Disagreements with SO about keeping discus and african cichlids together

ChasingFish

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So...my boyfriend wants to keep african cichlids and discus together in our large 220 gal community tank. I keep telling him that we both know that the water hardness/ph parameters are too different and we shouldn't do it - but he feels that since they can both (technically) live in our tap water as is (about 7.4 ph and medium hardness) that it should be fine. The african cichlids are juveniles now, but what about when the get bigger? I'd even be more comfortable with south American cichlids and discus - but he basically says, let's just do this and if at some point it becomes a problem we can move them (we also have a 120 gal that is not even set up yet...as well as many other 75 gal (2), 65 gal (2), 50 gal (1) and 40 gal (6), etc. So it's not like we don't have plenty of options. What do you say? Am I overreacting? If not, how do I convince him (?) when he doesn't think the fish are suffering in the current water parameters and aren't (yet) being aggressive with each other.
 

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Forget water. Tjh Discus will be killed very quickly. The environment in the African Great Lakes produces fish many many times more agressive than a Discus could survive with.
 
Simply stated, anyone who (a) knows about the requirements/needs of these fishes, and (b) cares about their well-being, will not even consider combining them. It would be cruel and inhumane.
 
Looking at the photo, you have fish from petrie dishes there - I see Blood parrots, which are sort of Central American in origin - laboratory hybrids. They get big and also much too aggressive for a Discus. So it would become a gambler's game - you could bet on which would kill the Discus first.
Even if there weren't a huge behavioural problem, the African Cichlids you are most likely to get (Malawis) live at a much lower temperature than Discus need.
So you have:
-behaviour and aggression;
-temperature;
-water hardness;
-water quality (big fish like blood parrots pollute).

Add time to that. If Malawis go at a Discus, you won't be moving it to another tank. It is a big flat target and it will die quickly, and badly.

If I were ever to keep Discus again, I can't think of any Cichlid I would combine with them, other than delicate little Dicrossus.

You should win the argument, because good sense is on your side 100%. Such a combination would look great if it would work, but it simply can't.
 
Okay, thank you all for the feedback. At least I have more points to bring to the discussion. I will win in the end, neither of us wants to see any of the fish hurt or suffer, he just thinks it can maybe be done if they "grow up" together. But I've made the point, if it could be safely done - you would see examples of it in the hobby and you just don't.
 
Another point to mention is that each species of fish behaves/interacts the way it is programmed genetically. None of us can change their inherent behaviours. Accepting how the fish are made is important.
 
I keep remembering the old fable......

The Scorpion and the Fox story goes along the following lines:
  • A fox and a scorpion both need to cross a river.
  • The scorpion asks the fox for a ride on its back as it cannot swim.
  • The fox refuses saying “no you’ll sting me”.
  • The scorpion replies that it wouldn’t, as it would damage the both of them.
  • The fox agrees and allows the scorpion to ride on it’s back.
  • Half way across the river the scorpion stings the fox.
  • As the poison takes effect on the fox and it starts to sink it asks the scorpion, “Why?”
  • “Why did you sting me, now we are both going to die?”
  • The scorpion replies, “I couldn’t help myself, it’s in my nature”.
And that is what will happen with your boyfriend's plan.

If natured wanted dsicus and rift lake cichlids to live together, you would find they evolved to live that way.
 
What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website (Water Analysis Report) or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Depending on what the GH of your water is, will determine what fish you should keep.

Angelfish, discus, most tetras, most barbs, Bettas, gouramis, rasbora, Corydoras and small species of suckermouth catfish all occur in soft water (GH below 100ppm) and a pH below 7.0.

Livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), rainbowfish and goldfish occur in medium hard water with a GH around 200-250ppm and a pH above 7.0.

If you have very hard water (GH above 300ppm) then look at African Rift Lake cichlids, or use distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the GH and keep fishes from softer water.

--------------------

You have an angelfish in the tank and that will get bashed by the blood parrots and discus when they are older.

Your roseline barbs? need to be in groups of 10 or more.

You have peacock cichlids (Aulonocara sp) in the tank and these are from Lake Malawi in Africa. They need a pH above 7.6 and a GH above 300ppm. Discus and angelfish will not tolerate hard water and die prematurely in hard water.

There's a couple of fish slightly to the right of center, but up near the top of the tank and they look stressed.

You have what appears to be a tetra on the far right. All tetras need to be in groups of at least 10 of their own kind and more is better. Most tetras don't get that big and any small narrow fish will be eaten by adult Aulonocara cichlids, which naturally prey on small fish.

The discus need plant matter in their diet. You can feed them on various marine and freshwater algae and aquarium plants, as well as offering various plant based fish foods and things like cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.
Do not feed them onions or onion relative, and no potatoes.
Make sure any fruit or veges are free of chemicals and washed well under tap water before being put in the tank. remove uneaten plant foods after an hour.

More info on the discus diet can be found at the following link.
 
What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website (Water Analysis Report) or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Depending on what the GH of your water is, will determine what fish you should keep.

Angelfish, discus, most tetras, most barbs, Bettas, gouramis, rasbora, Corydoras and small species of suckermouth catfish all occur in soft water (GH below 100ppm) and a pH below 7.0.

Livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), rainbowfish and goldfish occur in medium hard water with a GH around 200-250ppm and a pH above 7.0.

If you have very hard water (GH above 300ppm) then look at African Rift Lake cichlids, or use distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the GH and keep fishes from softer water.

--------------------

You have an angelfish in the tank and that will get bashed by the blood parrots and discus when they are older.

Your roseline barbs? need to be in groups of 10 or more.

You have peacock cichlids (Aulonocara sp) in the tank and these are from Lake Malawi in Africa. They need a pH above 7.6 and a GH above 300ppm. Discus and angelfish will not tolerate hard water and die prematurely in hard water.

There's a couple of fish slightly to the right of center, but up near the top of the tank and they look stressed.

You have what appears to be a tetra on the far right. All tetras need to be in groups of at least 10 of their own kind and more is better. Most tetras don't get that big and any small narrow fish will be eaten by adult Aulonocara cichlids, which naturally prey on small fish.

The discus need plant matter in their diet. You can feed them on various marine and freshwater algae and aquarium plants, as well as offering various plant based fish foods and things like cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.
Do not feed them onions or onion relative, and no potatoes.
Make sure any fruit or veges are free of chemicals and washed well under tap water before being put in the tank. remove uneaten plant foods after an hour.

More info on the discus diet can be found at the following link.
Thank you for your lengthy reply and lots of info! I'm at work so I can't answer all the questions right now (I'd have to retest the water to tell you exact GH and KH, I do have the test for that, but I don't remember the numbers from last time I tested, just that I'd call it midrange hardness). pH is about 7.4. It's at the high end of the "low pH test" and low end of "high pH test". So, we have 3 roseline barbs & 1 giant danio that hangs with the roseline usually (again...these came with the large purchase of tanks that we did), I'll have to look into getting more. We do have 8 candy cane tetras (plus one red eye tetra and one gold tetra with silver/white tips on it's fins....the candy cane tetra we bought as a group from our LFS, but these two single tetra came with the tanks). I never buy in small groups or single fish like that, but if it's something we are just taking on from someone else, that is a different story and I will have to add to their numbers as we are able to - but for now they are hanging with the candy cane tetras. I believe the fish you were referring to off to the top right (center right) that looked stressed to you, were the 3 blue acara - I don't think that they were stressed :dunno: but I'll keep an eye on it. We do plan to leave the blue acara in this tank with the discus as they have been very peaceful for months that we have had them.

So, after this post - I have convinced him that we can't keep the african cichlids with the discus long term (we are in the process of setting up a 120, and we have two 75 gallon tanks as well that will be utilized - so we are just deciding which fish to put in which tank. I know we are keeping the discus in the 220 (we plan to add several more to our group of 3) and would like to keep that tank as the "peaceful" community tank. Will do the african cichlids in either the 120 or one of the 75's. Only one of the blood parrots is currently "aggressive", by that I just mean he's the dominant one that is chasing the others - but I haven't seen any biting, nipping or damage done. Nonetheless, when we separate out the african cichlids, at least this one will be moving to that tank too. The medium sized and small one have not shown aggression, so we'll see what happens once the big one is removed. Both of their mouths are a little more triangular than the large one, so I suspect that they won't be able to be of any harm to other fish - but if they are chasing I will still separate them as I don't want to cause long term stress from chasing and bullying.
 
Keep in mind that these fish require completely opposite water parameters (GH and pH here). So one tank with the discus needs water that is on the soft side, and the tank with the African cichlids must have water on the hard side. As the water coming out of your tap will be "x" it is likely that water parameter adjustment for one of these will be necessary. That is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done. Water changes going forward will obviously be more involved as water for the adjusted parameter tank will need to be "prepared" outside the tank before it goes in.
 
Keep in mind that these fish require completely opposite water parameters (GH and pH here). So one tank with the discus needs water that is on the soft side, and the tank with the African cichlids must have water on the hard side. As the water coming out of your tap will be "x" it is likely that water parameter adjustment for one of these will be necessary. That is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done. Water changes going forward will obviously be more involved as water for the adjusted parameter tank will need to be "prepared" outside the tank before it goes in.
Yeah, I am aware of the water parameter needs of the fish, that is why I was so concerned and started this thread. I actually do a lot of research to try to accommodate all the fish and keep them in separate tanks according to their compatibility with each other. We used to (both) be much more diligent about trying to obtain the perfect suggested water parameters, but since then we've seen conflicting information about that online - lately, my boyfriend is more "open minded" about their water parameters, temperature ranges, etc. We've seen videos where breeders say, most tank bred fish are pretty accustomed to more neutral ph and medium hardness (which is what we have) - and that rather than chasing the perfect levels it's more important to be consistent and stable. So, I think that is why he started wanting to try this out, because if that is true and they can tolerate the water fine - then it's really a matter of temperament.
 
Yeah, I am aware of the water parameter needs of the fish, that is why I was so concerned and started this thread. I actually do a lot of research to try to accommodate all the fish and keep them in separate tanks according to their compatibility with each other. We used to (both) be much more diligent about trying to obtain the perfect suggested water parameters, but since then we've seen conflicting information about that online - lately, my boyfriend is more "open minded" about their water parameters, temperature ranges, etc. We've seen videos where breeders say, most tank bred fish are pretty accustomed to more neutral ph and medium hardness (which is what we have) - and that rather than chasing the perfect levels it's more important to be consistent and stable. So, I think that is why he started wanting to try this out, because if that is true and they can tolerate the water fine - then it's really a matter of temperament.

You cannot rely on anything you find online unless you know the source, meaning the individual and that he/she has training/knowledge in fish. Most online sources do not, it is complete rubbish much of the time. As for breeders, it depends upon the species whether or not it can "adapt." Rift lake cichlids cannot adapt to soft water, and it is cruel to the fish if one does so.

The parameter requirements are programmed into the fish species DNA and cannot be changed to a great extent without slowly weakening the fish. The idea that commercial raising of fish changes their inherent needs is true to a very limited extent. If you keep a species in water that is so far removed from what their internal physiology requires to function normally, you are weakening the fish and it will not live a normal lifespan.
 

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