55 Gallon Discus Future plan

Tropical Aquarist

HI all,
I have an itch to set up a 55 gallon planted discus aquarium.

The main question that I have is if 55 gallons is big enough for 5 discus. I hear that 1 discus per 10 gallons and you need at least five. I am a little worried that the tank is only 48x13x18 and that 13'' deep might be short. I have been looking online and it seems like there are a lot of people that have 55 gallon aquariums with discus. But some say that it is too small.

My idea for stocking would be
5 discus
2-4 Ram cichlids
a school of tetras, but not neons
a pleco, but I heard that they suck on the discus' skin
maybe 2 clown loaches because I have read that corys give the discus diseases

I plan on having a good UV sterilizer and filtration.

Is there any problem with this set up?
It may be to many fish but this is the idea of what I want. However, the rams and the discus are mainly what I want.
It will also be heavily planted.
I was thinking about retro fitting 2x54 T5 lights and buying all the parts separately. Does anyone know where I can get the best deals on ballasts and the other parts?

I understand that there are a lot of questions but I think that there is an expert discus keeper on here and I want his opinion. Unfortunately I forget his name.

Thanks all who answer!


5 discus in a 55 seems reasonable, I raised a dozen young discus to breeding size in a 55. Lots of water changes! I'm not sure about all the other fish you plan to add. Why do want clown loaches? I have some with my angels that I'd like to return. The rams are OK, same water type, they will inhabit the bottom of the tank. Pick your tetras carefully, some are snacks, some will nip fins and others are too rambunctious.
I always kept my discus in bare bottom tanks with no other fish. I kept the plants potted so I could keep the tank bottom clean w/o disturbing plant roots. I did not use natural driftwood as I was fearful of the pathogens that might lurk there.

Aquarium Hobbyist Supply has some great lighting kits

Check them out, I've always gotten great service there.

Have you considered a 75 G. Much better footprint with an 18" depth and other dimensions are similar to a 55 G. I wish my 55's were 75's not for the added volume but for the increased surface area.


Discus are reccommended for a species only tank as they require warmer temps then most tropical fish up to 86. I lean toward that 5 Discus would make the tank stocked just for water quality purposes as Discus are sensitive. Of course I am not a Discus expert but just my own thoughts in Discus keeping. I would love to have Discus someday too!


What exactly do you mean by "13 inches is too short"? My 55gal tank is 48" long by 13" deep (back to front) by 18" tall, which is plenty tall for discus. Until I found out how expensive and sensitive they can be, I was thinking about putting some discus in my 55gal.


Short meaning not deep enough.

Your setup/plan should be fine, a lot of people prefer extra depth front to back though. There are a million ways to keep discus successfully. Just keep up on the maintenance.


Lol. You and I have almost exactly the same plan. I have my 55gal (same size) all planted and stocked with rams, tetra, and rasbora. I just set it all up in Feb and making sure I've got it all stable before I get my 5 discus. Already got the kind I want picked out.

Tropical Aquarist

So what is everybody's experience with DIY CO2?

joshua 74

hey I have 7 discus 4 blue rams cardinal teras had more but they became fish food lol 3angelfish and 1 bristlenose. half my tank is planted mainly valis also medium peace of driftwood. a lot of people will say that discus should stay with discus what I have learnt is that every fish is different you should always remember that the discus is what you won't people 2 look at in your tank so everything u pout in there should work with them. when I add a new fish to my tank I watch it very cairfully if it bites or disturbs my discus in any way then I get rid if them. my tank works because I have good fish good water because I do a lot of water changes and gravel vac a lot hope I have answers some of your questions.


Your plans sound ok to me, and I agree with most of the comments. When it comes to your tetra, be careful on which you choose. You want to use your tetra as "Dither" fish. This is a school of fish that will make your Discus feel safe. The idea of the Dither is to have an early warning sign against danger. If your school of tetra scatter fish in your tank will know something is wrong. I personally have about 25 rummy nose, the reason is three-fold; 1)the dither effect, 2) they are not too colorfull to distract from my focal point (the Discus), and bonus 3) rummy nose will loose there bright red nose if the water quality starts to diminish.

Make sure you get a pleco that doesn't grow too large, I have an Albino Bristol and an Albino longfin Bristol in my tank. You may have a problem with food competition when food sinks to the bottom. Plecos will push anything away that come near their food (especially when they become adults).

Since we're on the subject of food competition, I would stay away from Clown loaches with Discus for a few reasons. First, they do well with no less than 3, but they get VERY large and very aggressive when it comes to feeding time. They will eat all the food before your Discus have a chance! I have a few in another tank and they are my favorite... but not with Discus.

joshua 74

now I'm going 2 buy some rummy nose

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