May 2002

May 2002


DPH Tank of the Month questionnaire
With Diane & Bogdan


How did you get into keeping a Planted Discus Tank?

Well, I’ve had one big beautiful tank since I was just a kid, so I can say this is an old hobby of mine. Unfortunatelly there was a strong earthquake in 1977 and the tank broke into pieces making a real flood in our house so we didn’t make another tank for a few years.

Even so, I continued to be fond of fishes and animals in general (meanwhile I became a veterinary doctor) but I didn’t think of “building” a new aquarium until my girl-friend (now my wife) gave me a present consisting of a tiny bowl with three little xyphophorus and a plant in it. That was the moment when I decided I must have a new tank in my new home so I bought a 200 ltr. Juwel aquarium and started discovering my old hobby again.

In the beginning I had many species of fishes except discus because as much as I liked them it seemed to me I could never be that experienced to keep them alive and well. So I started with Brachydanio, Botia, Capoeta Tetrazona, Hemigrammus Bleheri, Erythrozonus, Hyphessobrycon Bentosi, Callistus, Herbertaxelrodi, Labeo, Thayeria Boehlkei, Xyphophorus Helleri and others. As for the plants ,they were always in my tank because I just can not imagine a subaquatic world without them and I am very keen of…”greens”.

It was September 2001 when - after an unhappy incident with the old setup (don’t ask me what!) - I decided I wanted a bigger tank. After I achieved it, (a 300 ltr.Juwel aquarium with a cabinet), I couldn’t resist the temptation of having discus so I took my chances and bought a few, even if I have to admit I had my doubts regarding their survivel. And then started a new adventure, which I’m sure it will continue for a long long time!

What do you feel has been the most rewarding aspect of keeping such a tank?

There is more than one rewarding aspect, such as:

  • the beauty of the tank with its own forms of life;
  • the tranquility it induces into yourself when looking at it (this can be a really good therapy for the stressed ones!);
  • taking care of it is a real pleasure and relaxation for me, even if it takes a lot of time and I am a very busy man;
  • the admiration of our friends, who enter the house and forget about sitting down; they just stop in front of the tank and become happy instantly. And even if they are not very interested in things like this, they start wanting an aquarium of their own. ( Maybe it’s not the right place for saying this, but they become disappointed when it comes to costs);
  • last, but not least, having such a hobby helped me improve my knowledges about fishes, so I can give better advice to my patients, because they don’t teach you about plants, discus or maintaining a tank in school.

Anyway, having something like this is having a piece of Heaven in your home, it is a joy for eyes and soul.

What has been the hardest challenge for you in keeping a Planted Discus tank and have you overcome it?

Just keeping the discus in a good state of health is a real challenge! It is important to me to discover what exactly makes them feel good and what bothers them, because they are very sensitive and when they get sick, to find out what the problem is and what to do to heal them.

Keeping as many compatible species of fishes and plants as possible in the same tank , is another thing that I consider provocative, though I have to admit that the plants were never “big trouble”for me; it becomes complicated when it comes to discus, but every problem has its solution, don’t you agree?

On the other hand, providing the discus clean, ”good” water is another challenge and this is something you have to deal with daily. Of course, I had a lot of problems with it in the beginning, but with patience and good advice from our friend Fred, I managed to deal with them.

What kind of approach do you take in maintaining your tank the High Tech way or a more natural way?

I believe I can say that I keep the balance in my tank more in a natural way than a High Tech…I do this by changing approximately 5% water daily (sometimes even more - about 10%) no matter at what time I get home. This has already become a habbit, like washing my face after I wake up in the morning, because even if I am not very experienced with the discus (yet!) , now I can tell that water change is crucial for their well-being. I use 48-hours old water or boiled water or fresh water from the sourcein which I add Aqua Safe solution, to be sure of its good quality. I intend to purchase a reverse osmosis unit, in order to obtain a softer and more pure water, which I believe will save me from some troubles.

I don’t use a CO2-system yet, because I am very pleased with how my plants grow just by adding a plant fertilizer (Plant Gro) ,Iron enriched, but it is very possible that I will install a CO2-system soon. (I think I must say that I have put my plants in plastic recipients with blackpeat, and they have developed beautifully).

To combat the development of algae I put Tetra Algizit tablets whic to my surprise are very good; I tried many sorts of products against algae, but nothing was as satisfactory for me as these Algizit tablets. With them and 10 hours illumination per day I had absolutely no problems with algae!

From time to time I perform pH and GH tests just to be sure there are no variations in the equilibrium of the tank.

I would like to say that even if I don’t have a reverse osmosis unit, a CO2-system or a pH-monitor (or any other equipment) for the moment, I will most probably have them sooner or later because I am always looking for improving the conditions in my tank. But I can assure you that even without these more or less sophisticated devices my discus and other fishes and my plants are just fine, believe me.

What piece of advice can you give to others who are thinking about setting up a tank like this?

Advice? Well, I don’t know if I am the right person to give advice for this matter, but one thing is for sure: this “job” is only for the ones who have patience - and I mean lot of PATIENCE, love for these beautiful creatures and time to spend taking care of them. For me, keeping such a tank is a continuous challenge and this is one of the reasons for which I like doing it so much, because it never let me “sleep”.

And don’t ever forget !Always “Ask the Expert” when you get in trouble, you’ll be well advised!

My setup:

Tank: 300 ltr. planted tank (Rio 300 – Juwel :121 x 51 x 62 cm ) with a gravel bottom.
Filter: two phase (biological&mechanical) internal filter with:

  • one carbon sponge (which I change twice a month);
  • two large-pore sponges in the middle of the filter;
  • one medium-pore sponge,on the bottom.

Also there is a preliminary filter for course sediment (cotton),which I change weekly.
Filter Pump:Juwel Power Head 402 – 1000 ltr./hour
Automatic Heater: 300W


1 Aqua Glo,40W – intensifies fish colours and promotes plant growth
1 Power Glo,40W – promotes plant growth
2 reflectors,which double the tank lighting
The fluorescent tubes are on timer and they turn on automatically at 9,00 a.m. and turn off at 21,00.

CO2: not yet


- temperature: 30 C
-GH:7 dH
-KH:3,5 dH

I have 8 discus (of different ages)

  • 3 Blue Diamond
  • 1 Cobalt Blue
  • 3 Pigeon Blood
  • 1 Red Turquoise

Other fishes:

  • 1 Gyrinocheilus Aymonieri
  • 9 Hemigrammus Bleheri
  • 3 Hemigrammus Erythrozonus
  • 10 Hyphessobricon Herbertaxelrodi
  • 1 Labeo Bicolor
  • 1 Labeo Frenatus
  • 21 Paracheirodon Axelrodi
  • 2 Sturiosoma Panamensis


  • Anubias barteri (var.barteri)
  • Anubias barteri(var.angustiflora)
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii
  • Echinodorus cordifolius “ovalis”
  • Echinodorus amazonicus
  • Echinodorus palaefolius(var.latifolius)
  • Echinodorus tenellus
  • Echinodorus ozelot (green)
  • Egeria densa
  • Hygrofila stricta
  • Ludwigia brevipes
  • Myriophyllum aquaticum
  • Nymphea lotus (



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