Nitrogen Cycle 


The secret in taking care of discus fish is the water. You need to keep in mind that unlike other fishes that needs no specific water condition to thrive, discus fish will need to live in special tanks with water that is specifically treated to the point that it mimics their natural environment.   


First of all, you have to see to the water quality. In most cases, poor water quality is often the reason why people have difficulty in keeping Discus Fish. When it comes to water quality, try to think where the fish originated. Discus Fish originated in the waters of Brazil, which is soft and acidic. So, you have to replicate the water quality in Brazil in your fish tank if you are going to keep a Discus Fish or any other fish found in Brazil.  



You also have to keep in mind that larger volumes of water is easier to keep stable than smaller volumes. This is why you have to consider the size of the tank where you intend on keeping your Discus Fish. You have to try getting the largest aquarium that you possibly can in order for you to easily maintain the water quality. 


You may already know about the nitrogen cycle. You need to consider the fact that this is very important whenever you intend on keeping any kind of fish in a fish tank or aquarium. If you don’t know anything about the nitrogen cycle, then you may want to cancel your plans on keeping a Discus Fish. Nitrogen Cycle is summarised below: 


An aquarium is a closed environment. All the wastes excreted from the fish, uneaten food, and decaying plants stay inside the tank. If these wastes are not eliminated, your beautiful aquarium would turn into a cesspool in no time at all. 


Stages of the Nitrogen Cycle 


There are three stages of the nitrogen cycle, each of which presents different challenges. 


Initial stage: The cycle begins when fish are introduced to the aquarium. Their faeces, urine, as well as any uneaten food, are quickly broken down into either ionized or unionized ammonia. The ionized form, Ammonium (NH4), is present if the pH is below 7, and is not toxic to fish. The unionized form, Ammonia (NH3), is present if the pH is 7 or above, and is highly toxic to fish. Ammonia usually begins rising by the third day after introducing fish. 


Second stage: During this stage Nitrosamines bacteria oxidize the ammonia, thus eliminating it. However, the by-product of ammonia oxidation is nitrite, which is also highly toxic to fish. Nitrite usually begins rising by the end of the first week after introducing fish. 


Third stage: In the last stage of the cycle, Nitrobacter bacteria convert the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are not highly toxic to fish in low to moderate levels. Routine partial water changes will keep the nitrate levels within the safe range.  


Simple steps such as testing and changing the water will help you manage the nitrogen cycle without losing your fish. 


You have to remember that Discus Fish will not tolerate ammonia or nitrite in any amount. They will only be able to tolerate the bare minimum nitrite. You also need to make sure that the detritus is removed on a daily basis along with any uneaten food as this will produce ammonia in the water, which will potentially make the Discus Fish ill or possibly kill it. 


You will want to have your aquarium cycled before adding your Discus. This means that the beneficial bacteria have been established in your filtration. There are many methods of cycling your tank so be sure to do your research and choose the option that fits for you. It is a very important step and is absolutely necessary. Putting your new Discus in a tank that hasn't been cycled is a death sentence for the fish.