July '99 - Celestino's 200L Planted Discus Tank.
This month's tank is representative of what many hobbyists consider the ultimate achievement in freshwater ornamental aquaria: a well planted Discus Tank. Due to the particular requirements of both plants and Discus, some of which are even incompatible, it takes considerable experience, patience and labor to reach long-term success with such a setup. And this is certainly the case of my Brazilian net-friend Celestino Duarte, owner of this aquarium.
The tank has 200 liters (100x40x50 cm) and has been running for 2 years. It is filtered by an AquaClear 300, a Power Filter 400 and a Reverse-Flow FBF. Lighting consists of 4x20 W Osram Daylight Special fluorescent tubes, and the tank also gets a fair amount of indirect sunlight in the morning. There's a DIY CO2 system injected into a separate powerhead. Typical water parameters are Temp 27C, pH 7.0 and KH 1. Regular maintenance routines include a 50% water change every week, during which plants are pruned and algae-covered leaves are removed; every 15 days the gravel receives an addition of Tetra Hilena Crypto and CO2 is renewed; and every 3 months a fresh amount of laterite is added to the gravel. Plant population consists of Nymphea lotus, Aponogeton crispus, Aponogeton rigidifolius, Echinodorus argentinensis, Echinodorus leopoldinensis, and several others including Hygrophilas, Cabombas and Cryptocorines. Fish population is made of 4 Turquoise Discus (two couples), a pair of plecos and an assortment of Swordtails to do the cleaning job.
Celestino adds the following comments based on his experience with this setup:
Filtration: although many people condemn it, the FBF had a very important role in the development of my plants. I inverted the flow so that it would push water through the bottom (instead of sucking), and with that I obtained a gentle flow of water from the bottom up in the gravel, and all the nutrients dissolved in the water are sent into the gravel where the plants can absorb them through their roots.
CO2: Made a big difference. After introducing it the plants began to grow much faster. It is dissolved by placing the CO2 bottle's output tube in the entrance of a powerhead.
Temperature: For a tank that hosts both plants and Discus, temperature is a critical issue: Discus require high temperatures of up to 30C, while plants prefer mild temperatures of 20-25C. I keep my tank's temperature locked at 27C. Above that plants don't develop well.
If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.
The King and his Swords.
Inspecting the Royal Garden.
Photos taken by Celestino Duarte and displayed here with his permission.