Discus aquariums must be set up properly in advance of bringing your discus home. It is foolhardy to think that you will be able to buy the fish, and then setup the tank. In the long term, this is a failing and fish killing scenario. This article will explain what you can do today to prepare your aquarium for discus.
For filtration of discus aquariums, a cultured sponge filter will work well. If don’t want to wait for the filter to culture naturally, consider using one of the bacterial starter cultures. Either choice will work fine, the important thing is that there isn’t a lot of water flow, as calm water mimics the natural discus habitat.
Use a thin layer of fine gravel in the bottom of the tank. Bare bottom tanks also work fine, and are usually better for breeding.
I like to use driftwood, floating plants and clay flowerpots filled with gravel and other suitable plants. Remember that the water temperature in discus aquariums is 80 degrees F or more, so be sure to choose compatible plants. A fluorescent strip light with one warm and one cool white bulb will provide enough light for the plants.
For a quarantine or hospital tank, I do not use gravel or any plants. If this is your first adventure into discus aquariums, the initial tank should essentially be built as a quarantine tank. In this case, the tank should have nothing other than water, filter, heater, and light. The reason for such Spartan accommodations is that you need to be able to observe your discus closely at first. They may want to hide, but it’s better if you can see them clearly. Remember, you can always add the amenities later, after are sure your new fish are healthy. This quarantine period should last a minimum of 30 days. If you are adding new fish to an established discus aquarium, be sure to keep the new fish in a separate 10 gallon tank while you evaluate their health.
Discus aquariums need some advanced preparation in order to be successful. Most importantly, is ensure proper water quality and habitat. You also need to learn how to properly acclimate new discus to your aquarium. I encourage you to learn more about the specifics of setting up discus aquariums. Topics such as food, water chemistry, and choice of tank mates are all critical to your success. Good Luck!