hi everyone, i have wanted to own discus for some time now and have heard mixed thoughts about them. some people say that they are extremely hard to keep and others say that they arent so bad. i would love any opinions and FACTS about them. most importantly the minimum tank size and water parameters. thanks for any help that you can give! :wink:
Never kept them but here are some things i know about them:
Good water quality is very important for discus, but this is something that should be meantained regardless of fish as you know, so that shouldn't be an issue. They prefer softer, more acidic water but if they are locally bred they are going to be a bit more adaptable.
They don't like to be kept with any fish that are too active so tetras, rasboras etc are good tank mates, and unlike angels they won't eat smaller tatras so your options are a bit better there. For bottom dwellers i would go with cories and maybe a plec of some sort, again which will depend on tank size.
How many had you thoguht of keeping? Tank size will be very dependant on that. I have heard that a breeding pair can be kept in a tank as small as 30g while spawning but I would personally not put a pair in anything les than 55g and as always the bigger the better as larger tanks are more stable, and they are quite a large fish.
For being a cichlid they're not particularly agressive but as all cics will, they will squabble amongst themselves so if you plan of keeping a pair i would either buy a pair that are proven or buy a group og maybe 6 younger ones, allow them to pair off on their own and ocne you have a pair, rehome the rest.
Discus can be as easy or as difficult to keep as you want to make them. The keys are in the setup and in water water quality. Water should be really clean, slightly acid to neutral as most discus purchased in lfs's are tank bred. Water temp to the high side, 84-86 degrees Fahrenheit. I keep discus in a couple of different biotopes. Both are well planted. One is a blackwater scheme with lots of plants and wood. The other just has plants. Both environments have the fish doing well, even breeding as the second tank just provided babies earlier this week. Care should be taken to insure that the tank is well filtered. Regular maintainance is a non negotiable deal, it must be done.
Tank size the bigger the better. I would not put a pair of discus in any tank less than a 90g tank. These fish need room to feel at ease and a 90g provides that. The height allows for planting of vals, and larger grassy plants, large swords, as well as elaborate woodwork. All of this is to put the fish at ease. The addition of the wood, and using products like Blackwater Extract, will help add tannins to the water and give it a golden color.
Good tankmates would include dwarf South American cichlids such as the apistogrammas, keyhole cichlids, port cichlids, festivums, and, under the proper conditions and set up, some of the acaras. Tetras can also be chosen, but they cannot be too active as their activity may disturb the discus. I have Emperor and lemon tetras with harlequin rasboras in one tank and Columbian, cardinals, rummy-noses, red-eyes with both pearl and glowlight danios in the other. Scavengers also need to be added, I would heartily recommend a group of cories. Snails may also be added but care must be taken when choosing the tankmates.
I have found that keeping discus and getting them to spawn is not all that hard. With feeding live foods and a premium flake food, adding frozen or freeze-dried foods, keeping the fish in top shape is easy. The hard part is rearing the young. The fry feed from the slime coat of the parents. First feedings include infusoria and microworms. As they grow larger, live brineys may be added. You may have noticed that the foods mentioned are live or cultured foods. Many, including myself, have found that live foods accelerate fry growth and help to keep the young healthy.
Sorry to be so long-winded, and I'm sure there is more that I forgot. any questions, just ask. Good luck.
After reading Bob's post there i just wanted to add that you should take Bob's advice on the tank size rather than mine. As I said I have never kept them and so was going more on what I had heard and read about them rather than experience.
I just want to add that Discus can be hard to acclimatise and
maybe difficult to get them eating in the beginning, but they
will soon get used to their surroundings and once acclimatised,
I found them to be no more difficult to care for than any other cichlid.
herefishy has posted some very good advise, so if you stick to those
guidelines, you should have happy, healthy Discus.
wow thanks for all the advise! the only question i have now is, will they be ok with just a pair? i have heard that they perfer larger groups. thanks again for all the help.
Most Discus keepers I know keep them in groups, but I
can't see why a pair wouldn't work.
sorry but one more question, i know that most cichlids like to be a bit crowded when it comes to stocking. are discus like that too? i didnt think they were but just wanted to check.
The Cichlids you refer to are mbuna (African rift lake cichlids) and
mbuna keepers will sometimes stock heavily to keep agression down.
Although Discus are cichlids, they are no where near as aggressive
as mbuna and don't need over stocking, in fact due to their pristine
water preference they are best given plenty of swimming space.
Hope this helps a bit.
thanks irish! thats what i thought but i wanted to make sure so i didnt make some stupid mistake. :wink:
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