1 Nasty Discus!

Cyclsnipas

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Hey all! It's been a long time but I forgot my password and had trouble resetting it:rolleyes:. Thankfully I figured it out.

Anyhoo! I decided to try my hand at keeping Discus and for the most part it's been rather enjoyable. However, I have 5 3-4" discus in my heavily planted 65 gallon and 1 in particular is just nasty. He terrorizes the other discus. It started with him being fixated on 1, but now he chases the other 4 relentlessly. Often times the others hide in the back, nowhere to be seen, while hes front and center. It gets especially worse during feedings.

I understand they're Cichlids and they can be aggressive but this, imo, is way worse than I ever expected from discus. What should I do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

nikm128

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I'd separate him for a month or so, when you add him back he'll be on the bottom of the pecking order or just completely ignored.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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nikm128 said:
I'd separate him for a month or so, when you add him back he'll be on the bottom of the pecking order or just completely ignored.
Thank you for the reply! I currently don't have any other tanks set up to put him in. But it is possible. Wouldn't seclusion be stressful for that 1 discus?
 

nikm128

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Well, yes it would be. Just think of it like a timeout though, while they may not understand the concept of being "punished", the discus in question will more likely than not straighten up.
 

86 ssinit

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Yes it may be stressful but in the long run this method should work. Only thing I’d change is the month. You could probably just do it for a few days maybe a week and that would be enough. Fish don’t have great memories. With a heater and a filter with some media out of the 65. You could just put him in a 10 gallon Tupperware for the time.
This method worked for me in 2 days. Good luck.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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86 ssinit said:
Yes it may be stressful but in the long run this method should work. Only thing I’d change is the month. You could probably just do it for a few days maybe a week and that would be enough. Fish don’t have great memories. With a heater and a filter with some media out of the 65. You could just put him in a 10 gallon Tupperware for the time.
This method worked for me in 2 days. Good luck.
Interesting! I would never think this was an option. I tried this once with a ram and he went back to being a jerk shortly after being returned to the tank. I do have a 14 gallon I can set up temporarily. Maybe a week or so should suffice?
 

A201

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As long as the tank mates aren't losing fins, or turning black, this situation is probably more stressful for you than the Discus.
I agree with the time out method as previously noted. I've used it with my African Cichlids. However with Africans, the demoted bully rises back up the pecking order pretty quick.
If you have the funds & space, might handpick a bigger badder Discus from the LFS, and knock the bully down a notch. To lessen food aggression, I feed my Africans by dumping food on opposite ends.
My guess is that the bully Discus is probably your best, most healthy fish. He's obviously the strongest.
Be creative, you'll figure out someway to achieve relative equilibrium. Managing aggression is one of the challenges that make keeping Cichlids fun. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Lol.
 

plecodragon

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I would say try a tank divider but you said it was fully planted which makes that tricky. It is an option thou if you didn't have another tank or didn't want to set one up.
 

nikm128

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Cyclsnipas said:
Interesting! I would never think this was an option. I tried this once with a ram and he went back to being a jerk shortly after being returned to the tank. I do have a 14 gallon I can set up temporarily. Maybe a week or so should suffice?
I would say 14 is too small, I'm uncomfortable even using a 20.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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nikm128 said:
I would say 14 is too small, I'm uncomfortable even using a 20.
I wish I had a 20 to set up. Unfortunately my only options are a 14 or a 40. I really don't have the space to set up the 40 right now. Let alone for 1 fish. The 14 gallon is tall. Same footprint as a 10gal but 14" high. I'd set it up with some driftwood and plants to help the discus feel secure. A lfs owner suggested I might be better off removing him permanently. Try a different fish and/or adding 1 more, making it a group of 6. I've considered this as well.

Oh and I picked up another feeding cone. Figure I'll put one at each end of the tank. I'm hoping the bully won't be able to guard both, allowing the more timid to eat without being terrorized. I'm trying!
 
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Cyclsnipas

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That's what I figured. I tested feeding with the 2 cones. It worked for the most part. The bully has quite the appetite so he quickly turned his sights on the other cone, chasing them away. Thankfully, the others got a lot of food before that happened. Making progress albeit incrementally.
 

jmaldo

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Similar issue with the Alpha male of my brood. It was recommended to move (timeout).
What a difference with the remaining ones. In fact ended up with a pair. Looking back, it appears the female he was courting rejected him. After 2 weeks put it back with them. Within 1/2 hour back to chasing everyone. Took it out. Been about 3 weeks. And the pair have been moved to their own tank. Gonna try again tomorrow.


Oh, by the way. Check out this thread: Discus Gang Updates | Discus Fish 420110
Just a group of newbie "Discus" keepers sharing.

Good Luck!
 
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Cyclsnipas

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I'm gonna try removing him this weekend. I've seen virtually no aggression between the others aside from a little shoving during feeding time. If the time out method doesn't work I guess I'll have to rehome him. Shame since hes really colored up nicely.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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The rest of the crew. The blue diamond was/is his main target. He also chases the orange pigeon blood a lot as well. That one seems to be the least dominant.
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86 ssinit

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Yes he is a good looking fish. Though even he is showing stress bars. Fish 2 and 3 both are showing bar and the blue diamond is also very dark. So they are stressed. Are those cherry barbs in the tank? Barbs are notorious fin nippers.
What’s the temp of the tank? How often do you do water changes? What are you feeding and how are they eating?
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Yeah the blue diamond has gotten dark since he takes the brunt of the bullying. I feel bad for him. The smaller turquoise has looked like that since I got him. He colors up occasionally. The orange pigeon blood seems to be the most timid and tends to hide from the bully more than the others. I know dark substrate like I have can promote darker colors but I agree it's more stress than anything. The temp is between 82 and 83. I've been having major heater issues. I've tried 4 different heaters trying to get the temp up. This one seems to work...for now. I mainly feed frozen bloodworms. I've tried other foods but they usually spit them out. Been trying to get live blackworms but I've been told there's a shortage so no one has any. The cherry barbs don't bother anyone. They spend their time frolicking about in the plants.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Oh and water changes? I do 50% 3x a week. The fish have a voracious appetite and appear happy when not being chased. I wish things were better.
 

86 ssinit

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Have you tried freeze dried black worms. Mine love them. Frozen blood worms are a good treat but not an everyday food. Not enough protein and some have tied them to hole in the head disease. Live black worm are also not recommended. Yes they will fatten up discus but there are way to many parasites associated with them. Have you tried flake foods? Or frozen grime shrimp?
 
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Cyclsnipas

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I haven't seen freeze dried blackworms. What brand do you use so I can specifically look for them? Been meaning to pick up frozen brine shrimp. I feed Cobalt community flakes to the other fish and the discus spit that out. Same with HikarI Vibra bites and Ocean Nutrition frozen Discus Formula. I also tried HikarI Discus Bio-gold and Fluval Bug Bites. I believe one or 2 ate those but I'm not positive. I asked the stores I bought them from what they were eating and both said bloodworms so I've just continued with those 2x a day. Anything else I can try?
 

86 ssinit

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The black worms can be found on eBay. The Australian seem to be better. I get the ones with spinach. All of mine eat them and they seem to be the food a lot of breeders are using.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Awesome! Thanks for the help! Surprisingly this morning I decided to try the Discus Bio-gold again and though it sinks rather quickly, they actually ate it. I even saw them picking at the flakes so I'm hoping they will start accepting a larger variety of foods. I love watching them grazing foods off the substrate and decor. They really are beautiful, graceful fish when they're getting along.
 

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The problem you're facing isn't discus specific. All cichlids behave this way. The bad news is that if it continues you'll lose a discus due to stress. Not only that but the second "lowest ranking" discus will start receiving the aggression of the dominant male.

The good news is that this is easily rectified via the aquascape. In short, you should scape with the discus in mind. Namely a scape that allows a discus to escape any aggression. I use manzI wood. It's not perfect but it stop my largest most dominant male from doing what cichlids do.

Here's a pic of my earlier set up.
P6MQUwh.jpg


Discus are graceful but not very agile. A turn to the left and another to the right and all the pursuits come to an end.
 

angelcraze

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If you are stuck on finding a suitable tank, and you still want to try shaking up the hierarchy, you could keep him in a rubbermaid container instead. I like to use the clear ones so I can observe the fish better, but that's more for hospital.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Hey all thanks for the replies. Things haven't really worked out at all. The bully, continued to bully no matter what. I finally brought him back to the store. Unfortunately a day or 2 later the blue diamond, which was his main target, died. A couple days later, my heater must've crapped out overnight cuz I woke up to the tank at around 74 degrees. The pigeon blood died the following morning. As of now I'm left with the red melon and the smaller turquoise. For the most part they get along, only showing aggression during feedings...I'm debating whether I want to rehome the 2 or get another 4 or 5. Waiting to see what my local fish stores get in, before making a decision.
 

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Cyclsnipas said:
Hey all thanks for the replies. Things haven't really worked out at all. The bully, continued to bully no matter what. I finally brought him back to the store. Unfortunately a day or 2 later the blue diamond, which was his main target, died. A couple days later, my heater must've crapped out overnight cuz I woke up to the tank at around 74 degrees. The pigeon blood died the following morning. As of now I'm left with the red melon and the smaller turquoise. For the most part they get along, only showing aggression during feedings...I'm debating whether I want to rehome the 2 or get another 4 or 5. Waiting to see what my local fish stores get in, before making a decision.
I'm really sorry you lost some Discus.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Thank you. It sucks losing fish. Even more so when they're expensive and not easy to replace. I've always been very particular when selecting my fish. Especially with discus! Unfortunately there were just too many factors working against me in this situation. Thankfully I finally remedied the seemingly endless heater issues I've had since I started keeping discus. Went with a Hygger 500w quartz heater with controller and probe. Been awesome so far. I hope things stay that way.
 

angelcraze

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Oh no! What a stroke of bad luck :( i'm very sorry.

The two left, are they getting along? Are they well? A heater is something I just can't skimp on. I keep two heaters in my large tanks. I often buy them used off kijijI when they come available, a lot of the old quality brand heaters are the best. I haven't had a heater conk out (knock on wood).
 
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Cyclsnipas

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So far they've been good. There is a little shoving during feedings but otherwise they're ok. It's a 65 with heavy aquascaping so there's plenty of spots they can go to get away from each other. I've literally had no luck with heaters since day one with these discus. This is the 5th heater in only 2 months so I went pro grade this time. It's been excellent so far, keeping the tank at a steady 84 degrees. Knock on wood indeed!
 

angelcraze

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Idk, if the two left are ok together, I might try just the two. Or at least until you know the heater thing is worked out. I'm not familiar with your heater, but a controller is a very good thing. My preferred heater is the EheI'm jaggers, I've never had one break and they are very consistent. I buy them used for cheaper when I can. I have a backup jager too! My second favorite heater brand is Fluval, but you have to be careful cuz there are many models.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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I guess I'm concerned with the fact that they're shoaling fish. Isnt it stressful for them to be kept in a group smaller than 5 or 6?
 

angelcraze

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Well I keep angelfish, not discus, but they are similar with the schooling concept. I've personally never been able to keep just two angels that weren't a breeding pair together, but I would make sure they are healthy before I got more. If they are coexisting well, I don't see it being stressful, at least for a little while. Again, i'm not a discus keeper, so if someone who does pipes in to say i'm wrong, that's ok. Just my opinion, that's all.
 

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Cyclsnipas said:
Thank you. It sucks losing fish. Even more so when they're expensive and not easy to replace. I've always been very particular when selecting my fish. Especially with discus! Unfortunately there were just too many factors working against me in this situation. Thankfully I finally remedied the seemingly endless heater issues I've had since I started keeping discus. Went with a Hygger 500w quartz heater with controller and probe. Been awesome so far. I hope things stay that way.
If I may be so bold...

If you're going to get more Discus you might want to try Jack Wattley. Although I'm not in the states I've heard a lot of really good things about this breeder.
 

86 ssinit

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Sorry to hear of your losses. Yes you will need more than 2. How old are the ones you have? I’ve bought some fish locally and online. Thing with buying locally is you have to get them when the store first gets them. If they sit in the store there chances of growth and health become less and less the longer they’re there. Buying online you do get a younger fish and a stronger fish. Prices are pretty much the same when you buy 5-6 at a time. I bought 6 from Hans at the 2” size and all are healthy strong fish. Some not what I ordered but still good looking fish. Also just bought 2 from uncle sams. These are 5” fish and I did get what I ordered and very nice looking full bodied fish. Also when buying online ask to see the fish your getting. Some breeders just have stock pics of what they sell. Other will have new pics of what’s in stock and some even live pics.
What part of New York are you in?
 
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Cyclsnipas

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That is very informative! Thank you! I've always been on the fence with online shopping for fish. I've bought plants but not fish. I live on long island. We actually had a local breeder speak at one of our aquarium society meetings last year but I can't remember the name. I'm going to ask at the meeting this Friday. Maybe I can get in touch with him, see what he has to offer.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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The 2 I have left are around 3+ inches. They, believe it or not, were the smallest of the 5 but seem to be the healthiest. The other 2 just couldn't handle the barrage of attacks and sudden temp changes. Sad thing is, those 2 were also the most expensive. Over $100 worth of fish gone just like that...
 

86 ssinit

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Right now on the south shore both pets warehouse on sunrise and south shore tropicals have some very nice looking adult discus. All for under $100. The ones at pets warehouse have been there for about 6 months but still look good. There in a 200g. If you want pics let me know.
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Are you ready for some irony? I bought both the Blue diamond and the Pigeon blood at South shore tropicals! I was literally there and pets warehouse earlier today! Geez small world!
 

86 ssinit

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Lol I did the rounds on mon. I’m new to SST seems like a nice family owned shop. Saw this discus you wouldn’t know how long it’s been there would you?
 
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Cyclsnipas

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It's a great store. Nice, clean tanks as you can see and super nice helpful staff. It's the only store I'll buy cardinal tetras from since they only bring them in if they're very nice. Unfortunately I'm not really sure how long that particular one has been there. I'm not positive but it may be one that they are trying to nurse back to health for one of their customers. I faintly recall a similar one being there when I bought mine, and they told me it actually wasn't for sale. I'm waiting for them to get in some more, nicer medium size discus. The blue diamond and red pigeon blood I bought were gorgeous.
 

TheK79

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Hey guys I’m in the same situation. Just got a group of 6 discus last week and for a few days everything went fine, probably because they were getting used to the tank. For the past two the biggest one is harassing the life out of the others. Initially he went after the smallest one but then moved on to everyone else and not just during feeding time. I got him in a small breeder and I’m trying to decide what to do with him. I don’t have a separate so I’m considering donating him to my LFS. The situation definitely improved for the others with him in the breeder net, they’re all out of their hiding spots and swimming around freely. One of them was so stressed he turned completely black.
 

86 ssinit

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Well before donating him try putting into your qt tank for a week. When I started the last 2 I bought were being picked on by all the others including the runt. But when I moved them into the 125 those 2 went in first. Stayed there a day or 2 and when I added the others all aggression was over. All swam nicely together. I don’t think fish have much of a memory.

Op how are your discus doing?
 
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Cyclsnipas

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Unfortunately, I wound up giving that discus back to the store. The blue diamond that he was terrorizing actually wound up dying a couple days later from the stress. Sometimes you get a bad apple and it needs to be removed.
 

TheK79

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Hey 86 ssinit except for the bullying issues they’re doing good. I was able to get them to the surface for food. I’ll lightly tap on the tank and put my return pump on pause and they start swimming up to the tank. It took a few tries but I think I was able condition them. I don’t have a QT tank. What is a QT tank set up? Is it just my tank water in a 5 gallon that get changed out daily?
 

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