You've been to all local fish outlets in your area. You've spent hours online looking at Discus galleries. You've started thinking of things you can sell to have enough cash to get the discus fish and aquarium set up. You've put your settee in the garage to make room for the aquarium. It sounds like you've been bitten by the Discus bug. Now, how to get started.
There are many opinions around how to properly keep discus as there are hundreds websites devoted to them. You will see debates like planted tank vs. bare bottom, tap water or RO, what to feed them, how often to water change and how much. These debates contribute to making Discus keeping fun or a definite tame sore spot. It in fact depends on your likes and dislikes. If you enjoy the ruckus and challenge of learning something and can successfully translate every second opinions into "what works best for you", subsequently keeping Discus will be a fun and rewarding, which you can enjoy for years to come.
Discus Equipment You will Need
In choosing the tank, begin considering a minimum tank size of 100 litres plus. Make certain you have sufficient limits ie a good place to set up your aquarium. You will surely like to setup where its out of sunlight say. The filtration system needs to be sufficient for your size of tank. You will require a heater equal to 1W per litre, meaning a tank of 100 litres will require a 100W heater. The tank needs to be covered and a hood is a good idea, make sure the lighting fitted in it is powerful enough for the tank. In order to keep the tank clean a nice sponge and tubing to syphon is a good idea for keeping the tank maintained.
Preparing for Your Discus' Arrival
You will be eager to have your aquarium cycled ready for your Discus. This means that the beneficial bacteria has been naturally working in your filtration. There are many methods of cycling your tank the easiest and cheapest is fill your tank with water and let the filter run for 4 weeks, slight water changes along the way wont hurt either.
Buying Your Discus Fish
A MUST is buying healthy discus. If you are privileged to have a reputable breeder in your place you are ahead of the game. If not there are some online shops that will provide you with good healthy discus, i would recommend Discus Fish Sales. There are some very good breeders out there that have a very good selection. On the downside shipping usually costs around £25 but can be made back if the fish are the right price. Always look for the specialist and avoid chain stores Ask questions like what water parameters are they kept in and which food is recommended.
So, what should you look for in a healthy Discus?
Some things to bare in mind:
When you walk by the tank, the fish should come to the front to greet you. Avoid fish that look dark, hiding or hanging at the back of the filter or airstone. The water in the tank and the tank itself should be clean and tidy. If there are dead fish in the tank dont buy. They should have a full body that doesn't seem thin, look for bumps, visible injuries and or parasites. The body should be round and nicely shaped. Check the skin and make sure it doesn't have a bland, matte, or slimy look to it. The fins should see healthy and not have a cottony or milky look. The fins should be intact also no white specs or splits and not be held in to the body. The Discus should be using both pectoral fins to move about smoothly. Watch for how the fish breathe. A quick gill rate could be a sign of gill parasites. The fish should glide through the water and have good balance. The eyes of your Discus should have a healthy clean look to them, healthy eyes are a sign of being well looked after. Big or bulgy eyes can be a sign that they have been neglected Ask to see the Discus eat. Be wary if they feed fresh or frozen blood worms or tubiflex worms. Avoid fish that seem un interested in the food
Adding Discus to your Tank
For the proposed 100 litre setup you will be looking at adding 6 X 2 inch discus. Young discus prefer the security of numbers in a tank. Make sure your tank is fully cycled as mentioned above. As your fish grow a pecking order will become apparent, somtimes it may be necessary to remove the smaller ones and grow them on larger in another tank until they are big enough to be re introduced. Just my opinion i prefer a bare bottom tank as they are easier to keep the bottom clean, creating cleaner water. Plus you can tell if your over feeding which is easily done. When a water change is done remove any ornaments in the tank as they may harbour uneaten food. Once a week remove the sponge filters and clean in a jug of tank water, this way it will not remove the beneficial bacteria that has grown in them, never wash under a tap.
Clean water is a critical thing for discus. In a properly cycled tank i would recommend a 30% water change once a week, if the tank is bare bottom it wouldnt hurt to syphon the un eaten food out an hour after feeding. All our fish are kept in tap water, avoid using RO water for young discus, they require the minerals of harder water to aid in their development and growth.
Feeding Your Discus
Your discus should greet you at the front of the tank. Happy healthy Discus are always hungry. I would say 3 feeds a day is about right. My recommended diet would be a good discus mix containing beef heart or seafood or both. Like i said stay away from bloodworm, it causes internal worms and untreated you will loose you fish.
The Discus hobby is fantastic. It has its ups and downs but is a fantastic hobby. If you enjoy not only the beauty of the fish but actually watching their behavior and relationships, Discus keeping will fascinate you. There's a lot to learn and this is just a small beginning. Make certain you do your reading up so you can enjoy your hobby and fish even more