gal ( minimum of 130w 5500K - 8000K fluorescent or MH), add live plants of choice, when they start to thrive add the tetras. Wait about 2 weeks and add the discus 1 or a pair every 2 weeks until stocked allowing for adult size. Again I have no hands on with Discus,yet. This would be my approach to it. Also the Magnum350 by marineland is a great filterbecause of the micron option for water polishing if you get into trouble, for even more efficient polishing you can add some DE powder to the intake side of the micron to pull out even more crud. If going plantted the Bio-Wheel should be removed only because the extra aeration will cause any CO2 to be released before the plants can utilize it. Also try a search for DISCUS on yahoo or google and try to find a more specialized forum for "expert" advise.

Here is a link that might be useful: Discus Profile

RE: How hard are Discus to care for?

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.


RE: How hard are Discus to care for?

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

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