DISCUS CARE SHEET

capekate

Discus caresheet

Introduction

Hello all, I have comprised a caresheet on Discus fish after a lot of research. The intention of this care sheet is to invite others to share in our love of this peaceful, beautiful species of Cichlid. I want to be able to inform others that the care of these fish is not as mysterious and unattainable as some would think. Providing the correct care, you should be able to enjoy this part of fishkeeping.

Anything new to add would be welcome and I hope that Nicole will answer the call on any breeding information. I have purposely left that information out as it is a secondary part of keeping Discus and would be useful if anyone wants to breed their Discus [CapeKate]

Equipment requirements

TANK SIZE: Minimum 55gal tank for 5-7 Discus.

FILTER: aqua clear 500 or equivalent size for your tank. Or two aquaclear 50's. (200)

HEATER: At least a 250w heater, again depending on the size of the tank.

THERMOMETER

GLASS CANOPY AND LIGHTED HOOD.

SYPHON/VACUMM

AIR PUMP: Check-valve and airstone or bubble wand for aeration.

DECHLORINATOR: such as Seachem Prime.

PLANTS: advantage of a planted tank are increase in nitrate utilization, hiding places for the fish, and a pleasing decorated look. (optional of course)

GRAVEL: Diverse issue. Some Discus owners will not use gravel in the fear of poor water quality due to waste buildup. Others believe in a BB Bare bottom. In my opinion if you put in the extra time and effort to throughly vacuum your gravel the look in the tank is very appealing.

WATER TEST KIT: Liquid test kit the best way to go. I recommend API Freshwater Master kit.

Temperature requirements

Discus require warmer temperatures than other tropical fish. Preferably 84*-87*, with 82* being the lowest. Use a 250w heater in a 55 gallon tank. 2x 250w heaters on opposite sides of the tank if temp* readings are unstable.

Water quality requirements

Discus require pristine water conditions. This is supplied by frequent water changes.Anywhere from every other day at 25%. Some owners do a twice weekly 40% water change and others have done a once a week water change at 50%.Check your water parameters often with a test kit, and be your own judge as what is best.

Water stability: Stability in water conditions is the key to keeping discus trying to change water paremeters will do more harm than good.They can be kept in a wide range of hardness,its when you are breeding discus that the hardness will matter. [Nicole]

Water changes: I have learnt that the best way to avoid illness is to do a lot of water changes even if your water paremeters are fine, and when there is an illness most of the time I have been able to treat by quarantening the sick fish and doing daily
water changes without medicating. [Nicole]

Carbon/Activated charcoal

Do not use the AC in the filter. This may lead to disease in Discus fish. Carbon can be used for a short time to remove med. Kept in tank longer, it may result in releasing impurities back into the water resulting in poor water quality and disease.

pH level

For the most part there is no need to change your PH level unless it is so low and acidic that it will burn the fish. Consistency in quality and parameters are more important than using chemicals and additives to lower or raise your PH. PH chemicals measured incorrectly will cause massive PH swings that can kill your fish. Readings of 6.4-7.8 and even 8.5 have been shown to successfully be safe for Discus, as long as the PH does not fluctuate.

Food

A variety of food that consist of: Blackworms, Tetra Flakes, beefhearts(messy), Omega One Color enhanced Flakes, Omega One freeze dried bloodworms, HikarI frozen Brine Shrimp,HikarI frozen Krill and HikarI (sterilized) bloodworms are a few choices that come to mind.

Juvenile Discus need to be fed often. At least 5 times a day. "Small amounts.. more often" is the general rule of thumb. The adults should be fed at least 3-4 times a day. Take the time to slowly feed these fish and you can monitor what gets collected at the bottom of the tank. It may take a little longer to do this, but it helps in the long run with keeping the tank and water clean. When feeding them the beefheart or bloodworms, its a good idea to plan that menu for the day you do a water change.That way you get to clean up what they don't get soon after.

What to look for when buying a new discus

Healthy Discus from a reputable supplier or breeder.

Shape:
Look for roundness of body.

Eyes:
Eyes should be clear. vibrant and round. Eyes that are not in proportion to the body size is a good indicator of stunted growth. Eyes that are chipped usually describe a fish with compromised genetics and or inbreeding.Not to say that this fish is ill, and its totally acceptable if you do not want to breed them.

Forehead:
Ideal Discus should have a circular shaped forehead.

Finnage:
Fins should protrude out of the body and curve around in an almost semI circle shape. Thin fins can indicate poor nutrition and frayed fins can indicate disease.

Other good signs:
Over all watch for good breathing rates, gill movement and body language, and stress/mood bars. Does this Discus interact with others or stay in the corner of the tank? Is its coloring very dark... blotchy... Does it appear lethargic? These are indicators of a weak fish or one that may be sick or overly stressed.

Finally remember: Clean water and a varied diet make for a happy, healthy fish! Happy fishkeeping!!! ;D ~ kate

Quarantaine:
Always quarantaine when you purchase newbies that are going to be added to a community tank,it will save your fish if there are any underlyeing illness. [Nicole]

New tankmates: Discus are very picky when it comes to adding any new ones..If you notice a sudden change in behaviour after a new addition be patient, it doesn't allways mean there is an illness.[Nicole]

Disease Diagnostic [by Nicole]

This is a basic signs/symptoms chart to add to the caresheet. Please note that this is a general guide and is based on my personal experience and what I've learned through keeping discus.

Cloudy Eye: Clear white, transparent film covering one or both eyes. There are a few causes the main cause being poor water conditions. Other possible causes could be fungus,bacterial and parasites. The first step I would take is a lot of water changes over a period of time and see if this helps, also when purchasing discus check what pH they have been kept in as this can also be a cause.

Skin and Gill Flukes: Rapid breathing, scratching against objects, holding one gill closed are all signs. Start with doing 50% water changes daily and seek appropiate medication.

Fin Rot: Frayed or decaying fins,one of the main causes is again poor water conditions although that is not allways the case.Treat fin rot as soon as you notice it to prevent secondary infections. I had a bad case once, and treated it with 5ml of melafix to 10 gallon water with every water change.I done daily water changes for 5 days and successfully treated this problem. Another way is daily water changes with salt added.

Hexamita: First signs would be slimy white feces/shedding stomach lining,loss of appetite,weight loss.Gradually fish will isolate itself and become very dark in colour and hang its head.If detected in early stages you can treat by turning the temp up in tank and daily water changes add salt to water.If fish is passed early stages more invasive treatment is needed such as metro daily.

Tapeworm: White segmented feces,treat with prazI and keep water conditions clean.

Hole in the Head: H.I.T.H. will start of as a small dot in the forehead area although this can happen on other parts of the body. I successfully treated this as I noticed it first as a small pin ***** that was gradually becomming rounder and wider in shape. I did daily 50% water changes for about 2 weeks. It solved the problem and it hasn't returned. If you do get a more serious case of this treat with appropiate medication.

Faeces: The feces of a fish can tell you alot, basically its normally dark, if you notice a change in colour you need to check out the cause. If it white or slimy it can be a sign of internal illness and yellow feces can mean capillaria.

As silly as it sounds keep an eye on what is normal for your fish.

Credits

The main body of the caresheet was prepared by Capekate.

The breeding section of the caresheet was prepared by Nicole.

The caresheet was standardised and editted by Armadillo.

Other contributors are creditted next to their text in the caresheet.

Want to add something?

We welcome additions to the caresheet. To contribute a tip or warning, add a post to this thread and we will integrate it to the main body of the caresheet with your name next to it. If you are quoting from a reference, please credit the author. [Armadillo]

__________________
 

armadillo

Wow, thank you so much, Kate! I might be your first discus caresheet customer, as am really contemplating getting some.

I am running behind on aligning all caresheets to a similar look/feel and structure, but I will get there eventually.

I've just stickied it.

Guys, if you have comments/additions (Nicole?) please add a post to this thread and I'll integrate to the main caresheet.
 

nicole

Hey that's good..I really like that you've mentioned the charcoal..thanks Kate.
 

capekate

thanks Nicole and Armadillo ~ It was fun putting that together, tho now I think of other things to add, that I didnt. Like HOW much food should they eat and how often..
also forgot to add frozen Krill to the list of foods as well. Hope you will look over the list and add the rest of things that I may have forgot!! ;D
 

armadillo

Oh but do add them, Kate (if you have time). It's meant to be an evolutive document.
 

nicole

Okay this is a basic signs/symptoms chart to add to the care sheet.Please note that this is a general guide and is based on my personal experience and what I've learned through keeping discus.

Cloudy Eye: clear white,transparent film covering one or both eyes.There are a few causes the main cause being poor water conditions.Other possible causes could be fungus,bacterial and parasites. The first step I would take is a lot of water changes over a period of time and see if this helps, also when purchasing discus check what ph they have been kept in as this can also be a cause.

Skin and Gill Flukes: Rapid breathing, sratching against objects, holding one gill closed are all signs. Start with doing 50% water changes daily and seek appropiate medication.

Fin Rot: frayed or decaying fins,one of the main causes is again poor water conditions although that is not allways the case.Treat fin rot as soon as you notice it to prevent secondary infections. I had a bad case once, and treated it with 5ml of melafix to 10 gallon water with every water change.I done daily water changes for 5 days and successfully treated this problem. Another way is daily water changes with salt added.

Hexamita: first signs would be slimy white feces/shedding stomach lining,loss of appetite,weight loss.Gradually fish will isolate itself and become very dark in colour and hang its head.If detected in early stages you can treat by turning the temp up in tank and daily water changes add salt to water.If fish is passed early stages more invasive treatment is needed such as metro daily.

Tapeworm: white segmented feces,treat with prazI and keep water conditions clean.

Hole in the Head:will start of as a small dot in the forhead area although this can happen on other parts of the body.I successfully treated this as I noticed it first as a small pin **** that was gradually becomming rounder and wider in shape.I done daily 50% water changes for about 2 weeks.It solved the problem and it hasn't returned.If you do get a more serious case of this treat with appropiate medication.

The feces of a fish can tell you alot, basically its normally dark, if you notice a change in colour you need to check out the cause.If it white or slimy it can be a sign of internal illness and yellow feces can mean capillaria.As silly as it sounds keep an eye on what is normal for your fish.

Stability in water conditions is the key to keeping discus trying to change water paremeters will do more harm than good.They can be kept in a wide range of hardness,its when you are breeding discus that the hardness will matter.

Allways quarantene when you purchase newbies that are going to be added to a community tank,it will save your fish if there are any underlyeing illness.

Discus are very picky when it comes to adding any new ones..If you notice a sudden change in behaviour after a new addition be patient, it doesn't allways mean there is an illness.

I have learnt that the best way to avoid illness is to do a lot of water changes even if your water paremeters are fine, and when there is an illness most of the time I have been able to treat by quarantening the sick fish and doing daily
water changes without medicating.

Okay guys the illness list is long and these are just a few that I have dealt with.please add to it.
 

capekate

HI Nicole
thanks for the update on the Discus Care and illness. Its very informative and a great reference to have on hand. ;D
~ kate
 

armadillo

Thanks, Nicole. I love your addition. Just added it to the main sheet. Actually, I might use the structure for our caresheet template.
 

capekate

Look'n good Armadillo!!
 

armadillo

he he he. You know me: LAW AND ORDER. LAAAAW AND ORDER!!! I looooooove structure and organisation. Even my socks are sometimes following some kind of a system.
 

Jewels

Discus Care

HI Capekate,
Just a quick note to say thanx very much for all the info.......I wish I'd read it all before listening to the wrong advice about Sodium Biphosphate! I'm now coming to terms with the fact that I'll probably have to replace poor "Delta" next payday. I'll give him/her the night in semi-isolation and see if that helps. Otherwise I'll just bury the body in the garden in the morning with a prayer. Thanx again for all the useful info! Cheers Jewels
 

Jewels

HI Kate (et al),
God bless you for all your Discus advice! (Also my lovely boyfriend gave me helpful advice). It seems that here in Australia everyone is obsessed with pH, which just isn't necessary! I now don't add anything except chlorine neutral, and do a 1/3 water change after 3 days. Then I do a 1/2 water change after four days. This is my weekly schedule, and I add 1/3 boiling water to the cold when replacing that removed. All my fish, especially the Discus, are doing well. The baby Delta is growing slowly but surely. Thanx for the advice re the beefheart. The only problem I've had is that, after following the advice to set the tank around the Discus (temp=31 degrees C), I have lost 2 female Blue Platies. This doesn't really worry me much, as I mostly keep them (apart from the fact that they're pretty) to get a free regular source of live food. Apparently 31 is much too hot for them. I say prayers when they die........
I hope that all is going well with you, Kate........Cheers Jewels
 

capekate

HI Kate (et al),
God bless you for all your Discus advice! (Also my lovely boyfriend gave me helpful advice). It seems that here in Australia everyone is obsessed with pH, which just isn't necessary! I now don't add anything except chlorine neutral, and do a 1/3 water change after 3 days. Then I do a 1/2 water change after four days. This is my weekly schedule, and I add 1/3 boiling water to the cold when replacing that removed. All my fish, especially the Discus, are doing well. The baby Delta is growing slowly but surely. Thanx for the advice re the beefheart. The only problem I've had is that, after following the advice to set the tank around the Discus (temp=31 degrees C), I have lost 2 female Blue Platies. This doesn't really worry me much, as I mostly keep them (apart from the fact that they're pretty) to get a free regular source of live food. Apparently 31 is much too hot for them. I say prayers when they die........
I hope that all is going well with you, Kate........Cheers Jewels
Hello Jewels..
Nice to hear that your Discus are doing so well! That's wonderful news. ;D
One of the problems with keeping Discus and wanting to add other types of fish is the fact that they need such a higher temperature that many fish can not tolerate. It leaves you with a smaller choice of tank mates. I do know that the Cardinal Tetras love the same high temp, you can always get a school of them and the Discus do not bother them. You can also try Angel fish if you haven't already. I have forgot what other fish you have in the tank and was wondering what the 'live' fish were for?
Good luck with them and would love to see new updated photos of your Discus! Take care, ~ kate
EDIT:
I just looked at your aquarium info and see that you have the angels already. I was wondering how those red tails are doing in that tank? they are a more cold water fish and prefer temps between 22-26c. How are they doing and have you had them for long?
 

kamakasi

hI I was wondering if I could keep 2 blue discus and 5-15 cardial tetras in a 29 gallon tank?
thanks
 

capekate

hI I was wondering if I could keep 2 blue discus and 5-15 cardial tetras in a 29 gallon tank?
thanks
Hello Kamakasi
It is in my opinion that keeping two discus AND 5-15 Cardinal Tetras, as pretty as they would be together and a great idea, it would be too many fish in your 29g. Discus stay small for awhile and you can get away with two in a 29 gallon as long as they get along. I have kept two in a 29 before because of aggression in my community tank and as many would disagree, when they are small like when you buy them, its not a bad idea. But you would have to rethink a larger tank at some point for the Discus. Having 15 cardinals together with them in a 29 may make them a bit skittish. If you plan on getting a larger tank in time, you can start off with 5 cardinal tetras but I wouldnt push the limit past that.
 

kamakasi

thanks Capekate
I do plan on getting a much bigger tank in the about 6-12 months.
would it be ok to keep the discus in the 29 gallon for 6-12 months with 8 cardinals.
when I get my new tank (around 100 gallon or more ) would I be able to keep 5 discus 2 angelfish 2 Bristle nose pelcos/catfish and 10-15 cardinals?
thanks
 

capekate

thanks Capekate
I do plan on getting a much bigger tank in the about 6-12 months.
would it be ok to keep the discus in the 29 gallon for 6-12 months with 8 cardinals.
when I get my new tank (around 100 gallon or more ) would I be able to keep 5 discus 2 angelfish 2 Bristle nose pelcos/catfish and 10-15 cardinals?
thanks
g'morning Kamakasi
I will answer the easy question first. For a 100 gallon tank your stock list would be fine.
The first question leaves some grey areas tho.
The approximate time frame of 6-12 months before you get the larger tank can make a big difference for your fish. IMO I would not leave two Discus in a 29 for a year. If you planned on getting the larger tank in six months, I would advise that it would be ok only if you plan on starting off with very small Discus. And yes, I do believe it would be ok to add 8 Cardinals but I wouldnt add any more than that til you got the larger tank.
This is just my opinion and others may have a different view on this.
I do hope that you get the Discus, they are wonderful fish and do great with the Cardinals. I'm not sure if the BN pleco will do well at the higher temps that the Discus and the Cardinals require tho. I did try keeping a BN in my Discus tank and they didnt survive. It may or may not have been due to the higher temps, but that is my guess.
 

JakeTeque

Do Discuss require Freshwater salt added to the water?
 

capekate

HI Jake
Discus do not need any salt in their tank.
 

taffy

I would just like to add if you buy your fish from your local store you won't go far wrong keeping your discus in the same peramiters as theirs less chance of shocking your new fish.
 

Fish Monster

I pretty sure activated carbon is fine as long as you change it regularly, there is always the problem of leching contaminates into the tank with old carbon that's why you need to change it. I change my carbon evry three weeks which is half the time of 4-6 weeks recomended by the mfg. So from my understanding carbon can be a bad thing on any tank if it is not changed often but I would think as long as you are changing it on a regular basis like I do once evry three weeks you should be good. I am not an expert on Discus but I never heard not to use it before now that is. If you do not use AC then what keeps the tank from smelling or getting that yellow tinge that the AC is suppose to get rid of in other words what is the substition and if there is none dose anyone run into rpoblems of yellow tank and smelly for those of you who do not use the AC is there any draw backs from not using it?
 

ifixoldhouses

I pretty sure activated carbon is fine as long as you change it regularly, there is always the problem of leching contaminates into the tank with old carbon that's why you need to change it. I change my carbon evry three weeks which is half the time of 4-6 weeks recomended by the mfg. So from my understanding carbon can be a bad thing on any tank if it is not changed often but I would think as long as you are changing it on a regular basis like I do once evry three weeks you should be good. I am not an expert on Discus but I never heard not to use it before now that is. If you do not use AC then what keeps the tank from smelling or getting that yellow tinge that the AC is suppose to get rid of in other words what is the substition and if there is none dose anyone run into rpoblems of yellow tank and smelly for those of you who do not use the AC is there any draw backs from not using it?

Some discus fanciers believe that the use of carbon contributes to hole-in-the-head disease. While this is only a theory and is based on circumstantial evidence, it is something to keep in mind.

I've heard that it can leech back out w/e it took in, at any time, I don't use it myself except in my drip system to remove chlorine.
 

Fish Monster

Something to think about any way so you say nothing but filter floss and my ceramic rings for my bio filtration and that's it I have a well aged canister filter which I am not giving up I love it
 

Lucy


The moderator and members who compiled this care sheet have years of experience with Discus. Each fish has it's own special requirements.
Carbon/Activated charcoal

Do not use the AC in the filter. This may lead to disease in Discus fish. Carbon can be used for a short time to remove med. Kept in tank longer, it may result in releasing impurities back into the water resulting in poor water quality and disease.

Please keep in mind, this is not a thread about the use of carbon with all and any fish.
It is a care sheet for Discus.

Any questions/discussions about fish or debate about carbon should be in a thread of it's own.
Thanks!
 

Fish Monster

I am only asking as what is appropriate for use within a canister filter if one were to use this type of filtration system over some others as the care sheet did not point this out. I just want to make sure I am doing rite by my Discus and using my canister filter because it is well aged with nice biological filtration. I was just asking as the care sheet did not point out what types of media should be used with them in case someone like me is using a canister filter. The person I bought my fish off of was using canister filters for his stocke I am not sure what he was running in them I assumed the usual, I justwondered what could be used in them that would be sutible for my Discus fish.
 

Lucy

That's why your question should be in it's own thread.
You'll get more responses geared towards your particular question.

Post #21 brought up a debate with the use of carbon and discus.
In it's own thread, it could be a lively and informative discussion. Several members keep Discus and may have differing opinions.
It doesn't belong in a care sheet thread.
 

Fish Monster

Oh ok I see, I am new to this so trying to get the hang of it I will start a new thread then, thank you! inocent mistake, lol.
 

Lucy

Oh ok I see, I am new to this so trying to get the hang of it I will start a new thread then, thank you! inocent mistake, lol.

Not a problem.
Enjoy the forum, you'll get used to maneuvering around.
 

yusufm52

Thanks kate for the info, I'll surly keep in mind these points, and specially liked the part about how to buy good discus.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Sticky
  • Question
Replies
12
Views
989
86 ssinit
  • Question
Replies
9
Views
304
86 ssinit
  • Question
Replies
8
Views
189
Dkapp
  • Question
Replies
2
Views
131
86 ssinit
  • Question
Replies
12
Views
452
AGAqua

New Discus Threads

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom