View Full Version : Discus in a 55 gallon.

06-30-2010, 12:07 AM
I have a hobbyist friend that really wanted to start a 55 gallon discus tank. So they asked me how many they could comfortably fit in the tank. I answered about 4 would be the max. What would be the max for their 55 gallon. PS. it is just a species tank. Planted also.

06-30-2010, 12:27 AM
I would honestly want a little bit larger tank for 4 discus, not that they would be that crowded, but they are sensitive fish, and the larger the tank the more stable the parameters will probably be. They also have nicer colors when they feel more comfortable, and a larger planted tank will certainly help with that.

Edit: I would agree four would be about max, but your friend would probably be better off with a nice pair, although that can get pricey depending on what type of discus and the breeder.

06-30-2010, 12:42 AM
So, I just called them and they were ok with the smaller number in a 55 gallon they were actually wanting to do 3. They did want me to mention that they will be doing a 2x weekly 40% water change. They are thinking species only tank but they also asked me to see if they could get anything else if they were to only get two.

06-30-2010, 01:09 AM
I would highly advise against only 3 discus in any kind of tank. They need to be in a group of at least 6. If your friends aren't capable of doing daily water change, I'd say get 6 adults into the 55 gallons tank. Adult fish require less food for growth and can be raised in tanks with gravel/plants easier since they're already of adult size.

Juvenile discus require a lot more food and this will quickly foul the water which will call for more water change. That is why most people who grow out young discus will go with bare bottom for ease of cleaning.

Do not get only 3 or 4 discus. They need to establish a pecking order and spread out the aggression for the long term longevity of these fishes.

They can do a breeding pair as well in a community setup.

06-30-2010, 01:25 AM
Only three or four, possibly five will cause at least one to be picked on until death, then the next, and so on. Six or more gives the weakest a chance to hid as the next weakest is picked on.
My school of ten are so busy eating or looking for food they tend to ignore each other - they do hold areas just for themselves but a large tank leaves more than enough room for all to have areas and still leave unclaimed areas. Size reallt does matter.thumbs2:

06-30-2010, 02:06 AM
Since they are just getting this tank i told them about the bare bottom rule and they said that they already had that in mind. They also said that they would do daily waterchanges if needed. 25% They really want discus so they are will to comply with every aspect that needs to be taken in order to have a healthy aquarium. Any tips.

06-30-2010, 02:17 AM
Since they are just getting this tank i told them about the bare bottom rule and they said that they already had that in mind. They also said that they would do daily waterchanges if needed. 25% They really want discus so they are will to comply with every aspect that needs to be taken in order to have a healthy aquarium. Any tips.

Tell them to get ready to open their wallet...you referred to them as a hobbyist, which makes me think they're experienced, yet with the question they asked you, and your further comments, it sounds like a noob. Discus are not noob fish. Does your friend have an RO set up for them, or the proper tap water? Are they going with WC or farm raised? Can they afford for 6 $60 or so fish to die on them if they don't do things right? Honestly, if this is to be their first fish tank, they need to start with something less challenging and get experience before attempting such an expensive endeavor...that is, unless they're made of money and don't care.

06-30-2010, 02:20 AM
they has aquariums and understands everything about it but she just doesnt know to much about discus yet. They're in the phase of research and just wanted me to ask a couple questions. Along with this they know the discus are expensive and that is why they are doing everything at their will to help them survive.

06-30-2010, 02:39 AM
Juveniles are more rewarding if you grow it out but it's more work. You'll get the satisfaction of growing them out and seeing the fruits of your labor at the end. However, keep in mind that not all discus are the same. So the first and most important thing is to get good quality stock.

Medium fishes in the 3 inches range to 4 inches range are also good to grow out if you want to get a chance to see your fishes develop.

5 inches and up can be adult or pre-adult depending on the strain.

If your friend has more questions, feel free to ask.

06-30-2010, 02:41 AM
So how many should they actually get? When it comes time to it?

06-30-2010, 02:46 AM
6 for the 55 gallon.

06-30-2010, 02:54 AM
Oh, and another thing, do not order online from these sources:




Also, don't buy it from LFS unless it's high quality discus. Take some pictures and post it here if you want those fish evaluated for quality.

07-01-2010, 03:05 AM
Tonight they asked me, What if i were to buy them in seperation like 2 groups of 3. I told them that i would ask on here because i know nothing about discus and what is best for them. So is it ok. Along with this how long do they have to wait before they can put gravel back in along with, can they put gravel in clay pots and grow some plants out like that or is that a no no too.

07-01-2010, 03:54 AM
It's best to buy all 6 at once. Mixing discus from different stocks or suppliers can lead to a lot of problems if one is not familiar with proper QT procedures. Even from the same supplier, it may lead to problems.

So, I highly recommend getting all 6 at once. As far as putting the gravel back, that will depend on what sizes they're getting. There are ways to go around the gravel and still retain the aesthetic look of the tank without being completely bare bottom.

1) One option is a light coating of white sand. They would still need to vacuum any leftover food and poop but it's less work than gravel.

2) Another option is to have potted plants in gravel. You can place these pots more so in the back and feed in the front so it's easier to clean.

3) Yet another option is to build two separate section. The back can be fully planted with gravel etc but the front can be completely bare bottom. This is a similar concept to the 2nd option but you'll have to clean the gravel in the back more often as well.

4) They can buy a special type of spray paint that makes the bottom look like it's a sandy bed. Spray paint on the outside.

But bare bottom is really easy to maintain and clean. Also, if they can't paint the bottom, have something light colored to cover the bottom. Maybe a piece of foam, construction paper, etc. The thing is discus won't like reflection. Discus fishes with PB blood in it will have peppering on them if the surroundings are dark. So, it's also a good idea to have the bottom and sides covered with lighter backgrounds.

07-01-2010, 04:07 AM
They just asked if they could do 1 to see if they are able to survive and then get the rest. Instead of getting them all.

07-01-2010, 04:54 AM
Absolutely not unless they want the fish to slowly wither away.

07-01-2010, 05:42 AM

07-01-2010, 06:18 AM
Just tell them to get all 6 at once.

Where are they getting their fishes from and what's the size of these fish? Can they provide pictures?

The first step is acquiring good stock.

07-01-2010, 06:27 AM
Their lfs sells discus, they are actually very nice discus they are in big schools like as in fry and they are sold at about 3-4 in for 30$ they have no fatigue in color they are very bright and are fed blood worms and so on kept in species only tanks. So that is where they plan to keep them. PS. Since we live in the same town we have the same lfs. The lfs told her that she should just buy one and wait for a week to see if it survives the first week then come back and get more when they are ready. So this is a bad idea.

07-01-2010, 07:02 AM
I see. Can you give me the name of the LFS?

Also, ask them who their discus supplier is. How long have they had the fish for? What's the parameters in the tank?

What's the shape like? Is it really round or is it football shaped? Are there kinks in the forehead or above the nostril or below the chin? Are there excessive slime or white poop? Can they eat anything else other than bloodworms? ...

I really like to see some pictures though to see if they're stunted or not. A lot of LFS imports B grade discus at best from farms. Depending on the strain, too much coloration and vivid patterns on a 3 inch may indicate hormones or a stunted fish. That's why I'm asking for pictures to see. I mean, there's nothing wrong with stunted fish aside from the fact that they'll never get much bigger or reach their full potential. But if you're going to spend some money on these fishes, it's best to get good quality fish.

Not the greatest piece of advice because they obviously don't know that one week isn't enough to see if one can care for discus or not. My regular QT period for any discus is at least 6 weeks and I try to get them in groups whenever I order.

I don't recall any good fish supplier of discus in PA recently but if your friend is willing to travel a bit. Discus Hans in MD is a good choice. Mike Deegan from Blackwater Aquaria in CT is also another good choice. These guys specialize in discus only so their stock is superb. Just some food for thought.

Here's just a simply link showing what not to buy:


07-01-2010, 02:53 PM
The site you gave list the photos of what their stock of discus looks like. They are nice and round no pointed mouth. They are the shape of your avatar discus. When i say they had nice colors i meant like, "U can see they are going to have nice and bright colors when older" meaning there is no white fading patches. Sorry. I dont know about what else they feed them but i know they have live blood worms or something to feed them i seen it a couple times.

07-01-2010, 03:25 PM
Hmm, okay.

Just make sure her tank is all set and ready for discus. Tell her to get food and do some research online on Seafood Mix or BH mix (I prefer Seafood Mix).

Then go out and get 6 discus fishes.

07-01-2010, 04:35 PM
I will try to persuade them to take pics and email them to me when they go next. They wont be getting discus right away they have the tank everything that is needed but just not the right time to do it.

07-02-2010, 02:12 AM
Sounds good!

Just tell your friend to take her time and do more reading. Forget about the "dunderheads" at the LFS. Do your own research, look at different sources and compare and contrast and build upon it.

Take it slow and be patient. Discus fishes are expensive and you don't want them to die, lol.

07-02-2010, 02:32 AM
If they would only listen. I have been trying to persuade them to go with some nice fish that are less expensive. Like severums, Angels, rainbowfish.

07-02-2010, 03:07 AM
Discus are by no mean hard to keep. They just require more attention and work than others. :hmm3grin2orange:

07-02-2010, 12:02 PM
That is TRUE. I meant to try less expensive (touchy) fish for a little more. I think I will try discus when i am an adult but not while i am a kid. There are plenty of species out there that have just a striking of colors and less expensive. I just dont understand why they are so thick headed. :D

07-03-2010, 08:55 AM
Live Bloodworms? Where they do that at? lol

Plus ive read somewhere that bloodworms arent that good for them that it can give them something. That bloodworms should be fed here and there to Discus