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  1. #1
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    Planning a new discus tank, help needed

    Hey there, so I started my 50 gallon SA with a goal in mind of learning the skills to keep fish and plants well by low tech means, so that in the future i could step into a high tech discus tank. I don't really want to do bare bottom or a species tank (i can be convinced) because i like to see a live thriving ecosystem instead of a bunch of fish trapped in a glass box...call me silly but i don't like looking at fish that i feel live in an environment too distinguished from their natural habitat. I've got some plans for my next tank and i wanted to see what ya'll think.


    Tank - 125 gallon with double overflows
    Filtration - 40gallon breeder custom sump/refugiumClick image for larger version. 

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    Heat - 4 x aqueon pro 200w
    Lights - ???(ideas? 5wpg is all i can think of lol)
    Co2 - pressurized high tech (This is where i need some help with who makes good stuff...cost...well i don't really care TOO much, but i need a good regulator, bubble counter....ph monitor...etc. Does anybody know of a good control head that could monitor and automate?)
    Substrate - Mineralized topsoil capped with mixed sand and #3 gravel black
    Plants - Amazon sword, dwarf sags, vals americana gigantia
    Livestock
    6-8 x discus
    2 x ghost knives
    2 x ancistrus dolichopterus L183
    2 x some sort of dwarf panaque probably clown
    20 x pricilla tetras
    30 x corydoras

    I know its going to be allot of work...but i like work and have no problem putting it out when there is a payoff.

    now obviously i'm not going to try and pop discus into a new unstable tank with Co2 and see how things go...I'm planning on building the tank in may and adding discus some time next winter if things stabilize quickly
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi







  2. #2
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    I realized i forgot a couple things....

    Pump - no idea on brand...just something around 1200 GPH? The tank will be about 4 ft above the sump
    Target Temp - 84 degrees
    Target pH - 6.0
    Blackwater maintained with wood and India tea leaves.
    Co2 would be injected into the final stage of the sump
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi





  3. #3
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    Your plant load isn't going to require a ton of light, and your sump is going to be fighting against your CO2 addition, so I am guessing you will see a fairly large flucuation between night and day.

    Plus your blackwater and lower pH issues...I'm no expert but I would defiantely go with a pH meter. Problem is, I think and I haven't bothered with the math, but I think with target at 6.0, photo periods, etc etc, I think that pH is going to be swingy.

    Lighting, I would probably go with dual tube t5hos. You might be able to get away with normal t5s, but I think the dwarf sags would appreciate the more intense light.

    You are also going to want some kind of supplemental ferts.



  4. #4
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    I was planning on a pH meter for sure...I'd seen a couple that were set up to control Co2 distribution http://www.ebay.com/itm/Milwaukee-SM...#ht_981wt_1297 is this something i should be considering? or should i just get a monitor and control Co2 myself?

    When you say my sump with fight my Co2 how do you mean? should i put the diffuser up in the tank? or will it simply want to diffuse to much if it out of the water while its being filtered?

    what are my options for keeping my pH from getting "swingy"? should i even be looking at using Co2 on a blackwater tank or just keep strong ferts and light?
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi





  5. #5
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    also...what if i run my refugium on an opposite light cycle? that could keep my swing down right? or am i just screwing with nature too much at that point?
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi





  6. #6
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    I think the sump will have a dendency to offgas CO2 as it goes over that first bioball area in your diagram. Usually when you run CO2 you don't want to run too much surface agitation as it is the agitation that facilitates the gas transfer. You shoot for a 30 ppm CO2 content in your water as that tends to be the sweet spot for plant growth without being detrimental to oxygen for the fish.

    My use of "swingy" is just my gut feeling that your overnight pH might be different than your daylight pH. As CO2 in tank increases, your pH will have a corresponding drop as the water gets more acidic. Most people that use tap and whatever pH comes out of the tap won't really see that difference due to the buffering qualities inherent in tap.

    But you are wanting 6.0 pH and that is starting to get into the area where buffering is not as readily available. So adding CO2 will have a more noticable effect on your pH. It might be that you expereince an effect where your blackwater gets you down to 6.0, but the CO2 for plant growth wants to force you lower. Not saying it isn't possible, its just going to take some fiddling with water chemistry. I would probably go to a forum dedicated to planted tanks and ask some of the experts there with real life experience on this.

    Plus, at the low pH levels you really start to run into issues with increased toxicity of ammonia and nitrtite at the lower levels. Not saying it will be an issue, but it is something that you need to keep an eye on.

    I am guessing that your best bet would be to shoot for black water in a 6.+ area, then see if the CO2 gets you down to the pH that you want. I would also watch that pH meter to make sure that the non-photperiod CO2 additions based on a target pH don't gas out several potenitally expensive fish.

    Here is another concerns I would have about high tech and discus. You are going to potentially be running several large water changes a week. However EI dosing relies on basically over flooding the water column during that week and "reseting" with one large weekly water change. I know people have solved this riddle, but I haven't done the research. It is something to think about though. I am guessing one of the solultions is adult sized discus that don't require almost daily water changes.



  7. #7
    Senior Member discuspaul's Avatar
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    You've set yourself a fairly lofty objective, and I admire you for that kind of commitment, as well as your plan to take your time going about it before diving in to the rather expensive discus-keeping hobby.
    I've been fish-keeping for many years and have kept discus for a long while, and I personally know very few serious, experienced discus keepers who maintain their discus in a significantly high-tech environment. Reason being the two very different aims & needs that can be at play there, at times conflicting, - a) maintaining the proper water quality and stable parameters for successfully keeping discus healthy, while b) dealing with the second goal of suitably maintaining a large high-tech planted tank. It's a tall order.

    Not suggesting it's a collision course by any means, but there was a suggestion in the posts above which I feel is a good one, and that is to spend some time on a planted tank forum (e.g. plantedtank.net), to obtain some expert advice and insight into getting your 125 gal planted tank well set up and running smoothly with stable conditions for some time before you make the plunge into discus, whether adult or otherwise.
    Once you've done that, along with accumulating reasonably detailed background on the requirements of discus-keeping, you'll be good to go.
    That's my best advice for you.
    All the best to you in this endeavor !



  8. #8
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    now, i've had great success with the plants i'm planning on keeping with a lowtech setup, mainly MTS good light and regular ferts/maintenance. My only reasons for thinking about going high tech is that cost isn't really much of an obstacle on this tank. Would it be advisable to simply leave out the Co2 and heavy ferts and go with a simpler setup similar to what i have now just larger, better filtered and capable of housing discus? at the same time i don't mind a challenge and don't mind being required to do large amounts of research and maintenance on my tanks...its what keeps the hobby interesting.
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi





  9. #9
    Senior Member discuspaul's Avatar
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    Although some discus purists would likely advise you to go with a simpler set-up to insure you'd be taking less risks to be more successful with discus, I nevertheless feel that if you're prepared to accept the challenge, give it some 'experience' time to work out the kinks of a high-tech tank, do your research on discus-keeping, and go for it, I say 'why not' ?
    You have previous experience with planted set-ups, and budget doesn't appear to be a major limiting factor, so I can't encourage you not to do it !
    And you're absolutely right, that's what keeps the hobby interesting.

    If you decide to go this route, when you're comfortable with successfully maintaining a high tech tank, and you feel you're ready for discus, I'll be more than glad to help you out with that part of it as much as I possibly can.
    For starters, if you haven't already viewed it, you might want to have a read of my Beginner's Guide to Getting Started with Discus - located here as a Sticky in the Angel Fish and Discus sub-section of Cichlids - it's just a primer of course, but some sections may prove to be helpful.
    I currently keep a low-tech planted tank with some juvie discus, and if you care to have a look, here it is:
    http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...spaul/Sept2011

    Please don't hesitate to PM me at any time if you have any questions.



  10. #10
    wocka wocka wocka! Fozzybear's Avatar
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    okay then, so lets say we're going ahead with this for planning's sake...anybody have thoughts on the layout of my sump? I've read allot about them and looked at lots of designs on the web, but never used one...is there anything i'm missing or i've designed wrong? I'd be building it from a 40b from scratch so...anything is possible i guess. Also...livestock thoughts? I know corys like things a little cooler but I can't imagine them doing terrible 2 degrees higher than what i've got them at currently...and they're thriving as is...I'm trying to absorb the biochem of hightech planting...but there is a max one can learn in a day.
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi





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