Tank Set Up: Basics


Most unlike dogs and cats, fishes can be deemed easy to keep. Even if you don’t have a big backyard for your dog to play and exercise in, a good corner with about a meter or two of space is enough for you to have a relaxing aquarium to look at. You don’t have to train them, and side from the occasional cleaning; they can be kept wherever they are already placed. All the work though, and the expenses, come before the fishes arrive.   


Like fishes taken out of the water, well, literally fishes that are taken out of the water, your discus fish will need a tank where they will live on. Unless you have a river flowing through your house, the fish tank or the aquarium will be your discus fish home for the rest of its life. So you will need to provide it with a habitat that will be conducive for breeding as well as living a life that it’s used to.  



You have to note though that there are certain tank requirements for a particular breed of fish. With the discus fish, you will have two main concerns, and this is its depth and volume. The depth and the volume of the tank will be based not only on the size of the fish, but also on the swimming habits of the discus fish. A deep tank is usually the norm, 18 inches would suffice. With the volume of water, most discus fish experts would agree that for each discus fish, 10 gallons would be necessary.  

In choosing the tank, start with a minimum tank size of 50 gallons. Make sure you have a suitable place to set up your aquarium. You will want a very sturdy support for your tank which you will position in a location that doesn't receive direct sunlight. The filtration system will be made up of two extra large sponge filters run by an air pump along with an external box filter such as an Aqua Clear properly rated for your tank size and containing a pre-filter sponge on the intake tube.  


You will need a heater with a ratio of 5watts/gallon, meaning a tank size of 50 gallons would require a 250 watt heater. The tank needs to be covered and there are hood options available when you purchase your tank. You will want one with a lighting strip as well as a cover for the tank. In a pinch you can always pick up a piece of Plexiglas from your local hardware store and cut it to fit. In order to keep the tank clean and maintained, you will need a siphon hose, a five gallon bucket and a clean utility sponge. 


To maximize the surface area, a rectangular tank is usually recommended. When buying a tank, the surface area is one of the important considerations. The tank surface area is necessary because this is where the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanges. So if you have 3 to 4 pairs of discus fish, a 75 gallon tank would be good enough. If you can, try to add an outside filter, especially if you have a large tank, s this will be able to help out in increasing the aeration and the filtration of the tank. 


The size and shape of the fish tank is also important. Discus Fish prefer a tall sized tank. So, you will want to get a fish tank that is taller than longer. For example, you may want to get a tank that is 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. A 35 gallon tank is a good size for Discus Fish. But, you should try getting a larger fish tank. Also, with larger tanks, maintaining water quality is a lot easier than smaller tanks. And, you have to keep in mind that Discus Fish are rather sensitive when it comes to water quality. 


The need for a large tank is not only because they can grow big, but because they grow big fast. So if you plan on buying a smaller tank know and just upgrading to a bigger one later on, you may find that this would be futile. You would just be spending more in a short period of time. A small tank will just stunt their development and will stress them out. But also remember, if the tank is too big, the young discus fish can become overly skittish and can also stunt their growth.  


If you can afford to, buying two tanks is also advisable, especially if you can afford it and you want to breed your discus fish later on. You can use the smaller while the discus fish are young, and later on as a breeding tank. 


You have to remember that discus fish are very sensitive animals that need to be watched constantly. Basically, they will need extremely clear water and you also have to maintain the temperature as well as the pH level of the water at a constant level. Also, you need to monitor the quantity of heavy metals, nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia in the water. 


It is highly recommended that as a discus fish owner, you need to use a reverse osmosis filtration unit inside the fish tank where you keep the discus fish. This is quite advantageous and will make it easier for you to maintain the quality of water but they are not really considered as a necessity. You have to remember that reverse osmosis filtration unit cost a lot of money. And, if you are just starting out raising discus fish, you will see that the price of this kind of filter is enough reason not to put one in your tank. 


When you are setting up your discus fish tank, it is important to remember that you have to add a water conditioner in the tap water, which you will doubtlessly use. This will do the job in taking out the chlorine as well as other chemicals present in the water. Keep in mind that discus fish thrive in softer water. If your tap water is filled with chemicals, then the fish will not survive that long. 


You also have to remember that discus fish likes to live in large areas of water. So, you may want to buy a larger fish tank in order for you to make sure that the discus fish will be comfortable and not get subjected to a lot of stress. Also, you may want to keep in mind that the water in larger fish tanks are a lot easier to maintain than water in small fish tanks.  


The placement of the aquarium or fish tank where you plan on putting in the discus fish will also matter. Make sure that you don’t place them in an area where it gets a lot of direct sunlight. Doing so will cause too much plant expansion, which will scale back the oxygen concentration inside the fish tank. You should also avoid placing the tank in areas in your home that gets too much traffic. This will simply subject your discus fish with high levels of stress, which will eventually mean that they will be more prone to sickness. 


Lastly, make sure that the fish tank resembles the natural environment where they lived before. So, avoid putting plastic mermaids and castle decorations. Instead, try to put rocks and a couple of driftwood as this will mimic their natural environment where they will be more at ease. 


Small fish tanks will likely fluctuate when it comes to the water pH level as well as the temperature. This is why larger fish tanks are recommended for discus fish. The smallest size for at least 6 discus fish would be a 40 gallon tank. 


The environment in the aquarium should mimic the natural habitat of the discus fish. You should put in logs, rocks, plants and other spots where the discus fish can hide in or shelter in. You have to provide a lot of places in your tank where your discus fish can hide. 


You may add some ornaments in your tank. Although they can survive without them, ornaments won’t only make your aquarium look good, but they can also provide shelter for them for their protection and for their spawning. Also, some plants can help clean the tank.