South American Cichlids • Making the Switch....from Africans to Discus....

Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)

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Making the Switch....from Africans to Discus....

Postby Bmgrocks » Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:35 pm

Well, Its been decided, I simply can't get over the beauty of a densely planted tank with some Discus in it. I will be converting my 72 Bowfront, All Male Peacock tank to a discus planted community.
Need some help though. I do have the makings of a "blue print" and would like some advising throughout the process.

A few Tank Specs
For lighting on this 48" tank, I want the minimum 2wpg, but not over 4, since research tells me the addition of CO2 is usually necessary. I want to keep this generally low maintenance, and natural, with a Pure Flourite substrate and good lighting, taking care of my plant growth needs. With the addition of easy to grow, and hardy plants, I doubt this will be a problem.

Lighting is (2) 96w Compact Florescent 10k, over a 72 gallon tank, it would bring me 2.6wpg. Just enough to meet the requirement, but not to high to demand CO2, (will add if necessary)

As far as Plants go, here is what i've been thinking of
Foreground
Anubias barteri 'Nana (2)
Heteranthera zosterifolia or micro sword (carpeting plant/star grass)
Midground
Cryptocoryne wendtii (2)
Microsorum pteropus (1) (Java Fern)
Background
Echinodorus ozelot (1)
Hygrophila corymbosa 'Siamensis' (1) (Narrow Leaf Giant Hygro)
Ludwigia glandulosa (1)


For Substrate I will most likely be using Seachem Flourite, prob close to 40lbs to have a 3" forground depth, to a 5" background depth.

As far as Livestock goes,
10-15 Cardinal Tetras
7-12 Rummy Nose Tetras
7-10 Harlequin Rasboras
4 German Rams, 2 Blue, 2 Gold
5-6 otto cats
3 Discus
Last edited by Bmgrocks on Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bmgrocks » Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:39 pm

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Postby rickztahone » Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:18 pm

wow your peacock looks great. dntx5b9 gave some great advice. i currently have 6 juvies in my 55g and they are doing great in a gravel bottom and fake plants in the tank. BB IMO sounds to be the easiest way to grow them out but i just like the aesthetics of the way my tank looks. they are growing rapidly as is and i'd hate to change something that is doing good so far. good luck
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Postby Bmgrocks » Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:12 pm

should I thin out my stock then if i go with 6 discus. I read a general rule of thumb is 1 discus for every 10 gallons. I think I may stick with 6. In terms of bioload would that possibly overload the system?
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Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:38 pm
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Postby Dutch Dude » Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:16 pm

densely planted tank with some Discus in it

A densely planted tank is very hard to keep clean enough for Discus. Discus need protein rich foods like bloodworms, beefheart mix, artemis. Except for the heavy foods discus also have a poor metabolism,...they produce a lot of waste. Lots of plants makes it hard to keep the substrate clean and for that it is hard to keep the water clean enough. A few large echinodorus or Anubia would be a better idea imo.

For lighting on this 48" tank, I want the minimum 2wpg, but not over 4, since research tells me the addition of CO2 is usually necessary
Discus prefer low light levels. High light levels indeed demand more fertilizers and possible CO2. In case of a discus tank I don't recommend a CO2 unit. Water with a high temp around 28C to 30C does contain a higher natural CO2 level compared to cool water. At the same time it contains les oxygen. Discus prefer higher oxygen levels so additional CO2 unit might lower the oxygen level even more.

I want to keep this generally low maintenance
Thats just not doable with plants and discus. Discus need very clean water and becouse of the heavy foods and poor metabolism you need to do a lot of large water changes. Plants make it more difficult to keep the tank clean and you also need to spend some time on the pruning. The easiest way to keep discus with minimum on afford is a bare bottom tank with a large filter system and abouth 10 times turnover.

There are only few plants that do well in the high temps discus need. Echinodorus bleheri is one of those.

Put 3 discus in a tank and your almost certain it becomes a problem. Discus do best in a small group of at least 6 of them.

Grow out discus is not an easy job and realy a lot of work with 50% water changes a day,...or even more. Overall discus are not difficult to keep but they definitely are a lot of work. I suggest to get some more info on www.simplydiscus.com. Over there you find some real experts like Heiko Bleher, Discus Hans and lots of (professional) breeders, experts and enthusiastic discus owners.
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Postby Number6 » Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:44 pm

a planted 6 Discus setup is NOT the ideal way to get into Discus... this is doubly so in a tank that's only 72g...

you also need to ignore the W/G "rules" that you've been fed. They are rubbish rules that will lead you into horrible choices.

E.g. if you have two freshwater 96W bulbs with good reflectors behind them, then CO2 is already your growth limiting factor (I'd bet $20 on that!)

If you'd like to try your hand at a 72G planted tank, might I suggest buying a mated adult pair and using CO2? It really will be far more likely to work out. If you can't find a mated pair, consider buying 7 youngsters, growing them out bare bottom until a pair forms and then using those in the planted setup.

I don't agree with Dutch Dude's recommendation against CO2... CO2 added to planted tanks usually increases free O2. It never decreases it, but I guess he's worried that it will interfere with the ability for the Discus to uptake the O2... valid I guess, but it assumes a failing set of plants.

For a planted Discus tank, I'm suggesting you don't head to a Discus site... might I suggest visiting Tom Barr's site instead? His site will teach you how to grow plants like a pro, and then the water will take care of your pair of Discus.
My two cents! :thumb:
My WC cichlids are gonna be caught on rod n reel!
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Postby Bmgrocks » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:18 pm

wow, thanks for such a detailed response, the only way this can be successful is with the help of other experienced keepers like yourselves. I'm understanding what you have mentioned about the juvies, and I'm sure I'll be able to get my hands on an Adult Pair... That sounds easier anyway.

I'm aware of the w/g rule, and it is simply a guideline mainstay to understand how much light is spread throughout the tank. It is not in any means a way for me to measure how much light is needed, however, most books and even on this site, recommend at least 2 wpg when starting a planted tank. I do keep saltwater reef tanks, and am very familiar with the importance of lighting.

As far as keeping it low mainance, i'm sure its simply a matter of opinion, I'm used to keeping full blown sps reef's and my current tank is a 240 gallon starfire cube, I'm sure the maintenance on a planted discus tank will be manageable, however i will not underestimate any aspect of this up and coming project, and I thank you for your wisdom and concern.

Chances are I'll end up dropping $200 on a CO2 system, and I'll be sure to continue doing the research...

The discus will prob be added later down the road, and if an adult pair cannot be obtained, I have a spare 40 breeder, that i can run barebottom, and sponge filters to get a pair
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Postby Bmgrocks » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:18 pm

well, after some more research, looks like I'll be needing WAAAYYY more plants, anyone have plant stocking suggestions, I need to increase these numbers big time.. Anyone with plated tank experience
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Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:38 pm
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Postby Bmgrocks » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:19 pm

I have also secured an adult pair of discus, from a local breeder, thanks for all the input
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Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:38 pm
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Postby Number6 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:02 pm

Bmgrocks wrote:I have also secured an adult pair of discus, from a local breeder, thanks for all the input


Awesome choice! You won't regret it...

for plant choices, you really want to head to Tom Barr's site... he's the guru of planted tanks on the net IMHO.

I've had great luck with swords and crypts at Discus temps. Consider many varieties of crypts for variety yet easy to grow. My 2 cents.
My WC cichlids are gonna be caught on rod n reel!
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Postby Bmgrocks » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:14 am

ahhh, I happen to know someone who has been building a Discus Warehouse/Greenhouse in his backyard, He has been breeding Discus for 37 years, and frequents a LFS that I go to. Great German Guy named Ali, with a real thick accent, anyways he has some 600gallon planted, and about 50 40 breeders set up with a drip system for his private breeding project. Send me a PM, and maybe I can give you the hook up.

As far as initial planting goes, What do you guys reccomend as Substrate, I was thinking Flourite.
And does anyone run heat cables in their substrate?
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