Possible filtration set-up for discus tank?

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AC Members
Dec 27, 2011
It has been a while but I have decided to pick up my discus tank project again. I have a tank that measures 48x15x18 (approx 55 gallons, I think) and will be a bare bottom tank with some bogwood (and eventually small ferns?). I am planning on keeping no more than 5 discus in the tank. I already have a Fluval 206 that I wanted to use but then add another canister filter - like a Fluval 106 or equivalent. Here are my questions/concerns: will they create too much current/water movement for the discus? If the two filters are ok, I am unsure of what media to use and how to divide it. Anyone have any ideas? Of course, the fish would not go in until the tank is cycled and I am sure the water parameters are good for the fish. Or perhaps I could use the 206 with an HOB? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated :) Thank you.


AC Members
Jun 22, 2010
Surrey, B.C. Canada (Vancouver)
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As you may know, discus don't much care for a strong water flow, so extra-ordinarily heavy filtration should be avoided in a discus tank. So your Fluval 206 alone should be just fine, but you could if you wished, supplement that with a moderate HOB, such as an AquaClear 70, for ease of cleansing & changing up/replacing media, etc.
Your plan on keeping no more than 5 discus in your 55 gal, bare-bottom, is excellent, so you obviously have a good idea what you should be doing to be successful.
As for media, once you're cycled, water clarity & maintenance of good water quality & conditions, and tank cleanliness, are most important. So I'd suggest that, besides having coarse mesh sponge(s) and ceramic balls or cylinders to house bb for biological filtration, you concentrate on using double-layered filter floss, replaced with new every 2 weeks or so (rotated), along with using Seachem Purigen, on a rotated basis also - re-charged every 3 weeks or so, and pre-filters on the filter intake tubes, rinsed every second or 3rd day.
This along with tank glass wipe-downs, and waste vacuuming with each large, frequent wc, should produce high quality water conditions necessary for keeping discus healthy & thriving.
Simply ensure that the filter floss & Purigen are placed in the final filtration stages, where fairly clear/clean water progresses through them before emptying into the tank.


Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!
Sep 1, 2003
Calif. SF Bay area
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DiscusPaul has said it all.


Global Moderator
Staff member
Feb 18, 2002
Raleigh, NC
A high-quality sponge filter (ATI Hydro Pro) would be a great supplemental bio-filter for that setup, as well. They're perfect for bare bottom discus tanks.


AC Members
Dec 27, 2011
Thank you all for the responses. I have been researching all the feedback provided and hopefully have not confused myself even more by finding endless alternatives! I am now considering to do the following on my Fluval 206: pre filter on intake tube; coarse mesh instead of standard sponges; Biomax in bottom canister; Purigen (any alternatives to that? Clearmax perhaps? Or both?) in middle; filter floss on the top. Instead of an HOB, I am now considering to put a small internal filter with only Seachem Matrix. I have to test my tap water, but was told it is horrible (lots of chemicals since there was an issue at the source and are now bombarding the tap water with who knows what...) and extremely hard. I was told to only use RO water for discus here to avoid any disasters. I can buy the RO water in the area but cannot do it as often as I would need so I am looking for alternatives. At the moment, I am waiting for the water test kit to arrive so I can specify the water parameters and see if the filtration system I am considering would work with RO water and/or with my regular tap water. Will keep you posted!! Thank you :)


AC Members
Dec 27, 2011
Hello krytan, I thought of doing the RO filter but as of now I do not have the ability to do that. I am considering it for the future if I see the water is as horrible as I was told. I did a preliminary test and this is what came out (just of the tap water):

Ammonia and nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
PH: 7.5
Phosphate: 3
KH: 15

I will attempt the combination of Purigen, Chemi Pure Elite (I saw the discuspaul preferred Purigen but with the Phosphate issue, I thought I'd add the chemi pure instead of Phosnet), Biomax and filter floss in the Fluval.
For the internal, I will add Matrix and possibly peat moss?

Cleaning up the tank and starting the filters next week. Starting the fishless cycle (have never tried before) at that point.

Will have to try out the system and see what happens. Any ideas you have will all be appreciated!


AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
SF Bay area, CA
I almost always agree with discuspaul... except for those filter floss/pads...I had to clean/ replace/rotate them much more often when growing out 2 inch discus. But I did feed them 4-6 times a day even with BIG WCs/day. Also my discus, even when bigger, didn't really like the AC 70 filter return rate... although they did adapt to it for the most part...they didn't get a choice, lol.