discus fish

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anubis63

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Apr 11, 2015
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Robert Mortenson
Sorry, but you will need to give us a lot more information before we are in a position to help you.
Answer these questions to give us some clues as to what the problem may be:

- What size of tank are your 6 discus in ?
- How long has it been set up & how long have you had the discus in it ?
- Did you get the discus all at the same time, from the same source, what was that source, and were they all the same size when you got them ? What size was that ?
- What is your water change routine, how often do you do them, and in what quantity of water volume ?
- Is your tank planted & what substrate do you have in it ? What is your feeding routine & what foods ?
- What is your tank cleansing routine ? Tank temp ? pH in your tank, & out of the tap if you use tap water for WC's.
Sorry about the lack of info. I realized I posted that with no information to go by it's been a tough day. OK, this tank is 90 gal. planted with java fern, various sword plants currently there are about 18 plants. I run CO2 @ 2 bubbles per second. The substrate is a fine sand this tank has been up and running for a year now and I have only raised Discus over the many years in a 150 gal. tank this one is the 90 gal. with just a few others such as Corry Cat Fish and one 8 inch Black Ghost Knife. These fish have been in this tank for about 7 months I bought these 6 Discus at 2 1/2 inches they grew fast and well except for the one I posted about. I purchased them by mail from a trusted breeder I have heavy filtration with plenty of mechanical, Biological ( Ceramic Rings and Plastic Balls ) and some chemical 1 canister 4 chamber filter with UV light for up to 150 gal. and 1 canister 4 chamber filter for up to 75 gal. 1 hang on filter for up to 100 gal. and 1 hang on filter for up to 60 gal. and a surface skimmer. The water is set at 84 deg. F, Ph is stable at 6.8 using drift wood to buffer. I feed them 3 times a day with live black worms then frozen blood worms and Bio-Gold sinking pellets. Light sours is a Currant Satellite Plus Pro on a 9 hour schedule. I do a 25-30 % water change 3-4 times a week. I add Seachem Prime, Flourish excel, Flourish Iron, Flourish plant food, Seachem Discus Trace. Ammonia is 0, Nitrites 0, The Nitrates are a little high sometimes but not to bad at worse it is 40 but usually 20 because of the heavy filtration there is plenty of surface movement needed because of the CO2. I clean the tank glass once a week and do a partial substrate vacuuming with every water change. The tap water Ph is a neutral 7 and is free from excess Nitrates but a little high in Chlorine I change the water with a hose attached to the sink so I add Prime about 3 times as it fills back up. That should cover it and again I am sorry for the first post I look at it and feel a little stupid. :p Thanks for the reply.
 
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discuspaul

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Jun 22, 2010
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After reading your info, I've concluded firstly, that your problem fish is stunted. Since you say that it has not been bullied in any way, it's difficult to diagnose how that problem may have started & developed, but I strongly suspect that over several months your fish has not only become stunted but has been weakened from a health standpoint by poor water quality & conditions, which have caused him to stop eating, darken & deteriorate.
Biggest reason I feel he has succumbed to poor water quality is due to the high level of nitrates in your tank, that fluctuate between 20 and 40 ppm. This is far too high for discus which cannot usually tolerate nitrates much above 15 to 20 ppm on a continuous basis, even as adults which are more forgiving.
Your water change regime is obviously lacking. Your nitrates would not be nearly as high as 20 to 40 if you were doing 30% wcs 3 X a week - they would be around 10 ppm or less. I know because I've been keeping discus on & off for approx. 35 years. They need to be kept in water with nitrate levels of less than 10 ppm on a regular basis to remain healthy & do well on a long term basis.

As you likely know, discus need lots of fresh water on an ongoing basis in order to thrive, and I don't think your discus have received that attention from the time they were small young ones @ 2.5", when it was essential for them to all grow out properly.

Bottom line now is, you can try to isolate that stressed discus by itself in another small tank and see if you can get it to start eating. Put it in a bare-bottom tank, and give it large daily wcs for a week or so to see if that perks it up, gives it some color, and gets it eating.
It's a long shot, and I do feel it likely won't succeed (would like to see a pic of that fish to see how bad a condition it's in) and will eventually perish.
In your shoes, I would probably cull that fish now, and step up your water change & tank cleansing routines to at least take some proper measures for preventing your other discus from falling into ill health.

BTW your 'heavy' filtration is not the answer - fresh water changes, and a thorough tank cleansing & substrate vac on a frequent basis are the only ways to create the good water quality & conditions that discus need. Right now, in a planted environment that doesn't get the necessary attention, there are too many ways that decomposing, undesirable bacteria-producing organic wastes from a variety of sources create a bad environment that no amount of filtration can deal with.

Sorry for seeming to be harsh, but I honestly feel you need to change some things to be successful keeping discus healthy & thriving.
Best of luck to you.
 
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anubis63

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Apr 11, 2015
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Robert Mortenson
Thank you very much for the fast and informative reply. I feel you are correct about the water changes I do change it 3x per week but not consistently. The Discus you see in my profile photo is one of the 6 I mentioned he is beautiful but like the rest he should be larger than 5 inches but yes they should all be larger than 5 inches by now. If you don't mind I will try to get a clear picture of him. I am considering purchasing a denitrateor but I have a feeling you may tell me just to make sure my scheduled water changes are consistent the denitrateor gets rid of oxygen which causes the bacteria to grow and includes food for the bacteria that rids the tank of high nitrates. I am going to take your advice very seriously and I would like your opinion on adding the denitrateor anyway. Thanks and I'll try to get the pics. for you.
 
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discuspaul

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The denitrator may well help to reduce the nitrates level, so you could use it if you wish, but I wouldn't waste the money doing that if I were you.
That in itself is in no way an acceptable approach to dealing with other critical aspects of a seeming lack of suitable water quality to keep discus healthy & thriving. I don't likely need to repeat that only way you can create the proper water quality & conditions for discus in any planted environment is through large, frequent wcs, and meticulous attention to substrate vacuuming and tank wipe-downs, in order to create and maintain as squeaky clean an environment as is possible.
Keep in mind that nitrates above 20 ppm on a consistent basis are generally somewhat toxic to discus which cannot tolerate those levels.
And you are correct, your other discus besides the stunted one, would likely be over 5" by now, if they had received the proper attention from the outset as 2.5" fish ( i.e. large daily wcs in a bare-bottom tank until they reached around 4" or more).
 
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discuspaul

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The following pic is of one of my discus tanks from a couple of years ago to show you what is meant by maintaining a squeaky clean environment in a planted tank for growing out young juvie discus.
I've grown out juvenile discus like these 3.0"-3.5" red snakeskins several times in planted tanks ( to 6.0", or larger). In every case, my routine was 75% wcs every 2nd day, (usually 4 X a week) along with religious vacuuming of all wastes with each wc, and thorough tank wipe-downs as well. All visible wastes were cleaned up totally with the wcs. Nitrates in these tanks were almost always "0" ppm, but never more than 5 ppm. A lot of maintenance work, but essential to avoid stunted, or poorly-shaped fish.


 
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jimv8673

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Dang Paul, That is great info and your tanks and fishes are excellent ! Thanks for sharing those. :)
 

anubis63

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Apr 11, 2015
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Robert Mortenson
Thank you so much for spending all of this time to help me. I used to buy only adult Discus in a non planted aquarium and I never considered paying much attention to the Nitrates because they looked and acted great of course there was not as much extra work needed as is the case for planted aquariums and sense I've only been buying young fish for about 7 months I treated them like adults I didn't do my homework and when I finally did I saw how differently juveniles needs are as opposed to adults a lot of ignorance on my part. I really like this forum as there are so many people like yourself who are willing to take the time to help. I am immediately changing my actions especially what you have been telling me. I can't get a clear pic. of the stunted Discus because he hides all of the time. Last night he came out for the first time in a while and went to the worm feeder cones I thought he might eat but he just went to them and stared at them for a while then hid again. Again I really want to thank you and I appreciate the picture of your aquarium it is beautiful and I see what you mean about keeping it squeaky clean. Happy holidays to you.
 

discuspaul

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Jun 22, 2010
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Paul
Thank you so much for spending all of this time to help me. I used to buy only adult Discus in a non planted aquarium and I never considered paying much attention to the Nitrates because they looked and acted great of course there was not as much extra work needed as is the case for planted aquariums and sense I've only been buying young fish for about 7 months I treated them like adults I didn't do my homework and when I finally did I saw how differently juveniles needs are as opposed to adults a lot of ignorance on my part. I really like this forum as there are so many people like yourself who are willing to take the time to help. I am immediately changing my actions especially what you have been telling me. I can't get a clear pic. of the stunted Discus because he hides all of the time. Last night he came out for the first time in a while and went to the worm feeder cones I thought he might eat but he just went to them and stared at them for a while then hid again. Again I really want to thank you and I appreciate the picture of your aquarium it is beautiful and I see what you mean about keeping it squeaky clean. Happy holidays to you.

Your attitude, approach, and honesty as evidenced by your words above are all that can be desired, and I commend you for it as well as thanking you for your kind words. I'm certain that if you proceed as planned now that you've done your homework and done some listening too, that you'll be successful keeping discus in future.
I, like many others, made my share of mistakes when starting out with discus, and I learned much of what I know today by trial and error, which is not really the best and easiest way to do it.
In recent years though, I've wanted to pass along the knowledge I had gained in a sincere effort to help others avoid the common mistakes made by new discus-keepers.
As you may know, I've written a lengthy, fairly detailed guide on getting started with discus ( see the sticky here at the start of this discus section) and if you haven't read it, I suggest you do in the hopes it may refresh your memory regarding some of the things you may have forgotten.
And of course please keep in mind that you shouldn't hesitate at all to PM me at any time with any questions you may have as time goes on.
Respectfully,
Paul
 
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discuspaul

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BTW, for those of you who have been following this thread, and might have an interest in getting started with discus sometime, I'd like to provide you here with a 'quick & dirty', but nonetheless very pertinent summary of mine which lists some of the most important guidelines to follow in order to succeed at keeping them, as follows:


D-I-S-C-U-S - 6 CARDINAL RULES FOR NEWBIES TO FOLLOW

First I'd just like to mention once again that discus are hardier than many people think, and are not difficult to keep, so long as one is prepared to accept and adhere to a few key practices that will provide the best chances of success with discus.

This listing is recorded more or less in order of importance:

1) - D - Do your homework well before delving into discus. Read and research all you can beforehand. Googling will certainly help, as well as spending a good deal of time reading the posts and threads on the simplydiscus.com forum, particularly the stickies in their 'Discus Basics' section, which will provide you with much of the material you need to digest.

2) - I - Investigate and learn of the best sources to get your discus stock. Find those breeders &/or importers that are long time, well-experienced, responsible, reputable, and known to supply high quality, healthy, and well-shaped discus. Buy your discus from one of these sources in order to insure that you get off on the best footing possible.
This is the single, most important factor in succeeding with discus.

3) - S - Set up and plan to follow a strict regular routine of fresh water changes, tank wipe-downs and cleansing, vacuuming of wastes, and regular filter and media cleaning, changes, replacements, and maintenance. Be fully prepared for the kind of commitment it takes to produce and maintain the highest water quality and conditions that you can. Maintain an ongoing tank temperate between 82 F and 84 F.

4) - C - Carefully consider the type of tank set up you start with. Make sure the tank size is ample enough to start with 5 or 6 discus. Don't be tempted to begin with a tank of less than 55 or 60 gallons, and don't try to justify going smaller by just getting 1, 2, 3, or 4 discus for cost or other reasons.
Wait till you have sufficient resources to get a proper-sized tank, and the suitable size and number of fish to insure continuing good health and harmonious discus sociability.
Do not start with small, undersized, very juvenile fish which have not yet developed a more mature immune system, are more demanding to raise properly, and much more prone to health problems and other issues. Get fish of at least 3.0" in size, preferably larger.

5) - U - Undertake to start off with a bare bottom tank, unless you're getting fully adult fish and have previous good experience with maintaining a planted tank. If you must have some decor, limit yourself to a very thin sand substrate layer, and perhaps a piece of driftwood with just a couple of small plants attached, or one or two potted plants.
Once you gain several months' of experience getting to know your discus' traits & behavior, and your discus get larger, then you may proceed to an aquascaped environment. Feed a varied diet, several times a day, and learn which foods will achieve a nutritious diet, by researching.

6) - S - Simplify. Keep things as simple as you can to start. Don't complicate your start with discus, at least at first, by placing them in a heavily planted environment, using CO2 and a strict fertilization regime. Make sure your tank is fully cycled before adding the fish, and don't be tempted to alter or change the pH of your water, or modify your water conditions and params by using chemicals of any kind. No need to use RO water or adopt any other procedures that would tend to complicate what should be a simple start to your discus launch.

Follow these 'rules', and there's little doubt you will succeed with discus !
 
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anubis63

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Apr 11, 2015
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Robert Mortenson
Paul as you and I knew the fish I stated this thread for died last night I was really hoping I could save him some how but I new better. Today I started maintaining the aquarium as you instructed I have to say the after changing the water and vacuuming the sub strait I swear the other 5 looked happy. I wanted to ask should I change the water every day for a week or two then do water changes 4 times a week after? I also brought the water temp. to 84 deg. F. Do you know if that is to warm for the black ghost knife?
 
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