Plans for 125 Gallon Discus Tank

Dkapp

Hi all!

I'm just looking for some thoughts/input regarding my current plans for a 125 I will be setting up sometime soon. The dimensions of the tank are 72.5"x18.5"x23.5"(LxWxH), and I've done a fair amount of research so far into the layout and stocking, however no source of information would be more beneficial than laying out my exact plans and taking the advice of those more experienced than I am in keeping these fish. Although I'm not at all new to fishkeeping in general, I am to keeping Discus in specific, and I'm aware these are fish with rather specific prerequisites for tanks they're put in to along with maintenance, and not meeting these comes at the expense of the fish's health and ability to thrive, hence why I'm looking for feedback and to perfect my current outlines before moving forward.

As of now, my planned stocking goes as follows:
- 6x Symphysodon aequifasciatus (Discus)
- 18x Nematobrycon palmeri (Emperor Tetra)
- 18x Hemigrammus bleheri (Rummynose Tetra)
- 6x Kryptopterus vitreolus (Glass Catfish)
- 10x Corydoras habrosus (Dwarf Spotted Cory)
- 10x Pangio semicincta (Kuhli Loach)
- 12x Otocinclus vestitus (Silver Otocinclus)
- 3x Garra spilota (Spotted Garra)


Initially, I had planned to set up the tank as I commonly do with all of my smaller tanks, that being a roughly 1.5-2" layer of Fluval Stratum and a densely planted tank with various rocks and wood interspersed at random. However, after only a brief amount of looking more extensively into Discus, this type of scape obviously would not work, especially for the juvenile size I will be buying these Discus at (around 3"), as properly cleaning a setup such as described is near impossible. Instead, my current plans involve a very thin layer of white sand just covering the bottom of the tank, and terracotta pots of various sizes scattered throughout the tank, some containing plants with Fluval Stratum as media while others will be scattered in a multitude of positions for both aesthetic purposes and the added benefit of additional areas for the loaches to retreat to, along with possibly some various wood intertwined between the pots. Also, I feel as though I should mention I am aware that some of the species listed above do not meet the exact same temperature requirements as Discus necessitate. I plan on keeping the tank at a steady 82 Fahrenheit (~27 Celsius), and if any complications occur where any of the given species are unable to adapt to these temperatures, I have plenty of other tanks ready to be able to house them at their needed temperature range, but I'm going into setting this tank up under the assumption all species will be able to handle the temperature as it isn't an extreme compared to their preferred range.

For plant species I've decided on as of now that can thrive in the higher temperature and setup, I've chosen the following:
- Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green'

- Anubias barteri v. 'coffeefolia'
- Echinodorus bleheri
- Hygrophila corymbosa v. 'Angustifolia'
- Aponogeton ulvaceus
- Nymphaea zenkeri
- Vallisneria americana
-
Cryptocoryne balansae

I've tried looking for plant species that will be able to tolerate temperatures Discus need to be housed in while also not being a hassle to clean as a result of being too dense or uncontrollable growth. The primary goal I'm trying to reach in housing these Discus is their health and ability to thrive as well as being an captivating display, and although breeding is normally a product of reaching these conditions, it is far from being my goal walking into planning out this tank. For filtration, I'm using a canister filter that runs 1,056 gph using pot scrubbers as bio media and poly-fil for mechanical filtration. My general water parameters from my tap tend to be slightly more acidic than neutral (around 6.6-6.8 pH I assume, as I've yet to take a direct sample from my tap, yet my tanks I run now all stay around the 6.3-6.5 pH range, with minimal factors that could be lowering the pH to that degree besides Fluval Stratum as substrate), and a hardness of around 53.7 ppm GH and 35.8 ppm KH. I plan on doing around 50% water changes daily once they've settled in, and once at an adequate size lowering the frequency to around every other day or so, depending upon their condition. I'm eager to receive feedback regarding this current setup, and completely open to any recommended modifications or advice, as I have no prior experience owning Discus, and I'd like to aim for planning out an ideal layout before any plans become immutable.

Any responses are greatly appreciated, thanks!
 

Frank the Fish guy

May I suggest one thing that is often looked - tank placement.

Keep the tank where random people will not be needing to constantly walk by, which scares these fish.
Keep the tank away from strong sunlight from a window.
 
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Dkapp

The place I have picked out now I believe should have a adequate amount of foot traffic, as it's in an area where only a few people from my family walk by each day infrequently, allowing the fish to not be completely foreign to any passerby other than myself, but not at all overwhelmed either by too much constant motion either. It's also far from any windows located near the center of the house, so that shouldn't be an issue either.
 
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86 ssinit

Welcome to fishlore and discus keeping! You’ve planned this out nicely. But discus are a completely different type of fish. If your doing 6 3” discus in a 125 start with a 50 to 75g tank and grow them out. Start bare bottom with daily big water changes and being feed 6-10x a day. They eat a lot when young and will need clean water to grow correctly. Don’t plan a community tank don’t plan a planted tank. Discus will take all your attention. Yes dither fish are good in the tank yes some plants are good. But Discus will be the main concern.
I have a few threads running on discus. 2 years ago I started a 125 planted tank. I did very good with it till April of this year. I was very lucky 1problem in 2years.
Starting A 125 Discus Tank. | Freshwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 408750
When I started a bunch of us started here. We have a thread that still gets a few hits but really has lots of good info in it. These fish are hard to keep.


Discus Gang Updates | Discus Fish Forum | 420110
I also added a thread about beginning to keep discus
For Beginner Discus Keepers | Discus Fish Forum | 486447
Just some info I’ve learned. I started keeping discus in the late 80s stopped in 04 and got back into it from reading others threads about keeping them. Ask questions!! Lots of them. Read through those threads if you have the time :). Yes There’s a lot in there. Good luck and ask questions. Seems like there’s a few more starting discus.
 
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Dkapp

Thanks for the reply, I'll be sure to check those threads out!
My only concern at the moment would be, is it necessary to go through upgrading tanks up until the 125 when raising juveniles, or is it possible to still properly raise them in solely the 125 given it is properly set up and maintained? I understand the purpose of starting from a 55 gallon bare-bottom up, as it allows for the ease and effectivity of needed maintenance, observation, and so forth. However, I simply just don't have the space to transfer from tank to tank in that manner, at least at this time, so would raising juveniles in the set up I had described be at their expense? I had attempted to plan it out to meet their needs, putting the plants I had listed above in pots so they could easily be moved to clean and species who themselves could easily be cleaned, and the tank itself would be borderline bare-bottom, besides an extremely thin layer of white sand just covering the bottom that would be turned over entirely and cleaned each water change due to its minimal depth, likely less than 1/2" solely because I just tend to not like the reflectiveness of a bare bottom tank, although if needed I have no issue omitting it entirely. Would this type of set up allow for their proper growth? Thanks again!
 
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86 ssinit

Yes the discus will grow if you do the maintenance. Read my 125 thread. I did it in a deep gravel with young discus and small young plants. Both grew together. Yes it can be done but it’s a lot of work. Plus there are other problems. Because of a recent illness I’ve removed most of my plants and gravel. Cleaning is much easier. If thinking sand understand it needs to be cleaned vacuumed. So get something that won’t just get sucked up by the vacuum. My 2 125s
7AB6CF4D-C8F2-4D79-B385-5F5F38BA9318.jpeg
8E5B6410-D6EF-47CE-8023-98D7F739E5FA.jpegin both I now have about a half inch of gravel and all plants are in planters.
Thing with the smaller tank is your going to need it down the line anyway. So find a place for it :). For grow out your removing much less water for medication your only medicating the sick fish not the whole tank. It really is needed.
 
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Dkapp

Beautiful tanks!
And yeah, I understand the necessity of having a larger quarantine/hospital tank established to be able to treat any complications, I just need to figure out where exactly I can fit it as most of my space is taken up by 20 longs and 10's lol. I could possibly run a medium-large tote (~45 gals) in my garage like I have outside currently for growing marginal plants as a makeshift pond, so long as it can accommodate the needed conditions, which it should I'd assume given I have no issues with the one I currently run.
 
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86 ssinit

I’d recommend a tank before a Tupperware. Lots to these fish and there not cheap. Don’t think your going to want your money floating around in a Tupperware. Saw your thread on SD. Tons of info there. Read Shan’s journal thread. Lots can happen! Your in Jersey do you know your water? Some places there use chloramine. Like I said the water changes for young discus are daily. I did at the least 50% some at SD do 90% daily. Main reason to use smaller tank.
 
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Dkapp

Yeah I guess tubberware would always be a gamble, I'm just going to have to find the space for a proper hospital tank. Also, yeah I always treat water before adding it into my tank, and I have no issue keeping up with the frequency of water changes necessary, whether it were to be in a larger or smaller tank, though obviously yes a smaller tank will be a much less laborious task changing the water. Thanks again!
 
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