Responsible Discus keeping...

Discussion in 'Discus Fish' started by Phishphin, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember


    We have a pretty large aquarium club in my county and we communicate regularly via facebook. Someone just posted a picture of a 60 gallon bowfront aquarium, with what appears to be 6 juvenile (2") discus. Very pretty little fish.

    Obviously, a raging debate began, as does any debate when Discus are concerned. I threw my hat into the ring, but I'm more interested to hear your perspectives before I get too involved.

    Let's assume their filtration is perfect and they do 20-30% water changes a week. How long could they keep them in there until, for the good of the fish, he would have to transfer them out. I think the height of the tank is around 20 inches (according to them).

    He thought of adding two more and that he would NEVER have to transfer them out! :(

  2. JasonnnnnnnzValued MemberMember

    Well sadly in this hobby some don't really care if fishes due as they are able to experience new additions. Yet if he kept long enough and with enough experience then he should realise what he is doing is wrong and make correct paths later on. But for now when he has only just got them so he is still in the not sure stages of keeping them.
    I went through this path. I used to have a 20L nano tank with ridiculous amount of stock for that size tank. I had soon found my bn pleco suffering from nitrite burns because of the amount of my stock created. And soon bought a 80L tank and placed most of my stock within it.

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  3. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    Honestly, the 6 in the 60 gallon team appears to be winning this debate. I've always thought discus needed a larger space. I did understand that you could a have a single mated pair, or at least 6 (or more) but nothing in between, otherwise the aggression does not distribute equally. I just thought you need a larger tank for the 6 or more...

    They've actually brought a number or articles to the discussion confirming the opposite of my view. I actually became frustrated and e-mailed Hans of Hans Discus. I know he sells discus for a living, but I also understand him to be a very reputable and well respected breeder who cares about his fish. To my surprise, I received the following response this morning:


    That would not be a problem at all, I say even 8 wouldn't be a problem.
    Stendker even says 10 in a 50 gallon to raise them.

    Best regards

    Discus Hans USA

    Sent from my iPhone"

    (I took Hans as more of an Android guy.)

    ...So. Maybe I'm wrong about this. I actually just checked Fishlore, which has the minimum gallon set at 30 gallons for the Discus profile. AqFinder calculator shows 6 adult discus in the 60 gallon as "82%" stocked.

    So Jason, could we be wrong about these fish?

    Is this a case where we want not only appropriate and healthy conditions for fish, but because of their lofty title as "freshwater kings", we want royal perfection? I know they are finicky and a difficult fish to keep. But I'm wondering if I'm wrong.

    And I'm also wondering if the community has hesitated to respond because they thought I was wrong too. :)

  4. JasonnnnnnnzValued MemberMember

    Everyone has their own view. I personally has bad habits with over stock, but I over come as I don't more water changes. The thing that allows me to over stock is to keep my little cousin happy with his little 20L tank where he completely stuffed up.
    He had major ick developed across the tank and everything died. As I didn't want to buy him new fish as I'm the only one in the family who keeps fish.

    So I will attempt to breed or raise up fish for him from the fish store so they will be healthy when their in his tank.

    Even though discus is able to be stocked at around 2 per 10gallon at the supplier. We don't have as much stock to play with. He will have his ups and downs where he is able to detect what had gone wrong before deciding the next move. Stocking with that many stock will take time to adjust which Also means they should be introduced young. Over filtering and wc is probs the main way to over come the pristine waters for discus and the stock in the tank.

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  5. JasonnnnnnnzValued MemberMember

    Do more*

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  6. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

  7. virusmkWell Known MemberMember

    Phishphin have a look at Kens links youll find a lot of usefull information there.

    OK now general rule for for 1 adult discus is 10g. But than again it depends what is your plan and goal.
    If you want to grow them quick and do large water changes up to 70% daily or every other day than you can keep 2 juvies in 10g,feed 4-5 times a day, but need to monitor your water parameters consistantly just to make sure you have cristal clear water.
    And very important keep ph stable.

    If you dont have time for all that fuss and feed 2 times a day then i guess it would be ok to do smaller portions of water changes but than again i do not believe that you will have good water parameters with just one or two water change in a week. In this case you are slowing their growth but still will reach adulthood
    I do 5 water changes a week of at least 30% and more, depends on my water parameters, as i do overfeed.

    Once they reach adulthood than they would appreciate more space and deeper tank.

    In general discuses are a bit more difficult and do require more TLC but it is rewarding having them at home as no other fish could replicate their elegance.

    And remember with discuses is very important to quarantine properly as it could be very very costly lesson as i did experienced on my skin. Just one ill fish or parasite can ruin the joy of having to raise discuses as dealing with illness or parasite infection could consume a lot of time,money,joy and problems at home with familly as youll spent more time dealing with fistank than with your familly :)

    No one would hesitise to come ahead and help or give you and advice but we are very few discus keepers here and not too active Disc61 and Slug are most experienced here and i have learned a lot of them so when they do come around i am sure they would give you much better advice than me as i still consider myself a newbie in discus keeping
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  8. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    I know myself, and I while I do relatively frequent pwc for my current stock (usually 2x a week, even though I certainly don't need to, just a personal prefernce) I don't think I would be able to keep up with the needs of Discus. I would definitely feel uncomfortable placing them in my new 50 gallon. I don't like having that looming "an upgrade MUST happen" feeling. If I had a 90 gallon, it would be a different story, although I still don't think I would keep them until I was ready to build sumps, refugiums for brine shrimp, etc.

    I was actually arguing against this to someone in my aquarium club, for the record :)

    Thanks for all the input!
  9. Disc61Well Known MemberMember

    hello fellow Pennsylvanian, Yes you and Jason could be wrong. ( just playin on words) I myself have 7 Stendker Discus from the man "Hans" himself. in a 55 gl. I have raised many groups ( currently 2 groups) in 55 gl tanks for the past several years. a 55 gl tank is very suitable for a grow out tank. mine normally start at 2.5 inches and I have 15 currently over 5 inches with several over 6 inches. ALL very healthy. I have a few threads in the Discus section you can check out.

    a 55 gl will also do the job as a permanent home once the Discus have grown. at this point I would say a maximum of 6. ( I have a 120 gl for my stendkers in a couple months)
    I would also say a 75 gl is a better choice for a minimum as it allows the adults more turning room.

    Hope this helps, Tom
  10. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    It does not help at all because now I want to consider 6 discus for my bowfront :)

    I had my stock all picked out too!

    I will continue to research and consider though, but the information you provided is great. I still may wait for a slightly larger tank. I'm also nervous about potential long vacations in the future...

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  11. SlugWell Known MemberMember

    20-30% a week in a 60gal isn't enough I'll tell you that right now lol. Especially with 2" fish, those fish will never reach potential. Sorry though, gotta go against your argument overall. With that being said, 1 Adult discus per 10gal is the general rule. I tend to bend it by a fish or two, and most people do if you have a good WC schedule. Obviously a big 5-7" adult is not going to do well in a 10gal tank. However a pair can be just fine in a standard 20gal tank. So 6 in a 60 could potentially live their entire lives in that tank depending on pair aggression and such. Growout tanks are almost always densely stocked, simply because its easy keep a single spawn together and sell them before you need to upgrade their tanks.

    Remember discus are cichlids after all. They pair up like any of the others and can be aggressive towards tankmates. Its just a matter of time before you get a pair out of a group controlling one side of a tank. So there will be some considerations on what to do, how to shuffle fish, etc due to that....but otherwise you don't need giant tanks to keep them.

    Discus are some of the most misunderstood fish in the hobby, still years later. Discus are really quite resilient and aren't going to drop dead in a day on you. They are actually one of the few fish that is like a billboard. You can clearly see whats wrong with them by a quick glance at the tank, they let you know if sometimes wrong. Like any fish, start with good fish from a REPUTABLE source, do your water changes, and you should have minimal issues.
  12. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    I like how this started out as me against a certain type of tank and now I'm suddenly considering stocking my new empty tank... I think if my tank were a 60 gal instead of a 50, I'd really be giving it some thought at this point...
  13. Viriam KaroWell Known MemberMember

    Haven't you realized yet that there is no fighting MTS? :p

    ETA that it is very dangerous of Slug to say that a pair of discus can do all right in a 20 gal LOL it was safer for me when I thought all discus tanks should be at least 75 gal...
  14. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    I just have this vision of certain plants in my tanks like dwarf sagitaria, which the upper limits of its temperature is supposedly 82 degrees. Even if I were to simply keep a pair of discus in my 50, I feel like would have to hard of a time getting the plants right for the aquascape...
  15. Disc61Well Known MemberMember

    Sorry, wrong again, haha.... Dwarfs are very suitable for Discus tanks this tank's temp is at 85 degrees, Discus will join the tank after QT of the cardinals for a couple months. and I had Dwarf Sags in my other tank that done very well in clay pots.
    Check out this link for warm water/Discus plants  

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  16. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    I'm ok being wrong with this :) Very nice!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  17. SlugWell Known MemberMember

    Mind you that's a completely bare 20gal tank with a breeding pair lol. Not a pair in a 20gal community.

    Photo of my old breeding system, all of the tanks are standard 20gal.

    And this was my wild tank at its peak. 10 discus, 4 Festivum, 2 dwarf pikes
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  18. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    They look fantastic!
    Could I keep a set of paired discus with a large school (15 or so) of glowlight tetras?
  19. virusmkWell Known MemberMember

    Of course that you can. Glowlights are great tankmates for discuses and will do just fine. Just make sure they are large enough not to become discuses meal.
    Also make sure that tetras would be on their own for at least 6-8 weeks to be sure that they do not carry any potential illnes or parasites that can affect your discuses.

    If you have little bit more of time that you can spent on the tank i do encourage you to go and get max 6 juvies for your 55g. Believe me it is rewarding having them in.

    everyone would admire them apart your wife :):):) but after some time shell get used to them
  20. PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    The bioload wouldn't be too much for 6 adults and 15 or so glowlights? I mean, I will be doing plenty of water changes I suppose...

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