How to Keep Discus Fish
How To Keep Discus Fish
There are a few things to consider before you purchase your discus as they are harder to keep then standard tropicals and require a bit more TLC
Discus fish are not cheap fish and no one would like to lose them shortly after purchase. Here are a few things to consider before you purchase.
WATER PARAMS discus as all tropicals require a good cycling filter, this can take from 5 weeks to 12 weeks depending on the filter type from purchase before the water is fully cycled and discus fish should never be added until this happens. While a filter is "cycling" NEVER water change as all this does is prolonge the time it takes the filter to cycle. Also just to add fast filters tend to be less effective, your tank only needs the water replacing twice per hour so a 400 litre tank only requires around 800 to 1000 litres per hour going round, too fast iut slows the cycling and also a fast water flow sometimes can stress discus out making them go off there food etc. Water temp 82/84F oe 28/29C make sure thats not too hot for any other tropicals you might have in there
Having a good liquid test kit is part of an essential piece of equipment every discus keeper requires (clear water doesnt mean good water) Forget "test strips" as there absolutely useless and no indication of water quality, if you have any throw them away. We recommend the API freshwater test kit, its one of the most accurate out on the market (better than the JBL one IMO) available HERE
Now getting to basics, when you think a tank is cyling you need to test the water for Ammonia NH4 and Nitrite NO2, when the readings of these are zero parts per million (PPM) on each test then you know your filter is working properly. But stop there as its not always safe to add discus!. Another chemical in water is Nitrate NO3 this is NOT cycled by your filter is it a by product which comes from different sources. So You can use tap water for our discus but before you do you need to test it direct from the tap for Nitrate NO3.
Standard tropicals will with stand an Nitrate NO3 reading of 40 to 50 PPM, this is the important bit, NEVER keep discus in Nitrate No3 levels of higher than 10ppm. So going back to your tap water readings if its higher than 10ppm Nitrate NO3 then you would be required to use RO water as this doesnt contain nitrate. A pointer if your tap water is 20ppm nitrate then a 50/50 mix of tap water and RO water would reduce your nitrate levels to 10ppm. (HMA still contains nitrate and shouldnt be used to lower nitrate levels.
When your ammonia and nitrite readings are zero and your nitrate level is 10ppm or lower now is the time to add your discus. A rule of thumb is 4 to 5 discus per every 100 litres of water is a fine amount stock wise.
Water changing wise discus grow and develop better with a more regular water change than standard tropicals, i base mine on around 30% water change every 5 days, change anymore and you will harm your discus through ammonia spikes as the filter stops cycling briefly and harms fish, so on that basis dont leave it 2 weeks inbetween water changes and change 80% of the water in one go it will poison your fish.
We post our fish all around the country here are the water params our discus will go in, GH 1 to 10, PH 5 to 9, TDS 100 to 900, Ammonia nh4 zero, Nitrite no2 zero and of course Nitrate NO3 less than 10ppm. As you can see a wide ranging tolerance, many say they require low PH and soft water, there talking twaddle, yes to breed in but as a hobbyist it doesnt matter, discus thrive in hard water, Discus eggs wont fertilise in hard water but like i say as a hobbyist it doesnt matter,
Back to tank basics keeping an eye in nitrate is something that should be done on a weekly basis there are 3 sourses of nitrate, 1/ from the tap as i explained, 2/ from over feeding and 3/ not cleaning the left over food and fish waste out (main reason), when you do your 30% water changes its essential that you hoover the bottom of the tank, right down to the glass at the bottom. If you dont any unaten food or fish waste will just up the nitrates even regular water changes wont remove it.
Tank set up wise dont put anything dark in there like black background or dark gravel, reason being most discus the reds, yellows and whites are man made colours that have come out of 50 years of breeding, they all have what we call "pigeon" in the strain, in there DNA, add to a dark tank they will "pepper" (develop black freckles) its not a health issue its just cosmetic and ruins the look of the fish, heres a pic of some badly peppered discus.
Last but not least feeding, discus require a good diet, high in nutrients and protein, there hungry fish, diet wise i feed all mine on the mussel mix, its a good all round complete diet and contains everything a discus needs for colour and health, also the smaller 2 to 2.5 inch discus are 8 weeks old and changing there diet to something else they wouldnt eat for around 10 days, not a good idea at there stage of development. the DONTS are no flake as its got nothing in it, no daphnia or bloodworm as there 99% water, not nutricious and the blooworm carry pathogens that cause worms in discus, no blister packs as they are usually frozen in stagnant water and adding 5 cubes a day wont do your water quality any good.
Mussel Mix is available HERE