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FAQs on Discus Compatibility

Related Articles: Plants + Discus = Wow! by Alesia Benedict, Planted Aquariums: Plants and Discus: What They Need To Thrive By Alesia Benedict, Discus Divas, Glitz, Glam and Lots of Demands by Alesia Benedict, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,

Related FAQs: Discus 1, Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, 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 Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

Loaches like too different water conditions and are too rambunctious to keep with Discus. Botia helodes

Replace discus ? Selection, comp.       9/6/19
Hi Team,
Trust you guys a doing well.​
​<Thank you; yes; well enough>
Recently my canister started to leak in the middle of the week and I had to make alternate arrangements for my 50 gallon discus tank, until I fix it this weekend.​
​In the process I lost few of my guys, and now I have two big discus who are the leaders and a few 4 smaller ones, out of which one of them seems to be quite timid and likes to hide behind the rock and comes out very rarely and is not very active when it comes to food.​
​Now I have a few questions.​
​Is it a rule that you need to keep discus of the same size for a good bonding.​
<Mmm; well, close to same size is a good idea. IF too different and there are "problems", in small enough volumes (less than hundreds of gallons), the larger one can/may damage the smaller>
In that case do I need to replace my bigger ones for ones of smaller size, so my hiding discus gets normal.​
​<May be; or move all to a larger system>
Odd One Out.​
What is your suggestion in replacing my discus and move on to a set of monster fish as in: Oscars, walking catfish, etc. I understand this is a question of personal preference, but do you think its easier to maintain the monsters and that they would not need filtration like the discus need, and still look good in the tank.​
​<Yes to other fish species being more "poor water tolerant", but they will still require robust filtration, water movement, frequent (weekly) partial water changes. Bob Fenner>
Please advise.
Thanks and regards,
Shriram Natarajan

Giant Gourami (small sized) along with Discus     7/5/19
Hi Team,
<Hey Shriram>
Everything has been peaceful in my tank so far.
I recently went to my LFS and saw a fully grown Giant Gourami, and was stunned by the size.
So as a trial I got a small sized specimen of the giant gourami to add to my existing Discus tank.
<Mmm; not really compatible... water conditions or temperament-wise>
So he first started chasing my albino angel like crazy. I though it must have been because of the same colour, as he was not disturbing my discus then.
<Oh oh>
Now I have moved my angel as his fins were torn and bit by the mean guy.
Now he has started to chase my discus, seems like he is the only one who wants to swim in the whole tank.
I have now started to worry if I should probably return him back before causes more harm.
Any advice and suggestions appreciated.
<I would return the Gourami>
Thanks and regards,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Can I add a grown up Oscar in my discus tank.
Hi Crew,
<Hello Shriram,>
Just wanted to know if the combination would work out or lead to disaster.
I have a 50 gallon tank with a few discus and some blood fin tetras. There is a grown up Oscar in a ten gallon tank at my workplace which doesn't seem to be kept in a very healthy condition.
In case I take home this guy and add him to my existing tank, is it going to pose danger to my current tankmates or will they co-exist without any major aggression.
Look forward for your response.
Thanks and regards,
<Sometimes we have difficult questions without easy answers. But sometimes we get questions that are unambiguous. This is one of them. Discus and Oscars are so different in behaviour that mixing them is VERY BAD idea.
Oscars are predatory, yes, but the problem is they are heavy feeders and tend to be territorial. They need big, basically empty tanks with heavy filtration and that can be cleaned easily and frequently. Discus are highly sensitive to nitrate levels, dislike strong water currents, and are so shy and nervous they can be scared by even much smaller fish. A tank designed for one species will be hostile to the other. Oscars would quickly pollute the still, warm water Discus prefer, while Discus would be deeply unhappy in an open tank with strong filtration. So no, while the two species are both Amazonian fish, any similarities end there, and I would not combine them. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Can I add a grown up Oscar in my discus tank.      3/28/19

Ah, Thanks Neale,
<Hello again, Shriram>
Even I was not having the slightest idea or intention to mix them with my growing \ settling down discus tank.
The mail was a result of feeling sorry looking at the plight of the Oscar.
Anyways its..no more with us..
<Oh! As in, dead? Sad to hear because they are nice fish.>
Thanks and regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Aggression 2/28/19
Hi Crew,
I recently came to know that that WWM crew works out of time to respond to the high email traffic you guys get and run the site. YOU GUYS ARE DOING A GREAT JOB by providing sensible and practical advise to the fish keeping fraternity.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I am sure I have dropped in many annoying emails to you guys and I keep checking my mail waiting for your response.��
<Sure thing.>
Here is my question for today.
I have 3 pairs of discus in my tank out of which 2 are bigger in size and the other 4 are smaller. Out of the 4 2 are blue diamond which seem to be more timid and of the weaker section.
<Can happen. All the artificial varieties are inbred, and a rule, the more extreme the variety compared to the wild fish, the more inbreeding has happened. Consequently things like genetic diseases, poor growth rate, inept breeding behaviour, and overall lack of vigour can be commonly seen in such varieties. Not always for sure, and farmed Discus are generally easier to keep than wild-caught specimens. But there's a fine line between breeding fish to favour a particular colour pattern and inbreeding them so much they're demonstrably weaker than the more genetically mixed wild-looking (rather than wild-caught) Discus.>
I observed recently that one of the bigger discus seems to chasing the blue diamonds every time they try to come out to the open. This bigger guy seems to only like to chase the blue diamonds alone. He doesn't seem to disturb the other smaller pair. This has led to the blue diamond to hide and stop eating. I would like to know if adding another pair of smaller discus would reduce the aggression or do I need to add a pair of bigger discus to divert the bully.
<It's a challenge. Yes, usually adding extra specimens reduces bullying. So often people keep Discus in large groups, 8-12 specimens, if they want to keep a school of them. Bear in mind that wild fish only school together outside of breeding, so it's entirely normal for them to form territorial pairs once breeding.>
The count of my discus (3 pairs) is it a good number or are any changes required. My tank should be around 50 gallons
<Here's part of the problem. A pair of Discus will hold a territory with a radius around 30-45 cm around their egg-laying rock or whatever. So you really need to allow a circle maybe 60-90 cm in diameter for each mated pair, and any extra Discus will be chased away if they get into that patch. Realistically, you're not going to be able to have that sort of space in a 50-gallon tank. You'd do rather better keeping a single pair, perhaps alongside suitable dither fish (Silver Hatchetfish, Rummynose Tetras and Cardinals are classic choices) and bottom dwelling catfish (Corydoras sterbai is the definitive catfish for Discus set-ups). I doubt additional Discus will be tolerated for long in a tank this size.>
Waiting for your advise as always.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Discus compatibility   /Bob's try    9/27/18
<Ave Joanne>
I have a 75 (Imperial) gallon tank, with a 20g sump underneath. I am busy planning out for discus (Over the years I have planned for discus and then fear has hit and I've never gone through with it!). I finally have an almost empty tank, except for a trio of scarlet breasted acara (should they stay or should they go?)
<Should get along w/ the Discus as long as there's not much size difference>
who have never shown interest in breeding and a little teeny tiny woodcat, (perugiae?).
<Maybe; also compatible>
I would like to have six discus, twenty golden Pencilfish and perhaps ten Corydoras sterbai. Would this work? I love Pencilfish, but never too sure if they're too small or not. Also, am I overstocking?
<Well; eventually the Discus might get too large here; and much more likely two will pair off, necessitating moving. I'd say this will be all the way stocked up though. I would definitely utilize redundant filtration and aeration>
I intend to keep the Stendker type of discus, and know a reliable UK supplier. I don't know if that changes things in terms of stocking etc.
<Mmm; it assures me that these will be good fish; well-cultured as captives>
Advice and opinions would be very much valued!
<Softer, at least neutral if not slightly acidic water, low 80's F... and all should be fab!>
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Discus compatibility /Neale's go      9/28/18

I have a 75 (Imperial) gallon tank, with a 20g sump underneath. I am busy planning out for discus (Over the years I have planned for discus and then fear has hit and I've never gone through with it!). I finally have an almost empty tank, except for a trio of scarlet breasted acara (should they stay or should they go?)
<I would not mix any other cichlids with Discus. It's not so much territoriality that's the issue, but competition for food, and even more dangerously, introducing parasites and pathogens. Quite a few cichlids carry germs that don't do them any great harm, but Discus seem to react very badly to.>
who have never shown interest in breeding and a little teeny tiny woodcat, (perugiae?).
<Fine with Discus.>
I would like to have six discus, twenty golden Pencilfish and perhaps ten Corydoras sterbai. Would this work? I love Pencilfish, but never too sure if they're too small or not. Also, am I overstocking?
<Pencilfish are at a slight risk of being eaten, but perhaps worth a shot! Cardinal Tetras for example are perfectly fine with Discus. Pencils are a little smaller, hence my concern.>
I intend to keep the Stendker type of discus, and know a reliable UK supplier. I don't know if that changes things in terms of stocking etc. Advice and opinions would be very much valued!
<Other than the above, the plan sounds great. Cheers, Neale.>

Please Help for Identifying the disease      1/20/14
<Sup Sup?>
This is my first mail to WetWeb media.
<You are a stranger here but once>
Today morning I found one of my discus dead with white belly . My all other fish including 3 discus are absolutely fine.

I have found few white spot on discus pectoral and caudal fin three days back. But today I found all white spot gone. I have attached a picture of dead fish. I want to know what is happening with this fish because I never saw this before.
Previously the discus was not eating and hanging tank top corner with some bloated stomach.
Already I have tried epson salt and tank temperature to 30C. I have measured and found all parameters are absolutely fine.
[image: Inline image 1]
<IF all Discus were similarly affected I might guess (and have you confirm with microscopic examination of a skin scraping) body flukes, perhaps one of a few Protozoans. But the fact that the sole Symphysodon is thus leads me to believe it was "picked on" by <an>other fish present. This does happen; and is likely related to the isolated, non-feeding behavior... Too crowded, de-selected... other factors. I'd keep your eyes open for aggression amongst your remaining fish/es; remove the bullied, or bullier if obvious.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help for Identifying the disease. Symphysodon     1/21/14
thanks a ton for reply. Today i have evacuated my 4 nos 4 inch clown loach from my discus tank because they are very notorious swimmer also destroy my
live plants.
But i don't really understand after dead why my discus belly turned white?
<It was very likely gone over roughly by another (fish)... Possibly the loach; but more often by a "sucker" of some sort... A rogue "Pleco" perhaps>

Discus... compatible, Callichthyids, ditherfish mostly      1/8/13
I would like your input on a discus set up I have in the works.
It is a 72 gallon bow front, filtered with two Fluval 405 canister filters, carbon removed,
<I'd run some carbon... add to, switch out half every month or so>
 bio balls and filter floss added. Temperature is currently 83*F, pH 6.2 and it is a cycled tank housing a pair of spawning Angelfish, Corydoras
<Mmm, what/which species? See Fishbase.org re... many don't "like" warm/too tropical water>
and a German Blue Ram.  Tank has been set up with these filters just over 2 years now.
Sand substrate, driftwood and moderately planted.
I am setting up the Angels in their own tank for continued spawning as they have taken over the 72 gallon,  and I wanted to take the opportunity to jump into the discus world as they have always attracted me (I know I am not alone in this statement!)  I was considering starting up with 5 discus, leaving space for 1 more incase I ever come across "That one that cannot be resisted"!
<Sounds good>
I have been getting mixed reviews on what are "appropriate" dithers and was hoping you could help me with this.   I was drawn to the Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish and was considering a school of 10-12 as I think once they settle in their and the discus colorations would be complimentary.
<Mmm, well... they too don't really like "hot water"... 82 F. is about tops... Am far more partial to some of the South American Characins for this task, looks>
 I was also going to be trading in my albino Corydoras for sterbai cories or green bronchii - was hoping for your opinion on this also.
<Mmm, the Brochis are warmer water... not Sterba's...>
 I was considering the trade as I know I am already pushing the temperature limits with the albinos and have read the other two handle higher temperatures better.
<See WWM, Fishbase et al. re>
If the dwarf neon rainbows are not recommended, besides cardinals can you recommend other types that I should look into?
<The myriad of small, but large enough Tetras that share the waters with Symphysodon in the wild are my choice... easy and fun for you to search.
Bob Fenner>

cardinal tetras in a discus tank   6/12/12
<Hi there>
I just read your post regarding the keeping of cardinal tetras.  So you've never had any problems with your adult discus preying on your cardinal tetras?  Do you also keep angelfish with your discus?  Would they prey on your cardinals too?
<I have had both Cichlids eat cardinals if there was too large a size discrepancy, not enough space, the cardinals added to the tank already occupied, or the former especially hungry>
<And you, Bob Fenner> 

Re: I need your help, please. Discus... comp./hlth.     4/28/14
Hello again,
Despite your wonderful advice my boyfriend got me discus and I was so happy,
I didn't have the nerve to take them back.
They're actually doing very well with my angels.
They've established their areas and can happily swim next to each other with no pecking or anything.
But I do have a question.
I have 2 discus now.
They're male and female.
Young, never mated.
And the male is just  slightly smaller.
My question is that he's been acting a little odd.
He's kind of hanging low to the sand and seems very lethargic.
He also hugs himself with his fins.
<Bad signs...>
I know they like dark places and such so at first I wasn't too worried, But then I noticed the fin thing.
I did a water change, about 30% roughly, and that helped the female come out a little, but no change in the male.
I do have a bubble wand and a powerhead running so could it be possible
that the current it too strong?
<Not likely, no... How large is this system? Water temp.? Hardness?>
I see no change when they're off too so that seems unlikely.
Thanks for your advice,
<.... Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: I need your help, please.  Discus fdg.    5/4/12

the tank is 55 gallons, temp sits around 80 degrees, all of the water parameters are fine.
<Specifically…? We do need numbers.
For a start, the water is too cool, with 28 C/82 F being optimal for Discus, up to 30 C/86 F for breeding. Water hardness must be low, at least no higher than 10-12 degrees dH for farmed Discus, and the pH needs to be slightly acidic to neutral, pH 6-7 being about right for farmed Discus. Ammonia and nitrite levels must be zero, and nitrate MUST be low, 20 mg/l at the absolute most.>
I tried reading up like you said, but that didn't offer me much help.
I did get to treat the discus separate from the tank, but medicate their food to get rid of any cross- contamination for the angels, which I've done. The Male Discus is now currently in a 10 gallon, with this "Rid all" medication and seems to be slowly getting better.
<Which "Rid All" medication? There's a variety, each for certain diseases. No one medication treats everything, and if used indiscriminately, most will do more harm than good.>
he's still not eating though, any advice of how I can entice him to eat?
<As with all, and I mean ALL, Cichlidae, Discus will eat like pigs when they're happy and healthy. If your Discus isn't feeding, it isn't about "enticing" him to eat, but about asking why he isn't hungry. Solve that riddle, and you're done. Environmental issues (water quality, temperature, lighting, tankmates) are usually at the heart of problems with Discus. Some farmed stock are susceptible to worm infections to be sure, but generally farmed Discus are otherwise adaptable, hearty fish given the right environment. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: I need your help, please. And mixing Angels and Discus
Thank you,
I put in a heater and the salt as well after receiving this,
the "hernia" has grown larger over night,
I will email back if the heater doesn't help...
Hopefully we can get this solved!
I also had another question because I keep getting mixed answers everywhere.
I've seen people keeping Angels and freshwater Discus together,
<Not generally a good mix... The Angels can/do become much more aggressive, hog foods...>
but I've also heard that angels carry some type of disease or parasite that can be fatal for Discus,
<An olde myth that I used to circulate as well (Octomita/Hexamita)>
and they shouldn't be kept together.
What is your opinion on this?
I love both fish and would like to keep them together, But it's $20 for a Discus around where I live and I certainly would not like to waste that kind of money and a poorly thought out mistake.
Thanks again.
<Better by far to keep separately. BobF>

Discus... sys., incomp. 2/22/12
Dear WWM
I am re-scaping my 90G in hope to decrease the amount of algae in the tank.
Tank is now bare bottom and all plants in pots. (Anubias, swords, Anacharis, java fern and moss, Ludwigia, moneywort, Rotala, Vallisneria, crypto, Hygrophila and some other)Specs...Mh250w 6500k (9 hours), a couple of small white led and a blue led spot (12 hours)Eheim filter and a power head. ph 7.5 / GH 5 / KH 10 / TDS 500 (tap is 280)
<Your water is a bit too high here all the way around for Symphysodon. I'd mix maybe half RO with/in it during water changes>
I have an overflow in the tank that pour directly in the sewer. And an Ro-Mix at 7.5/4/8 who starts every night for 5 hours (+/-20G)
<Really? And these, the above, are the resultant conditions? I'd increase the percentage of RO...>

Fishes: 7 Discus (5-6 inch), 5 Harlequin Rasbora, 5 cardinal tetras, 5 Cory, a Killie, a molly and a Betta.
<All but the last really require cooler water than the Discus>

I did added a few aquarium salt and Seachem discus potion but i am not adding anymore. Things i should change?
Thank you for this awesome site Phil
<Please use it. Read re the care of the species you list. What you have is far from ideal. Bob Fenner>

Apple snails and discus, not tog. 2/7/12
I've got quite a dilemma on my hands, I've got a planted aquarium, up and running for about 3 years, 55gal, 0 nitrates, 0 ammonia, 82F, hard city water (obviously treated before added to the tank), we've had 4 discus, and apple snails in the tank. The first snails we bought from the LFS reproduced like crazy, we had to sell off 200+ snails this year, they just wouldn't stop. I realize the high temps result in a much shorter life span, but everyone seemed very happy and healthy, we made our own snail food of calcium powder, brine shrimp, and algae tabs, crushed in a food processor and frozen, they LOVE it, and shell integrity is fantastic! We've also got a 35 gal and two 10 gals that we moved the excess snails into while they waited to grow big enough to sell, so there was rarely an over populous of snails in the 55gal tank.
So here's the problem, we had internal parasites come through and wreak havoc on our discus, we treated, they came back within a few months. We followed the process exactly, treated with Metronidazole and then a dewormer, it seemed like it worked like a charm, and then the parasites came back a few months later, and this time, they weren't to be defeated.
<This is actually very typical, and it is usually the case you need to treat 2, even 3 times.>
We did a whole round, looked like we were in the clear, and within days the discus weren't eating, and white stringy poo again. So, needless to say, we've been treating with this medication for what seems like forever, and, this past week, we lost 2 of our discus, about 5 days apart.
<Too bad.>
Here's the bizarre thing, the second discus that died wasn't emaciated, she looked plump and healthy (not bloated, but a healthy, full discus), unlike the first that was obviously starving from the parasite battle. She looked perfectly healthy, and showed no signs of stress other than not eating for a few days.
<Is often the case. Parasites probably affect most farmed aquarium fish.
But the ones that show symptoms are the ones that, for some reason or another, have been weakened. Bad genes can be part of the answer, but stress is another.>
Even more bizarre, with this water change that seemed to do her in, which, by the way was unmedicated, we had about 5 snails just start floating with their bodies out. Now I know they like to float, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but when we found the second discus dead a day after the water change (it was about 50%) and the snails were still floating, I started pulling them out and they were bloated, and really hanging out, most were dead, and we found 2 others dead on the bottom, otherwise completely healthy looking shells and bodies. We saved 3 and put them in the smaller tank for observation. What do you think could have caused this strange mass killing?
<Many parasite medications are toxic to snails and shrimps.>
Needless to say, we rearranged everyone, and have cleared the tank, assuming there is something very wrong with it. My husband is guessing it may be pockets of toxins caught in the substrate, releasing, although we did a complete teardown and rebuild about a year and a half ago, new substrate, plants, with a large canister filter, Fluval 405.
Any ideas? We're considering a complete tear down again, we've got the 2 discus in the 35gal and changing up the treatment to PraziPro for a week and then going back with the standard parasite treatment. We haven't treated the snails at all, just in good clean water.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated! The 2 discus left are a great hardy pair, before the parasite hit, they laid eggs once every other week for a straight year, non making it past the free swimming stage (we're not really set up for babies!) but every LFS thinks this is a sign of health.
They haven't laid eggs in about 6 months, so I'm guessing this is a sign of stress.
<I would simply not keep Discus with snails. Why bother? At the very least, keep the Discus in a clean, easy-to-clean aquarium for a few months while you get your fishkeeping hobby back where you want it. There's also the risk that the snails themselves can carry parasites that infect your fish, or at the very least, harbour them in between medicating your Discus (this is especially the case of the medication was in the fish's food rather than the water). Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knife and Discus, comp. 1/25/12
First I would like to thank you for the wealth of knowledge you have on your site.
It has helped me to avoid several potential disasters with my tank.
I do have a question though that I can't seem to find a definitive answer for on your site.
I have a 90 gallon planted aquarium with 7 Discus and a BGK about 6 inches.
Most of the Discus are juveniles with the largest measuring about 4 inches.
PH 6.8, ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 and nitrates stay around 10 to 20. I do 50% water changes once a week and sometimes do a 20% midweek when I have time.
The temp stays at 83.5. I have a Fluval 406 with foam carbon peat and bio media, an Eheim 2217 with only foam and biomedia, and an Emperor 400 with active carbon in the refillable cartridges w/ bio wheel (am I over doing it with the filtration).
Currently the only issue I see is I do not have a quarantine, or hospital tank due to the fact my wife almost killed me when I got back into the hobby/obsession of fish keeping again.
All of my fish seem healthy now and the tank has been running for 6 months without issue thanks in part to the knowledge I have gained about Ghost Knives from your site. From the info I have read on your site about BGK and there sensitivity to medication, I would like to go ahead and order and have on hand medication for any outbreaks of Ick
<Just treat w/ raised temperature>
or other parasites and or diseases that may pop up.
I don't plan on adding any additional livestock other than a snail or two and maybe some ghost shrimp. I have heard about the need to deworm Discus when feeding them bloodworms
<Limit or eliminate these sewer fly larvae. Troubles nowadays>
and other frozen high protein foods. Can you tell me what you would recommend for treating Ick or other parasites and diseases, and deworming the discus with the BGK also residing in the tank.
<I would not treat in the tank period, and not now anyway. So; "none of the above">
I find that moving a fish to another tank to medicate it in the past has caused further stress on the animal and never ended well.
Also what are your thoughts on adding salt to a tank with Discus and BGKs?
<I wouldn't>
Also your thoughts on BGKs and Discus as tank mates?
<Can work...>
Thanks in advance for any light you can shine on this for me.
Jason in Kentucky
<Welcome, Bob in Ca.>

hi crew 8/10/11
My query is regarding Apple snail or golden snail ,. I wanted to know the reason behind my two snails coming out of tank mostly at nights ,
<Travel, reproduction>
. For the past 5 days ,. I put them back again I find them on the floor near my fish tank again ,. Can you all please let me know how to prevent it,
<A better, complete cover... Do read re... These are not entirely aquatic animals/species:
and: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/MollusksFW.htm/MystSnailsF.htm
. And also why are they coming out ,. I had them with me for more than six months ,. I have put them together with my discus fishes
<Not compatible... hard, alkaline, cooler water vs. the opposite for Symphysodon...>

,. 400 liter tank ,. Water parameter are fine with a heater ,. Filtration is fine ,. I always do water changes ,. Thanks in advance ,. Appreciate the time and effort you guys put in to reply our questions ,.
God bless ,. Azam from India .
<Keep studying Azam. Bob Fenner>

Re: Discus Fish 7/5/11
Thank you so much for your quick reply.
<Welcome Kaitlyn>
I will add three more of about the same size and see if that calms things down. If not I may try a tank divider or move the bully into my 40 gallon tank that just has 6 Bloodfin tetras and 3 Cory Cats in it. Once again, thank you.
<Do please follow up w/ how your situation goes. Cheers, BobF>

discus compatibility 6/1/11
I saw a discus tank on YouTube with knife fish
<Is doable, but Knifefish do need clean, well-oxygenated water and are easier to keep in tanks with strong filters and high water turnover rates, something Discus don't like.>
and other tropical fish and I was wondering if in a 50 or 55 gal they would be compatible with a African brown knife,
<Possibly, but they are quite similar in shape, and Knifefish tend to be territorial unless kept in large schools.>
cherry barbs,
<Potential food.>
a red tailed shark,
<Possibly, but Red-Tail Sharks are territorial.>
<Possible, with the same comments as applies to the Discus.>
a Pleco,
<Yes, assuming they aren't competing for food.>
clown loaches
<Again, as with the Plec, your problem is ensuring everyone gets enough to eat; starvation is a common problem with Black Ghost Knifefish.>
and a Raphael catfish.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Future discus tank compatibility questions 4/1/11
Hello, Crew!
After moving last summer, I am finally setting my 150G back up, but this time as a freshwater planted tank, with the eventual goal of keeping Discus. The Discus are months off in the future at this point, in order to give the tank time to "break-in", and me time to learn more and save my pennies. I hope to keep either six or eight Discus in fairly natural blue color patterns, and I want to be sure that any fish I add in the meantime will be a good fit with the Discus when I get them. I realize Discus are not "community fish",
<Actually, not true any more with the better quality farmed Discus widely sold these days. These can be quite good community fish, if handled carefully.>
but I would like to think that, in a well-maintained 150G planted tank, there would be enough room for a few other carefully chosen fish. I am planning on a sizeable school of Cardinals
<An excellent companion.>
and a pair of Rams,
<Utter junk as far as quality goes, and I would NEVER allow them within a country mile of anything as expensive as Discus! But if you can get locally-bred, Hexamita-free specimens from your local fish club, then yes, in theory, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi enjoys the same very warm, very hot, very acidic conditions as Discus. But even then, farmed Discus are MUCH LESS demanding in terms of water chemistry -- long term -- than Ram Cichlids. Do bear in mind Ram Cichlids need something like 1-2 degrees dH, pH 5-6, 28-30 C/82-86 F, and that's not standard, run-of-the-mill Discus conditions.>
a Bushy Nosed Pleco/Catfish,
<Can work.>
and possibly a school of Hatchetfish,
<Have seen these with Discus, and they looked great.>
(though I am always amazed at their ability to find the smallest hole in a cover and end up on the floor'¦.)
but there are some other fish that would seem to me to be appropriate tankmates for Discus which I could not find mentioned in any of the FAQS, one way or the other. What would be your opinion on the following as Discus tankmates? Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis),
<In fact Kryptopterus minor is the species normally sold; yes, can work, but 28 C/82 F is about the tops in terms of temperature for this cat.>
Scarlet Gem Badis (Dario dario),
<Perhaps, but why? In a tank this size, you'd never see them, and feeding them would be a nightmare.>
a male Betta (Betta splendens),
<Possible, but again, why? These are bred so intensively, and maintained at retailers so poorly, I'd be seriously worried about transferring diseases from them to the Discus.>
or one of the smaller Upside Down Catfish species (Synodontis sp.)?
<Conceivably one of the pussy-cat species like S. euptera, but I'd be worried that even these "gentle giants" would be too unnerving during the night time.>
I also saw that one of the FAQs recommended against Gouramis, but I'm not sure why.
<Oh, Gouramis can work, but sometimes they are too aggressive and bully the Discus, especially at feeding time. So in this case, "your mileage may vary".>
In terms of water parameters, a Dwarf (Colisa lalia) or maybe even a Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leeri) would seem like a good fit.
<Pearl and Moonlight Gouramis would be the two best species, or even better, Sparkling and especially Croaking Gouramis, Trichopsis pumilus and Trichopsis vittata, if you can find them.>
Are they likely to be too aggressive towards the Discus or to out compete them for food?
<The Trichopsis species shouldn't be at all competitive.>
I'd like to start stocking my tank soon, but I want to make good choices. Thanks so much for your help.
<Glad to help, Neale.>

discus pecking order question 12/28/10
Hi! I have a 125 gallon planted aquarium and a couple of months ago I decided to make it a discus tank again (had a discus tank a few years ago before a big move). I purchased 8 juvenile discus from Jack Wattley. While at the facility buying my fish, it was mentioned that larger discus emit a hormone that inhibits the growth of other discus in the aquarium. Once made aware of this occurrence, I realized this was my problem previously when I would acquire a new smaller discus and add it to my tank with larger adults, as they just never really grew and never knew why. So, I thought I would avoid this problem by buying 8 all basically of the same age. However it seems that 4 of the discus are growing well but the other 4 are seemingly stagnating in their growth, even though they are all eating and should have plenty of room. I am assuming this is due to this growth inhibiting hormone? Is the only way to get the smaller 4's growth to pick up is to separate them? I am willing to set up another aquarium if necessary, but I would eventually like to put them all back together in my larger display tank. Is this a feasible goal? Thank you for your help!
<Hello Andrea. My understanding is that growth in cichlids depends on five key factors: diet, gender, genetics, dissolved metabolites, and social stress. Diet should be uniform among your cichlids and not an issue here.
Gender is simply that males grow faster than females in most cichlid species. Genetics is more of an issue with "fancy" varieties than the natural sorts -- the more different the cichlids are from the wild-type,
the more inbred they will be, and the more inbred they are, the less well they generally grow (among other handicaps). Dissolved metabolites are what some people refer to as "hormones" but really aren't. Dissolved metabolites cover all those things that come out of fish and accumulate in the water.
Ammonia, nitrite and eventually nitrate are well known, but there are others. As these build up in the water they tend to suppress the growth of fish, particularly those lower down the pecking order. Frequent water
changes will help dilute these metabolites, and under experimental conditions at least, 100% daily water changes have allowed quite large fish to grow rapidly even at high stocking densities. That leads us to factor five, social stress. Dominant fish can bully weaker fish, and in doing so, not only prevent weaker fish from eating as much, but also cause build up of stress hormones inside the weaker fish that slow down that fish's growth rate. Do remember that the growth rate of all fish is time dependent. In the case of medium-sized cichlids it will be very fast between ages 0 to about 6 months, somewhat slower for the next 6 months, and very much slower thereafter, likely imperceptible by the time the fish is 18 months old, and
slowing down all the time after that. So while fish grow their entire lives, the rate at which they grow is variable. In other words, if your Discus are a year old now and half of them are quite small compared to the other, you'll likely never get those smaller ones to catch up with the bigger ones. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus tank 11/24/10
Hey guys, Have a question for ya. I have a 90g tank with 6 Gouramis (Blue and Gold) , 2 Black Ghostknife Fish and 4 Giant Danios. I am thinking of getting 6 Discus in assorted colors. My Ghostfish are 14 and 7 inches long. Would these fish do well in this tank together? I do 50% water changes weekly and keep the water at about 82 degrees with a ph of 7.0 I have been keeping fish for about ten years now so I am not newbie but not the expert that you guys are either.
<It's doable, but the water temperature requirements for Discus are very different to those of Giant Danios and to a lesser degree Apteronotus albifrons. Discus really do need very warm water, 28 C/82 F being at the low end, and 30 C/86 F at the high end. Plus, Discus are slow feeders and easily spooked, and I'd also be surprised if farmed Gouramis didn't bully them at feeding time. Cross-infection of parasites is not impossible given the different conditions farmed Gouramis for example are maintained under compared to Discus. Discus are best kept alone or with very carefully chosen dither fish -- Cardinals, Rummynose Tetras or Silver Hatchetfish for example -- and slow-moving benthic fish like Corydoras sterbai and
Bristlenose Plecs. Mixing Discus more generally has been tried many, MANY times and it rarely works well. Instead, I'd look at, for example, Keyhole Cichlids, Blue Acara, Rainbow Cichlids, Chocolate Cichlids, Festivums (a personal favourite) or even farmed Angels. Cheers, Neale.>

How big? Symphysodon/Arowana comp.... -- 4/12/10
Hi crew,
How big do you guys think my discus should be before I try to put them in with my 14" silver Arowana?
<Oh, about 60 cm/2 feet across. Seriously. Keeping Discus with Arowana is insane. Who told you that would be a good idea? That person needs his bumps felt! Symphysodon and Osteoglossum spp. come very very different
environments and have very different needs. Discus come from slow-moving, very warm water; Arowana come from big river channels with strong water currents and moderate temperature. Silver Arowana are fairly peaceful, but they vary enormously, and some specimens can be extremely aggressive.
Rehoming a subadult Arowana that's been battering your Discus will be easier said than done. On top of that you need to feed a lot of food to an Arowana to keep it healthy. But you also need to get food down to the Discus without the Arowana eating it all. Given Angelfish steal food from Discus, heaven knows how hard it'll be for the Discus to compete with an Arowana! Regardless, the resulting high nitrate levels from all this feeding will cause real problems for Symphysodon. I can't see any sensible way of keeping the two species together in the long term.>
Currently I have 5 clown loaches in the tank that measure from 1 3/4" to 2 1/2". The Aro looks at them occasionally but has never shown any aggression that I've noticed.
<So far. Silver Arowana are not viable home aquarium pets. Osteoglossum bicirrhosum gets to 120 cm (about 4 feet) long in the wild, though around 100 cm (3.3 feet) is more typical in aquaria. The minimum aquarium for one
of these monsters is 2500 litres (660 US gallons). Given how big they are, that tank will need to be at least three times the length of the adult fish and at least as wide front to back as the fish is long; that's about 3 metres (10 feet) long and more than a metre (3.3 ft) broad. Osteoglossum can be highly aggressive and will eat anything they can swallow. Adult Clown Loaches might be okay, though the usual tankmates are large Loricariidae, such as Acanthicus and Panaque spp. Most Osteoglossum end up stunted and damaged by being kept in too-small aquaria. Shame really, because they're lovely fish.>
My discus are 3 1/2" tall.
<Arowana food.>
Please tell me what you think.
<I hope you have a REALLY big aquarium.>
Thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Fish, incomp., FW ray sys. 2/1/2010
Good morning Crew,
I'm considering adding Discus to my 240 gallon aquarium.
I currently livestock:
1ea.14" Arowana
1ea. 5" African Knife
1ea. 5" Black Ghost Knife
1ea. 6" Bala Shark
1ea. 6" diameter Rectic Rey
4ea 2.5" Clown Loaches.
<I'd worry about housing this bunch of fish before adding anything else.
240 gallons is borderline for Stingrays, and marginal for Arowana. Bala sharks should be kept in groups, and the Clowns are messy fish at the best of time. You have some big, territorial species in there (e.g., Arowana).
The poor Xenomystus is going to be very put upon eventually, assuming he doesn't end up as dinner.>
So my biggest concern is necessary water quality and parameters for the Discus. I've already made my tank very water change friendly, in that all I have to do is open a valve and filtered water enters the tank and an overflow allows water to leave. I did this in consideration of my Rey's water quality needs.
<Neat. But still, without knowing anything about square footage, I have to remind you Stingrays need a tank with a width twice their mature disc diameter, i.e., at least 2 x 12 inches in the case of Potamotrygon reticulatus, and five times the length of their disc diameter, i.e., 5 x 12 inches. So, we're talking a tank 24 inches front to back, and 60 inches left to right. Common Arowana (Osteoglossum spp.) are even more demanding: they do get to about a yard long.>
The various online Discus vendors I've spoken to have assured me that Ph is not a problem as long as it is consistent. Do you think these vendors are telling me the truth, or just trying to sell their fish?
<For farmed Discus, this is indeed true. Farmed discus will do well in neutral, moderately hard water. Wild-caught Discus are much more picky.>
My LFS tells me that Discus have very specific Ph requirements, and that the tap water in our area would require adjustment and constant monitoring. I adore Discus, but I don't want the expense nor the hassle of maintaining a specific Ph in a 240 gallon aquarium.
<Academic really. There's no way Symphysodon will work in this system. The Arowana will terrify them. Discus are best kept with small, peaceful tankmates. Ideal companions include Corydoras sterbai, Rummy-nose tetras,
and Silver Hatchetfish. Some of the Southeast Asian gouramis work rather well, too.>
I value your knowledge and experience, and will consider your advice on this subject the final word on whether or not to continue to pursue the addition of Discus to my hobby.
<Strongly recommend against.>
Thank you,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus Fish 2/1/2010
My 240's footprint is 96" by 24"
<They you tank is right at the minimum range for width for the Stingrays, and too small for Osteoglossum. Think about it, this Arowana will be 36 inches in length, so how's it going to turn around in a tank 24 inches wide? This is one reason Osteoglossum aren't (thankfully) all that often traded. Asian Arowanas, Scleropages spp., tend to be a bit smaller, though markedly less tolerant of tankmates. Scleropages jardinei for example is positively psychotic! In any case, Discus aren't an option. Osteoglossum are riverine fish that need strong currents; Symphysodon are fish of the sunken forest, and live in habitats with very gentle water flow. No overlap at all. Cheers, Neale.>

Discus... stress beh., hlth., incomp. with angels 12/12/08 Good afternoon, I am hoping you can help me out with a discus problem. Currently I have a 330 litre tank with a ph of 6.4 and temp at 28C as well as quite a few fishes, 20 Rummy nose 4 bristle nose 4 angel fish (paired, very territorial) 10 Zebra Danios 1 blue diamond discus 4 red melon discus (Is this too many for the tank?) <Sounds great. But Angels can be quite waspish, so I'd watch how the Discus behave. It's pretty common for Angels to bully Discus. There's also a risk of transmitting diseases that Angels don't seem too bothered by, but can cause real problems for Discus.> The red melons were added 6 days ago. On the 1st day they got "head butted" by the blue diamond a fair bit, I read up on a site and dismissed it as a greeting of some sort. <Well, Discus are hierarchical, but if you upped the group to six, I'd fully expect them to settle right down.> Now the 4 red melons are slowly showing black patches on their face. There is one that is particularly bad, his upper and lower fin has a dark shade around the edges while his back fin has gone from clear to black. I've read your previous posts about unhappy discus turning black, in my case it is only to their head and fins their body is still bright red. <Could well be stress; Discus when stressed typically show a series of dark vertical bars on the flanks. I'd carefully observe the interactions within the Discus group, as well as between the Discus and Angels. But as ever with Discus, do a quick check of water quality and especially water chemistry. In soft water tanks pH can drop rapidly, and as pH drops, biological filtration becomes less efficient, basically stopping altogether at around 6.0. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus 12/14/08
Thank you Neale, for the prompt reply, I will move the Angels out in the next couple of day and put in 2 more red melons. Will let you know how it goes. Regards, Leon <Sounds like you have a good plan there. Let me know if things still don't work out. Good luck! Neale.>

Discus aggression and 'dither' fish 7/19/08 Hi Crew, <John,> Thinking that more than two juvenile discus in a planted 29-gallon tank would be too many, I didn't take seriously enough the thought that the 'pecking order' really would be an issue -- my new (in the tank for a week) Santarem is preventing his Snakeskin tankmate from settling in. The snakeskin is eating very little, and is chased whenever it strays from hiding. I have installed a divider in the tank, but I want the discus ultimately to coexist. <Discus do indeed work best in fairly large groups when young, since they're schooling fish and when kept in insufficient numbers you run the risk of all the usual social problems with hierarchical fish. It's easier to maintain pairs once they've paired off by themselves.> My question is this: would adding some dither fish (or something like dither fish -- not sure if this is exactly the term for what I have in mind) be expected to partially or totally relieve this aggression? <Not really; if you have fish picking on each other, that's likely because the dominant fish is already considering the whole tank his domain. Dither fish serve to help fish feel less frightened. Cichlids (and many other benthic fish) decide whether it is safe to leave their hiding places to feed by observing surface fish. Because surface fish can see predators above the waterline first, they act as a kind of "early warning system".> I've read (on WWM and elsewhere) infrequent comments on the possibility of discus picking on such fishes as rams, Apistos, or checkerboard cichlids; could this fact be exploited to reduce the aggression of the Santarem on the Snakeskin? <Unlikely. What you're describing are called "Targetfish", the idea being that territorial cichlids need to focus their aggression on something, and if you put something in the tank for them to "have a go at", it helps the pair form a stronger bond. This approach works great if you use super-fast, semi-aggressive things like Gyrinocheilus aymonieri or sturdy Synodontis.> If so, are there better choices than others here? <Additional Discus.> Or would the distraction of other tankmates such as tetras be sufficient to distract the aggressor? (I currently have nine marble hatchetfish in QT waiting to go in with the discus...perhaps even these would help?) <Hatchets are great dither fish for Discus, but I don't think they will have the effect you're after.> I don't want to add fishes that will cause further problems -- I had planned only the discus and hatchets for this tank, but would be happy to add any others to make the discus more comfortable. Your experienced advice would be greatly appreciated. <I'd go with an odd numbered group, at least three, ideally 5+.> --John in Minneapolis <Neale in Berkhamsted.>

Discus Behavior, was stand adjusting Q 5/29/08 Hello Bob, <Eric> Thanks again for the help and website. <Welcome> I ended up going with the 75 gallon and am very happy I did so. I used (2) 4ft long 2x10inch boards to support the weight evenly... There's tons more room for my livestock. As for my specific Discus related question, the five I have are all in their juvenile stages (2.25-3inches) and are starting to display a bit of aggression towards each other. Nothing 'too crazy' but it's enough to make the smaller one (or two) hide more than the others. I'm concerned it will start to inhibit their eating and with the subsequent health problems this will cause. <At least a stunting effect on growth...> I have read and heard that a similar, less aggressive yet more sturdy 'durable' fish can help with this issue. If I were to purchase a smaller (1.5 inches or so) Uaru, do you think this will help the issue here? <Possibly... but I would opt for small "ditherfish" at least as well> As in, they won't pick on the smallest Discus quite as much? I could also try some other middle dwellers such as appropriate Tetras/other similar fish in an attempt to 'distract' the 5 Discus, but I'm not sure this will work. <Ahh! Actually am confident this will work> The only other loop to throw in here is that I've only had the Discus for about a month or so and they're all still very skittish around me. Thank you for the website Eric <Try feeding more frequently, smaller amounts... Symphysodon are indeed train-able. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus Behavior 5/29/08
Bob, <Eric> Thanks again! Another real quick question. Do you think the Penguin Tetras (Thayeria boehlkei) would be an all right mix for fish? I'd probably buy about 6-10 of these guys. I read on this site and searched but didn't come up with anything. Thanks! Eric <I do think this/they are an excellent choice... particularly if, as I suspect, your Discus are captive-bred/produced (so the Penguins behavior won't be too much for them). More here re: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=10716&genusname=Thayeria&speciesname=boehlkei Similar water quality range... Bob Fenner>

Fire Eel and Discus 05/19/08 Heya For the last 6 months I've had my Fire Eel happily living alone in a 90 gallon tank. it is planted (there's java fern growing on the bogwood). I want to add 4-6 discus to the tank, I double checked PH and temp and it is in a discus range (the Eel seems much happier in a warmer environment). In your experience would discus be compatible with the fire eel? and what number do you recommend, 4 or 6? when they get big I plan on setting up a 150 wide for the discus if they do outgrow the 90 gallon. Jessep <In theory Spiny Eels could work with Discus. There shouldn't be much competition over food, and the Discus are far too large to be eaten by a hungry Spiny Eel. But Fire Eels are VERY big fish once mature (expect 75-90 cm/2.5-3 feet) and that alone may terrify the Discus. So a lot will depend on how big the Discus are relative to the Spiny Eel. My gut feeling is that this wouldn't be a long term plan, but a juvenile Spiny Eel with some full grown Discus might work out for a few months. As for keeping Discus, six seems to be the magic number as far as avoiding aggression and ensuring you get a breeding pair. Cheers, Neale.>

Hillstream loaches... comp., sys. 4/25/08 Hello, I recently went into my favourite fish store with my dad. I saw this fish which was called Hillstream loach. <Neat animals...> I liked this fish. The employee told me it was good with discus. <Mmm, no... these fishes (Balitoridae) like fast moving water, of much lower temp.... a bit more alkaline than Symphysodon... See the Net re... perhaps at least here: http://www.loaches.com/species-index/beaufortia-kweichowensis> My dad told me to look it up because the employee lied to us before. I could not get a question. Are they compatible with a discus? <Behaviorally, yes, but physiologically, not close. Better to seek out some similar small-sized Loricariids...> My dads tank is a 33 gallon with a pair of discus, 5 see through cats, 12 cardinal tetra, 6 Corys and 3 Kuhli loaches, with lots of plants. Thank you for your help. <Ahh! This tank is really well-over-stocked as it is. I would NOT be adding any more fish life here. Bob Fenner>

Fin nipping in all discus tank -- 04/1/08 Hi guys. It has been a while since I sought your sage advice, but I am back again with a new issue. First, I want to thank you for all of the extremely useful advice that you have given me in the past! <Cool.> I have a 55-gallon discus only tank that is home to 8 discus ranging in size from 3-6 inches or so. All of them have done well together from the beginning and we are starting our 3rd year now. Obviously, some of them eat a lot more than others-the size difference between the largest and smallest fish is staggering. And although they do chase each other around and have face-offs every day, there have been no injuries, and all of them have eaten well (some better than others!), and stayed healthy and active...until now. <Oh?> I recently noticed one of the medium-size discus hanging out in the corner by himself instead of with the rest of the group, but didn't think much of it at the time. Not long after that, I noticed some very obvious fin-nipping damage on the back edges of his dorsal and anal fins. I then realized that it had been a few days since I had seen him joining the community meals along with everyone else. That was about a week ago and I still have not see him eat. On top of that, the exterior cover to his gills looks kind of frayed, his color has become pale, and he is breathing faster than the other fish. <Discus are of course territorial once mature and in the mood for breeding. So it may well be you have one mated pair that are driving off the other fish. But if it is just the one fish showing signs of ill health, consider other factors, e.g., Finrot rather than nipping. Do a water quality test. Look over the fish for signs of eroded lateral line, hollow stomach, red patches on the body or fins, etc. Different symptoms will help pin down different diseases.> I have read that damaged fins will grow back, so although I found the damage to his fins very disturbing (especially after two years of harmony in the tank), I didn't immediately panic but maybe I should have. I thought perhaps that they were not getting enough food, so I increased the amount of food per feeding, but stayed on the same schedule. (morning and evening). After all, I have never seen my discus stop eating when they could still graze around and find any more morsels of food. Okay, so more food is going into the tank and mealtime lasts a little longer, but the guy with the fin damage still doesn't eat. All of the others eat ravenously, then graze until the food is all gone. They look really healthy and vibrant-like they could jump out of the tank and arm wrestle me! I see no obvious evidence of disease on any of the other fish. <Hmm... I'd tend to suspect this fish is otherwise ill rather than nipped. Check water, but also check the fish itself for signs of Hexamita or whatever.> I am afraid that I have waited too long now. There has been no improvement in the past week and I am afraid I am going to lose him now. Any advice will be gratefully accepted. <Would use an antibacterial/antibiotic medication now on the assumption that at least a secondary infection is likely. Quarantining the sick fish and observing carefully would be sensible.> Nothing changed before this happened-no new fish or decorations. Water changes 30-35% weekly as usual. What could have caused this? <Difficult to say without seeing the fish or knowing anything about the environment.> Thank you for reading my post and for any advice you can offer. <Cheers, Neale.>

Invertebrates in planted discus tank? -03/27/08 Hi crew! Nicole here, from South-Africa. First off, thanks for the wonderful, informative site! I've been a regular browser for quite some time and I've learn't oodles! Okay, so I have a lightly planted (swords, Java fern) discus tank - 1500mm (L) x 600mm (W) x 750mm (H) with an internal filter (box/sump?) and 2000l/h pump currently set to half speed. Lighting is not ideal for a planted tank, I know, just 3 x 40W Bio-Lux (12h per day), but the plants are doing okay. Heating provided by 2 x 300W submersible heaters in the intake partition of the filter. I also have a few air-stones. I'm not too clued-up with US units, but I think the 650l capacity translates to 148 gallons? <There's about 4 litres to the US gallon, give or take a bit. So yes, your estimate is fine. I'm in the UK where we mostly use metric units anyway. When we do use gallons, we have our own kind a bit bigger than the US gallon! So I'd prefer we all used the metric system... less confusion!> Substrate : 2cm layer of Seachem Fluorite mixed with fine brown gravel (1 - 1.5mm). 2cm top layer of only fine brown gravel with some course gravel (mix of dark brown, black and white) for aesthetics. No under-gravel filter. Water : pH = 6.8, alkalinity = 50, hardness = 100, nitrate = 0, nitrite = 0 Current inhabitants : 2 turquoise discus (pair), 2 red melon discus, 2 blue German rams (1 male, 1 female), 1 spotted Sailfin Pleco (15cm), 2 albino Corys, 2 peppered Corys, 2 emerald Corys, 15 cardinal tetras. The discus range from 10cm to 15cm in size. I am on the lookout for more discus to add to the tank, although I'm going to limit myself to 8 in total. Does that sound like an okay mix? <Sounds fine, though I will make the point that (most) Corydoras don't like water above 25 C, so they're not my first choice for a Discus community. But if they're happy, this is no big deal.> It is very hard to find more out-of-the-ordinary fish here in a 3rd world country - most pet stores only have Bettas, harlequins, Neons and such. Finding proper aquarium plants is near impossible! (Especially since I live in a small town). All aquarium equipment is horrendously expensive here - about twice the US prices :o( <Ah, but you can always go after some of those amazing native South African fish! I'd trade a boat load of "community tropicals" for the chance to keep things like Sandelia spp. labyrinth fish!> Maintenance : I use 50/50 RO water and tap water (treated with AquaSafe, heated and aerated for a few days). 20% water change weekly - might need more if I add more discus? Seachem Flourish once a month. Jungle plant tabs with iron every other month (I just stick them into the substrate at the base of the plants). Fish are fed twice daily, before and after work. The discus get home-made food (Rocky Mountain recipe), as well as frozen bloodworms, peas, etc. <Very good.> Okay, now for my question : Are there any crayfish/shrimps that I would be able to keep safely with this setup? I don't want them to eat anybody or to get eaten by someone! I know it is usually a bad idea to create too much of a mix where discus are involved, so that is why I am checking with you clever folks! I love freshwater shrimps, but I love them enough to NOT keep them if it would do them (or my fish) a disservice... <Nope, crayfish would not be a good idea. Armoured shrimps would be better, perhaps things like Atyopsis gabonensis. Despite their size, they're harmless filter feeders. Not the easiest things to maintain, being a bit fussy about food, but not impossible either. Snails are another worthwhile option. Freshwater whelks (predatory, eat baby snails) and Nerites (only eat algae) would be nice choices. Funnily enough, it's a SA snail that's the commonest Nerite here in the UK, Neritina natalensis. So that at least should be something you might be able collect from the wild, if you can't easily buy it. Amano shrimps are mostly subtropical and probably wouldn't last long in a Discus tank, even if they weren't eaten. You could try some of the smaller "long arm shrimps" Macrobrachium spp, but often the specimens traded are baby Macrobrachium rosenbergii, and these become huge territorial and predatory monsters. So research this option carefully.> Thanks in advance for your help and for the great site! Best regards Nicole <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Invertebrates in planted discus tank? -03/27/08
Hi Neale, <Nicole,> Thanks so much for the invaluable advice! I'll try and find a suitable filter feeding shrimp - it should do well, because discus a messy eaters. However, will Atyopsis Gabonensis survive the 28'C water? I've read they prefer temperatures around 24'C. The Asian variety - Atyopsis Moluccensis - on the other hand likes 27'C water. Will this not be a safer choice? <Quite possibly. But temperature is less of an issue than oxygenation, because these shrimps (as I understand it) live in fast flowing streams. I've not heard of either species being stressed by tropical temperatures, but I've seen them do poorly in tanks with little water current and overstocking. In other words, provided water quality was good and you had plenty of circulation (as I'm assuming you do with Discus anyway) I'd certainly try either species out with some optimism for success.> It seems getting any shrimp will be really hard. I just learned yesterday that South Africa no longer allows the import of freshwater shrimp and crayfish :o( I'll look into our indigenous species, but doubt that would do me any good. Local species would probably not survive the warm water in my aquarium... <Agreed, but certainly try a few smaller specimens, perhaps placing them in a breeding net for the first couple of weeks to see how they do. As a rule, species from still waters tend to be more tolerant of warmer water than those from fast-flowing streams, so that might well be a factor to consider.> Snails, as you said, are also an option. BUT, a "snail outbreak" a few years ago (after unknowingly getting a few on new plants) left me severely traumatized and unable to face the little critters! :oD Nope, no snails for me, thanks! <Neither Nerites nor freshwater whelks (Clea helena) breed readily in aquaria. If you get babies from either sort, that's something of a coup! The Nerites as well tend to be short lived (around a year) so at best the babies maintain a population. Many of the Nerites have larvae that drift into the sea to mature, and obviously these won't develop at all in aquaria. A few lay small clutches of eggs in freshwater tanks, but survival of the baby snails does not seem to be very high. In other words, these are NOTHING like the snails that multiply wildly in aquaria, so don't be afraid of them! The predatory whelks are rather fun to watch in fact as they cruise about looking for prey. They eat one snail a day as far as I can tell, as well as things like bloodworms (but not fish!).> Keep well Nicole <You too, Neale.>

Pipefish and Discus -- 03/10/08 Hello Crew, Today I was strolling in this certain fish store and I came upon this odd fish which I completely fell over for. It was a freshwater pipefish! Before I got too impulsive, my dad suggested I should do some research before such a purchase. I only need to know if they are compatible with discus and glass cats in a 33 gal. If not, is there a reason why they can't? Thanks for your help. <This isn't viable I'm afraid. Let me make this extremely clear: Freshwater Pipefish are among the most difficult fish to maintain in the hobby. They need large amounts of live food every single day. Daphnia, brine shrimp, insect larvae, perhaps even livebearer fry. After a few weeks of being fed live foods they can, with care, be trained to take wet frozen foods. But they NEVER flake food or freeze-dried food. They CANNOT compete with any other fish in the aquarium except perhaps small gobies. Finally, because some species are brackish water and some truly freshwater, you need to know PRECISELY what the species is. The retailers will tell you they are "true" freshwater pipefish, but 50% of the time they are lying or ignorant! Trust me on this! By all means set up a 20 gallon tank just for Pipefish if you have access to sufficient live foods (e.g., a garden pond). But otherwise avoid. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/fwbracpipeshorsart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/bracpipefishes.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Discus Compatibility 3/2/08 Good Day Crew, I have a quick question. I am setting up a 55 gallon freshwater Discus tank. I've been reading a lot on a number of different sites and have been talking to people at the LFS's. There are only 2 questions that remain: What is the ideal number of Discus for a 55 gallon tank? I was thinking 2 or 3, however I've been given a lot of conflicting advice. Some say that's a great idea, while some say that there should only be one per tank, as they fight (I tend to believe they're a schooling fish and feel more comfortable in numbers.) I've read they require about 15 gallons each, so I think 3 would be about as high as I could go. The second question is that I have an interest in the Kribensis (P. taeniatus.. or Pulcher) and I'd like to keep a pair in the tank. Will these mix with the Discus over the long term? (This also brings to mind the possibility for aggression during their breeding periods...) The only other fish I would have would be a school of Cardinal Tetras. Thanks for all the help as always! Ed <Hello Ed. I don't recommend keeping Discus in groups smaller than six; they're just too skittish and nervous. If we're talking 55 US gallons (as opposed to Imperial gallons, which would be about 66 US gallons) then your best bet would be get six small specimens and see how they do. The artificially-bred forms commonly traded simply don't get as large as wild Discus, and you might be fine with them in a relatively uncluttered 55 US gallon system, particularly if you stay on top of water changes. If they *do* get too large, keep a single mated pair, and remove the others. Please note just adding two Discus won't work -- they have to be a mated pair so that they switch from schooling mode to territorial mode! But to be honest, 75 US gallons (about 60 Imp. gallons) is a better bet for a school of Discus, and the price difference isn't all that great. As for tankmates... I wouldn't keep P. pulcher in a Discus aquarium unless it was very deep (and a 55 gallon tank won't be). P. pulcher is quite aggressive and territorial, and could cause problems. P. taeniatus is, in my experience, less aggressive (the males almost harmless, and the females by far the more pushy!). It is also quite a bit smaller than P. pulcher. I'd perhaps give it a whirl, with the proviso I'd have a second tank standing by to remove it if something went wrong. P. taeniatus and P. pulcher are both very much "cave dwelling" fish, so if you ensure there is a mass of bogwood and rocks at the bottom of the tank, the Pelvivachromis should hopefully spend all their time digging and making nests, and very little time in open water. Cardinal tetras are of course fine with Discus, provided they are big enough not to be eaten. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Compatibility 3/3/08 Thank you for replying, and for the help, Neale. I have a quick question. In a while, I am going to visit family that's aprox. 2.5 hours drive from my house. There is a LFS nearby with an incredible selection of freshwater fish. The tanks are well maintained and the people are friendly and for the most part, pretty knowledgeable. There's a sale right now, where all the fish are 1/2 price, no exceptions. I am thinking of purchasing my Discus there, however I'm concerned about the transport. I do have a large, insulated, clean cooler (beverage type, about 10-15 gallons of water holding space) that's thick and insulating. so it should keep the temp very stable, at least for a while.. Actually, I have 3 of them... If I bought them on the way home and immediately drove back to my house, would this be something that could work? I can also use a battery powered air bubbler to keep the oxygen levels at the right state... <Should be fine. But actually, try asking the guys in the store to bag the fish (with oxygen, individually!) in the polystyrene crates the fish are shipped in. Since the fish tolerate 24 hours+ kept thus, 2.5 hrs should be fine. Offer to pay for the box, though I doubt they'll accept since they trash them normally. It's a nice gesture though. Anyway, once in the poly box, they will be nice and snug for the drive home, assuming it isn't freezing cold in your car. If it is, wrapping with a travel blanket will help.> The only reason why I'm asking is that unfortunately the Discus selection is sparse around here, and to get the ones I'd like, I'll have to either wait (in the neighborhood of 6 months) or purchase them online. If you say this is crazy, I'll reconsider. Thank you again! Ed <Good luck! Neale.>

Re: Discus Compatibility -- 03/13/08 I actually have another question! (maybe 2) <Indeed...?> At the LFS (near me) they've had a number of Discus in their sale tanks for a while (at least 2-3 weeks, maybe more) that were not for sale b/c the shipment came in and they were diseased looking from the start. Some had pop-eye, others were just not active, some were darker in color, and some had other (unfortunately) random signs of stress and disease. They were not for sale the entire time, and were in treatment tanks for the duration. The LFS takes very good care of their livestock, and I've purchased marine fish from them before with no problems. I am wondering.. now that these are back on sale, and they appear to be healthy again.. Should I purchase these fish or look elsewhere? <If healthy now, worth a flutter, so long as you quarantine them yourself. The main thing is this: if the diseases were caused by rough handling and they're now fine, that's OK. But if the diseases were caused by pathogens that may or may not come back to haunt you, then steering clear is the wiser option. That said, if this is a good store and they've nursed the fish to health rather than killed them, I'd be positively disposed towards them and their livestock.> On a similar note, there is another LFS that also takes great care of their freshwater livestock. They have had 2 Green Discus that look absolutely stunning. (Not wild caught...) They're about 2.5-3 inches long and have been in the tank for about 1-2 months or more. I have been eying these fish for quite some time, but as I'm not ready (my tank specs, my own research, knowledge, etc) for their purchase, have waited to buy them. The entire time they've looked great. Yesterday there were many new fish in the tank (which is at least 90 gallons) and the Discus looked a bit stressed out, hiding in the back, behind some plastic plants and their colors were dark. I watched them for a while, and after they 'got used to me' .. they swam toward my side of the tank and their colors lightened back to their normal colors.. I'm assuming their stress is because the new fish (I don't remember the species, but they were smaller and active) were in the tank and the Discus were just not used to them/stressed out. I've personally seen the fish eat (about 1 week ago) and know they are active and have been eating. Should these fish be avoided as well? <No; these fish sound great! Their behaviour is absolutely normal for Discus.> As for the third question, about the LFS that are not so local, can you expand on the "with oxygen!" comment? Should I add a bubbler/make sure there is extra oxygen (air) in the top of the bag/something else? <What I mean here is pressurized O2. Some stores add this to the bags instead of air. Because air is 20% oxygen, but pure oxygen is (obviously) 100% oxygen, a bag sealed with the latter travels farther. Doesn't make any difference if you're only carrying the fish in their bags for a couple of hours; makes a huge difference if you're driving all day or shipping fish overnight.> Thanks, Neale! Ed <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Compatibility 3/26/08 Neale, Thank you for the help, once again! I just wanted to give an update.. and sneak in a small question.. After following your advice and my knowledge gained through reading, experiences, etc.. I was able to bring up a beautiful "Bold Universe" discus (...the 3 hour drive question below). My discus survived the trip and has been in my tank for over a week, looking great, eating, swimming fine. I know this isn't long enough to be a "success story" yet. This leads to my question. I am still thinking of purchasing those discus listed below (the ones who you said were very healthy sounding). I'd like to purchase those and add them to my tank, as Discus are social fishes and benefit from company. (Side note: I'm feeling a bit badly that my current discus is the only discus in the tank...) My tank is ready, however I'm not sure if the two discus will be a great fit, because they're slightly larger than the one in my tank now. I'd say.. probably about 1/2 - 3/4 inch longer. <Should get along fine.> Will these two (that have been paired in the LFS's tank for months now, together) pick on this fish? <Depends; obviously a breeding pair of mature Discus will view any additional fish as a potential threat and act accordingly. But outside of breeding, and certainly while immature, Discus are gregarious and tend to show little aggression towards one another.> I know it's not a simple yes or no.. but.. I'd settle for 'odds'! <In your favour.> Thanks again, E <Cheers, Neale.>

Discus! Comp. mostly 2/28/08 I currently have a 40 gallon tank (completely cycled, of course) with 4 cories, 2 Hatchetfish, and 2 Discus. I am planning to add two more discus, another Cory (maybe), and two of the most peaceful Gourami I can find. Does this sound ok? <Mmm, maybe... until and if two of the Discus pair off. Then the other two will suffer> I currently am running 2 filters, a Top Fin 20 and a Whisper 40. I usually change 10-15% of the water once a week. <I'd be changing more water... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfish.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mixing Discus, rams, Apistos tetras and Corys. -02/25/08 Hi Bob, Found the site Glassholes.com and liked the recent information on dwarf South American cichlids. I have been keeping rams and Apistos in 6.3 PH and 6 GH. This has been a challenge given our local water is 7.8 PH out of the tap. Needless to say most everyone including LFS here are into African cichlids so I don't find much advice. <I bet.> I have been maintaining two 75 gal tanks. One has three 2.5" Discus ,1 adult Angel, an Apisto Agassizi trio (1 M and 2 F), 2 yellow Rams, 1 Bolivian ram, 3 neon, 2 black neon and 3 Glowlight tetras and several species of Corys. The water maintains at 82-85 Fahrenheit. <Surprised all those fish are doing well: that's way too warm for most Corydoras, and somewhat above what Mikrogeophagus altispinosa and most tetras want.> The other has a male German ram, 2 adult male Apisto Algedons with several juvi fry, a male cacatuoides, 2 Nannacara, 3 Angels, 2 dozen cardinals and Rummynose tetras and several species of cories. The temp of water is 80-82 Fahrenheit. <Ditto. I'm not a big fan of mixing fish from different thermal regimes: at least some of those fish will be suffering. Whether they actually get sick because of it is an open question. But they'll certainly be shorter lived.> I want to combine them into a 135 gal adding 5 more discus a couple pair of Apistos and a female German ram. I do not plan on keeping it planted but I will have some fake plants and driftwood. I will keep one of the 75s for Angels, tetras , and probably Nannacara. Can I mix all the Apistos, Rams, Discus, cardinals, Rummynose and some of the Corys in a new 135 tank I am setting up without asking for trouble? <Other than the fact the temperature will be wrong for half those fishes, these fish are likely compatible in terms of pH, hardness, and social behaviour. The one exception is Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, which does actually prefer water on the neutral rather than acidic side.> Thanks, Jim <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mixing Discus, rams, Apistos tetras and Corys. -02/25/08 Neal, Thank you for your quick response. I have a snail problem in 1 75 and am going to introduce several Botia striata till they have cleaned up most, then I will do move. <Do be careful mixing Botia with Discus and suchlike... botiine loaches tend to be, at least, boisterous. Even the supposedly peaceful species like Clowns and Striata.> I understand the temp issue <Good.> 2 last questions then. <Yes?> 1. What can I get to be bottom cleaners with discus, Apistos, cardinals and Rummynose and German rams? Or do I need to put Apistos in 75 with those in question 2? <There's no such thing as a "bottom cleaner" beyond you and your siphon. Everything else makes it dirtier. Basic physics here you can't escape. If you want to add a catfish of some kind, fine, but don't imagine for one nanosecond you need to or that it would somehow make the tank cleaner. It most certainly will not (more fish = more faeces + more uneaten food + more ammonia). Anyway, that said: Corydoras sterbai are the classic "Discus Tank" catfish, but I'm sure you know that already. Besides them, I'd think any of the medium-sized Rineloricaria whiptail cats would be worth trying. They're omnivores but unlikely to go for the flanks of the Discus in the same way as the more robust Hypostomus-type things. The common Ancistrus bristlenose is also a safe bet for the Discus tank, as would Farlowella spp, though it is a pure algae-eater and completely useless as a "scavenger". From the other side of the world, Kuhli loaches would be worth a shot, though some species are touchy in excessively warm water, so watch them. Over here in the UK there have been some interesting Kuhli loaches on the market, including the extraordinary silver and black Pangio sp. "Panda". Horseface Loaches would be a possibility I suppose, assuming you had a sandy substrate and made sure you avoided the more aggressive look-alike species Acantopsis octoactinotos.> 2. Will 75 be big enough for 6 angels, Bolivian ram, 2 Nannacara, about 15 corys, Botia striata, 2 small leopard Plecos, 1 6" bristlenose and 13 Bleeding heart, Black neon, neon and Glowlight tetras? <Yes, will be fine except of course there are no "small" Leopard Plecs, only baby ones, and a pair of Angels might decide to take over half the tank in which the other Angels might need to be moved.> Thank you for your time, Jim <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Discus Fish System, Loricariid comp. 2/25/08 Neale/Crew of WWM, <Hello,> Thank you for the quick answer once again. I have two more questions: As far as the Discus go, I've read in many places that they aren't good to mix with, say, a common Pleco, because there's the possibility they will eat the slime coat off the discus. <Correct; doesn't always happen, but happens sufficiently often.> However, certain ones that stay on the smaller side and aren't too active would be okay. I really like the Gold-Nugget Plecos and have read they only get to be 5-6 inches or so. How would this work? <Baryancistrus sp. L018 could be okay, and does like quite warm water, which meshes nicely with what Symphysodon wants. But regardless: keep an eye on things, and act accordingly.> Second, I've been reading a lot about filtration (still...) and currently have a Penguin Bio Wheel filter.. rated for 30 gallons. Obviously this will not be sufficient for the 55 gallon alone. I have two choices I'm kicking back and forth: an Aqua Clear 50 HOB filter, for about $45, or an Eheim Ecco 2232 which is rated at 127 gph for a 35 gallon tank for $89. (or another brand/model...) Is the canister filter worth the extra money here? <Yes.> My concern is in regard to the build of nitrates (yes, I do realize they will build in all mech. filters and have to be changed). <Nitrate build-up in canister filters may well be an issue, but with proper maintenance it shouldn't happen. Actually, "your mileage may vary" -- I know people keeping very successful reef tanks that use canister filters they clean only once or twice a year! The benefit of canister filters is the generous water turnover and the option for useful selections of media. Hang-on-the-back filters come with these stupid "cartridge" modules that contain useless junk like carbon and zeolite. While great for the manufacturers and retailers, they're a waste of space for freshwater aquarists. What you want is a filter with empty modules into which you can put good-quality media like Siporax as well as filter wool that can be changed as often as required (which will be OFTEN in a planted tank.> Thanks a lot for the help! Eric <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Discus Fish System; filter options, and catfish -02/25/08
Good day, Thank you for the answer in regard to the Pleco and the filter. I will definitely keep an eye out for any harmful interactions. I did hear that the discus actually 'like' the slime coat-action? (Even though it's not good for them) Interesting.. <I doubt they actually like it. There's a whopping great fish scraping their skin off with big sharp teeth. About as much fun as having a ferret in your underpants I'd imagine.> As for the filter: the AquaClear 50 is rated at 200 gph, while the Ecco Canister is rated for 127 gph. I guess I'm confused as how the latter would be more flow? <In theory then the 200 gph filter would be better. But my experience of hang-on-the-back filters is that they are less good at cleaning solid wastes from the bottom of the tank. They're also less flexible in terms of media options, though that varies. In any case choose whichever you prefer, provided the 4x volume of the tank in turnover per hour is observed.> Is that because the canister is more efficient, or the design? <Canisters are more flexible in terms of options and accessories, but if you place one under the tank it actually is less efficient in terms of turnover than a hang-on filter at water level (because the canister now has to work against gravity).> The AquaClear also has different options for media, and I can use the pre-made 'bags' for pretty much anything. <The bags are often pretty rubbish. Anything pre-packaged does so to extract more money for less stuff. Nothing sold to consumers breaks this law.> I do think part of my hesitation (besides that which is listed above) is because I am familiar w/ the AquaClear, while I've never used a Canister before. <Almost all experienced freshwater aquarists migrate from hang-on filters and internal filters to external canister filters. They are just better value and more flexible. Of course, you're free to do whatever you want, so long as the basic rules are observed.> One last question (I promise): what about noise levels? I have read favorable things in regard to quality, longevity, etc. etc. about the Ecco (and entire Eheim line, for that matter) but there's not much in regard to how noisy it will be; in relation to the AquaClear. <Canister filters can be noisy if they get air bubbles inside them, but are generally silent when up and running properly.> Thanks again, E <Cheers, Neale.>

Discus setup and R.O.; Tank Mates For Discus 8/26/07 Hello crew, Have put up posts on the public forums but no reply as yet and tbh would appreciate a fairly quick reply if possible. Since the volume output production of my R.O. unit is slow, a trickle, it is best at the moment for me to perform one 15 litre w/c per day which over the course of a week equals a 50% w/c on both tanks. This equates to a 7 - 8 % w/c each day. Is this low level change ok to do or are the benefits minimal? < This depends on where you water chemistry is now and where you want it to be. If you are trying to lower the pH then it probably won't do much good. If you are trying to lower to total dissolved solids then you should be fine.> I'm getting two huge tubs soon so I can just turn it on and walk away for a couple or few hours without having to tend to it all the time. Last of all, my father and I have decided to take the direction of our main display tank to a Discus setup. I have read Bob Fenner's article called "The cichlid fishes called Discus". I'm trying to find out if the temps for them would be too high for Syno cats, eupterus and nigriventris. Mr. Fenner gives an example of suitable fish companions for Discus, was wondering if there was a particular exact source (or your recommendation) for a few more species. I don't think I'll be able to get the pH low enough for cardinals. We appreciate that these fish need extra special care and fully intend to create as perfect and suitable environment for them as possible, low lighting, correct plants, right GH and KH etc. Many thanks team. Steve. < The Synodontis cats get big and are big eaters. I'm afraid that they would bully the discus away at feeding time. Look for tankmates that can tolerate the same water conditions and will leave the discus as the dominant species in the tank.-Chuck>

Re: compatible fish for freshwater stingrays, Discus? 2/20/07 Hi again. <Michael> I went to a local fish store to check out the silver dollars you recommended earlier and the store highly recommended discus as possible tank mates for my 2 stingrays. I like the discus because of their colors. Would you agree that discuss would be suitable mates for my stingrays? <Mmm, no... unless the system is absolutely HUGE... several hundred gallons plus... the Rays moving about will greatly disturb the Symphysodon... do "like" the same sorts of water quality, but are behaviorally incompatible> I read that Discus require the same water conditions as rays (higher temp, low PH, softer water) and are also peaceful (see link). http://aquariumlore.blogspot.com/2006/03/discus-fish.html <When the rays are active... no. Bob Fenner>
Re: compatible fish for freshwater stingrays 2/20/07
Thanks for saving me tons of money since discus are expensive. Would rather get accurate advice from an expert like you instead of relying on the store who probably is just looking to make a profit :) <Happy to render my input. BobF>

Adding more discus to discus tank 1/17/06 Hi there, <Howdy> I did look in your site and tried reading as much as I could, but this is a little odd of a situation. And I am strapped for time. <Hmm, me too!> Basically, we have 4 juvenile discus in a 55 planted tank. (all about 6 to 8 months) One is about 4", one 3.5" one 3" and one 2.5" (runt). There has been a little "bickering" and nipping, so I called a known discus expert. I was told by the Jack Wattley people that adding a few more will quell the bickering. <Oh yes, a possibility...> That being said. I can get (2) orange discus that are about the size of a 1/2 dollar (typical 1.5" I think) for 16.00 each. <Too small to be of use here> I want to grow them out in a 10 gallon tank, (r/o water by the way with 20% changes every other day) and bare bottom at 93 degrees (the only way we have had success) for about 2-3 weeks and then lower it to 85 and add them to the main tank DOES SIZE MATTER???? <Heeeeee! At times, places... behave Bob> Will there be a problem adding the babies, or should I add larger ones?? I guess that is my main question. <The larger are all I would try... and they only in a setting where you can separate them or move out to another system...> I will add more plants and drift wood (softened edges) to make it look "like a new tank". Thank you very much!!! Carrie :) <I see Discus Aquaculturist in your future resume... Bob Fenner>
Re: Adding more discus to discus tank - 1/18/07
Howdy, <Hi there> Let's just say.... for instance ..... my daughter really wanted the orange babies and we bought them? You know when she was a baby, she really wanted to drive a car too and that didn't turn out so bad! lol~ <Heeee! Hide the keys!> I was wondering (if we keep them) how quickly they will grow out being fed 6 times a day? <And water changes... still not quickly enough here...> Little boogers don't seem to fancy beef heart....... Now on a side note....... how often does cattle die in the water near discus, and how do they get to the heart anyhow? <Moooo! Not often I'd wager> Anyhow, our big ones finally like it, so at least it isn't going to waste. <Is a principal ingredient in a few Discus breeding friends foods...> The babies will eat mysis and pick at the blood worms. Are there any growth hormone therapies we can use? lolol!!!! <Mmm, as you state, frequent feedings, dilution of metabolites is about it...> I may see if I can swap them out at another store that has larger ones. Would the "egg crate" divider work in the sense that the other discus SEEING the babies would quell bickering? <Yes... a good material choice here> Sorry, should have waited for your response, but last time I wrote about something else on anemone identification, I didn't get a response, so I figured you guys are really busy and I am impatient, admittedly! :) <Mmm, I'm mainly a/the "clean up" person query-wise... Answering what is left over from previous days...> So Captain, what is your suggestion? BTW, her father LIKED the 16.99 price! <Yes... seems a bargain...> Other prices are like 40 to 50 for larger ones. <And you know why... much time, food goes into production...> ALTHOUGH...... I have a BIG sinularia in my saltwater tank that is begging to be traded in........... Thanks again! <You have got the bug! Well... I'd raise the new young elsewhere... and really be saving up for another 55... or tall... 29's for breeding if this is the route/path you intend... Bob Fenner>
Re: Adding more discus to discus tank 1/19/07
Hi there, Howdy, <Greetings, and> Okay, I think I understand that you are telling me to use the egg crate to keep the babies on a 1/4 of the 55 gallon, and just SEEING them will keep the others from bickering as much or is this just a "thought" that it may work..... which I am willing to do AND report any success or failure for the benefit of readers. <Yes> Okay, as far as breeding...... now you have opened a can of blood worms!! LOL! My 15 year old daughter has that bug. I read 2 pairs in a 55 is acceptable.... <Mmm, maybe... until/lest they're breeding> mmm....... what do you think? As far as pairs, If a pigeon blood mixed with a cobalt blue for instance, are the color going to be either one or the other color, or a mixed odd ball, weird color that no one wants to buy? <A mix> I read the darker discus are good since the babies can "see" mom and dad (I read the really light discus have a hard time since the kids can't see the parents to eat off them very well....... sound like human kids..... sucking us dry! lol). <Sounds vaguely familiar... make that frightening> Do the parents protect the babies or will other tank mates chow them up? <Do protect to some degree> She has 1 cardinal, 1 neon, 2 rummy nose, and 3 glow light tetras, 3 albino Cory cats and 3 green Cory cats...... oh and one freshwater blenny we have had for almost a year and a 1/2 and eats out of your hand!!!!! <Interesting... that this fish is of the nature to live well under very warm, soft, acidic water conditions> (loves warm neutral to acidic water from our experience, just like the discus..... great companions!). IF there are egg eating fish in our list, could the eggs be hatched in a breeding net and then let the babies into the main tank to find ma and pa, or do they need to be in a separate tank all together. <The Blenny is the only real possibility listed... may have to be separated> I have watched my sister in laws jewel cichlids defend their babies like crazy only to end up getting eaten, BUT they don't suck off of their parents! We have a 29 gallon with Caulerpa growing for our Hippo tang (Mickey Blue Thighs). My daughter is totally eyeing up my 150 marine aquarium for her discus......... Uh, no! Yes, and you are now thinking....... well discus ARE cheaper than salt water......... <Mmm, not necessarily... all accounted for> Okay, marine question.... Can I send you some pics of the anemone I have had for over 2 years. I THINK it is a Ritteri (Heteractis magnifica) They really have to rename this thing after changing the scientific name from Radianthus ritteri! I have some interesting experiences with it that may be helpful for others........ That SHOULD be in a separate email. I will reply to your reply above with the info, if you are interested...... Thanks again! Carrie :) <Please do send the pix along... and consider penning (for pay) your experiences here... Not an easy to keep species. Bob Fenner>

The truth about Angels and Discus 12/1/06 Hello, <Hi there> your site is very informative - thank you for providing so much useful information. <Welcome> I have a 72 g tank with substrate and plants and am wanting to stock it with a few discus and angelfish. There seem to be two schools of thought here; 1. the two shouldn't mix, and 2. they are ok together. I am aware of the need for frequent water changes and the need discus have for high quality water. <Mmm... will repeat my S.O.P. response re these two cichlid genera... and personal experience>> I've heard more from the no. 1 camp to be sure, but would like to hear from the 2 camp. Surely someone has had positive results having the two species together? <Do know of this, but is a minority experience> If they are raised together from a small size, would they not accept each other? BTW I don't want to breed, just have a nice show tank. I've been told they could be kept together until the angels spawn. I was thinking of getting about 5 discus and 3 or so angels. I have a few bottom feeders in the tank already (Raphael catfish, 2 horseface loaches and an upside-down catfish - not all Amazonian but seemingly compatible). I will drop this idea if I'm told that there is no way of having the two species co-exist without too many adverse effects. Michaela <There are folks who suggest that disease may be/is easily passed between Pterophyllum and Symphysodon (most noted: Octomita)... but the real issue has been behavioral incompatibility, with Angels almost invariably over-bullying the Discus... causing them to go off-feeding... perishing subsequently from "stress". Bob Fenner>

Discus and loaches 7/19/06 Hello again, been awhile for me. Going discus and reading all I can here. Invaluable. My question is: I've had 6 striated loaches in a community tank and would love to keep them in with the discus. I'm keeping Otos and Siamese algae eaters with the discus and haven't decided on the one only schooling species I want to keep. Will the loaches be a problem? <Mmm, should get along fine as long as there is sufficient room. Do "enjoy" similar water quality: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12255&genusname=Botia&speciesname=striata Bob Fenner>

Hatchetfish, Silver Dollars, Discus, Compatibility - 05/19/2006 Can one keep Hatchet Fish, Silver Dollar, and a few Discus fish in a 55 gallon tank? <I would not mix silver dollars and discus. Discus are typically shy and timid, silver dollars are boisterous and perhaps too fast/aggressive. The discus would likely not get enough to eat in this mix, and would get pretty stressed out.> What do I need for setup if possible? <Research, mostly. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm > pH? Ammonia? Nitrate? < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm > No plants if possible. Thanks -Mark <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>
Re: Hatchetfish, Silver Dollars, Discus, Compatibility - 05/21/2006
If one shouldn't keep Silver dollar fish with Discus then why can you keep Angel Fish with Discus. <One shouldn't, in my opinion.> They are also aggressive, right? <Though angels are active eaters, they're at least more placid than silver dollars. Silver dollars are FAST swimmers, FAST eaters, boisterous, nippy, and all around very bad choices for keeping with discus.> Thanks, -Mark <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Discus Compatibility in Planted Tanks - 04/22/2006 Dear Person <Sabrina with you today.> I have 5feet long tank which is full of plants. I have Amazon Swords, Java Moss, Java Fern, Cryptocorynes, Anubias, Cabomba, Ambulia and Foxtail. I have some nice clown loaches and Widow Tetra also in my tank now I intend to keep Discus fish. Can you please tell me what are the compatible fishes with discus? <Oh, there are MANY. I, personally, like the look of a large school of cardinal tetras, green neon tetras, or green "fire" tetras, with discus; they make a nice dither fish and are very attractive. I also like hatchetfish. Corydoras catfishes would be great tankmates and help clean up the substrate of leftover food. Otocinclus are excellent consumers of algae that will also enjoy the planted tank. Remember, though, that these smaller tetras and Otos may become snacks when the discus grow quite large.> Moreover can you please tell me the method of placing Java Moss on the drift wood. <Oh sure, it's simple. Just use some black cotton thread and tie the moss on.... You can place the moss however you like and wrap the thread around the moss and the wood, just enough to keep it firmly in place. Before long, the moss will grow onto the wood quite well.> Thanks and Regards, -Ahmed <All the best to you, -Sabrina>

Chocolate Gouramis With Discus - 03/27/06 Hi! First, thanks for the wealth of info on your site! I do have a question that I have not found an answer to. I am slowly planning a planted Discus tank. Likely tank-bred discus, Corys, and some dither fish like the cardinals. I have recently stumbled upon a little fish that apparently is sometimes used as an indicator fish in discus tanks -- the chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides). ( HYPERLINK " http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=11235"http://www.fish base.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=11235 )They are very sensitive to water quality and require warm, soft, acidic water (24-27*C, pH 4-6). I really like these little guys and would like to keep a few of them with the discus, whenever I actually get that tank set up. I do have one, have kept her for a month now (the ones at the LFS were all dead four days later, that is why I could not get her any companions yet) and she seems to be quite happy now at 84*F, pH 5.2 in a 5-gallon planted tank with frequent (every 2 days or so) 30% water changes (the pH is kept down by peat in the filter). Nitrates 5, nitrites ~0.05 (below 0.1, the lowest concentration the kit registers but not quite clear), ammonia 0.1 (apparently peat leeches some ammonia into the water) but at such low pH, should not be too toxic. Had to learn quick about keeping this delicate little fish and daily water changes in the beginning -- I really like the little girl! :-) Working on getting ammonia down to 0 -- is it even possible with peat in the filter? <In an acidic environment there are fewer bacteria to break down the waste. A little current and some additional live plants will help.> Now for the actual questions. First, would a shy fish like the chocolate Gourami also work as a dither fish in a discus tank, or would it be strictly an indicator species? Would the discus harass the little guys? < The discus will be big bullies to smaller shy fish. Eventually they would become weak from not eating or die from stress.> Second, with the water requirements for the chocolate Gourami (pH 4-6, very soft) will it even be compatible with tank-bred discus, or would only wild discus be able to enjoy such acidic water? < Water parameters are fine for both wild and domestic discus.-Chuck> Thank you in advance, Yury

Discus Question 2/10/06 Good Afternoon, <Morning here/now> I am starting up a 65 gallon planted discus tank and was wondering if I can have other fish in with them (specifically angels, an elephant nose, cardinal tetras and maybe dwarf gouramis). <The cardinals would be fine (if large enough, the discus small enough), the other fish species are not recommended for various reasons> Also, could you please tell me how many fish I can house in a 65 gallon aquarium. <Could start with five discus of smallish size (less than three inches in diameter), likely having to remove all but two, three in time> Another question is with regards to sand/gravel. I have been reading up on silica sand, black beauty and other sandblasting sand. Could you please tell me which is the best to use in my tank (currently running bare bottomed). <Mmm, none of these would I choose. Look to Fluorite, lateritic material... for function...> What medication (if any) should I always have on hand. Thanking you in advance for any advise you can offer. Lori <None. Like military hardware, lack of knowledge/intelligence re same, you're too likely to use it. Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost With Discus 12/5/05 Hi there. Just wondering , I'm thinking of setting up a discus tank but have a ghost knife that I love to death. My question is would the pH, water qualities of discus affect my ghost knife ???? < The water parameters for both are about the same.> More importantly would the discus co-exist peacefully with my ghostie? Thanks for your time. Jarryd < While the black ghost is small they would probably get along for awhile. In fact you probably would not see the black ghost during the day with other fish in the tank. But you ghost will get pretty big over time . Maybe up to 18 inches plus. At it grows up to this this size it will harass any other fish with its electrical field and would probably do best in its own tank. Chuck>

Mixing Discus and Newts, Make That Aquatic Skink 12/1/05 Hi! I have a discus tank project in mind. I will use a 30" high tank but fill it only to about 22". The aim is to have some aerial plant growth and immersed bogwood. I plan to perform 25% twice a week (automated) water change. Then I had the idea that since there would be a small terrestrial part, it would be original and wonderful to have a couple of newts there (don't know what species would be appropriate for that habitat tough, at 82F...). Somebody advised against it saying that amphibians exudations through the skin would cause a lot of trouble with the discus and make them sick all the time. What is your opinion on that? Is it possible/realistic to mix those animals? Thanks! Dominique < This is an interesting idea. Most newts require cool water temps and may not go well with the discus. Poison arrow frogs lose their toxicity in captivity and captive bred ones are perfectly safe. Go to Kingsnake.com and check out some little aquatic armored skinks from New Guinea. They can handle the heat and seem fairly easy to care for. Kinda expensive at around $75 each but very cool little lizards.-Chuck>

Newts And Discus 12/1/05 Hi Chuck! Thanks! I didn't know this lizard species. They do look cool. I also like poison arrow frogs. The thing is that it would be best to use a mostly aquatic animal in my mix. The land part of the tank will be quite small, it will be mostly aquatic. That's why I thought about newts (and I don't like African frogs, they wont use the land part anyway...). You are right with the temperature: I didn't find any species that fits so far. I am surprised that there is no newt that would stand those temperatures. I thought there must be several nice species coming from warm Amazon waters... But the amphibian's skin thing wouldn't be a problem you think? Dominique < Toads and newts are generally the ones that generate the toxins, especially when they are ill or threatened. Not sure how they react with fish but they are probably preyed on by fish so it would make sense that the toxins would have some effect on them. The newts are pretty slow and would be easy prey if they did not have these defenses.-Chuck>

Discus Tankmates 11/28/05 Hello. I was wondering if the blue tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), the glass blood fin tetra (Aphyocharax anisitsi), and some shrimp (Palaemon pantanal) would be able to be housed with 3 discus and not be eaten. If so would these be able to coexist with each other in a 55 gallon tank. CJ <All should get along fine. The tetras are too fast for the discus to eat even if they wanted too. When the shrimp shed their exoskeleton they will be soft and very vulnerable for awhile so they will need a place to hide until their new outer skin hardens.-Chuck>

Discus with Arowana 10/18/05 Hey, I was just wondering if you could mix Discus's and an Arowana together in a 100gal tank. thanks. >> You can, if the Arowana is still young. Once the arowana reaches around 16 inches in length it will have to be moved. For that matter, a 100 gallon tank is too small for an arowana at that size. Good Luck, Oliver<<

Peaceful Top Dwellers Hi, <Hello Greg> I've kept fish for most of my adult life, but never had a small aquarium until I moved to an apartment. I now have just a 10 gallon tank. I will be moving back into a house I'm building by fall and will go back to a large tank. The tank has 3 high-fin rams 3 small discus one Pleco and one cat. The rams stay at the bottom and the discus in the middle. Are there any small (or at least slow growing) fish that are compatible and would inhabit the top third of the tank? I figure I've got room for two or possibly three more fish if they're not too large. Thanks, Greg Plate <Well that is a lot for a ten gallon, as the discus demand very high water quality to stay healthy. I would not add anything else to this tank and am sure that by the fall you may be severely overcrowded size wise, if you are not already. I would keep a very close eye on the water quality and do rigorous water changes weekly to help, but the waste produced will overload the tank soon, if it hasn't already. Justin (Jager)><<You need a larger tank, hyaku! RMF>>

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>>

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, 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>

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 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. <I'm not sure if he's 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 wouldn't 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 FAQ's. Also search for discus at www.wetwebmedia.com using the Google search feature. Thank you for researching first before buying! Ronni>

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>

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

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>

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