Cichlid Room Companion

Internet lectures


By , 1995. printer

Classification: Captive maintenance, South America.

" Fishroom talk taking place on 1995-Sep-13 "

Beth says: I'm having some probs with my Discus. I took over a 55 gal about 2 weeks ago. and the 3 discus were in poor shape. Two had fuzz on the skin, and were very dark. I think it was just poor water quality. Anyway, under my loving care they still have not responded very well,- and one still has fuzz on the skin. and the other as a film over the eyes. I'm starting to consider medication.

Dwebb says: Beth, are they eating?

Beth says: Very well, and they are territorial.

Dwebb says: What are the water parameters?

Beth says: ie exhibiting normal cichlid behavior.

Beth says: :( I haven't checked anything but pH, its at 6.5. I think the nitrates good because its just set up 2.5 weeks ago and i do 2x per week water changes.

Dwebb says: How have you handled the nitrogen cycle on this tank?

Markus says: Great Beth. How many, what type, how big a tank, how old? :)

Beth says: 55gal, 5 discus, 2 are 8months, 3 are appx 4 years.

Beth says: I just took over the 3 4yrs from a friend.

Dwebb says: Ok, the tank is fully cycled. Not too many fish.

Beth says: I'm gonna do a nitrate test real quick!

Markus says: Juanmi wanted me to to a quick talk about my Discus hatchery that I will be setting up soon if any one is interested.!>!>!>?!??

Markus says: Be careful Beth, a 2.5 week tank will not have fully cycled and nitrates will be about to peak!

Dwebb says: It sounds like she got the tank already set up and didn't have to re-cycle it.

Beth says: Yes, I moved it from Cincinatti to Columbus, and i'm assuming the bacteria mostly survived. Otherwise i think they'd be dead now!

Beth says: I'm processing the NO3test...

Beth says: NO3 is 20ppm, maybe slightly less.

Markus says: Well basically I am going to start off small with about 10 or so larger tanks and another 10 or so small 5 - 10 gal tanks for young etc. I'm planning on 2 filtration systems initially. 1 for the adults and pairs, and one for the young. Basically I will have 2 trickle's with a pump feeding water back to all the tanks which will have power flows. As most of you know it is bad to bring up young with adult fish as the adults will secrete a growth inhibbiting hormone which may stunt the growth of the young. My tap water is at a ph of 6.8 and kh 2 which is quite nice. That is about right for Discus although they will tolerate quite a range as long as they have been given a chance to accustomise to the conditions. The only problem with hard water is eggs will have trouble hatchinng due to the pressure on the membrane. Hard water is actually better to use for bringing up young by the way. Umm, where am I. Hangon I'll have to pause.

Markus says: Ah, here we are. Now the temp in the hatchery will be pushing about 84 which is about right. Don't let water for Discus drop below 82 as they may start suffering from problems - they are a lot more suceptible to ich and stuff at lower temops, and parasites that they may have in them and are dormant may start to come out. Over 84 is a bit of a waste as well. Don't bother. Feeding will mainly be with turkey heart which is great. I like to use acombination of foods, and use Brine Shrimp, although rarely because of it's poor nutritional value, blood worms once a day, and live black worms occasionally as these are great.

Dwebb says: That's a bit high.

Markus says: Woah, 200ppm Beth, do a water change ok! That is too high.

Beth says: 20ppm!

Boris says: She said 20! That's better than I ever had!

Dwebb says: I still think 20 ppm is high. I'm running about 6.

Melissa says: Drop a zero Markus, she said 20 not 200.

Beth says: Maybe not as many of the bacteria survived as i thought.

Markus says: Anyway, as for fish I'll be looking at about 20 - 30 adults for starters maybee. I believe in allowing Discus to pair off for themselves instead of forcing them into a partner.

Markus says: Woops, sorry I meant to say 20 as well. 20 is still far to high for Discus. You want it below 10.

Beth says: Its not well planted, yet..

Markus says: How am I going. Any questions? :)

Rgrmill says: Don't argue over Nitrate levels until you figure out that your talking apples and oranges. Some kits report NO3 and other report NO3-N, There is a factor of 4.4 difference.

Dwebb says: Sounds really nice, markus. Are the fry tanks going to be on trickle filters? Seems like you could lose some.

Dev says: are your adult tanks going to have any plants and if so- what kind of lighting?

Markus says: Ah, plants. This is another problem. Discus and plants are are very tough combo. It can be done and looks great, but its a lot of work. You have to keep the temp no more than 84 or your plants will cark it, and keep an eye on debris etc in the gravel.

Markus says: Nah, fry tanks (for very small fry will be in sponge filters. A trickle would be a bit pointless.

Dwebb says: I will agree with Markus on the debris in the gravel. Ich can breed in that stuff at 82 degrees.

Dev says: how will you heat all the tanks Markus? sump of trickles?

Melissa says: Heat the room?

Markus says: Yeah, exactly Dev. In the sumps I will have a couple heaters, depending on the water volume. I have a friend here in Perth who is doing this with a hatchery and has no probs with temp fluctuatiosnm..

Markus says: But my favourite Discus setup will always be in heavily planted tanks. I had a 4x20x20 with over 400 plants and 6 Discus going brilliantly. It looked unreal, and the plants were growing like the clappers even without co2.

Jyching says: Beth, sounds like the bacteria are converting ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate ok. High nitrate level does not mean the tank is not cycled. You just need to do a partial water change.

Markus says: One thing with Discus is that you should always wash your filter medium etc out in the tank water and then place the filter medium back in the filter. Any hiccups in the bacteria levels may cause problems otherwise. Your fish will start to go dark and then you know you have a prob. I only rinse out my medium every 2 weeks in the tank water, and alternate different bits each time.

Dev says: will there be any mechanical filtration Markus?

Beth says: I've been doing water changes on the tank 2xper week, about 20%.

Dwebb says: Beth, what's the ammonia/nitrate content of your tap water?

Markus says: Well the last part of the cycle is high nitrates. It just means that you are towards the end of the cycle Beth. A couple water changes over the next few days and you should be right I would say. The average cycle is about 24 days or so, so 2 and a half weeks is not quite there. Unless you seeded from other tanks/filters of course.

Beth says: The discus have been improving, just not as quickly as i'd like.

Markus says: No Dev. No need. Just pre-filter medium on the overflow and trickle`.

Dev says: so what about all the hype about needing "super-pure, super-clean" water Discus need, Markus? will a trickle provide this?

Markus says: Thats not enough when a tank is cycling Beth.

Dwebb says: A trickle filter will efficiently convert ammonia/um into nitrates. It can also help remove debris.

Markus says: Well trickles are good Dev, but not unless you maintain them properly. Water changes are the key, as well as stocking levels and feeding.. In planted tanks it is hard as if you feed them a lot to grow the fish up, then you are going to unsettle the tank and have all sorts of algae problems etc. If you have a bare tank you can feed them up no probs 4 times a day and they will grow at Na huge rate, and all you have to do is do a few water changes and siphon the crap off the bottom of the glass every day and you are right. If you want to have a well planted Discus tank then you must have low stocking levels and feed sparsly. I would never grow up young Discus in a heavily planted tank. I'd grow them out in a bare tank and them transfer them in once they have reached a good size.

Dev says: how big would you let a juvenile grow before it would go into an adult tank or a heavily-planted display tank?

Dwebb says: As big as you want the fish to get. You have to slightly underfeed a plant tank unless you can get rid of overfeeding and fish waste debris very well.

Markus says: Oh, I reckon about 4 inches or so Dev. Its all up to the individuaul though. If you bring up young Discus in a heavily planted tank then when they get to adults they will tend to be smaller than other adults brought up in bare tanks.

Dev says: ah, so discus's adult size can actually be controlled to some extent? that's interesting...

Markus says: George Booth has found this as well. He has a couple of Discus tanks with stacks of plants. His spawn quite regulary but of course it is dificult to raise young in a setup like this.

Markus says: I love cat's in Dsicus display tanks as well. Cory's go quite well. Ancistrus are perfect! Mine spawn in my Discus tank. Umm, Clown Loaches are BAD! They are too active at night and disturb the Discus. Dunno about Otto's. I have heard they suck onto the Discus's slime coat, but i have never had them to find out.

Peter says: I have kept ottos with Discus with no ill effects. However, I think that there are more than one species of otto available, one of which is considerably larger (I have never seen this one).

Dev says: do ancistrus and plants get along?

Markus says: Yeah, there are a few Ott's.

Beth says: Funny!! I didn't do the first test right on the discus tank, its only about 10ppm, (color is between 0ppm and 20ppm)

Beth says: its closer to 0ppm than 20ppm.

Markus says: Well, I had a few probs with the Ancistrus chewing up my sowrds, buRt they left everything else alone.

Markus says: swords that is.

Dev says: do Discus appreciate peat?

Dev says: can I keep common goldfish with discus? I really want those red and white ones with the big eyes...

Markus says: Mate. Peat is brilliant for Discus. Discus and peat are just the moist awesome combination. Peat makes the water nice and soft and also lowers the ph a bit. Actually, the humic acids I think are what the Discus like the best., N If your water is too hard peat is a great way to go to lower it a bit. The prob with peat is that you will get the staining of the water to a browny colour, depending on how much you use of course. Discus actually love the water stained Cas it is more like the natural habbitat, but of course we don't like it. Its interesting to know that one of the worlds most successful breeders (GAN in Singapore) uses water that you can hardly see the fish in it is so dark. His is mainly greeny algaeish type of colour though, but it works for him.

Rgrmill says: Dev, those goldfish will do much better with your crenicichla spp.

Boris says: How about a red terror and a discus?

Beth says: Markus, what advice do you have for my slightly sick discus (2 of 5)

Dev says: are there ANY plants that don't mind elevated temperatures? Also- you mentioned corys as companions for discus- I thought corys like low 70s for temps

Markus says: What colour Discus are yours Beth by the way?

Markus says: WHat are the symptoms Beth?

Beth says: Markus, don't know if you missed that, i'd really like your thoughts For what to do about the 2 of 5 sick discus... just slightly sick. 2 are Brilliant Turquoise crossed with ? the other 3 are ?

Beth says: The 2 are dark in coloration, and one has film over the eyes, the other has some slight milky skin. Both just don'

Peter says: Do they have long, trailing feces, Beth?

Beth says: No. Normal feces and eating habits.

Beth says: They have poor skin... kind of wrinkly and dull.

Peter says: Weird that they would be eating well and look crappy.

Peter says: They aren't loosing sheets of slime off their bodies, are they?

Beth says: I took them on in poor condition... they have improved for me, just sllowly over about 2.5 weeks.

Beth says: I don't think i know what that looks like.

Beth says: its more a slight fuss on the skin.

Beth says: fuz

Peter says: Is it getting better or worse?

Beth says: One improved very quickly and lost its "fuzz" in about 1.5 weeks, but> is still dark, and has some dorsl fin tips protruding. (ouch!)

Beth says: the other just has barely improved, list just a bit of "fuzz" and regained some coloration.

Markus says: Is it cottom ball wooly type stuff?

Beth says: No, its too fine for cotton

Markus says: Have you tried adding some slime coat stuff?

Beth says: maybe i should say milky slime.

Peter says: I read some time ago about a Discus "plague" which made the fish look like hell because it really messed up their skin, but the fish stayed fairly healthy and ate well. I don't really know much more about it, but one of the symptoms was shedding the slime off their skin. Perhaps they are recovering from this malady?

Beth says: No, just the dechlorinator.

Markus says: I am getting a Discus autopsied right now because of those symptoms Beth. :(

Markus says: Are they acting very frightened or nervous Beth?

Beth says: Yes! Sometimes they hit themselved because they're so scared. I thought this was normal though for Discus.

Peter says: It depends on what kind of shelter you have in your tank, me thinks.

Beth says: I mean, i knew they were shy and could be jittery. And my healthy Discus have acted this way.

Peter says: The thing that puzzles me is the healthy appetite. Whenever I've had problems, they've always gone on hunger strikes right away.

Beth says: I had a problem with my juveniles early on: they exhibited the milky skin, but with better water changes (ooops!) they came through it and now look just fantastic!

Markus says: I am not too sure Beth. I'll let you know when I id this fish of mine. He whas all the syptoms yuors have. He was going bezerk around the tank soMmetimes, smashing into the glass etc. It is not normal.


Shewell, Mark. (May 27, 1996). "Discus". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from: