Planted Discus Tank

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pepetj

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HI Fishlorian Discus keepers: I am finally venturing into Discus keeping/breeding. I have an Aqueon 26bow tank that I am getting ready to hold four Snake Head Discus in order to form a breeding pair. My source water is quite hard/alkaline so I am using Fluval peat fiber placed in two filters (Magnum HOT 250, ToM Rapids Mini-Canister Filter), as well as pressurized CO2. I began conditioning this tank two days ago. Its main filters (Hagen dual sponge, Aqueon 30) are quite mature. pH was really high at 9.1 and in two days (using only the Mini-Canister with Peat) I managed to drop it to 8.4. Today I added the pressurized CO2 and the Magnum HOT 250 with peat fiber in it (inside the charcoal canister). Once I get pH to 6.5 I will get the four Snake Heads (they belong to the owner of a LFS that has become a friend of mine) to get this project going.

The main plant in that tank is Crinum callamistratum, placed in the middle of the tank. Black Amazon Swords are at the lateral walls, as well as Giant Vallisnera and one Crinum Nathans, one at each rear end. I planted Dwarf Hairgrass in the mid-front line. Running 2x17W T8NO at 6,500K and 2x20W T8NO at 18,000K. I have ready to use a 2x24W T5HO at 10,000K unit. All my lamps are standard aquarium plastic lamps with DIY retrofit.

I intend to use two or three 150W heaters, and I'm looking for an external thermostat to control them.

I intend to use RO processed drinking water (TDS <20). I replaced ten gallons today. A small school of KhulI loaches and three native guppies are actually living in the tank.

Your feedback please!
 

Butterfly

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Sounds interesting! I'm looking forward to following your progress.
Carol
 
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pepetj

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I managed to lower the water pH to 7.7 without injecting pressurized CO2. I performed a huge water change (20gals) with RO processed drinking water. I am redoing all the electrical wiring of the tank (I should be fined by the Fire department) since I notice a loose hot wire form one of the remote transformer (you guess how I found out: my right leg touched it ). It's raining down here. I am learning to control the tank temperature with two separate heaters, so far I have no external thermostat and tank temp right now is 29C (84F). I'm glad I'm adjusting the tank without the Discus in it since I've got readings in the range of 28.6 to 33.4C (83.5 to 92.1F) as I adjusted it.

After the huge water change (with CO2) it's reading 6.0. I figure it may rise up to 7.0 without CO2.

I added an airpump and placed the hose in a DIY Elite MinI Filter reactor, just as the CO2 hose is, in order to assure dissolved O2 levels.

I removed all broken leaves and right now in the process of cleaning the interior glass walls with one of my old favorite methods (old credit card).

I'm using the following suggestions to set this (already mature: running since June 2008) tank
http://aquaticconcepts.thekrib.com/Articles/PAM_Discus.htm

The Snake Head quartet past quarantine in the LFS. They arrived six weeks ago and have been kept at pH 6.8 in a heated (30C or 86F) bare bottom tank with filtration of its own. Water changes regime there has been once a week half the tank, using the same RO processed drinking water I use.

My daughter is going to pick them up with me. I showed her a pic of a Discus and she's speechless

Pepetj
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Slug

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I would think the pH will stay close to what you want it to in the tank. Unless you have something in there to cause it to rise. Just use an RO/Tap mix when doing water changes, should be fine.

Be sure to acclimate them well when you get them. Since your tank pH is probably lower, its more dangerous to put them in lower pH water then higher. Its easier on the fish with a pH rise then a pH fall, if that makes sense.

Snakehead? You mean Snakeskin? Looking forward to seeing them.
 
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pepetj

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Snakeskin is the right name. Thanks Slug, looks like my name recall memory played one on me... I will acclimate as if they were marine fish, with a combination of floating bag and slow drip.

I am going with my own man-made-biotype: Three to four inches of Eco-Complete: natural Jimenoa River sand (approximatively 75:25 ratio) with one to two inches of 100% Eco-Complete as top layer.

I intend to keep this tank steady at 29C (84F) which is a compromise of the highest temp my plants and a few tank mates can tolerate that is still within the healthy temp range for Discus.

A small school of KhulI Loaches (seven specimens) is in the tank. If I can get a high temp Corydoras species I might add them as well.

In the middle of the tank a lovely African plant: a Crinum callamistratum that I managed to bring over from NYC; Amazon Swords (misnamed as "Black Amazon Sword" locally) at lateral RH and LH mid to front corners. Dwarf Hairgrass in the center foreground, and a yet small Crinum nathan (if not thaianum) at the mid region LH of the tank. Vallisnera gigantea at the rear RH corner and Vallisnera americana at the rear LH corner (their long leaves look great at the surface and help create a nice shadow effect.

I made a Redox reading of +083 to +094mV. I just installed a 5W UVC (replaced the lamp and cleaned the quartz sleeve today) running at 125GPH, will see how it reads tomorrow.

Pepetj
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Finally: I ended up with five Snakskin Discus (so a pair is formed). They just went in the tank after acclimation. Hope to upload some pics tonight.

Pepetj
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catsma_97504

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Sounds like you are off to a good start. I love discus, but have never tried to keep them yet.
 

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Sounds cool! Still waiting for pic 84F is a little warm for kuhlis so keep an eye on them Their temp ranges from 78-82F .
Carol
 

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84F is a little warm for kuhlis
I have 3 striped Kuhlis and 3 brown Kuhlis for over a year now. They seem to do fine (when you can find them), they are masters of hiding unless you tempt them with food, then they're masters of finding food!
 

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dvc_r said:
I have 3 striped Kuhlis and 3 brown Kuhlis for over a year now. They seem to do fine (when you can find them), they are masters of hiding unless you tempt them with food, then they're masters of finding food!
Are you keeping them at 84F? Glad it's working out for you

Carol
 
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pepetj

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I am keeping them at 84F. It seem to be a temperature Khulis can tolerate (some KuhlI profiles suggest that but not all).

I got a couple of pics I took with my cell phone, no flash (don't want to stress them more than they already are):

These pics make no justice to the way they really are.

Pepetj
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Slug

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From what I can tell those seem to be pretty good looking discus. Can't wait to see them once they lighten up and settle in some more. Keep us updated!
 

dvc_r

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Pep, nice looking Discus, good luck, they should bring you many years of enjoyment!


Are you keeping them at 84F? Glad it's working out for you
My tank ranges from 84-86 and my Khulis (and corys) seem very happy, I haven't lost any in a few years.
 
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dvc_r said:
Pep, nice looking Discus, good luck, they should bring you many years of enjoyment!



My tank ranges from 84-86 and my Khulis (and corys) seem very happy, I haven't lost any in a few years.

Thank you. As far as KuhlI doing OK at 84F some profiles suggest it but others place 82F as the upper limit temp. Most Corydoras species, on the other hand, do better in the mid 70sF (22-24C), but some specific species thrive on higher temps. Take the popular Corydoras panda, its lifespam seems to be shortened with temps higher than 74-76F. Which Corydoras species do you keep?

My bronze and albino corydoras (same species) do great in an unheated tank that year round goes between 82-86F (I live in the Caribbean basin).

Pepetj
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No idea what went wrong but the smaller of the Snakeskin Discus died. No injury, no bloating, just dead. I found it during second half of the[[football soccer] World Cup final game, upside down, inert, attached to the intake of the Magnun 250 HOT canister filter. Nitrates were quite low at the 5 to 10ppm range (Seachem test).

I did a 75% water change, as precaution. The other four are doing quite well, they have colored up impressively. One of them claimed a spot where he/she chase at least one particular fish out of that area. I need to get another cylinder of CO2, I expect to purchase it tomorrow morning (thinking about a 50lbs cylinder).

I began feeding today with TetraColor sinking granules. Still reading on their eating habits.

Pepetj
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Heater Tragedy... 2 dead fish

Sunday night something terrible happened. I woke up Monday and when I checked the tank I found one dead Discus and another quite stunted, laying almost motionless but still breathing. The other two were cornered, barely moving but standing still. To make this worse: the entire school of eight adult (some 2years old) KuhlI loach lying everywhere as in the Killing Fields of Cambodya.

Told my five year old daughter (Kuhlis are one of her favorite fish) that I sent our Kuhlis to a retirement home tank in the LFS since they were a bit old but I was bringing a bunch of juveniles in return. She was upset for a minute or two but then somehow she was fine with the idea.

I noticed what was wrong when I went for the dead fish. The water was way too hot. Thermometer read 38.1C. No need to say I panicked. Unplugged both heaters and noticed the one that malfunctioned: pilot light on that wouldn't go off as I moved the adjusting knob all the way to the minus side.

I placed a powerhead to increase water surface agitation, turned the lights (CO2 tank was off). And used six ice cubes (extreme measure in my despair) trying to cool this tank. I even considered setting up my chillers but then I realized I needed to gradually bring the temperature down so I wouldn't harm the surviving fish. So I let the tank without lights and heaters, kept a somewhat strong powerhead (AquaClear 50) disturbing the water surface. It took that tank six hours to go under 90F, at 6PM it was at 88F, at 9PM it made it back to 86F.

That morning I had to go and pick up my new CO2 cylinder (a 50 pounder!), I managed to get it home but all the time I was away I felt overwhelmed with anxiety.

In the evening I talked to the LFS owner (my partner in this project) and gave him the bad news. He was truly sad about this loss.

We decided to import four more Snakeskin Discus. Order should arrive next Monday (from the same breeder of the ones I have now).

The impotence I felt was hard to manage. I had to head to the office in the evening for psychotherapy sessions with five patients, fortunately two of them cancelled and I could return home earlier than usual (I did the best I could but it wasn't my best day at work).

I spent at least 8 weeks conditioning this tank for Discus. I spent the whole previous week learning to adjust the heaters to keep a constant temperature. When I felt I could manage it correctly I brought the Discus home.

I was so ashamed of this experience that I couldn't post it yesterday. Somehow, watching the two surviving Snakeskin Discus keeps me going. I miss the others though...

Pepetj
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claudicles

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That is awful. You must have felt terrible when you found them. I am glad to hear you aren't put off keeping discus though.
 

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Wow, what a horrible story! I don't think this will help any but we learn from our mistakes. Over the years I've lost 3 Discus, one the first week I bought them, a blue cobalt just turned dark and faded away, and last year I lost two while I was on vacation, the auto feeder dumped all the food into the tank, turned the water milky white and two beautiful red turqs were floating when I got back.

Do you use two heaters? I had a heater get stuck on too, fortunately I caught it in time. Now I use two smaller heater to prevent that from happening again.

I've also had my power go out all night in the winter- That was another story! I'm still saving for a generator but my wife is having a problem understanding why it's for the fish and not us. I told her we can take care of ourselves, the fish can't. LOL

One more thing: watch out when adjusting your CO2, a few months back my bubble counter must have gotten clogged, not knowing I opened the needle valve until the counter was correct but while I was at work it "unclogged" and jettison out CO2 until all my fish were belly up suffocating!!! I managed to save my 7 Discus but lost a few other fish.

So point being- don't give up, be persistent, learn from your mistakes and expect more unforeseen problems in the future. It's gonna happen, It's the Law!
 
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I am speechless as I watch this two beautiful fish. Thanks for your support and encouragement. I didn't feed them during the temperature ordeal, today they went after their sinking granules. Tank is steady at 30.4C. I still want to adjust it to 29.5 for the sake of the plants.

Can't find my camera, I charged the batteries to take pics of them but go figure where I [mis]placed it.

Pepetj
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catsma_97504

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I'm sorry to hear about your struggles pepetj. As mentioned above, we learn from our mistakes. Although I've never kept discus fish, I've made plenty of mistakes that caused fish deaths.

Can't wait to see the pictures (once you can locate your camera). After this ordeal, I bet the surviving discus hold a special place in your heart.
 
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