Discus Tank Journal

8-17-2015: I turned up the temp and did not watch long enough! only two fish are left, but the plants seem to have made it. I added a sponge filter with the power-sweep powerhead I got at the ACA.

5-10-2015: 95% water change! Ooops, they had to lay down sideways. Everyone is OK. I plan to get a used RO machine at the next TFCB meeting.

Blue green algae is almost under control. I will be adding more plants; I'm not sure why my crypts are not spreading after I added more light. The BGA was coating their leaves, but wouldn't that encourage new growth?

5-3-2015: I made a new batch of food & changed 90% of the water. Raw fish in the food from now on, no cooked.

2-8-2015: changed 90% of the water. Blue-green algae still a problem!! I turned the light back to 10 hours from 14. added plants. took out BGA-covered leaves.

1-20-2015: one died!!! I think it just stopped eating, no fin damage by others or anything. I now have only four.

10-18-2014: Changed 90% of the water. Blue-green algae is still a problem. Hibiscus cutting did not make roots, died, removed.

10-10-2014: I think the Ancistrus died?! it is around 10yrs old. Was? I added another one. Algae was getting good on the glass, bluegreen is bad now. Changed 90% of the water. I let it go 2 weeks again! I am bad.

10-3-2014: I added two houseplant-cuttings. Pothos and hibiscus.

8-26-2014: The marineland LED three foot light died last week. Today, I replaced it with a four foot "Zoo-Med". Thanks to Ken's Fish for getting it to me in 2 days.

7-22-2014: 90% changes every week, it's better with the new changer! EXCEPT! I unplugged one of the two heaters by mistake while moving driftwood. This day is when one discus died, and I realized why. Unplugged for almost a week. the fish obviously had problems with its gills. I think it got ick in them. I fed it to the crows. Too big for the toilet ceremony.

5-4-2014: 90% water change. I went for two weeks again, bad Dave. I have a water alarm for this tank now! Happy mother's day! I'm almost out of food, that was a big batch! I love my fish-dedicated food processor.

I cleaned algae off the bottom of the cover-glass. The plants will be happier. Blue-green algae is present in the tank, I harvest it periodically. More light would help by giving the real plants some advantage, I think. There is a pothos house plant with roots in the tank. It was cut back a lot recently.

4-1-2014: changed 90% of water with my NEW Aqueon 50' water changer. Things went faster; the hose I have been using was not stiff enough, I kept needing to unkink it. Always use a hose certified for human drinking use! I have killed fish with the cheap kind, mostly if they are new. Always run water through for a few minutes anyway.

3-24-2014: 90% water change

3-9-2014: I changed 90% of the water. Fed them twice today. Sometimes I forget the second time! The 36” LED light has not killed any plants, but they could use more light. Current plants that are OK with that are the giant hygrophila, which is doing great, I get cuttings from it. The crypts would like two four-foot fluorescent bulbs.

3-2-2014: I changed 90% of the water.

2-23-2014: I changed 90% of the water.

2-16-2014:I did NOT change water today! Except for today, it has been 90% per week, usually on Sunday.

10-10-2013: They did not spawn yet. I'm going to have to try harder with these and a couple of other species.

9-7-2013: New batch of food. They ate flake food while they were waiting for it! Squash in the new batch was fresh patty-pan from my garden.

9-6-13: changed 90% of water. I was very bad, I went two weeks!

5-11-13: New batch of food. I found my fish-oil capsules & added 3 this time.

5-7-13: 90% water change.

4-2-13: I made a new batch of food. It came out more red this time, too much paprika? They did not like the freeze-dried blackworms I tried to pass off as "food".

2-2013: plants have not died from the lighting change. I need to clean the glass on the hood!

1-3-13: water changes are still 90% every weekend. The ballast on my one-tube fluorescent failed. I broke down and spent $99 for a 36" LED by Marineland. 17,000 hrs @ 11hrs/day works out to about four years. Longer, I hope. It looks like a little more light, but maybe not as much as two daylight tubes four feet long. We will see how the plants like it!

12-8-12: A big batch of new food. I have been changing 90% of water every week

10-28-12: 90% Water change as I write this. Coleslaw for lunch.

10-20-12: I have a new Black & Decker food processor! I got the last one at the Mardens in Portland, ME. $25. I tested it on some coleslaw a week later. This is devoted to the fish, so I can run beetles through it. I love Mardens!

They are all acting pretty frisky, I'll need to figure out how to harvest some rainwater soon. Chasing, fin-quivering, threatening to lip-wrestle though I have not seen that yet. I'm imagining pairing-up, but I can't really say that it's happened.

10-19-12: water change before the trip to ME. 90%

9-13-12: I missed the weekly water-change last weekend! Bad; this is the second time that it will be two weeks between 90% changes. Fish are doing well, though. Overfiltering & under populated is saving me, I think. I'll be looking for a "garage-sale" food processor this weekend to expedite fish-food production.

6-17-12: 90% water change. My water is from Lake Champlain, no chemicals added.  Mechanical filtration and UV sterilizer for all water coming into my house. I use two heaters with less than the recommended wattage for one. If one heater dies, I'll still have heat, and if one sticks on full, the other will back off, and I hope the fish won't cook. I also use two power-filters, each with two bio-wheels.

6-10-12: 90% water changes once per week, I'm trying to do them more often. The 72Gallon tank is under-populated and over-filtered, though.

Hans wrote again:

Stendker Discus from Discus Hans


Order Number: 615

Detailed Invoice:

Date Ordered: Friday 18 May, 2012

The comments for your order are

Hi David,


How are the new Discus doing after a few weeks ???

If you've questions, please let me know.

If you've some time, please leave a review/feedback on the online store, it helps me a lot,

Best regards,



5-29-12: They come running for the food now! Greedy. I feed them 2x per day, sometimes 3. I can't tell them apart yet.

5-24-12: Still a little nervous, they "run away" when I come to feed them.

5-23-12: eating better. My food is based on what they were getting from Hans, but I use fish & shrimp instead of beef.

5-22-12: 1pm they arrived, all 6 "red pigeon-blood" are in good shape! One laid on its side until I poked it, then came to. They ate my home-made food nervously.

My note to Discus Hans; he phoned me that day.


More feedback, I won't bother you after this!

Eating at 4pm! I call that pretty good. it is my own food, frozen, Your recipe with fish&shrimp substituted for the beef. I add some chicken liver too.


One is apart from the other 5, it may not have eaten yet.


Thanks for the check-up call. I will probably be getting some of those blackworms.

{ free sample of some freeze-dried blackworms came with my fish. I asked Hans about them & if they were safe. He said yes, and a friend of his sells them}


The comments for your order are

Hi David,

your Discus will be shipped out today, you will receive them Tuesday.

FedEx tracking # will be: 898923346202

Best regards,



Date Ordered: Friday 18 May, 2012


Old news


3-18-07: Picked up 5 from Discus Hans for $100. 2.5" size

2 Marlboro reds and 3 Blue diamond. One MRed is larger

O2 was added to the bag, 4.5 hour ride in a cooler in my WRX, I kept it as warm in the car as I could stand.

Dumped into the tank at home as soon as I got it up to 76f. 3 heaters going, one 250 watt, 2 150watt.

Tank is a 72G bowfront with a lot of driftwood and Cryptocoryne spatula v. balansae, C Wentii, Java fern, java moss, and a big orange snail. Ramshorn?

They are hiding for several hours, then swimming in a school for a cou0ple of days fairly quickly but not stressed. Exploring the tank? They were raised up to this point in a crowded bare tank utilizing constant water change

3-19-07: still not eating.

4-8-07: eating my prepared food for a while now. LN says they are spoiled. Probably right. I think I need some dither fish to get them out more. The large snail has laid eggs in the tank, maybe twice, if I think the first were eaten: the clutch moved to the other side of he tank, and looked different, so I think a first clutch was eaten, but I can’t really tell. I pulled the blob out and put it into a different tank. Let’s hope I get a bunch of little snails!

All have red eyes. All have nice shape: round, and round at the forehead. One of the “Blue Diamonds” has nicer blue than the others, and I think “he” is the largest blue. One red is definitely the largest of the lot.

4-10-07: Lots of hanging out in the back nipping at each other. No one seems damaged, though. Temp stays at 84-85 Fahrenheit. Water changes have been 40% twice per week, once I went a whole week.

4-17-07: Coming to the front at feeding time, just like goldfish or angelfish!

5-6-07: eating freeze-dried tubifex, probably almost anything else! they are about 1/3 larger! 3" SL for the biggest MRed & biggest Blue Diamond.

6-3-07: New batch of food, with paprika this time, but no flake food. They may like it better, but it's hard to tell. They're bigger, and they gobble it. I turned down the heater! it was up to 87F in there, now back to 84F. Why don't Aquarium heater thermostats work?

6-13-07: The crypts are coming back. I vacuumed the gravel vigorously when I took out the previous fish {and left it fishless for 2 weeks}. The crypts did not like that! The root-system is putting out new shoots/plants now, though. soon it will look like a real planted tank again. the crypts I have are supposed to do OK at the higher discus temps. C. spatula, C. wendtii. I also have some Java fern and some Java moss. The J moss died back, but will probably resurge.

7-07: Snail eggs hatched from the big snail. It is some kind of ramshorn? I will find out. An Ancistrus was also added, the one-two punch means no more algae! everyone in the tank likes algae wafers, even the Discus.

The biggest Marlboro Red has developed white markings on his sides, and still has the black fins. He {?} really looks good!

The two biggest are over 5" in diameter now! One Blue Diamond continues to be smaller, maybe half the size. It could be the only female, though.

9-1-07: Water change, and I left the heater unplugged for 24 hours! Bad Dave! They were acting spooked... I also got lazy about making new food, and they ate some high-quality flakes and algae wafers for a week. today they got the new batch of homemade food, though. I stopped adding flake food, four vitamin pills, increased the paprika and garlic, wild caught salmon and the usual 2 shrimp. I can send anyone the full recipe if they want.

9-8-07: water change. Plants are looking good, the java moss die-off is mostly gone, and it's coming back. I don't think it likes a 10 degree temperature change. I need to get a pic after lights in the room are out {reflections} and I keep forgetting.

10-07: Java moss still getting better. It shows like the "Christmas-tree" variety. Many strands look like a wide fir-tree branch.

11-07Water changes are 40%, but I am only getting to it twice a month. The fish keep growing. They like just about any food they can get! I use some Ken's fish food flakes and some small floating pellets when I run out of my frozen prepared stuff.

12-07: vacuumed the bottom & changed water. The 3 biggest discus are getting some nice extensions to the dorsal and anal fins. These guys look good! some friskyness has been noted for the last two months, I think there is at least one pair. No mouth-wrestling has been noted.

One ancistrus is keeping the algae in check. there are also many ramshorn snails. I am not sure if the snails are local or offspring of the large foreigner in the tank.

1-2-08: added one Anubias barteri

1-4-08: new batch of frozen food; completely filled a big zip-lock 1/8" thick. This batch had shrimp-tails left over by humans in addition to the usual amount of shrimp I use. They were mostly chiton.

picture by David Isham 1-9-08


1-20-08: 40% water change. I answered the phone while filling the tank via hose. NEVER do that.

2-3-08: 40% water change. Temperature is 81F. The Java moss is looking good again, some is showing as the "Christmas Tree" variety.

2-13-08: Food gone; lasted 5 weeks. I only fed non-discus 3 times.

2-17-08: one of the Marlboro Reds was vibrating fins mid-morning. I have not seen any cleaning of a spawning-spot yet.

2-18-08: They eat 1/8" floating pellets and flakes fine.

2-22-08 : New batch of frozen food.

3-3-08: Heater failed!!! Tank temp when I got back from ME was 67F! Discus are in the corner and NOT happy.

2nd heater failed!! This one has been in the tank not plugged in. I plugged it in, the light came on, it went off after running, tank not warm enough yet, turned it up, light never came back on, no heat!

These are both Guardian brand heaters, bought at the same time, less than one year old. A 250 watt and a 150 watt. Will I buy that brand again?

I dug out an old glass Ebo-Jager 150, it still works fine, and saved the day!

2-9-08: Tank temp is 88F. It took 8hrs to bring it up; too fast would not have been good. Fish are eating frozen food, though you'd think that that would scare them after the "big freeze"!

2-10-08: turned the heater down slightly.

9-7-08: h2o change 40%. These have not been happening often enough! about once per month. Hans is a great source of Discus!

9-16-08: frozen food used up. Feeding some "Omega" flakes.

They were getting frisky with each other; showing off for company and dislodging the favorite spawning log. Java fern has attached to much of the wood pretty well now. Java moss continues to look good and then bad; I think 80F+ may disagree with it.

11-27-08: New fish food. I forgot the paprika this time! I did add turkey liver and along with the multi-vitamins {3 pills} I added two caps of fish-oil. extra shrimp-tails this time but no shrimp. The fish was salmon.

12-3-08: topped off the water with 15 gallons when I should have done a real water-change.

12-26-08: 40% water change. Overdue!

12-30-08: Back from ME; Eric fish-sat, even though it was his anniversary! He was better at feeding them 2x per day than I, I think.

1-2-08: The two red ones are spawning again! Eric's steady feeding probably deserves a lot of the credit. The male is eating her eggs so soon after they come out that I have not actually seen even one egg! They are the same two I saw spawning before, though, and I did get a good look at the female's egg-tube. I was able to get some pictures and some video, so you can judge for yourself at the February meeting.

1-6-08: I added 15 gallons of water. A real water-change is due.

2-7-09: 60% water change. They did not show stress. The big cichlids don't seem to mind more than 40% at once. They're big! yay! A new batch of the real food is overdue, but they eat the Wardley stuff OK. I have been checking the temp almost daily, it is 82F-86F. Daily room temp varies from 62F to 70F.

2-12-09: I won a door prize at our meeting! A discus breeding-cone. I think they still like the wood better, but when it gets warmer, I will try putting the red pair into a separate tank with the cone & some rainwater. Discus at the TFCB monthly auction would be the next step!

2-21-09: A new batch of food, and a 50% water change. The tank has one ancistrus, and it's looking pretty big now. No algae on the glass, but there are also quite a few snails.

3-1-09: 60% water change. The Cryptocoryne crispatula is taking a while to replace itself after I harvested some. I'm leaving it alone and trying to keep the top cover clean. This tank only has one four foot fluorescent tube. It gets some reflected sun from the west window.

3-28-09: 60% water change.

4-5-09: a new batch of food. I used a pre-packaged salmon fillet, 2 shrimp, a handful of shrimp tails, 3 multi-vitamin pills, 2 fish-oil pills, 2Tbs garlic, 2Tbs paprika, butternut squash, chicken liver, and 3Tbs spirulina flakes. Chopped it up fine, put it in a 1Qt zip-lock, shmushed it to 1/8 inch thick, and froze it. They get about 1.5" dia piece 2 times per day. I just toss it in frozen, and they don't wait for it thaw.

Most ingredients are chopped up frozen, and sort of half-thaw before I get them in the freezer zip-lock.

5-1-09: Out of the "real" food. I toss in an algae-wafer for the Ancistrus once a day. No algae can be seen.

5-3-09: I added water, should have done a change. I think I did a change between now and the last time I noted it.

temp= 84F

5-31-09: 60% water change.

7-09: 40% water change in there somewhere.

8-09: new batch of food, date is on the bag. This time, a frozen salmon fillet & two big scallops. Squash was patty-pan, and I added 4TBS spirulina flakes. I gave some to Dave Banks, thanks for loaning me some algae wafers, Dave!

9-3-09: top up with water. My water system is under repair for a week now, LOTS of air in the water. I need to be very careful not to kill fish with it. Needs to stand for 15 minutes or so.

9-10-09: Water system still needs a new line out into the lake, we are waiting for an excavator.

9-20-09: New water line is in! I have not seen any of the fish-killing tiny bubbles since the work was done.

9-27-09: water change, 60%

11-5-09: New fish food batch, I had no chicken liver this time. catfish fillet, shrimp tails, butternut squash, multi vit pills, fish oil pills, garlic, paprika, spirulina flake.

11-21-09: 60% h20 change. I attached some of the excess java-moss to driftwood, and did the same for an Anubius barteri that was only attached to a very small bit of wood. The cover needs cleaning, to allow more light in. The single ancistrus was seen; it's still alive, no algae on the glass {except on the top cover}. I have been tossing in squash and algae wafers once a week or so.

12-09 2 water changes

1-10 2 water changes

2-10 2 water changes. rubber bands attaching java ferns did not hold up. I think someone ate them. The single ancistrus is nearly full-grown, and almost certainly female. I have been tossing in squash for a month or so now.

3-7-10: 50% h2o change. Cleaned one side of one filter. Temp 84 F.

Filter update: 2 penguin power filters, double biowheels. No floss, I have four baskets of pea-sized gravel on the backs, water goes right past, not through them. I have 4 plastic screens that all water goes through. Floss was ripped off these. The 4 Bio wheels rarely stop turning

3-20-10: 60% h2o change. Vacuumed 1/2 bottom, rinsed 1/2 of power filters out.

4-4-10: 60% h2o change. This tank has its own dedicated hose for changes since January.

4-5-10: out of homemade frozen food. A batch lasts about 2 months.

4&5-2010: I fed small earthworms to them twice, and they were popular.

5-23-10: 60% water change. Two others have been done since 4-4-10. I tossed in half of a cooked shrimp; they ate some.

5-24-10: I should have chopped up the shrimp! I'll be fishing it out tonight. I wanted to see if they could rip it up.

6-2010: Video of discus eating freeze-dried tubifex worms, taken by my brother William Isham, a real marine biologist.

8-2010: The red female got pop-eyes, and was dead in two days! The others still look fine on 9-9-2010, 3 weeks later. Needless to say, I stepped up the water changes! The day I saw the problem, I did one of 90%. two days later, I did that again. since then, it's been 75% per week. I will get a new hose for exclusive discus-use, as I had to toss the one I had for the other tanks. Discus will get the newer hose, others will get their old one. Note that you need to be careful with a new hose, even if it is drinking-water safe. Just taste the water coming out. I always run water through the hose before using it at all times anyway.

9-25-10: I made a new batch of Discus-food.

9-30-10: Still keeping up with 75% water changes. The giant Hygro is OK, but not growing as fast as the ones in the other tank that get more light. It looks like it's OK at 80 Fahrenheit plus. The Anubias does not look very happy, though.

I do NOT see any more pop-eye. No fin-rot or any other sign of bad water, either.

11-10: I am continuing twice per week water changes, except for the week of 11-14-10

11-21-10: 75% water change. fin-rot is going away, color on the blue diamonds is a little better. The marlborough red looks very good. I am out of home-made frozen food. the water I put in was a little cold, and the Blue with bad fins clamped them for a little while. The giant hygro is dong good in this tank with only one tube over it. the tank with two new tubes has them doing better, though.

2-6-11: All discus died but one!! I think it was a hunger-strike when I didn't have time to make food over the holidays. They had seemed to be eating various store-bought food, but now I think not much, or they changed their minds. One had fin rot, so there may have been poor water quality, but then I started doing 75% changes two times per week, and the last two to go really looked good. No fin rot or popeye or ich that I could see.

They were four years old, I think they should have lasted longer! I will try to get some more soon.

I made some more food...

2-8-11: 75% water change.

11-8-11: The last Blue diamond is still doing well. His fins are not perfect, but slowly getting better. I am getting more fish soon, Discus Hans sells to individuals now. His site is set up for it. I'm leaning towards some blue pigeon bloods and some Tefes

12-1-11: I'm waiting for my beautiful wife to OK the expenditure!

4-2-12: New discus after the next trip!