The Growing Conditions
Contrary to what is assumed, you will find that discus is a fish that not so difficult to nurture. However, it is advisable to study the specific requirements for this fish before a giant aquarium is bought.
First, it is best to decide what types of fish you would like to have in your aquarium and then decide the size and the accessories in accordance. If you already have an aquarium, you need to see which of the fish do not mix well with the discus (see section 'Purchase of Discus & Combining them in Aquariums').
Discus have a relatively a long growing period, up to 18 months. During the course of its growth it is crucial to have good quality water that will enable them to grow to their full potential. Good quality water consists of low ammonia and nitrate levels, stable acidity and hardness parameters. (For further requirement see 'The Nitrogen Cycle' section).
The optimal living space for a mature discus is approx. 60 liters, but also 30 liters will do. For the sake of comparison a mature discus weighs about 100 Tetra cardinal fish biological mass wise that it produces (see below "The Nitrogen Cycle").
The recommended aquarium volume for discus is 300 liters.
When buying an aquarium keep in mind that, for example; an aquarium the size of 120*60*50* can hold about 360 liters water. But the net volume will only come up to about 300 liters, the remaining volume will consist of the decorations, ruble, shoreline, etc.
It is recommended to grow the small sized discus of 10 cm. in a 'bare' aquarium with a smooth bottom and without any decoration, in order to facilitate feeding of the fish and cleaning of the aquarium.
Nurturing discus from small age to maturity is not an easy task and is not recommended for beginners, unless they are hardworking and prepared to work even harder and learn before they set out to work…
When dealing with water there are a number of parameters that need to be taken into consideration. First of all the type of water - the source of discus is in the Amazon in South America, in regions where water flow is slow. The water is also called 'brown water' due the quantities of peat moss accumulated that color the water brown.
Chemical wise this is acid water, soft, pH level is lower than 7.0 (alkaline = 7.0 < pH, acid = 7.0 > pH, neutral = 7.0 = pH, pH above 7.0 will be considered alkaline). The softness or alkalinity of water is determined by the quantity of salts and metals dissolved in the water.
We measure, rigidity / softness of the water with Micro Siemens. In the Amazon the levels are 100-200 micro-siemens (for comparison - the tap water in most parts of Israel is around 800 micro-siemens).
But this is relevant to the discus natural habitat. The discus 'Danziger - Discus' nurture is carried out under Israel's conditions in all aspects, which means that the water is alkaline and rigid; 8.5.0> pH> 7.5 and rigidity of 800-1,500 micro-siemens.
Do not be alarmed; discus is able to develop well also in these conditions and someday will also become a reproducing parent (see section 'Discus Reproduction).
Discus love warm water and the temperature of 28C- 30C would be ideal.
The Nitrogen Cycle -
Changing of Water
To ensure proper nitrate levels, the most recommended method is to change the water and the best to do it would be regular dripping.
All that is required for dripping is an aquarium with an overflow pipeline to the drainage/ garden and a water tap next to it. To the water tap connect a coal filter, which will neutralize the chlorine also with a small tap to control the flow / the amount.
The quantity of the water that needs to be changed must be in accordance to the crowdedness of the fish in the aquarium, for example; the normal crowdedness of one discus is 30 liters, changing of 10% (per day) of the water will lead to having better quality water in the aquarium.
It is advisable to pump out the dirt quite frequently especially when nurturing discus in its early stages of 5-10 cm. in diameter.