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Discus Disasters!

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by CarloM12, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. CarloM12

    CarloM12 New Member

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    Hello everyone, I’m new to the forums. So I’m gonna begin my first post with a bit of a bang. My Discus are driving me crazy. It all started in August after I got back from vacation, I found two of my 11 dead. I have a 125 gallon tank, discus, angelfish (Small), tetras, rainbows, clown loaches, rose line sharks, the whole nine yards. So I just assumed the death’s were nothing. Then a month later another one dies with nipped fins, then another one, and yesterday another. Now this has nothing to do with water quality, it’s just chaos aggression that I don’t know how to fix. At the moment I have a really aggressive Marlboro Red, two Cobalts, and Wild Green, and a snakeskin. The Marlboro is the boss, but there’s chaos with everyone else as well. I kept Africans for a while so I know what it’s like, but I switched to discus thinking they would be easier. I even got a reimbursement from the manger of my LFS because I actually bought a Columbia teacup stingray that everyone thought would work with my discus. The discus killed it in three days by nipping on th edges of its disc. Then the manager thought that the teacup was just stressed and weak for the reason it was getting picked on, got another for free, same thing, 3 DAYS!!!!!!! They killed it the same exact way. I was going to pull both out but I have school and I can’t monitor it all day long, and it doesn’t begin when I first put them in. It’s just a disaster.

    I’m about to trade in all my discus and get myself another teacup stingray. The aggression is just too much, one of my discus that died had gashes on the top of his head, there’s my blue green discus that just hides 24/7 because when he comes out, the cobalts chase him to the ends of the earth. Most are adult discus by the way. So I need your opinion, will my tank be too barren without discus, it’s a 125 gallon, with around 100 fish not including the discus. I loved that stingray as well, it’s really tempting me.

    Thanks

     
  2. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
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    I know you don't think it's a water problem, but could you post the actual numbers (including pH and hardness) from all your tests, please?

    Fish are very prone to attacking other fish if they're already sick, so we do need to rule out any problems with the water before we can tackle any other problems.

    Could you also post the numbers and exact species of the fish you have.
     
  3. CarloM12

    CarloM12 New Member

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    ok sure.

    Ammonia- 0 ppm
    Nitrite- 0 ppm
    Nitrate- 20 ppm (Before I do my water change)
    PH- 7.0 (They are used to this)
    Hardness- Never tested this

    Fish: 1x Wild green discus, 2x cobalt discus, 1x Marlboro red, 1x snakeskin discus, 8x Roseline sharks, 6x clown loaches, 7x congo tetras, 20x harlequins, 7x candy cane tetras, 3x lemon tetras, 2x Turkey green Angelfish, 3x Marbled Angelfish (Note* Angelfish have not caused me problems, they aren't fully grown), 4x Boesmani Rainbow, 4x Ornate Rainbow, 6x corydoras catfish, 1x twig catfish, 3x minor tetras.
     
  4. CarloM12

    CarloM12 New Member

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    Oh yeah and 1x Kribensis dwarf cichlid
     
  5. SeanTrollope

    SeanTrollope Member

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    okay so a major problem with discus and angelfish is that they have an incredibly delicate social hierarchy. once a fish dies then the balance is messed and they will start fighting among each other. eventually another fish will pass away and this further upsets things and it spirals out of control from there on. this is a very tricky problem to fix. one way to do it is to move all the angels ad discus to a different tank. do a complete rescaping and then add them back.
     
  6. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
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    You really do need to find out the hardness of your water; the right level of minerals is essential to fish health, and you currently have a mixture of hard water loving fish (the rainbows) and soft (most of the others); one or the other group isn't going to do so well.

    What temperature are you running the tank at? Some of your fish (the discus) need warm conditions, and some (the roselines and most of the tetras) need it much lower.

    I don't know much about stingrays, but they are very delicate and sensitive, and easily bullied by more aggressive fish.

    I honestly think most of your problems are coming from the fact you have too many different species, needing different conditions, which is leading to conflict and stress.

    My best advice would be; find out your water's hardness, decide which fish you really want to keep, and then restock the tank, carefully, based around those fish's needs.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. Demeter32

    Demeter32 Member

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    Looking at your stocking, I feel there is too much going on. Sometimes simplest is best. While you have appropriate numbers for most of the schooling species, it is always best IMO to have a lot of one species than the minimum of several. Discus are relatively quite fish and it feels like there is just too much going on and it's literally driving them mad.

    I'd stick with 2-3 schools of mid dwelling fish and then 2 for the bottom dwellers. Honestly I think the clowns will eventually grow too large to be kept in the 125gal.

    How much cover is there for the fish to hide? Can you post a few pictures of the tank?
     
  8. CarloM12

    CarloM12 New Member

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    Ok, so I've seen many people keep rainbows with discus fine. I'm pretty sure that my LFS had them in a pH around 7.5. And these fish have been compatible together for half a year, it's just a problem with the own mini-society of the discus. The other fish have been living fine. I can check the hardness, but if this was something that can kill the discus, it would have happened 6-7 months ago when I began keeping them right? Thinking logically. I haven't changed the way I do water changes or anything, same source, same water. And what fish are incompatible, tetras, barbs, discus, rainbows, clown loaches, this is your typical community freshwater youtube tank. People get too caught up in the water parameters when they hear the word "Discus" (Not criticizing just saying). Most discus are tank bred nowadays and this whole pH thing isn't much of a factor anymore. I know it's an aggression problem amongst the discus not a water parameters issue, I can clearly see the fish being chased, nipped fins etc. I watched the angels closely for the longest time, believe me, they haven't ever bothered the discus. What causes this aggression all the sudden, is the question I have. Started great until a hierarchy was established fully. Then it all went downhill.
     
  9. CarloM12

    CarloM12 New Member

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    Ok so here's a brief picture of my tank from far away:
     

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  10. Byron

    Byron Member

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    A few things stand out when I read through this thread. Each of these are going to stress the discus in particular, as I will try to explain. And stressed fish can react one of two ways if the stress does not get removed by the aquarist: either they withdraw, weaken and die, or they become more aggressive. There are scientific studies now proving this, so it is not a matter of conjecture.

    When fluttermoth asked for water parameters, particularly GH, it was to ascertain the "background" so to speak. The GH itself is not causing the problem here, but such factors can be part of the problem. But even without knowing the GH, we can find the factors that are causing problems.

    Water changes. You are not doing sufficient. In one post you mentioned nitrate at 20 ppm before the water change. From this I assume it is lower after the water change. That alone shows insufficient water changes. Nitrate should remain stable from day to day and week to week, remain as low as absolutely possible (20 ppm is now considered the absolute highest and this can be dangerous for many species) and the water change volume should be sufficient to achieve this. If nitrate still rises between changes, there are too many fish or they are overfed,or both. Nitrate is toxic to fish, and cichlids are especially sensitive. Nitrate has now been linked to cichlid issues like Malawi Bloat and Hole in the Head. At the very least, nitrate weakens fish. This adds more stress. Stress further weakens fish, and lessens the effectiveness of their immune system among other things. Discus keepers will all tell you that they perform larger-volume and more frequent water changes. And the overload of inappropriate species in with your discus only makes this more critical.

    Angelfish and discus should never be kept together. There are few aquarists who know more about discus that Jack Wattley, and when he was authoring his monthly column in TFH he frequently advised against this combination. This is another factor affecting your discus.

    There are other species mentioned that should absolutely never be in a tank with discus. Roseline sharks, clown loaches, Minor Tetras (I assume this is Hyphessobrycon eques, a notorious aggressive fin nipping fish), Rainbowfish, and Congo Tetra. Some of these have specific issues, but all have one thing in common...they are much too active for discus. This is terribly unsettling and unnerving for sedate fish like discus (and angelfish will have the same trouble). So this factor alone is putting the discus in a dangerous situation.

    Related to the above species combination is the tank size, which is simply not adequate for all of them. Another factor affecting the species.

    Some of these issues occur from physical space, some from pheromones and allomones released by all fish and "read" by others. There can for example be considerable aggression from a fish without any external physical indication. But the fish sense it, and it causes severe stress, which further weakens them. This is another reason for more substantial water changes; there is no other way to remove these, none.

    I don't know from this thread if the discus were all added at the same time, but if not, that is likely another factor. Like angelfish, they establish an hierarchy early on, and even if this is not immediately visible, it can develop.

    Hope this explains things somewhat.

    Byron.
     
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