Discus keeping for Beginners:Update 12/07/2012.

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Achintya
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Discus keeping for Beginners:Update 12/07/2012.

Unread postby Achintya » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:39 pm

It’s sad to see that many hobbyists dare to keep discus. They say that this fish is not for them. we can’t do such amount of huge water change, don’t keep them in a bare bottom tank, how to treatment those, how to identify their diseases etc. etc. But trust me, if you do daily 20-30 minutes for them, you can easily keep and successfully maintain those. Many say that it looks great when discus takes food from their master!!! But this can also happen for yours. Here I write some tips regarding discus keeping for beginners.

Aquarium dimension for discus:

This plays a vital role for discus keeping. If you choose proper dimension then half of your job is already done. We know that discus is a round or disc shaped fish. So due to this body shape this fish moves more vertically than horizontally. More they move more they grow fast. Generally discus is a mid-level moving fish. So at first our goal will be to provide them a high depth tank. You can choose a 18 inch to 24 inch high tank.

It is generally seen that discus loves to live in a group. So I say you that please buy at least 4-6 discus for the first time. So they can eventually form a group. Now a question comes. what will be ideal tank length? I say that at least 3 feet. A 3 feet tank is ideal for those 6 (I consider that you keep 4-6 discus for the first time), they can move freely in horizontal direction in this tank and with a height of 18-24 inch we will also provide enough space for moving vertically. So selecting this type of tank we can provide much space for growing.


Aquarium type:

There are few types of discus aquarium can be done->

1. Bare bottom tank
2. Sandy tank (Tank with sand as substrate)
3. Graveled tank (Tank with gravel as substrate)
4. Planted tank


Here at first i discuss about sandy tank (Tank with sand as substrate)



1. Keeping Discus in a sandy tank :-

if you are a first time discus keeper, then you may not like a bare bottom tank. You may say that it looks odd to see some fishes move in a BB tank. Don’t worry, though many discus keepers love to keep discus in a BB tank, but they can be kept in a gravel tank or sandy substrate also.


i) Different types of discus in a sandy tank:
Ok, you choose sand as a substrate. Then I suggest that make a black background for this tank. You may say that discus tank and black background!!! Why not… you say that if we keep discus with a black background then peepering will come. also they will be blackish. I say that keep those discus which show no peepering or generally will not turn blackish. So what are those strains!! They are turquoise (blue,red,tiger), leopard, snakeskin, leopard snakeskin, blue diamond, snow white, alenquer, san merah, tefe green…


ii) Fish size you’ll choose for this type of tank:
So for the first time you keep discus and you keep in a sandy tank. So your fish size will be at least 2.5-3 inch at least. Now question comes. Why do you choose this size? I say that this is the perfect size for any discus to grow. Many discus experts say that this size of discus grows fastest than any other size. Also this size of discus is also easy to keep!!! Because with little care with in few days you’ll be amazed to see that your discus grows 3.5-4 inch! So keep 2.5-3 inch size discus. After few days you may take challenge to keep 1.5-2 inch discus. (‘ll discuss later)


iii)Maintaining part of this tank:
Now come to maintaining part of this tank. But before that I say that you choose proper dimension of tank, proper size of discus. So you do 60% of your work to become a successful discus keeper.

1)Water Change schedule and filters:
You dare to change water daily. So simply don’t do that!! You can do 20% water change in every alternate day. Yes just 20% to raise 2.5-3 inch discus. Can you do 1 thing? Can you keep a external canister filter for that? This will be the best filter for any kind of set up. Even for discus obviously! It holds maximum amount of filter media. You can keep good amount of zeolite, active carbon, bio ball, ceramic ring in it.

Now you may say that canister filter is too costly. Ok, no problem. Still you can manage this with a top filter and 1 power filter. On the chamber of top filter keep good amount of zeolite and inside power filter keep maximum amount of sponge!! Here one question may be asked. Power filter for discus tank? Yes why not, make sure that the outlet of power filter is towards back glass of your tank or you can use a spray bar with it.


2)Water that you use for your aquarium: :
The primary condition of water is it should be dechlorinated. Specially we have to take care during rainy season when our tap water is chlorinated!! So my request is to give attention to water that you provide in your discus tank. Now a days in any pet shop you can get dechlorinated medicine that helps you to lower chlorine of your tank. Use that thing and dissolve it as that medicine say. You should buy dechlorine medicine which helps you to lower chlorine of your tank. This Chlorine is routinely added to the water supply in many parts of the world to make the water germfree. But this Chlorine is not good for discus fish and the use of chloramine can be disastrous. So use a test kit to determine the presence and concentration of this Chlorine or Chloramine. Make sure that discus can be healthy and can grow well if you provide them right water condition, which is obviously chlorine free. It will be good if you store water for 24 hours in a bucket and treat it with HYPO. It’s a very good chlorine remover.



iv)Food and feeding schedule in this sandy tank:
Since you keep discus for the first time, you may dare to make BHM/GHM. Ok, don’t worry, still you have a large variety of foods which are suitable for discus and also for this set up. In this set up you can feed them hikari discus bio gold, tetra bits(easier to identify those than hikari on sand), frozen dried bloodworms(ocassioanally),ants egg. Yes ants egg! This is one of the best live food for discus, as this contains no external or internal parasites.

Assume that you buy 2.5-3 inch discus. So you feed them 4-5 times daily. You may astonish to see that 4-5 times!!! Isn’t an issue of overfeeding? I say no. feed them in small quantity so that no left over food will stay at the bottom but feed them more. Generally it is seen that juvenile discus needs more food than a mature discus because their growth rate is higher than a mature one. Now you can do one thing. After feeding them you can siphon their wastes and uneaten food. It will take maximum 2-3 minutes.



v)Tank mates :
Though for best practice discus can be kept alone but you can keep some bottom feeders in this tank. You can keep corydoras sp., clown loach, bristlenose pleco etc. They can eat uneaten foods that you’ll provide to your fishes.



vi)Other decorations for this type of tank:
1. You can use driftwoods in this tank. Adding this not only your tank looks good bit also it will provide them some hiding place when they are first introduced and stressed.
2. Let us assume that you keep either canister or top and power filter, so there is no direct channel for aeration. Hence you have to use airstone for more aeration.
3. You can also use some hardy plants like echinodorous sp., vallisneria sp.anubias sp. In this type of set up.


Here you can see an ideal discus aquarium with sandy substrate...
discus_sandy_aquarium.jpg

(courtesy: http://wowaquarium.blogspot.in/)

So you see lots of options when you keep discus in a sandy tank. Apart from bare bottom this type of set up will also do well for discus.

** To be continued...
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Last edited by Achintya on Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Discus keeping for Beginners

Unread postby Achintya » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:20 pm

2. Keeping discus in a gravelled tank :-

i) Gravel that you will use:
Now you choose a gravelled tank for discus. And you keep discus for the first time. You may say that may I keep discus in a gravelled tank!! I heard that within few days we’ll see peepering on discus bodies. So what I have to do? What’ll be the ideal gravel for a discus tank?

There are different types of gravel is available in the market. One has fine grain and other has comparatively larger grain. If you choose fine grain gravels then it will be a tough job for you to clean your tank, Where as if you use larger grain it will be easier to clean. So I suggest using larger gravel. At the same time I suggest you to place those gravel in a loosely manner. So that it will be easier to clean your tank.



ii) Different types of discus that you can keep in a gravelled tank:
Yes you can also keep discus in a gravelled tank. I personally started this discus hobby keeping them in a gravelled tank!!! At that time I was a great fan of gravelled tank and I had various type of gravels! If you wish to keep discus in a gravelled tank then I suggest to make a blue (whatever dark or light blue, but light blue is preferable) background. This is different with sandy discus tank. A sandy discus tank should look more blackish or kind of normal nature, where as gravelled discus tank is more spontaneous. That’s why you can choose blue background. In a gravelled discus tank you will astonish to hear that you can keep more variety of discus that you can keep in a sandy discus tank!!! Yes it is. Apart from those turquoise strain, leopard, blue diamond etc. you can also keep all melon sp., red and white, Marlboro, yellow checkerboard!!! And yes you can successfully keep those without any peepering on their bodies. Here you can see a picture of sunshine orange of mine. This was my first ever discus and I kept that more than 3 years. It grew up to 7 inch!!!


iii) Fish size you’ll choose for this type of tank:
My general suggestion is to keep 2.5-3 inch juvenile discus if you keep discus for first time. bigger will be better. But since you use a gravelled tank and hope you have a good filtration and good amount of water change schedule you can show fascination Of keeping 2 inch discus also!!! From my previous post you know that discus will live better in a group. So keeping 6-8 discus of 2 inch will be no problem for you.



iv)Maintaining part of this tank:
Now come to maintaining part of this tank.

1)Water Change schedule:
Maintaining a gravelled discus tank is little bit different from that of a sandy one. You are already aware that in a gravelled tank you can have the fascination to keep even 1.5-2 inch discus. Therefore, water change and siphoning properly will play a big role here. If you don’t water change daily still it will not be a problem, but you have to siphon it thoroughly. Otherwise the uneaten food and fish wastes can create a big problem in your tank. So I suggest you to siphon tank water after heavy feeding (I’ll discuss about food habit of your discus in a gravelled tank later) to make sure that there will be no(/less) uneaten food and fish poops. Now come to the water change schedule. If you keep adult or big size discus(4 inch plus) then your WC schedule can be twice per week about 30-40%. And if you keep a school of juveniles you can do 20% water change in every alternate day.

2)Filter and filter media:
Now come to the filters that you can choose for this tank. I always say that canister is the best filter along with a power filter. But you can also use some cheap filters!! In this tank you can use a top filter which you can’t able to use in a sandy tank. Generally I suggest you to use a top and a power filter. As a filter media you can keep zeolite, purigen, bio ball in top filter and keep sponge in power filter. Here one question may be asked. Power filter for discus tank? Yes why not, make sure that the outlet of power filter is towards back glass of your tank or you can use a spray bar with it.


3)Water that you use for your aquarium: :
Same that I described in sandy discus tank.



iv)Food and feeding schedule in this sandy tank:
Food habit and feeding schedule can be a little tricky in this type of tank. Since you use gravel as substrate you can’t feed only granular foods like hikari discus bio gold, sera discus granules, tetra bits etc. if you can make BHM/GHM (‘ll discuss later about this recipe) then you can feed it. But before that make sure that those BHM/GHM come to normal temperature. Otherwise it will be hard and go down to gravel. Hence most of your food will be lost. If you feed them comparatively loosely bonded BHM/GHM then it will be easier for your discus to eat before it goes to gravel bed. Also you can feed them flake foods. Tetera crisps, frozen dried bloodworms (occasionally) and other floating foods. Benefit is this tyoe of food will not go to gravel bed and your discus can eat it. Apart from that you can also feed them ants egg or earthworms as live food.

Now come to feeding schedule. Assume that you buy 2.5-3 inch discus. So you feed them 4-5 times daily. You may astonish to see that 4-5 times!!! You can feed them heavy food in morning and late night (10-10:30pm). During these 2 times you can feed them BHM/GHM (if possible) or hikari/sera/tetra bits/live food and feed flakes on other times. So Isn’t an issue of overfeeding? I say no. feed them in small quantity so that no left over food will stay at the bottom but feed them more. Generally it is seen that juvenile discus needs more food than a mature discus because their growth rate is higher than a mature one. Now you can do one thing. After feeding them you can siphon their wastes and uneaten food. It will take maximum 2-3 minutes. A good feeding schedule for juvenile discus is :

7 am: heavy food
12 noon: flake food
4-5 pm: live food
7 pm(if possible): flake
10-10:30 pm: heavy food

v)Tank mates :
Though for best practice discus can be kept alone but you can keep some bottom feeders in this tank. But in this type of tank bottom feeders will be a very good choice. You can keep clown loach,Pleco as botttom feeders.

Apart from that you can also keep denisonii. This is a very good peaceful fish that goes well with discus.


vi)Other decorations for this type of tank:
1. Let us assume that you keep either canister or top and power filter, so there is no direct channel for aeration. Hence you have to use airstone for more aeration.
2. If you wish to keep plants in this type of tank you can still use it!!! How, just use a pot with proper substrate and keep plants. In this pot you can keep some hardy plants like echinodorous sp., vallisneria sp.anubias sp.

Here you can my first ever sunshine orange discus without any peeepering and it was in gravelled tank...
discus_6.jpg


So you see lots of options when you keep discus in a gravelled tank. So here you can see that you can keep discus either a sandy tank or a gravelled tank. On my next post i'll discuss about other type of discus tank.

** To be continued...
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Last edited by Achintya on Sat Jun 23, 2012 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Discus keeping for Beginners:Update 15/06/2012.

Unread postby Achintya » Sat Jun 23, 2012 3:41 pm

3. Keeping discus in a planted tank :-

Without any doubt planted tank is one the beautiful looking of any kind of tanks. Many of us love to keep planted tank. It’s nice to see some awesome planted aquarium. It’s a great feelings when one keep beautiful discus in a planted tank. Specially when we see beautiful planted tank with discus we are amazed to see this beauty. Let me assume that you also keep planted tank. And now for the first time you want to keep discus in your planted. Ok, don’t worry. You can keep discus if you know some tricks about them.



i) Different types of discus that you can keep in a planted tank:
You have to be choosy enough for different strain of discus in a planted tank. You can’t choose all types of discus in a planted tank. Let me assume that you have a beautiful planted set up. But you keep some peepering prone or such type of discus. I see many planted experts keeping discus in their tanks but they keep juvenile and peepering discus. I feel very sad to see this. So to avoid this you can keep all turquoise strain, leopard, snakeskin, san merah, blue diamond etc.

You know planted tank can be classified of 2 different types. One is low-tech set up with DIY CO2, DIY substrate, low-medium light etc. keeping discus in this type of set up is comparatively easier.one can keep adult discus in this low-tech set up after 4-5 months of set up. Once the tank is settled well and tends to mature then you can keep them.

IMG_0052.JPG

(photo courtesy: dejan, a member of KAC forum)

Other type of set up is high-tech planted tank with pressurised CO2 system, branded substrate, high light, proper dosing etc. keeping discus in this type of set up is little tricky. A branded substrate can cause problem for discus. In addition, due to high light, dosing, CO2 your discus can be stressed. So to avoid this what’s the option? The only option is to keep adult discus settling in this type of environment. I know many planted discus keepers who keep adult discus in a temporary planted set up and if a discus is settled enough then only they can transfer that discus to the main planted tank. But in your case I like to say that keep 4-4.5 inch+ (at least) discus. As you know adult discus is having more resistance power, so it will not be too much problem. Also one thing that I like to suggest you, In case of hi-tech planted set up please keep discus once tank is fully matured. During set up time there can be some fluctuation of water parameters which is hazardous to discus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CJiKGCryFw

You may say that in many cases I see lots of other strain of discus housing in a hi-tech planted tank. In most of the cases those discus are kept in this set up for a better video or picture purpose.


ii) Fish size you’ll choose for this type of tank:
Keeping discus in a planted aquarium is not like keeping discus in other types of tank. In other type of tanks you can easily keep and successfully raise 2-.25 inch discus. But for planted tank I suggest you to keep adult discus. As we all know adult discus can adapt more than juveniles. So keeping 4 inch plus discus is a very option for a planted tank. Since you use pressurised CO2 (for high-tech set up), we’ll often find juveniles are stressed or often goes top level of water. Discus demands more oxygen and in case of juveniles they need more than adult. That’s one of the reasons to choose adult discus in a planted tank. From my previous post you know that discus will live better in a group. So keeping a batch of 4 inch size discus will be no problem for you.



iii)Maintaining part of this tank:
Now come to maintaining part of this tank.

1)Water Change schedule:
Nothing special for this case. You can do whatever you do normally for a planted tank. Your challenge is to keep discus and adjust them in a planted tank rather plants will adjust according to requirement of discus.

2)Filter and filter media:
Now come to the filters that you can choose for this tank. I always say that canister is the best filter along with a power filter. But you can also use some cheap filters!! Generally I suggest you to use a top and a power filter. But in this case, I suggest to to invest your money for a canister filter.

3)Water that you use for your aquarium: :
Same that I described in sandy discus tank.



iv)Food and feeding schedule in this sandy tank:
Food habit and feeding schedule can be a little tricky in this type of tank. Since you keep them in a planted tank you can’t feed any sinking food or BHM/GHM. So you have to feed them flake food or slow sinking food. use so you can feed them flake foods, tetra crisps, frozen dried bloodworms (occasionally. Benefit is this type of food will not go to gravel bed and your discus can eat it.

Now come to feeding schedule. Now come to feeding schedule. Since you keep adult discus so feeding 2-3 times will not be a problem to them. You can feed them heavy food in morning and late night (10-10:30pm). A good feeding schedule for adult discus in a planted tank is :

7 am: flake food (heavy)
4-5 pm: flake food
10-10:30 pm: flake food (heavy)


v)Tank mates :
Though for best practice discus can be kept alone but you can keep some bottom feeders in this tank. You can keep denisonii or matured neons, cardinals,rummy nose or harlequins in this tank.


So you see lots of options when you keep discus in a gravelled tank. So here you can see that you can keep discus in a planted tank. On my next post i'll discuss about other type of discus tank.

** To be continued...
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Re: Discus keeping for Beginners:Update 15/06/2012.

Unread postby Achintya » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:47 pm

How to quarantine your discus:

Quarantine process of Discus is one of the major factors of discus fish keeping. When you bring a discus for your show tank then there is a high risk factor of introducing disease and parasites. Also your discus can be stressed due to transport and relocation from their previous set up. Hence there is a higher chance of your discus to be affected by diseases or parasites present in the new environment. So you need a quarantine tank which protects your fish from disease and allow to regain optimum health before they are shifted your main tank. Here I describe my own method of how to process quarantine of discus…

Day 1: start the quarantine process with Potassium permanganate. Make a Potassium permanganate soln. you can use this solution until tank water turns into baby pink colour. Do not use filter during this process otherwise your purpose will not be served. You can use heavy aeration during this time. Also you can raise temperature at 32 degree Celsius during this course. Most of the parasites will kill in that temperature.

Day2, 3, 4: Do 100% W/C on day 2. Make sure there is no PP water is left in your tank. Fill your aquarium with new fresh water. Now you have to use oxytetracycline tablet (5 capsules per 100 litre of water). Use heavy aeration also.

Day 5: continue the step that was followed on day 1.

Day 6, 7, 8: continue the step that was followed on day 2, 3, 4.

Day 9: continue the step that was followed on day 1.

Day 10, 11, 12: continue the step that was followed on day2, 3, 4.

Day 13, 14, 15: Do 100% W/C and use 4 Metrogyl tablets per 100 litre of water. Continue it for 3 days. (Start Deworming process)

Day 16, 17, 18: continue the step that was followed on day 13. Feed them with small quantity.

Day 19, 20, 21: continue the step that was followed on day13. Feed them normally.

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