In October 2007 (hence the poor quality photos), I set up a new 48"x 18"x 15" aquarium with sump for my Discus. Using play sand from Early Learning Centre as my substrate and 2 x 300w heaters in the sump with a 2000lph return pump.
The light blue background was replaced with black in an attempt to bring out the colours of the fish when finally introduced. The pH of the water at the moment is 8.3 and whilst I have kept Discus in these water conditions before, I will be using reverse osmosis water to bring the level to around 7.
Below is the sump. You can see the water enters the 1st chamber from the overflow. The water then passes under the first partition which is filtered by filter wool at the moment. Once most of the smaller particles have been removed, this will be replaced with some pond filter sponge. The water then flows up through the 2nd chamber which is filled with alfagrog. This is an excellent filtration media and is exceptional (and cheaper) than sintered glass media commonly sold for your canister filter. The water then flows across the third chamber which has a sand bottom and a few plants. The water then flows into chamber 4 which is currently empty and into chamber 5 which houses the return pump
The plants seem to be settling in after the first week and new growth can be seen coming from the crowns. You can see the old leaves turning brown and falling off. These are the leaves used by the plant when it is grown out of water. Many people see their new plants shedding leaves and immediately uproot them, throw them away and then buy new. These people also complain about the cost of keeping plants in an aquarium. Unfortunately, the fish trade doesn't inform many customers that this problem can occur, instead hoping they will return time and again for new specimens. If all the leaves drop from your plants, leave the stump as within a week or so, new growth will appear. At this time, you may need to supplement with a liquid fertiliser to prevent the luscious greens becoming yellow and stringy. These are classic signs of iron deficiency.
The neons from my Son's tank seem to have settled in well, although it is a HUGE space for so few fish. All being well, some new companions will be with them at some time during the week. The temperature is currently set to 27.8C and the pH is now 7.8 and slowly dropping.
I have been looking at the Chen's discus website and there are some lovely fish for sale. They make a trip to Scotland once per month and will drop off fish if you are en route. The next trip is on the 17th November, so I may purchase some nice 4" red turqs and a couple of 4" pigeon bloods. I am not sure yet as we are supposed to be going away around Christmas time and I would hate for them to be stunted because I am not around to feed them. I may just stick with a couple of rams (if I can find any) and wait until the new year.
As well as the neons, a pair of German rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi) were given free run of the new system and a few peppered corys. The rams soon made themselves at home and were spawning in the clay pot that was put in for them to use as a spawning site.
The discus finally arrived. I purchased some 3" pigeon blood bred by a breeder in Sandy, Bedfordshire. Some lovely colouration on them and they soon settled in to eat frozen blood worm and home made beefheart.
Unfortunately, this is where this journey with this system ends. I seem to have mislaid, or forgotten to take, pictures of the system as it grew and matured.