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Things You Should Know About DISCUS

Discussion in 'Discus' started by MOD_Dawn, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    Things you should know about Discus:

    1) Discus need crystal clear, clean water. Weekly partial water changes will be necessary. We recommend pure R/O water with De Ionization.
    2) Keep the Ph around 6.5.
    3) Temp around 84. Breeding discus should be kept at 88 degrees.
    4) Soft water is needed. We recommend Blackwater Extract.
    5) Plants, swords especially, do nicely with discus. Just remember to clean the gravel frequently. Plants act as a natural filter.
    6) Discus need lots of oxygen, so keep an outside filter and inside aeration sponge filter. We also highly recommend a UV sterilizer. Ideally, we recommend 1-micron filtration. Discus are extremely susceptible to external bacterial infections, so UV Filtration and proper filtration are very important.
    7) We highly recommend keeping at least one pleco in the tank also. Some plecos harass discus, so we only sell plecos on our website that are safe with discus.
    8) Gouramis, Corydoras catfish and Angels (you have to be a little careful with the Angels as they can be a carrier for Discus Plague) also do well with discus.
    9) Do not put them in with aggressive fish (most cichlids) or fin nippers
    (barbs).
    10) Discus are grazers, so feed them several times a day with a food that
    slowly sinks to the bottom. We recommend that discus be fed three times a day. If that is impossible, feed them a minimum of two times a day with as much as they can eat in 10 minutes.

    11) We feed our discus flake Beef Heart, freeze dried Blood Worms and frozen Brine Shrimp.

    12) Many discus do not show their full colors as juveniles and will not until they are mature adults.

    13) Discus can grow to 9 inches and will live up to 10 years.

    14) Different colors and patterns can be kept together and will freely breed together.

    15) While discus do not technically school and will do fine by themselves, we recommend that they be kept in groups of at least three.

    16) Do not create excessive current in your tank. Your discus will need an area of slow moving water.


    Gallons per inch of discus: 2 for 2", 3.25 for 3", 5 for 4", 7.25 for 5", 9 for 6"
     
  2. stevenrox

    stevenrox New Member

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    well r/o is not always needed i dont use r/o system mines were always fine and if im not wrong lemon doesnt use it either.
     
  3. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:57 pm Sexing Discus

    There are all kinds of theories and ideas on how to sex discus. Here are the facts.

    Juvenile discus cannot be sexed accurately without surgical examination. That's it, bottom line, end of story.

    Here are the differences in male and female mature discus that can be used with some degree of success.

    1) Male discus often have an elongated and pointed dorsal fin. If the discus has a elongated, pointed fin, it is almost always a male. Depending on the strain, many males do not have an elongated, pointed dorsal fin. The elongation usually does not show up until they are about six inches, well after they are sexually mature.

    2) The breeding tube on the female is larger than the male and is farther forward from the caudal fin. This can be used reliably, if you have done it many times and you take the discus out of the water and examine it under a magnifying glass. It is best to sedate the discus before attempting this.

    3) Males lips are slightly larger than the females. This is a very difficult means of sexing discus, but can be used with success on some strains. I have particular success using this technique with wild caught discus.

    Myth. The dominate discus is the male. UNTRUE, the female is quite often dominate and I have had many males killed by an over aggressive female. The only time that the male is consistently more dominate is when they are spawning. By that time they have laid eggs and there is no question of the sexes.

    Myth. The female is thicker as she is carrying eggs. While this may be true to a VERY small degree, it CANNOT be used reliably to sex discus. Some of my skinniest discus are my best producers. After a successful spawn, a female would naturally be skinnier, but she would be no less a female. So if you are looking at a discus and do not have the correct spawning history, using this method would be worthless.
     
  4. sccichlids

    sccichlids Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:43 am

    may i ask where you got this article (Sexing Discus)
     
  5. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:08 pm

    was e-mailed to me from something phishy. I just altered it a bit.
    I thought it was very informative for those looking into/owning Discus
     
  6. sccichlids

    sccichlids Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:22 pm

    it is very interesting, do you still have the link?
     
  7. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:32 pm

    no, it was sent to me by e-mail from them.
    That was the entire article received.
     
  8. stevenrox

    stevenrox New Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:21 pm

    1,3 is not always true only way to be 100% sure is the breeding tube method
     
  9. LemonDiscus

    LemonDiscus Active Member

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    Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:32 pm

    Agreed Steven! Even with the tube... you need to know what you are looking at and the difference between the sexes which is sometimes VERY subtle!
     
  10. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    NEW THINGS LEARNED:
    I've come to learn a few things I thought I'd share.

    Two heaters are better than 1 in the sense that the 2nd will acts as an "insurance policy" in case 1 fails. A heater of 5 watts per gallon will more than maintain the proper water temp for your tank.

    Filtration...His (Jack Wattley) filters utilize activated carbon & nylon/dacron filter floss.
    Zeolite is also a good media when used properly (can control ammonia buildup).

    :cool: Passing water through activated carbon will remove chloramines & Chlorine.
    Chlorine can also be removed by heavy aeration, or by the addition of thiosulphate which will neutralize it.

    Canisters allow various medias and are easy to clean (Book shows Renaissance prime 10, prime 20 hydor canister filter).
    Sponge filters need cleaned out in cool fresh water to maintain the beneficial bacteria.
    Wet/dry trickle filters also work nicely.
    Omitting filtration is possible if you do at least 4 weekly water changes of at least 30%.Adult fish (including those that are not breeding get a 40% water change daily.

    In successful aquarium beneficial bacteria will convert the toxic ammonia to nitrite,
    and then to nitrate (which is relatively benign).


    IF ph is lower than 6.3-6.4 the potentially harmful ammonia will have been converted to much less damaging ammonium (NH3) although in some aquarium waters both ammonia & ammonium can be present.

    Even low levels of ammonia and nitrate can be the cause of disease outbreaks, due to the continual stress that the fish must live with.

    Discus should have LESS than 25ppm's of ammonia & nitrite at all times. To keep ammonia & nitrites within acceptable range you'll need to perform regular water changes, utilize proper filtration, and incorporate an intelligent feeding program.

    Decor/Plants...water sprite floated makes a great canopy, Amazon Swordplants grown in substrate or pots/ceramic vases, and Hygrophila which can quickly grow to the top.

    Purchasing Discus...Purchase 4-5 at a time, because if you purchase only 2 the one will become dominate and overpower the other (injuring it, not allowing it to eat...which will lead to disease and death). They will not be sexable at this size and It is better to purchase them as a group of small sized discus at aprox 2" (even when having them shipped in) because younger fish handle stress better and adapt to their surroundings easier. A healthy discus should have a uniformly round body, bright Orange or Red Eyes (black/grey is a sign of disease or abnormality), and be active (dark & huddled may usually means sick). Fish should be feeding the same day they arrive!

    DON'T have your fish fed the day you plan on picking them up/ transferring them because they'll risk the chance of bloat due to the stress.

    According to the book Wattley does a 40% daily water change on his Adult tanks & a 50% daily water change on his youth tanks (youth= growing stage which is up to aprox. 11-14 months), but states that the discus hobbyist can get by with a twice a week water change of 25% . For amazing fish growth do a 95% daily waterchange.

    TankMates... Cardinal Tetras, Rummynose Tetras, Corydoras, and Microgeophagus Ramirezi (ram). Rummynoses can be used to assess water quality by merely looking at their heads (rosey red= good water quality; Lt. grey= poor water quality).

    Warnings... Angelfish (because they can carry a disease), Most Loaches (especially clowns) because they are active at night when the discus are trying to sleep, Plecos for the same reason that loaches aren't recommended, Neon Tetras solely because they come from cooler waters (72-75F typically), and a majority of the tetras due to fin nipping..amongst many others.

    Cichlid Foods...avoid tubifex worms (internal parasites that can be damaging), avoid bait shop earth worms (sprayed with repellent in order to keep mites out of the cultures),try to avoid nauplii (can harbor the parasite Oodinium which is able to wipe out an entire spawn of young discus within 48 hours), Garden/Backyard earthworms are good, frozen bloodworms are good, live adult brine shrimp is safe, white worms (Enchytraeus) are good, Live Vinegar Eels are good for babies, Daphnia's okay, Frozen Artemia is good, mosquito larvae (generally obtained in freeze dried & frozen form) is also safe as is mixing Bananas and Garlic to any formula (Garlic will act as a deterrent against the proliferation of intestinal worms in discus. It will not kill the worms outright, but over time will stop the recurring reproductive cycle of the worms AND bananas are a source of nourishment). Also, a good quality flake food that has the highest possible concentration of carotenoid pigments that will bring out the colors in discus and tropical fish (O.S.I. Vivid Color is shown in the book).

    The books says that Wattley sells his own frozen mixture of food which contains 50% protein and is said to be a complete and balanced diet. All ingredients are raw with the exception of the liver which is lightly parboiled.

    Contents are heart, krill, shrimp, clam, liver, spinach, wheat germ, spirulina, plus essential vitamins and minerals.

    Spirulina and spinach act as laxative keeping delicate intentinal tract clear since discus are omnivorous in reality.

    Cichlid Breeding...A 20 gallon tank can be used for a breeding pair.
    Males are typically larger and more colorful for the most part, once eggs are laid viable eggs will hatch within 60-70 hours dependant upon tank temperature (warmer water = faster hatching time) and an average spawn is between 150-170.

    -> Keep a soft light on the tank so the fry can find the parents to feed (night lite).

    Fry will feed from 1 parent for about 2-3 minutes at a time and after about 30 hours they should have doubled in size. Within 6-7 days the babies can be introduced to Artemia (which they may not accept right away...so try offering a few times through out the day).

    Once babies are eating well (artemia, frozen food, etc) they can be transferred into a heated 10 gallon aquarium that has a sponge filter in place. The Maximum growth period is during the first 28 weeks. Once reaching sexual maturity can cut back feeding to 1x a day.
     
  11. FishVixen

    FishVixen Active Member

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  12. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    SPAWNING

    The first sign that your discus are getting ready to spawn will be their obsession with cleaning a rock, or filter tube or side of the aquarium. Once you see both of them doing this, spawning will usually follow within a day or two. You will also see them start doing the mating dance. They will swim towards each other at a slightly upward angle. Once they get next to each other, they will shimmer and then swim away from each other at a slightly lowered angle. The most spectacular aspect of the spawning will be the colors of your discus. Whatever their color, it will become MUCH more intense and vibrant during spawning. This will be the prettiest you will ever see your discus. They will also become aggressive toward other fish, including discus, at this time. They will aggressively defend the breeding site from all intruders, including you.

    At some point after your discus start doing all of the above, they will actually lay the eggs. It will start with the female rubbing her belly, and her breeding tube, against the surface that they have cleaned. She will always lay in an upwards motion. The total length of the spawning run will be between ½ and three inches. She will lay between 1 and 12 eggs per spawning run. The male should then follow directly behind her in the basic same motion spraying the eggs with sperm. You usually cannot see the actual sperm cloud. The entire process can take between one and five hours.

    This is when the fun is over and the frustration can start. The first two issues that you will be confronted with are eating of the eggs, especially by the male, and infertility.
     
  13. jrow8162

    jrow8162 Member

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    Good info Dawn. A lot of it appears to be really strict and doesnt have to be. My ph is 7.0 and my Discus do great. I've even spoke to people who have successfully kept them in PH up to 8.0. (Not recommended by me). I used to do 50% water changes twice a week but now I have cut back to 50% once a week due to the fact I just dont have the free time anymore. As far as their diet goes I feed frozen bloodworms, beef heart and occasionally brine shrimp for a treat! I'm curious about the "back yard" worms. Would you really feed those to your discus? If you have before with no issues I may be interested in trying that. I'm just afraid to change anything up as it took me losing a few before I found what seems to work for me. My temp stays at 86 and I have 2 external filters. An emperor 400 and a Whisper EX75. Large bubble wall in the back of the tank and T5 lighting which I keep on for about 12 hours a day for my plants. I think the backup heater is a great idea too! I currently have 5 in a 55 gallon and am about to pick up a 125 in the next day or so. I will post pics soon.
     
  14. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    Han's keeps his at 7.0 I believe too and I do 50% or more once a week faithfully...sometimes more often if I see the need.

    As for diet, currently it's strictly Hikari Frozen Bloodworms, Hikari algae wafers that they steal from the corydoras', and the occassional toss of NLS Flake. Their all getting fed like 4-5x (sometimes more) a day. I've read where adults should be cut back to one time per day, but am unsure as to why...and since it doesn't make sense currently I will continue to feed them like kings and queens to make sure their tummys are full and their colors are optimum.

    I haven't tried the backyard worms...if I did I'd defin. pre-rinse them first and maybe put a speck of prime on them.

    My temps the same as yours, might fluctuate by 1 degree (like when doing partials) and I do 2 canister filters (rena xp4's) on the 90g.

    I do 48" bubble wand that I bent into a circular shape and zip tied for oxygen (runs 24/7) and the lighting is also T5 which is kept on just a bit longer than 12 hours.

    The backup heater is done because of the high temp, from what I've read most of them crap out pretty fast because of it...so I set up two of them about 1-2 degrees apart. That way they both aren't working hard..and the 1 backs up the other should the temp swing too fast.

    Oh nice, 125g....wish I had room for a massive tank...to think of the possibilites.
     
  15. jrow8162

    jrow8162 Member

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    I wouldnt slow the feeding down. I think its definitely a good idea to keep them happy and full!!!

    I may have to take the 55 gallon down to make room. Also, need to make sure my floors will hold it up. Its drilled though and I haven't seen it so i'm not sure what it looks like. It was used for salt water before. Maybe I can use the 55 gallon for a sump or something. I've never set anything like that up before. I'll let you know how it goes...
     
  16. jrow8162

    jrow8162 Member

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    Interesting article I found about Discus keeping.....

    There's a guy in Sacramento that raises Discus--some 80-100 breeding pair
    that he keeps in generally 8.0+ water. He did a number of experiments many
    years ago, moving pairs from one pH to another (i.e., 6.8 to 7.6 then to
    8.0) to determine viability, tolerances, etc. His fish continued to spawn;
    albeit with a differing hatch rate, but they continued to perform. He also
    did the same with temperature tolerances and breeding, though I don't recall
    the numbers there, except to say that he kept his fish lower than what the
    books call for, and they bred with regularity.

    A friend who was an angel and Discus breeder in Los Angeles did not treat
    his water (ph a minimum of 7.8, with an average of 8.1 pH), but kept the
    building at 80+, ran a drip irrigation method which changed 250% of the
    water daily on his fish, and he fed extremely well; he had between
    15,000-20,000 angel fry a week going; and a couple of hundred discus fry.

    Since few Discus are 'wild caught' anymore, and what is out in the hobby has
    acclimated itself to what 'is', you can see significant variation in ranges
    for fish. Same goes for the 'angel'. The 'scalare' are fairly adaptable,
    only not succeeding at real extremes, while the newer angels, 'altum' and (I
    forget the species name, sorry), require attention to detail in their
    environment.

    It appears that the major, driving force, in being able to breed discus, or
    angels, in any water (same with catfish, too) is the water quality (lots of
    water changes/reduced nitrate/nitrite issues) and lots of food. Translate
    all that to good care.

    BTW: I currently have three discuss in a 60 gallon tank, pH 8.2,
    hardness is high (off my scale) with some apisto's, central american
    cichlids, and some livebearers, and all do fine. The temperature is room
    temperature, which now, in the winter is somewhere in the high 60's at the
    moment. They also suffered through high 80's during our 'hot spell' in
    July--September when the room temperatures got up to 95 during the day.

    So, keeping discus in other than 'Amazonian water' can happen, and
    does, with more success than some would anticipate.

    > ----------
    > From: lewis weil[SMTP:leweil@hotmail.com]
    > Sent: Friday, November 06, 1998 5:11 PM
    > To: apisto@majordomo.pobox.com
    > Subject: Amazonian fish and hard water
    >
    > Do not be alarmed I am not keeping soft water fish in hard water I am
    > just wondering if you all have had success with this. I have met two
    > people who keep have owned discus for a long time and have them in a pH
    > near 8.0. Has anyone had success with conditions such as this? I am sure
    > they do not breed but I am amazed that they do so well in a tank with
    > water like that. (I know fish a VERY adaptive but discus in water like
    > this is amazing to me.)
    >
    >
    > Lewis
     
  17. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    I've heard/read this too about keeping fish in various Ph and temps that aren't normally recommended and people say they do well and continue to breed and what not. It does make sense in one way, because we know breeders and others alike are purchasing fish from who knows what reading of Ph and temp and putting them in what they believe is a stable environment...but my question and thought would be does it cut back the fishes life span?

    I mean I can see them doing well and breeding and becoming accustomed to lets say irregular temps/PH...but in the long run is their any ill effects of doing so?

    Very interesting though!
     
  18. WhiteGloveAquatics

    WhiteGloveAquatics New Member

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    I call BS on this, SP.com is a bunch of misguided information, nothing but BS and lies.


    TFH or aquarium usa just printed a nice article on discus, 95% of that list they sent you is for profit.

    Us discus keepers know ALOT better then that list, dont we?

    They do not need crystal clear water, they need CLEAN water be it clear or tannin rich, infact discus are true fish that could benefit greatly from tannin rich conditions. mainly due to bacteria and parasitic issues that can not survive in acidic waters.

    Im not pro on them but just common knowledge and first hand breeder conversations ect.

    I respectfully disagree with the first post in this thread.

    here is another article that related as well as debunks that article.
    " Keeping Discus for Beginners
    Ardan Huck March 14, 2002.


    There are many things to keep in mind with discus that are different from other cichlids.

    They like warmer water, mid-80s Fahrenheit.

    They like lots of clean fresh, water and lots of water changes. I do 50% a day, some do 30% three times a week.

    They like to be in groups of about 6 or 8 (a 50 gallon is a good size tank).

    They don't do well with other fish in the tank (there are a few exceptions). (WD-Ive found this false)

    It is easier to keep the tank clean if it has no gravel. (not always true)

    Don't use carbon in the filter (this can lead to disease in discus).

    Never put new discus in with old discus without keeping them separated (quarantined) for a while to make sure they are not sick and affect the other fish.

    One of the most important things is to get from a reliable source. A good breeder will have healthy fish and good customer service (answer all questions, help with problems, even after the purchase).

    A variety of food is good. I use flakes, live blackworms (from a good source, i.e. clean worms), some safe frozen foods like Hikari (sterilized) blood worms, some pellets (soak before using to prevent swelling up in the stomach), and frozen beef heart.

    Keeping things stable is important. Don't add chemicals except to remove chlorine/chloramine. Messing with pH is usually not necessary.

    Age water, that is, put the water that you want to use for the aquarium in a barrel a day before you want to use it for water changes. Use good aeration and set a heater at the tank temperature in the barrel. This is done if the pH of the tap water is not stable (if you check pH out of the tap, then let the water sit overnight and check the pH again and its different).

    One other note. If you see a picture of a discus that you would like to have, show that picture or send an email with that picture to the breeder so they can do their best to give you what you want. You have to remember little fish may grow up to look different, especially if it comes from cross-breeding two or more kinds of discus. It could look like the male, or the female, or a combination, or even like one of the fish farther back in the breeding sequence (like the grandparents may be a different type). Ask the breeder what the possibilities are, or buy grown fish. "
    source
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.simplydiscus.com/library/discus_husbandry/discus_basics/discus_4beginner.shtml" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.simplydiscus.com/library/dis ... nner.shtml</a>

    My first batch of discus came from a 7.8 Ph environment, bred on tap water. healthy as can be.
     
  19. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Thread Starter Active Member

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    I agree with alot of the aspects within the posting above, but have just two comments.

    One...discus CAN be compatible with other fish= you just need to choose carefully! (for ideas you can see my 90 thread with my current stocking list of which I have not had any issues with to current date).

    Two...Don't use carbon in the filter (this can lead to disease in discus)? Okay, I've never heard such a thing. I know carbon is pretty much only good for removing tank odors AND medications, but have never heard of anything that proves carbon can lead to disease in a fish?!?
     
  20. WhiteGloveAquatics

    WhiteGloveAquatics New Member

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    When carbon is left in too long it can leech back contaminants into the tank, 30 days + of filthy conditions for the carbon, residual, just like a spill in the kitchen, a rag doesnt clean and stay clean once dirty, mainly this happens when neglected.

    Yes stocking look at my tank, discus,tetras,angels,BNP's,sae's,otos corydoras banjo cats ect.


    ALot of this info comes from OCD keepers. Lets put it this way, ill use my old man for an example again, he is back into the hobby after 20+ years of being out of it, he made a comment to me about the way this hobby has changed as far as how to keep fish not to mention equipment but the sheer stupid info out there is mind boggling. Nothing has really changed, the fish got more colorful and more variety that is all really. I am using the mag 350 he had 25 years ago but the masses say thats a bad filter, must not be bad if its still in production 30 years later.

    I can for sure say the rules of fish keeping never existed before the internet. I know a guy with a reef tank with a UGF in it, the tank is 31 years old this year and still has original corals in it.
    If you use your common sense its as easy as boiling water.

    I am shunned in alot of circles because I dont stick to these "rules" and use knowledge from my father plus what I had always done in the 80's and 90's. Unorthodox is what I am. Yes I test the limits but if I didnt test the limits my tanks would be as nice as they are.

    I wont jeapordize my fish's health of well being either, again common sense falls in.

    (ps I use carbon just change it every 14 days and clean and reactive the stuff. I dont use in my discus tank though just my 52 and 45.