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Discus keepers need some advise

This is a discussion on Discus keepers need some advise within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I'll respond to your issues/questions from the last two posts, starting with the temperature. In their natural habitats, fish are regularly exposed to fluctuating ...

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Discus keepers need some advise
Old 01-30-2012, 12:33 PM   #11
 
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I'll respond to your issues/questions from the last two posts, starting with the temperature.

In their natural habitats, fish are regularly exposed to fluctuating temperatures, much more than many of us realize. There is a normal diurnal variation, from a high during the day to a low during the night, and this alone can vary by several degrees. Then there are seasonal variations. With the onset of the rainy season, the rains bring significantly cooler water (along with a sometimes vastly different pH and chemical composition). Aquarists who spawn fish know that one good way to induce difficult species is with a major water change that lowers the temp by several degrees. In my weekly water change when I change half my tanks the temp drops by 2-3 degrees and this clearly stimulates the fish.

However, having said that, one does want to keep the aquarium reasonably stable. Some advocate two heaters on timers, one for a higher temp during the day (can be on the same timer as the lights) and another a few degrees lower for the night. I've never myself done this; my tanks remain the same except for the water change. Getting your heaters set at 82F minimum should be OK. Some might want discus higher, but as I mentioned previously you also have angelfish. And fish will always be healthier if not maintained at the upper end of their respective temperature range. The higher the temperature, the harder the fish must work to "live."

Filter. The Eheim with an heating element is a very wise choice. I have one of these on my 90g that I bought in 1997 and it has been running continuously since then with never an issue respecting temperature or filtration. Very well made units, you will find many who would say there are simply none better, period.

Leaks from filters do happen. I had it only last week, the second time in 15 years. The filter head was not "sealed" when I replaced it on the canister following a cleaning and I didn't spot it until the following morning when I wondered why the water level in the 70g tank was about 3/4 of an inch below the frame. Resealed the filter, problem solved. Fortunately my tanks are in a "fish room" so this sort of water loss is not a house issue as it is contained.

I would strongly recommend a background for the tank. It will allow the fish to be their most colourful; all fish will be more colourful with a dark background, less light, and floating plants. Guaranteed. Also, having "open space" on 4 sides is unsettling for many fish. This also affects their colouration. Remember, you want the tank as "dark" as you can but still be able to see the fish clearly.

Substrate. These fish will not care about the substrate, but if you intend substrate rooted plants (which I certainly would with both species) you might consider changing it. And, some substrate fish can be added later, a nice addition to provide interest on the bottom, and many of these need sand or fine gravel. This is something to think about, as I wold let things settle for a few weeks before a major upheaval like that. My choices for this setup would be either a fine black/brown gravel or playsand.

Last, posting photos. When you type a new post, if you scroll down below the box to the "Additional Options" area you will see a box "Manage Attachments." Click on that and a small window will appear. If the photos are digital on your computer, click "Browse" and find them; double clicking the photo thumbnail should attach it. It can take several seconds before the link shows. When finished, close that window. When you post, the photos will be attached below the text.

Byron.
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:07 AM   #12
 
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Thank you Byron for your intelligent response to my questions.
I have been doing water changes the past few days, because the chemical balance is out of control. The PH has remained stable 6.0. The Ammonia, NH3 however, has moved from .10 to 1.5 to 2.5 ppm. I have been feeding the same way. The NO2 has remained at 0.0 the whole time, 3 days of data, the NO3 moved from 15, to 40 to 60 ppm. I have changed water, 25 gallons twice.
The cause, in my opinion, happened when the leak occurred. I believe part of the BioWheel became dry. The spray from the filter was pointing up, not at the wheel. The wheel was not turning during this time. The top portion of the wheel was not being wet, the water was passing onto the floor. So has the biofilter been cut in half? Did the bacteria die that were not getting wet?

Next thought, I have the Eheim 2180 canister filter coming. Is it advisable to keep the HOB biowheel running, until the Eheim Canister biomass begins, or cycles it self? If I took off the HOB biowheel then there would no biofiltration? How will we know the cycle is complete inside the canister? Then it comes to mind, when we change the filter media, do we just throw away the established bacteria in the biological media, and replace it with clean fresh media? With the HOB filters, you never replace the biowheels, or do you?
Thanks to everyone for all your help.

Maybe I am in panic mode here too. The fish seem to be A OK during this whole chemical imbalance. I figure they don't just react over night, but the imbalance will have effects over the longer time period if we do nothing to correct the situation.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:02 AM   #13
 
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Hi Boscobear. Isn't Byron the best! Yes keep the old filter running while the new filter builds up good bacteria. If you came home and re-set up the whole tank as is, without cleaning and rinsing everything in tap water (chlorine) then there is also good bacteria on all the ornaments and gravel. If any of it dried out, or was rinsed in tap water then the good bacteria is lost.
I don't know the time limit, but if it were me, I would set up and leave the new filter 2 months min before I took down the old. Adding live plants asap, and in a good quantity will also minimize the ammonia problem. In the mean time keep doing water changes, with Prime conditioner, and dilute down the ammonia levels. Also with the very low PH the fish are less effected as I believe it converts to ammonium. It still reads on the test results but it is not toxic to the fish. Remember when you do get that new cannister filter to never rinse your bio medium in tap water, and in fact I don't think I have ever replaced mine in years. I only rinse or replace the foam inserts or floss type layer in treated water.
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Boscobear (02-02-2012)
Old 02-02-2012, 11:12 AM   #14
 
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Quote:
I have been doing water changes the past few days, because the chemical balance is out of control. The PH has remained stable 6.0. The Ammonia, NH3 however, has moved from .10 to 1.5 to 2.5 ppm. I have been feeding the same way. The NO2 has remained at 0.0 the whole time, 3 days of data, the NO3 moved from 15, to 40 to 60 ppm. I have changed water, 25 gallons twice.
The cause, in my opinion, happened when the leak occurred. I believe part of the BioWheel became dry. The spray from the filter was pointing up, not at the wheel. The wheel was not turning during this time. The top portion of the wheel was not being wet, the water was passing onto the floor. So has the biofilter been cut in half? Did the bacteria die that were not getting wet?
First, there is no real concern over ammonia when your pH is at 6. In acidic water, ammonia changes to the less harmful ammonium. Bacteria will assimilate ammonia/ammonium the same. Plants will grab whichever is available but ammonium is faster as that is their preferred form of nitrogen. If there are live plants in this tank, and enough relatively fast-growing ones (floating plants are ideal for this), you are fine as is.

On the filter issue. Nitrifying bacteria cannot live if they dry out; the de-nitrifying bacteria can. Given your acidic water, I personally wouldn't worry over this.

Quote:
Next thought, I have the Eheim 2180 canister filter coming. Is it advisable to keep the HOB biowheel running, until the Eheim Canister biomass begins, or cycles it self? If I took off the HOB biowheel then there would no biofiltration? How will we know the cycle is complete inside the canister?
Were it me, I would simply exchange the filters. My previous response is the reason I never fuss over these things, and I'll have more in my response to your next question.

Quote:
Then it comes to mind, when we change the filter media, do we just throw away the established bacteria in the biological media, and replace it with clean fresh media? With the HOB filters, you never replace the biowheels, or do you?
When you have acidic water, you have some benefits as mentioned above. And live plants basically take care of everything. I never change the solid media in my canister filters. I replace the white pads in the Eheim because they tend to get out of shape after a rinsing or two, and when this happens they don't properly fill the space and water can circumvent them which defeats their purpose of trapping the finest suspended particulate matter. But the solid media like the ceramic disks in the first tray (bottom, at least on my Eheims and Rena) and the bio porous rock stuff in the next--these I never replace, just rinse as needed to keep the water flow good. And I rinse my filter media under the tap; the plants plus the substrate bacteria are why this is irrelevant.

Another point: there is more bacteria in the substrate and throughout the tank than in the filter. I admit that in a new setup the filter will likely have the initial growth of bacteria, but as the tank becomes established this will change. This is another reason for not touching the substrate in a new tank; it encourages nitrifying and de-nitrifying bacteria to get going faster, if the waste is allowed to settle into the substrate.

Quote:
Maybe I am in panic mode here too. The fish seem to be A OK during this whole chemical imbalance. I figure they don't just react over night, but the imbalance will have effects over the longer time period if we do nothing to correct the situation.
It depends upon what the imbalance is related to. A major fluctuation in hardness and pH would be negative, but from your posts this has been prevented. As discussed above, you have no ammonia issues in acidic water, so that removes a major issue for fish. Nitrite is still possible, though unlikely if you have live plants, esp floating. I can't emphasize this enough to anyone; floating plants use a considerable amount of nutrients like ammonia/ammonium, and they produce enormous amounts of oxygen through their roots. Many waste water treatment facilities use plants to purify the waste water. Making use of this natural system in an aquarium makes perfect sense.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 02-02-2012 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:13 AM   #15
 
Reverse Osmosis Questions

I have a RO system that was included with the aquarium we recently purchased. Great water cleaner for my discus.
I just changed some water, and have a few questions. Out of inquisitiveness I tested the RO water, what am I placing into the water with my fish? Low PH, good for my fish, everything else checked at zero. Again OK, now I ask, how about all the good stuff that is naturally in pure clean water. All that stuff has been removed through the RO. How, and what, should I replace in the water I just added to the aquarium?

I tried to do a search on this web site for Reverse Osmosis, and had found some post, but none directly answered my question.
I noticed something else, called DI and no where can I find the meaning of this acronym. It must be a related technology to the RO.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:27 AM   #16
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boscobear View Post
I have a RO system that was included with the aquarium we recently purchased. Great water cleaner for my discus.
I just changed some water, and have a few questions. Out of inquisitiveness I tested the RO water, what am I placing into the water with my fish? Low PH, good for my fish, everything else checked at zero. Again OK, now I ask, how about all the good stuff that is naturally in pure clean water. All that stuff has been removed through the RO. How, and what, should I replace in the water I just added to the aquarium?

I tried to do a search on this web site for Reverse Osmosis, and had found some post, but none directly answered my question.
I noticed something else, called DI and no where can I find the meaning of this acronym. It must be a related technology to the RO.
RO = Reverse Osmosis (as you know)
DI = Distilled

Two methods of obtaining the same thing, pure water.

I would not use 100% RO/DI water, as it will have 0 GH and KH. That means there is absolutely nothing to buffer the pH and you can have a dangerous drop in pH simply from dissolved CO2.

Most people mix RO/DI water with tap water to get a desired (lowered) hardness without being absolutely 0. The percentages of RO/DI water to tap water depends on the desired result compared to what your tap is.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:45 AM   #17
 
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I agree. Always start with your tap water. I took a quick glance back through this thread and didn't spot any reference to the GH and KH of your tap water. I did see where the pH is 6. This suggests soft or very soft water. But you should get the actual GH and KH/Alkaliinity numbers from the water supply people, they may have a website. I would not mess with RO until you know these numbers.

As has been mentioned, RO removes everything from the water. If the GH is high, this is a benefit. But if the GH is in the soft to very soft range, I would leave it alone; in our exchange of PM's I described my particular problem, having to add mineral to raise the GH for the benefit of the plants. You don't want to go down this road, removing via RO and then having to add it back. It is always easier to go with what comes out of the tap, unless that is unworkable. I won't go further until I know the GH and KH for your tap water.

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Old 02-13-2012, 09:47 PM   #18
 
KH/GH Test

No one in the Southern US checks KH or GH . I could not get an answer from the Local Water Company. My LPS, three of them, say " We No Check Hardness". So I just bought the kit for the two test.

Tap Water, let it sit over night, and most of the day before testing.

PH 7.2
NH3 1.0 ppm
NO2 0.0
NO3 0.0
KH 5 DKH
GH 89 ppm

125 Gal Aquarium with Discus & Angels , water comes from RO Water temp 82

PH 6.2
NH4 4.0 ppm
NO2 0.0
NO3 15 ppm
KH 3 DKH
GH 53.7 ppm
CO2 57 ppm

Fish all have on a happy face, Guess I feed them too much. NO3 has dropped since I placed about 30 plants into the aquarium, it was 80 ppm on 2/01/12, and 40 ppm on 2/7/12 . None of the plants are planted yet, just floating on top.
Will be planting the plants, and installing a new Eheim Canister filter this weekend.

Then the lights need attention. I have a feeling the blue colored bulb does not belong, it is a 48" 40 W T8 paired with Natural daylight 48" 40 W T10 and the other fixture is Twin 18" each 15 W T8

Last edited by Boscobear; 02-13-2012 at 09:49 PM.. Reason: added comma
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:25 PM   #19
 
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I can't wait to see pics.
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:57 AM   #20
 
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Quote:
No one in the Southern US checks KH or GH . I could not get an answer from the Local Water Company. My LPS, three of them, say " We No Check Hardness". So I just bought the kit for the two test.

Tap Water, let it sit over night, and most of the day before testing.

PH 7.2
NH3 1.0 ppm
NO2 0.0
NO3 0.0
KH 5 DKH
GH 89 ppm

125 Gal Aquarium with Discus & Angels , water comes from RO Water temp 82

PH 6.2
NH4 4.0 ppm
NO2 0.0
NO3 15 ppm
KH 3 DKH
GH 53.7 ppm
CO2 57 ppm
The tap water numbers for GH and KH are very good; I wish mine were these. I would not mess with them, as you need that GH which is around 5 dGH (89ppm). If you get much lower, your plants will have a calcium and magnesium deficiency. And this GH should not impact negatively on the fish.

Now that you have the tank down in pH, I wld do water changes solely with tap water, and monitor pH after each to see what it does. It may rise slightly right after the change, but this is not harmful. You can vary the amount of water changed accordingly. My tap is 7.0 or 7.2 but the tanks run at 5-6, and doing a 50% water change raises the p|H by maybe .3 to .5 but within a few hours it is back down. This is not an issue.

Quote:
Then the lights need attention. I have a feeling the blue colored bulb does not belong, it is a 48" 40 W T8 paired with Natural daylight 48" 40 W T10 and the other fixture is Twin 18" each 15 W T8
I think I commented previously, if not, just ask.
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