Care Suggestions For Small Discus
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Care Suggestions For Small Discus

This is a discussion on Care Suggestions For Small Discus within the Canadian Aqua Farm Discus Hatchery forums, part of the Vendors category; Hi All, Lately there have been a lot of small discus on the market and while they can present an ...

  1. #1
    Sponsor Canadian_Aqua_Farm's Avatar
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    Default Care Suggestions For Small Discus

    Hi All,

    Lately there have been a lot of small discus on the market and while they can present an inexpensive way to get into the discus hobby their care can be a challenge for even the best of aquarists. Small discus (I'm talking 2" and smaller here) have very specific needs that if not met can result in their rather rapid demise however if the correct parameters are provided raising them can be a very rewarding experience. I hope to address some of the basic care requirements in this post. This is a summary of the questions that I am asked most frequently. If you are reading this and can think of any additional questions please let me know and I will add my recommendations to the list.

    #1 Start with good stock. If you start with unhealthy fish it doesn't matter how well cared for they are it is going to be a struggle to keep them alive. Things to look for when buying small discus... they should be active and eat instantly when offered food. Colours should be light (not black). When you view the fish head on it should be thick bodied, not paper thin. The fins should be fully erect, not clamped. Eyes should be clear and well proportioned not too large looking compared to the body size. Large eyes are a sign of stunting.

    #2 Be willing to do daily water changes. This is the real key to success. A daily water change of at least 90%. I like to start by using a cloth to wipe down the surfaces inside the aquarium I then drain all the water I can, rinse the filter media in the old water, and then refill the tank with water of the same temperature. Add only water conditioner to the new water, no other chemicals or additives.

    #3 Tank size: I like to aim for a stocking density of around 1-2 gallons per discus. Keeping them densely stocked helps them feel safe which in turn results in better appetites and more outgoing personalities. It also helps to spread out aggression. I also find that covering the back and sides of the aquarium with light coloured paper helps the discus to feel comfortable.

    #4 Water Parameters: The most important thing is to keep the water conditions stable. For that reason I recommend using dechlorinated tap water and not making any adjustments. It doesn't matter if the PH is 6.0 and soft or 8.0 and hard or anywhere in between. The discus will do equally well regardless of PH and hardness. The temperature should be high, between 86F-88F is ideal.

    #5 Lighting: Light should be provided 24/7.

    #6 Filtration: Good aeration is key, an air stone connected to an air pump will help keep the oxygen level high. I generally like to avoid filters like sponge filters because they trap dirt and are hard to get completely clean. A hang on back filter or corner filter filled with ceramic media is much easier to clean and will provide a place for beneficial bacteria to live.

    #7 No substrate: You need to keep the tank very clean and it just isn't possible to do that with gravel in the tank. A bare bottom tank is essential for small discus.

    #8 Feeding: A high protein food will provide good growth, Australian Freeze Dried Black Worms are ideal at 66% protein and discus will eagerly accept them. They should be fed as many times as possible throughout the day with the minimum number of feedings being three. There is no upper limit on the number of feedings you give them.

    #9 Don't mix them with other fish.

    #10 Take steps to prevent Gas Bubble Disease when doing water changes. More details can be found here: https://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/canad...prevent-25972/


    Today I had the pleasure of meeting "Fish rookie" who's story is a common one. He is new to discus, has tried once to keep a group of little ones and they didn't do well. We have exchanged PM's over the past week and he has now set-up a tank following the above recommendations. As of today his tank has been stocked with 6 quarter size discus from my own breeding program. He has kindly agreed to post some photos in this thread and provide details on what he is doing with his set up. I would like to send a huge thank-you to Fish rookie for agreeing to share his experience so that others may also learn from it! Make sure to check back in the next day or two for his update.
    Last edited by Canadian_Aqua_Farm; 09-12-2012 at 11:00 PM. Reason: Link added.
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    Forum Resident discuspaul's Avatar
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    Great post, Rick !
    Discus newbies really need to know what you have just said, in order to successfully raise/grow out small discus.

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    How are discus measured?

    Let's say that you have two discus in a 50 gallon tank. You change 45 gallons of water per day. If this is continued for 180 days some 8,000 gallons of heated water would be used. Mighty expensive fish! That would equal to 4K gallons per fish. If there were 1 fish per gallon it would equal 160 gallons of water. But the fish would of course be larger and would not fit in the tank anymore. he point is that it's expensive to raise discus.

    You mention lighting is it just a bit of light?

    Now it just so happens that I have to put the finishing touches to a 200 gallon tank that I built for discus. I have a super sand filter in mind to filter the water. Indications are that it will work. The water will be filtered and reheated. A 200 gallon tank with 90% water changes for 6 months would equal 33K gallons or 1,650 gallons per fish. I wouldn't consider paying the heating bills for an endeavour like that.

    Are you aware of anyone raising discus that use a low level of broad spectrum antibiotic like Tetracycline in the water?

    Thanks for posting the informative post! Best luck to Fish Rookie on his second journey of discus raising.

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    DSCF1692a.jpg

    This was to be my discus tank. If my super filter works it'll be a go if not well changing 90% of 200 gallons daily is out of the question.

    The tank is L 96" X W 20" X H 24". The interior has two coats of epoxy a silicone at the edges. I have tile that will be applied on top of the paint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamplighter View Post
    How are discus measured?

    Let's say that you have two discus in a 50 gallon tank. You change 45 gallons of water per day. If this is continued for 180 days some 8,000 gallons of heated water would be used. Mighty expensive fish! That would equal to 4K gallons per fish. If there were 1 fish per gallon it would equal 160 gallons of water. But the fish would of course be larger and would not fit in the tank anymore. he point is that it's expensive to raise discus.

    You mention lighting is it just a bit of light?

    Now it just so happens that I have to put the finishing touches to a 200 gallon tank that I built for discus. I have a super sand filter in mind to filter the water. Indications are that it will work. The water will be filtered and reheated. A 200 gallon tank with 90% water changes for 6 months would equal 33K gallons or 1,650 gallons per fish. I wouldn't consider paying the heating bills for an endeavour like that.

    Are you aware of anyone raising discus that use a low level of broad spectrum antibiotic like Tetracycline in the water?

    Thanks for posting the informative post! Best luck to Fish Rookie on his second journey of discus raising.
    You are quite right discus are expensive to raise. That is why they are sold cheap at a small size before much expense or labour has been incur. The price increases significantly with each inch that the fish grow which is a reflection of the time and cost invested to grow them.

    Forrest and I both use total length to measure our discus. Total length includes the tail.

    Do you have an electric hot water tank? Mine is natural gas and I see very little change in my gas bill regardless of how much water I change. The expensive part is maintaining the temperature in the aquarium using aquarium heaters but this expense does not change regardless of how frequently you change the water.

    Lighting can be a light directly over the aquarium or just diffused room lighting. They should never be in complete darkness because they spook easily in the dark. They also don't like sudden changes from dark to light and vice versa.

    I don't know anyone using low levels of antibiotics on a constant basis though I am sure it is common practice for some breeders. I personally don't believe in it. When I am raising discus I want them to develop their immune system to the fullest potential. This is also why I don't use UV sterilizers on my tanks.
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    Great
    Post. I agree getting cheap small discus is not always a money saving route. Alot of heartache and loss. I suggest
    For beginners to start with 3 inch. They are
    Past the most
    Fragile time when they runt out very easy. A few bad
    Weeks and their window of opportunity is gone.
    The key point Rick made is if you are buying tiny babies they should be
    All at the top fighting for top spot to get food when they see their care taker. If they aren't don't buy.
    Anyone who has been to ricks when he has fry would see them like this.
    If you follow these guidelines there's no reason you should fail. But if it sounds like too much work then your better to buy large
    Diacus or choose another fish. Discus ate
    Amazing
    But not
    For everyone. But they are the king of the aquarium and a great challenge.
    Using antibiotics is not the way to go. That would be the same as you living on antibiotics Judy in case.



    Last edited by April; 09-09-2012 at 12:52 PM.
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    Great post indeed Rick! you should make this a sticky in your section. If you don't know how to and want me to do it just lemme know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canadian_Aqua_Farm View Post

    Do you have an electric hot water tank? Mine is natural gas and I see very little change in my gas bill regardless of how much water I change. The expensive part is maintaining the temperature in the aquarium using aquarium heaters but this expense does not change regardless of how frequently you change the water.

    Luckily, I have a natural gas hot water heater.

    I have auxiliary electric heat in the basement. This is so I can heat zones. I got a bill for around $ 600.00 for two months one winter. That was around 15 years ago. A hobby is a hobby so I'm hoping that my next bills wont go through the roof.

    My neighbor at one time was a microbiologist that refused antibiotics.

    The bottom line is that any fish that's imported might have been exposed to long term antibiotics. How would the importer know?

    I believe that you and April do not take the antibiotic route and neither would I. I do however think that if it's cost effective it's use could be widespread in the industry.

    My remaining discus, save two, look happy but they are not BIG eaters.

    I'll be moving the angels out of the tank this week.

    Thanks for the article.

    Would you consider writing an article on how to deal with ailing discus?

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    As far as antibiotic use...yes..brokers use acriflavin when they introduce all the fish . But not constant meds. One reason to get all from one reliable source where all the fish are acclimated and carefully quarantined when they first arrive. A conscientious seller doesn't just sell for quick money. Rick is one dedicated supplier. There's only a couple of serious , high quality resellers in Canada I would ever purchase from. Actually there's only maybe 4 in USA I would buy from. But I'm fussy. I know what I'm looking for in shape and quality. I would only buy from someone I know would sell me the actual fish I saw in the pictures.
    Fish are at times shipped in acriflavin which is more of a protectant against bacteria. It's mild. Also used on eggs to prevent bacteria.
    I don't know of any discus breeders who raise with constant antibiotics. Clean , consistent water is all that is needed.



    Last edited by April; 09-09-2012 at 02:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    There's only a couple of serious , high quality resellers in Canada I would ever purchase from. Actually there's only maybe 4 in USA I would buy from. But I'm fussy.
    Six high quality resellers in North America is not a whole lot. That's not even two handfuls.

    I'd like to take the opportunity to say that I respect yours and Ricks opinion regarding discus. You both make good mentors.

 

 
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