If you are on your way to keeping a planted discus tank, then you will need the information we are about to provide in this article.
Discus fish are a beautiful species of fish known for their unique large circular shape. They are known to be challenging to keep; most internet searches recommend frequent water changes each day. A few people only practice this routine, and the rest use a more low maintenance method.
Keeping a Discus Fish
A discus fish will prefer mild water and a low pH. They love to stay in a group and so should be kept at five and above schooling, depending on the size of your aquarium.
The ideal temperature to keep its temperature as high as 27 to 30°C. You don’t have to purchase a high powered heater, but you should install two smaller heaters at the opposite sides of the tank, this will provide a balanced heat distribution. Even if any of the heaters should fail, the water temperature will not fade or sink in check out below for a well detailed set up guide.
Family – Cichlidae
Origin – Amazon River Basin
Lifespan – 10 Years
Size – 8-10 inches
Diet – Omnivorous
Nature – Peaceful
Care Level – Difficult
Discus Planted Tank Set up Guide
Discus fish typically live in broad social groups, and their habitat is a shallow stream or river where tree roots can extend to provide a shield for them. The vegetation over their habitat prevents them from getting in direct contact with the sun.
As explained above. Water temperature should be at a constant level of 27 -30Celsius, and the pH is acidic at about 5-6. The water is usually soft and contains minimal amounts of soluble minerals.
Discus fish are known to be among the most interesting and beautiful sets of fish to keep compared to all other fish in the freshwater. This guide aims to set you on the right part in raising your discus fish and tackling related problems that come with setting up a planted discus tank.
Discus fish are large fish; they grow as long as 15 centimeters (cm) (six inches) or more while approaching maturity; therefore, they require a large tank space to thrive and avoid stress. If you want to keep a discus tank, We recommend you go for probably the largest tank you can afford. You can pick a tank size within a range of 260-300 L, if you can’t afford this, get a used tank.
Tank equipment are an important aspect for the fish tank as they will make the aquatic habitat better for plant and fish.
The discus fish require a temperature at the range of 28-30 C (81-86 F) for them to thrive. you will need to get a heater of a suitable wattage capable of maintaining the temperature for keeping your discus and the tank healthy.
As a guideline, 1 watt per L should be suitable; therefore, the 250-watt heater will be perfect in a 220L size tank. There are many heater markers you can choose from that will be the best fit for your tank.
There are three types of filtration, and they include;
- Biological filtration
- Mechanical filtration
- Chemical filtration
Biological filtration is known as the decomposition of harmful ammonia into nitrites and converted into nitrates by some bacteria. The group of bacteria is referred to as the beneficial bacterial group.
Mechanical filtration is defined as the process of discarding solid waste and other contaminants from the water. Examples are flosses and pads.
Chemical filtration means the removal of impurities, colorations, and purification of the water. Carbon is mostly used for this type of purification.
There are types of filtration mentioned that can be obtained if you select the right filter for your tank.
There is a wide selection of suitable filters to select. Some discuss tank keepers keep their fish in the mere bottom tank and introduce the sponge filters, then supplement this filter with the canister or HOBs to obtain all the filtration requirements.
Your tank size will determine the required type, size, and capability of the available filters.
Test Kits and Other Essentials
The test kits are one of the vital equipment you will need because you have to test your water regularly in case of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrates and determine the pH and carbonate levels of your tank.
Although some fish stores may provide you with their water testing service, which may be inconvenient for you most time. If you have your test kits, you will be able to test your water parameters anytime you want, this will help you tackle and ensure that the tank water is maintained, and if any problems come up, you will notice them on time.
For the tank lighting, you don’t need a strong bright light for your discus. Low light within a range of 0.25 to 0.5 watts per L, has been proven adequate for a planted discus tank.
Tank Setup Choices for Discus
Here are two types of tank you can choose from;
- Bare-Bottom Tank
- Planted/Display Tank
This tank set up is best suited for both beginners and other aquarium keepers. It is generally known as the most comfortable tank to maintain and the best way to keep discus fish.
The bare bottom tank allows you to spot food waste, fish feces, and other waste materials. It also allows you to scrape off this water anytime it is detected. The tank permits frequent water change and maintains a high level of water quality always.
The display or planted tank is best suited for discus tanks and other “community” type tanks. Everyone will love the sight of a displayed discus planted tank, especially if you have kept a tropical fish in a planted aquarium environment.
Therefore, if you only have little or no experience with keeping a planted aquarium, it is preferred you go for a bare-bottom tank setup while you become more acquainted with discus.
Cycling the Aquarium
Now, you have made the decision on the tank size and type of setup for your discus fish, the tank, the tank stand, and all the necessary items have been placed where necessary.
The next step is to ensure your tank is cycled. DO NOT introduce your discus fish to an uncycled tank, it is very healthy and will kill them. Tank cycling is known as the inhibition of a harmless and useful group of bacteria known as the nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria are important because they filter ammonia and convert them into nitrates. Nitrites and ammonia are harmful to fish, while nitrites are less toxic and won’t harm your fish.
When you cycle your tank, you limit the growth of toxic bacteria and ammonia and filter them into minimum levels that make them safe and harmless to your fish or tank.
Best Plants For Discus Tank
These are our best pick plants for the Discus tank. You can go with these or if you have other options please research and proceed further.
- Java Fern
- Dwarf Tiger Lily
General Maintenance For Discus
Maintaining a proper water balance through water change, you will need an overall maintenance routine.
Clean the walls of your tank during a water change to remove the discus waste- it is slime coating naturally and cats the glass of your tank.
Because your tank is planted, you will have to vacuum regularly, clean your substrate, weekly or twice weekly is okay while you water change, you may have to clean more frequently.
Purchasing Discus Fish
If you want to grow juveniles, going for a fish length of 8cm will be at about four months old, which is most suitable. With the fish length described above, 8-10cm fish of this size will be fit in a 220L tank while they get matured.
While your tender fish get matured, you should reduce the number of fish from six to seven.
The second option is that you choose a more extensive or an older specimen which is about 10cm to 18cm the will mature to at least one mate pairing for reproduction while going for this size of the tank, do not put in a lot of fish, you should limit the number of fish to 5 or 6 in 220L.
While purchasing your new fish, be careful when selecting a fish less than 5 cm long; this type of fish requires constant feeding and water change. These fish need high maintenance until they get older.
Caring for the Discus
Once your set of discus fish arrives, a method commonly referred to as ‘drop and pop’ is used to introduce the fish into the tank. This technique is where the discus is taken off from the bag and placed directly into the tank,
Below are the outlined steps used in the second method.
As your new set of fish arrives, you should help them adapt to their new home’s pH and temperature.
1. Place the bag of new fish on the tank and let it float for about 20mins to normalize the tank and bag water to a certain balanced level.
2. Monitor the pH of your tank water and that of the bag water to ensure that both pHs are even.
3. If the pH is equal or almost the same, you can introduce the fish directly into the tank.
4. However, if the pH level is more than 0.4, add water from your tank into the fish bag, with a time difference of 5 to 10 minutes per addition.
5. Do these until you have twice the amount of water contained in the bag.
6. Do not pour the water and the fish into your tank because the bag water may be contaminated, and you don’t want to infect your new fish or tank.
7. Use a net to hold the fish and pour the water from the bag into a bucket.
Diet and Nutrition for Discus
Now you have your discus settled in their new home. Their nutrition and feeding are essential and should not be overlooked. Your fish needs to be given food rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins for their health and development.
Therefore you should provide them with packaged frozen foods, and the reason is that they are great sources of the vital nutrients required for the balanced diet of your discus fish. Examples of packaged frozen food include; krill, Mysis, blood worms, and brine shrimp.
Discus fish also require good quality pellets and flake foods. Other aquarium keepers may prefer to feed their homemade discus fish foods in detailed and informative recipes. The recipes are excellent as they contain a sufficient amount of protein and large amounts of vegetable matter.
The health of Your Discus Fish
Sometimes during infection transmission, you may need to take quarantine procedures so that all the fish will not be infected and die at once,
If the quarantine measures are not followed, there is likely to be cross-contamination, or the fish will experience bacterial infection, stress, and be prone to parasites.
There are various causes of stress, and some of them include;
- Poor diet
- Poor water quality and conditions
A discus fish can harbor pathogens or parasites within their round body just as animals can; healthy discus fish can handle these pathogens and prevent them from harming. When their immune system is low, they become weak, and these pathogens will overtake them, which will lead to poor health.
This guide should have equipped you with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to start and keep a wonderful discus planted tank. All the sections outlined above like the guidelines on cycling the tank, water conditioning, water changes, adaption, nutrition, and, along with feeding and nutrition, are vital for a successful discus fish keeping.
If you need to obtain more in-depth knowledge, you are free to do so, just ensure you have a clear and perfect understanding of what is required of you. If you have questions along your journey, you can get help from other experienced fish keepers to help you with the information you need and how to tackle the problem.