Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

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Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by apistomaster » Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:45 pm

I recently removed the basalt black and dark gray substrate from my Heckel Discus tank. I replaced it with light quartzite sand and added decorative stone tile to the face of my glass planter box/terrace. Now the Heckels show a much lighter base color pattern. The back half is three inches high while the front half has just enough sand to conceal the bare glass bottom. They do most of their feeding and hunting of live black worms in this front area.
It is not a true biotope because I have two Echinodoras bleheri Amazon Sword plants included in the aquascaping. Submerged aquatic plants are almost never found in the black clear water biotopes where Heckels are always found but I like a touch of green.
Photo 1/2 overview. Terrace is clearly shown.
Image
Photo 2/2 The three front right Heckels are some of the dominant males. There are ten Heckels and the sexes are very evenly divided.
Image
Larry Waybright

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Lisachromis
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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Lisachromis » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:18 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! That's what I call a real discus tank.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by apistomaster » Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:09 pm

Hi Lisachromis,
"Absolutely gorgeous! That's what I call a real discus tank."
Thank you. Indeed it is. All of them are Symphysodon discus Heckel. These were grown from three inch diameter juveniles I was fortunate enough to get in May of '06. This is the smallest size I have ever been able to buy so they have had most of their young lives to adapt to life in captivity. They are the group I am raising in hopes of breeding someday. They are very healthy. So far three "pairs" have formed. There has been some courtship and prespawn behaviors such as cleaning possible spawning sites. I have been this close before but there is still a big difference between this behavior and actual spawning then raising fry. I believe Heckels take nearly three years to reach sexual maturity and by my guestimates that may be another nine months from now.
Here are three more photos. They actually have very dark red eyes but these photos are not photo shopped and I have problems taking photos where their eyes are not reflecting the flash like a cat's eyes in the dark caught in high beam headlights.

Any comments about my terraced substrate design? It is something I have wanted to try for many years and I have been using it in this tank for over four years. It has all the ease of maintenance of the bare bottom style of discus set up yet allows for more aquascaping options. The food naturally tends to settle in the front lower level and when it comes to foods like live black worms this is a real plus because the discus sift the sand unlike they find every last worm.
I previously grew out ten red turquoise domestic discus. Once they paired off I then replaced them with the Heckel Discus.

Close up of a large female.
Image

Here is a closer view of some of the discus.
Image

One more view close to a group. The three lower front fish are males. The two background left and right fish are females.
Image
Larry Waybright

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Lisachromis » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:22 pm

I have problems with the "fish eye" in pics too. I know it's from the flash on the camera. :)

I really like those fish and wish they were at my house, with a "fish slave" doing all the yucky work (glass cleaning, water changes) of keeping them. I've not yet tried live foods on my discus. I guess I just worry about getting clean worms.

How can you tell the sexes of the Heckels without seeing spawning behaviour?

I like that split substrate too. Obviously it helps you with feeding the fish, but also keeps the costs down a bit instead of a fully thick substrated tank.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Gordon C. Snelling » Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:03 pm

Great tank, I think the split level design is perfect. I have used it before and will be using it again when I get my discus tank set up in the near future, beautiful fish.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by mr troph » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:01 am

:D Love it mate beautiful heathy Heckels it don't get better than that.

Todd

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Klaus Steinhaus » Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:47 am

Wow, they sure are beautiful. I also like you aquascape. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Alex Calder » Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:56 pm

Great looking tank, I like the split level approach.

You can try your camera's red eye reduction feature, often times it works on fish.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Don Hiatt » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:54 pm

I can't say what impresses me more, the nice set up (very clean), or the Heckels themselves.

Great job. Makes me want to start keeping discus again.

Don

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Heiko Bleher » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:49 am

Hi,

this is Heiko Bleher and I just saw the beautiful tank. Well done.

Those Heckel-discus seem to be from the Rio Nhamundá, as it is the only place I collected most of the times Heckel-discus with round(ish) spots on their gill-plates. Beautiful fish. Keep them well, feed them well and do not mix to many other fishes into that nice tank (also no other discus species - keep Heckel-discus only with Heckel-discus).

Advice from one who collects them (and other fishes)

always

Heiko Bleher
www.aquapress-bleher.com
www.aqua-aquapress.com
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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by apistomaster » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:28 pm

Hi Heiko,
I thought you knew I never mix discus species or domestic discus with wild discus.
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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by PBS » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:37 pm

hello,
I'm a fresh soul here but I've viewed this topic many times before registration. it seems that I have very similar heckels (with the same marking on gil covers). unfortunately I've noticed that 4 of my 6 discus losts coloration of the eye. they eat normaly. the coloration of the body is visible - is not powerful but they are not dark. they do not glueing fins they do not have parasites. water parameters: pH 4,8-5, total hardness 3 german deg. NO3 15 mg PO4 less than 5. capacity of the tank 570 liters every day change of 70 literes fresh water.
any suggestions will be more than welcome, especially from Mr. Bleher
All the best!
PBS.
sorry it this post shouldn't be here...

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by apistomaster » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:07 pm

I recommend very soft water(TDS ~30 ppm) with a pH of ~4.0 but I actually kept these in tap water with a pH of 7.4 and a TDS of 340 ppm out of laziness.
You will get better colors if you use water more similar to their natural environment.
I sold these 1o Heckels a little over a year ago.
I do not worry about introducing parasites by feeding them live black worms.
Heckels like earth worm and Spirulina Sticks. I also use Tetra Color granules and frozen blood worms.
I kept this group over 5 years so I must have been taking fairly good care of them.

With regard to water changes.
If you have a way of providing a flow through system of fresh water then I would change 100% every day but i don't.
I prefer making 75% water changes about every 4TH or 5TH day over smaller daily water changes.
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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by PBS » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:05 pm

thanks for the reply.
I'll try to get pH down slowly to the 4.
what size your heckels reached?
PBS

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by apistomaster » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:15 pm

When I bought them they were the smallest size, 3-1/4 inches, of any Heckels I ever had. The majority reached about 6 inches within 2 more years. I had several bonded pairs in the group which would guard and clean likely spawning sites but I have reached that stage with several other groups of Heckel Discus in the past I have had but none of them ever actually spawned. I have had enough groups of such Heckels over the last 4 plus decades and finally decided I further efforts were not worth my while. I gave them my best shots and concluded it was very unlikely that I would ever be among the few who have successfully bred Heckels in captivity. I discussed the creation of a subforum dedicated to the advancement of captive breeding of Heckel Discus with Al, the owner of the http://www.simplydiscus.com and after awhile it became a reality and I think it has helped increase the number of breeders now trying to breed them.
I am also a moderator on the angelfish forum, http://www.finarama.com which tends to focus on wild Angelfish species and there it is the Pterophyllum altum Angelfish which has been a recalcitrant to attempts to breeding in captivity with a success rate roughly similar to that of Heckel Discus.

I expect by next June I will have breeding pairs from my group of F1 Nhamunda Blues.
I am hoping to get some of Dale Jordan's F1 Green Discus but when I have the money it will be difficult to choose between F1 Green Discus and Hpancistrus zebra(L46) plecos.
Since I began raising L134, L260 and L333 plecos I became spoiled because they are easier to keep, require less space and sell well. I don't need as much tank space to raise more plecos and make more money so for now I am only going to concentrate on the Blue Discus I have. They are about 10 months old now and are very pretty but I think their colors still have much more development to go before I know their full potential. Their parents were a male Royal Blue about as nice as they come. The female was a red body semi-Royal Blue and their young have already surpassed my initial expectations for a cross between 2 colorful wild Symphysodon haraldi. None could be called browns which is what I expect the majority would be originally.
Many of my friends have or in the process of acquiring some of Dale Jordan's F1 Green Discus.
I will take a wait and see attitude because my friends who get the Greens will be able to show how much color they develop compared to their exceptional parents. I can afford to wait for their F2 gen fish or buy F1's directly from Dale. I am anxious to see what Dale's F1's look like once they have colored up.
My tank space is fairly limited and compared to my pleco breeding projects the Discus use a disproportional amount of tank space but I really love wild type Discus so I may get some F1 Greens sooner than later. If my Blue Discus begin to spawn and raise their fry then I really will have trouble taking on another Discus species. Each year I produce and sell a large number of fish for someone who is only keeping 15 permanent aquarium set ups but I have about 1000 gal of aquarium volume in total.
My smallest tanks are 4-20 longs most are 40 gal breeders and a 75 and 125 gal for my largest tanks.
I am also working on breeding the pretty and fairly small red lizard whiptail catfish(L10a) and some Apistogramma trifasciata. I have to rotate through my different projects because I simply don't have enough aquariums to breed them all at once.
Larry Waybright

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Ganapoes » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:56 am

Absolutely gorgeous! That's what I call a real discus tank.

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by ashleyco » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:53 pm

Absolutely gorgeous!

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Re: Heckel Discus "biotope" tank

Post by Snailos » Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:53 am

Absolutely stunning discus:)

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