Before setting up the discus fish aquarium, test your tap water for carbonate hardness and ph. The aquarium water should be adjusted to the parameters of hardness and ph that you intend to use for the fish.
If you attempt to lower the
aquarium ph and it keeps bouncing back up within a few hours, the water has high carbonate hardness. If the carbonate hardness is over 120 ppm. consider using reverse osmosis water (ro
water) to blend with the tap water to achieve the desired hardness range. Distilled water or deionized water (di
water) may also be used to soften water in the discus fish aquarium. Carbonate
hardness in the 80 ppm. range makes it easy to adjust the ph of the aquarium using one of the acid buffer products
available. Should you choose to raise your discus fish in harder water with a higher ph, it is a good idea to start out in this range and slowly adapt them to the change.
The discus fish aquarium filter should be established with nitrifying bacteria before the introduction of
discus. Many good products are on the market to speed up the nitrification process. If an aged filter or filter media is added to the new aquarium, along with water from an existing aquarium,
discus fish may be introduced immediately. Remember the nitrifying filter
bacteria need the fish byproducts for a food source. Do not add the established
filter media to the aquarium in advance of adding the fish or the bacteria will
starve. They should both go into the aquarium around the same time.
The most common method used in the aquarium cycle process is using a "hardy" type of fish which can withstand high ammonia levels and
high nitrite levels. My friends, being able to withstand high ammonia levels and
high nitrite levels does not mean the fish are happy, healthy or that they are
not suffering. The fish are removed when the aquarium cycle is complete, prior to adding discus
fish. Water is changed and fish are added. The process of the discus fish
aquarium cycle can take 3 weeks or longer. Using this method of aquarium cycle you run the risk of introducing pathogens into the aquarium. Also it is not humane to subject fish to the extreme conditions
of high ammonia and high nitrite levels involved in this type of aquarium
cycle. Many pet shops will recommend this method of aquarium cycle as it sells a
few goldfish or other type of tropical fish.
A fishless discus fish aquarium cycle can be done by adding ammonia to the aquarium. This method has been around for
many years. Twenty years ago hobbyists would throw a handful of flake food into
the aquarium. Over time the food would decompose and produce nutrients (ammonia)
to get the process started. It was messy but did accomplish the aquarium cycle.