stunted discus

Stunted Discus

Stunted Discus

Discus fish can be a challenge to keep. Keeping them in favorable conditions will make them achieve their desired maturity size depending on the type of discus fish. These favorable conditions are water temperature, hygiene, proper feeding, fish tank water pH and other elements levels and so on. Not all discus fish however are able to grow to their maturity size. These discus fish are what we refer to as stunted discus. This article will discuss this type of discus fish in detail.

Causes of stunted discus and their solutions
The most obvious cause of stunted discus is failure to stick to the favorable conditions for the fish tank.
One of the conditions under concern is on the feeding of the discus fish. Failure to feed the discus fish properly may lead to stunted discus. On this, the “cleanest” food to give the discus fish in order to avoid stunted growth is high protein flake food. This provides good proteins to the discus fish.
Heating of the fish tank water is also of concern. If you find the weather is just fine there is no need to turn the heater on. If however your fish tank is in an air-conditioned room please turn your heater on in order to keep the temperatures favorable.
Also, another possible cause is failure of the small discus fish to adapt to the new environment. It is therefore advisable if possible not to buy small fish when you have a planted fish tank with discus. It is better to buy adult size discus from the start. Finally, the most common cause of stunted discus is overcrowding of the fish tank. Discus fish require a minimum of 5 gallons of water per fish. 10 gallons of water per discus is the ideal situation.

Stunted discus fish may also result due to lack of sufficient air in the fish tank. To solve this, do make sure the air pump is working well as high temp has lower oxygen.
Another possible cause of stunted discus outside of the favorable conditions is the medications used. There have been some instances where small fish growth suffers from medications. Medication seems to stress the small fish more resulting to inhibition of their growth leading to stunted discus. To solve this, as much as possible be careful not to use any form of medication whenever it is not necessary on small discus fish.

Signs of Stunted Discus
There are several ways to determine if a discus is stunted:
1. The shape of the fish resembles a football or a bullet.
2. The eyes of the fish are very large in comparison to the size of the body.
3. The eyes of the fish are different sizes one being larger than the other.
4. The eyes of the fish are not properly aligned one being higher on the face than the other.
5. The fish remains the same size while others in the tank are growing.

Can stunted discus fish grow to their full potential?
Once the discus is stunted, it cannot be grown to the fullest potential; however, some stunted discus can still grow to an average shape and size. Now, I said fullest potential because different breed of discus have different genetic potential that allows them to grow into a certain size and shape. A stunted discus A with a potential to be 8″ can still grow to a 6″ fish, while a stunted discus B with a potential to be 6.5″ can only grow to 5″. There is also a varying degree of “stuntness”, and how big a stunted discus can grow depends on how long and how badly the environment it was living in was.

Just because you have a stunted discus doesn’t mean it won’t grow. The best you can do is ensure they get good food and good water as discussed above and see how they turn out. Just because it’s stunted, doesn’t mean it isn’t otherwise healthy though. I believe a stunted discus is beyond any hope of growth in size. They can however still continue to live and maybe reproduce too (if the sexual reproduction devices were not damaged).

Stunted discus has more intense colors if it’s any consolation. They just cannot grow big anymore to their fullest potential. Otherwise, they are just like their sibling and able to reproduce. Stunted fish pass on their genes and not their poor growth. Try not to breed them however as it will bring forth lesser fish into the gene pool.

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discus ich

Discus Ich

Discus “ich”

Discus Ich is a parasitic infection of fresh water fish caused by ciliate. It can be ichthyology which is a branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish. “Ich” is the small, white and clear spots on the bodies of discus and several on the fins. The spots are a bit smaller than the typical salt granule-like spots. Temp changes are one of the most frequent cases of ich outbreaks.

Parasites which cause this disease include oodinium, costia and ich. This is another of the most deadly discus fish diseases is white spot disease. This disease is caused by the protozoan and it open body ulcers on side of the fish. The disease is highly contagious and spreads rapidly from one fish to another. It can be severe when fish are crowded. This disease is major problem to aquarists and commercial fish producers worldwide. This organism is an obligate parasite which means that it cannot survive unless live fish are present and even capable of causing massive mortality within a short time. An outbreak of ich is an emergency situation which requires immediate treatment. If untreated, this disease may result in one hundred percent mortality.

Disease signs
The main sign of discus ich infection is presence of small white spots on the skin or gills. These lesions look like small blisters on the skin or fins of the fish. It looks as if the fish has salt on it. Prior to the appearance fish may show signs of irritation, flashing, weakness, loss of appetite and decreased activity. If the parasites are only present on the gills white spots will not be seen hence fish will die in large numbers. In these fish, gills will be pale and very swollen. White spots should not be used as the only means of diagnosis because other diseases may have similar appearance. Gill and scrapings should be taken when the first signs of illness are observed. If the “Ich” organism is seen, fish should be medicated immediately because fish which are severely infected may not survive.

Treatment for discus Ich

“Ich” is common problem in aquariums and different aquarists adhere to different regimes when it comes to curing “Ich”. One mode of treatment can be the control of “Ich” outbreaks which is usually very difficult due to the parasites’ unusual life cycle as well as the effect of water temperature on its life cycle. Of the life stages in the life cycle of L. multifiliis, only the free-swimming tomites are susceptible to chemical treatment. The application of a single treatment will therefore only kill tomites which have emerged from cysts and have not yet burrowed into the skin of host fish. The treatment will hence not affect organisms which emerge after the chemical has broken down or been flushed from the system. On the contrary, repeated treatments will continually kill the juvenile tomites, leading to discontinuation of the infection. The epizootic will be controlled as more adult parasites drop off the sick fish, encyst, and produce young which cannot survive because of the repeated application of chemicals. This process will be greatly accelerated if organic debris can be removed from the tank or vat following treatment. This will remove many cysts from the environment, decreasing the number of emergent tomites.

Water temperature has a tremendous influence on how fast the life cycle for discus Ich is completed. At warm temperatures (75-79°F), the life cycle is completed in about 48 hours, which means that chemical treatments should be applied every other day. At cooler temperatures the life cycle is prolonged and treatments should be spaced further apart. Treatments should never be discontinued until all mortality from “Ich” has stopped. Fish should be closely watched during recovery; the weakened fish may be susceptible to a secondary bacterial infection. The choice of chemical used to treat “Ich” will be based upon water quality conditions, species of fish to be treated, and the type of system fish are housed in. In general, copper sulfate, formalin and potassium permanganate have all proved to be effective against “Ich” when applied at the correct concentration in a repetitive manner as described above. Make sure that you quarantine the ich infested fish immediately upon first signs to prevent it from spreading to other fish. Also ensure that you raise the water temperature to 90 degrees in your quarantine tank to help kill the infection. Perform daily water changes of 50% in the quarantine tank as well.

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wild discus care

Wild Discus Care

Wild Discus Care

Wild discus fish are a bit harder and demanding to keep compared to the domestic discus fish. However, the basic requirements for both are all the same. These requirements are like warm, clean, fresh water as well as a varied diet. Wild discus care therefore would be easier for one who has experience in keeping domestic discus fish.
Wild Discus fish require more attention and adherence to the basics of general Discus fish care. There are actually three distinct species of wild Discus fish one can choose from when you want to consider keeping them. Each of the species happens to have a unique and different water conditions with some of the conditions being shared among them. Apart from water conditions, there is also the concern of parasites that are common to most of the fish caught in the wild and the others that are particularly of more concern among wild Discus than say, wild caught Cardinal Tetras.

Wild Discus Care – Types of Wild Discus

A big factor in wild discus care is the preferred water conditions for each of the three wild Discus species. In my opinion, I would recommend S. haraldi as your first wild Discus, which is the blue/brown Discus fish. Compared to the other two species, S. haraldi happens to have highest adaptation ability to the extreme water conditions.

S. haraldi in most cases may be easily kept in a fish tank containing just your tap water. The species can easily adapt to and thrive in water with a pH of 7.4 and 400 ppm TDS. Further, when it comes to the chemicals which constitute the total dissolved solids, wild Discus prefer if the water KH is below or equal to 6* and GH should be below 8*dGH. Having a KH of 4 to 6* will help stabilize pH of their aquarium water. The KH should not be 3* or below though as it would make the pH drop quickly under the influence of any build up in organic wastes in the water ( pH crash).

Another important thing to consider is your source of wild Discus. You should choose a supplier that treats his/her newly imported wild Discus fish for the common parasites and does a proper acclimatization of the fish to environment as well as feeding habits. This however has nothing to do with the price and you therefore base the quality of the wild Discus fish you are buying with the price you get them at. The bottom-line is that the source/supplier should be trustworthy.

Having discussed S. haraldi as the most adaptable and hardiest wild Discus fish species, there are also the Heckels and Greens. Both of these species are very particular about the chemistry of water compared to any variety of S. haraldi. This makes them less adaptable to new environments and water conditions. More so, you can get affordable S. haraldi in the USA depending on the color form as well as behavior of the buyers. At times when a demand for a particular type is high, the price may rise as well.

In Conclusion

Finally, after acquiring your preferred type you should pay great attention to acclimatization. This can be done after you have decided on your supplier as well as your budget. You should hve a quarantine and acclimation tank ready for the new wild Discus. You will use the water conditions recommended by your supplier to make things easy. Do so for a period of 30 days but in a gradual manner in order to make your wild Discus acclimatize to the condition of your fish tank water which you will eventually manage without straining. This process is easier as mentioned earlier for S. haraldi compared to Greens or Heckels and hence are recommended for a first timer.

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best aquarium air pump

Best Aquarium Air Pumps for Discus Fish

Best Aquarium Air Pump for Discus fish

Water circulation in your Discus fish tank is very important. The main purpose for the water circulation in the fish tank is to enable the Discus fish has enough supply of oxygen. There are two ways one can ensure water circulation in a fish tank, namely; by use of power heads and by use of air pumps. The best aquarium air pump tend to be a little more pricey but worth the money.


A powerhead is a water pump that is submersible and its main purpose is to ensure there is water circulation in the fish tank. The powerheads are normally attached to the “lift tubes” associated with under gravel filters. They usually pull the water in the fish tank through the lift tubes. The outlet of the powerhead can be directed anywhere as long as the water circulates well throughout the fish tank as well as the surface is always stirred. Powerheads normally tend to be used more than air pumps in larger fish tanks.

Air pumps

An air pump is a device that is responsible for bubbling air through your fish tank. It serves two main purposes:

i. The air pump maintains the oxygen concentration. This is a critical role which is necessary for Discus fish in the fish tank. If however your fish tank has regular water movement on its surface agitation when an air pump isn’t fitted then you can do without it. An example of this situation is when external filters are fitted in the fish tank.
ii. The air pump forces water through the filter in the fish tank. If you have fitted your fish tank with an under gravel filter then an air pump produces bubbles that will force the water into the uplift tubes. This will in turn leads to pulling of the water through the filter. This however functions when you have a small fish tank; otherwise you will need a powerhead in case of a larger fish tank.

Choosing the best aquarium air pump for your Discus fish tank depends on what you need an air pump for. As discussed above, there are situations when you don’t need an air pump in your fish tank. Below are factors to consider when deciding on the best air pump:

1. Decoration or oxygenation
A medium-pressure air pump, such as the Whisper Air Pump, and an air-stone or bubble wand, will help you add a decorative bubble backdrop in your Discus fish tank and then at the same time helps you remove unwanted gases in the fish tank. More so, the surface movement or water agitation caused by the air bubbles caused by the air pump also adds oxygen to your Discus fish tank. In order to obtain the best results, always go for an air pump that is rated one tank size larger than your Discus fish tank.

2. Under-gravel filters.
When you have fitted your fish tank with under-gravel filters, there are air pumps with medium to high pressure that are designed to work at a substantial depth which you can buy. This means therefore that the kind of filter you have fitted in your fish tank determines the air pump that is best for you.

3. Foam and corner filters or “action” ornaments
When you have form and corner filters as well as some ornaments fitted in your Discus fish tank then you need a small, low-pressure air pump. An example of such a pump is Azoo model 2500.

4. Wood air-stones
If your air pump is fitted with wood air-stones which are more often used with protein skimmers, then you require a high-pressure air pump. Examples of such air pumps are Tetratec Air Pumps and Lift Pump.

My recommendations for the best aquarium air pump:

1. Penn Plax Air Pod with Battery Back Up – this is my personal favorite. I have it on all of my discus tanks. It uses 4 D cell batteries in the event that you lose power the pump continues to run. This pump costs about $60-$70. The only downside it tends to be a little loud at times so you need to place it on top of foam to filter the noise a bit. I have been using these for years with great results.

2. Whisper Air Pumps – these are the best if you are looking for quiet air pumps. You can’t even hear them running!

In conclusion, the best aquarium air pump for your Discus fish tank depends on a number of factors and therefore may be different from one fish tank to another.

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best aquarium heaters

Best Aquarium Heaters For Discus Fish

Best Aquarium Heaters for Discus fish

Temperature is one of the very critical factors when it comes to keeping Discus fish. This is because the warmer your Discus fish tank is the more it will stimulate appetite in your Discus fish; this means your Discus fish will eat more and by so doing they grow faster and healthier. It is recommended that in an un-planted fish tank the temperature should be kept between 85 and 86 degrees whereas for a planted fish tank the temperature should be kept between 83 and 84 degrees. These are the optimum temperatures that will enable the plants to thrive in the Discus fish tank and also enable the Discus fish to maintain a healthy appetite. In this article we will discuss the best aquarium heaters for discus fish.

Having discussed the importance of keeping the necessary temperature for Discus fish, we now look at how to do so. The temperatures in the Discus fish tank are kept by use of heaters. But there are a variety of heaters available in the market which can be confusing for some Discus keepers. The discussion below solves this.

There are three main factors to consider when choosing the best heater for your Discus fish tank. First, you consider the size of the heater. Your heater should be able to fit well into your fish tank, so always buy a heater as per your fish tank size. Secondly, you consider the quantity or number of the heaters. In this case, if you are purchasing less expensive heaters it is recommended that you use a number of small heaters, say two, instead of a large one with the same rating. The main purpose for this is redundancy such that when one heater stops working, the other does the work. Also, many smaller heaters are more effective than a single big one even though they may have the same cumulative rating.

Types of Best Aquarium Heaters

There are a variety of heaters of a wide range from budget models to more expensive models available in the market. The types of heaters available depending on your custom needs include hang-on heaters, submersible heaters and substrate heaters.

1. Hang-on aquarium heater
This is the fish tank heater which is the cheapest and the most popular option in the market. The only set back this heater has is that they stick out on the back of the Discus fish tank. This is mainly on the aesthetic value point of view, so Discus keepers refrain from using it. Hang on heaters are okay if you are keeping cheap fish. I wouldn’t recommend them for discus as they cannot reach high temperatures.

2. Submersible aquarium heater
These heaters provide a middle ground between the cheapest model and the more costly heaters. Since they are submersible as the name suggests, they have a higher aesthetic value than hang-on heater. These are the best heaters in my experience.

3. Substrate aquarium heater
This particular heater heats your tank evenly. The heating cables are laid below your gravel and substrate and hence these heaters are hardly visible in tanks. They further provide an excellent heat source for plants. The only setback for this heater is that if it fails you have to dig below your tank’s gravel and substrate to replace the cable. Their prices are also higher compared to hang-on and submersible heaters. These heaters are good for smaller tanks with cheap fish. They will not work well in large aquariums with discus fish.

My recommendations for the best aquarium heaters for discus fish

    1. Finnex titanium heater with external thermostat

      – This heater will never crack or shatter. I have had situation sin the past where a discus gets scared and crashes into a glass heater cracking it. The titanium heater will never break. It has an external thermostat which you must purchase separately. the thermostat has alarms that will notify you when the temperature goes higher or below a certain level. These heaters are the best at keeping the temperature constant and can heat the water more than your average heater. Many heaters can heat the water more than 82 degrees. The finnex heater is a bit more expensive but it will last a long time. This is the best heater based on my experience. You only need one of them unlike the less expensive heaters.

      2. Eheim Jaeger

    – This heater is one of the best glass heaters. It lasts a long time. They are fairly reasonable in price.

    3. Marineland Visitherm

      – These heaters are also glass but come in a rubberized shell. I have used them for many years. They are good quality.

      In conclusion, take caution when purchasing an aquarium heater that has a built in thermostat. Built in thermostats are known to fail resulting in your water becoming too hot because the heater will never shut off. I have had many of them fail. I highly recommend spending a little more money and going with the Finnex Titanium heater. You won’t regret it. Your Discus will like it and you will thank me in the long run!

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best filters for discus fish

Best Filters For Discus Fish

Best filters for Discus fish

Filtration is very crucial and its importance cannot be brushed off in any fish tank or aquarium. The fact of the matter is that the higher the level filtration in the fish tank the better it is for the fish. Discus fish require one of the highest levels filtration because of their messy nature. It is recommended that you always have a level of filtration which is way higher than the size of your fish tank. This clearly means that if your fish tank is say 50 gals, then your need a larger filter of up to 100 gals or even more or chooses to have more than one filter of 50 gals. Here we will discus the best filters for discus fish.

The best filters for discus fish come in a variety of types, namely; under-gravel (UG), hang on the back (HOB), internal and canister. The most preferred Discus fish filters are mainly internal and HOB (hang on back) filters even though canister filters are also preferred for larger fish tanks. The main reason why internal and HOB filters are preferred for Discus fish is because Discus fish are very messy when they eat. This means their rate of making the water in the tank dirty is way higher compared to some other species. The reason attributed to Discus fish messiness is their feeding habits as well as their straight intestinal tract. This means therefore that the filtration system should in this case have a higher rate of filtration than in a normal condition. This is what internal and HOD filters do exactly. The rule of thumb for filtration is 10x per hour per tank turnover. This allows good water movement, but of course is the bare minimum when it comes to Discus fish tank.

Apart from the effectiveness of a filter in doing the filtration, its price is also paramount. When you choose the best filters for discus fish you must compare both efficiency and the price. Also, the noise levels of the filters are considered. Aqua clear which is HOB filter is among one of the very quiet ones. Do not use an under gravel filter in a discus tank. Under gravel filters are intended to trap the waste under the gravel. Eventually the waste will become bacteria and foul your water. Under gravel filters are fine for other fish but not for discus.

Most of the varieties of filters above come complete with filter media which is actually what goes inside the filter. The filter media can be ceramic rings, sponges, pads, etc. however, some of the filters also come with charcoal. The importance of charcoal in the fish tank is debatable and is mainly used to remove medications from the water after treating for an illness but generally but aside from that, charcoal isn’t really necessary in the discus fish tank. This does not mean however that charcoal can be harmful when kept in the fish tank filter but you may choose to replace the carbon (which is the component of charcoal) with another form of filter insert such as a sponge or ceramic rings.

The filter should be cleaned every 6 months. When cleaning your filter only replace the sponge/cotton material and do not rinse out or change any of the other media in the filter. It very important that the beneficial bacteria in your filter is not disturbed. Therefore, it is recommended that you only replace the filter cotton/sponge media when it is critically necessary.

Here is my list of the best filters for discus fish:

Canister Filters:
1. Fluval FX series
2. Fluval canister filters
3. Eheim canister filters

HOB Filters:
1. Marineland Penguin Series
2. Aqua Clear
3. Whisper

Sponge Filters (primarily used for discus breeding):
1. Deep Blue Sponge Series
2. Hydor Series

In conclusion, when choosing the best filter for Discus fish, look for the one with the highest filtration rate. Discus fish are not cheap fish so you want to ensure that you have the proper filtration to maintain healthy fish.

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