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Spawning Discus or

The right approach may bring immediate results ! - Part II

by George J. Reclos

The new look of the tank was much closer to the descriptions of the natural habitat of the Discus. Still, the presence of the plants didn't fit the bill but since their demands were to be totally neglected their influence on the system could only be marginal - and in a positive way. The filters which were initially visible were hidden very nicely and only a temporary internal filter was visible. This particular filter was working in another tank for some months so it had a fully matured colony of bacteria. It was added in the tank three days after the change of the aquascape because the addition of all this bogwood in one step affected the water chemistry of the tank. What we experienced was a dramatic drop in the pH (it reached values below 6.0) while the KH and GH were both close to 1. The fish were somewhat stressed and they showed a markedly increased respiration rate. Quite alarming was the sight of all the Hemigrammus erythrozonus at the surface gasping for air. I really don't know what went wrong at this stage but something went terribly wrong. After two days of massive water changes (more than 50% daily) the water parameters were as follows : pH=6.2, GH=0, KH=0, NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3=0 and that's when I stopped measuring. It could well be something leaching from the bogwood but I couldn't find out what it was nor could we identify the piece responsible for all this chaos. To cut a long story short, we lost two of the Crossocheilous siamensis, one Hemigrammus erythrozonus and one Corydoras aeneus during the third day. Activated carbon was added in the filter (EHEIM), the second internal filter was added in the tank, a massive water change was performed (almost 80% of the water in three steps) and the indicated quantity of Clear Ease (by Mydor) was also added on the same day. This conditioner contains a small quantity of formaldehyde and copper in it so it would help prevent any bacterial growth - in case this was the causing factor of the disaster. And suddenly everything returned to normal. We carried on with small daily water changes (approximately 20%) to be on the safe side for a week and we then left the tank in peace. All the fish were happy, the Discus had more intense colors than ever before and the plants seemed to grow a bit. Moreover, we now had the time to sit back and enjoy the tank. As a conclusion, if you want to add bogwood don't add all of it at once, just prefer a more modest plan and add small quantities every 3-4 days. Bogwood will release a great number of substances in the water most of which will affect the water chemistry in one way or the other. When working with very low KH values, any substance which can affect the pH of the system for instance will do so in a dramatic way, since there is no buffering capacity in your water. I would suggest that any tank with a KH lower than 4 is always at risk when stability is the issue. Moreover, our experience had taught us to closely monitor any tank to which a major change has taken place for at least a week. A month later, this incidence is just a memory and we have come back to the normal maintenance schedule.

This is how the new discus tank looks like. Click on the photo for a larger picture.

Detail of the central part of the tank. Click on the photo for a larger picture.

Detail of the right part of the tank, the one with the "bridged" bogwood. Click on the photo for a larger picture.

The right part of the tank. After some time the discus have started to use it as an "isolation" spot. Click on the photo for a larger picture.

The tank looks quite pretty (it might not win a first prize in any contest but we love it) but what do the discus have to say about their new home ? As I said before, they can't speak but they can show you how they feel in a number of ways. First comes the color. All the fishes showed much better and more intense colors during the whole day. They seemed far more "relaxed" and even fights were less frequent than before. They would tolerate people moving close to the tank now - something that never happened in the past. Moreover, it seemed to us that a pair was immediately formed in the new environment - or was it just our idea ? In the photo below you can see a close up of my male Blue Diamond discus. I don't really care if it is a "blue diamond" or a "cobalt blue" discus and I know that he doesn't care either. All I know is that it is a beautiful fish with a metallic blue color which has decided that the female with the same color was the "selected one".

The male Blue Diamond discus. Photo by John Reclos / MCH. Click on the photo for a larger picture.

Continued in next page

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