Information on Discus
Discus are known to be the most beautiful fish in the community. They move in a regal way, hence the title "King of all Fish".
They originated from Amazon River where altum angelfish are also found. Amazon River is the largest water basin and largest selection of fish found in the hobby. The water is fairly soft and acidic. Some parts being darker than the others. The water tends to be amber in color due to the decaying organic materials.
So we are starting on keeping discus, aren't we?
First of all, let me state that there are a lot of myths circulating in the hobby that discus are very difficult to keep.
1. "You should not keep them in the community."
This has been based on hygiene and security reasons. This is not entirely true at all. In the wild, their habitat has been found to be loaded with hundreds of thousands of tetras, severums and angelfish.
2. "Discus need perfect conditions."
This may or may not be true. While they do need clean water, their habitat can be dirty or has lots of changes. Maintaining your tank well is rewarding but we should not dwell too much on the myth that discus need perfect water conditions.
I would add that rather than referring to the water conditions as perfect-there is no such thing as a perfectly clean water at all....ideal is the better term.
As long as the water parameters remain at ideal levels, your discus will be fine. Be sure not to have nitrates exceeding 40 ppm along with ammonia and nitrites at detectable level.
3. "Angelfish and discus are not compatible."
Another myth which has been debated by aquarists for years. The point here is that both species live together in the wild. The only reason why some people say they are not compatible is that angelfish tend to eat like pigs and leave the discus with nothing to eat. This can be remedied, of course, by spreading the food.
4. "Discus are very delicate."
Not true. Discus, contrary to what misinformed people think, are very hardy fish. Once they adjust to your tank, you'll see how hardy they are. They are, however, a little delicate during the adjustment process but they'll adjust quickly if the water chemistry of your tank is nearly the same as the lfs'.
Those are mere hearsays. They are wrong. Discus isn't that hard to keep. Even books keep speculating that discus are difficult to keep and need perfect conditions. Again, all wrong and are just myths.
Discus are like every other fish. A lot of discus keepers I know say that discus aren't difficult at all. What you need is to just meet their requirements by maintaining the tank very well which is entirely true. Their wild habitat isn't perfectly clean at all so why say that discus need ultra-clean tanks.
Now, that we have raised all the mere hearsays which are not entirely true, I'll state all the basics.
When planning to buy discus, one adult per 10 gallons is the rule of thumb. Take into consideration that juveniles will grow considerably.
What to Take in Consideration:
Temperature: 28-30 degrees Celsius
Tankmates: Peaceful or placid species(usually cories, angelfish, apistos and tetras). Make sure their tankmates can tolerate the high temperature.
Foods: As discus are largely carnivorous in nature, you can feed them beefheart(once a week), krills, Mysis shrimps, mussels, cockles, flakes and vegetables(this balances their menu).
Water Parameters: It's only a myth that discus strictly must be put in soft water. They can adapt to the ranges of water parameters as long as mistakes like the pH crash are avoided.
Location: Position your discus tank in an area free from human traffic, away from doors and windows and in a quiet area. The tank stand should be 3 feet above the ground as the discus dislike any movements above their heads.
Choosing the Discus
Okay, so you want to start keeping discus. All I can advise is, simply research for their requirements before consider buying them.
When you choosing this fish, pls check the following:
1. Size of their eyes
The size of the eyes should be small. If they seem bigger, then there is a sign that the discus are already stunted. Stunted fish tend to have enlarged eyes and die prematurely.
They shouldn't look like the shape of a football which again signifies stunted growth. Consider also their finnage, are the fins round-looking? Round appearance of the fins indicate the fish are healthy and don't have deformed fin formation.
When the discus are young(below 4 inches), their colors aren't fully developed. However if you see discus with bright colors at a size of below 4 inches, then that means the discus has been injected with hormones. We should boycott the use of hormones on the fish.
Is the discus healthy in looks? Discus with very dark coloration(depending on the strain) are often sick. Check their anus. Are there white stringy poo? The signs is inevitable. They can be a sign of internal parasites or Hexamita.
When buying discus, pls buy the biggest you can afford. Anything smaller than 4 inches can be difficult to keep alive as their immune systems are not fully developed making them susceptible to diseases and other causes.
As juveniles, choose 4-6 discus. 6 is most recommended. If they are adults, 4 is the minimum.
A lot of lfs sell pairs of discus. This is not a wise practice as discus tend to be choosy of their partner in nature. You will most likely fail the pair as mentioned earlier.
Set-up of the Discus Tank
It can be either bare-bottom or with substrate. The choice is yours.
This makes cleaning and maintaining the tank easier. Although it may look unattractive, it can help you maintain your tank easier without hassles.
This is attractive with plants and bogwoods. However, maintenance can be a little harder than the bare-bottom tank.
What plants should I keep? Well, it's not really that important. In their wild habitat, there are little or no plants at all. Only bogwoods and Eleocharis plants are present in their habitat.
However, you may still keep the plants but ensure that they can survive the high temperature your discus requires.
Bogwoods are attractive in the discus tank. They can leach tannins and stain the tank with amber color but that is not harmful to the discus. In fact, they love it.[/u]
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