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FAQs on Discus 1

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Related FAQs: Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, Discus Compatibility, Discus Behavior, Discus Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Disease, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

A Brown Discus

Discus problem Hey crew, I am here today with somewhat of a serious problem on my hands with my discus tank.  Before I go into it, let me tell you about the tank setup. 46 gallon bowfront; planted. with outside filter and sponge filter. Houses 3 clown loaches, 14 inch dragon fish, 5 medium brown discus and 1 larger blue discus. Correct readings are: temp 84, NO3 20, NO2 0, hardness about 200, alkalinity about 50, pH of 6.6-ish. Here is my problem. About a week ago, I brought home a small diamond discus and did not quarantine him. After placing him into this tank I noticed that he was generally malaised and was either a. sitting on his side on the gravel, or b floating on his side. He had slime coat issues as well and did not look good at all. I removed him and placed him into a 10 gallon hosp tank.  Now for my main tank. All of the discus are sickly. The larger discus became dark and started hiding behind some slate rocks I propped up against the back wall. He developed whitish streaks on his body (slime probably) and fins are clamped. The smaller discuses were all very lethargic and would rest on their sides a lot (just lay there on the gravel) or float sideways inside a big piece of driftwood I have in the tank (its hollow on the bottom so its like a little cave thing). Their coats became less healthy (less shiny) than usual and they do not move around much at all. Here is what I proceeded to do after taking the new comer out (that bastard!). I dropped the water level to 1/2 or so. the only filter currently working there is the sponge. I installed an R/O water unit and am using that water to do 5 gallon daily changes (so about 20 percent or so daily, adding half a teaspoon of R/O vital by Mark Weiss). My local pet store owner told me to add Metronidazole to the water at a rate of 500mg / 10 gal daily which I am doing. I am also adding "rid Ich +" by Kordon which is a formalin/mal green mix to the tank.  This is the 3rd day of treatment. The fish has shown improvement (somewhat) and have even come out to eat at times during feedings. They no longer lay on their sides, but they still hide inside the driftwood for most of the day. The larger fish is still facing the back (black) of the tank. This does not seem to affect any other fish in there including the clown loaches or the dragonfish.  As for the newcomer, he is getting the same treatment in the hosp tank (I dunno, I felt better taking him out even though the whole tank was already infected.) He has livened up some and doesn't lay on his side for the most part anymore, but he developed white, cloudy appearance towards the back of his body and his tail has become yellow instead of clear. I am really sorry about the length of this question. Prior to this issue, I have not had much problems with discus and this teaches me a valuable lesson!! QUARANTINE. For now however, please advice on my correct situation.  Eternally grateful, DK < You are getting excellent advice from your local pet store. I think once your fish are eating they will get better over time. I would start watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes in the water. The medication may or may not have an affect on the nitrifying bacteria so I would continue to keep the water as clean as possible. Continue with the water changes even after the fish have recovered to make sure that the good bacteria are also back and active.-Chuck>

Discus breeder in Italy. Post on WWM AQUARIUM ZOO IMPORT TROPICAL FISH VIA NAZIONALE 271 , 98023 FURCI SICULO (ME) TEL & FAX ++39 0942 794596 CELL. 348 8047912 E-MAIL AQUARIUMZOO@TISCALINET.IT E-MAIL AQUARIUMZOO@TIN.IT WWW.AQUARIUMZOO.IT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ALL ABOUT YOUR FORNITURE OF zebrasoma flev. . SEND ME A FAX OR E-MAIL OF YOUR CATALOGUE , PRICI LIST , YOUR SELLING CONDITION AND TRANSPORT FOR ROMA ITALIA HOPING TO HEAR FOR YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WE SEND TO YOU OUR <We don't offer or sell livestock. Discus breeder in Italy. Post on WWM. BobF> B.R.G. AQUARIUM ZOO IMPORT TROPICAL FISH E-MAIL AQUARIUMZOO@TIN.IT WWW.AQUARIUMZOO.IT Antonio Stima  Discus and Bala sharks Hi Bob: Here Ahmed from Pakistan.  I have some Bala Sharks in my 5 feet long tank. 2 of them are quite big nearly 8 inches and 5 are 4 inches in length. Now I intend to keep small Discus fishes in my aquarium. My question is that can I keep discus with these big Bala Sharks?  Thanks Ahmed < Your Bala sharks will get too big and be too fast for you discus to really feel comfortable and thrive.-Chuck>

Help!! I have a terribly egg laden turquoise discus Help!! I have a terribly egg laden turquoise discus that refuses to drop her eggs. She looks so bloated and uncomfortable. I am not able to remove her to a separate tank at this time. Is there anything that I can do to help her. I don't expect to have any babies until I can afford a separate 75 gallon just for my discus. Right now they are in with clowns (Botias) and panda Cory cats, which by the way produced a baby. Go figure. Any help would be much appreciated. Sheryl < If you are sure that you have a pair of discus and she is indeed egg laden then their really isn't too much you can do. On the other had if she is not eating and not paired off with a male then I would suspect that she is suffering from an internal bacterial infection and is very sick. I would recommend that she be placed in a hospital tank and treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

My discus - Follow-up Thanks for your answer on my discus. But in the same tank with the discus I have clown loaches and panda Cory cats. I know I can put Epsom salt in with both discus and clown loaches, but would it harm panda Cory cats??? < They really don't like it, but can tolerate it to some degree.> My discus has probably overeaten - I'm sure she doesn't have an infection because of the way she is acting - fantastic color, fins in perfect position, she is still eating and being bossy in the tank. Thanks again - Sheryl < Overfeeding discus can be very detrimental to their long term health. I always recommend feeding fish no more food then they can eat in a couple of minutes each day. With discus though I do feed them twice a day.-Chuck>

Discus pH shock/Columnaris Bob, I have a 75-gallon tank, containing nine 2" to 5" discus, several pairs of various Amazonian dwarf cichlids, a few Cory cats, a 7" diameter Guyana stingray (humerosa), and several other small dither fishes. All were doing well together, besides the stingray occasionally eating one of the smaller fishes, until I recently ordered online four (of the nine) young 2" to 3" discus, which quickly developed Columnaris.  I do at least a 25% water change twice a week. I use a Fluval 304 and an AquaClear 500 for filtration. I have about 15 plants (mostly swords and Anubias), which I supplement with a small CO2 system. I must have taken my previously good, stable water conditions for granted, for a day after adding the new discus I tested my pH: it was about 5 (the test didn't go any lower). The ammonia and nitrites remained at zero, while the nitrates hovered around .12 mg/L. The first night using 7.4 pH tap water, conditioned of course for chlorine and whatnot, I managed to raise the pH up to 6. The next day the older, larger discus also developed Columnaris; I've heard it can be quite contagious to other tankmates, or perhaps they developed it on their own as a result of pH shock. I believe that my original mistake was not correctly measuring the proper amount of discus buffer (to lower pH), which sent my normal 6.5 pH plummeting. For the first five days I treated the tank with tetracycline/hydrochloride, but the fish showed little recovery and one of the new ones died (a red spot green). I don't think they liked sitting in the dark all day and night long, due to tetracycline being photo sensitive, so after three treatments-I believe it was 200 mg (1 pill) for every 5 gallons (I added about 13-15 pills every 1.5 to 2 days) I switched to using erythromycin, particularly Maracyn. They are all eating frozen bloodworms, which I provide them a feast twice a day (the stingray is a bottomless pit that I refer to as a vacuum cleaner).  After two days of treatment using erythromycin three of the discus seem much better, and I know they appreciate the light. The rest still look pretty ragged. My pH is back at a stable 6.5, and I've added more Epsom salt than I normally use and also aeration to aid in their respiration.  I'm wondering how long Columnaris typically lasts, and when I can expect my discus to fully recover. I also am curious about the 5-day treatment Maracyn recommends, particularly whether I should do partial water changes between daily treatments. Surprisingly the stingray could care less about the medicated water and is his same mischievous self. The other fish also appear unaffected. . . . I'd like to know your opinion of my set-up and my predicament. I hope I provided enough information.  < You first mistake was in not quarantining your new discus. If they had been placed in a small clean aquarium the medicating would have cheaper and more effective. The erythromycin is a good choice for this disease, but the water changes help your fish recover. In about a week you fish should be better. Watch out for ammonia spikes because the medication may affect the good bacteria that breaks down the fish waste into less toxic nitrites and nitrates.-Chuck>

Re: Discus pH shock/Columnaris Thanks, Chuck. One more thing: After treating my tank with tetracycline for 5 days and erythromycin for another 8 days two of my eight remaining discus that had already seemed on the road to full recovery are now resting at the bottom of the tank. Their colors have darkened only slightly, and they don't appear to have anything new wrong with them.  Are there complications for extended use of erythromycin? I've removed the medication, but they've now stopped eating (they were eating during the medication). Also I've been adding salt at a rate of about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, maybe even a little more, which I heard may aid in their recovery. This has gone on for a couple months. Could the salt be the reason why the discus are behaving strangely? Something's up, my pH is 6.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate .6 mg/L. I don't know what the hardness is. I have some plants in the tank as well, which seem fine. Do the fish simply need to rest for a couple days? I've had discus refuse food for weeks and then act normal like nothing ever happened. Any ideas? (Tank specs: 8 discus, 1 stingray, 6 Irian Jaya red rainbowfish, several bottom feeders, 100 lbs. of sand, 2 96-watt power compacts, 15 plants, CO2 yeast thingy [not cylinder], no aeration, except current from AquaClear 500 and Fluval 304).  Adam Michels < Nothing brings discus back faster than water changes. I would do water changes as often as I could with soft acidic water. Offer a variety of foods and clean the filter often. They should be back at it in no time.-Chuck>

Looking for Symphysodon from the source Am looking for a exporter of discus in Brazil .thanks Stan < Go to Belowwater.com and get in contact with him about wild discus. He has been to South America many times and specializes in wild discus.-Chuck>

Discus species page 102 of Nov. Tropical Fish Hello, <Hi there> My name is Michael Milliner, a discus enthusiast near Washington DC.  I have several wild caught discus that are almost identical to the one shown in your November article in Tropical Fish.page 102.  I've been told it's a "Madeira Blue", but I'm not sure.  I'd be most appreciative if you could confirm. <Yikes> While some of my seven discus are almost identical to the one shown. Some are close but don't have the dark black rim. some have more turquoise and burgundy on the stomach area. Would it be likely they're all the same with typical minor variations and age related differences. or more likely different types?? Thanks so much!! Michael <I don't know enough re this matter... most of my Discus/Symphysodon pix are made at industry trade shows... in foreign countries. Will ask our resident all-around cichlid expert, Chuck Rambo if he knows where to ask next. Bob Fenner> South American Discus Tank Hi, My dream tank is to have a South American tank with several discus, a large shoal of tetras and a few other dwarf cichlids. I have a 75 gallon tank which has been set up for several months now. However, the water here is not like the Amazon-pH of 8.3 out of the tap. I have diluted the tap with some RO water, but even so the hardness is at KH of ~179 ppm and GH of ~250ppm. The pH is above 7.6 and appears to be rising. I realize that the current pH and hardness levels are probably well beyond what a cardinal can survive in. <You'd be better off either mixing in some water that wasn't so hard and alkaline... or better still, starting with reverse osmosis water (the cheapest, simplest, easiest means) and adding a bit of this water to it for mineral> Now having said that, it seems like I have three options: Use primarily RO water. However, the RO water must have some sort of buffer. I am considering using tap water and I don't mind experimenting with various ratios.  I plan on mixing the RO and tap water in a bucket and testing it until I get a good pH/hardness. Will the water remain at those levels, or will the pH fluctuate for the next few days/weeks? <Oh, I see you have thought this through... the bit of tap water will likely serve as sufficient buffer, with regular water changes...> My second option is to use peat moss-will this have a positive impact on the GH and/or KH? <Yes> If I place a small bag of peat moss in the filter (about the size of my fist) how often will I have to change it out? <Mmm, about once a month... to half that. Depends on the type of peat... it will be "exhausted" in terms of its potential beneficial effect in about this amount of time> Third option: go with a schooling tetra that is compatible with discus. I would like a fish that forms a nice tight school. Would Neons, glowlights or bloodfin tetras work. <All would be fine... I prefer Cardinals over Neons myself> Thanks a ton for your great informational website. Nate <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Discus demise After 30 years of fishkeeping, fresh and reef, I just had my first almost total tank wipeout and am still puzzled.  The tank is a two year old planted 100G that has been very stable with three large discus, two large angels, a pair of pearl Gouramis, a Pleco and some tetras.  I did my usual 30G water change Thursday, adjusting the temp and pH, dechlorinating before adding the water. <Yikes... municipal waters are dangerously inconsistent in quality... contrary to what many folks believe. I STRONGLY encourage people to store, aerate their "change water" for a good week (or more) ahead of use, to liberate excess sanitizer (particularly chloramines and their derivatives...)>   This is a many year routine that has always kept the fish happy.  An hour later I noticed that the Aquaclear filter wasn't working.  I couldn't get it working so I installed a new Magnum 350 I had available for emergencies.  This took a few hours but the fish looked just fine.  The next morning every one looked great and fed well.  Nine hours later I came home from work and the water was cloudy and every fish except the Pleco and the Gouramis was dead.  The filter was working, the pH was 6.8 as usual. Nitrates were zero as usual.  Ammonia registered at 0.1, but I think that was probably a result of the deaths, not a cause. <I agree> I don't have a nitrite kit anymore.  Temp was 84.  The Magnum was filled with rinsed new Black Diamond carbon only.  A day, and one more 30% water change later the Pleco and Gourami look fine and the water is still somewhat cloudy. What did I do? <Don't actually think it was something you did... might be a "cascading event"... with the water change causing a check in nitrification, contributing to the demise of one fish, that in turn causing real trouble at such high temperature, small volume considering how much life was in it... resulting in the wipe-out. Notable that the fishes most likely to survive a loss of dissolved oxygen (the Pleco and Gourami) did so...> I am heartbroken over the loss of my beautiful discus and angels and it's worse not knowing why I lost them.  I only briefly rinsed the new filter before using it.  Could there have been something toxic on it? <Possible, but doubtful. I have "toured" facilities (Marineland, Tetra...) and their production, packaging... facilities are paragons of excellence in prevention of contamination. I am much more inclined to consider an anomalous poisoning event... like the tapwater (you can get/use chlorine, chloramine test kits... use these to avoid periodic "pulsing", addition of sanitizer in source water), or ammoniated cleaner getting into the system, even "over-spray" of pesticide from outdoors (e.g. someone in the neighborhood spraying for termites), but most likely the tap and/or cascade scenario stated> I think most of the biologic filtration was from the many plants so I don't think I could have disrupted it that badly with the filter change, though I suppose that's another possibility. <Yes>   Is 0.1 ammonia high enough to kill the fish? <Not of and by itself... but you might have "caught" the concentration on its way down, decreasing from somewhere higher... as you know this material can be quite transient> If so why not the Gouramis and Pleco?  Those angels were tough as nails, about 8 years old (from a previous tank). <As stated, the overall largest difference metabolically between these two and the cichlids is their capacity for aerial respiration>   One other thought is that I added 50cc of Flourish Excel as I hadn't added it in over a month and the instructions say 5cc per 10 gal.  I have heard of  fish deaths with that product, but I assume not when used as directed. <I concur here as well> Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated.  I feel bad about my fish and don't want to restock until I know what's wrong. Johara <Thank you for writing, sharing. I cannot with 100% confidence state what the root cause/s of your mortalities was, but do have strong suspicions. I encourage you to leave the tank running w/o fish for a few weeks, give yourself some time to grieve, reflect, consider your options, and then slowly re-stock. Bob Fenner>

Re: discus demise Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I think your thought that there could have been a "pulse" in chloramines is a good possibility.  I almost always use double or triple the recommended Amquel dose, but as I was about out this time I only put in the recommended amount - could have been bad timing. <Yes... years back, when the EPA was phasing out chlorine use there used to be "some dillies", wholesalers with automated water change systems losing most everything... Your water district will have records of the titer of chloramines they added, recorded (the water departments collect samples, mainly from water hydrants... to ascertain that "enough" sanitizer is getting to distal parts of their service... I know of occasions where more than 30 (thirty) times a "regular" dose has been added.> I have decided not to replace the discus and go back to a community tank again, choosing fish that will be happy with the water parameters I get without adjustment.  In my case that is a little unusual, the tap water comes out at a pH close to 9.0, and settles out at 8.5 or so after aeration and Amquel treatment. <Wowzah! Ours (Southern California) is often in the high 7's, low 8's right out of the tap...> I have done a few more 10-20% water changes without adjusting pH to see where the tank settles.  It seems to stay about 7.5 in the AM to 7.8 later in the day.  Before you suggest African cichlids, let me say that both KH and GH are less than 1.0. <Neat, I wonder what your overall water chemistry is like. This you can get from your supplier of water as well>   I use Equilibrium and Na bicarb to keep the tank KH/GH up to 3.0 or so to avoid quick pH shifts.  I don't really understand what water treatment is resulting in very soft but alkaline water but that's what I've got. <Happens>   Letting it sit a week does not change the pH by the way.  I believe rainbows are supposed to do well in those conditions.  Any other ideas? <There are many. I encourage you to stick with the theme you have in mind... and seek out fishes, non-fish livestock from the same biotopes as the Rainbows. Such data can be gleaned through the use of fishbase.org... looking up the Rainbows, getting their source/location and doing a search by region for others...> Thanks again for taking the time to hear and comment on my sad story. Johara <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Neons and Cardinals and Discus, oh my! Hi, Bob, In your discus tankmate discussion, why do you list cardinals in the "yes" column, but not Neons? Thanks! David. <Mmm, Cardinals live much longer, do much better than Neons under the temp., water chemistry conditions Symphysodon favor... and are bigger (!) so don't get so easily consumed by them! Bob F, just back from Ecuador> -- David E. Boruchowitz Editor-in-Chief, Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine

Regarding discus and high pH Hey crew! It seems there have been some problems with emails and such as its been about a week with no response,  so let's give it another go. < Actually many of the crew have been on vacation but some of us are back at it.> First off, I didn't know much of anything on discus until I stumbled upon this tank, at which point I went crazy reading on the internet for as much information as possible. Ok, so at my LFS where I work I found an extremely neglected planted tank(75g) which house two discus. When I first got hold of it there had been zero maintenance done to it in around half a year from what they tell me. The discus were in horrible condition, hunger strike, shredded fins, nasty water, and a tank full of terrestrial plants, like water lilies, submerged inside of it and decaying left and right. After testing the water on the tank the readings were: temp 84F, zero ammonia/nitrites/nitrates, but the pH was ~7.6. My initial line of thinking was to do whatever I could to lower that pH down to less than seven. So I did a 30% water change using ~7.3 water (R/O @ 7.6 with pH-down). Within an hour of this change it was back up to 7.6, so thinking about it, I feel it might be too difficult to lower and maintain this water in acidity without removing the fish and using some heavy chemicals on it to lower the pH. (CO2 injector is out of the question as per my boss.) Here is what is in the tank now, One ~6in discus, one ~2in discus, and a 6in African knife. Coupled with the source well water being at around 7.6 also, how much of a priority should I place at lowering the pH on this tank? < None! Discus are pretty tough cichlids an can handle a pretty wide range of water conditions. Although the current pH is close to the top of that range I would concentrate on some other things first.> as I figure the buffering capacity on this tank is rather large and I'd be placing a lot of stress on the discus as I try to exhaust it. The substrate is around half an inch of gravel and fluorite. Since I found out about this tank I did a bunch of water changes trying to siphon out the crap in the gravel and with regular "pruning" of dead leaves and such I've been able to get the dominate discus to flare his fins almost all the time now, where as before it was never. The little discus is now eating again and sometimes explores the tank. All I know to feed them are frozen cubes of "discus food" containing beef heart krill and other stuff that kind of dissolves (makes me wonder how old it is ), but I've still never seen the dominate one eat, any suggestions at coaxing or alternate food? < Try live food such as Tubifex /black worms, brine shrimp or live washed earthworms.> Also, I am now doing the ordering for the plants so shortly I will get some real ones (swords/java fern/ crypto wendtii) Ok so after much rambling. Should I spend the time to get the pH lower or will they be fine as they are? < You need to get the tank squared away first. The much needed maintenance that you are performing is good for everybody concerned. When you clean the filter you can add some carbon to remove that yellow brown colored water. This will improve the light intensity of the water. The light bulbs are probably way past their prime so if you are serious about plants then they will need to be changed. Since you only have 1/2 inch of gravel in the tank your not going to get much established in there anyway. Vacuum a portion of the gravel every time you do a water change. Don't do it all at once because it may harm the bacteria in the gravel.> and what are some feeding options besides beef heart? < NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! Feed beef heart to your fish!!!!! Way too much fat. Never feed any type of mammalian protein to your fish. Try some frozen Mysis shrimp or spectrum pellet food. Brine shrimp flake with some Spirulina will be very good for them too.> ghost shrimp? < This is better, but usually any type of bait is poorly taken care of any is pretty much void of nutrients by the time your fish eat it.> This is the best tank for them as I can control it entirely now, and their alternatives are air powered rows of 20 gallon tanks. Also it opts them for the largest swimming space. They are definitely doing better, I just would like a little help on this subject. Thanks again as always < Keep up the good work.-Chuck> Jared

Discus, population question Bob, In your discus tome you write: If you are starting with even small fishes in a small system (under twenty gallons per individual), you should buy an odd number (3, 5) so that that the dominant individual (and sub-dominant) will not pick on a single lowest-subordinate conspecific. <Yep> I have often heard this odd-number advice, but I have never understood it. Pairs are very bad, yes, but how is 4 worse than 3, and isn't 6 better than 5 for disseminating aggression among several targets? David. <Turns out that group dynamics (just seem to) dictate that pairs (even numbers) in small systems (most all hobby size tanks) "gang up" on other pairs... but that having an "odd fish out" dissociates the pairing up so to speak. There are a few human examples of this phenomena as well... I have seen "bullying" in school gyms, bars... that appear to be semi-equivalents. Bob F> Not trying to be a pain... ><Turns out that group dynamics (just seem to) dictate that pairs >(even numbers) in small systems (most all hobby size tanks) "gang >up" on other pairs... but that having an "odd fish out" dissociates >the pairing up so to speak. There are a few human examples of this >phenomena as well... I have seen "bullying" in school gyms, bars... >that appear to be semi-equivalents. Bob F> I really want to understand this. In my experience, 3 is just about the worst number for bullying, with 2 against 1. Another common scenario is a bully with 2 sidekicks, making it 3 against 1, not 2 against 2. With poultry (some of the meanest animals on the planet), I have never noticed a difference between odd and even numbers, just that the fewer, the worse. <Can be this way, but more often than not the individuality of fishes wins out (here's a qualifier: in a large enough setting). Surely (not Shirley), in situations with breeding pairs, the third individual/wheel, or even more numbers are going to be harassed.> As you may know, I have a commitment to not perpetrating aquarium husbandry myths, however reasonable sounding. I therefore probably am too sensitive, but is there any quantitative support for the odd-number argument? <I understand, and agree totally... The nuances of what I'm trying to state, advocate are REALLY only applicable to the situation mentioned... That is: 1) provision of adequate size/volume systems to accommodate any given number of specimens AT full size, 2) Starting these at a small/er size in an effort to match them up for breeding. Put another way, placing larger animals in odd or even numbers in too small a volume is a recipe for interspecies antagonism. Bob F> David Re: not trying to be a pain... Thanks. This is how I reworked it at the end of the paragraph: It is also important to have several fish, and two is the worst possible number. With only two, the dominant individual will pick mercilessly on the subordinate conspecific. Several fish give several targets for any one fishs aggression. Studies also indicate that when there is an odd number of fish, they are less likely to gang up, and it helps to have an odd fish out. Does this sound all right? <Yes. Thank you. Bob F> David

Not sure what's wrong (Discus health) Good Morning,  My discus are in a 165 set up and I have one fish that is swimming by the top of the surface with his nose pointed up in the air other than that he looks fine.  I treated him last week in a hospital tank in which he never did the same thing in that tank so I thought it had been cured but now he's at it again.   I don't see any other fish in the tank doing this.  Do you know of any diseases that this is a typical symptom?   If it was an oxygen problem for some reason wouldn't all of the fish be doing this?  I thought possibly gill flukes as it says the nose up in the air can be a symptom but not sure.....   I would appreciate any advice.  Thanks! < If your discus is not wild then it is probably a line bred fish that is many generations from the real fish. It is possible that it has deformed gills that aren't functioning properly at the higher temp's that discus are usually kept at. If you put him in a cooler tank then the water has a higher oxygen carrying capacity and it becomes easier for the fish to breathe. If could be caused by parasites attacking the gills. Flukes are only one of many parasites that can cause this. I would isolate the fish again and treat for protozoans with rid-ich by Kordon. Follow the directions on the bottle. Once the fish is better then you can put him back in the main tank. If he gets sick again or other fish get sick then the parasite is in the main tank and this particular fish seems to be more prone to get sick that the others. If you still want to keep him in the main tank then you will need to treat the big tank. What a pain!!! To prevent this you should quarantine all new fish for a few weeks to make sure that no new diseases become introduced to the big tank and you have to spend all this money and time to get things back on track. If the rid-ich doesn't work then I would try Furanace in the quarantine tank. All medications affect the good nitrifying bacteria in some way so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck>   

Re: Not sure what's wrong Thanks so much for your advice!! Could it be any protozoan medication? They don't carry that particular brand where we shop. < Any medication in which the primary ingredients are malachite green and formalin. For gill flukes I would use clout or fluke tabs.-Chuck>

Hydra, discus Hello, I really need to know something bad I have had from time to time in my discus tank which is a 125 gallon with a 350 magnum and two double bio wheels on back, tank has been up for 2and 1 half years do water changes ones a week on it 35 gallons at a time. my fish have darted around and had to dip one in salt before I noticed today one was darting again, last week I saw some things on glass quite a few look like hydra (octopuses) trying to buy Flubendazole? do you have some or no ? do you think this is my problem? have had a lot of my fish for as long as the tank but have lost some too,, HEXAMITA?????? you have a great site this is my first time on looked for information on this could not see sorry to bother but looks like your the man????? thanks Kathy < First of all I would do some water quality tests to start. Check the ammonia, should read zero. Second check the nitrites, should also read zero. Then the nitrates, should be less than 25 ppm. With the BioWheels the ammonia and nitrite should not be a problem. If the nitrates are a problem then they need to reduced with either larger or more frequent water changes. Service the filters. I know that servicing these canister filters can be a hassle but a filter only collects waste so it can removed by you and taken out of the system. I would vacuum the gravel too. This gets rid of all kinds of waste that can contribute to a nitrate problem. Now that we know the water is clean the fish should be looking better and have more resistance to disease. Watch your feeding so all the food is getting eaten in a couple minutes each time. If the problem persists then I would start looking at the pH. A high pH can be irritating to a fish use to soft acidic water from the Amazon. An RO unit may be needed to soften and acidify the water. The water temp should be around 80 degrees. Clean ,warm, soft acidic water should have your discus looking and acting like true champs. But if there is still a problem and they are not getting better then I would isolate the fish in a quarantine tank and treat with Kanamycin. The hydra by themselves are no danger to your discus unless you have small babies in the tank. Once you take care of all the environmental factors then I think your hydra will go away with the other problems.-Chuck> 

Tiny worm in my discus tank Hi there, I wonder if you can help me. I have a planted discus tank and I noticed a very tiny worm on the glass just above the gravel today. It is extremely small, approximately 1/4" long and 1/64" to 1/32" diameter, and was a light color close to white or light tan. It sort of looked like a very fine piece of plant root, but I noticed it move and then it crawled down the glass into the gravel and disappeared. I have introduced new discus and plants into the tank recently.  Any idea what it might be and if it is harmful? What can I do to kill any in the tank without harming the discus and plants? I have heard that adding salt to the tank would work but I'm not sure. I read that Formalin could work but not with plants. Thanks, Mark. < I am guessing that you may have some plant leeches that came in with them. The probably will not harm the fish and may harm the plants. If there is no apparent problems then I would leave things alone for awhile and see if they get worse. If it really is a worm then there is a good chance that your fish would eat it if they found it.-Chuck> 

Let Me Heal Ya!  Or Let Me Show You the Light I have a 150 XH , it is 48 long 24 front to back and 30 inches deep. I am considering putting a planted tank with Discus in it .What would be the best lighting to get good plant growth at 30 inches deep?  < See if you can find some 48 inch florescent light fixtures from the local hardware store that will fit on your tank. Make sure that they have electronic ballasts. I would put two fixtures on this tank with twin bulbs. Your tank is pretty deep so it will take some light to penetrate to the bottom. I prefer ZooMed bulbs. I would use Fluorite from SeaChem as a substrate after it has been well washed. This combination should be enough for you to keep some nice Amazon sword plants.>  Do you have a good online vendor to buy Discus from?  < There use to be many discus breeders from all over the country that specialized in all kinds of discus. Unfortunately many of them quit because discus in the orient became so cheap that it was easier to buy these imports than to go through all the trouble of raising their own. If you like the fancy domesticated discus then I would look at aquabid.com and see if you can find anybody close to sell you some discus. If you really want the real thing and get some outstanding wild discus then you need to look at Oliver Lucanus 's website at Belowwater.com. Great fish but he is located in Canada and getting fish from him can be problem. -Chuck>  Thomas Giddens

What's up with their appetite? I have a 165 gallon tank with 10 discus of various sizes in it.  We have a 29 gallon set up with some discus that are just about ready size wise to go into the 165 gallon.  It seems that there is a definite head honcho in the 165.  For a few weeks he was chasing everybody terribly, we weren't sure if anybody ever got to eat except him.   We moved all the decorations around in hopes of it making it a little less territorial and it seems to have worked somewhat he isn't chasing much anymore but they still aren't eating that much.  We normally feed frozen food in the morning and black worms at night.  We have noticed that the fish eat like pigs in the 29 gallon but when they get to the 165 it's a different story.  We moved 2 over to the 165 a couple of weeks ago from the 29 gallon and now we hardly see them eat, before they were practically eating from our hands.  I don't know if it's because of that dominant fish or possible something else. The conditions in the 165 should be good.  The temp is at 86 and I do a partial water change every 2 days, sand bottom not many decorations.... Any ideas?    < At that temperature their metabolism is probably running pretty high with a pretty good appetite to go with it. I would lower the temp to about 80 and switch the dominant fish to the 29 for awhile with the others that are ready to be moved to the 165 anyway and see if it makes a difference. I think after a couple of weeks the other fish may be more confident and better fed. Reintroduce the dominant fish and see how they sort things out. Depending on the size of the fish they may have been getting ready to spawn.-Chuck>       

Re: What's up with their appetite? Is 86 degrees the best temperature to keep a discus tank normally at? <I think that 86 degrees is a little too high for long term maintenance. At that temperature they will grow quickly if well fed. But it will also probably shorten their lifespan too> What will reducing the temperature do and how long should we keep it at that temperature for? <By reducing the water temperature the fish will also be at a reduced temperature. They will not breathe as hard. Their metabolism will slow down. They may develop eggs and breed if they get a chance to develop some fat reserves. Overall I think it stresses the fish. I would drop it to 82 or 80 for long term success.-Chuck>Thanks so much for your advice!! 

Discus Disaccord Hi Crew, Before my questions, I wanted to thank you for all the valuable information you put out there for all of us Discus lovers.  After searching your sitd I did not find a similar Q & A so I hope my question will help others. I'll try to sum this up, I have a 250 gal tank with 11 harmonious discus.  I had two (blue and snakeskin) in a quarantine tank, (20 gal) the blue one was constantly picking on the snakeskin, so after a safe amount of quarantine I moved the blue one to my display tank.  He's about 4" and seemed to fit in fine with everyone but by the end of the day my 5" pair of wild discus began bullying him.  The tank is 8' long with plenty of hiding spaces and although I felt sorry for him I figured he'd be O.K. He kept himself in hiding most of the time and came out for feeding avoiding the wild pair. (I've added 2 1/2" discus in the past and the wild ones didn't even notice them.)  A few days later I added the 4" snakeskin assuming he would be treated the same way.  Everything was calm and I had to run out for a few hours.  On my return I was horrified, the pair of wild discus had the beautiful snakeskin in a corner and they were taking turns sucking off his slime coat.  He didn't try to get away from them. ( Is beauty a trade off for stupidity?)  I put him back in the quarantine tank and 4 days later he seems to have recovered.  I put two smaller discus with him and the three of them are all doing fine together. 1) How do I introduce him back into my 250 gal tank? <Before turning off the lights you should rearrange all the decorations in the tank. This is not easy in a large planted tank. Add the fish and then turn off the lights. In the morning all the fish will be busy establishing their new territories and less likely to pick on the new guy. 2) Would the attacks from the pair of wild discus eventually have killed him? < Although discus are not well known for their aggressiveness, you must keep in mind that they are cichlids. I think it would have taken a little while for them to kill the discus but over time it is definite possible. 3) Should I consider moving the wild discus to a different aquarium and how big would it need to be? <You might have to move the wild discus because of question #4> Would  55 gal be O.K for just the two of them and some companions? < That would be fine> 4) Could the pair of wild discus be preparing to spawn? <Absolutely! In fact this is probably the main cause for all of your problems. Separate the pair to the 55 gallon. They like to spawn on a vertical surface an keep the water at 80 degrees. Discus like all cichlids guard their eggs and fry from all intruders. When they frt become free swimming they will eat the slime off the parents. Very amusing to watch. Good luck.-Chuck> Any and all answers will be greatly appreciated. Joni

My Discus pair I have a pair, a couple, so to speak. The were happily in love, until my filtration system died a slow death. Anyway, to make a long story short. All is well now with the tank, everyone seems to have recovered. The water is perfect. But, the male is now beating on the female. He is chasing her non-stop, batting her. Why?? < You may have stimulated spawning with a large water change simulating the year rainy season in the Amazon. The male is ready to mate but the female is not. She needs some TLC to build up her reserves and generate some eggs. In the wild she would swim away until she had fattened up with eggs. She would then approach the male and they would spawn and raise the fry. As long as the male continues to chase her around she may be utilizing all of her energy swimming away and not making eggs. I would recommend separating the two until she has had a chance to catch up with the male. Fatten her up with some washed earthworms for about a week. and try to put them together again.> What happened to change the love nest they had?? <If your filter was slowly dieing then it probably wasn't working very well. High waste build up in the aquarium is a sure way to prevent fish from spawning.> Will he kill her?? <Discus aren't the meanest fish around but over time he might inflict enough damage to kill her. More likely she will find a hiding place and stay there afraid to come out, even to eat and may waste away or get sick and die from a disease brought on by stress and malnutrition. -Chuck>.  A worried fishy mom. Thanks in advance. Janet Discus with Hexamita? - 02/02/2004 Please help...I don't want to lose me discus fish. I have been treating with rid-ich for 5 days now. The ich is almost gone, but the fish have developed cloudy eyes, a whitish clear coating on their bodies and ragged fins.  <This sounds perhaps like "skin slime disease" - caused by protozoan parasites, likely Hexamita, or possibly Ichthyobodo (Costia), Childonella, Trichodina.... All should respond favorably to Metronidazole administered in food. Metronidazole can be found made by Aquatronics (Hex-a-Mit, green or blue box) and by Seachem (simply Metronidazole).> I have a 55 gallon aquarium. Temp is at 86 degrees. Nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are ok. Ph is at 7. I've been doing a 20 - 25% water change daily, and I added 8 tablespoons of aquarium salt to the water. Please let me know what else I should do.... <A good start - and may in and of itself effect improvement or cure. I would still treat with Metronidazole in food.> Thank you sooooo much, Anna <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Discus breeding space I have two discus I believe to be paired in a 55 gal tank. I perform water changes a few times a week. I use DI water and discus trace and a little Amazon extract as source water. I am running a wet dry with about 5 gallons of water and have a bag of peat in there as well. <The water seems fine for discus. They actually only require neutral clean water to be maintained. I would try a 50% water change to simulate the rainy season in the Amazon. Keep the temperature up at 82 degrees. If that does not get them interested then I would start to look at the diet. Try feeding them small earthworms. You may have to cut them up with a razor blade. Washed black worms may be substituted instead but they may carry diseases with them so they should be used with caution. You might try  frozen foods too. Small quantities at first and then larger amounts later if they like them.> My problem is that it seems as if the fish spend too much time cruising the whole tank instead of spending time on each other and getting busy. I have been told that they may have too much territory to think about and guard to breed. Is this true? < This does not make any sense since they come from fairly large river systems in South America> If so, can I put a  egg crate divider in the tank and add about 7 juvenile discus to the other side of the tank. < Try my suggestions above. You may not have a pair after all. Some of the best experts have trouble sometimes telling discus apart. If you really want to get a pair, then try six small fish and grow them up. You have at least a 90% chance of getting a pair. Probably 2 pair. -Chuck>

Discus Breeding Space Hey, thanks for the advice. I feed them bloodworms exclusively. I have tried to get them to accept other foods by fasting them and then offering brine and mysis as well.  < The addition of shrimp is a good idea to add minerals to their diet. They will probably get slightly better color too.>  They wouldn't eat it as far as could tell, but the may have snacked on it a little when I wasn't watching, as they seemed fine for about ten days until I got more bloodworms for them.  <This is what I meant by imprinting fish with a particular diet. As you can see it is sometimes difficult to get them weaned on to anything else. Sometimes the addition of other "dither" fish can stimulate their feeding behavior. The addition of this fish can trigger the feeding response and at least get them to try something else.>  I was doing water changes more frequently with water slightly cooler than the 82-84 degree water in the tank to simulate rainy season. This hasn't worked yet. I will try larger water changes in hope of stimulating a spawn. If not, it may be that they are just good buddies and not a pair.  < You might try adding some more discus to the tank. They match up with one of the originals.-Chuck> Thanks again! Discus Dilemma Hi, I've been keeping a 250 gal discus tank for about 3 years, I've suffered losses, but everyone seems to be doing fine.  About a year ago I purchased three cobalts.  They are all eating well, greet me at the tank and in general seem fine.  One of the three (Sam) has tripled in size, another (Merry) has doubled, but my concern is with (Pippin), he has not grown one bit.  He is still the size of a 50 cent piece. (if that)  He eats with the others, I make sure of that, and he's very friendly with everyone.  My question is why isn't he growing? <Could just be a runt. Your discus are many generations away from wild fish and may carry a gene toward recessive growth>   I've added a garlic vitamin suggested by my pet store in Phoenix, which specializes in Discus. < When I see stuff like this I always wonder where discus encounter garlic in the rivers of the Amazon.> The tank temp is at 86 deg, ph is around 7.2.  It's hard to get the ph lower, because my tank is directly plumbed in to my water line.  We have very hard water here.  It's convenient for me, as my water level is always constant, but I can't control the ph like I would like to.  I change out about 40 gallons every two weeks. I have a 15 gal tank set up for emergencies.  It has a ph of 6.0 and the temp is at 86 deg.   Should I move Pip to the other tank maybe with another smaller discus, I have 11 altogether?  I'm wondering if he would grow in a more controllable environment. < Young fish seem to have periods of rapid growth when the are small. Sometimes these windows are missed due to environmental conditions. Your fish may have been too scared to eat and compete with the other larger fishes> How long does it take a discus to achieve it's full size? < In the wild probably about 2 years . Quicker in the aquarium because of the optimum feeding regimes of their owners. I doubt discus get all this choice food a couple times a day while swimming around not doing much.> Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. <I would classify your small discus as a dwarf and would not anticipate the little guy getting much bigger any time soon. He may get along better in a smaller tank with smaller fish so he will not get too bullied around. Your water conditions are fine for discus and you are to be commended for working so hard to get the water conditions as good as they are. Get a nitrate test kit an see what they are. Discus do not like high nitrates and you may need to do a little bigger water change as your discus grow and require more space and food.-Chuck> Joni Savage Discus Deaths Hello, <Hi, Kurt, Sabrina here today!> I have a 90 gal. planted Discus tank that has been running for several months with no real problems.  The 5 Discus in my display tank all died overnight.   <Yikes!> I had noticed them swimming up next to the plants and twitching occasionally over the last few days and yesterday they did not eat as aggressively as normal.   <Do you recall any other symptoms at all, specifically appearance of the skin?> I searched the internet yesterday and thought maybe Flukes?   <Unlikely, unless you had any recent additions.... ?> or Maybe Discus Plaque?   <A very important concern.  There are folks that think that the "plague" is simply Hexamita, to be treated with Metronidazole in food, and there are folks that think this "plague" is something entirely different, and far more difficult to deal with.> My water parameters are good and I do a 25% water change with 75% RO water about every 4 days.  Until the last couple of days they looked good??  What do you think killed them?   <Very difficult to say without more detail, on symptoms, tank in general - especially any very recent changes/additions to the system.> What can I do to my tank to ensure that whatever did kill them won't kill any other new ones.   <Again, without knowing for sure what did 'em in, that's a tough one to answer.> The display tank is a 90 gal fairly heavily planted tank.  It has 11 Siamese algae eaters, 3 Corydoras paleatus catfish, 18 cardinal tetras, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco, and 2 Botia striata to eat the snails.  They all seam to be O.K.   <With delicate fish like cardinal tetras remaining unaffected, that does make me think this was a relatively discus-specific illness, rather than a toxin in the water or water quality issues, as I imagine the other delicate inhabitants would've been effected.  Might even still be worthwhile to wonder about pH fluctuation, were you sure to match pH and temperature when you did the water change?  And again, have you introduced anything to the tank without sufficient quarantine?  New fish, new plants, anything?  Even so much as borrowed a used airstone?  And as for re-stocking....  most of what I've read/discussed regarding this "plague" seems to indicate it is safe to introduce healthy fish to the system again in a month after removing infected fish.  Certainly, if this is simply Hexamita, one could do so much sooner, but, "better safe than sorry", if you will.> Help? <I wish I could be more of a help than giving ambiguous possibilities, in this case!> Thanks,  Kurt Will <Wishing you and future discus well,  -Sabrina>

Discus Deaths II - 02/02/2004  Thanks for your reply,  <Sure thing, Kurt.>  Since I wrote you I think I have determined that my problem was a lack of oxygen and or co2 poisoning. Because of the twitching symptoms I had raised the temp. to 88deg. the night that they died.  <Ahhh.>  My CO2 injection is all automated by ph controller so I don't think that was it. However apparently in a heavily planted tank 88deg. could have robbed too much Oxygen from the water.  <Yes, quite likely indeed.>  Also, when I woke up that morning the cardinals were all at the surface of the water which would also indicate not enough Oxygen.  <Agreed.>  What do you think?  <I definitely think this is a strong possibility.>  I have since put my co2 control on the light timer just to be safe (it won't run at night). And I installed an air stone on a timer to run only at night.  <A very good idea - but do please test your pH *carefully* while you are fine-tuning this.>  I am now shopping for Discus again. Kurt  <It might be a good idea to wait a month or so before putting any new discus into your tank, just to be on the safe side - if it is an illness that targets the discus more than the other fish (Hexamita, for one), that should be sufficient time to be sure the system is safe for them. I suppose that would give you time to quarantine your new charges! May you find some beauties. -Sabrina>

Plant and Discus aquarium set up I have a 65  gallon planted gallon aquarium but I have been looking at a 72 gallon corner aquarium. My current substrate is fluorite and small gravel. I have a Eheim 2026 filter system and provide water in my tank through a holding tank of RO water. I have a glass canopy with a 36" 120w, 110v compact light  and a 36" double tube 75w, 120v. I recently started adding Seachem CO2 Flourish Excel to my tank and overdosed with a loss of all of my fish including 4 clown loaches that I had kept for 7 years. I have restocked and have 2 questions. One relates to the fish I have and whether they are appropriate for each other. The other has to do with the size tank I am considering. <Hopefully I will be able to answer your questions.>   I currently have 4 Clown Loaches, 4 Peacock Gudgeons, 1 Bushy Nosed Pleco, 2 Werneri, 3 Otocinclus and 3 Discus. Is this too many fish for a 72 gallon corner aquarium? <Quite the mix of fish, my one big concern is that Lamprologus werneri like hard alkaline water where as discus must have softer conditions.  Also werneri like to be kept in groups of around 5 (one male, the remaining are females).  It might be a bit to many fish, especially as the discus mature, they tend to get quite large.> Also does the system I have described seem adequate for these fish? <I have seen discus kept in corner tanks and they didn't seem to be bothered by the shape.  As for the filtration it seems good.> I plan to purchase a CO2 injector if I can find one that is very easily maintained. I think I saw an automatic one somewhere. Do you have any suggestions? <I do not use a CO2 injector currently, though I have in the past.  There have been some recent innovations in the field of planted aquarium tanks, so I think my old system is poorly out of date.  I would suggest looking through our FAQ section here at WetWebMedia  Start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/plttkgear.htm  I'm sure you will find something of use for you there, and it will be a good starting off point.> Have corner tanks been successful? <Yes, corner tanks have been successful for many different fish, though, it's a bit difficult with the territorial species.  Some of the nicest marine tanks I have seen are corner set-ups.  I had a small tropical corner tank in my office that I thought was very impressive.  They offer a nice depth, and can fill in any sort of unusable corner.> I would love to go to a 90 but I don't think I have room. Thanks for your help. <90 gallon tanks are very nice, but, if you don't have the room then you shouldn't feel bad.  As it stands now, I imagine your tank should work fine.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Discus Questions I have 6 discus fish in a fairly new aquarium.   <Discus are very delicate fish and it's best to keep them in aquariums that have had about 6 month to mature.> They developed ich, and I've been treating them with Rid-Ich for @ 4 1/2 days.  The ich is almost gone, but now their eyes are cloudy and the look like they're covered in whitish slimy stuff. <This white slime is not a true fungus but a bacterial infection known as Columnaris or Body Fungus.  It can be treated with Mardel's Maracyn.  Make sure the read the package and treat accordingly.> Their fins don't look clear and they're looking pretty bad.  The small one has stopped eating.   <Discus are fish that many people aspire to raise, they are not easy fish and require very specific water parameters.  I suggest that you go to you local library or bookstore and rent/buy a book on how to care for discus.  Knowledge about how to care for these fish will make them infinitely more enjoyable and you will know what to expect and how to handle it without having to wait for emails. PLEASE HELP!!  Anna <Wishing you and your fish all the best. -Magnus>

".... like I need a hole in my head." Hi!    <Hello!> I appreciate your time and any help or expertise you can offer.  I have a 4.5 inch discus that we treated for hole in the head last month, it had white pussy matter coming out of holes above the lateral line.   <Sounds classically like hole-in-the-head indeed.> We treated with Paragon II and it cleared up after 2 rounds of medication.  Now a month later it has started again.  Will this keep coming back do I need to retreat?   <I would re-treat, but with Metronidazole in food rather than in the water.> Is there a better medication that you can purchase at a pet store that you would recommend?   <Metronidazole can be found under the name "Hex-a-Mit" (Aquatronics).  It would be best to administer this via food, *not* just in the water, as the package directs.  Perhaps try mixing it into a frozen food (er, thaw the food to mix it in, then re-freeze).  Aim for about 1% medicine by weight.> We are currently feeding quite the variety of foods so I would find it hard to believe it is from a vitamin deficiency.   <Might be worthwhile to look into vitamin supplements anyway.> Lastly what is the minimum size you would recommend for a hospital tank, we just put our 75 gallon tank away and aren't too excited about setting it back up.           <For a single, 4.5" discus?  You could manage with something even as small as a 10-gallon tank (or even Rubbermaid container), if necessary.  A 20g might be a little more suited to a good sized fish like that.  Be sure to provide something for the fish to hide around and feel safe.  PVC pipe elbows are good for this, and cheaper than plastic plants.  Wishing you and your discus well,  -Sabrina>

Discus breeding  I need some help (it is actually good help). Tonight I discovered I have a spawning pair of discus. <Congratulations!  Discus are said to be some of the hardest freshwater fish to breed.  Many experts are afraid to try their hand at it, so you must be doing something right!> So here are my questions. First, the eggs are brownish in color. Is this normal?   <Typically the eggs should be dark like that... perhaps the eggs are fertilized. If the eggs were white then it would show that they are not fertile. Which seems to be the case with many discus, it is not uncommon for a pairs first spawn to be unsuccessful.  But don't give up hope yet. chances are that the eggs are fertilized.  Be sure to look at our discus FAQ area on the site and see if there is something there that can be of assistance. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfaqs.htm Also you should look at some of the discus forums online: http://forums.aquariumhobbyist.com/forum.php?catid=21 they are very knowledgeable folks there.> They are guarding and fanning the eggs. <Even if they aren't fertilized the parents will still fan the eggs until they are removed from the tank.  So, the act that they are fanning them doesn't mean that they are fertile.>    Second, what is the normal gestation period before hatching? < it's typically around 4-6 days depending on the water temp.> and how long should the fry be allowed to feed off of the parents slime. <typically they feed on the skin mucus during the first few days after that they start searching for other food sources.> Third, should I continue with my weekly water changes? <I would continue to do so, but be very cautious.  Possibly cut the percent of water change down while after the fry have hatched.  But with the eggs, it's good to have fresh clean water in there.> and last what size tank should I rear the fry in if I get that far and what should I feed them? <to be honest, not entirely sure my friend had her's in 20 gallon long tanks.  I'm sure that the folks at the discus boards would know.> What are some good books on breeding discus? <two of the best books I've read so far are Discus Fish -- by Thomas A. Giovanetti The Discus : An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Fish by Mic Hargrove > Thanks in advance for any input or advice. <Hope that helps and hope your discus do breed.  -Magnus>

Discus Disease Questions, and Waterlife Products Hello, I would like to ask a question about Discus diseases. I have just imported some Discus from Thailand and one of them seems to be sick.  It stays on the top of the water in a corner, it does not feed and it has some white markings on its body (something like a FUNGUS).  Its fin-tail has also started to rod. It seems to me that it suffers from HEXAMITA.  First I would like to ask if this might be the sickness.   <It is quite possible.  Of course, without seeing the fish, please understand that we can't tell you anything definitive - but your description of its symptoms does very much sound consistent with Hexamita.  If you have access to a decent microscope, you might try to get a skin scrape to look at so you can find out for sure.  If that's not possible, I'd probably go ahead and treat for Hexamita.  You can also do a google search for "Hexamita" or "Discus Plague" and compare the pictures with your fish.> Second: if this is the sickness, then how do I treat it with WATERLIFE ( http://www.waterlife.co.uk ) products (I need a medication that has METRONIDAZOLE in it, and Waterlife is the only products I can get now). <I agree very much that you should treat with Metronidazole....  Unfortunately, I cannot find any listings for ingredients of any of the Waterlife products.  Nor have any internet searches yielded ingredients for these products.  I would very strongly suggest contacting the Waterlife company and asking what, if any, of their products are or contain Metronidazole.  I have done this as well, and I hope to get a reply.  They have a product called "Octozin" which they claim works for hole-in-the-head disease (another name for Hexamita).  Since I can't find the ingredients, I really don't know further what to recommend; the best method of treatment for Hexamita is to treat with Metronidazole in food (about 1% Metronidazole by weight).  If you ask them and they don't get back to you in enough time, I suppose I'd go ahead with the Octozin as directed on the package and hope for the best - I really don't know what more to try.  Furthermore, I believe I would treat all the discus that are in contact with the sick one, as Hexamita does seem to spread quickly.> Thank you very much.  Antonis <You bet.  Wishing you well for the holidays,  -Sabrina>

We Rock - and Liquid Rock Hi, you guys rock. <Hello.  Thanks.> I have a problem with my freshwater tank.  I have a 110 gallon tank my ph in the tank is 8.2 alkalinity is off the charts <Sounds only too familiar.> We have a water softener (well water is 55grains 1ppm iron) and has a pH of 7.2 again with the alkalinity off the charts <Is your household water softener a DI unit, or the type that uses salt pellets/pillows?  This latter type is not a good idea to use for aquarium water, due to accumulated chloride ions....> our R.O. unit has a ph of 6.2 and with a reading of 30 for the alkalinity <That's certainly a great deal better.  Perhaps not perfect, but far better.>  I would recommend using the RO unit without the water softener at all (unless, as above, the water softener is a DI unit).> I want to keep discus and my live plants a struggling <Get your discus from a local breeder, and discuss your pH with him/her before purchasing.  Most captive bred discus, just like captive bred angelfish, can tolerate (yea, even thrive) in a very broad range of pH and alkalinity.  There are breeders in my area that do not augment the local pH and alkalinity, and have their discus breeding very happily in a ph of 8.5.  I think that's a bit extreme, but they're pushing out more baby discus than you can shake a stick at, and all the broodstock are very, very healthy.  If you are still unhappy with your pH/alk, though, perhaps try using peat to lower it.  I use Sunshine peat, from the garden store - just be sure there are no mildewcides/pesticides.  This will stain your water a rich tea color, but the plants and discus would probably enjoy that.  I know my plants do - and so do I, to be honest.  I understand the stain can be removed with activated carbon, but, not wanting to remove it, I've never tried.> Thank you very much <Sure thing.  Hope all goes well for you.  -Sabrina>

Discus Hiya, thanks beforehand if you can help us. <Sure thing!> We are wanting to set up a discus and angelfish tank, with the possibility of some tetras. Have got a 75gal tank, about 3ft in length,2ft tall and 1 1/2ft width. With a Eheim 2026 pro 2 for filtration, not set up yet!   <Sounds like fun!> We have tested our water after having left it for a week, aerating and heated, in a bucket. We have a ph of spot on 7, which is not acid enough for discus. <Unless you're set on getting wild discus, 7.0 is absolutely fine.  Try to get them from a reliable local breeder, and you're even better off.  Just like common angelfish, discus have been bred in captivity for so long that they are quite able to tolerate a much wider range of pH and hardness than their wild brethren.> And the GH is way high for them at 300ppm. <That IS pretty darn high - but again, get 'em from a local breeder, and you should be okay.> Everything else tests fine.  Is it practical for us to think about keeping discus? <Yes, absolutely!> We have read many pages of your brill website. On subjects of peat and RO etc... Not really fully understanding how difficult each will be. We have looked into the expense of RO units and would consider if necessary, the hardness is too great for our current 40 gal community tank also. <RO is definitely worth looking into, if you can afford it.> Is other methods of using peat and carbon etc.. an easy enough task. <Frankly, I lower the extremely high pH (8.4-9.2) of my tapwater with peat and bogwood alone, bringing it to about 7.0, then further with CO2 addition.  Very simple - I keep lots of peat in my filter (I use Sunshine brand from the garden store, just make sure there are no mildewcides or other poisons), and I keep a filter bag full of peat and a chunk of bogwood in my water mixing bucket, where I let the water age for about a week before using it for water changes.  I like the brown stain of the tannins, so I do not remove this with carbon.> Would just greatly appreciate  your opinion on where to go from here, with it only been a single 75 gal tank. We would both like discus because off their eye-catching size really, our community tank has lots of smaller fishes.   <I don't see any reason for you not to go for it.> We like the Oscars also but believe the dimensions and size of this tank is not a realistic home for them. <Agreed, wholeheartedly.> Would like a planted tank ideally, most plants also require soft water don't they? <Not necessarily.  Most hardy plants will do well for you.  Do please consider injecting CO2, either with a pressurized system (if funds allow) or a DIY yeast system.> Always told its not a hard water area, but its about 19 dGH. <I'd stay away from horribly delicate plants, but you've got a whole array of plants to choose from that should do alright for you.  You might want to consider using peat, but I don't think it's a terrible necessity, just a happy extra, in your case.  Wishing you well, and have fun with your new tank,  -Sabrina>

Stocking Discus Hi <Hello.> Please can you help <I can sure try.> I live in Scotland where my tap water has a ph of 7.5, I filter though Irish peat moss and get a ph of 6.8; I have a Trigon 190 tank running internal filter and a Fluval 104 <Umm, 190 *what*?  Gallons (US? UK?) ?  Liters?  Something else?> I have 8 Corys and 26 tetras how many discus can I stock at 3 1/2 in my tank? <3 1/2 what?  Inches?  Centimeters?  Well, *current* size of the discus is rather irrelevant, as it's best to stock according to what the adult size of the fish will be - but, uhm, tank size *is* crucial, as I'm sure you're aware.  Let us know your tank size (gallons (US, UK), liters, dimensions, or however you like it), and we'll be better equipped to help you out.  -Sabrina> thanks Ian

Discus and water parameters Hello, <Hi!  Sabrina here this lunch hour, finding fun things to occupy myself with> I am setting up a new plant tank that will eventually hold Discus fish.  My tank is a 90 gal. All-glass tank with Eheim 2026 filter, under gravel heater.  Substrate is play sand to cover heating cables, about .5 inch of boiled peat moss, 50lb. of red flint gravel mixed with Laterite and 100lb. of red flint gravel on top. <Sounds wonderful.  If I were a plant, I'd enjoy it in there.> I planted it last week and so far it looks great.  My question is with my water.  Out of the tap it is has about 1200 PPM hardness and a PH about 8.3.   <Zowie.  Well, if it makes you feel any better, my tap spews a pH of 9.2, but a GH and KH both of almost zero.  Very frustrating.> I have a Reverse Osmosis drinking water system and have installed a 40 gal. holding tank with float valve for fish tank water.  So far I am using 75% R.O. water and 25% tap water which gives me a hardness of about 160 PPM although PH is still above 8.  So to bring the PH down I have used 1.5 teaspoons of "Seachem Acid Buffer"  per 20 gal. of water.  This gets my PH to about 6.8 then once in the tank I have a CO2 injection system which monitors and controls PH to about 6.5.   <Sounds wonderful.> Once in the tank however my hardness goes back up to about 360 PPM.  Is this caused by the "Seachem Acid Buffer"?  <Quite possibly, yes.> I would really like to end up with PH 6.5 and hardness about 200 PPM for the Discus.  Any suggestions? <Well, first off, unless the discus are wild, pH and hardness really aren't that crucial any more.  I know a discus breeder that keeps, breeds, and raises his discus in a pH of slightly over 8.0.  It's far more important that the pH remains stable than anything.  I would definitely stop with the acid buffer if you're really bent on keeping the hardness down, and instead, keep a lot of bogwood in your water holding bucket, and/or filter with peat.  This will stain the water a rich tea color, but you may already be experiencing that with the peat in your substrate.  Frankly, I like the stain of the tannins in my water, so to me, it's desirable, but I do know that some folks don't like that.  I've heard that the stain can be removed by filtering with carbon, but I don't know from firsthand experience.> Thanks!  Kurt

Gill Flukes Part Two - 8/19/03 wrote last night about gill flukes in a discus checked him out today and breathing normally so I suppose all is well. Guess I just panicked.  thanks again <don't relax too soon. The symptoms for gill flukes can and do wax and wane. Watch closely and treat if needed. Anthony>

Discus Pecking Order - 8/10/03 I have 5 discus that I was expecting to be a happy little shoal from everything I have read about them. This is not the case, all they do is chase each other around and fight. <they simply have to establish a pecking order as they mature. The chasing can be brisk... but you will notice they are not murderous... and rarely cause wounds. No worries> I have had them about three weeks and was wondering if they are just establishing pecking orders and this will stop or are they going to kill each other. <actually continues until they are over a year old... but still no worries> They are in a 90 gallon aquarium. <a fine size to rear all to adulthood. Do weekly water changes or better for best growth here> I have tried rearranging driftwood and plants and such to no avail. Please advise as I am at my wits end. <wits end... after just 3 weeks. Yikes! Relax bubba. Do get some of the many fine books on discus husbandry too. You will be reassured and better prepared. Jack Wattley's book is a classic> Thank you <best regards, Anthony>

Discus, peat and carbon Hi Guys, <Hello Adam> I am about to setup my first discus tank! I hear peat is a good thing to add in the filter system. <Can be, yes... as a "natural" source of pH, alkalinity adjustment, addn. of tannins, flavins...> But, as with most things, there is a down side - the yellow colour it turns the water. If I use carbon as well will I get rid of the colour AND the other good stuff as well. If so then the carbon will defeat the purpose. <Mmm, only to some extent. Fine to use both> Some people suggest that peat leaches ammonia and phosphates. Is this true? <Not "good" peats (non-alkaline treated, well-decomposed, "darker" types), that have been properly prepared (lightly boiled, left to cool)> Also, if I do use peat how long should I use it before replacing? <A month or so is about right. Best to place in (Dacron polyester) bags that you can easily place, remove... twixt mechanical filter media... as in in-between "fiber" in a corner, outside power or canister filter> Some suggest only a day or two and others about a month! I tend to think that more regular changes would be best otherwise the peat will act as a bio filter (I'm assuming that is a bad thing ... is it?). <Really best to "just experiment" here. For your type of source water, substrate in the system, other interactive effects, to see what "goes on" over time> I know that the fish don't mind the yellow colour of the water but I do and I want to have my cake and eat it too. Are there any additives that you recommend in place of peat. <A few "black water tonics" (e.g. those by Tetra, Dupla, others) that are "extracts" from peat> Thanks for having such a great site. Cheers, Adam Langman Australia <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Planted discus tank: questions 7/13/03 Knowledgeable planted tank and discus friends, <cheers, my friend> Thanks in advance for your help.   <always welcome :) > I am planning a planted discus tank and have been reading/researching over the past few weeks.  I'd appreciate a critique of my plans, which are outlined below.   While an experienced aquarist, I am new to both planted tanks and discus. After my summary I will list several specific questions I am unclear on. I currently have a 55g goldfish tank that has been set up 6 years with a wet/dry filter for biological filtration.  I will move to goldfish elsewhere and was hoping to preserve the rich biological culture in the wet/dry and transfer it to its new discus inhabitants. (Any caveats here?) <Hmmm... not much save for the admonition to raise the temperature slowly from your goldfish temps up to the anticipated discus temps (84-86F) very slowly (week or more) so as to not stress the biological filter> I plan a planted tank starting with 4 young discus (for show, not breeding), a school of 15-20 cardinal tetras, a few Otocinclus cats and Julie Cory cats.    <be certain to QT all strictly for 4 weeks before adding to display... many can be carriers do common discus diseases for being held in central filtration by the big wholesalers> I plan an inch of EcoComplete Amazon "Black Water" as substrate, a few large pieces of driftwood for tannic acid and both rooted and floating plants (to keep the light subdued).    <all very nice/natural> I was thinking of using peat in my filter to keep the water soft and acid (6 - 6.5), <agreed... Hagen brand Peat Plates and the like> and a HOT Magnum filter for mechanical and chemical filtration.  Two 150w heaters will keep the temp at 82 degrees.   <somewhat of the low end for discus ideally... but may be necessary for the catfish to be mixed in> I will vacuum the substrate for a 10% water change weekly.   <and larger WC's in the future as the discus grow. Really larger or more frequent water changes will be necessary. Discus are sensitive to water quality> I expect to feed mostly prepared discus food with occasional frozen brine shrimp, dried Tubifex worms or other treats.   <skip the brine shrimp altogether (hollow food). Frozen glass worms and frozen bloodworms should be factored in heavily> Specific questions:   a.. The tank is currently lit with two 48" 40w standard fluorescent tubes; I know discus need subdued lighting, but also know a planted tank should have more light than this.  What do you recommend? <discus do not need very subdued lighting... just not blazing. If you have any hopes of keeping plants (which will also provide the shade for the fishes)... you will need 3-4 40 watt bulbs minimum>   b.. Where do you get peat?  I've read about it's value, however have not run across it offered online or in catalogs.  Is using something like Discus Essential, Instant Amazon, Amazon Rain or Discus Buffer a replacement for peat? <you can use black water extract by Tetra if you like... else get the actual peat plates from Hagen brand>   c.. What types of plants are most conducive to these water conditions? <we could talk/write for quite some time on this subject. Entire books have been written on it. Do seek some good references on Discus. Swordplants, Crypts and Anubias will likely grace your tank>   d.. How does EcoComplete compare with fluorite, laterite or other plant substrates?  Is an inch enough? <I'm honestly not sure... let me defer you to the message boards and books for an intelligent consensus on this question>   e.. Will the CO2 level be sufficient with this fish load, or must I augment it with a CO2 system? <depends on how heavily planted you want the display... likely necessary if you want fantastic plant growth>   f.. Do you recommend plant nutrients? Suggestions? <yes... but modestly. Too easily abused. Liquid is as good as tablet (aquatic plants absorb through leaves and stems...not just roots>   g.. Is 10% )weekly enough of a water change? <not at all... likely needs to be closer to 25%. I owned a small discus hatchery (2-3K discus on hand) and favored much larger water changes for optimal health and growth>   h.. Can/should I keep the micron filter sleeve of the HOT Magnum on continuously?   I.. Should I keep the activated carbon on continuously? <not is using peat... just weekly for 24-48 hours will be fine... just before changing peat or adding extract>   j.. Will adding a few m/f guppies be an ongoing source of live food for the discus? <a bad idea IMO. They are not natural or necessary>   k.. Can the tank support more discus, especially if I stay conservative on other fish? <not recommended... the rule is 1 per 10 gallons max. You are almost there now with 4 after you factor displacement/other fishes>   l.. Are there any differentiating aspects of different breeds/colors of discus re: hardiness, temperament, etc? <stick with cultured versus would for hardiness/adaptability>   m.. Other fish I'd consider adding once the system in going: pearl Gourami, male dwarf Gourami, Blue Ram cichlid.  Comments? <only the ram is appropriate/natural IMO> Thank you very much for your input...Jeff <best regards, Anthony>

Fat discus? (06/28/03) um I may have a problem..... <Hopefully, we have a suggestion for a solution... Ananda here tonight!> I have a 75 planted aquarium with a bunch of schooling fish and a discus a fed them today and I noticed that they all seem much fatter! <Did you feed them something different from their usual fare? Or more than usual? I found out that one particular type of dry food that I have makes my clown loaches bloat...so now that tank doesn't get that particular food any more.> more fat than usual I'm scared something's wrong with them but there all like this so I took out my DIY Co2 injector cuz I recently added that in there. <I don't *think* that would have an effect on the fish looking bloated...> Is there anything wrong with my fish or are they just full? Thank you, Chris <They might be bloated -- aka, your fish have gas! -- or possibly constipated. In either case, the solution is the same. Add some Epsom salts to your tank. The usual dose is one tablespoon per five gallons of tank water. But since you have discus and a planted tank, you might want to add it at the rate of one teaspoon of Epsom salts per five gallons of water each day over three days. (That's what I did for my clown loaches.) Also, try feeding your fish frozen and thawed peas. The bulk in them can help clear out their digestive tract. If the bloating doesn't go away after a couple of days, you can give them another round of Epsom salts. --Ananda>

Discus Questions Two more questions, sorry guys.. :-) - I'll be adding some rocks to my Discus tank with plants... what type of rocks are ok, besides Lava rock? - I've noticed a few white spots on my Discuses, that look like Ich. Instead of medicating, I wonder if Ich will be killed with temp up to 32C plus added aquarium salt at 1tablespoon/5gal?<Formalin baths and salt in a bare-bottomed QT tank. You cannot medicate the main tank. Keep the fish in a QT tank for a month. Use a Bare bottomed QT aquarium, with daily siphoning of tank bottom to reduce parasites and larvae, good luck my friend with these somewhat challenging species of fish (always have been a fav of mine), IanB> Thank you, Luke

Re: discus questions Two more questions, sorry guys.. :-) - I'll be adding some rocks to my Discus tank with plants... what type of rocks are ok, besides Lava rock?<I would just use Lava Rock...looks good in discus aquariums, could also use slate rock (or whatever its called-also looks neat in these type of aquariums> Thank you, Luke

Ich in planted Discus tank :-( >Me again... >>I'm sorry, I don't remember you.. ;)  Marina here. >I've noticed that almost all of my Discuses (15 adult in 180gal tank) developed Ich (overnight).  There was no temp drop and I've never had ich...  so a few questions...- I guess CopperSafe is out of the question - will it harm clown loaches or plants, or be hard on few fry Discuses I have in that tank? >>If I recollect correctly, anything with malachite green will harm scaleless fishes, but if you have fry that's another concern entirely.   > - I increased the temp to 32C and added aquarium salt at rate of 1tablespoon/5 gal (I hope the plants and loaches can take this temp and salt for a few days?) will that kill Ich? >>It will stress the ich, and it will definitely harm the plants. > - On the side note, when treating with antibiotics, is there a temperature (upper range)  the antibiotics become ineffective? e.g. will erythromycin still work if temp is 32C? >>Not that I am aware of. >Any other pointers? Taking the Discuses out of the tank and treating them in a separate tank is out of the question... >>That being the case, ensuring excellent water quality, boosting their immune system via feeding (though, I would think that if you're anything like other Discus owners I've known, there are few people who feed their fishes BETTER than you), and avoiding malachite containing products is the best you *can* do.  I'll link you to a fish medication site, maybe this will give some ideas on other treatments.  OH MY GOODNESS!  I can't link you, there's a sheriff's sale of Pets Warehouse, and the site containing this information has been taken over.  Very, VERY sorry, please do a search on our site on freshwater fish diseases.  Best of luck to you!  Marina

Planted aquarium I'm wondering, are there any plants that can take temperatures around 28-30C ? (Discus tank)<Do check this link out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html , IanB> Thank you, Luke

Discus, Firemouths 6/1/03 Hello <cheers> A few questions as I complete my home aquarium setup.  I have 2 koi ponds (2,000 and 1,500 g), a 55g African cichlid tank, a 120g reef system, and a 55g shubunkin/goldfish tank.  All are thriving terrifically. <very good to hear> I have two tanks left that I am planning to set up to complete my home aquaria.  Unfortunately, neither is very large, a 20g and a 29g. I am interested in two South American cichlids about which I have not yet learned all I need to, Discus and Firemouth.  I have started by reading FAQs and articles on WetWebMedia.com on each. <great to hear you researching first... for your best success> Is the 20g tank too small for a planted tank with a pair of discus?  What about a pair of Firemouths?   <better for the Firemouths... too small for adult discus> If I were to one tank for Discus and one for Firemouth, I presume the discuss should get the larger one?  Is a 29g large enough for a pair of discus? <it can work... indeed not spacious, but adequate with frequent water changes. Discus are not active swimmers at all and this works in your favor> If I were to convert my 55g goldfish tank into something for these, how many discus could I fit in it, assuming I'd also have a batch of tetras or the like, for diversity.   <3-4 discus would be nice here> What about Firemouths in the 55g, how many of those? <hard to say... a single bonded pair can be quite aggressive to others in the tank. Maybe just one pair> Would a peaceful anabantid like a pearl Gourami succeed in a tank with discus?  with Firemouths? <not a likely welcome guest with either. It would suffer the Discus water quality (high temperatures and low pH) and would quite possibly just get mauled by the Firemouths> Thanks for your guidance... Jeff <best regards, Anthony>

Discus, Firemouths 6/2/03 How do you keep the PH low for the Discus?   <somewhat of a topic that cannot be answered in a sentence or two. Please do browse through our archives and beyond on the net. And definitely purchase at least one good book on discus keeping. Jack Wattley's old discus book is a favorite... still quite accurate> Must you make a chemical additive to the water each water change? <hopefully never> What about the softness?   <yes... finesse pH with softer water and very regular (weekly or better) water changes> They require very acid, soft water, right? <correct... under 7.0 ideally> How do you maintain these qualities? <using partially de-ionized water... sometimes peat moss/plates> And I understand the tank should be well planted...for refuge... <handsome but not necessary> what attractive plants are conducive to those water conditions? <literally hundreds of species... lists to be found in good discus and plant books. Swordplants are a perennial fave. Much to read/learn on the subject... best of luck. Anthony>

Filtering with Peat Moss I'm thinking about filtering through peat in my planted Discus aquarium.<have heard/seen this done before> I understand that it will bring down the pH and KH, which would be very desirable in Discus aquarium.<yes, can> I also understand that peat contains many trace elements needed by plants and Discuses, which is also good.<agreed> I'm wondering though, doesn't peat (Hagen brand, granules) contain phosphates, like certain brands of carbon?<yes, "Initially, for the first two months, some soils will release a significant amount of nutrients such as nitrates, ammonia, phosphates and iron." I will give you the link to where I found this info.   http://www.easyfishkeeping.com/tropicalfish/succesfulplants.htm  hope this information helps, IanB> Thank you, LukeApparent Cestodes in Discus I have six beautiful pigeon blood discus in a community 68gal. tank. Two pair are currently spawning, laying and fertilizing their eggs. After each batch I have noticed that all four fish have at one time or another expelled a white, ribbon like, segmented cord from their anus. Once one was breathing it in and out. I didn't see if it had ate it or if it just came out of it's mouth. I am concerned because I just lost a beautiful breeding pair of Snakeskin Red Turquoise. They just went crazy for about three days and died. I left them in the tank for a couple of hours and this cord was coming out of their mouth and gills. It freaked me out. Is this a tapeworm and should I medicate with Praziquantel (Droncit) or should I just leave them alone. <Worth looking into. Do you have availability to a microscope? I would try to take a look at these stringy feces before actually treating. Metronidazole (aka Flagyl) is a possible antiprotozoal to add to the possible materia medica here. Bob Fenner> Please help.

Discus help please Hi, I hope that you can help.  I have 4 Wattley Discus. Two of them are about 5 inches and the other two are about 2 1/2 inches.  I got them  7 months ago and all would eat fine till now. Now one of the 2 1/2 ones is not eating and is getting rather skinny and losing its color and breathing heavy.  The other 3 are looking great and seem to be doing and eating fine, begging and all. The thing is, nothing that I have done has changed.  I have not added any fish or have I done anything differently than I have for the past 7 months. I have a 60 gal with an Eheim 2226 and a UV light on it. I still do my water changes once a week (about 15-20 gal) with r/o water and just a hint of tap water.  The temp is at 86.  I also have some Rummy nose in with them and they all look great too.  He used to be the only one eating all-the-time.  From the top, middle or bottom.  And very aggressive at feeding time.  When they all would be eating, he was the boss, which was kind of funny because he was much smaller than two of them, but was getting some nice size to him. He has been like this now for about 2 weeks and he looks worse every day.  I would like to see what you have to say about what could be the cause and what I could be doing to help it.  It is the one that my 6 year old daughter picked out and if it goes.....well you know.  Please help and advise.  Thanks. <I would suggest isolating this fish and seeing if hell eat while on his own. If so, keep him isolated and well fed until he is healthy again before returning him to your main tank. Ronni>

Response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6 <This was sent to me by another one of our crew members so I wanted to pass it on to you. He's got more experience in Discus keeping than I do.> They didn't mention what foods were being offered, I feed mine a variety of meaty foods such as beef heart, Wattley's Discus formula by ocean nutrition, live brine shrimp (when hunger strikes set in), red worms, etc.... Make sure something didn't cause a drastic change in PH, I've had Discus turn really dark and act like they're dying just by sneezing in front of the tank! Discus can be a tricky fish to keep!

Re: response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6 Hi again.  There was/is no problem with the ph, I do check that all the time, at-least every other day.  I feed them mostly Omega One (red bottle) flakes and also give them Wattley frozen Discus formula, Hikari frozen blood worms and frozen krill, San Francisco's frozen brine shrimp and frozen mosquito larvae and live brine shrimp about once a month.  The other three are doing great like I said.  He was once the (king) of the tank at feeding time, even being the smallest by more than double his size.  He would also be the only one to be seen eating all day long.  Going through every nook and cranny he could find while the others would just be swimming around.  At first I thought that he might have eaten some old food that I might have missed cleaning up.  If that is the case, will it just pass? <Likely so> Or is that even probable to happen?  I clean the tank at least once a week and try to do at least a 20% water change mid week also. <Hopefully with water of high quality. You might try twice weekly changes of ten percent to see if this improves their behavior>   Thanks for your fast reply and I'll be waiting to hear what you have to say.  He is not looking very good at all now and is very, very pail in color.  He is a Wattley's Marlboro Red and was a VERY good looking fish as they all are.  But he just had something about him, very, very thick and such a great round shape.  I don't know who will take the loss of him worse, my daughter or me.  He never showed any symptoms other than not eating.  I mean his poop was always fine and his color was excellent as was his eyes and fins.  The first couple of days he wasn't eating, I just thought he wasn't feeling good and I continued to do my tank cleaning and water changes thinking that he would soon come around.  But he is not coming around and looking bad.  The others are still looking and acting great.   Please advise.  Thank you much for your time. <Do try elevating your water temperature... if you haven't already. To the mid to upper eighties F. if the rest of your livestock can handle this raise. Bob Fenner>

Questions about a Discus aquarium Hi crew !!  I have been looking and reading your site today for about 6 hours now. WOW !! <Me too!>   This is my second time writing you.  I have a lot of questions, (I'm sorry), that I would like to know about. <No worries>   You know, a lot of things we do only because that is what we were told, or that is how it's done they say. <Better to cultivate an "open mind", questioning premises until the base of their understanding is held> I would kind of like to know "why" we need to do some of these things to better understand how I need to do them or why I need to do them. <Okay> I would write them separately so that you could categorize them, but I wouldn't know where to start. <At the beginning... or the middle... what have you>   I hope you can help, and thank you in advance for your time and patience.  Ok, I just got set-up and running my new 220gal acrylic aquarium (72x24x30) with a wet/dry (36wx12dx16h) and dual overflows and returns with a dry box in-between them.  I now have a 60gal flat back hex that I have 4 Discus (about 4in each) and about 25 Rummy nose.  I am running a Eheim 2226 on the 60gal now and everything has been doing just fine for about  7 months now.  I use R/O DI water from a Kent Maxxima 50gpd and change about 15gal every week.  Here are my questions; 1) I read on your site (RE: Funky stuff in water for change), about using a water softener. The kind you would use for your house water.  You said, "they are useful for Discus and other fishes that prefer soft water and several times weekly water changes". Is this true? <Yes, but/and you do have "softened" water by way of your R.O. device> I was always told NOT to use water from my softener. <There is some concern re the effects of excess sodium exposure (from salt re-charged models of softeners)>   2) What is it that baking soda does and how does it help or hurt? <It (sodium bicarbonate) adds a modicum of hardness/alkalinity to water, raising pH to about 7.8 maximum. Useful as a "gentle" buffer in very soft water situations... like folks that use all R.O. or even distilled water... or that have source water that has little buffering capacity naturally. Can be abused, and make water too hard for some types of life (like Amazon Basin tetras, Discus that occur in soft water naturally)> 3) Is the DI on my R/O worthwhile and if not, is there something else that I could be using in place of the DI cartridge if I just took it out. <Mmm, worthwhile, yes, and I would use it if I had it, leave it out if not.> The DI cartridges never seem to last that long and if there really is no need for it that would be just fine. <Not much use for deionization in most cases, likely including your application.>   4) Substrate, what would be best for Discus? <Something "natural" though not overly soluble in the way of being calcareous... and darkish in color... preferred by Discus> I bought Red Flint sand & gravel for the new tank and was wondering if it was the best thing for the Discus. <It's fine> Also I was wondering how hard it would be to keep clean.  I vacuum my regular gravel now when I do my water changes in my 60gal, but was just thinking that the sand might get sucked-up if I try to do it the same way. <Nope... more technique than anything here>   5) Lighting. I have two sets of Coralife 2 lamp electronic ballasts. Do you think this is enough or too much light for Discus? <Not on the sixty I hope. Or if so, with plant cover blocking the bulk of the light> If they are ok, then what are your thought on bulbs?  I can run 36 or 48 inch bulbs but do you have a preference on the bulbs themselves like a 50/50 or color max? <More personal preference than functional consideration>   I want it bright enough to see them (I have black acrylic back), but not so bright that it scares them to hide all day. 6) Refugium. What is this? <A living sump... a container joined with a main/display system with water either pumped to or from that allows for increased volume, dilution of wastes, separating livestock, culturing foods, using reverse daylight photoperiod for evening out diurnal changes like pH...> I keep reading about it on here and not quite sure what it is.  7) My wet/dry and overflows. I have been reading with much interest about the Durso piping. It seems fine for marine tanks I guess, but I feel the need to have the pre-filters on. Without them I'm not "cleaning" the water.  Also I like how easy they are to clean, just pull the sponges out and rinse and put back in. <No worries> I also drilled two holes in the back for a Eheim 2226 to run on the tank as well. It will be the old one from my 60gal once I can get all the fish out and into my 220gal. Which brings me to another question sorry. 8) I plan to run the Eheim for two reasons. One, to help filter the water and two, to run my 40watt UV through it. Do you think I should keep it set up as is with the Ehfimech and Ehfisubstrat or take it out and make it more of a polishing filter, I like my water crystal clear). <I would leave the media in that you have now> I do have a Hot Magnum filter that I use too with the paper filter. Do you think it would be a good idea to hang it on the wet/dry and let it run there? <Am not such a fan of this product... uses too much power, has too little filter capacity> 9) Should I leave the UV off till it's cycled? <Mmm, no. I'd leave running> If so, when can I turn it on then?  10) Heaters.  I have a Jalli 800watt titanium for my 220gal that is in the wet/dry.  Is this a ok size and type for this tank?  I have only used Ebo-Jaegers before and have three 250watts now that I could use instead. <I prefer to have two heaters and really like the Ebo Jager line> I just didn't want to be playing around with two or three heaters so they were all working together. <Put at least one in the main tank> 11) Plants.  I am not really planning on having many live plants.  I have a very hard time keeping them alive with the high heat of a Discus tank. I do have about 12 Anubias now in my 60gal that I would like to put in the 220gal.  They seem to be the only thing I can keep alive.  For right now anyway, I am not interested in CO2 or anything like that.  All I want to see are my Discus for the most part, but at the same time, I want the tank to look pleasing to the eye and to the Discus too. Is there any real need for live plants? <Can be used here or no. Are useful in the ways of being utilitarian and beautiful. There are some species that occur where Discus are collected. Please read through our Planted Aquarium subweb on WetWebMedia.com> Besides I was told that I really couldn't keep live plants in this tank because of having the wet/dry unless I put a CO2 on it. <Mmm, the mixing/agitation of water with air does drive off a good deal of the carbon dioxide, but you can have both> 12) last question.  I sure hope that all of this is not boring you. <No> I was wondering if I could put all of my fish that are in my 60gal now, into my new 220gal all at the same time "IF" I was to put my Eheim on the 220gal that is now running on my 60gal? <Should be fine> I would of course keep the wet/dry running along with the Eheim.  Wouldn't it be ok?  It would still have the same bio load as it did in the 60gal, but could also start "seeding" my wet/dry at the same time.  It would be nothing to take it off of the 60 and put it on the 220.  The 220 is all ready for it and waiting.  If you don't think that would work, what do you think about putting my 25 Rummy nose in the 220 to start it cycling? <Also okay> I really don't want to go out and get some fish that I have no intentions on keeping.  It wouldn't be fair to them but at the same time, I don't want to lose my 25 Rummy nose either.  What to do....what to do !!  Please help.  Whatever you say is what I shall do with these problems and questions.  Thank you again for your kindness, knowledge, (and patience). Tony <Keep thinking, planning, enjoying. Bob Fenner>

Re: Discus aquarium Hi all, I have just found your site and have been looking over it for hours now and find it very well thought out.  Now I would like to ask a few questions that I have been trying to find out and have yet to do so.  Here goes.....First I would like to tell you a little about what I have going on here.  I now have a 60gal Discus tank with 4 Discus and about 20 rummy nose. <Mmm, you know or will that you're going to need a larger system with this stock> It is not really planted but I do have about 10 Anubias in it. I am running an Eheim 2226, an Angstrom 15watt uv and a hot mag to keep the water clear. I do about 15 to 20 gal water change every week.  I have a Kent Maxxima R/O, DI. with a 90 gal storage tank that I put two air stones in and a 300watt heater to keep the temp at 88. I put Kent R/O right in and also mix about 4 gallons of tap water to help bring up the kH, dH and ph to about 6.8 ph, kH - 2, gH - 2. <Sounds very nice> Every so often I do get an acid fall and I must keep a sharp eye on it at all times. <I would measure dKH, and add at least a bit of sodium bicarbonate/baking soda to the new/make-up water, or a more "complete" commercially produced buffering agent> Also, I just bought a 220gal acrylic with overflows and a wet/dry filter with 2 Rio 2500 pumps and an Emperor Aquatics 40 watt uv along with a Jalli 800watt Titanium heater. This hole acrylic and overflows thing is all very new to me. I wanted glass, but it was hard to find one in the size I needed. I am also planning to run my Eheim 2226 on it too.  I had two holes drilled out in the back so that I can run the Eheim without seeing any of the hoses.  Also I am planning to run the uv through the Eheim. After I get the new tank "cycled" and get all of my Discus in it I will get rid of the 60gal to my friend so that he can give a try with Discus too. Ok, now that you have a ruff background, maybe you can answer a couple simple questions.  How can I make the overflows quieter? <Have you heard/seen so-called "Durso" types of piping? A "Tee" made at the junction of the down spout likely will silence this plumbing. You can see/read about such issues on the "marine plumbing FAQs" on WWM, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm and onward through the series (linked, in blue, at top)> The wet/dry is very quiet but the water flowing over  the overflows is making a lot of noise.  Also any help with what can be done with my water would surely help. My tap water is, Kh-6, Gh-8, Ph-8. Of course my R/O is a lot lower, Kh-0, Gh-0 and Ph-6 or less. <As stated above, I would add some bicarbonate (if not a carbonate and bicarb. based) product, or blend in some (try ten percent, increase to twenty...) of the raw tapwater for alkaline reserve> I would like to be able to use water with the least amount of chemicals as possible. I did get Kent ph-stable to raise my kH to try and help with the acid falls, but have not tried it yet. Also, what are your thoughts on gravel? Have you heard of Red Flint Sand & Gravel, filter & abrasive sand? <Yes, beautiful, can be functional> I love how it looked at the pet shop but am just a little concerned with any silicates or just by being too small.  I don't want the Discus to "choke" or anything. <They won't... where they come from there is very fine sand on the bottom> I was just thinking of going bare bottom, but I would like some color in it. <Me too... and Discus seem to do better with a substrate> I have had aquariums for about 30 years now, but just got into Discus in the last 2-3 years. I have always wanted them but kept hearing how hard they are to keep. <Used to be "quite hard"... now much easier... and WELL worth it!> I have done sooooo much reading on them that it seems like everybody has their own way of keeping them. The old, "it works for me" thing. I am sorry for this being so long, but I just wanted to give some background. I love these fish and now that I have everything going so well in my 60gal, I'm getting scared to transfer them to the new 220gal after it cycles. Any kind of advice, or criticism, would gladly be taken on any of this.  Thank you in advance for your help.  I'm sure I will be writing back again soon, but I will make it a lot shorter. <Looks like you have a good handle and responsive, open mind to the situation here. Bob Fenner>

Discus in High Octagonal Tank Setup? Hi Guys I have a new high octagonal tank (52cm Diameter & 130cm Tall). I equate this to approx. 180L (or 47Gal - though you could confirm this for me. Math has never been my strong point). <Math was never my best subject either and try as I might, I cant find a link to a calculator that does volume on octagon tanks! I do think youre a bit off though; the actual tank volume should be a bit higher than you figured. Dont hold me to that though!> I am looking at acquiring an Eheim Pro II series or Fluval 404 Canister filter for this tank. Also an air pump with an air stone. I would like to stock this tank with Discus Fish. Would this style & volume of tank be suitable for Discus fish?? I have read that it is not good to have just one discus and that you should have at least 4 of these in a tank. So with that in mind do you think my tank would be suitable?? <As long as you go with no more than 4 youll probably be OK. According to www.fishbase.org Discus come from deeper water so they shouldnt be bothered by the taller and narrower shape of this tank.> If this type of fish is not suitable could you recommend types fish that would be? <There are a lot of possibilities here. For the most part youll want to stick with fish that dont get much larger than about 4 inches or so. But with the height of this tank you could do a neat display featuring fish from top, middle, and lower water columns.> Cheers, Jeff from Brisbane, Australia

Discus compatibility? Hello! I currently have a 29 gal tank, very many plants and lots of happy fish. The question I have is this- I am now planning on moving up to a 75 gal tank and I have really been considering keeping Discus. I have one black angel fish am I am wondering whether Discus will be compatible with this type of fish. <As long as you can keep the Ph at a stable range that is acceptable to both you should be fine. Discus like a Ph of around 5.0-6.5 and Angels like 6.0-8.0 so try to keep it around 6.0.> I have been reading so much info (online) about Discus, and am also wondering what books you might recommend for me. <Im not sure if hes done any specifically on Discus but any of the Cichlid books by Ad Konings are wonderful.> I have never kept Discus before, but they have really captured me. Also, I have been reading that gravel is not necessarily recommended for a Discus tank, as excessive waste matter will build up. I am concerned about this aspect, because I get great satisfaction from the "garden" I currently keep in my smaller tank, and I am so excited about the possibilities with a larger tank. <Gravel and a planted tank will also be fine as long as you are good about vacuuming the gravel and not letting waste build up at all.> I have also been thinking about keeping S African Cichlids (the brilliant colors amaze me), but am leaning more towards the Discus' apparent peaceful nature. <The Africans are beautiful fish but can be aggressive and wouldnt go well with your angel.> Any tips you could provide (although my questions/comments have been quite broad) would be so greatly appreciated. I would really love to go into this well informed so I may give the best care possible to these fish:) Thank you so much (in advance :)! Melisa Zaragoza Denver-Colorado <Do check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfish.htm and the related FAQs. Also search for discus at www.wetwebmedia.com using the Google search feature. Thank you for researching first before buying! Ronni>

Discus 2/8/03 Anthony, Your website continues to delight and amaze.   <thanks kindly... Bob has started this site with contagious and admirable purpose and vision> I have a discus question - I have, I'm ashamed to admit, a stunted discus - he came free with a bunch of others about a year ago.   <no shame at all... its inevitable with even the best water quality short of daily water changes. In a group of 4, 6 or more even with wc's several times weekly, one will lag or stunt> Is it possible to 'unstunt' this fish - I suspect not.   <some FW fishes can reverse (many livebearers) but others like discus fish are permanently stunted, alas. A good rule of measure for watching discus grow is that the eye ball should be no more than 1/7 the height of the vertical bar that rus though the eye. Superb care and water changes can make that measure more like 1/9> Also his health seems fragile - I've had to virtually hand feed him vitamin enriched foods all this time - if I slack of at all he looks decidedly weak, and takes forever to recover - I assume stunting is bad for the health.   <Indeed, my friend... a bit of a challenge for life with the fish. It is a common rant of mine on WWM with FW and Sw fishes kept in "small" tanks. We get a lot of marine aquarists that take a juvenile fish that gets to 60 or 90 cm in length as an adult and they put it in a 1 or 2 meter tank and feel like it is big enough. Such fish belong in public aquaria and stunt and die prematurely in private tanks too often> What's a reasonable lifespan I can expect. <the natural lifespan is 10+ years... a few on record approaching 15 years as I recall. 5-8 years would be a fine run though> I WILL fax those articles to you - I have them in a faxable form now, however I can assure you the propagation of newborn children is decidedly time consuming <no worries, my friend... you have a much more rewarding endeavor in your children> Many thanks Wayne Oxborough

Mis-matched cichlids <Ananda here today...> Is it ok if we put a Discus fish with a Parrot fish? <Discus prefer soft, acidic water...see the discus FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfaqs.htm .... If by "parrot fish" you are referring to a parrot cichlid, well, cichlids prefer hard, alkaline water. And parrot cichlids are hybridized fish, a man-made cross between two different species. See the notes here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichlids.htm ... --Ananda>

Re: Discus/Parrot Fish Can you mix a discus fish with a parrot fish? <<I wouldn't recommend it. Discus are generally shy and a bit timid but they can become territorial when spawning or raising fry. Parrots (at least the ones I've seen) tend to be pretty aggressive. The LFS I used to work at has one that you can't put anything (including your hand) in the tank with. Although I've never found out for sure, I've been told that the Parrots are a cross between a Red Devil and another cichlid. The Red Devil gets it's name accordingly and is one of the meanest Cichlids on the market. Parrots and Discus also like a slightly different Ph. Ronni>>

Discus breeding help Hello all , I am in need of some advice concerning a recent and first spawning of a pair of one year old red turquoise and a orange turquoise, they have both been attentive at watching their eggs but are they are all unfertilized and now quite fungused it has been four days now and they continue to guard the eggs although one more vigilant then the other, I have observed one of them getting a mouthful of food and spitting it at the eggs several times as if to say eat you little eggs?? my question is how long should I let them watch over these unfertilized eggs, should I remove the cone and remove the eggs and replace in the tank and let them try again? Or will they eventually give up and clean/eat the eggs? Could it be I have a pair of lesbians or just a inexperienced male? They are in there own tank with a sponge filter,  daily water changes with /RO water with electro right and discus essentials and proper PH 6.5  any info would be appreciated. Thank you for your time: Alex Petrovics <Hi Alex, if the eggs are not fertilized I would remove them, all they will do is foul your water.  It is not uncommon for a pairs first spawn to be unsuccessful, I would not worry too much just yet.  Best Regards, Gage>

Discus and Water changes Hello Bob, I have a 159 gallon (48"x24x32H) tank.  It has one overflow and I have a 54 gallon trickle filter. I have a mag 18 pump for the tank return. (can turn it down)   <I like strong flow, but this is a lot for this sized tank and especially so for discus fish> I am considering having 4 - 6 discus in this tank, with possibly a stingray (not sure about stingray yet)   <The tank simply isn't big enough for that many fishes. Max recommended stocking level would be four adult discus. They can easily reach 5-8" each as adults... some get even larger. Even with five discus... that would only be one large fish per 10 gallons... rather crowded if not cruel. The stingray is simply not even possible here (tank size)> My question is that if I were to keep the water parameters in real good shape (by a low bioload and good filter) why then does everyone tell me that I have to change 50% of the water out everyday 2 days??   <for starters... your desired mix is a high bio-load by any definition. These fish can reach adult size in 2 years. As empathetic aquarists that's not long at all to plan in advance for a healthy maturation to adult size. I realize the tank looks big when they are babies... but babies grow up <G>> Is this because of the growth inhibiting hormone that they give off? or is it because they'll get diseased?   <Discus are indeed very sensitive to water quality... much more so than most other fishes. Daily water changes is standard with breeders and wholesalers to maintain health. Every other day for a home tank is not unusual. Anything less than weekly is unlikely to help you succeed in the long run. Do read up more on discus care... they are wonderful fishes and so very beautiful... but they are labor intensive. More challenging than saltwater aquaria by far> I don't understand if the ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and PH are ok? <there simply is so much more to water quality... DOC levels, Redox, microbial populations. And all in the presence of higher temperatures that discus like can easily lead to serious complications> then why so many changes? <nature/needs of the beast> Thank you so much p.s. you've been a tremendous amount of help to me with my SW tanks. (along with your book) thanks again Lynn <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Discus, Stingray, Water Changes Hello Bob, <Hello Lynn>    I have a 159 gallon (48"x24x32H) tank.  It has one overflow and I have a 54 gallon trickle filter. I have a mag 18 pump for the tank return. (can turn it down) <Good. A bit brisk>   I am considering having 4 - 6 discus in this tank, with possibly a stingray (not sure about stingray yet) <Have seen these Amazonians kept together... spectacular>   My question is that if I were to keep the water parameters in real good shape (by a low bioload and good filter) why then does everyone tell me that I have to change 50% of the water out everyday 2 days??  Is this because of the growth inhibiting hormone that they give off? or is it because they'll get diseased?  I don't understand if the ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and PH are ok? then why so many changes?   <Mmm, likely a few things, reasons for the large, regular water change suggestions. Many folks hold that Discus are quite sensitive to "metabolite build-up", their wastes mal-affecting them... so dilution is one route to counter this. Also, freshwater stingrays, though mostly sedentary, are relatively large, heavy animals that eat and eliminate, defecate a bunch... Both of these points are valid... and both can be countered in other ways: live plant use in the tank and/or sump/s, chemical filtrant (like Polyfilter, GAC/Granulated Activated Carbon) use... The good news here is that the fishes act as very good bio-indicators... you can see them "turning dark", becoming more oriented to the corners... if/when water quality is sliding. I encourage you (if you intend to go ahead with these fishes or just the Discus) to look into a largish Reverse Osmosis unit for making water... a means to store, heat it in anticipation of use (like in a Rubbermaid Brute (no, we don't own stock in the company) trash can and cover...) and place this near the tank for ease of changing> Thank you so much p.s. you've been a tremendous amount of help to me with my SW tanks. (along with your book) thanks again Lynn <Glad to find this to be so. Bob Fenner>

Questions (elephant ear and discus) I have two questions (one saltwater and one freshwater) <nope, sorry one or the other, just kiddin.> First: Regarding Amplexidiscus sp. (elephant ears) do clown fish host with them?  I have never read anything of the such, but I thought I would check. <I am not familiar with any successful relationships between the two.  Trouble is... elephant ears are known fish eaters.> Are they fairly stationary or do they move around like anemones? <fairly stationary> Could you keep one with a bubble tip anemone or would they clash? <Quite dangerous... high aggression> And would a 29G mini-reef be too small for one? <yup, elephant ears get huge.> Second: I have a 100 G freshwater planted tank (ph 6.0-6.5, hardness minimal-all peat soaked RO/DI water, temp 78-82) heavily planted (large red tiger lotus, Japanese spatterdock, red Rubin sword, etc) with small schools (10-15 fish) of amber, cardinal, Rummynose, Costello, dwarf Pencilfishes, Hatchetfish tetras and 10 panda Corys and 20 or so pygmy Corys along with a 2 Harrison Pencilfish, 3 emperor tetras, 2 Kerri (king) tetras, 1 black phantom and a Bristlenose Pleco, bulldog Pleco, and several Otocinclus.  Okay, after all that background info, I was thinking about adding a pair of pigeon blood discus.  I think the water quality is good enough but I have concerns about whether my smaller tetras would disappear?  In your experience are Discus fairly peaceful toward smaller tank mates?  also I have several small freshwater shrimp in the tank.  Are they future discus food? <sounds like a gorgeous tank, I might hold off on the Discus, could get a little cramped, and yes your small fish could become food.  Really depends on the Discus.  Safest bet is to rely on the fact that big fish eat little fish. Best Regards, Gage> Thanks for your advice. Steve Thornton MD

Discus Hey Gang! Can you believe  I  don't have a question for y'all! <I'm hoping that you are selling Girl Scout cookies then> I actually just snapped this shot of my Discus (Schmidt-Focke German Turquoise), and thought I'd share it with someone that might appreciate it. <in fact I do very much, my friend :) Before my coral farm and greenhouse, I had a small/med discus hatchery (3000 gallons). This was late 1980s/early 1990s. I have a fine appreciation for these old bloodlines> Filtration on the 20 H is merely a Emperor 400. I've had this fish for about 2 years, and recently had to move it to the 20 gal. (turned the 70 gallon he was in to saltwater). Hopefully the Amazon swords on either side of the tank will fill in the space nicely in time!  Thanks to the whole crew  at WWM for all the effort put into this site. Sincerely, Scott in Denver <thanks kindly for sharing, my friend... and the kudos. You have a magnificent fish there. Anthony>

Am I cycling again? More than that! Hi-- you guys are life-savers. Your site is such a help, I can't tell you. <thanks kindly... sorry for the delay in response. Catching up with e-mail> But I need a bit of specific steerage, I think-- or maybe just a hand-holding to tell me I'm doing okay now... I have a long-established, planted 50 gallon discus tank which had three part-grown fish. I added two and four tiny ones (I know-- when they reach adulthood, I will be overcrowded-- but I'm not expecting them to all  make it. And if they do, I know a fish guy who will gladly adopt). <Yikes... there are two huge flaws in this strategy. Discus (like many FW fishes) give off growth-inhibiting hormones that stunt the growth of smaller/weaker individuals. Unless you are doing daily water changes, these smaller specimens you have added don't have a prayer of growing. Now, as far as you statement that you don't expect all to survive... I am dumbstruck as to why not?! I would like to think you keep all fishes well enough to have every confidence they will survive> My problem: I had an acid crash which I think was precipitated by a huge drop in my carbonate hardness, simultaneous with the addition  of the two new guys. <I hope this was not from using untempered RO/DO or Distilled water. Never to be done... always buffer a bit. Even for Blackwater Amazonian species (which you do not have)> Though I stabilized the Ph as carefully as I could, one of my old discus and one of the new ones died. I did 25% water changes every couple of days over the last week, and bought two more new guys to replace the lamented dead-- who happened to be the two biggest ones in the tank. Everyone now looks fine-- spread fins, bright eyes, good color, active schooling, happy exploration around the tank in group missions. But one of the new darlings, on close inspection at home under good light, turns out to have gray skin-- that fungal infection. <its not a fungal infection. Fungal infections are extremely rare in fishes. Protozoan infections from unquarantined discus are very common and contagious, however. I have to say, my friend... I am torn here between wanting to help you on one hand, and wanting to berate you on the other for your reckless disregard for life. Even on base terms of financial investment... why would anybody take a disease-prone family of fishes (Discus) and add new undersized ones into a tank with an unfair advantage... unquarantined(!)... and only days after kin had died? Even though you explain the deaths as pH related... what of the increased risk of disease with the stressed survivors? I am truly saddened to hear of the whole affair. You need a lot more patience and information to keep discus... perhaps fishes at large.> I treated that this morning with Jungle's Fungus Eliminator. <a good medication, but ineffective here... and what's worse is that you treated the main tank! Not only was this medication a waste of money, but this antibiotic has killed a portion of your biological filter> Everyone still seems happy, though, <relative to...?> with the exception of the ravenous babies, they're picking at food very lightly. I'm removing it with a wide pipette as best I can when it gets left (easy with a piece of Discus delight, not so easy with wandering frozen bloodworms). My nitrates, which had been over 110 (as high as the kit tests) <actually... you have staggering nitrate levels... likely from a lack of water changes (which also mitigates acidosis like the pH crash you've experienced). Nitrate on a test kit needs to be multiplied by 4.4 to get the actual nitrate levels (Nitrate ion versus nitrate as nitrogen). So even if your tank was known to be at only 110ppm on the test kit... your actual nitrate is around 500ppm (possibly much higher). This level is obscene and quite indicative of water quality> when the acid fall happened, are now, with the water changes and the use of Nitra-sorb in my box filter (Tetratec 300)  somewhere between 20 and 40. <yes... water changes please> But my carbonate hardness still wants to keep switching down, testing daily at 30 or 35 although I am carefully adding KH booster in the recommended amounts. And my Ph, which I am trying to sketch down to 6.5, wants to stay at 7.0 even though I am adding daily Ph Adjust down in the recommended amount. The fish all came from 7.0 or higher, but really, I know they'll be much better off with the lower P, if I can just get it to settle down around 6.5. Nitrites and ammonia both tested at zero until this evening, when I got trace ammonia and light nitrite readings. <that would be the medications used in the display (and not a proper QT) killing nitrifying faculties> I added some Cycle, <a waste of money IMO> assuming my biological filter's been sorely depleted by all the water changes. <ahhh...no. Water changes have absolutely no impact on nitrifying bacteria unless you are throwing away bio-media. These faculties are benthic and not touched by the dilution of tank water> So. Is the tank in a cycle stage again (if so, fine. I'll just watch it like a hawk and do gentle, frequent water changes. <simple damage from meds> But how do I get the carbonate hardness to behave and the Ph to reduce slowly? <a better test kit and a better buffer would be my advice> And should I put in Ammo Lock 2 if the ammonia sketches up any further by morning? <just a water change please> A major water change is, due to the Fungus Eliminator, out as an option until Friday a.m.-- <I'm not sure why it would be out of the question? This drug (like most) has a life in aquarium water of less than 12 hours (actually about 4-6 hours in this case). Hence the reason for daily and twice daily dosing of most meds. You water change will not phase efficacy after 6 hours of the dose> but then, the aquarium's biological filtration isn't going to much care for yet another big water change, is it? Judy Waytiuk <I'm thinking that you would benefit tremendously from attendance of a good local aquarium society. Some better books at least. The sheer number of misinformed choices and perceptions that you've recited tells me that you may not be getting accurate advice from your local fish store or other counsel. The help you need is far bigger than a single e-mailed reply. Let me apologize for the disappointment and dry wit above, but I am truly saddened to hear the choices you made and the rationale (assumptive) behind them. Please take my advice and spare some lives and your labor: don't by another fish until you've bought some better books and read them. And then still don't buy another fish until you've bought a simple QT tank to put all potential new fishes in first for 4 weeks (no exceptions). Read more in the wetwebmedia.com archives about protocol for quarantine. Best regards, Anthony>

pH shock-- curable? I did something very stupid just over a week ago-- I introduced an old piece of mahogany driftwood I had into my discus tank. I had used the driftwood years ago in another discus tank, and it provided a good buffering pillow. I was about to introduce two new discus and also thought they'd like the shelter it provided, as the three discus already present had pretty much staked out their favorite spots around their piece of driftwood. Darned if the new/old driftwood didn't leach scarily-large amounts of nitrate into the water (which I didn't even think to check because everything else-- ammonia, nitrite, PH all tested fine), and drive the carbonate hardness down to near zero-- and, of course, cause an acid fall-- from 7.0 to 6.2 between Friday afternoon and Sunday night. Well, I've pulled out that hunk of driftwood and carefully and slowly corrected the water conditions (PH back to 7.0, carbonate hardness 50 ppm, general hardness 80 ppm or 4.5 dh, no detectable nitrites or ammonia, nitrates still high at 50 ppm but much better than the 110 they were!) and the discus are now looking a lot less stressed, as long as I don't walk up to the tank, since they now connect me with Big Scary water changes instead of yummy food. Their fins are barely clamped and are spread full much of the time, body colour a bit dull but not dark anymore, eyes better-- still a bit dull, but the red colour's back But nobody's eaten a thing for six days. And they're still not at all frisky. They mostly hang about their old pieces of driftwood Obviously, they endured PH shock. Can they recover? Can I help them recover? <More than nitrate was released by the wood... I would make a large (25%) water change (with pre-conditioned water) today, maybe another tomorrow... and place some activated carbon (several ounces) in your filter flow path. Do your discus have favorite food items? I would try these. Bob Fenner> Judy Waytiuk

Bogus Fish Medication/Advice If anyone can help me, then that would be you guys!   <OK... Bonzai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!> I have a question for you guys, I have a 55 gallon planted tank.  135 watts of light, 125 and 170 penguin BioWheels and a hot magnum.  My PH is 6.4, my general hardness is 5 degrees and my nitrites and ammonia are zero.  I bought a couple of discus a week and a half ago, and they both came down with what seems almost immediately upon introduction to the tank with some sort of ailment.   <and you've learned a very hard lesson that too many do... the need to quarantine all new fish in a separate hospital tank first. Never add new fish directly to a display... especially sensitive and disease prone species like discus. Please read through our articles and archives on how to properly run QT. 4 weeks minimum, please> They are a dark dark brown or black, with cloudy eyes and like a powdery covering of white on the body.   <many possibilities here... but they likely need to be treated as if for parasites. Formalin baths and salt in a bare-bottomed QT tank. You cannot medicate the main tank. It will run fallow while fish are in QT for a month. Bare bottomed QT with daily siphoning of tank bottom to reduce parasites and larvae needed> They will not eat, and initially I started treating them with Melafix, but it must have striped the oxygen from the tank and all of the fish were hanging at the top.   <it is a bogus product and at best cannot be used as a primary medicant. We get a tremendous amount of negative feedback on such holistic products... yet I cannot recall hearing one good comment for every 100 bad ones. Makes you wonder if the one percent success rate isn't just coincidence anyway> So the LFS recommended Maracyn (ungodly expensive) for treatment. <grossly ignorant if not irresponsible of your LFS. Maracyn is a gram positive antibiotic... less than 20% of all bacterial infections are gram positive, and of them only a tiny fraction respond to Maracyn ( which is common and outdated Erythromycin). To add insult to injury in your case... there is nothing to suggest that this infection is even remotely bacterial in nature. There is a pretty sweet profit margin on medications though :) > After three days the discus are still very dark in color, <Oh, ya...> inactive and not eating the white powdery film on the their bodies may have somewhat gone away, <sloughing of mucus... natural response> but their eyes are still cloudy.  Is there any way that I can coax them into eating, that would only help them heal faster, you would think.   <higher, stable temperatures with extremely vigorous aeration. Target 84-86F> If this is not the correct treatment for these fish, <no kidding... this wasn't even a treatment at all... you were given very poor advice> what would the proper treatment be?   <as per above... Formalin (Aquarium Products and several others brands available) and isolation in QT> I would really hate to lose these two fish, I have very high expectations of them.   <I suspect that they have high expectations for life too> There is no Plecos to harass them, and only peaceful smaller fish in the tank.  All of the other fish are perfectly normal and healthy.  I appreciate your time.  Thank you Dave McCorkell <Dave... please invest in a good diagnostic book on diseases (low end but very good: Handbook of Fish Diseases by Untergasser... and high end, the Noga reference). Also buy a good discus book. Worthwhile investments before you buy any more fishes. Best regards, Anthony>

Royal Blue Discus, FW Algae Control, Seastars, Aiptasia Control... I just discovered your web site yesterday and have spent more time on it than I care to admit.  I am truly impressed, great web site. keep up the good work.  I wish tools like this were available in 1965 when I first started (whoops, did I just give away my age?). <It'll be our little secret.> I have two royal blue discus in a 60 gallon setup (about a year old and adult size), PH - 6.4, temp - 85 degrees, with weekly water changes using only distilled water.  Usually no problems and everything is great, but whenever they get stressed (like when the Santa Ana winds start blowing the house down) they get small white patches along their lateral line (larger and thicker than ich) and throughout their body.  If I use Hex-A-Mit they go away within a couple of days and everything is back to normal.  Does this sound parasitic or fungal (I assume it isn't the beginning of hole-in-the-head because they disappear too fast)? <Does not sound like HLLE, most likely stress related.  Using un buffered distilled water can cause unstable water conditions.  if the hardness of this tank is below 40ppm and the pH is below 6.7)... then these discus could easily be suffering from acidosis (too low pH, too fast).> Also, any way to control the algae?  The aquarium is planted  (using two 40 watt Trichromatics on 12 hours a day) and the older leaves on the Echinodorus get algae on them.  I tried mystery snails, but they just keep eating up the leaves on my lotus and Aponogetons. <A bunch of ways, mainly nutrient control. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm > One last question.  Are there any safe sea stars for a reef tank?  Is there any way to kill those little annoying anemones?  I purchased a peppermint shrimp to control them but he's having too much fun eating other things (okay, two last questions. thanks and keep up the good work). <Yes there are "reef safe" stars, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm I would go with the peppermint shrimp approach.  The Copper-band Butterfly is a known Aiptasia eater, but will most likely die once all the Aiptasia is gone.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm >

RO water for Discus fish I am in the process of cycling an 80-gallon tank that will have discus fish and live plants in it.  This is my set-up:  Bio-balls for biological filtration, CAP-2200 pump, AquaClear 402 powerhead to circulate the water, carbon filter media, lighting system to be added soon, epoxy-coated gravel. No fish or plants have been added yet.  Tank has been running for about 1 week now.  I added all RO water (PH 6.5), treated it with dechlorinator, <Great to read of your study, cautious preparations... the dechlorinator is likely unnecessary... the R.O. device will/does remove sanitizer> and added a product called RO vital (product made by Marc Weiss to put back necessary elements to tank water that RO water doesn't have).  Overnight PH went to 7.6.  I believe PH increase was due to RO vital product. <You are correct. I would not use this product> Now I have to condition the water to bring PH back down to 6.5 range and keep it that way.  What is the best way to due this?  By the way my KH is 71.6ppm and GH is 73.7ppm. <Mmm, I would use a "simple" inorganic acid, likely sodium biphosphate (sold as "pH Down", other products) in this set of circumstances... And possibly... start to add live plants that you'd like... Do you intend to augment CO2? If so, I would start this up... the carbonic acid will nick away at the alkaline reserve which is the Weiss product... Bob Fenner>

RO water for Discus fish I was told to use these products to naturally condition my water and lower PH after using the RO vital product:  Instant Amazon and Ketapang vital (both Marc Weiss products). <... So? Someone sold you some things... These products are not held in high regard by most of the people here...> Tried their suggested dosages for new startups and PH is still 7.6.  I don't want to keep adding this stuff, but maybe I have to in order to get the PH right. <No> Do you know anything about these products? <Yes> Will they eventually work? <Not IMO/E... We can, maybe should start further back in this... do you have any of the popular Discus books? Access to Jack Wattley's columns in TFH Magazine? Time to read over what is posted re Symphysodon on the Net? You would do well to spend some time studying... and not buying...> They contain fulvic and humic acids and other natural vitamins, hormones, and trace elements. <... Have them tested by a quality assurance laboratory. These products are unnecessary, not-useful for your situation.> I was told that CO2 does lower the PH, but it wears off and fast. <... Depending on the "source" of the alkaline reserve, carbonic acid in solution can have a decided effect in lowering pH "point"... Please take a read through the water chemistry articles, FAQs posted on our root web: WetWebMedia.com> I would have tried the PH proper 6.5 or PH down, but company warned not to use these products in tanks with live plants because they rob plant life from iron and zinc and algae loves the phosphates. <Some validity to this argument, but far better to use it than not> My husband has suggested to try Muriatic acid which is simple and inexpensive. <No! Please have him e-chat with me... and NOT use 3M hydrochloric acid... very dangerous> I appreciate your insight and love your site (been on it over 2 hours reading and realizing that I am not the only one out there pulling their hair out with this "fish addiction!"). <Ahh, certainly not. Glad to have you amongst us. Let's keep conversing till you have firmly, confidently in mind what your choices are, and a basal understanding of underlying principles. Not to appear as an apologist, but there are many "phony" products in our trade (I am an old timer in the industry, as well as an earnest science and hobby type), and unfortunately the "nature of retail" that otherwise well-intentioned people sell some of these "magical elixirs"... Many labels are just outright fabrications... a little investigation shows this clearly. Take a read through the various chatforums, BB's (ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/) re brands, manufacturers... and please cast your votes (buy) with knowledge of what you're getting. Bob Fenner>

RO water for Discus fish Hi Bob, Thanks for your reply and honesty.  I have done much reading here and there about Discus fish and everyone appears to have their own opinion, and I tend to get more confused the more I read. <Then please keep delving... there are good reasons for the disparities... "Many roads..." being one of them... the fact that wild Discus versus tank-bred generations are wildly different...> I promise I will read the suggested items you have mentioned here.  Let's back track here for a moment.  I get this 80 gallon-tank and fill it with RO water.  What, in your expertise, do I need to add and do to this water to get it up and running for Discus.  My main concerns here are 1) replenishing the tank with the beneficial elements/minerals RO water no longer has for fish life and <Need to know "what" is in your source water that concerns/concerned you... I assure you, Discus breeders use tapwater in the twenty or so countries I've been to where have encountered their facilities. You may need to do "nothing" other than dechloraminate your water... or perhaps blend a little tap/mains water back in with the R.O... More, many more people cause themselves problems fooling with water chemistry than any other source of mortality captive aquatics.> 2) how to decrease PH if it rises above 6.8. <Again... depends on what type of Discus you intend to keep, what the source of alkalinity is... Talk with people in your vicinity who keep Symphysodon... I wouldn't worry about the near neutral pH water. Bob Fenner>

Discus in community tank I would like to get a pair of Discus in my 90 gallon tall community tank; everyone tells me that they belong in a species tank. Isn't it true they can get along with peaceful fish like tetras and white clouds? << As long as the needs of the Discus are met (they're definitely less forgiving then others, do your research) yes, they're fine in uncrowded, carefully chosen community systems. Cheers, Zo>>

Eheim Maintenance Hi, Regarding the Eheim Pro II filter model 2028. Many of the marine equipment vendor sites claim that you only have to clean this filter every 3 to 4 months. <Mmm, this can be so... I have two of these units on freshwater systems... and rarely open them> I was under the impression reading your site and others that the filter pads for mechanical filtration should be cleaned much more frequently (perhaps weekly). Is the Eheim really an exception to this advice?? <Not really an exception. Depending on the "job" you intend, have these canister filters set up to do... your particular needs/arrangements of feeding, foods, other filtration... they may only need to be cleaned very intermittently. The best practical advice is to try them and open them up, see if matter is accumulating on the media (on mine it does not much at all)> Would you recommend 2 Eheims, one for mechanical filtration and one for biological filtration( perhaps a wet/ dry model) in a 100 gallon discus tank? <I do recommend two... but would set them up the same (per the excellent media provided and) their packing instructions> My thinking is that the mechanical filter can be cleaned more frequently, and the filter used for bio filtration can be cleaned less frequently as per your sites suggestions. <As stated, I believe you will find as I have that these are so well designed and made that there is very little accumulation of matter on the mechanical media. I would work into a schedule in concert with your regular water changes, of opening one every other week for a while (to access how "dirty" the first media is) and the following interval the other one. Bob Fenner, who really likes these units> Thanks, Bill

White worms crawling on the glass of my aquarium I have a 90 gal. tank with four discus in it which is also planted. I have noticed what appears to be small white worms crawling on the glass and swimming freely, can you tell me what they are? <Not specifically... as in down to species. But I assure you, these are likely some sort of innocuous earthworm-like animal (oligochaete annelid) and not harmful to your fish or system. These sorts of critters "pop-up" quite often, particularly in aquariums that have excess food, too little circulation/filtration... and very often "disappear" of their own accord. Do keep your eye on water quality and in time you will likely find they have gone. Bob Fenner>

Soft Water, High pH Hi! <Howdy!> Regarding keeping a 100 gallon Discus Fish tank: My tap water measurements- pH 8.6 dh Total hardness 7.1 dh Alkalinity 2.1 dh <holy cow! way too high on the pH for the SA discus fish.!!! How involved would it be, and is it practical to try to bring the water parameters in line with what discus require, that is a much lower pH, keeping the water soft, but having enough of a buffer to keep the pH stable. <all with reason. And if you want to have the best color and even any prayer of them breeding... this pH must come down. Some buffer is good indeed for a stable pH, but 7dKHis just plain hard water and will significantly if not severely affect the fertility of your discus spawns. Eggs may still be lain... but the fertility will be awful. I used to own a 3,000 gallon discus hatchery in a region with similar medium hard water.> I know its all a juggling act, but at my modest skill level I can't evaluate the complexity of what may be involved. Is it as simple as lowering the pH with peat moss, or Muriatic acid or other product) and keeping a close eye on the pH?  <peat is stimulating for other reasons and recommended if you like or don't mind the tannins... but it is too tedious for water softening. Resist the use of acid (use only to tweak chemistry on occasion). Control softness and pH easily by learning to mix DI or RO in with your tap water to get a pH closer to or below 7.0 and a hardness closer to or below 100ppm> Is the buffering capacity of the water high enough to help maintain a stable, lower pH, or would I have to add a carbonate buffer to insure that it remains stable? Will determining this be a process of trial and error, and if so can you advise on the best way to go about it in a logical fashion. Thanks for any help you can give, Bill<as per above, my friend... best regards, Anthony>

Strange White Protrusion! Greetings Bob, Anthony et al! One specimen of my shoal of six Cobalt Red Discus has a 1 mm diameter X 3 mm in length smooth white protrusion poking out of his left side right out of the upper lateral line. About mid way down his side. No "eyes" visible on this strange growth. I observe my fish VERY closely. First noticed it three days ago as a small white dot. It looked as though he might have lost a scale. (They do nip at each other when feeding) Now over the past 72 hours it is definitely growing in length; though not in diameter. It is smooth, white to a slightly cream color. No swelling or soreness around the exit where this "thing" emerges. This shoal has been together since birth. Six months old and about 4" in diameter. No new fish have been introduced. His activity and feeding is normal; voraciously eating my beef heart recipe out of my hand as usual. I can touch these fish and this growth seems firm but flexible. Sure seems like some critter to me! Nothing fuzzy about it! Seemingly healthy pot planted 65 gallon, pH 6.7, TDS 85, temp 84 (though I'm starting to go up gradually) Eheim 2128 thermofilter, Emperor 280, Ebo Jager 200w, Aqua 25 watt UV on the Eheim return, Milwaukee controller CO2 injected and very stable, 36" air curtain with Luft pump. What might this thing be and how can I remove/exterminate it? Thanks! Charlie DeLorme <very fine set up and stock. Possible sources of import for a "critter" would be live plants and I've foods, naturally. If the fish can be caught without too much trouble... a simple swab of the area with Merthiolate/iodine should take care of it easily. Cover the fish completely out of water with a towel that has been wet with aquarium water. A fish with its eyes covered with not move much or at all... plenty of time to work... no hurry, they can be out for minutes and you only need a good 10-20 seconds. Drain the tank into a barrel before catching fish safely in shallow water and then use a powerhead to pump water back in easily. A fast sure way to catch fish in a full tank with little harm. Anthony>

HELP! Strange Protuberance Part II <Anthony Calfo with the follow up... I noticed the title of your query in the mailbox and thought perhaps you saw a picture of Bob in a speedo> Forgot to mention I do two weekly 25% water changes. Carefully matched in temp and H2O parameters. I thoroughly vacuum the bottom. Water is crystal clear. Not overfeeding. No excessive algae. Plants are growing and healthy. Just small algal growth on driftwood upon which the Discus actually pick. I do have 1/4" maximum of gravel (doesn't totally cover the bottom but makes the smooth rock pots blend in a little better) This critter or whatever it is really makes me nervous! I hand selected these fish from Bing Seto in Alameda, California. Don't want to lose any! They're so friendly and cheerful! Not to mention beautiful! Charlie <can you send a digital picture (downsized and no zip please) for clarification. Kindly, Anthony>

Discus Hi Bob: I think I have the problem in hand. I neglected to mention that I have two skylights in the house (6X2 feet) nearby the aquarium. What I have done is leave the lights off totally. Of course with the addition of the gravel there will be some cloudiness for awhile, but now there is no green in the water. Thanks again for all your help. <Sunlight is "good" if there is some use for it... again, I encourage you to try at least some live plant material in the system to utilize the insulation, available nutrients... maybe just some Watersprite, Ceratopteris... Have recently reviewed new catalogs by Dennerle and Bioplast (from last months Interzoo trade show in Germany)... and they had listings of several species of plants for Discus tanks. Bob Fenner> Sincerely Jane Renno

Discus tank algae water (not plants, etc.) Dear Mr. Fenner: <Hello> I have had discus for 20years, and two years ago I started a new discus (pure) tank. In mid April this year the City of London changed its water supply, and ever since then my discus tank water is green with algae despite the fact I take down 3/4 of the tank weekly.  <A "way of the world" most everywhere I'm afraid> Of course my discus love this algae water, but it looks awful! My ph level is 6.8, no ammonia etc. My temperature is kept at 86 to 88 degrees F. They are fed three times a day with morning and evening feeding being frozen blood worms, and the noon feeding being dried blood worms and sinking tablets I have no live plants in the tank, but rather some plastic plants, driftwood and a ceramic bridge. I have 12 different size discus in a 72 gallon bow tank. My husband's tank is a 40 gallon community tank species, and I change the water exactly as I do my discus, and his tank is crystal clear all the time!  <Less feeding, more neutral pH, lower temperature... Your system is much more "vivacious" metabolically.> My feeding in his tank is flake food, shrimp pellets and cube dried Tubifex worm. What is my problem with the discus?  <Mmm, problem? Nothing. With the tank... a particular imbalance... you might try chemical filtrants... possibly lowering the pH... I would really like to see some live plant material here or in a companion system that is tied in with your discus... have live plants...> I am at my wits end with the constant water changing and no results. Most recently I took out all the decorations (nothing in the tank but the fish with the sand bottom), lowered the water temperature to 84 degrees F and kept the lights (fluorescent) off, but to no avail. Two days later the water was green again. Please help me solve this problem as all the aquarium shops in London have no answer. Thank you.  <Do you have tests for nitrate, phosphate content in your system water? A short term "fix" might be simply rigging up a small Ultraviolet Sterilizer (TMC's Vectron units are my choice here, in the UK) with some water flow diverted through the unit via a canister filter (an additional source of redress might be the canister with a sandwiched mass of peat in it) or small powerhead/internal pump. Let's keep chatting, discussing your situation, efforts till you're satisfied. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Back to the Discus Hi Bob: <Hello Jane> Thank you for your info. I read everything I could on adding plants to the aquarium, and all my sources said that you couldn't add plants with a sand base. <Usually not... with fine sand... there are several potential problems... or anaerobiosis and its malaffects, possible leaching of silicates...> So in anticipation of having to add plants I went to Aquarium Services (London, Ontario, Canada) and got some additional information. The chap there seemed to think that my filtration system and sand could be the culprit in my "green" water. <Yes, a very probably contributor> To make a long story shorter, I worked over five hours yesterday completely removing my sand, remaining driftwood. I put in gravel and decorated the tank with entirely new plants (artificial) and replaced the driftwood. He also suggested I should add a bio-chem Zorb pouch to the tank, which I did.  <Good suggestion> The filtration system I am using now is an Emperor double bio-wheel. I previously had used a powerhead with undergravel plate. In the event I have to replace the filtration system (if what I am trying doesn't work), what would you suggest?  <To add a canister filter in addition to the hang-on... If it's not too dear an Eheim model> It was hard cutting back on their food, particularly since these guys follow me from one end of the tank to the other when I go to different rooms.  <It's better for them> I'm sitting there eating a sandwich at lunch and they are just staring at me, like feed me too. They would be in the middle of the tank then swim to the side of the fridge and back again telling me they want their frozen blood worms. Believe me, these fish aren't stupid, and they do know their keeper!!! <Agreed> So I'm still feeding them 3X per day. but cutting back in the quantity at each feeding. <Ah, good> I have kept the lights off in their tank, and reduced the temperature to 82 degrees. The ph is 6.6 So far the water hasn't turned green, but it is far too early to tell if this will remain the case. <I suspect your problems are over. The green water condition might recur to a much smaller extent, but should be transient (days)> Again, thanks for your help, and please let me know what filtration system I should buy in the event this doesn't work (one I can get in Canada). Sincerely Jane <We shall be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Discus Situation Dear Bob: Thank you for your reply re my green algae in the discus tank. I think this web site is great, and I didn't know it existed until today.  <Glad we have found each other> I do all the tests for water quality, and everything is as it should be. When you said to lower the ph, how low would you go. I thought 6.6 was ideal. It has dropped on a few occasions to 6.0 and the discus were not happy campers. <The mid sixes is about what I would shoot for> When I had live plants years ago I found that they really fouled the water, and that's why I have just had the artificial. I was even thinking of getting rid of the plants altogether and using just driftwood and granite structures for decoration. A good or bad idea?  <Mmm, good question... Bad for practical reasons if you were principally a breeder of Symphysodon... But good to have break-up of the physical environment with "something/s" for their psychological benefit> I love the discus as I have had them for so many years, and find it very unusual that I would be encountering this problem after all this time. Too bad the fish like their little algae home (but I don't)!  <As you state, the water itself has changed... and once "green water" gets situated... it has insidious and incredible ways of modifying "its" environment to favor itself.> I will keep you posted. What you advise for the ph I will follow, and cut down their food to two feedings a day and experiment with that first before I make any more additions. Thanks for your help and I will let you know the progress in eliminating this green. <Very good. We'll see soon enough. Bob Fenner> Sincerely Jane

CO2 Injection (for live plants, Discus system) Greetings and thank you for your previous advice on the Eheim 2128 Pro II Thermofilter! And thank you for Wet Web Media and many hours of dedication to our passion! After forty years of fishkeeping we're setting up our first pot planted 60g Discus tank (months in the study, planning and acquisition of components; sparing virtually no expense) <Yikes! Am I too old for you to adopt?> and are debating the addition of a CO2 injection system with pH controller, solenoid, the works so to speak. I've been to many sites trying to decide if the CO2 system cost is valuable enough in controlling pH and helping our plants and livestock to justify the addition. <It is> Particularly in maintaining pH for Discus which we will be introducing several months down the road. If it will assist in providing a better environment for our future family of Discus I'll go for it! <You will not be disappointed> We will be running water into the RO storage unit and "firing" up the tank in the next two weeks. Your recommendation as to advisability of CO2 and manufacturers of good components would be most helpful. Wildriv, AKA Charlie DeLorme <Mmm, do "shop around" for advice from actual, recent users here. The various chatforums (ours: http://WetWebFotos.com/talk/) are invaluable for this. Compare features (e.g. better needle-valves, larger CO2... at least five pounds) makes, models and buy the better, bigger... they are worth it. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

RO water and Discus I would like to used RO water in a Discus tank but know that the can not be used by it self. what needs to be added to the water. RGibson <use a water hardness test kit and add enough hard tap water or buffer to bring the water up to 20-60 ppm if you want to breed them or 60-100 ppm for general maintenance (safer when not breeding). Anthony Calfo>

Filter/Heater Selection Bob, I am in the beginning stages of setting up a 110 gallon tall. After 20 years of being out of the hobby, I must say it appears that filter technology has changed a bit. <Indeed!> The fish I am considering are Discuss like I had years ago. I am looking for recommendations on the filter system. I researched the Marineland Emperor 400 and am considering using 2 units to do the job. I have a friend that speaks highly of the Marineland Tide Pool 2. I like the idea of putting the heaters in the sump box. But, I am concerned about the pump flow rate of only 600GPH. Can you make a recommendation? I am open for criticism of all my thoughts. <I am not too concerned re the flow rate... and Discus themselves have changed, mostly improved greatly the last couple of decades... much more tolerant by and large of abnormal (not soft, acidic, very warm) water... and more accepting of prepared foods... The filtration mentioned should be fine. Do check into the various "Discus Forums" on the Net, some of the more recent excellent books, magazine columns on Symphysodon. Bob Fenner> Ron Jarosinski

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