How much substrate (gravel or sand) is needed for a discus tank?
This is a very common and important question when setting up a discus aquarium.
The amount of substrate needed for your discus tank will depend on the size and shape of your tank as well as the depth of the substrate that you want to have. Another factor to consider is the size of the substrate you are planning to get.
This may all sound complicated but in my many years of experience I have been able to make this very easy. Here is my magic formula for rectangle aquariums:
If you want a 1 inch deep base – For every 1 gallon of water use 1 pound of substrate.
If you want a 2 inch deep base – For every 1 gallon of water use 2 pounds of substrate.
Which kind of substrate is best for discus tanks?
This is completely a personal preference. Here is my advice though: Discus require very clean water. Uneaten food will fall to the bottom of the tank and eventually will start to turn into bacteria and fowl the water. The uneaten food will easily fall in between pieces of large rock and will make it hard to clean. The easiest substrate to maintain in a discus tank is sand. Uneaten food will just lay on top of the sand which will be easily visible and easy to remove. Many discus hobbyists prefer bare bottom tanks as they are the easiest to clean but are not necessarily the most eye catching. If you are breeding discus you must go with a bare bottom tank. Small gravel substrate is fine as long as you do regular vacuuming of the gravel. For the least work and maintenance I recommend a sand bottom!
What color substrate is best for discus tanks?
This is a very good and important question.
Discus in the wild camouflage themselves to their environment as a form of protection. Therefore if you have a dark colored substrate then your fish colors will be dark so they can try to blend in with the environment. If your substrate is bright then the discus colors will also be bright to blend in. While black substrate is very popular with discus it will cause the discus to become darker in color and will start to show a lot of peppering marks with time. My personal preference is bright white sand. It makes the tank look bright and makes the discus colors really stand out with the proper lighting.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.