Cameronb_01

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Hi Guys,
 
On the 1st of September 3 Discus fish, (Leopard Snakeskin, Checkerboard and Red Turquoise), are arriving for my 450L tank which is empty apart from substrate and gravel 5 cm deep. I was wondering if I could please run some ideas past you guys regarding the planting of the tank. My plan is as follows. To fill the back half of my tank with tallish plants with room in between them for the fish to swim and a bit of wood mixed in there as well, then play it by ear regarding what to do with the front of the tank. I was just wondering if there are any serious complications regarding maintenance with the plants I have chosen and if they will be Discus compatible. My plan was to buy one of each of the below plants. Is this a reasonable quantity or will I be cluttering the back half, or are there too few? If it is the latter are there any I should get duplicates of or other plants I should be adding? If it is the former which shouldn't I get?
 
Plants: 
Hygrophila Polysperma
Vallisneria Spiralis Bunch
Vallisneria Torta "Twisted Vallis"
Echinodorus bleheri (Amazon Sword)
Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Echinodorus Harbich
Rotala Rotundifolia
Ludwigia palustris
Ludwigia Perennis
 
Wood: 
River Wood Medium 30-40cm
 
Thanks in advance for all your responses.
 
Cameron
 

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try a dutch style aquarium, since discus look beautiful in that style of aquaria, just an idea but you would have 2 do more research. I think that you should try these plants along with those plants, but not to many of each, have them organized into groups with some reds scattered.
 
limnophilia aquatic (THIS PLANT IS BEAUTIFUL OMG and grows quick :) )
 
java moss
 
cryptocoryne
 
hygrofilia corymbosa
 
saurus cernuus
 
lobelia cardinalis
 
alternanthera reineckii
 
ammania
 
ammania rotala
 
tiger lotus
 
try to do some research on some of those see if you like :)
 

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Your tank lighting isn't mentioned, and not all plants require the same intensity of light.  Generally speaking, stem plants require brighter light because they are fast growing, and this means they need more intense light to drive photosynthesis faster but they also need more nutrients to balance.  Amazon swords do well with moderate lighting.  Hydrocotyle leucocephala (brazilian pennywort) is something of an exception as this stem plant grows fairly well with moderate lighting, but it also makes a lovely floating plant and this is very important for forest fish like discus.  The second thing to bear in mind is discus prefer less light overhead, and it is also better to keep additives (plant fertilisers) to a minimum.
 
Wood is a good item in discus tanks, so the more the better.  As we are approaching autumn,  you could also look for a good clean spot to collect some fallen dead leaves.  Almost all substrates in discus habitats have a litter of dead leaves.  Hardwood trees are safe, so look for oak, maple, beech.
 
Byron.
 
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Cameronb_01

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Thanks for your responses Byron and BettasBettas. My tank lighting consists of 2 Juwel HighLite Nature and 2 Juwel HighLite Day 1200mm Fluroscent Tubes. I do not yet know how long I plan to run the lights per day. What is the optimum time for both the plants on mine and BettasBettas list as well as for the Disucs? Each tube is 54W. Also are there any plants listed on either of our lists which our incompatible or especially complicated to keep? 
 

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Cameronb_01 said:
Thanks for your responses Byron and BettasBettas. My tank lighting consists of 2 Juwel HighLite Nature and 2 Juwel HighLite Day 1200mm Fluroscent Tubes. I do not yet know how long I plan to run the lights per day. What is the optimum time for both the plants on mine and BettasBettas list as well as for the Disucs? Each tube is 54W. Also are there any plants listed on either of our lists which our incompatible or especially complicated to keep? 
 
I am not familiar with this light, but from your data I would guess it is quite bright.    A 450 litre tank I would assume is somewhere around 5 or 6 feet in length?  And these tubes are 48-inch T5 HO (or the equivalent, at 54w).  Do you intend diffused CO2?
 
Lighting will be sufficient intensity for the plants, but I would expect algae issues, especially without CO2 and daily nutrient doses to balance the light.   Intensity cannot be off-set by duration, unless the intensity is fairly close to what is needed for the plants to begin with.  Can it be reduced, say by only lighting two of the four tubes?
 
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The tank is pretty much exactly 5 feet in length. The tubes are 48 inches and T5, and links to each are here:
 
Day: http://www.juwel-aquarium.co.uk/Products/More/Lighting/Lighting-Tubes/High-Lite-T5-Lighting-Tubes/HiLite-Day-438-mm-24-W-Tube-T5-24-W-T5-438-mm.html
 
Nature: http://www.juwel-aquarium.co.uk/Products/More/Lighting/Lighting-Tubes/High-Lite-T5-Lighting-Tubes/HiLite-Nature-1200-mm-54-W-Tube-T5-54W-T5-1200-mm.html
 
It is possible for me to run only 2 of the 4 tubes.
 
I intend to add liquid CO2.
 
I also have timers. What do you recommend I set them to?
 

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Cameronb_01 said:
The tank is pretty much exactly 5 feet in length. The tubes are 48 inches and T5, and links to each are here:
 
Day: http://www.juwel-aquarium.co.uk/Products/More/Lighting/Lighting-Tubes/High-Lite-T5-Lighting-Tubes/HiLite-Day-438-mm-24-W-Tube-T5-24-W-T5-438-mm.html
 
Nature: http://www.juwel-aquarium.co.uk/Products/More/Lighting/Lighting-Tubes/High-Lite-T5-Lighting-Tubes/HiLite-Nature-1200-mm-54-W-Tube-T5-54W-T5-1200-mm.html
 
It is possible for me to run only 2 of the 4 tubes.
 
I intend to add liquid CO2.
 
I also have timers. What do you recommend I set them to?
 
Re the liquid CO2, I would not use this, depending what it is.  The Seachem Flourish Excel and the API CO2 Booster are both glutaraldehyde which is a highly toxic disinfectant.  Leaving aside the wisdom of adding anything like this to a tank with fish (and discus especially), it will kill some plants (Vallisneria, some mosses, etc) outright, and if it should happen to be overdosed has the ability to kill bacteria, plants and fish.  In the UK I believe you have another so-called liquid carbon, and I know nothing of this product.  But none of these are advisable in my opinion because of the risk to fish.  If you need additional CO2, diffused is the safer way, but as was pointed out in another thread a few weeks back, diffused CO2 is now being questioned as dangerous for fish long-term.
 
Running two of the four tubes is still fairly intense lighting.  The spectrum of the linked tubes should be fine; I use a mix of daylight 6500K and warm daylight 5000K over my dual-tube tanks.  I tried a dual T5 HO over my 5-foot 115g tank a couple years back, and after a week it went back to the store [I have low-tech or natural planted tanks, no Co2, fewer nutrient supplements, moderate lighting].  We need to keep in mind that forest fish never seen the direct sun in their habitats, and light does impact fish metabolism and physiology, and can cause stress.  Just so you know why I go on about light.
 
Timers are wise.  Not only for plants, but fish; the circadian rhythm is able to function properly with regular day/night.  Duration is dependant upon the balance with nutrients, and I won't hazard a guess.  With my moderate lighting (two 48-inch T8 tubes over each of my 115g, 90g and 70g tanks) I can manage 8 hours, but only 7 in the 70g, or algae becomes a problem.
 
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Cameronb_01 said:
OK then. I won't supplement liquid CO2 because I do have some vallesneria. The only thing I now plan on supplementing my tank with then is JBL Ferropol: http://www.swelluk.com/jbl-ferropol/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw3ZS-BRD1xu3qw8uS2s4BEiQA2bcfM2ik_Eri9EJPm6yIcy6eLPOs1mZFwTzUJCwxYVjtoewaAmyU8P8HAQ. Will this be sufficient? What do you give your plants? Also with the choice I originally posted would you say CO2 was necessary in any form? Finally what Wattage/Litre would you recommend?
 
This will be another length explanation, sorry; but I feel the questioner deserves a complete answer if they are to understand the thing.
 
First on your CO2 question.  In any aquarium with fish, organics accumulate primarily in the substrate.  Many types of bacteria are involved to break down the organics, and during this process CO2 is released.  There is also the respiration of fish, plants and certain bacteria, but the CO2 from the organics is the prime source.  Provided the light is of sufficient intensity to drive photosynthesis, and provided the other 16 required nutrients are available, plants will use this CO2.  Photosynthesis is non-stop and "full speed," until something is no longer available.  Liebig's Law of Minimum explains why; it is not the excess of any nutrient that drives photosynthesis, but it is the insufficient level of any one nutrient (or the light) that slows and may even stop photosynthesis.  We term this the balance of light and nutrients.  Every plant species has its own requirements in terms of light intensity and nutrient levels to enable photosynthesis to occur.  As soon as this balance is out, plants may be hindered, and algae has the advantage because it is not as fussy as higher plants when it comes to light and nutrients.
 
The level of CO2 will relate to the fish load, fish foods added, and water changes.  The higher the fish load/foods are, the more organics.  Water changes enter the equation because they remove DOC (dissolved organic compounds) which are also related, and any cleaning of the substrate may lessen organics too.  The more intense the light, the more nutrients including CO2 the plants will need to photosynthesise fully, and algae will be hindered.  In my tanks, I do not use any form of CO2; therefore I have to ensure that the lighting is going to balance the natural CO2, and that the other 16 nutrients will be available for the plants.  Excess of any factor in this equation is as dangerous as a deficiency.  I won't go into this any further, or it really will get long.
 
You asked about wattage per litre.  This is not a reliable guide any longer because we have so many different types of lighting producing different intensity of light wit different wattages.  Watts is the measurement unit of the amount of energy (electricity here) used by a tube or bulb to produce the light.  Watts can only be taken as a guide to the light intensity when comparing identical tubes/bulbs.  Otherwise, a 54w T5 for example may produce light equivalent to 120w of T8...but even here, it is not a very useful comparison because the spectrum wavelengths and phosphors can be quite different and these also affect the light as the plants take it up.
 
The first question I would settle is CO2, if you intend diffused CO2 or not.  Then decide on the light intensity (which will vary with or without CO2) but also keeping in mind the plant species.  Very generally, low "carpet" plants will need more light intensity to drive photosynthesis, but with this there comes the danger of too much light, and algae.  In my tanks as an example, I can have the light on for 7-8 hours max.  This is because the CO2 replenished during the darkness will be approximately sufficient for the light intensity I have and the plant species and numbers, plus the nutrient supplementation.
 
Nutrients occur from fish foods and water changes, and in some tanks this is all that is needed.  It depends on the plant species, their numbers, and obviously the lighting.  A complete balanced fertilizer is usually the first place to start, and the one you linked seems adequate to me.
 
And in all of this, keep in mind the low-light needs of the discus.
 
Byron.
 
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Thank you very much or your response that has really cleared things up for me.
 
As you instructed starting with the CO2 I have opted not to diffuse or inject CO2 in any shape or form because of the cost and the potential damage to fish health which you warned me of before.
 
As far as the lighting is concerned that is where I am still a little confused. I read from Doctors Fosters and Smith Veterian, (link to article below), that having a moderate level of lighting for Discus in a planted tank was recommended. In Watts/Gallon they said it should be 2-5 Watts per Gallon and I have an almost exactly 100 Gallon tank meaning that at a minimum I should run all 4 of my bulbs. Although I do definitely agree 100% with what you said about Watts per Gallon not being a proper unit of measurement because every bulb has a different efficiency and lumen output etc. Also from my last tank I remember leaving the lights on accidentally overnight once and seeing the tank much greener than normal. However I do need to reach a compromise so the plants can grow and if that means a bit more maintenance I guess I'll have to live with it, would you agree?
 
Article: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?d=155&category=182&articleid=524
 
Would you say running the whole set for 8 hours a day would be acceptable or would the nutrient balance be incorrect or would it compromise the health of the disucs?
 
Thanks again for all the detail in your response it really helps!
 
Best wishes,
 
Cameron
 

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As far as the lighting is concerned that is where I am still a little confused. I read from Doctors Fosters and Smith Veterian, (link to article below), that having a moderate level of lighting for Discus in a planted tank was recommended. In Watts/Gallon they said it should be 2-5 Watts per Gallon and I have an almost exactly 100 Gallon tank meaning that at a minimum I should run all 4 of my bulbs. Although I do definitely agree 100% with what you said about Watts per Gallon not being a proper unit of measurement because every bulb has a different efficiency and lumen output etc. Also from my last tank I remember leaving the lights on accidentally overnight once and seeing the tank much greener than normal. However I do need to reach a compromise so the plants can grow and if that means a bit more maintenance I guess I'll have to live with it, would you agree?
 
Article: http://www.drsfoster...2&articleid=524
 
 
 
Article first...that is basic "discus" advice that not everyone would agree with, but there are pearls of wisdom scattered throughout.  As for the suggested lighting, this is a perfect example of why this won't work (using watts per gallon).  There "2 to 5 watts per gallon"...what type of lighting are they using?  T8 fluorescent like I have?  Take my 90g, which is about 70 actual gallons when you discount the water displaced by sand substrate and all the wood: this would require 4 tubes (48-inch, 32w each) for 2 w/g, and 10 tubes for 5 w/g, which is ridiculously impossible to achieve.  So do we then turn to your T5 and have 6 tubes for 5 w/g?  You can imagine the blinding brightness this would be, and the poor discus would be shivering with terror.
 
None of my tanks have anywhere near 2 w/g even with my moderate T8 lighting.  My 70g has two 32w tubes which comes close to 1 w/g, as there is likely less than 60 actual gallons of water.  But my 115g 5-foot with two T8 tubes only has 64 watts which is about half a w/g, and the 90g not much more.  I'll attach a couple photos to show the tanks.  Any more light and I would have algae soup.
 
So the next thing after what I posted previously, is selecting the plants.  Recognising that not all plants will thrive under the same level of light, or the same nutrient level, we need to find the plants that will thrive under the lighting we intend, and then we find the nutrient balance.  Keeping in mind the CO2 issue, which is the one factor we cannot change but have to accept.  This is where the experimentation comes in, and each aquarium is different.  I have worked out the duration for my lights to 7-8 hours; even the increase in daylight during the summer entering the room through windows with closed blinds increased the light enough to increase brush algae.  I solved this with heavy drapes that are closed all summer [this works when one has a dedicated fish room, but may not be feasible in the living room].
 
Trying this plant and that plant, I quickly found that some thrived while other wasted away.  I have stayed with what works under my light, since for the sake of my fish I am not prepared to increase the light.  Something else to consider is that many high-tech planted tank aquarists only have plants in their tank, no fish, so it is a different scenario.  Unfortunately some of us think we can have that sort of aquatic garden, but there are ramifications.  Anyway, I found that Amazon swords (the green-leaf species) do extremely well in my tanks; I use Flourish Tabs in the substrate so I can reduce liquid fertilizers (the liquid get inside fish, substrate tabs do not).  You will see in the photos I have large swords, Echinodorus grisebachii (often seen as E. bleherae) in the 115g, E. grisebachii and E. major in the 70g, and E. cordifolius [I think] and E. grisebachii in the 90g.  The chain swords (the substrate cover in the 70g and 115g) Helanthium tenellum (70g) and H. bolivianum (115g) also grow like weeds.  My crypts in the 90g are doing quite well, and I also have red tiger lotus in there, and seasonal Aponogeton.  And of course I have floating plants in all my tanks for the fish, and these do lessen the light getting through so that must be kept in mind.
 
Would you say running the whole set for 8 hours a day would be acceptable or would the nutrient balance be incorrect or would it compromise the health of the disucs?
 
 
Light does affect fish.  Not only the eyes, but every cell on the fish is light sensitive.  Even when blind, they can discern day and night (studies have proven this) so light has a major impact on their homeostasis which governs their health.  My friend Heiko Bleher might correct me if he read the next sentence, but so far as I know, there is no discus in the wild that lives in water that ever receives direct sunlight.  Flooded forest is under the thick canopy, and most forest streams and rivers are so dimly lit plants can't even grow in them.  The exceptions like the Rio Negro itself receives light and is planted, but the fish remain along the banks among the tangled roots and branches under the overhanging marginal vegetation which is quite dense.  There are several videos on You-Tube illustrating this.
 
Once you decide on the intensity, then the duration is easier to work out.  As you are not planning CO2, I would definitely only use two of the four tubes, and I would ensure a good layer of floating plants with this as it is still quite bright.  One of each of the two spectrum you linked before should be OK.  Then narrow down your plant species, as not all of them will thrive.  There is another thing too, and that is keeping species limited.  It seems to open up the space when there are fewer species of plants, probably because it is more natural.  You will rarely find more than one, or maybe two, species of plant in any given stretch of river; flooded forests are the same with respect to aquatic (marsh or bog) plants, and the terrestrial plants will be more varied, but not much.
 
Feel free to ask questions, no problem there.
 
Byron.
 

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OK then. As far is the intensity is concerned I'll only run half of the set then. Would an 8 hour period be OK in this event?
 
Also as far as fertiliser are concerned would JBL Ferropol 24 be better than normal Ferropol? And would this change how long I would run the lights for, or is 8 hours the max for the fishies sake?
 
Finally if you had a second all of the plants I originally listed are classed on the site I bought them from as Medium or Low to Medium lighting requirements. Are there any which you think will be incompatible with the plan we are about to make regarding lighting?
 
Can I also please add to that list: Myriophyllum mattogrossense & Limnophila aquatica.
 
Are there also any on that list which will be problematic regarding the decision not to use CO2?
 
Thanks again,
 
Cameron
 

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Also as far as fertiliser are concerned would JBL Ferropol 24 be better than normal Ferropol? And would this change how long I would run the lights for, or is 8 hours the max for the fishies sake?
 
 
Difficult to say.  According to the website, Ferropol 24 seems to contain the minerals in Ferropol, plus "a host of other trace elements."  No idea what these are.  As for daily versus weekly dosing, this can be better.  However, the important thing is the balance, and that has to be worked out.  Light intensity plus the 17 essential nutrients, which includes CO2.  And, you do not want to be adding more than necessary, for the sake of the fish and preventing algae problems.
 
I would not go above 8 hours with your bright lighting (with two tubes).  Again there is no hard and fast guide because we are working with so many variables.  A new tank is still balancing itself, and algae being ever ready to take advantage can often appear in new setups but lessen as things settle down.  Some people go down to six hours.  I don't know your schedule, but one wants to be able to enjoy an aquarium; the light period should be when you are normally there to do this.  Back when I was working, I had the lights come on late, around early afternoon, and they remained on until around 9 pm, so I could enjoy the tanks in the evening when I got home.
 
Finally if you had a second all of the plants I originally listed are classed on the site I bought them from as Medium or Low to Medium lighting requirements. Are there any which you think will be incompatible with the plan we are about to make regarding lighting?
 
 
I would tend to agree, though again there is no hard and fast guide.  I have plants that thrive in one tank, but struggle in the next, yet my lighting is the same, with comparable fish loads, additives, water changes.  Most plant experts recommend trying a plant and if it works, fine, if not, move on to something else.  I've never had good luck with stem plants because primarily of my lighting.  But with highr lighting comes the need for more nutrients, esp CO2, so I have to rely on the natural CO2, thus I don't increase my lighting (wouldn't want to for my fish anyway, but this intelligence was more recent than my earlier less-light decision).
 
Can I also please add to that list: Myriophyllum mattogrossense & Limnophila aquatica.
 
 
No idea, so try and see.  I am fairly certain my lighting would not support these, but yours likely would.
 
Are there also any on that list which will be problematic regarding the decision not to use CO2?
 
 
I wouldn't expect so, once the lighting period is adjusted to balance the CO2.
 
Something else not yet mentioned is the GH of your source water.  This is the prime source of the "hard" minerals like calcium and magnesium.  I can just get by (I have very soft water, near-zero GH) using the Flourish Tabs next to my largest plants.  But with increased lighting, these minerals need higher levels obviously.  If you source water is around 4 dGH (= 70 ppm) or higher, you should be fine.
 

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