Discus fish belongs to a unique category of fishes so keeping them as pet, will not be easy as these are one of the most demanding fish species. They are one of those shy breeds which does a lot of hide and seek in the vegetation in their natural habitats, the fresh water rivers, so if they are in their aquarium they will look for similar frolic with a lot of space and underwater plants for their up-down direction movements.
The ideal size should be a minimum 4x2x2 feet or a tank with at least 50 gallons of water. Before adding fish to the tank, make sure you are done prepared it with following ways.
Plants and other stuff
Discus fish tanks must imitate their natural home with plants and vegetation since they are very fussy about where they are living but excess of pebbles, rocks or plants should be avoided at the same time, to give them a breathing space.
The fluorescent lights hung above the water tank keep them happy and boost the appearance of these naturally strikingly water-beauties.
PH level of water:
Soft water is the basic requirement in aquarium because hard water makes egg shells hard and when the fry is ready to hatch, it will not be able to break it, and so may die in the process. If the water you are getting is not suitable for the Discus fish, its PH level can be maintained by adding RO water or de-ionized water until the PH level becomes stable.
A plethora of aquarium filters are available commercially, to choose from, but the question is whether, they are suitable for the needs of a Discus aquarium? Correct configuration of these filters is another key aspect to look into. Primarily, the aquarium filters can be classified as mechanical, chemical and biological ones based on the functionality of the filters.
The mechanical filters use a pad system to collect debris which needs to be rinsed periodically and chemical filters use chemicals to attract and remove impurities from water but again these chemicals become unsteady after some time and release the impurities back into the water, making it polluted. The third categories of filters, biological filters are the most effective ones for discus fish aquariums.
A high absorbent filter needs a proper configuration before setting it up in aquarium, as an effective debris filter. This filter allows inhabitation of nitrifying bacteria to get rid of toxins and debris collected after the fish leaves some uneaten food and its excreta in water. So if you are using a sponge filter, it should do these two things:
Filter contains Bio-media
Filter must be able to oxygenate the aquarium water.
Discus Fish Palludarium
Palludarium is a natural aquarium consisting of land , plants and water.It provides a natural biosphere for discus fish. Designing a palludarium is necessary since you have to gather every aquascaping material according to the species of fish you have shortlisted.
Discus fish like underwater plants and river water so collect natural materials like driftwood, rocks, amphibians and plants to give a natual water-scape.
Plants are one of the important parts of palludarium so always choose plants that can withstand high moisture and humidity.Plants like ivy or anubias are perfect for aqua-environments.
Discus fish Biotope
Discus fish biotope is another option for fish and is mimic of natural habitat including pebbles and driftwood. It is designed specifically taking into account of species requirements like water properties and natural environment. Different biotopes for different species are available in market.
Stocking Discus Tank
Overstocking of discus tank should be avoided. It is adiced to add few discus fish in the start and when they are acclimitaized and stabilized, then add few more fish.
Fish Compatible with Discus
Discus fish does not keep well with all the fish types. They are happy with only some of the species. The other tropical fish can can make dood discus fish tank mates are:
German Blue Rams
Rummy nose tetras
And Remember do not keep discus fish with angel fish and other tropical fish like tiger barbs or danios.
Discus Fish Palludarium
Palludarium is a natural aquarium consisting of land , plants and water.It provides a natural biosphere for discus fish. Designing a palludarium is necessary since you have to gather every aquascaping material according to the species of fish you have shortlisted. Discus fish like underwater plants and river water so collect natural materials likedriftwood, rocks, amphibians and plants to give a natual water-scape.
Plants are one of the important parts of palludarium so always choose plants that can withstanf high moisture and humidity.Plants like ivy or anubias are perfect for aqua-environments.
Cycling the aquarium:
Nitrification of filters is necessary to generate bacteria beneficial for fish aquariums. For a fresh water aquarium filters, nitrification process is necessary before adding Discus fish to tanks. Primarily, there are two methods of executing nitrogen cycling in discus fish aquariums.
Some breeds of fish, which can withstand effects of ammonia are used in tanks to generate nitrifying bacteria. This is the most common nitrifying method but the higher nitrate levels created resulting in elevated levels of nitric and ammonia can be harmful for fishes. It usually takes 3-4 weeks to complete a cycle. You have to change water before adding fish to the tank.
This is a chemical process in which pure ammonia is poured into an empty aquarium and a level of at least 5ppm is maintained. Install a filter with bio-media and let it stand for few days. You will observe a significant increase in the level of nitrite and a drop in the levels of ammonia.
To maintain high levels of nitrite, add ammonia after every alternate day, a quantity of 0.5 ppm. After completion of this nitrite cycle, biological filter will get colonized with sufficient healthy bacteria. This is the right time to change the water with nitrite and add Discus fish to aquarium. The waste products generated from Discus fish act as source of food for filter bacteria.
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The discus fish belong to a tropical fish species and require certain temperature in the aquarium that emulates the warmth of fresh-water river. The warmth in the water can be provided with installation of heaters designed for aquarium. The ideal temperature would be 84 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain this temperature, configure a temperature controller on the outer side and make sure it is functioning well.
“Warning: Malfunctioning of temperature controller can produce excessive heat in aquarium resulting in burning of fish.”
The heaters should be placed in a lateral position along the floor adjacent to the back side of aquarium. The reason being, if you place it in vertical position, discus fish might come in contact with the heater and damage its ovipositor tube while spawning. In technical terms this accident is called egg-bound wherein the fish is not able to lay eggs due to the damage occurred and causing internal infection to the Discus fish.
Sometimes the eggs will be laid by Discus fish on the surface aquarium and the chances are that they will get stuck in the gravel or pebbles lying on the aquarium. This causes great anxiety in the parent Discus fish, when they are unable to find their eggs and may behave aggressively.
A breeding cone is the answer to this problem. Usually this breeding cone, also known as spawning cone is made from clay and must be around 10 inches in height. It must be placed in the middle of the fish tank, since Discus prefers to stick the eggs on one side of this cone.
The round thick base of this cone is ideal to collect the eggs that may drop when the Discus female lays them. The collected eggs are taken back by the parent fish and again stuck on the cone for hatching.
So these are the ways an aquarium for Discus fish must be readied before they are introduced to their new home.
With all the things set, all you need to do now is, keep this tank clean, to get a lively school of Discus. Your care and commitment is all that works from now onwards.
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[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts