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hello all! i am new to the forum, and have a quick question. i would like to create a 90 gallon discus tank featuring about 6-8 small discus fish. this will be an unplanted display tank, with a fluval fx 5, stocked with Chemi-Pure, and seachem matrix. in addition, i will use an Aqueon pro-flex 3, 20 gallon sump, as a refugium stocked with freshwater miracle mud, and alot of hornwort to attack nitrates.(and possibly a deep sandbed as well) i will also put more seachem matrix in the return chamber of the sump. return pump will be a magdrive 5, and estimated sump waterflow turnover rate approx 4 times per hour. now using this setup along with the fx5, how frequently, and how much water would i have to change to keep those discuss happy?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
hello all! i am new to the forum, and have a quick question. i would like to create a 90 gallon discus tank featuring about 6-8 small discus fish. this will be an unplanted display tank, with a fluval fx 5, stocked with Chemi-Pure, and seachem matrix. in addition, i will use an Aqueon pro-flex 3, 20 gallon sump, as a refugium stocked with freshwater miracle mud, and alot of hornwort to attack nitrates. (and possibly a deep sandbed as well) i will also put more seachem matrix in the return chamber of the sump. return pump will be a magdrive 5, and estimated sump waterflow turnover rate approx 4 times per hour. now using this setup along with the fx5, how frequently, and how much water would i have to change to keep those discuss happy?
 

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First, let me say that while I'm a discus admirer, I am not a discuskeeper - too much TLC needed!
The discus experts here will be able to provide more detail but it's my understanding that you just about can't change the water too often or too much. I know discus keepers who do 70% water changes daily. They use RO water and I think their tanks are well-planted. It's my understanding that discus like a calm tank with plenty of cover so you don't want a lot of current flow in the tank.
BUT you do want plenty of filtration!

Good luck with your tank, they are beautiful fish, even if high-maintenance!
 

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man!!!!!!! that's ALOT of water changes! but then again, the discus is one heck of an AWESOME freshwater species!!!!
 

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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:-D

One of our members, 1077, has discus, so he may see this thread at some point. I can't recall others at the moment. I've been keeping soft water freshwater fish, and mostly wild caught at that, for well over 20 years but still haven't ventured into discus.

I would point you to our profile, we have both primary discus species:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/cichlid-species/symphysodon-discus-189177/

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/cichlid-species/symphysodon-aequifasciatus-188601/

You will find some good info on the tank aquascape. You really have two choices, planted or biotope. Remember that plants will do a much better job of keeping the water clean, with much less expense and bother. I am one who is not a fan of over-filtration, and with discus you do not want strong currents.

As for water changes, Jack Wattley recommends twice a week minimum, but this is without plants. In a planted tank I would go with once a week, same as I do with all my tanks, changing half the tank.

Byron.
 

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I don't have discuss but I will comment that any required filtration/purification is relative to the frequency/volume of water changes. That is to say, if one will do 50% water changes once or twice a week, (advanced) filtration is almost unnecessary. It comes down to what is required to keep the water pure enough to maintain the health of the stock.

I think your plan to use an FX5 as well as a sump with mud and matrix etc. in a 90g is over the top.

Plants can be a good thing, but I also think today's science and filtration products can also do the job well. In my tank I found that even with floating plants, I had to add fertilizer or the plants would wane. If the objective is to purify water, why add impurities for the plants?

In addition to massive water changes, I've read that many discuss breeders use no substrate to keep water cleaner.

[Pondering] I often wondered that if discuss were so very sensitive to fresh/pure water, why do massive water changes several times a week? It seems to me that rigging a trickle system with an overflow/drain would make much more sense so that fresh water was introduced continuously. With such a system, water circulation would be important but filtration would not.

Sorry for the ramble with not much help. Welcome to TFK!
Keep us posted on your progress.

AD
 

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I agree that your filtration is probably a bit overkill. As long as you do proper water changes you don't need anything really advanced besides RO water, RO however depends on your tap water parameters. Far as how often water needs to be changed, more is always better. I also don't have personal experience with discus but I do know the younger the fish the more important it is to change a lot of their water or they may not grow right, that is typically where the daily water changes come from. Feeding high quality food is also important. Discus always temp me around here since someone is usually selling young ones for pretty cheap.

@AD some people do rig a continuous water change system if they want low care on their part. Its more often heard of from breeders. The thing with doing large water changes is actually that the larger and more frequent the water change the less actual change there is between the tank water and the new water.
 

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The point was that with a continuous system, the water is always the same and maintenance free.
@AD some people do rig a continuous water change system if they want low care on their part. Its more often heard of from breeders. The thing with doing large water changes is actually that the larger and more frequent the water change the less actual change there is between the tank water and the new water.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"'Pondering] I often wondered that if discuss were so very sensitive to fresh/pure water, why do massive water changes several times a week? It seems to me that rigging a trickle system with an overflow/drain would make much more sense so that fresh water was introduced continuously. With such a system, water circulation would be important but filtration would not."

Read more: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...ion-waterchanges-discus-200810/#ixzz2VgYD8tHw I was actually thinking the same thing! and yes the filtration is over the top, but i guess redundancy/backup can be a good thing, and plus, when i finally talk the Mrs into the 150g build, filtration will be one less concern to tackle. :-D
 

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now is the RO water an ABSOLUTE MUST?
RO or RO/DI or DI water (often mixed with tap water) can be a huge advantage in softening and purifying water as and IF necessary. I have to pre-filter my well water to remove nitrates - I mix it 50/50 with water I reclaim from my basement dehumidifier. I augment with Seachem Fresh Trace to ensure sufficient trace elements in my reduced volume weekly water changes.

'Over filtration' with respect to more powerful filters, gadgets and gizmos is not what's important. What's important is sufficient water purification.
I think Discuss hobbyists resign that they can't purify water well enough so large volume/frequency water changes are required.
 

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yes the filtration is over the top, but i guess redundancy/backup can be a good thing
I never agree with this. Excess filtration, or over-filtration, can be very detrimental. There is no "back-up" method that works if it is running continually.

Water filtration is finite, with respect to the nitrification aspect. Once an aquarium is established, the nitrifying bacteria/archaea will exist in the system at sufficient levels to handle the ammonia being produced. An increase in ammonia can be easily handled because the archaea multiply accordingly. Obviously a very huge increase occurring suddenly can overwhelm the system. But no over-filtration can handle this anyway. And filtration should always be based upon the fish needs. Some fish need more water movement so a faster filter achieves this; some (like discus) do not, so the less water movement (within reason) the better for their health. All else being equal.

To the issue of RO, as Mikaila and AD have said, we need to know your water parameters out of the tap. Adjusting water parameters is not always simple, or inexpensive. But it may not be necessary. Many maintain healthy discus in moderately hard water; they may never spawn, but they may still be healthy. Stability is much more important, for the most part. And as Mikaila rightly said, the more water changes, the more stability in a system. The appropriate level of filtration and live plants greatly increase the likelihood of maintaining stability.

You can ascertain the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity) from your water supply people who may have a website; the pH might be there too, though a pH test kit is a good investment for an y fish tank owner.

Byron.
 

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Point well taken Byron. Now the constant introduction of new and fresh water via consistent water changes, has proven to be the cornerstone of good fish husbandry for discus in particular, and all other fish in general. That being said, the fluval fx5 provides adequate mechanical, as well as biological filteration. But in an unplanted tank, wouldn't a planted refugium/sump help with nitrates? ( something that the fluval alone cannot do? So in the event that you "miss" a scheduled water change, the fudge would provide a bit of redundancy from nitrate build up. So in this case would that still in effect be considered over filtration, or more an alternative method to cover as many bases as possible? Also regarding the hardness of the water and such, what do you consider to be the MOST ACCURATE testing kit on the market? Thanks in advance!
 

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The API master test kit for FW is the one used by a majority of folks here who are serious about water testing. You'll need to get the separate API test kit for KH/GH though, it's not in the "master" kit. Check the date on the kit/reagents if there is one, reagents do expire and I have been sold out-of-date kits and meds.
 

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Point well taken Byron. Now the constant introduction of new and fresh water via consistent water changes, has proven to be the cornerstone of good fish husbandry for discus in particular, and all other fish in general. That being said, the fluval fx5 provides adequate mechanical, as well as biological filteration. But in an unplanted tank, wouldn't a planted refugium/sump help with nitrates? ( something that the fluval alone cannot do? So in the event that you "miss" a scheduled water change, the fudge would provide a bit of redundancy from nitrate build up. So in this case would that still in effect be considered over filtration, or more an alternative method to cover as many bases as possible? Also regarding the hardness of the water and such, what do you consider to be the MOST ACCURATE testing kit on the market? Thanks in advance!
Last question first, I use the API liquid tests, as many here do. I am told the Sera is perhaps better, but more expensive. I have never had issues with the API. Others may be as good, but cost wise they are not cheaper so go with API.

If missing a water change causes a significant rise in nitrates, something is wrong. The system should be better balanced to handle this, up to a point. I never miss the weekly changes on my tanks, except perhaps by a day or two at most, which only occurs if I am incapacitated, and that is not often fortunately.

I've never used refugium/sumps, nor do I know much about them. I always have live plants in my tanks. Let's talk about an aquascape for discus for a moment.

I would always have a substrate. First, the fish expect it (a glass floor is reflective and can stress out any fish, this is not at all natural). Second, there is a complex host of bacteria (beyond nitrifying) that live (or should) in the substrate, further helping with keeping the water chemistry stable.

You could have a planted tank. This is simple, straight-forward, and less expensive than complicated filters. A good canister rated to the tank size would suffice with this. This is how I run my tanks, and I would readily add discus to a couple of them as they are setup now, if I decided to have discus. And I wouldn't change my routine of weekly water changes (half the tank). Here is a link to a thread from a year ago, with a photo of Geomancer's 125g tank and one of my Amazon tanks, both of which would be good for discus:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/aquarium-plants/125-gallon-densely-planted-discus-aquarium-123275/


Another option is more of a biotope setup. Sand, chunks of wood and branches, but no lower plants. But a thick layer of floating plants. The discus would be in heaven, as they do not like bright overhead light, they expect cover above them, and and the floating plants remove a lot of nutrients including ammonia from the water. Here's a photo I found online of a typical Amazonian aquascape, and this would be ideal. I would have more floating plants, but they will fill in (Amazon Frogbit is shown in this photo].
 

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Now that biotope setup sounds VERY INTRIGUING! First off all I CONCUR that there should be some form of substrate in the tank. Discus in the wild do not see a glass bottom on the floor of the river lol! Secondly, SAND in my experience is MUCH easier to keep clean than gravel, and IMHO LOOKS WAYYYYY BETTER AS WELL! Thirdly I must also concur about the nitrifying effects of the sand bed. Also I have looked at a few pics of biotop themes and the appear SIMPLE BUT ELEGANT, and they don't seem to require much more than the standard aquarium maintaince, last but not least FLOATING PLANTS ARE AN EXCELLENT IDEA! I am running t5 lighting, which I KNOW would indeed be too bright for the fish, so with the floating plants, I have BOTH a positive biological effect, as well as THE PROPER SHADING COMFORT FOR THE FISH! Last but not least, a 50 percent weekly water change is DOABLE for me. I have read that the key is to get the discus at a more mature stage, as the smaller and younger ones need double to triple the amount of weekly water changes during their growth period. But with a larger discus, and a once per week 50 percent water change,. the biotope, seems to be the way to go!
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I was almost gonna throw in the towel on my discus dreams, but NOW I am rejuvenated! Lol. I think I CAN DO THIS!
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hello all! i am new to the forum, and have a quick question. i would like to create a 90 gallon discus tank featuring about 6-8 small discus fish. this will be an unplanted display tank, with a fluval fx 5, stocked with Chemi-Pure, and seachem matrix. in addition, i will use an Aqueon pro-flex 3, 20 gallon sump, as a refugium stocked with freshwater miracle mud, and alot of hornwort to attack nitrates.(and possibly a deep sandbed as well) i will also put more seachem matrix in the return chamber of the sump. return pump will be a magdrive 5, and estimated sump waterflow turnover rate approx 4 times per hour. now using this setup along with the fx5, how frequently, and how much water would i have to change to keep those discuss happy?

Small Discus need several (4 or 5) small feeding's each day to achieve good growth.(unless you want stunted fish.)
Depending on how much you feed,,water changes in 90 gal that you describe, would be in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 % three times each week for the first year.
Purist's would scream that daily water changes would be needed, but I have grown them out in 80 gallon's with four feeding's a day,and three water changes a week.
Just be sure to purchase the fish from breeder as opposed to local fish store where fishes may have been subjected to poor care which would hamper your effort's.
 
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