Planted tank and Discus

JRG

The basics:
65g, stable for 1 year
heavily planted
40% WC every 2 weeks
2 angels
1 gourami
1 SAE
3 small feedings per day
hundreds of pest snails
80 degrees F
7.6 PH from tap
6.8 PH with injected CO2 (but I'm out of CO2 right now)
4, maybe 5 dKH
12 dGH
0 ammonia/nitrite
~5-20 nitrate (depending on how much I fertilize and if I'm late with a WC)

I've been researching the relationship between planted tanks and keeping discus. It is traditionally said, and most discus keepers agree, that a (heavily) planted tank will be bad for juvenile discus, resulting in football shaped stunted fish. I tested the TDS in my tank today with my new meter and it was at 355 ppm. My cold tap is 300 ppm, hot tap is 345 ppm. I should note that I rarely do a deep gravel cleaning, but I have lots of trumpet snails turning the substrate over. I expected the TDS to be much higher since I rarely do deep gravel cleanings. I've got some half-dollar size discus coming that were raised in tap water similar to mine, with the only difference being their dGH was closer to 14+. Their parents are about 5.5 - 6 inches from what I could tell (in person), and beautiful.

My questions:
  • Why isn't my TDS way higher than my tap?
  • In theory, the juvenile discus and their parents came from water parameters that are similar to the water in my planted tank. Wouldn't they technically be fine to grow into adults without removing all the plants?
Also, I will be getting a larger tank as they grow; the temp will be raised; plants that can't handle the new temp will be removed; water testing and subsequent WC's will be done more frequently for the first year or so; deeper cleanings to be done also.

Thanks for reading
 

FinalFins

1- TDS is higher in your tank than the tap is becasue TDS stands for 'total dissolved solids', including things like pheromones, hormones, ammonia, nitrate and all that good stuff.

2- Its not the water parameters that make planted tanks hard with discus, its the maintenince- simply much easier growing out discus in a bare bottom doing daily water changes while the grow up and easy cleaning at the bottom. In a planted tank you need to do water changes daily, with substrate cleans everyday for an optimal environment for discus to grow up. Simply much easier to go BB then planted when growing out. Also that fact that many belive that bacteria and other nasties lurking in the deep depths of the plants and the roots can cause a number of ailments.

86 ssinit has a planted discus tank, hopefully he can explain better than me,
 
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JRG

1- TDS is higher in your tank than the tap is becasue TDS stands for 'total dissolved solids', including things like pheromones, hormones, ammonia, nitrate and all that good stuff.

2- Its not the water parameters that make planted tanks hard with discus, its the maintenince- simply much easier growing out discus in a bare bottom doing daily water changes while the grow up and easy cleaning at the bottom. In a planted tank you need to do water changes daily, with substrate cleans everyday for an optimal environment for discus to grow up. Simply much easier to go BB then planted when growing out. Also that fact that many belive that bacteria and other nasties lurking in the deep depths of the plants and the roots can cause a number of ailments.

86 ssinit has a planted discus tank, hopefully he can explain better than me,

That's a good point about factoring in ease of maintenance, and increased potential for possible infections. It already takes a couple of hours to prune and clean! As for the TDS I guess I was expecting it to be significantly higher than tap, instead of just somewhat higher, because of the mulm breaking down in the substrate and liquid fertilizer.

On that note, I wonder how well the trumpet snails turn the substrate over to keep things from "stagnating" down there?
 
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86 ssinit

Welcome aboard JRG. Yes I have a planted discus tank. But mine all started together. As in the plants grew with the discus. Mine started as a new tank. As of now mine is working fine. I too have mts and yes I believe they eat everything in the substrate. I also have a colony of cherry shrimp in the tank. I do 3 vacuume water changes a week of at least 50%. Discus need clean water!!! Planted discus tanks are frowned upon. As to your existing planted tank. That’s tough especially since you don’t vacuum the substrate. I would start now with vacuuming it. Also your angels are not a good match. It’s there tank and they will be the dominant fish. Which in turn will stress the discus.
Lots to think about. If your looking for high quality show discus. That’s not going to happen in your tank. But if your just looking to enjoy your fish and keep them healthy that you can do . How many are you getting?
 
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JRG

Welcome aboard JRG. Yes I have a planted discus tank. But mine all started together. As in the plants grew with the discus. Mine started as a new tank. As of now mine is working fine. I too have mts and yes I believe they eat everything in the substrate. I also have a colony of cherry shrimp in the tank. I do 3 vacuume water changes a week of at least 50%. Discus need clean water!!! Planted discus tanks are frowned upon. As to your existing planted tank. That’s tough especially since you don’t vacuum the substrate. I would start now with vacuuming it. Also your angels are not a good match. It’s there tank and they will be the dominant fish. Which in turn will stress the discus.
Lots to think about. If your looking for high quality show discus. That’s not going to happen in your tank. But if your just looking to enjoy your fish and keep them healthy that you can do . How many are you getting?

Hi, thanks for the reply. I picked up 10 juveniles from a breeder. I intended on getting 6, but he offered the extra 4 at no extra cost so he could clear the tank for the next batch. I couldn't refuse, especially since I've never had discus before and I was kinda expecting some to perish in QT. So far, they're all alive and eating from my hand. They won't be going into the main tank for another month. I wasn't expecting to get a larger tank until the end of the year but I might have to do that sooner. In the meantime, I'm willing to remove most, if not all, the plants and substrate just so they can grow better. They're going to be house pets and not champs or anything of that sort, but I do want them to be healthy, happy, and grow to a size that is indicative to their healthy happy lives. I know the first year or so is critical for their growth and I'm willing to do whatever is needed to make sure they're not stunted, even if it means having to give some away. As for the angels, I have a plan that worked before with another much larger and aggressive angel. I'm hoping it will work with the discus too. I'll start cleaning the substrate better. I've already removed some plants and bought a 24" extended gravel vac to facilitate the cleanings. I just hope I can convince the wife a 125g is better and that it will make the living room nicer!
 
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86 ssinit

Oh yes it will . 125 is a nice size. What size tank are they in now. Pictures would be nice . I also li,e angels but mine are in another tank. Angels and planted and your really pushing it. Discus are not easy fish. Only easy if your constantly cleaning and keeping the by themselves. With angels they will show black stress bars all the time.
FA0373BA-6B76-4F13-BCD6-2EAB65A1EC6D.jpeg
82E9C160-6387-4B7C-972D-7E6BAD49EB5D.jpeg
 
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JRG

The discus are in a plastic tub for their QT (hence the poor pic quality) and they're doing quite well actually. Daily 80% WC, sometimes twice a day. 6 feedings a day. My main tank doesn't normally look so thinned out. I recently removed a bunch of plants and haven't reorganized yet. Might be a waste of time at this point if I'm just going to go BB. Fortunately I've got a lot of time on my hands right now to raise these discus. Normally I wouldn't have the time, but now is a perfect opportunity, so it's okay if they're difficult to handle for a while. If I had to choose between the plants and angels, then I'll aim to keep the angels and just replant in the future.
Let me know what you think of this plan:
Remove all the carpeting plants. Remove most of the substrate. Leave a couple of tall growing plants so the discus feel like they have a place to hide.
My angel-discus introduction would go like this:
Remove angels from tank before the plant/substrate changes. After the changes put discus into main tank in the evening. Early next morning put the angels back in main tank. This usually tricks the angels into thinking it's a completely different territory that is already home to several discus. If all else fails, I separate the angels. Angels are a little over a year old and are marginally bigger than the biggest of the juve discus, though the angels' fins are getting tall
IMG_20200521_171232.jpg
IMG_20200521_173329__01.jpg
IMG_20200521_173137.jpg
IMG_20200521_173115.jpg
 
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JRG

Oh yes it will . 125 is a nice size. What size tank are they in now. Pictures would be nice . I also li,e angels but mine are in another tank. Angels and planted and your really pushing it. Discus are not easy fish. Only easy if your constantly cleaning and keeping the by themselves. With angels they will show black stress bars all the time.
FA0373BA-6B76-4F13-BCD6-2EAB65A1EC6D.jpeg
82E9C160-6387-4B7C-972D-7E6BAD49EB5D.jpeg
Also, very nice tanks there!! I'll use your pics as part of my convincing when I talk to the wife later. Haha
 
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86 ssinit

Those are nice looking discus!! Sorry but that tank ain’t going to do it. You will need the 125. 10 is to many for a 65. Again nice looking discus. Especially since there in a tupaware!! How big is the Tupperware?
 
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JRG

Those are nice looking discus!! Sorry but that tank ain’t going to do it. You will need the 125. 10 is to many for a 65. Again nice looking discus. Especially since there in a tupaware!! How big is the Tupperware?

Thanks. The tub has about 12 gallons in it. Heater, filter, thermometer, and airstones too. I test the water everyday and I've got the ammonia alert badge thing in it. I just finished a dosing of prazipro. They're doing really good. I've started looking for a used 125 now. Hopefully can get one soon and start the cycle quickly.
 
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Mertgezer

Hi,
My dad is keeping fish for more than 50 years. Now he has 20 discus (maybe more, not sure) in 1000 lt for the last 10 years, the tank is too densely planted, (garden soil under river sand) “0” waterchange, internal filter, basically easier than my nano tanks. He comes to visit us to another country for 7 days and no-one feeds the fish.
 
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86 ssinit

Is it a 1000gal or litters? Either way it’s a big tank. So the water quality will last longer. And they will last for a week without food.
 
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Mertgezer

Is it a 1000gal or litters? Either way it’s a big tank. So the water quality will last longer. And they will last for a week without food.
Liters, i believe 240G. No waterchange, no heater, no commercial food and tap water. this has been the same for decades, they breed, few survivals, crazy tank. when i see barebottom tanks i really feel sorry for that beautiful fish.
 
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