Water Preparation For Healthy Discus
Providing your Discus with water to their liking is the most important aspect of keeping them. There are many differing opinions as to what is the correct pH, hardness, conductivity and so on.
There are two elements to water perfection. The first element is the source water. Water out of a domestic tap is seldom ideal for Discus, there are exceptions, but it is rare. Domestic tap water usually has chlorine or chloramines added to it by water boards to make it safe to drink. Either of these but especially chloramines will kill fish if they are exposed to it. A further complication with domestic tap water is that it will contain dissolved metals and organics, both of which are detrimental to fish health over the long term. There are three basic methods to prepare tap water for Discus.
Method 1 - De-Chlorination
Simply add a de-chlorination agent to the water, this is a quick fix but in my opinion is poor practice as many of these products "bind together" the nasties and do not remove them.
Method 2 - Reverse Osmosis
Buy yourself a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter. These units are available in many configurations from 5 gallons per day to several hundred. An RO will in effect give you distilled water, it will be very soft and devoid of minerals and organics. The membrane will not remove any chlorine that may be present in the tap water. Chlorine will (if allowed to) enter the membrane destroy it, so it is essential that a reverse osmosis filter has a good quality carbon, such as the EP-10 or Chlorpluss as part of the pre filtration process as either carbon will remove any chlorine present and protect the membrane.
Method 3 - HMA Filter
Thirdly, use a Heavy Metal Axe (HMA) filter. This is a multimedia resin impregnated cartridge that removes Chlorines, dissolved metals but does not soften the water. At Devotedly Discus we have used these filters since 1993 and recommend them highly as they are efficient and very cost effective with zero waste water produced.
The second element in water perfection is that once in the aquarium it must be biologically cleaned. Basically the fish produce waste in the form of ammonia. Ammonia is very toxic to fish, however the bacteria that live within the aquariums filter system convert the ammonia to nitrite and the nitrite to nitrates. A fully matured biological filter is essential to Discus health.