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"I have used STS since 2011 and have been a strong proponent of it for planted tanks as an excellent alternative to most other substrates out there with the possible exception of ADA Aquasoils."

We definitely agree on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Hi All,

2020-08-21

Today I did a six (6) gallon water change. The tank has a water volume of 24 gallons so 25%. Here are the water parameters after the water change:
pH = 6.8
dKH = 2.0
dGH = 3.0
NH3 = 0.0 ppm
NO2 = 0.0 ppm
NO3 = 5.0 ppm

I did a light gravel vac in the front again, added 3/8 tsp of CaSO4 for 3 ppm of calcium, 3/8 tsp of MgSO4 for 2.0 ppm of Mg, and 3/16 tsp of K2SO4 for 7.5 ppm of potassium. Why did I dose those nutrients? I noticed the deformed new leaves of the Bacopa colorata which is likely insufficient calcium. I also noticed the necrosis occurring in the older leaves of the Eriocaulon 'Vietnam; likely insufficient potassium or magnesium. Lastly the Limnophila rugosa was showing interveinal chlorosis on the older leaves indicating insufficient magnesium and the older leaves of the Bacopa colorata have their leaf margins curling (under in this case) also indicating a need for more magnesium.



Eriocaulon 'Vietnam' showing necrosis of older leaves


Bacopa colorata showing #1 deformed new leaves emerging and #2 curled under leaf margins


Limnophila rugosa showing interveinal chlorosis (dark leaf veins with lighter areas in between (sorry a little blurry)
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Hi All,

2020-08-24

Monday and today is water change day for all my tanks! I have also been doing water changes on Thursday or Fridays as well however based on input on another forum I will likely increase the frequency. Today the tank got a little over 50% water change.

This last week the fish seem more acclimated. They are no longer staying in a tight school most of the time as they were the first week or so. Instead they are exploring and foraging more individually. All the discus are eating well (and continuously) and I've upped my food budget for the hobby.

I have received a lot of feedback on the forums where I have been posting this thread that "you can't raise discus in a planted tank" or "you can't keep discus in a planted tank, when you see pictures of discus in planted tanks they are only there for the photo and then returned to a bare tank". I honestly don't know if those individuals are sharing information based their own personal experiences or if just repeating something they have heard or read. In either case I propose to continue with this set-up unless the fish show signs of distress and/or I have trouble maintaining good water quality. Again, good fish growth and healthy fish are the primary concern....not the plants.

After the water change the water parameters in the tank were:
pH = 7.2
dKH = 2.0
dGH = 3.0
NH3 = 0.0 ppm
NO2 = 0.0 ppm
NO3 = 5.0 ppm

Other than the slight increase in pH which I attribute to the increased volume of the water change the parameters remain the same. After the water change I added 3/8 teaspoon of CaSO4 for 3 ppm of Ca; 3/16 teaspoon of MgSO4 for 1.0 ppm of Mg; and 3/16 teaspoon of K2SO4 for 7.5 ppm of K. I also did my weekly 15 ml of glutaraldehyde / Excel.

It's been almost exactly a month since I first added plants to the tanks and some are showing a strong ability to adapt to the low nutrient environment and some are not. Here are some pictures I took today.

Here is the obligatory full tank shot


The 'Trident' java fern and Cryptocoryne 'Green Gecko' are doing fine


The Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum' (left rear) is not liking the conditions; the Eriocaulon 'Vietnam' are just sitting there


The Myriophyllum sp. 'Guyana' is doing fine with a couple of inches of new growth; I'm unsure if the Bacopa colorata will adapt or not; and the small Eleocharis (hairgrass) plants are starting to put out runners


The Oldenlandia salzmannii is adapting well (left), as are the few sprigs of Ludwigia arcuata however the Limnophila rugosa is not doing much


The Ludwigia sp 'Red' is growing very well but not much color with [email protected]
 

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"I have received a lot of feedback on the forums where I have been posting this thread that "you can't raise discus in a planted tank" or "you can't keep discus in a planted tank, when you see pictures of discus in planted tanks they are only there for the photo and then returned to a bare tank"."

Prove them wrong!
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
"I have received a lot of feedback on the forums where I have been posting this thread that "you can't raise discus in a planted tank" or "you can't keep discus in a planted tank, when you see pictures of discus in planted tanks they are only there for the photo and then returned to a bare tank"."

Prove them wrong!
Hi Michael,

I'm not a 'prove them wrong' type of person so much as wanting to validate or not the assumption that somehow a planted tank is a poor environment for raising juvie discus to full size with good health. The routine water changes the fish require does impact the plants. Since I am using Osmocote Plus tabs for the majority of the nutrients that isn't an issue but I am trying to keep the calcium and magnesium levels up with the soft water changes.
 

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Sand substrate is great for keeping the tank clean. All the mulm just sits on top where you can vacuum it out. It's also great for plants to anchor in. Don't grow carpeting plants where the mulm collects underneath and impossible to clean out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Hi All,

2020-08-25
Added 4.5 ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive

2020-08-26
Based upon recommendations from folks on the forums I have upped my water changes. I will be doing three a week on this 30 gallon tank (24 gallon water volume) with 12 gallons done on Monday, 9 gallons done on Wednesday, and 9 gallons done on Friday. This will be the equivalent of 1.33 complete water changes per week. I did a 9 gallon water change today, did a light vac of the substrate in the front, noticed some green spot algae (GSA) along the front glass just below the substrate line and cleaned that up. Magic Erasers (aka melamine foam) are great glass cleaners (be sure to get the ones with no detergent etc).

After the water change I added 3/4 tsp of CaSO4*2H2O for 6 ppm of Ca (hardness increase approx 0.8 dGH); 3/8 tsp of MgSO4*7H2O for 2.1 ppm of Mg (harness increase 0.5 dGH); 3/8 tsp of K2SO4 for 11.8 ppm of K; and 3/64 tsp of KH2PO4 for 2.0 ppm of P to hopefully reduce the GSA. I also added 4.5 ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive.

2020-08-29
I did a 9 gallon water change (approx 33%+) today. Also picked up some live adult brine shrimp to give them a little treat. Here they are 1/2 hour after feeding still looking for any BS they may have missed.


Also here is a picture of the big brothers and sisters of the fry I have, notice how the nice coloration is starting to emerge.
[I
 

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love the new shots of the tank!

If i'm reading this correctly, are certain plants that you're trying out struggling because of the lack of nutrients in the water column? Nutrients can't naturally build up in the water column because of the constant water changes and the water params the discus require?

Between restricted nutrients and soft water, which one do you think is affecting your plants more? As for the green spot algae, my knee-jerk reaction is that phosphate levels are low, but is this something you can't dose in a discus tank?

Never really looked into the intricacies of a discus tank so interested to learn more!
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
love the new shots of the tank!

If i'm reading this correctly, are certain plants that you're trying out struggling because of the lack of nutrients in the water column? Nutrients can't naturally build up in the water column because of the constant water changes and the water params the discus require?

Between restricted nutrients and soft water, which one do you think is affecting your plants more? As for the green spot algae, my knee-jerk reaction is that phosphate levels are low, but is this something you can't dose in a discus tank?

Never really looked into the intricacies of a discus tank so interested to learn more!
Hi @neilshieh, Yes, I suspect insufficient nutrients. I'm not sure if it is the lack of macro nutrients (N,P,K) or secondary nutrients (Ca, Mg). It doesn't appear to be micro-nutrients that are the issue, no signs of an Fe deficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Hi All,

2020-08-31
Today (Monday) I did a 12 gallon water change (50%) and added 3/8 tsp of CaSO4 for 2.98 ppm of Ca (hardness increase approx 0.42 dGH); 3/16 tsp of MgSO4*7H2O for 1.04 ppm of Mg (hardness increase 0.24 dGH); 3/16 tsp of K2SO4 for 5.93 ppm of K. I also added 15 ml of Excel/glut for algae prevention. All fish are active and eating well. They have finished off the three (3) portions of live adult brine shrimp I bought on Saturday with some help from the Turquoise Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris) that I am conditioning to breed. I try to feed at least one portion of dry food (FD tubifex, Krill flakes, Extreme pellets) and one portion of frozen or live food per day. I have a white worm (Enchytraeus albidus) culture that is not quite ready to harvest yet but I will add them to the food rotation in the future.

2020-09-01
Dosed 4.5 ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive for plant micro-nutrients and 3/64 tsp KH2PO4 (2.0 ppm of PO4; 0.66 ppm P; 0.8 ppm K) for GSA

2020-09-03
Today (Thursday) I did a 9 gallon water change (37%), added + 3/4 tsp CaSO4 (6 ppm Ca / 0.8 dGH); 3/8 tsp MgSO4 (2.08 ppm Mg / 0.48 dGH); 3/8 tsp K2SO4 (11.83 ppm K); 3/64 tsp KH2PO4 (2.0 ppm of PO4; 0.66 ppm P; 0.8 ppm K) for GSA. I did a light gravel vac in the front of the tank and siphoned any detritus on the rest of the substrate. It was time to clean the canister filter so I rinsed all the bio-balls and Purigen in tank water as well as one of the two sponges in the filter. The other sponge got thoroughly cleaned in tap water. I replaced the filter floss and started the filter. Here are some pictures I took today.

The full tank shot


Time to rethink some of the plant species. The Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum'. Limnophila rugosa, and the Erio 'Vietnam' don't seem to like the conditions necessary for the discus. I will have to try some different species. On the other had the Myriophyllum sp. 'Guyana', Oldenlandia salzmannii, Ludwigia arcuata, and Ludwigia sp 'Red' seem to be doing well. I have a couple of other species I want to try maybe I can do some changes this weekend.


 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Hi All,

2020-09-07
Yesterday was water change day. I did a 50% water change and took the opportunity to make some of the plant species changes I mentioned earlier. I removed the sad Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum' which had very little root system and they went into the compost pile. I removed all but one of the Limnophila rugosa which had good root systems but poor growth and I moved them to my 75 gallon. The Ludwigia sp 'Red' (which to me doesn't look like L. sp 'Red') was cut down to remove the emersed growth at the bottom and replanted just the submerged growth tops; the stems all had a good root systems. I dug around in my tanks and plant bank and added a couple of Nymphoides hydrophylla (aka sp. 'Taiwan'), some Rotala H'ra (aka 'Vietnam'), and a couple of stems of Limnophila sp. 'Wavy'. Here a picture showing the new layout and trial species.



1) Nymphoides hydrophylla (aka sp 'Taiwan') hiding behind the 'Trident'
2) Rotala H'ra (aka 'Vietnam')
3) Limnophila sp. 'Wavy'

Here are a better shots of the three species I added. First Nymphoides hydrophylla


Next Rotala H'ra


Lastly Limnophila sp. 'Wavy'


I also took a full set of water parameter readings after the water change and plant changes; here are the results:
pH = 6.8
dKH = 2.0
dGH = 4.0
Ca = 20 ppm
Mg = 5.23 ppm
NH3 = 0.25 ppm (possibly from disturbing the substrate?)
NO2 = 0.00 ppm
NO3 = 10.0 ppm

The fish are eating three meals a day consisting of frozen bloodworms, frozen adult brine shrimp, frozen adult brine shrimp with spirulina algae, freeze-dried tubifex worms. The discus are not really interested in Fluval Bug Bites, Extreme Krill Flakes, or Extreme Pellets. My live white worm culture has grown large enough that I should be able to add that sparingly to the food rotation.

Have a great week everyone! -Roy
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Hi All,

2020-09-10
Today I did a 9 gallon water change and did a light vac at the front of the tank. Added 1/2 tsp CaSO4 (3.97 ppm Ca / +0.56 dGH); 1/4 tsp MgSO4 (1.38 ppm Mg / +0.32 dGH); 1/4 tsp K2SO4 (7.9 ppm K); 1/32 tsp KH2PO4 (1.34 ppm of PO4; 0.44 ppm P; 0.55 ppm K for GSA. All the discus are eating well and seem to be establishing a comfortable pecking order.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Hi All,

I apologize for being a little late in my posting this week. I am on the Board of our local aquarium club, Greater Seattle Aquarium Society (gsas.org) and we had a board meeting last night that I had to prepare for. I did do my water change as scheduled on Monday.

2020-09-14
Today was the big water change of about 50% or 12 gallons. After the water change I took readings and these are the results.
I also took a full set of water parameter readings after the water change and plant changes; here are the results:
pH = 6.4
dKH = 2.0
dGH = 4.0
Ca = 20 ppm
Mg = 5.23 ppm
NH3 = 0.00 ppm (possibly from disturbing the substrate?)
NO2 = 0.00 ppm
NO3 = 10.0 ppm

The ammonia came down from 0.25 ppm last week to 0.00 this week which kind of confirms that changing the plants and disturbing the substrate caused the slight increase in NH3 that we saw. Because we have hit my target dGH and Ca and Mg levels I did not add any calcium sulfate (CaSO4*2H2O) or magnesium sulfate (MgSO4*7H2O) for the plants. The fish are doing fine and still eating like swimming pigs although they seem to feel entitled and only eat frozen bloodworms, live adult brine shrimp, frozen brine shrimp, and FD tubifex worms. They turn their noses up at krill flakes and Fluval Bug Bites, any suggestions as to how to encourage them to eat other foods would be appreciated.

Here are some pictures from Monday; first the overall tank shot.


The Rotala H'ra (aka 'Vietnam') is doing as expected. With the low nutrient levels in the water column the Rotala has taken off, can you see all the new stems starting to emerged along the original stems?


The Myriophyllum sp. Guyana is starting to branch at the top of the stems; the Oldenlandia salzmannii continues to grow toward the surface and will need trimming soon. And on the far right the Hygrophylla arcuata continues to grow slowly. Regrettably the Eriocaulon 'Vietnam' in the foreground continues to just sit there. It will be moved to another tank in the near future.


They Limnophila sp 'Curly' that was added last week is also growing nicely.


Just like the Oldenlandia salzmannii the Ludwigia sp 'Red' (*doubtful this is correct identification) is growing to the surface, this is after I removed the original emerged growth from bottom of the stems last week.


And a partial 'Family Portrait'


Lastly, a video of the fish eating FD Tubifex Worms
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Hi All,

2020-09-28
Another 9 gallon water change today. I siphoned up about 1/4" of the sand substrate at the front of the tank because it was showing little specks of algae and looking "dirty" and replaced it with fresh sand. The fish continue to eat and grow; today I gave them live white worms (Enchytraeus albidus) for the first time. The plants continue to grow including the Rotala H'ra, Ludwigia sp 'Red' (NOT), and the Ludwigia arcuata is looking taller as is the Limnophila sp 'Wavy'.


Notice the watersprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) growing behind the Microsporum pteropus 'Windelov' (java fern); Ceratopteris are great plants for absorbing nitrates and ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Hi All,

2020-10-12
It's been a few weeks since my last update. The fish are doing fine, eating well (too well?), water changes continue two to three times per week and the plants have been growing. Here is how overgrown the plants looked two weeks ago just before I did a trim and split some of the species to additional locations in the tank.


The last two weeks I've been helping my son-in-law build a 15' X 9' frame shed and although the water changes have continued on schedule my ferts went by the wayside. Today I did my 'big' weekly water change, about 60%, and took water parameter readings:
pH = 6.4
dKH = 2.0
dGH = 1.0
Ca = 10 ppm
Mg = 0.00 ppm
NH3 = 0.00 ppm
NO2 = 0.00 ppm
NO3 = 10.0 ppm

Even without ferts being added the plants continued to grow, the cuttings I planted two weeks ago are starting to reach the top of the tank (again) and other are starting to show up from behind the Microsorum pteropus (java fern) 'Windelov'. The Erio 'Vietnam' continues to suffer so I put two (2) beads of Osmocote Plus in the root zone of the three plants on the left to see if they respond. In addition I added some small pieces of Seachem Root Tabs in the substrate near the Cryptocoryne. I noticed some diatom (brown algae) growth about a month ago. I purchased two (2) Otocinclus affinis at the local aquarium shop and quarantined them for a month. I added them today. Here is a picture of the tank taken this morning.
 

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This is a great looking scape, and I did not expect to see the type of growth you have in such warm water. I noticed your Nymphoides coming up and being trimmed back down. Is it growing slower/faster/same compared to non-Discus temp ranges?
Also interested to hear how the Oto's do in those temps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Hi @davemonkey,

Thank you for the kind words. The Nymphoides hydrophylla grows slower at the warmer temperature but that may not be the cause. There is minimal dosing of nutrients into this tank since the primary purpose is the grow-out of the juvie discus so the slow growth could easily be the result of lack of nutrients. -Roy
 

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This is looking really nice! Similar to Dave I am a little surprised at the plants in those temps...I figured it'd be more stressful on them and you'd have melt issues. Anyway, it looks great!
 
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