One very important aspect of discus keeping or breeding is of course maintaining the aquarium. This part of the guide will explain the different aspects of tank maintenance and the age old argument of whether to have real or artificial plants in your discus aquarium.
It is important to note that the quality of the water in your discus aquarium is paramount. That being said, one of the easiest ways to maintain clean water, is of course by performing frequent water changes. However, discus do not like large amounts of their water to be changed at one time, due to their delicate nature.
Therefore one big water change won’t cut it, in terms of discus. You will want to perform many smaller water changes throughout the week to keep your discus happy and healthy. When performing these water changes, you will only want to change out ten to twenty percent of the water at one time. This will help you maintain the water chemistry and temperature more accurately, and of course keep the discus aquarium clean.
Of course you may not need to change the water so frequently, or you may need to change it more frequently in your discus aquarium. The deciding factors for determining how many times you will be needing to change the water in your discus aquarium are: how many discus and other fish you have in your discus tank; how much food you are feeding your discus; the incoming water quality; and of course what kind of filtration system you are using.
As mentioned before you will be required to test the water quality of your discus aquarium frequently for levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates this is the only really accurate way of knowing what the quality of the water in your discus aquarium is like. Many people tend to think that just because the water is a bit murky or if it is a slightly different color that this means that the quality of the water must be bad. In most cases that would be true, however in the case of discus aquariums, the same rule of thumb does not apply. If you are using peat as a filtration method for example, the water will look like a square cup of tea. The water quality is fine, and the fish don’t mind, but this can be rather unseemly for a show tank. To counteract the coloring effects of peat, just throw in some activated carbon. The activated carbon will remove the unseemly tea color, but it won’t counteract the benefits that the peat is giving the water.
It is also very important to remember that when you are performing a water change for your discus tank that you need to ensure that the water you are swapping in has close to the same water chemistry, as the water in your discus aquarium. If the water is not close, it can cause rapid, drastic changes in the water chemistry of your discus aquarium. This is not a desirable outcome as when there are drastic changes in the water chemistry of the discus aquarium the discus can become stressed and this can have detrimental effects on the overall health of your discus population.
To prevent this it is advisable to pre-filter and prepare the water for the water changes to your discus aquarium. Many discus keepers and breeders do this by having a 32 gallon or more, container filled with water which is preconditioned to closely match the water in their discus aquarium.
Another very important aspect that many people tend to not think of is cleaning the inside glass in the discus aquarium. You will want to do this frequently as there is often a sticky slimy substance that will build up there. This slimy substance is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that could be potentially harmful to your discus. You will need to ensure that you do this before every water change, as if you don’t it just defeats the purpose of doing one in the first place.
If you are using gravel in your discus aquarium you will want to make sure that you use a gravel washing siphon to clean it regularly. This apparatus also helps greatly in emptying out water from the discus aquarium in preparation for a water change.