Tag Archive: Pet

Discus three

Discus three (Photo credit: weesen)

Days 4 and 5 of parasite treatments and the sickest discus shows no progress.  I’m almost certain at this point he’ll need euthanized.  It’s a shame, but it’s obviously suffering and I just can’t take watching him die slowly.  The other fish seem much happier and their appetites are ferocious now.  The medicine has done it’s job.

On a side note, noticing the dwarf hair grass starting to go insane with growth, I decided it’s now or never on the substrate change.  I wanted white sand and all the research I had done recommends pool filter sand.  I went to my local pool shop and told the cashier I wanted WHITE.  He said I needed zeolite sand.  It is not white. . . and at $24 per bag, I wasn’t entirely pleased.  Instead of lugging the 100lbs of sand back to the pool store which was twenty blocks away, I decided to stick with what I had.  The hair grass will eventually cover the bottom anyway, so the sand color will be irrelevant.

If you’ve been following my posts at all, you’ll probably already know that I do 30-40% water changes every 2 or 3 days, vacuuming the gravel each time.  I was certain my gravel was spotless.  I cannot even begin to describe the amount of feces and waste that was still buried deep within the gravel substrate.  It was absolutely disgusting, and I will never use gravel again.

I poured about 3-4 inches of sand into the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and I rinsed.  Oh my god did I rinse. .  AFTER AN HOUR AND A HALF IT STILL WOULD NOT COME CLEAN!!!  Deciding it MUST be sand particles floating in the water I let the bucket sit.  The water settled and cleared so I thought “YAY!” and started adding it to my aquarium (the fish have been moved to a holding container).

The early morning ritual at the Radisson SAS h...

The early morning ritual at the Radisson SAS hotel – a diver in the huge fishtank. fishy fishy fishy)&t=h See where this picture was taken. [?] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was like a drop of water had never touched the stuff before.  My aquarium looked like 90 gallons of milk.  I waited for about 2 1/2 hours before kicking my filter back on in hopes it would clear out some of the cloudiness.  This morning (about 11hrs later) it’s only improved by about 25%. . . but it’s progress.

The trumpet snails are alive and burrowing wonderfully.  I left two of the Dalmatian molly babies in the show tank during the substrate change.  There was one main reason for this…  I wanted to see the effect of the cloudy water on the fish.  The discus won’t go back in until the water is crystal clear, but at least I would know how soon to start adding the others.  The mollies are alive and fine, by the way.

I reintroduced all of the plants except the hair grass plugs.  The rest are fairly easy to just stick in the substrate… the grass requires a bit of finesse and I simply cannot see enough inside the tank at this point to do any lengthy work.  There is a slight cloud swirl when I work inside the sand bed, but it doesn’t seem to cause the overall clouding to intensify.  The plants don’t have any issues staying in the sand which is a plus…

Overall I’m glad I’m going through the hassle of the substrate change.  After seeing the debris that was caught in the gravel even after very thorough cleanings, I think this project will definitely help improve the overall health of the aquarium.


Yesterday I added 3oml of PraziPro with a 30% water change/gravel vacuum in my 90 gallon tank.  Since the medicine’s instructions boldly state 7 days is all it needs, I’ll be tracking the daily progress here.  Among other things I’ll be tracking color, eye clarity, and poo.  Yes, poo.

It appears keeping discus requires you to be something of an expert in poo.  Since discovering juvenile discus need to be dewormed every 30 days, I’ve found myself darting toward the tank every time I see the event taking place.  Fortunately they all seem to relieve themselves at the same time which makes it easy to tell which animal is having issues.


The fish in the middle is the one that has me concerned.  He’s a blue diamond, and should look like the one on the left.  Note the greyish body, dark fins and blackened eyes.  Based on the information I’ve encountered, the blackened eyes (cloud eye) can be caused by flukes, or more typically poor water conditions.  Since he’s the only one showing signs of stress and cloud eye, I feel I can safely rule out water conditions.  Some strains of discus, such as pigeon blood (pictured below), don’t generally darken to show stress, so the condition of the second blue diamond is going to be my golden compass.



I haven’t noticed any fin clamping, but the sick one tends to be lethargic and spends most of his time hanging out at the back of the tank, or away from the group in general.

After day 1 of treatment, there are no changes.  I know it’s too quick for a cure, but since I’ve never used this stuff before I’m also watching for signs of worsened stress.  One thing I have noticed is the other fish seem to be having darker bowel movements.  I can’t be sure if this is a side effect of the medication, or the new brand of bloodworms I’ve started using which claims to be worm and parasite free.

The sick one seems to have less of an appetite than before, but I’ve read a few comments from users who say their appetites might dwindle some from the medication, so I’m not alarmed yet.  I’ll do another 30% water change in two days and, of course, treat the new water.

I’ll keep you posted.

I was pulled back into fish keeping by a marine tank I saw in my local pet store.  I was picking up some treats for my Chihuahua and found myself lost in the small biocube sitting next to the register.  A friend of mine had recently given me their 90 gallon acrylic tank, and my imagination ran wild with the possibilities.

I began doing some research, and decided it would be far too complex and too expensive to simply play around with a saltwater setup.  Since it was the vibrant color that attracted me to saltwater, I decided to imitate the look with tropical fish.  Cichlids are incredibly colorful, but I find their body shapes a little unappealing and decided against them.

Already having the danio from my fish-in cycle, I decided another schooling fish was in order.  I went to my local pet store to browse their wares and came across some glofish tetra.  Considering my want for vibrant livestock, these seemed like an obvious choice.

It turns out they were incredibly territorial and became aggressive toward one another.  I added a few more, hoping to blur the territorial lines but it only resulted in the new fish huddled in a corner, corralled by the current inhabitants.  I took them all back.

After all was said and done, I had accumulated 18 various danio, 6 red wag platys, 6 yellow guppies, four Dalmatian mollies, two blue dwarf gourami and 3 peppered cory cats.

In my head, I thought the Dalmatian mollies would look better, but after I added them I realized they reminded me too much of goldfish… don’t ask me why.   One of the mollies had babies.  I lost several fish in the two days afterward, and I can only assume they choked on the fry.  After the dust had settled, I lost 4 yellow guppies and 3 danio.

I had been doing a lot of research on discus.  So much research in fact, that I was starting to scare myself out of trying.  But after some deep thought I decided I just have to take the plunge, but that would mean downsizing my tank load.  I sold the remaining danio, guppies and Dalmatian mollies on craigslist.  The fry are still in the tank, but once they’re big enough to catch, they’re gone too.

I found a pet store specializing in fish geared toward the hardcore hobbyist with a huge supply of discus.  Everything I had read online suggested straying from pet stores to buy discus, but these were in extremely good condition and the tanks were pristine.  I bought three.


The discus are actually what inspired me to start this fish journal.  The greatly varied opinions online are confusing and intimidating.  This will be my step-by-step trial and error.  As it turns out, we’ve hit a possible bump already.  I’ve noticed one of the discus has cloud eye.  The other two are fine, and from what I’ve gathered on the computer webs, cloud eye can be brought on by stress, poor water conditions, or worse, parasites/infection.


It Begins

I’ve kept fish for most of my life.  I won my first goldfish at a carnival in 1987 when I was a wee lad of 5, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Within the past 5 years, becoming bored with the ease of goldfish, I started dabbling with tropical fish.  My first attempt was angelfish and some diamond barbs.  I failed, but it was only because I didn’t put enough effort into the task to be quite honest.  Moving from goldfish to anything else can be a challenge in the beginning.  The routine requires much more attention.  When I moved into a much smaller apartment, I was forced to get rid of my tank and surviving fish due to space and weight restrictions.  Well now I’m back at it, and daddy’s got a brand new bag.

Let’s talk about my tank.  It’s a 90 gallon Clear For Life acrylic tank with a blue background.  I prefer acrylic simply because it’s lighter than glass and reduces the weight of the overall setup… not by much, mind you… but every little bit helps.  I use an Eheim Professionel canister filter and a 500gph power-head for water circulation and surface disruption.  This isn’t a marine tank, so a strong current isn’t necessary but you don’t want dead spots forming in the tank (i.e. the water next to the heater is the correct temp, but the water on the other side of the tank is cooler), so a power-head is a plus in a larger tank in my humble opinion… not to mention, the fish seem to thoroughly enjoy playing in the mild currents.  I imagine it feels like a gentle breeze, and who doesn’t like a breeze?

For heat, I’m using a 250w fully submersible heater set to the tune of 87F.  This seems to keep the overall temp at around 80-82.
I set up my tank initially using some zebra danio for a fish-in cycle.  I don’t recommend this after having tried it myself.  It’s just as stressful for the caretaker as it is for the fish, and it’s much easier for things to go wrong.  For example, during my fish-in cycle process I developed a nasty outbreak of ich.  It most likely came from the pet store, but the harsh water conditions didn’t help… and your treatment options are limited because you don’t want to disrupt the bacteria cycle.  I also developed a few separate issues as a direct result of stressed fish in poor water conditions, which can be very difficult to reverse.  Moral of story… don’t do fish-in cycles.  Don’t do it.

Once the water stabilized and the ich was fully eradicated, I began adding fish.  My original plan was for a community tank, but my ADD couldn’t resist and took over the project which has taken more turns than Anne Heche on hiatus.  For this reason, I’ll discuss the fish in separate posts… right now I’ll try to stay focused on the aquarium itself.

My tank is graveled and planted.  I would call it a medium-density setup, but most of the plants are faux.  Toward the end of my cycle process I began adding live plants to replace the faux.  I’ve added a dozen plugs of dwarf hairgrass in hopes it will carpet the tank.  It’s growing like a weed, (pardon the expression), but doesn’t seem to be spreading.  I add fertilizer once a week and do CO2 injections about every third day.  The directions say daily is okay, but I don’t like adding crap to my water if I can avoid it.  Once I’m confident the plants are well rooted and growing, I’ll phase out the carbon injections entirely.  I always advocate a planted tank because it helps complete the chemical food chain found in natural waters.  They’re honestly not that difficult to keep, there are a decent variety that grow in plain ol’ gravel, and your fish will thank you for it.  If you had to live in a glass box for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you be much happier if you could sit in the grass under a tree?  Exactly.


I’ve also added some anubias nana, some wisteria, and Kyoto grass for the background.  It’s pretty sweet.

The tank is kept in a basement, so it gets next-to-zero natural light so I have two light fixtures set up, one with four metal-halide lights and another fixture with four acitinic lights.  I alternate lights to simulate local weather patterns.  If it’s bright and sunny, I kick on all the lights.  If it’s dark and overcast, I only kick on one or two.  I don’t know if this has any effect on the aquarium, but it looks cool.  I assume since light doesn’t occur with the same intensity in the wild day after day after day after day, neither should my aquarium.  It seems reasonable to me that simulating a natural environment as accurately as possible can only benefit the inhabitants. . . but that’s just my opinion.

Before I forget, I should mention that I use freshwater aquarium salt in my water.  It helps prevent a lot of the diseases that require medication, and helps boost the general health of the fish.  Salt doesn’t evaporate, so you should only add salt with your water changes.  If you change out 20 gallons of water, add salt for only the 20 gallons of new water.

If you’re terribly new at fish keeping altogether, I’ll post a separate section talking about bacteria cycles, why it must happen, and what to expect during the process.