Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank
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Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank

This is a discussion on Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank within the Cichlids forums, part of the Freshwater and Tropical Fish category; --> I posted this on the tropical aquariums forum, but figured the cichlid forum would be a good place for info as well, so here ...

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Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank
Old 02-23-2009, 12:19 AM   #1
 
Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank

I posted this on the tropical aquariums forum, but figured the cichlid forum would be a good place for info as well, so here goes:

Hello fellow aquarists. Basically, the title of this post describes exactly what I intend to do in the near future, and I would really appreciate any input as to what I should be doing to make this transition. I have had a 45 gallon community tank for the past few years, which I have kept to a pretty basic set-up, as my living situation has been a little less than stable, and I wasn't able to dedicate much time to the hobby. This is the current set up of my aquarium:

45 gallon
Aquatech hang-on power filter (carbon, mechanical, and biofiber)
Basic flouresecent lighting hood (24")
300 watt heater (tank kept at a consistent 77 degrees F)
medium sized pebble substrate

I've been using a cheap quick-dip test kit, and a lot of my results are ambiguous due to the lousy color comparison chart. Here are what I think my current parameters are:
Nitrate: 15 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: between 75-175 ppm, this is one of the tests where the color coding is so ambiguous, it's hard to tell what the level is
KH: 80-120 ppm, again, this is another one that's hard to tell
PH: 6.8-6.9

Fish:
11 Neon Tetra
7 Serpae Tetra
3 clown loaches
1 Pleco

With that said, I was recently given a 75 gallon tank, no accessories. What I would like to do would be to transfer the fish in my current tank to the new one, but I would like keep both Discus as well as aquarium plants in the new tank. This is why I am here, as I am not sure about the best way to go about doing this. Here is what I know, or think I know, what needs to be done to accomplish this. I know right off the bat that I will need a new light. I just dont know what kind of light I need... Is anyone familiar with a specific model light fixture/bulb that works well? I plan on planting the tank as much as I can. The next issue is substrate. I plan on purchasing new substrate altogether, as I don't even really like the substrate I'm currently using. What type and how much substrate should should be used in a planted aquarium? I would like to keep away from using sand. Another area that is cloudy to me is the use of CO2 and fertilizers and nutrients. I cant seem to find a website that gives good advise on this at all. I've heard of people saying you need to establish a fertilizer regimen, but not go into detail about how to start such a regime, or what it entails. What all should I be supplementing plants with, and how often, in what quantities? Will these chemicals affect water perameters, such as hardness and PH? When does CO2 come into play, and are those DIY pop-bottle kits as irratic as some people make them out to be? Would I need a surface skimmer, and are they only available for canister filters?

My next issue involves filtration. I'm not sure if my cheap hang-on filter will provide the adequate filtration the discus need (I do have another filter of the exact same type that I could use for the larger aquarium, that is if this type of filter would be well suited for discus). I have heard that using activated carbon with discus is a no-no because of chemicals leaching from it. Is this true? Ideally, what is the best type of filtration for the discus? I would buy a canister filter if need be, especially if I end up needing a surface skimmer. Also, an aquaintance of mine who keeps discus in a planted tank uses a UV light sterilizer, which I would not mind buying if it means a healthier tank. Any input on these?

The cloudiest area for me in fishkeeping has always involved water conditions. Aside from using a dechlorinator during water changes, I have never altered my water through chemicals of any sort. I have always used plain tap water for water changes. Now, I have heard conflicting viewpoints on the kind of water conditions discus need. Some people have told me that using RO water is a must, others say it's not that important as long as your water isn't extremely hard. Given the current parameters of my tank, what must I do in order to bring my water to acceptable discus levels? Let me just mention that I have no experience with any kind of PH buffers and other such things. One thing that I know must be changed is the temperature, as I'm sure my 77 is too cold for discus. Given my other fish, what temperature should the tank be kept at when the discus and plants are added, and how should I go about acclimating my current fish to the much higher temperature, and possibly different water parameter requirements the discus will require?

Lastly, I am unsure as to how I should go about the process of physically switching from the 45 gallon to the 75. I had thought that if I had bagged up a bunch of old substrate in nylon leggings, then just transfered the filter, current water, and fish to the new tank with the new substrate, as well as the leggings containing the old substrate, I could transfer the tank in one fell swoop without triggering a cycle. Would this work? Is there a better way? Do I have to start out from scratch and wait for the tank to cycle?

I am currently doing a 10% water change and gravel vaccuum weekly, while replacing my filter pads monthly. Like I said above, I use straight up dechlorinated tap water. How would my maintenace and cleaning need to change to accomodate the discus and plants?

I think that this is everything that I had questions on. I know it is a long post, and fairly comprehensive, but I would really appreciate the help of other people, as opposed to random guides on the internet. So if you could answer any or all of my questions, provide information on something I may have missed, or just care to comment, I would greatly appreciate your input.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:00 AM   #2
 
I have been reading the bacteria grows on every surface, gravel, glass, ornaments, etc. If you are transferring everything you should have a good start. I would watch what gets kicked up in the gravel. Wouldn't be in a hury to add those discus though, even if you could transport all the bateria its still a larger tank. Good luck.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:47 AM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borkborkbork View Post
I posted this on the tropical aquariums forum, but figured the cichlid forum would be a good place for info as well, so here goes:

Hello fellow aquarists. Basically, the title of this post describes exactly what I intend to do in the near future, and I would really appreciate any input as to what I should be doing to make this transition. I have had a 45 gallon community tank for the past few years, which I have kept to a pretty basic set-up, as my living situation has been a little less than stable, and I wasn't able to dedicate much time to the hobby. This is the current set up of my aquarium:
Welcome to the forum.

45 gallon
Aquatech hang-on power filter (carbon, mechanical, and biofiber)
Basic flouresecent lighting hood (24")
300 watt heater (tank kept at a consistent 77 degrees F)
medium sized pebble substrate

I've been using a cheap quick-dip test kit, and a lot of my results are ambiguous due to the lousy color comparison chart. Here are what I think my current parameters are:
Nitrate: 15 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: between 75-175 ppm, this is one of the tests where the color coding is so ambiguous, it's hard to tell what the level is
KH: 80-120 ppm, again, this is another one that's hard to tell
PH: 6.8-6.9
Liquid test kits seem to be more on point. API makes a decent one called the "master test kit" which you can find online for about $20
Fish:
11 Neon Tetra
7 Serpae Tetra
3 clown loaches
1 Pleco
Just for a heads up, clown loaches get huge and if its a common pleco that will get huge too as well as have a very large bio-load.

With that said, I was recently given a 75 gallon tank, no accessories. What I would like to do would be to transfer the fish in my current tank to the new one, but I would like keep both Discus as well as aquarium plants in the new tank. This is why I am here, as I am not sure about the best way to go about doing this. Here is what I know, or think I know, what needs to be done to accomplish this. I know right off the bat that I will need a new light. I just dont know what kind of light I need... Is anyone familiar with a specific model light fixture/bulb that works well? I plan on planting the tank as much as I can. The next issue is substrate. I plan on purchasing new substrate altogether, as I don't even really like the substrate I'm currently using. What type and how much substrate should should be used in a planted aquarium? I would like to keep away from using sand. Another area that is cloudy to me is the use of CO2 and fertilizers and nutrients. I cant seem to find a website that gives good advise on this at all. I've heard of people saying you need to establish a fertilizer regimen, but not go into detail about how to start such a regime, or what it entails. What all should I be supplementing plants with, and how often, in what quantities? Will these chemicals affect water perameters, such as hardness and PH? When does CO2 come into play, and are those DIY pop-bottle kits as irratic as some people make them out to be? Would I need a surface skimmer, and are they only available for canister filters?
Depending on the type of plants you wish to keep your going to want about 2-4 watts per gallon (average) with 6500K or 6700K full spectrum bulbs. Play sand from a hardware store makes a cheap substrate, just be sure to pre wash it very well. You could always use eco complete or something along the lines but that is more expensive. I have heard dicus keepers will keep bare bottom tanks due to the feeding and cleanliness needs of the fish. Generally speaking the stronger the lights you have the more of a need you will need for c02 as it will allow the plants to out compete algae. Root tabs are great for root feeding plants and a liquid fertilizer is good overall. Follow the directions per bottle and i personally suggest under dosing at first to see where you stand, you can always add more.
My next issue involves filtration. I'm not sure if my cheap hang-on filter will provide the adequate filtration the discus need (I do have another filter of the exact same type that I could use for the larger aquarium, that is if this type of filter would be well suited for discus). I have heard that using activated carbon with discus is a no-no because of chemicals leaching from it. Is this true? Ideally, what is the best type of filtration for the discus? I would buy a canister filter if need be, especially if I end up needing a surface skimmer. Also, an aquaintance of mine who keeps discus in a planted tank uses a UV light sterilizer, which I would not mind buying if it means a healthier tank. Any input on these?
If your going with c02 your going to want a canister because movement on the waters surface will cause more exchanging of gases ( which includes the c02 ) and will be counter productive. The out put of the canister can be set below the water surface for minimal movement. I do not have personal experience keeping discus but i know prolong exposure to carbon can cause hole in the head disease. UV sterilizing wouldnt hurt, it helps kill parisites in the water.
The cloudiest area for me in fishkeeping has always involved water conditions. Aside from using a dechlorinator during water changes, I have never altered my water through chemicals of any sort. I have always used plain tap water for water changes. Now, I have heard conflicting viewpoints on the kind of water conditions discus need. Some people have told me that using RO water is a must, others say it's not that important as long as your water isn't extremely hard. Given the current parameters of my tank, what must I do in order to bring my water to acceptable discus levels? Let me just mention that I have no experience with any kind of PH buffers and other such things. One thing that I know must be changed is the temperature, as I'm sure my 77 is too cold for discus. Given my other fish, what temperature should the tank be kept at when the discus and plants are added, and how should I go about acclimating my current fish to the much higher temperature, and possibly different water parameter requirements the discus will require?
Again i do not have experience with discus but altering pH can cause big problems by having large pH swings. I would slowly ( over a week, if not longer ) raise the temp.
Lastly, I am unsure as to how I should go about the process of physically switching from the 45 gallon to the 75. I had thought that if I had bagged up a bunch of old substrate in nylon leggings, then just transfered the filter, current water, and fish to the new tank with the new substrate, as well as the leggings containing the old substrate, I could transfer the tank in one fell swoop without triggering a cycle. Would this work? Is there a better way? Do I have to start out from scratch and wait for the tank to cycle?
IMO I think your best bet would be to remove a scoop of gravel and put it in the 75 and fishless cycle it, you could also put the filter cartridge that you change out in the 75. While the tanks cycling you can take the time to read more on discus.

I am currently doing a 10% water change and gravel vaccuum weekly, while replacing my filter pads monthly. Like I said above, I use straight up dechlorinated tap water. How would my maintenace and cleaning need to change to accomodate the discus and plants?
From what i hear, discus need very good water conditions.

I think that this is everything that I had questions on. I know it is a long post, and fairly comprehensive, but I would really appreciate the help of other people, as opposed to random guides on the internet. So if you could answer any or all of my questions, provide information on something I may have missed, or just care to comment, I would greatly appreciate your input.
Hope that somewhat helps and again, welcome to the forum.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:58 AM   #4
 
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I keep five discus in Ph of 7.4. Three weekly 30 percent to 40 percent water changes using tapwater and PRIME water conditioner. Tank temp is constant 84 degrees. Tank is 80 gal. Artificial plants. Young Discus need several feedings per day (5) to ensure proper growth. This requires a variety of foods and any that is not eaten must be removed asap. Adult discus can get by with twice daily feedings and perhaps weekly water change but many who care for discus perform anywhere from three to five weelkly water changes. If I were going to start with small discus,, I would raise them in a bare bottom tank (no substrate) As mentioned they require several feedings per day and bare bottom tank is much easier to clean after feedings. I would use the 45 gal (bare bottom) to raise the young discus and in the meantime ,,get my planted tank established. I am no plant guru so I cannot offer much help in that respect. There are however limited options for plants due to temp needed for discus. I have two Emperor 400 filters by marineland on 80 gal tank that houses the discus I care for. They are relatively cheap in comparison to canisters, easy to service, and dependableand would be plenty for 75 gal.A very good test kit is the API freshwater master kit and is used by many. The test strips are notoriously inaccurate.When you get ready to purchase Discus , look for the healthiest fish you can find, A VERY good place to visit in regards to Discus and their care is www.SimplyDiscus.com.some of the sponsers there offer some of the best stock available. Again, were it me,, (and it ain't) I would get planted tank established before considering adding Discus. And I would opt for Adult or sub adult Discus. Hope some of this helps you .

Last edited by 1077; 02-23-2009 at 04:01 AM..
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:11 AM   #5
 
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While there are those who believe that the prolonged use of carbon can cause hole in the head disease there is no evidence to support that claim. There have been reports of hole in the head disease with fish in tanks where carbon was never used. Myself and others belive that it has more to due with diet than any harm from carbon used in filtration.Also carbon cannot and does not release anything back into the aquarium. With that said, I probably would not use carbon in planted tank. It is very good at removing things from the water including fertilizers that may be used.

Last edited by 1077; 02-23-2009 at 04:18 AM.. Reason: addition.
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:54 AM   #6
 
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that is only what ive heard, not experienced.
i run carbon non stop on my reef tank and it can release things back into the water in this situation. actually it builds up gunk and thats what gets released back into the water, not the carbon itself. it gets changed out every week - two weeks max,fill my reactor all the way up, now thats alot of carbon
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:12 AM   #7
 
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It is true once activated carbon has absorbed all it can it becomes less effective at removing organics from the water but without extreme temperatures it is incapable of releasing what it has absorbed back into the water. I once read a very interesting(I thought so ) article on the subject at http://www.hallman.org/filter/gac.html;-)
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:49 PM   #8
 
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I've been using a cheap quick-dip test kit, and a lot of my results are ambiguous due to the lousy color comparison chart. Here are what I think my current parameters are:
Nitrate: 15 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
GH: between 75-175 ppm, this is one of the tests where the color coding is so ambiguous, it's hard to tell what the level is
KH: 80-120 ppm, again, this is another one that's hard to tell
PH: 6.8-6.9

I've never kept discus so I'll have to let others comment on those parameters, but generally discus keepers aim for even lower nitrates than you've got there. Live plants, however, consume nitrates so you might be ok in that department. 1077 or another of our resident discus keepers will have to offer advice about the hardness. Your pH looks just fine.

Fish:
11 Neon Tetra
7 Serpae Tetra
3 clown loaches
1 Pleco

As was mentioned, the loaches are going to eventually need an even larger tank than a 75g, as they grow to be very large and are very active. This high activity level might also be incompatible with discus as they are shy fish and usually do best with fairly calm tankmates. The neons may get eaten by adult discus. Serpaes may cause problems with being nippy, but if yours are relatively docile this might be alright. The pleco, as was mentioned, will grow huge and put a huge strain on your filters. I might consider trading him in for a couple of bristlenose plecos, as these stay smaller and are more plant-friendly than their larger common pleco cousins.

With that said, I was recently given a 75 gallon tank, no accessories. What I would like to do would be to transfer the fish in my current tank to the new one, but I would like keep both Discus as well as aquarium plants in the new tank. This is why I am here, as I am not sure about the best way to go about doing this. Here is what I know, or think I know, what needs to be done to accomplish this. I know right off the bat that I will need a new light. I just dont know what kind of light I need... Is anyone familiar with a specific model light fixture/bulb that works well? I plan on planting the tank as much as I can. The next issue is substrate. I plan on purchasing new substrate altogether, as I don't even really like the substrate I'm currently using. What type and how much substrate should should be used in a planted aquarium? I would like to keep away from using sand. Another area that is cloudy to me is the use of CO2 and fertilizers and nutrients. I cant seem to find a website that gives good advise on this at all. I've heard of people saying you need to establish a fertilizer regimen, but not go into detail about how to start such a regime, or what it entails. What all should I be supplementing plants with, and how often, in what quantities? Will these chemicals affect water perameters, such as hardness and PH? When does CO2 come into play, and are those DIY pop-bottle kits as irratic as some people make them out to be? Would I need a surface skimmer, and are they only available for canister filters?

As was said, breaking up surface tension is bad if you're dosing CO2, so filters that return the water below the water line are pretty much essential if you're using CO2. However, there are other options for dosing carbon into your planted tank like Flourish Excel that don't use CO2 gas, so surface agitation isn't a big deal. You'll want adequate filtration without too much water movement. I would say a filtration rate of 10x the gallons of your tank would be great. As for plants, you may want to read up some of the posts in our planted tank section or start a thread there yourself, as it may get more attention there.

My next issue involves filtration. I'm not sure if my cheap hang-on filter will provide the adequate filtration the discus need (I do have another filter of the exact same type that I could use for the larger aquarium, that is if this type of filter would be well suited for discus). I have heard that using activated carbon with discus is a no-no because of chemicals leaching from it. Is this true? Ideally, what is the best type of filtration for the discus? I would buy a canister filter if need be, especially if I end up needing a surface skimmer. Also, an aquaintance of mine who keeps discus in a planted tank uses a UV light sterilizer, which I would not mind buying if it means a healthier tank. Any input on these?

Definitely a no on the activated carbon if you're going to be dosing any sort of fertilizers, as using both would be counterproductive. The best type of filtration is adequate filtration; any type will do as long as you've got enough of it. The type you use is a combination of preference and what you'll be doing in terms of plants. As for UV, I don't think it's needed at all. It's mostly for the prevention of ich and algae blooms, but in a planted discus tank ich isn't a concern because you'll keep the temps high, and algae will be controlled by your CO2.

The cloudiest area for me in fishkeeping has always involved water conditions. Aside from using a dechlorinator during water changes, I have never altered my water through chemicals of any sort. I have always used plain tap water for water changes. Now, I have heard conflicting viewpoints on the kind of water conditions discus need. Some people have told me that using RO water is a must, others say it's not that important as long as your water isn't extremely hard. Given the current parameters of my tank, what must I do in order to bring my water to acceptable discus levels? Let me just mention that I have no experience with any kind of PH buffers and other such things. One thing that I know must be changed is the temperature, as I'm sure my 77 is too cold for discus. Given my other fish, what temperature should the tank be kept at when the discus and plants are added, and how should I go about acclimating my current fish to the much higher temperature, and possibly different water parameter requirements the discus will require?

Your other fish can live at discus temperatures, so definitely keep them warm. Your choice of plants is going to be dependent on temperature though. RO vs. tap will have to do with your tapwater pH and hardness, which others will have to comment on. I would avoid chemicals. If you want some gentle water softening, driftwood and peat can help accomplish this.

Lastly, I am unsure as to how I should go about the process of physically switching from the 45 gallon to the 75. I had thought that if I had bagged up a bunch of old substrate in nylon leggings, then just transfered the filter, current water, and fish to the new tank with the new substrate, as well as the leggings containing the old substrate, I could transfer the tank in one fell swoop without triggering a cycle. Would this work? Is there a better way? Do I have to start out from scratch and wait for the tank to cycle?

If you're getting adult discus, I would just run whatever filtration you plan on using on the 75g on your 45g for at least a month then move everything over to the big tank and begin planting. Once everything is settled, add the discus. However, if you're getting young discus I'd follow 1077's advice and grow them out a bit in the bare-bottomed 45g.

I am currently doing a 10% water change and gravel vaccuum weekly, while replacing my filter pads monthly. Like I said above, I use straight up dechlorinated tap water. How would my maintenace and cleaning need to change to accomodate the discus and plants?

Well, you shouldn't need to replace filter pads until they start to physically fall apart. Just give them a rinse in the water you remove during water changes if they start to gunk up. Depending on how fast your nitrates build up, you may need to increase your water change schedule.



Hope that helped!
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