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Ok, so originally my idea was to rebuild my 230 gallon as a Peacock Cichlid tank however over the last couple months watching my planted tank has been very rewarding and the wife and I have discussed setting up the 230G as a planted tank, and adding Discus (not immediately but once we feel the tank is stable).

So the thought process currently is as follows:

1. Create a 3D background (similar to this: http://www.notjustfish.com/images/products/665.jpg)

2. Setup under gravel jets

3. Get the tank setup with my current plants from my 50G using a soil substrate capped with white sand.

4. Cycle the tank and add Discus friendly fish (Corys, German Blue Rams, Tetras, etc...)

5. Add Amano Shrimp (I've read lots about how if they are big enough they can co-habitat with Discuss just fine)

6. Finally add my Discus

I'm looking for opinions and thoughts from users who have had experience with Discus and get some feedback on the Soil substrate idea.

Cheers,

Tom

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Thanks, from what ive read using the Miracle Gro Organic potting soil mix is the best way to go. What do you use in your tanks?

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Oh what Cory's were you thinking? Corydoras oiapoquensis or Sterbai?

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Sterbai, these will be the first Corys I've kept and have read they can take the temp for discus and are great tank mates.

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I am new to planted aquariums, but I do think that if you cover your substrate with a fine sand you are cutting off any sort of circulation you are getting with a courser material below.

Ian

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Yes, i have read about concerns where the soil can become denitrificated however users have suggested using deep rooting plants and MTS to battle these issues.

Ideally i would like to go for a carpet along the substrate but having issues locating a plant that will create the ideal ground cover and survive in a discus tank.

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Trumpet snails and plant roots will help oxygenate the plant substrate. From my limited experience the potting mix does wonders for plant growth especially rooting plants, I also found that plants hold better in the substrate and in the early rooting stages you have little to no uprooting and dislodging issues when using soilless media. Yes its technically soilless media because actual soil is a conglomeration of sand silt and clay such as what you find in your garden. The ''dirt/potting mix'' is mostly comprised of peat which is not soil.

Although the potting mix is great for growing plants and may also benefit the discus by leaching tannins into the water. Be aware that if you ever plan to redecorate and uproot plants your tank will be a cloudy muddy mess for a day or two. After the water clears you will find that a lot of the plant media will have deposited on top of the cap substrate. I like both substrate methods for growing plants, one major benefit of the potting media is that I never dose nitrate in that tank and planting seems less tedious. I like the option of being able to change things around without making a huge mess of the tank therefore I prefer not using potting media despite the many benefits.

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You are setting yourself up for heartache.

Discus require exceedingly clean aquariums. You can not keep an aquarium clean enough to meet discus needs with substrate in the tank.

Hit up www.Simplydiscus.com is a discus only forum. Go to the beginners section and read up. Give yourself a few hours to research the fish at that site.

Many, many have tried what your planning to do and failed.

Your current plan would work very well for angels, or just about any other fish that doesn't require such pristine conditions.

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I have spent a number of days on simply discus reading about a number of tank setups and discus keeping methodology. Quite a few people actually have successfully run discus tanks with substrate and with a soil substrate.

I agree that it's a big project, and maybe a little much for my first discus tank. However I like a good challenge :)

My first priority will be to get the tank setup and running without discus and learning about running a planted tank with just soil as the substrate and go from there.

I will have a 50G empty once the 230 is setup and have thought about getting a couple discus and putting them in there. This will give me an oppurtunity to learn about Discus through experience before trying to achieve my end goal :)

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It's a myth that a soil based substrate tank cannot be kept clean. That sort of thought is why some even hate soil based tanks. Some even have the thought of brown muddy water which of course is 100% false. If that is the case something major was done in error. No reason why a soil based tank cannot have pristine clear water as a tank with a bare bottom.

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Never has there been an award winning, prized NADA fish come from a substrated tank.

Keep researching those members claiming to succeede with discus in planted tanks. Notice how many and frequently they post in the disease/help threads. Notice in their photos the fish are stunted, have ragged finnage, always show stress bars, never see the same fish growing old with them?

I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm trying to save the op time, money, and anguish.

Substrate is never the thing that makes a tank dirty, substrate is the thing that holds onto obscene amounts of poop, food, and bacterial/fungal growth that makes a tank dirty.

When I first got into discus, I killed dozens of good fish thinking that I could keep a planted, substrated tank. I got pretty tired of watching beautiful fish die in my care.

I gutted my tank, made a "near bare bottom" by mixing sand with a soy based two part epoxy and started over. I have a couple plants in pots, soil in a bag in a pot with a plant rooted through the bag. Some type of cobamba I can't identify and a java fern that my discus like to snack on. I also have anubius on driftwood.

I understock at 8 adults in an over filtered 125gal tank. I do two 65% water changes with aged, heated, airated water every week and completely clean my filter and recharge the 4x dose of purigen every week. I barely stay on top of my fish health even with this routine.

Since changing the tank I have not lost one fish. I have a seven year old discus! Barely a day goes by that one of my two mating pairs don't have eggs in my show tank.

I'm trying to help the op get to the finish line of keeping these wonderful fish, without going the wrong direction at the start like I did.

Jeditait, when your ready get your fish from Rick over at Canadianaquafarms.com better quality than you'll find in a store, same price after flying them to your local airport.

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Again there is no reason why a soil based substrate cannot have pristine water as a tank with a bare bottom. It comes down to proper tank husbandry...just that, only that. Fish and plants mix, lots of evidence on Uncle Google. http://bit.ly/1oYkZQN%C2'> (yes, gravel vac'ing can be done with a soil based tank)

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