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African Cichlids or Discus?

Not sure if I have posted this in the correct area, but here goes.

I need some help with a decision and some advice. Happy to take on board any advice.

I was originally looking at setting up an African Cichlid tank, but have recently taken a shine to Discus.

I am about to start the tank cycling, but have slowed down due to making this decision. I have read my article on both and watched heaps of YouTube clips but are still unsure.

So I have a number of questions:

1. The standard PH on my taps is around 7.2, which puts the PH between both.

2. Has anyone had experience with either of these types of cichlids and is one easier than the other?

3. Since the PH is at 7.2, should would one be easier to maintain that the other?

4. Is it also easier to drop the PH or increase the PH since my water is near the middle of both.

5. And is there any natural way to decrease of increase the PH?

Advice needed!!!!


  • animal_expert01animal_expert01 Member Posts: 380
    PH can be increased naturally by adding crushed coral and PH can be decreased naturally by adding Indian Almond Leaves if I am not mistaken.
  • BobBob Member, Classifieds Posts: 708
    Ph is a measure of acidity/alkalinity, generally acidic water is "softer" than alkaline water due to higher concentrations of calcium carbonate, this gives water a "buffering" capacity meaning that you Ph in harder water is more stable and easier to maintain. Ph also tends to fluctuate with higher numbers of fish and between light and dark times in the tank for a variety of reasons including activity levels and plants. Plants compete with the fish for oxygen overnight but produce it during your light phases.

    Different water chemistries are required for Discus, Lake Tanganyika and Malawi cichlids.

    The Discus is a large fish and so are many of the Tangs and Mals.

    What size tank do you have?

    A fully grown Discus should have around 40 litres of water and they do best in schools of half a dozen and up. If you buy juveniles and you want to grow them out properly you should go for a bare bottom tank with 30% water changes at least twice if not three times per week. They need plenty of food and space to grow.

    Tangs and Mals seem to be okay in more heavily populated tanks but you need to be aware of the potential for aggression. The same should be said for any large cichlid.

    To soften your water plenty of wood can be added along with aquarium specific peat moss and Indian Almond leaves as mentioned by AE. This will give the water a brown colour due to tannins leaching into the water but these substances are beneficial to your soft water fish.

    Crushed coral as mentioned by AE will boost your hardness, increase Ph and promote buffering capacity for a more stable Ph value.

    To ensure that you are not compromising the health of your fish select fish from one type of environment and do your best to maintain their preferred water parameters.


  • RainbowsRainbows Member Posts: 243
    Ultimately, I think your decision (unless you have really taken to either the discus or the africans) is dependent on two main things.
    1. The size of your tank. As Bob mentioned, Discus need a fair bit of room and prefer to be in larger groups whereas you could accomplish a community tank of smaller Tanganyikan and/or Malawian cichlids if size is a problem.
    2. Aquarium setting. Discus are fairly peaceful and won't destroy plants so you can create a beautiful planted aquascape along with other fish species large enough not to be swallowed. Africans are much more prone to plant destruction so their setting is generally more utilitarian, although a white sand and rocks that contrast the colour of the fish can also be a spectacular display.

    There are other factors here such as water quality (Discus are going to be a little more finnicky), affordability (probably comparable overall but discus can be pricey) and whether you would like other fish as well (Synodontis are a cool catfish for the Africans but I wouldn't recommend any other companion species besides them).
    Personally I would prefer Discus but that's because I like plants so the decision is pretty personal but tell us what you decide either way, I'm keen to see how this progresses.
  • IcemistIcemist Member Posts: 10
    The tank is 250 Liters (100x50x50cm). I am headed towards the discus (4 to 5) plus a couple of German Blue Rams, some neons and maybe 2 Kuhli loaches.
  • BobBob Member, Classifieds Posts: 708
    edited October 2017
    To keep your Discus healthy you need temps at better than 28, this will prove somewhat uncomfortable for your neons and kuhli, different Eco-systems and not recommended. Your best bet for lively colour are cardinals and c. Sterbai are a nicely patterned Cory that will cope with the high temps. Wouldn't recommend more than four Discus in that tank especially if you are able to get some good sized ones.

    Also meant to add that the Discus you see spawning in my avatar were only about 8-9 cm at that stage.


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