Wondering about Discus - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-28-2010, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Wondering about Discus

On Discus, I was wondering what kinds of things I need to keep them. I'm not trying to breed them or anything but I want a nice, colorful fish that will look nice in the aquarium and will not cost a crazy expensive amount of money. Do Discus fit that description?

What's been going on:
My heaters will be arriving soon and I will be able to move my oscar and pleco back to the 90 gallon tank. Right now my little brother has a small bass in the tank because they can take cold water, while the oscar (he's 2-3 inches) and pleco (also 2-3 inches) have been staying with the angelfish in the 29 gallon tank for a while. With the arrival of the heaters I will be able to add new fish to the 90 gallon aquarium, and was thinking of taking the oscar back to the store and getting different fish because when the oscar grows it will beat up its tankmates, unless they are big fish that will crowd the tank. I am going to get a black ghost knife fish for my tank and was wondering what colorful schooling fish would go with it. I was thinking of maybe some skirt tetras since they are big enough (am I right?) not to be eaten by a BGK and still look nice. Any suggestions?

RIP fire eel
why did you think it was a good idea to keep going over the top of the tank
when you realized you couldn't breathe outside water?
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
On Discus, I was wondering what kinds of things I need to keep them. I'm not trying to breed them or anything but I want a nice, colorful fish that will look nice in the aquarium and will not cost a crazy expensive amount of money. Do Discus fit that description?

What's been going on:
My heaters will be arriving soon and I will be able to move my oscar and pleco back to the 90 gallon tank. Right now my little brother has a small bass in the tank because they can take cold water, while the oscar (he's 2-3 inches) and pleco (also 2-3 inches) have been staying with the angelfish in the 29 gallon tank for a while. With the arrival of the heaters I will be able to add new fish to the 90 gallon aquarium, and was thinking of taking the oscar back to the store and getting different fish because when the oscar grows it will beat up its tankmates, unless they are big fish that will crowd the tank. I am going to get a black ghost knife fish for my tank and was wondering what colorful schooling fish would go with it. I was thinking of maybe some skirt tetras since they are big enough (am I right?) not to be eaten by a BGK and still look nice. Any suggestions?
Discus care can be found in fish profiles section at the top of the page here. Three to four inch Discus run about 50 U.S. dollars each ,in my neck of the woods.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 09:22 AM
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Three to four inch Discus run about 50 U.S. dollars each ,in my neck of the woods.
That's the same price as in my neck of the woods.

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 10:33 AM
First off, the BGK is not a community fish. You could do 5-6 Discus with a shoal of Rummy-nose tetras and/or Cardinal tetras.

At my lfs, they breed Discus a lot so for a 3-4inch discus, $20-$40 depending on the color.

"I know you'd rather be sad than stupid. Genius by day, Junkie by night. By the grace of breeze, I never scraped a knee that didn't help me see bleeding isn't what it seems."
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, thanks for the price estimates, but I was wondering if I had to have RO water or something that would cost hundreds of dollars for a system to run it.

As for the BGK not being a community fish, I agree that they are aggressive to smaller fish but from my experience they are relatively peaceful to any fish not big enough to swallow since they are a nocturnal fish. The tetras you mentioned look great but I was thinking of something bigger that wouldn't be eaten in the same tank as a BGK.

RIP fire eel
why did you think it was a good idea to keep going over the top of the tank
when you realized you couldn't breathe outside water?
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 07:57 PM
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The BGK attains 2 feet, and is a predator. It will eat any fish small enough to fit into its mouth, and even attack those slightly larger. It produces en electrical field, so this should be kept in mind when selecting trankmates.

Discus are not in my view suitable tankmates. The BGK is nocturnal, and this will stress out the discus (angelfish similarly), having this large fish sliding around the tank when the discus are sleeping, or should be. Larger peaceful cichlids (like oscar actually) are suitable companions.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-29-2010, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your input Byron. I have never seen a black ghost knife more than 6 inches long face to face and never more than 12 inches even online on youtube and other video posting sites, but I'm sure they can get bigger, though 2 feet seems like it's pushing the max size. That's a good point about the BGK harassing the Discus at night, I seem to remember mine pushing around my kissing gouramis and blue gouramis at night. I would really like to keep discus, but I also really want to keep a black ghost knife fish again where I don't have to get rid of it. I'm surprised you would mention an oscar as a peaceful tankmate, I thought they got extremely bad tempered when they get bigger. I am temporarily keeping it with the angelfish, but they don't like that setup at all and the heaters I ordered should be coming in tomorrow or the day after. I am feeding the angelfish and oscar separately and they seem fine with that, but I'm moving the oscar out as soon as the water in the big tank heats up to normal temperature again. Right now it's 64.9 F in the 90 gallon tank.

So no tetras, no discus, if I'm having a BGK. Any other schooling fish?

Edit: Would clown loaches work? They look nice and from the care info I found it looks like they could live in the same tank as a BGK.

RIP fire eel
why did you think it was a good idea to keep going over the top of the tank
when you realized you couldn't breathe outside water?

Last edited by Freddy; 11-29-2010 at 10:14 PM.
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-30-2010, 11:59 AM
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Most of the info I have with respect to knifefish comes from an article by Jeff Howe, a marine biologist with considerable experience with "prehistoric" fishes. He recommends nothing less than a 200 or 300 gallon tank for one BGK, mentions they do regularly attain 20-24 inches [Fishbase gives 20 inches], and companion fish that attain 6 inches or under should be avoided. Suitable tankmates he mentions are peaceful cichlids, oscars, plecos, arowanas; aggressive fish (specifically he mentions Tiger Barbs and some cichlids) must be avoided as they will harass and thus cause stress to the BGK.

With respect to loaches, any of the species that are large enough require large tanks, 6-feet, in order to be kept in a group which is essential. One must always consider the eventual size and nature of any fish; in stores the juveniles are small and peaceful and we often can easily be led into acquiring them. But the health and life of the fish should be our prime concern, and being able to provide the proper environment throughout the fish's life is hopefully our aim.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-01-2010, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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I found the article you were talking about mentioned in the upcoming articles page of a website, but couldn't find a way to read the actual article. If you would provide me with a way to see the actual article you are referencing I would greatly appreciate it.
As for the size of the fish and tank, I have never heard anyone recommend a 200-300 gallon tank, and it seems like no stores would sell BGKs if they did require giant tanks. 200-300 gallons would be more like the size of an arowana's tank. If arowanas were mentioned as possible tankmates then that size may have been recommended so that readers of the article could choose any of the mentioned tankmates.
On the size of the fish, I looked on youtube and did find some huge BGKs, but not 24 inches. Maybe 18 inches, and that was in a super-giant sized zoo tank that must have been a few hundred gallons. I'm sure some do get to be huge, bigger than the one on youtube, but mainly in the wild where they have unlimited area to swim and plenty of natural food with the exact vitamins and minerals and nutrients they were intended to get and the exact water conditions of their natural habitat. In a home aquarium, however, I think the maximum size will be possibly 18 inches if a huge tank with extremely perfectionist care. More probably it will max out at around 10 inches.
So if no fish under 6 inches will work as tankmates according to the article, which fish will work? I have heard many suggestions, but what bright, colorful fish could I also keep with a BGK to give the tank more color?

RIP fire eel
why did you think it was a good idea to keep going over the top of the tank
when you realized you couldn't breathe outside water?
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-01-2010, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
I found the article you were talking about mentioned in the upcoming articles page of a website, but couldn't find a way to read the actual article. If you would provide me with a way to see the actual article you are referencing I would greatly appreciate it.
As for the size of the fish and tank, I have never heard anyone recommend a 200-300 gallon tank, and it seems like no stores would sell BGKs if they did require giant tanks. 200-300 gallons would be more like the size of an arowana's tank. If arowanas were mentioned as possible tankmates then that size may have been recommended so that readers of the article could choose any of the mentioned tankmates.
On the size of the fish, I looked on youtube and did find some huge BGKs, but not 24 inches. Maybe 18 inches, and that was in a super-giant sized zoo tank that must have been a few hundred gallons. I'm sure some do get to be huge, bigger than the one on youtube, but mainly in the wild where they have unlimited area to swim and plenty of natural food with the exact vitamins and minerals and nutrients they were intended to get and the exact water conditions of their natural habitat. In a home aquarium, however, I think the maximum size will be possibly 18 inches if a huge tank with extremely perfectionist care. More probably it will max out at around 10 inches.
So if no fish under 6 inches will work as tankmates according to the article, which fish will work? I have heard many suggestions, but what bright, colorful fish could I also keep with a BGK to give the tank more color?
I won't argue over scientific data because there is no point; the article appeared in the magazine Aquarium Fish International, May 2010 issue. It may be online, not sure.

I mentioned the suitable tankmates that Jeff Howe suggests. One thing to remember is the sort of environment the BGK should have, and that is an indicator of possible tankmates. A very dimly-lit tank, as this fish is nocturnal and will be highly stressed in a bright environment. It need a shelter, some people use black PVC pipe laid on the substrate; in nature the fish remain under wood branches and logs during daylight (which even at that is not bright in their forest streams overhung with heavy vegetation). This is the sort of tank where those "moon lights" would be effective, but as the sole light. You would hardly see colourful fish.

As for stores selling fish that need large tanks--some of them could care less, as long as they sell fish and make a profit. Those stores that are concerned over fish will tell you what is required, and some may even refuse to sell the fish. Many stores carry clown loaches, which at 2 inches look cute; many people buy them and put them in a 10 or 20 gallon tank, which to me is fish cruelety. These fish grow all their lives, they need space physically and in terms of water conditions; they will be stunted, deformed internally, susceptible to disease and die prematurely. Yet the stores continue to sell them. Responsible aquarists learn about the fish before acquiring them. Some of these fish can live more than 10 years; they deserve better than some give them.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 12-01-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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