1) Know yourself, don't lie to yourself! Ask yourself if you're willing to spend a lot of time, money, and effort to raise the beautiful discus fish!
2) Set a budget, look for second hand tanks on craiglists and the bigger the better with the minimum size being 55 gallons. Stick to the 1 discus per 10 gallons rule if you want to keep it easy on yourself. They need to be in a group of at least 6 unless it's a breeding pair. If you are buying a used tank, be sure to completely sterilize it with bleach, rinse and clean, dose with pp (potassium permanganate), rinse and clean again, and filter with carbon to make sure that the tank is fresh and ready to go. Take no chance to introduce anything to discus.
3) Have a QT tank ready that's at least 30 gallon and make sure it is in a different room from the main tank. Also, make sure that you have completely different equipments from the QT tank and the main tank.
a. Always wash your hand thoroughly after working on different tanks. Pay very careful attention to your clothes and shoes and make sure you don't get it into close proximity of the main tank if there is a disease outbreak going on. I've seen many instances of wipe out when people break strict QT procedures.
b. If you are receiving domestic discus, QT them for about 6 weeks. During week 1 - 4, observe them carefully and treat as necessary. If you intend to put these new fishes in QT into the main tank; take one discus from the main tank and place it into the QT tank after the 4 weeks duration and observe the group closely. Treat as necessary and observe them for 2 more weeks. If everything is fine after this 6 weeks period; all may be moved into the main tank now.
c. De-worm the fish with praziquantel (tapeworms); medicated food with flubendazole or fenbendazole as a preventive (flubendazole can be used in water or mixed with food to eradicate tapeworms, flukes, nematodes/ fenbendazole can only be used with food); or lemavisole as treatment in water (nematodes). Flubendazole is more broad spectrum so I'd recommend it. Also, you can try getting medicated flake food with fenbendazole to feed your fishes as preventive measures.
d. If you're receiving wilds, it's good to de-worm even if they seem fine during QT.
(Note, this is very generic and there are some instances where you have to treat right away or not depending on the source of the fish. That's why it's very important to know where the discus come from and who is supplying it to you. Potassium Permanganate is a powerful oxidizer and must be used with extreme caution. Do not use it without properly consulting someone who has experience with them or at least doing research on them.)
4) Do research and more research. I can't stress this enough. Get a general idea of what to look for and what to not buy.
5) Do research and look around for reputable breeders with good stock or LFS that get fish from a good and reliable source. Go to reputable online sources and have them shipped. All reputable online sellers will be glad to answer your inquiries and will send you pictures of the stock that you are getting exactly. If they don't, walk away and go to another source.
6) Get yourself some medications to keep on hand. Please look at this thread:
7) Get a varied diet for your discus. Do research on seafood recipes and make your own. Get varied flake and pellets and freeze dried food.
Example of seafood recipe that I use:
1 lb raw tuna
1 lb raw sea salmon
1 tbsp ground pellets
2 crushed vitamin pill (Centrum is fine)
2 bags of spinach boiled
2 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp astaxathin
1 tsp pro growth
Keep it simple and just make sure that the food you make don't break up immediately upon touching water.
Some other food I that I feed.
Freeze dried food: blackworm and earthworms
Flake food: Ocean Nutrition, Angel Plus, special made flake from Inland Empire Discus, Cyclop-eeze
Pellet: Tetra Colorbits, NLS
Live: blackworm, white worm, red wrigglers
Frozen: bloodworm, brine shrimp
(Note! I think my discus eat better than me sometimes, lol.)
8) If it's your first time starting with discus, go with pre-adults around 4 inches plus. Juveniles require more care and attention because they require much more feeding. This would mean a lot of water changes.
9) Equipments and filtration, KISS! If you're starting out, sponge filtration and power filter is adequate. Keep them in bare bottom tank for easy cleaning. You may add a slight layer of sand if you wish but make sure it's white sand and come from a reliable source without any contaminants. If you don't mind peppering in pigeon based discus, then you can do whatever color background you want. However, if you do mind the peppering black spots on pigeon based discus, paint or spray paint the back (sides too if you want) with white or light blue or any lighter hue colors. The heater needs to be reliable and get more than one that's underrated for the tank. If one fails, then at least one is keeping it warm enough until you get a replacement.
10) Research, research, and more research.
I'll add more if I remember anything else and if anyone has anything to add; feel free.
Last edited by Spardas; 06-15-2010 at 03:29 AM.
just curious, why is this?
Originally Posted by Spardas
300 gallon mega tank
: build in progress
75 gallon community tank
: tetras, danios, corys, platies, otos, pearl gouramis, bristlenose pleco, assassin snails, red cherry shrimp, bamboo shrimp
70 gallon growout tank: clown loaches, sailfin pleco
60 gallon goldfish tank: fancy goldfish
29 gallon frog tank
: 1 bullfrog
10 gallon and 5.5 gallon betta tanks: 1 male betta each, sometimes snails
There's a chance of cross contamination through the air and it can wipe out the entire fish room.
Domestic discus are heavily bred in different farms from all over the world and each farm can harbor a particular strain of virus/pathogen that other farms haven't been exposed to yet. There may be nothing wrong or it can wipe out your stock. So don't risk it because I've seen the devastation it can do.
So if you find a good supplier of discus, buy from him to reduce the chance of possibly contaminating new and old fishes. If you do want to get fishes from different suppliers; then it's best to keep them in separate rooms and then test it by mixing one discus from the main to the QT tank. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Last edited by Spardas; 06-15-2010 at 04:05 AM.
Good post. Thanks for sharing.
How do you process your seafood recipe?
I think the assumption here is, if I wouldn't eat it, than neither will my fish.
I throw all the ingredients into the meat grinder, ziplock it, freeze it, and chop it up into cube afterwards. Then I just throw the cubes in the tank and watch them attack it.
A few points on food;
1) High quality pellets are the #1 food to fed discus - peroid
a) Besides saving tones of work, the foods made by the high end guys is gonna cover the fish's nutrient requirements better than anything you can easily create.
b) Home made foods rot like no tomorrow and even the best vacuuming will miss very small pieces so near 100% water changes is almost mandatory for home made food
c) Discus eat mostly insects and water bugs so meat (generally beef) are a big issue for them to digest and I just don't see the point since they evolved without the ability to handle this stuff; protein is protein but fats are a far, far different issue. That said, many people use beef.
d) Fish fats are a very, very rare part of discus' diet and daily feeding (like tuna or salmon) is not really meant to be and neither wilds or commercil fish eat in this manner. Can't say it is wrong nor harmfull but I'd very very warry.
2) Never use live worms - I do not believe it is worth the risk; since an aquarium is closed environment and no matter how well you clean (short of 100% daily water changes) bacteria or parasites can breed like no tomorrow. Most commercil prepared (not nec. frozen) foods are parasitic free and very clean. Again, many people use live worms with success but I've had illness issues and parasite issues with worms. Sterilized frozen worms are a different issue but good clean up after feeding worms is essential.
Issue of tank water
3) The only real rule is clean water (in the Amazon they have ultra clean, extremely pure water with a few trace minerals) and if that is an issue, then these fish are not for you. The bell weather of tank cleanliness are nitrates - if not below 1 ppm (of course phosphates are a better measure but few can measure and these are extremely difficult to keep below 1 ppm much less than 0.01 ppm like in nature), then breeding is just not viable nor growing out young to near full size (but never the size of wilds - insects and fw crustaceans, and the rare small fish all have no equal.
That does not mean that having higher nitrates (near 5 ppm) also means you can't have discus - just that they will be smaller and more likely to get ill.
4) Temperature: this is the most confused, unknown parameter that apparently has never been determined in a definitive manner. Still, higher temperatures do improve immune function of these fish a great deal (above 90 F is often used for treatments – they are very tolerant of these temperatures) but what is a comfortable high? No one seems to agree on this paramter's good range but in the Amazon discus see temperatures below 80 F (rarely and for short durations) and well above 90 F (in some locations for a far amount of time.) Anything in the low 80's works for them so I do not think people using those temps are incorrect.
Last edited by Cermet; 01-13-2013 at 03:34 PM.
I was semi-interested in setting up a discus tank. Well, not anymore...
Great guide by the way. Discus are truly beautiful fish, but I'll stick to viewing them at the local aquarium.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. -Vince Lombardi
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Sandy Hook Elementary......Lest We Forget
See my profile for my tanks and what fish I keep