In October 2007, I set up a new 48"x 18"x 15" aquarium with sump for my Discus. Using play sand from Early Learning Centre as my substrate and 2 x 300w heaters in the sump with a 2000lph  return pump.

The light blue background was replaced with black in an attempt to bring out the colours of the fish when finally introduced. The pH of the water at the moment is 8.3 and whilst I have kept Discus in these water conditions before, I will be using reverse osmosis water to bring the level to around 7.

Below is the sump. You can see the water enters the 1st chamber from the overflow. The water then passes under the first partition which is filtered by filter wool at the moment. Once most of the smaller particles have been removed, this will be replaced with some pond filter sponge. The water then flows up through the 2nd chamber which is filled with alfagrog. This is an excellent filtration media and is exceptional (and cheaper) than sintered glass media commonly sold for your canister filter. The water then flows across the third chamber which has a sand bottom and a few plants. The water then flows into chamber 4 which is currently empty and into chamber 5 which houses the return pump

Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank  

The plants seem to be settling in after the first week and new growth can be seen coming from the crowns. You can see the old leaves turning brown and falling off. These are the leaves used by the plant when it is grown out of water. Many people see their new plants shedding leaves and immediately uproot them, throw them away and then buy new. These people also complain about the cost of keeping plants in an aquarium. Unfortunately, the fish trade doesn't inform many customers that this problem can occur, instead hoping they will return time and again for new specimens. If all the leaves drop from your plants, leave the stump as within a week or so, new growth will appear. At this time, you may need to supplement with a liquid fertiliser to prevent the luscious greens becoming yellow and stringy. These are classic signs of iron deficiency. 

Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank

The neons from my Son's tank seem to have settled in well, although it is a HUGE space for so few fish. All being well, some new companions will be with them at some time during the week. The temperature is currently set to 27.8C and the pH is now 7.8 and slowly dropping.

I have been looking at the Chen's discus website and there are some lovely fish for sale. They make a trip to Scotland once per month and will drop off fish if you are en route. The next trip is on the 17th November, so I may purchase some nice 4" red turqs and a couple of 4" pigeon bloods. I am not sure yet as we are supposed to be going away around Christmas time and I would hate for them to be stunted because I am not around to feed them. I may just stick with a couple of rams (if I can find any) and wait until the new year.

As well as the neons, a pair of German rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi) were given free run of the new system and a few peppered corys. The rams soon made themselves at home and were spawning in the clay pot that was put in for them to use as a spawning site.

Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank

The discus finally arrived. I purchased some 3" pigeon blood bred by a breeder in Sandy, Bedfordshire. Some lovely colouration on them and they soon settled in to eat frozen blood worm and home made beefheart.

Discus Tank

Discus Tank
Discus Tank Discus Tank

Unfortunately, this is where this journey with this system ends. I seem to have mislaid, or forgotten to take, pictures of the system as it grew and matured.

I first kept Discus in 1996 and my first 2" blue turquoise fish cost me £25.00 each. I developed a liking for these fish but disliked the priced immensely. As the Internet became more of a lifestyle, I searched for Discus breeders where I could buy good fish. I was lucky enough to find Discus Hans in Holland. After a weekend visit, I decided to purchase some adults. To finance this purchase I bought some young to grow on and in turn sell myself.

I was determined to prove to people that Discus (not the captive bred variety anyway) are not the problem fish to keep that is often put about. Hence I began selling small amounts of good quality Discus fish at affordable prices. Unfortunately it became impractical to continually travel to Holland buying fish and I had to look elsewhere. I found a breeder in Malaysia (Amazon Aquarium Fish Farm) where I was able to purchase healthy Discus at good prices. Funnily enough, it was cheaper to buy these fish and pay the air freight than it was to travel to Holland! I then found a good breeder in the UK who parent raises all his own fish, although he does import some too.

As a hobbyist, I had to worry about where the next pennies were coming from. I had however been promising myself a centralised system for many years. I believe it promotes good growth for the fish and the system is easier to maintain. I temporarily decided to house my system in the garage. I made a boo boo when calculating sizes because the rack was supposed to take 9x 24"x 18"x 18" tanks. The garage roof does not allow for this, hence I had to have 6x 24"x 18"x 18" plus storage. I will take this into account when the dedicated room is built.

I built the rack using untreated 3"x 2". Please be warned. I ran out of wood on the day the racks were built. I purchased more wood the following day but....... The uprights had dried out and bowed in. Instead of a 24" gap, I was left with 20". Just as well the top tanks didn't fit!!

Below you can see 6x 24"x 18"x 18" aquariums. They are all positioned end on therefore the racking is only 55" wide, which was not a good idea as an afterthought. The discus used to spend a lot of their time at the back of the tanks when visitors came to view. The water feeds into the top three tanks, which then overflow into the bottom tanks, which in turn overflow to a communal drain. The water drains through a small pond filter to a 25 gallon water tank I bought from Wickes. This in turn overflows to a 48"x 18"x 18" sump filled with foam and alfagrog. A Oase submersible pump in the final chamber is feeding the three tanks at the top, this is providing an ample flow rate. The fish were fed on ZM Systems high protein pellets, JMC growth pellets, freeze dried tubifex, home made beefheart mix, Aquarian flake and Ruto frozen bloodworm. Below are pictures of the first racks to be assembled, the sump was not fitted at the time of these pictures.


Rack 1 Rack 2


Below, you will find a few of the fish I kept in my systems. Unfortunately my photographic skills left a lot to be desired and do not do the fish justice.


Blue turquoise


Blue turq 1 Blue turq 2 Blue turq 3 Blue turq 4

Blue turq Blue turq Blue turq Blue turq


Young Red Turquoise


Red turq Red turq




Blue Snakeskin


Royal Blue


Royal blue Royal blue Royal blue


Pigeon Blood


Pigeon blood Pigeon blood Pigeon blood Pigeon blood


Young Marlboro


Marlboro Marlboro Marlboro

Marlboro Marlboro


German blue


German blue German blue German blue German blue




Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown



Snaeskin & brown spawning Various Pigeon blood

Discus have long been called the King of fish, and lets face it, aren't they just? Within the discus section, I hope to be able to bring you a aquarium set up guide for keeping these fish simply, as well as other pages related to my own current and previous experiences.

My Early Discus Experience


A New Discus Aquarium with Sump (2007)

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