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Discus in a community tank


KoiAngels
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A month ago, I found a 40 gal on the side of the road. I cleaned it up and started to cycle it. After the cycling process, I added 

1- Pearl Gourami

1- Swordtail

2- Sunburst platy

5- cherry barbs

3- kuhli loaches (planning to get more)

15 - Cardinal Tetras

I want to add a Red Checkerboard/ Pidgeon blood discus. I have no problems with doing every other day water changes.

Would the discus be compatible with my tank and what temperature should I keep it at.

 

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No for many reasons:

Not temp compatible with the gourami, swordtail and platy.

Tank is too small (top to bottom).

Discus is not water compatible with the platy and swordtail (soft vs hard)

Discus require very very clean water and the current tank inhabitants suggest that will not be the case

Discus should be kept in a group and the tank isn't even large enough for one

---

I guess that is enough reasons.

 

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It is a 40 gal tall. 25 inches tall. I currently have a 55 gal cycling.

According to https://forum.simplydiscus.com/showthread.php?136930-Pearl-gourami Pearl Gourami should be fine.

Where I live I have soft water, and the platies used to live with GBR at 84 deg temp.

I have 2 canister turtle filter that run in that tank with a HOB filter on the back. ( all are medium-low speed)

I was planning to get a male. Would that be okay being  alone.  Dont wont to add more discus ( budget)

I am more worried about the other tankmates.

Could I add some Cardinal Tetras. ( 8-10)

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You can't really reliably sex discus without them being fully mature and truthfully, you have to see their breeding apparatus.

As far as one discus being alone... it's certainly not ideal.  If money is an issue, I'd steer very clear of discus.  A single fully grown discus from a reputable source might "work" in this situation, at least temporarily.  But the odds are slim.  And that fish is going to run you something in the $250 neighborhood.

You could conceivably do 5-6 in the 55, but speaking as someone who has 7 in a 75.  It takes a boatload of water changes to keep them in good shape.  I average 5x90% water changes per week and for the first 18 months or so it was every day.

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On 4/2/2024 at 5:13 PM, jwcarlson said:

I average 5x90% water changes per week and for the first 18 months or so it was every day.

Oh my good lord! Now I'm really paranoid about keeping them🤣

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On 4/2/2024 at 6:41 PM, Tony s said:

Oh my good lord! Now I'm really paranoid about keeping them🤣

I don't think they should be jumped into lightly.  Some people get, in my opinion, very lucky and get away with "murder" keeping their discus.  At least temporarily.

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On 4/2/2024 at 9:30 PM, jwcarlson said:

I don't think they should be jumped into lightly.  Some people get, in my opinion, very lucky and get away with "murder" keeping their discus.  At least temporarily.

I've never even considered keeping discus, but just out of curiosity why do they require such large and frequent water changes? I would imagine angelfish have a similar bioload but you don't see people doing that with angelfish.

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On 4/2/2024 at 9:30 PM, jwcarlson said:

Some people get, in my opinion, very lucky and get away with "murder" keeping their discus

Some people’s water gives them a definite advantage for sure. 

 

On 4/2/2024 at 9:32 PM, macdaddy36 said:

I would imagine angelfish have a similar bioload but you don't see people doing that with angelfish.

They do have a similar bio load, but discus are much less tolerant of “dirty” water. They need very clean water with low nitrate as in around 5 would be on the high side. Same with German blue rams. And they like hot water. Higher than most plants can tolerate 

Edited by Tony s
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My problem is my water changes are no joke. Takes me hours to get a batch of ro water mineralized and ready to go. For 30 gallon anyway. So a 50% change in a 75 would be an all night job. Not counting the other 200+ gallons for week

On 4/2/2024 at 9:40 PM, macdaddy36 said:

Guess who's never keeping discus 🤣

Possibly me too, although the wife really wants them. 
 

I think you missed the part about no plants. That’s why so many changes. Nothing to remove nitrates. 

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On 4/2/2024 at 8:32 PM, macdaddy36 said:

I've never even considered keeping discus, but just out of curiosity why do they require such large and frequent water changes? I would imagine angelfish have a similar bioload but you don't see people doing that with angelfish.

Probably depends on the angelfish you're talking about.  I know there's plenty of people doing very similar with their altums and certain wild caughts.

Discus have a "different slime coat" for one.  I can't tell you what this means biologically.  But in practice, it means they're more sensitive.  

They're also from an area so devoid of microscopic life that their young have evolved to eat their parents' slime coat.  If you happen to live in an area where nearly Amazon River water comes out of your tap, I suspect that you can get away with significantly less maintenance.  I keep mine in rock hard tap water, so that does create some additional issues which have certainly contributed to the overall challenge of discus.

I haven't kept every fish under the sun in my time in the hobby (about 25 years mostly on, but some off), but I've not kept a fish so sensitive.  But there's also no fish that wears the owner's care so boldly when you look at them.  You can quite seriously see the amount of work someone has done with their discus.  And once you know what good discus look like (shape and appropriate size/proportion), it's tough to imagine purposely doing less work and having something that's basically an advertisement that you didn't do enough for it to reach its potential.  

TLDR version: you can keep ANY fish like a discus and it will thrive, but you cannot keep discus like just any fish and expect it to thrive.

On 4/2/2024 at 8:40 PM, macdaddy36 said:

still, 5 90% water changes a week just seems so crazy to me for something that isn't breeding especially in a planted tank. Guess who's never keeping discus 🤣

They're not in a planted tank (for me, at least).  I've tried and the plants don't survive, planted tanks also offer issues because they usually accumulate quite a bit of bacterial load due to (usually) less substrate cleaning.  Mine are in a bare bottom tank and I wipe all the sides and bottom down once a week.  If I skip a wipe down, they start getting "discus pimples" which are bacterial nodules.  I wipe down and change water and they're gone almost immediately.  Even with all this care I've still had plenty of issues in the two+ years I have had them.

Disclaimer: To be 100% honest, I do not think discus are worth the effort.  If you've got the right water out of the tap, you might be one of the few who can get away with less stringent maintenance.

Edited by jwcarlson
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On 4/2/2024 at 9:45 PM, jwcarlson said:

Probably depends on the angelfish you're talking about.  I know there's plenty of people doing very similar with their altums and certain wild caughts

Sorry, keep forgetting about wild caught altums. That one is as sensitive, very discus like. Also can be very expensive, and stunning. But most around here are just tank raised and color bred.

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On 4/2/2024 at 8:41 PM, Tony s said:

My problem is my water changes are no joke. Takes me hours to get a batch of ro water mineralized and ready to go. For 30 gallon anyway. So a 50% change in a 75 would be an all night job. Not counting the other 200+ gallons for week

Possibly me too, although the wife really wants them. 
 

I think you missed the part about no plants. That’s why so many changes. Nothing to remove nitrates. 

It really doesn't have so much to do with the nitrates, though I do keep them very low.  But with my really hard water, basically zero nitrates, AND the warm temps discus need the plants just don't do well.  Anubias tolerate it pretty well and I have emergent pothos and philadendron.  Even when I have left for a week on vacation my nitrates when I get back are no greater than 10 and usually <5.  Of course they're not being fed, so that's a big part.  But even if I skip a few days of water change, the nitrates are still almost nil.  But that goes for most of my tanks.

 

I think people get very hung up on water for most fish.  It doesn't matter too much in my experience.  I've got discus (2+ years) rams and apistos who are living in my tap water and have been for more than a year (well, the rams haven't been that long) and they're perfectly fine.  But I don't run tanks with 40+ nitrate and total neglect of water changes.  I have a 40 gallon community tank that I do let go about a month before changing water.  It's a jungle of all sorts of plants.  

Most tanks with the more sensitive fish get fairly frequent water changes as I'm usually attempting to breed them.  And in fry rearing tanks I try to do at least 2 or more big 75-90% water changes every week.  I've gotten a lot more into water changes for my fry and it very clearly makes a huge difference.  For big batches at least.  If you've got two cory babies that appeared in a community tank it's probably not a big deal.  But if you've got 100+ baby corys or plecos or CPDs or whatever in one tank... you better be changing water.

On 4/2/2024 at 8:58 PM, Tony s said:

Sorry, keep forgetting about wild caught altums. That one is as sensitive, very discus like. Also can be very expensive, and stunning. But most around here are just tank raised and color bred.

Another thing to consider is the overall genetics of a given fish of animal in general.  Some animals just have better genetics to be raised in domestic circumstances.  There's a reason they just about give away most of your standard strains of guppies, platys, swordtails, etc.  This is also an issue with other domestic stocks.  Honey bees are an example.  I've been keeping honey bees for ten years and bred all my own queens for 8 of those years (have all but quit beekeeping now, though).  But there's an introduced pest that jumped bee species called the varroa mite and European honey bees just do not have the right genetic makeup to deal with them.  Varroa is the cause of the entire bee panic that has been occurring for the last... 25 or so years since they were introduced.  There's some bees that have been selected and bred for resistance, but we're talking about artificial insemination, importing bee semen from all over the world to try to get the right mix of genes, and of course very heavy selection.  There's also genetic bottleneck issues because a HUGE percentage of the queens in the entire country are born and bred in about a one month period when nearly every commercial beehive in the country is in a relatively small area in California for almond pollination.  But I'm getting really off track... 🙂

Edited by jwcarlson
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On 4/2/2024 at 9:59 PM, jwcarlson said:

I think people get very hung up on water for most fish

I would absolutely agree with that. Whooo… and try to change their minds. They forget, most of the country has hard water. 
I think most fish can be kept in harder water. If it’s clean. It’s one of the reasons I like Jason Adam’s channel. He only keeps fish in hard water. He reasons his customers don’t have ro, so why sell them something that needs soft water.  One of the reasons he won’t keep discus or rams. Customers around Chicago won’t have good success. But keeps all kinds of geophagus, Severums, and most other South American cichlids. The ones he doesn’t keep, Ben Ochart in Tennessee does, also in hard water. 

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On 4/2/2024 at 9:59 PM, jwcarlson said:

But there's an introduced pest that jumped bee species called the varroa mite and European honey bees just do not have the right genetic makeup to deal with them.  Varroa is the cause of the entire bee panic that has been occurring for the last... 25 or so years since they were introduced.

Right, I have a degree in entomology, so understand that completely. We thought we were getting on top of it 30 years ago. It’s more adaptable than we thought. And I’m not sure how the hybridization with Africans is progressing anymore. Been 30 years since I knew.

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I am planning to do 50% water changes weekly. 

The LFS near me breeds discus and they only do 50% water changes weekly , so I feel like they should be good with that.

Luckily my LFS made a deal with me, that I exchange 7 Denison barbs (Roseline sharks) for a Discus.

The average price for Discus near me is around 80$.

Denison barbs are expensive around me. (25$ per fish)

Can we also get back on track. Pls

Can everyone that keeps discus with tankmates 

Share what tankmates they keep with their discus

 

 

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On 4/3/2024 at 1:07 PM, KoiAngels said:

Share what tankmates they keep with their discus

You listed a basically fully stocked 40 gallon in the original post, you're wanting to add more after adding the discus?

Regarding 50% water changes, you might be OK for awhile, but with substrate you'll probably eventually have issues.  

As pointed out above... you've got a lot of fish with conflicting temperature profiles as well as keeping shoaling fish in much too small of groups/singles.  It's usually best to keep discus pretty warm, 82 for adults, but when growing them up 85 is better.  You'll inevitably end up in a situation where your discus stops eating and the first course of action there is to run the temperature up to 93 for a couple of weeks.

How big is the discus you got?  How are you quarantining it before putting it in the community tank?  Do you have a picture of the discus?  Particularly one look at it from the front so you can see the profile of the forehead and belly?  

I've kept discus with lemon tetras, rummynose tetras, and bristlenose.  The only ones I still keep with them are bristlenose.  But eventually I'll move mine into the 125 I have setup for them and they'll be with bristlenose and sterbai corys.  Sterbai are a popular discus tankmate.  At discus temperatures, I think you'll find that a lot of what you have in the tank currently is going to be blown through pretty quickly (short lived).  The forum you linked earlier (Simply Discus) would be a great place to go ask for advice on what you're doing, by the way!

Best of luck!

On 4/3/2024 at 1:15 PM, KoiAngels said:

also are these plants good with the temp

Java Fern

wisteria

Dwarf Hairgrass

 

Not sure about hairgrass or wisteria, but I think java fern is OK that warm.  I'd be more worried about the fish than the plants, personally.

Amazon swords and anubias are pretty popular discus plants.  Also emerged grown plants like pothos and peace lily don't really care what the water temp is.

Edited by jwcarlson
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I have removed some of the cardinal tetras. (8)

My 40 gal cracked overnight. (I live in  Florida where it getting cold in the night.)

I have a mostly empty 20 gal high with 

1 sewellia linolata

1 red bristlenose pleco

1 CPO crayfish 

2 amano shrimp

 It is heavily planted with vallesnira, anubias, java fern, wisiteria, tiger lotus, pearl weed, and marimo moss.

Can I transfer my fish to that tank.

 

 

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On 4/9/2024 at 8:59 AM, KoiAngels said:

Can I transfer my fish to that tank.

What fish?

 

On 4/9/2024 at 9:04 AM, KoiAngels said:

My discus has arrived.

I quarantined and dosed with ich-x, maracyn, and paracleanse.

It's super beatiful

Pounding it with a bunch of meds right away might not be the greatest idea, but I hope it works out for your fish.

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The discus arrived 2 weeks ago.

Sorry for my grammar

 

I am talking about the fish in my discus tank

My 40 gal discus tank

 

my temperature is currently at 83

Bit on the lower end 

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On 4/9/2024 at 9:11 AM, KoiAngels said:

The discus arrived 2 weeks ago.

Sorry for my grammar

 

You already had it when you made this thread?

I'm having trouble following what all is going on and how many tanks you've got and what fish are in what tank.  Most of the fish you listed aren't good discus tankmates.  The best, and required tankmate in all honesty, are other discus.  Of your list, the two acceptable tankmates are the pearl gourami and the cardinals.  

 

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